Many Languages One Voice Community Day

On September 24, 2017, Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) held an Emergency Planning & Community Defense Day (Día de Planificación de Emergencia y Defensa Comunitaria).

The event was designed to bring the community together to learn about our rights as immigrants in DC, prepare together, and celebrate our communities’ strength and resilience!
¡Nos reunimos para aprender nuestros derechos como inmigrantes en DC, prepararnos juntos, y celebrar la fuerza y la resiliencia de nuestras comunidades!

Workshops included:

– Know Your Rights in DC / Tus Derechos en DC
– Emergency Preparedness Plan Against ICE / Planes de Emergencia en Contra de ICE
– Legal Advice / Consejos Legales
– Community Defense / Defensa Comunitaria

Video byBen Parisi  with subtitles byJuan Carlos Vega.

According to MLOV Executive Director Sapna Pandya, “It was an incredible day, grounded in Puerto Rican and Mexican resilience & music, with opportunities for dance, joy, and important discussions of the threats to our communities & how we will combat them together organizing towards #ExpandedSanctuary in DC. We built a beautiful community altar, answered questions about immigration and employment abuse, and got folks connected to needed services.”

MLOV’s next community event, Dance in the Round: Circle As Sanctuary, is scheduled for Sunday, October 8, starting at 2:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza.

Many Languages One Voice Defends DACA and Beyond

Written by Ray Jose
MLOV Youth Justice Organizer

marchOn Tuesday morning at 11 AM, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Trump and his administration has decided to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  This means that the Department of Homeland Security will stop accepting new DACA applications (i.e. from people who are eligible but do not already have DACA).  Individuals who already have DACA and whose work permits will expire between now and March 5, 2018 will be able to apply for a two-year renewal if they apply by October 5, 2017.

This news has obviously been devastating as we remain concerned about the pending uptick in immigration enforcement & raids that this announcement foretells. We also must remain vigilant that any calls for policy change (i.e. DREAM Act, etc.) do not use undocumented youth as pawns for a white supremacist agenda that calls for border militarization or walls, military service requirements, furthering the Muslim ban or expanded cooperation between police and ICE.
In fact, we are already feeling the immediate impact of this announcement – just hours ago, workers from Matchbox came in to MLOV’s offices to say that 40 of their colleagues had been forced to resign yesterday due to their immigration status. 
Following the announcement from Jeff Sessions came DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s statement, “[calling] on Congress to quickly pass the Dream Act so that DREAMers across our country can continue to build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous country for all…Washington, DC will continue to stand with our nearly 800 DREAMers and the thousands of immigrants who live in the District. We are proud of our DREAMers and our support will be unwavering.”
While Mayor Bowser says she “stands unequivocally with DREAMers,” in the same breath she is complicit for not holding Trump accountable for terminating DACA. At the same time that Mayor Bowser says she and DC are “standing with the DREAMers,” the District continues to tolerate dangerous loopholes in policies that have led to our immigrant residents being deported, police violence on Black and Brown communities, abusive employers who continue to engage in wage theft, displacement of long-term residents, and an education system that is failing our youth of color.
In this moment, words are not enough.  We need a real #SanctuaryDC that keeps all DC residents safe, and MLOV will hold all politicians accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
 

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SUPPORT DACA YOUTH AND OTHER UNDOCUMENTED YOUNG PEOPLE IN DC?

