Posts Tagged ‘Border Patrol’

No More Deaths Wins Wilton Peace Prize

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No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, an all-volunteer-led organization that embodies the very spirit of being the change one wishes to see in the world, has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Wilton Peace Prize. The Wilton Peace Prize is given annually by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) to individuals or groups in recognition of their contribution to “peace and human progress.” The award was established by Henry and Irene Wilton in 1984 and previous recipients include the Vietnam Veterans of America, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and the World Council on Religion and Peace.

No More Deaths is a human rights and humanitarian aid organization that was first organized in 2004 with a simple mission to reduce deaths and suffering among migrants crossing the border through the Sonoran Desert. Since then it has expanded its work to meet the changing needs of undocumented immigrants and their families and to increase national awareness and draw attention to the enormous humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 6,000 innocent men, women and children have already died. No More Deaths is the social justice ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and runs a number of programs including the Desert Aid Working Group, the Summer Desert Camps program as well as an Alternate Spring Break Camp in Arivaca, and the Abuse Documentation Working Group, which has been documenting human rights abuses by U.S. Border Patrol agents against migrants in their custody for the past six years.

According to a nomination letter written by Rev. Diane Dowgiert of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson:

No More Deaths has contributed significantly to peace and human progress over the past eight years. Not only has this volunteer-driven humanitarian aid organization saved thousands of lives in the Sonoran Desert, giving water, food and medical care to displaced migrant workers forced to cross the most treacherous parts of the U.S.-Mexico border in search of jobs to provide for their families. No More Deaths has also spent the past six years documenting human rights abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol against thousands of migrants in their custody, both in the desert and in short-term immigrant detention centers.

culture_crueltyNo More Deaths has led the way in abuse documentation with its first report, “Crossing the Line,” in 2008, and has produced an outstanding second report, “A Culture of Cruelty,” providing high quality documentation of almost 30,000 instances of abuse from interviews with almost 13,000 migrants over a three-year period. They have set a national standard for the documentation of human rights abuses against migrants for subsequent reports by Amnesty International USA, the ACLU and other national human rights organizations across the country, who have sought out No More Deaths when beginning their research at the border.

In addition, through its “Keep Tucson Together” project, No More Deaths has been more successful than any other organization to date in helping local undocumented immigrant families stay together, by fighting to close the cases of inappropriate deportation orders sent to immigrant parents without any criminal record, whose children and spouses living with them in the U.S. are dependent upon them financially and emotionally.

Since the release of “A Culture of Cruelty” on September 21, 2011, the report has also received coverage from CNN, USA Today, Reuters News Service, Democracy Now and many other news outlets. No More Deaths will receive a $1,500 donation from the UUA to support its efforts.

Thank you, No More Deaths, for your incredible work for human rights, and a better world for all people.