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY:
1. Donate to support three of MLOV’s undocumented immigrant youth organizers by clicking here. These youth participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program but didn’t receive stipends because they are undocumented. When we reach our donation goal, extra funds will go to DC youth needing help paying for DACA renewal (cost is $495) and related costs. 
2. Encourage DACA youth and their families seek mental health support through local agencies:
  • Mary’s Center
    202-846-8053
  • Latin American Youth Center
    (202) 319-2229
  • La Clinica del Pueblo
    (202) 462.4788
3. Join upcoming trainings provided by SanctuaryDMV to be trained in providing Rapid Response to ICE raids and ICE surveillance, which we are fearful may increase in DC and the metro area. .
Click on this link to register for an upcoming Rapid Response training by SanctuaryDMV!
4. Follow Many Languages One Voice on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on how you can support our members’ demands for Sanctuary in Schools.
This summer, MLOV trained 15 mostly undocumented immigrant youth to  be community organizers – preparing them to protect themselves, their peers, and their families.  As a result of holding local politicians like Mayor Bower accountable, funding for these youth participants’ stipends has been in jeopardy.  You can support our immigrant youth organizers by clicking here to donate.  Despite this threat, our youth have developed five critical steps that educators and administrators in the DC school system can take to keep them safe and support their education.

 LEGAL SERVICES FOR DC IMMIGRANTS

As a result of organizing by MLOV in November 2016, Mayor Bowser released funds enabling local community organizations to provide pro bono legal services for DC immigrants. Refer individuals needing to renew their DACA or with other questions about their immigration status to the following MLOV partners:

  • AYUDA
    202-387-4848
  • Catholic Charities
    202-772-4352
  • DC Immigrant Rights Project (collaboration of Ethiopian Community Center & Lutheran Social Services)
    (202) 844-5430
  • Whitman Walker Health Legal Services
    (202) 745-7000
  • CARECEN
    (202) 328-9799
  • CAIR Coalition
    (202) 331-3320
To my undocumented family, to other DACA recipients, and to any community under attack by this White supremacist administration: we have been here before and we will continue to protect our community and resist.  Trump and politicians on both sides are deflecting the responsibility onto Congress to create a legislative solution, but we know that protecting only some immigrant youth is not enough.
This moment is meant to divide immigrant communities into who is “deserving and undeserving,” it is meant to put the blame on parents of undocumented youth, it is meant to uphold the criminalization of Black and Brown immigrants who are disproportionately targeted by police, ICE and the criminal justice system.  This moment is meant to break us, but we are resilient people and we will fight for a liberation that goes beyond documentation or any legislation.

Pilgrimage to the Pope for Immigrant Rights Arrives in D.C.

Cross-posted from the DC Independent Media Center
Written by Luke

Lead_Banners_McPherson_approach_9-22-2015On the 22nd of September, the 100 women 100 miles pilgrimage to the Pope for Immigrant Rights arrived at McPherson Square. One hundred women had marched all the way from an ICE detention center in Pennsylvania and were joined by many more supporters on the last leg of the march inside DC. The march ended at McPherson Square, where the Catholic hunger fasters for climate action already have tents set up. The evening program featured an appearance by Sweet Honey in the Rock after the speakers finished.

One of the lead banners quoted Pope Francis’s statement that “Pope Francis has said that the globalization of migration requires a globalization of charity and cooperation.”

Stirring video of the end of the march, followed by clip from Sweet Honey in the Rock’s performance

Breakdown of America’s Recent Immigration Crisis

Central Americans on Train
Central American immigrants traveling on the tops of trains through Mexico in order to reach their final destination. John Moore/ Getty Images

These past seven months have seen a noticeable spike in the number of underage children crossing the border. So far this year, the number of unaccompanied children entering the United States that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigrant and Customs Enforcement arrested surpassed 47,000. This alone is a 92% increase from last year’s numbers.

But why the drastic increase?

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are going through a turbulent time. According to Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin America Program at the Wilson Center, these three countries have some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Although, murder rates have decreased in comparison to last year, this does not mitigate the rampant violence that occurs throughout this region. Gang activity is as high as ever. Nevertheless, the lack of stability in this region is pushing parents to send their children to the United States.

Whatever doubts people had on the lengths these gang members are willing in order to continue their regional dominance is long gone now. People throughout this region live in consistent fear. Not only that, but there is no sense of continuity—the belief that life will get better by the time one’s children become adults—and widespread poverty does nothing to alleviate their living conditions.

Human traffickers, known as coyotes, are taking full advantage of this situation. They promote the idea that if there is any time to leave for the United States, that time is now.  And parents in Central America buy it. They are willing to pay traffickers thousands of dollars despite being warned of the trip’s dangers and the numerous obstacles the children must face throughout their journey.

The problem becomes what to do with these minors.

Protesters in Murrieta
Police cautiously monitoring the two opposing protesting groups in Murrieta, California as tensions mount while they all wait for immigrant detainees set to arrive by bus to the U.S. Border Patrol facility.  Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Should the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement deport all of these children or provide them with temporary housing until each minor’s situation is determined? This question has created a rigid dichotomy amongst much of the population. Human rights advocates argue that these children should not be treated as immigrants but rather as refugees.

On the other hand, others, such as members of the Tea Party, blame President Obama’s approval of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created to allow those who entered the country illegally while they were minors to receive a grant of deferred removal action. In other words, eligible immigrants remain legally in the United States for up to 2 years with a possible extension. This is not a path to citizenship, nor is it a guaranteed permanent residence but it allows immigrants who came here illegally to avoid deportation.

Some suggest that the U.S. government deport these minors immediately. However, some international organizations, including the United Nations, argue that many of these children have legitimate claims to stay as they are fleeing desperate situations.

Underaged Immigrants in Detention Centers
Children detained at a center in Nogales, Arizona.   Ross D. Franklin / AP

According to the New York Times, President Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress in order to respond to this influx of child migrants. Previously, significant amounts of money were spent in trying to secure the border. Given this large influx of immigrants, it is evident that pouring more money into the border is not the solution.

Even if the Obama administration pushed to deport all unaccompanied minors with full force, it could not. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 passed by the U.S. Senate during the Bush administration is intended to help human trafficking victims, however a portion of this act relating to unaccompanied illegal immigrants under the age of 18 makes immediate deportation for them difficult. As stated in a news article from The Oklahoman, “The legislation said they must ‘be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child.’ The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is to provide for their custody and care while deportation hearings are under way. The department is to attempt to find a parent or sponsor in the United States while providing free legal representation and a child advocate.

This past Friday, the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras met with president Obama to discuss this immigration crisis. NPR’s Eyder Peralta writes, “…with Plan Colombia and the Merida Initiative, the U.S. has helped combat violence in Colombia and Mexico”, yet by doing so, pushed organized crime into Central America.

Central American Presidents with Obama
L-R: Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Cerén, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, President Barack Obama and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez   Reuters

Regardless of history in the past, all four countries must focus on the present. The United States must decide how it will improve the manner in which it deals with incoming unaccompanied immigrants. Meanwhile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras must determine what they need to do in order to curb gang violence and thus emigration figures.

Two Million Too Many: March and Rally Against Deportation

You can also read this post at Storify.

#not1more deportation after #2million2many

Immigrant rights groups and supporters gathered for a march and rally in Washington, DC on April 5, 2014. They joined activists in over 40 cities across the country to tell President Obama to stop separating families before he reaches a total of 2 million people deported during his presidency.

The rally began in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of DC.

Photo by Lamont Street Collective

Photo by the Lamont Street Collective

Immigration activists and allies appropriate imagery of monarch butterflies to symbolize the right to migrate freely, despite geopolitical borders.

Photo by CultureStrike

A crowd of hundreds marched down 16th Street to the White House.

Employers threaten deportation of undocumented workers to stop them from speaking out about poor working conditions, wage theft and abuse.

For LGBT immigrants, deportation to their home country can mean a death sentence.

At the White House, the crowd raised their voices through story and song. Son Cosita Seria uses the art-form of Son Jarocho music for political commentary.

YouTube Preview Image

Join the campaign by visiting notonemoredeportation.com.

Not1More
NotOneMoreDeportation.com is a project of NDLON to foster collaboration between individuals, organizations, and artists to support individuals in deportation proceedings to stay in the place they call home and to build a movement to push back against criminalization and toward inclusion through organizing, art, legislation, and action.