I would like to nominate No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, the social justice ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, for the Wilton Peace Prize this year.  This amazing, volunteer-run human rights and humanitarian aid organization was first organized in 2004 with a simple mission to reduce deaths and suffering among migrants crossing the border through the Sonoran Desert.  Since then it has expanded its work to meet the changing needs of undocumented immigrants and their families and to increase national awareness and draw attention to the enormous humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 6,000 innocent men, women and children have already died.
During the past eight years, No More Deaths has expanded its scope to include:
the Desert Aid Working Group, which provides water, food, clothing and a medical tent to treat injuries and dehydration-related illnesses of migrants crossing the border.  This year there have been several volunteers working with migrants in the desert throughout the winter months as well.
the Summer Desert Camps program as well as an Alternate Spring Break Camp in Arivaca, where hundreds of young adult volunteers come each year to be trained about border history, politics, legal issues and first aid so that they can reach out to save more lives in the desert through hands-on, experiential learning.
an Abuse Documentation Working Group, which has been documenting human rights abuses by U.S. Border Patrol agents against migrants in their custody for the past six years.  Its first report, “Crossing the Line”, was published in 2008, and made the human rights community aware of the horrific human rights abuses, and even torture, committed by Border Patrol agents.  Following that report, the ACLU of Arizona and other human rights organizations began to consult with No More Deaths and issue their own reports on human rights abuses at the border.
In September, 2011, No More Deaths issued a far more extensive report, “A Culture of Cruelty:  Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody.”  This report was based on statistical compilations of interviews with more than 12,000 migrants over a three-year period in Nogales, Naco and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, finding and categorizing about 30,000 specific instances of human rights abuses.  This report, which strongly demonstrates that these human rights abuses by Border Patrol are systemic and must be dealt with systemically, includes numerous recommendations, including the need to demand access to immigrant detention facilities s by human rights organizations to investigate conditions and treatment of migrants held there, and the need for an independent oversight agency comprised of citizens and human rights organizations to investigate abuses, with the power to enforce human rights standards and discipline agents who violate those standards.
The “Culture of Cruelty” report (online at www.nomoredeaths.org/cultureofcruelty.html), with the help of the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love and the UU United Nations Organization, has opened many new doors for No More Deaths.  They were honored with a rare invitation to testify about the report at hearings on March 27, 2012, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.  They also gave presentations before the U.N. NGO Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, and a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., as well as at a meeting with a White House policy advisor.  And they will give a workshop presentation on “A Culture of Cruelty” on June 22, 2012, at the UUA Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, along with Amnesty International USA and Standing on the Side of Love.
the Nogales/Mexico Project Working Group, based in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.  There No More Deaths volunteers has worked since 2006 to provide humanitarian aid to individuals deported from the U.S. to cities along the border.  NMD works in partnership with multiple humanitarian, faith-based and governmental organizations in Northern Sonora and has partnerships in two border communities, Nogales and Agua Prieta. In 2011 almost 55,000 people were deported though Nogales from all over the U.S.  No More Deaths volunteers currently support between 60-120 people a day making phone calls to their families back home, successfully retrieving missing personal belongings confiscated by law enforcement to around 30 people per month, and helping about 50 people a month reconnect with family members separated in deportation. They also provide first aid and medical care at the Mexican Grupos Beta offices, in partnership with the Jesuit-based Kino Border Initiative.
the “We Reject Racism” campaign against Arizona SB 1070, partnering with the immigrant rights group Tierra y Libertad Organizacion.  ”We Reject Racism” was a campaign to sign on small businesses in Tucson to publicly oppose SB 1070 and to educate the community with information, store signs and yard signs.
the “Keep Tucson Together” campaign, to fight separation of immigrant families through deportation.  NMD’s “Keep Tucson Together” volunteers are fighting the deportation orders that were sent to 50 Tucson undocumented immigrants who have no criminal record, and whose spouses and children are either U.S. citizens or have legal residency or visas, and depend upon them for financial and emotional support.  No More Deaths has already succeeded in getting many of these deportation cases administratively closed through a campaign of public activism, media team work and social witness, in conjunction with the legal services of No More Deaths Atty. Margo Cowan.
Below please find media coverage of No More Deaths activities.  As the Media Coverage of No More Deaths shows, No More Deaths has set the standards for high quality research and documentation of human rights abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol against migrants in their custody.  Since that time the ACLU of Arizona, Amnesty International USA, PBS “Frontline” documentary “Lost in Detention” and the media have supported our findings.  Interview requests from the media have greatly increased, with the latest request coming from the BBC to interview NMD volunteers who work on the Mexico side of Nogales with just-deported migrants.

Bring Justice Home

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Bring Justice Home Share/Save/Bookmark Mar 30, 2012

The message below went out on Friday, March 30, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.


Community altar for Carlos Lamadrid, the 18-year-old young man who was shot and killed by Border Patrol one year ago.

A year ago this March, Carlos Reynaldo Lamadrid Guerrero was shot and killed by the U.S. Border Patrol. We honored his memory by marching from the home of Carlos’ mother to the place where the Border Patrol murdered this young U.S. citizen. We continue to mourn the loss of our brother and stand with his family, which has received no answers for his senseless death. Sadly, stories like Carlos’ are all too common; our organization, No More Deaths, continues to document these human rights violations every day.

Thankfully, the movement for Border Patrol accountability continues to grow. Thousands of you have signed petitions to the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security urging an end to the ongoing abuse of migrants in Border Patrol. I’m glad to say that together, we are making progress.

A few weeks ago Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher testified before Congress, and stated that complaints of misconduct are turned over to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for investigation. During this hearing, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) suggested that the documentation groups like No More Deaths perform might reflect “series of deeply troubling abuses.” While OIG investigation is a positive step, true accountability for the Border Patrol demands independent oversight of the agency from outside the Department of Homeland Security, where Border Patrol is housed. The first step? Letting human rights organizations in to the Border Patrol’s detention centers.

Please contact Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano today and tell her how important it is to give human rights advocates access to Border Patrol facilities. It is the only way to begin to change the Border Patrol’s culture of cruelty.  

Click here to send your message to Secretary Napolitano today.

Earlier this week, I testified with a colleague from No More Deaths before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a respected international human rights body. We presented the thousands of abuses documented in our report, “A Culture of Cruelty,” showing the Commissioners how rogue an agency the Border Patrol is. We made the case for human rights advocates to monitor detention conditions, and urged the IACHR to conduct its own independent investigation into the situation for migrants detained and deported at the U.S. Southwest border.   

Together, we can create the public and political will necessary to protect the basic human rights and dignity of all migrants, beginning with advocate access into Border Patrol detention centers.

Click here to join me in calling on Secretary Napolitano to grant human rights observers access to short-term detention facilities.

No More Deaths and our allies along the border are going to keep documenting the abuses we see every day: the separation of families, mistreatment in detention, and the Border Patrol’s continued impunity. Together, we must work to ensure that none of these abuses get swept under the rug. Families like Carlos’ are depending on us. 

Thanks for everything you do to help bring justice home,

Danielle Alvarado,
No More Deaths Volunteer
Co-Author, “A Culture of Cruelty”