Border and Migration Issues and Information

Doctrine of Discovery
Among the discussions around getting ready for GA 2012 has been conversations with indigenous people in Arizona. one of the resources folks have shared is the work on the Doctrine of Discovery and in particular the United Nations work on this issue. Here are several links to help in the discussion of the Doctrine of Discovery. In the preliminary study document you will find reference to Judge Joseph Story, he was a Supreme Court Justice early in United States history but also happened to be a Unitarian from Massachusetts. If you want a more in depth discussion read Steven Newcomb"s "Pagans in the Promised Land."

UN Preliminary Study on the Doctrine of Discovery

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Article on the Doctrine of Discovery

There are Unitarian Universalists working on the Doctrine of Discovery, for information and resources they have put together visit the web site at:  

Dream Act

While many people are working to pass the Dream Act, it has not passed. Follow this link to the story of one of the students who I met in Phoenix. ( And if you want information about the Interfaith Dream Sabbath, click here index.php/2011/07/01/dream-sabbath-launch/=

Advocacy Toolkit
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a national partnership of faith-based organizations working for immigration reform and other fair and humane immigration policies, has assembled a page of resources including an Advocacy Toolkit that will help equip interfaith teams to change how migrant families are treated all across the country.

ACLU Report on Detention in Arizona

Here is a link to a resource for those of you looking for information as preparation for GA 2012. The ACLU in Arizona has just released a report titled "In Their Own Words: Enduring abuse in Arizona immigration detention centers." Arizona is second to only Texas in the numbers of people who are held in detention by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Many are held for months or even years. The ACLU staff conducted 115 face to face interviews with detainees, interviewed families and hundreds of pages of government records. For a copy of the report go to

Shattered Families
In November the organization Colorlines published a devastating report on the perilous intersection of immigration enforcement and the Child Welfare System. Unfortunately what was reported in November continues to happen across the country. Read the report at the following like:  

Secure Communities Failure Report 

The National Day Laborers Organizing Network and a National Community Advisory Commission have published a report on the failure of Secure Communities -- follow this link: 

"No Way to Treat a Guest" Report

The report by Farmworker Justice offers an in-depth look at the violations and abuses of the federal H-2A agricultural guest worker program and exposes the fundamental flaws of guest worker models. In "No Way to Treat a Guest," which is based on interviews with current and former H-2A workers and affected U.S. workers, Farmworker Justice documents the human toll of a system that is a flawed attempt to provide a legal and dependable workforce for American farmers. The report offers multiple short-term and long-term solutions to eliminate abuses in the H-2A program and ensure a sustainable labor force for American agriculture.

No More Deaths Report on Abuse at the Border: A Culture of Cruelty
A Culture of Cruelty is the culmination of three years of abuse documentation collected and carried out by No More Deaths and our partners in Naco, Agua Prieta, and Nogales, Sonora- border towns and cities through which thousands of immigration detainees have been deported. In our years of documenting abuses committed by the Border Patrol against detainees and migrants, we have found that it is clear that instances of mistreatment and abuse in Border Patrol custody are not aberrational. Rather, they reflect common practice for an agency that is part of the largest federal law enforcement body in the country. Many of them plainly meet the definition of torture under international law.

We have entitled our report "A Culture of Cruelty" because we believe our findings demonstrate that the abuse, neglect, and dehumanization of migrants is part of the institutional culture of the Border Patrol, reinforced by an absence of meaningful accountability mechanisms. This systemic abuse must be confronted aggressively at the institutional level, not denied or dismissed as a series of aberrational incidents attributable to a few rogue agents. Until then we can expect this culture of cruelty to continue to deprive individuals in Border Patrol custody of their most fundamental human rights.

"Humanitarian Crisis: Migrant Deaths at the U.S.-Mexico Border"
For another ACLU Report from 2009 on Border Crossing go to:

ACLU information sheet on Operation Streamline: 

Lost in Detention

If you have not seen the PBS documentary on the detaining of migrants go to this link:

Turning Out the Vote

Registering people, particularly in communities of color is an important strategy to support involvement of all people in our political process. There are local organizations across the country; we encourage you to do a local search and connect with these groups. Two groups we have worked with on this issue are Mi Familia Vota and Voto Latino, information about connecting to them follows:

Mi Familia Vota

Mi Familia Vota Education Fund is a national organization working to unite and build power in Latino, immigrant and allied communities, and to ensure social and economic justice through increased civic engagement. We do this by:

· Expanding the electorate through direct, sustainable citizenship, voter registration, census education, GOTV and issue organizing in key states;

· Forming and supporting key alliances at national, state and local levels to increase civic engagement; providing technical assistance and support to other organizations;

· Increasing public support for full civic participation for New Americans.

There are staff in four states at this time working both to register voters as well as helping eligible people to become citizens, the states are Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Colorado.

Voto Latino

Founded in 2004 by actress Rosario Dawson and political analyst Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino is shaking-up America’s political establishment by bringing thousands of young Latinos into the political process. A non-partisan, nonprofit civic engagement organization, Voto Latino has produced award-winning, multiple-media campaigns headlined by celebrity voices that encourage young Latinos to register, vote and get engaged. Voto Latino strongly believes it is this new generation of young American Latinos who will help shape America’s democracy. 

Immigration Myths and Facts

Another link to a downloadable powerpoint presentation on Immigration Myths and Facts, by Arizona Advocacy Network and Somos America.

The Border and the Environment
The Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club has a project that raises the issues involved with the border and how actions at the border have impacted the environment. Follow this link for more information:

Webinar on Preparing for GA 2012
A Powerpoint presentation from the recent webinar on "Preparing for GA 2012" may be found HERE.

Bibliography on Migration and Borders

David Bacon, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press)

Francisco Balderrama & Raymond Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, (University of New Mexico Press)

Juana Bordas, Salsa, Soul, and Spirit, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)

Justin Akers Chacon & Mike Davis, No One is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border  (Haymarkert Books)

Alva Chromsky, They Take Our Jobs & 20 other myths about immigration, (Beacon Press)

Ben Daniel, Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigration, (Westminster John Knox Press) 

Dwight N. Hopkins, Being Human: Race, Culture, and Religion, (Fortress Press)

Ruben Martinez, Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, (Picador)

Ruben Martinez & Joseph Rodriguez, The New Americans, (The New Press)

Mark Morrison-Reed, Darkening the Doorways, (Skinner House)

Steven T. Newcomb, Pagans in the Promised Land, (Fulcrum Publishing)

Tram Nguyen, We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11 (Beacon Press) 

Margaret Regan, The Death of Josseline, (Beacon Press)

Matthew Soerens & Jenny Wang, Welcoming the Stranger, (InterVarsity Press)


“Arizona: State of Fear”

“Crossing Arizona” 

“Fifty Hours in Phoenix: A National Day of Non-Compliance”

“In the Light of Reverence: Protecting America’s Sacred”

“9500 Liberty” 

“The Snowbowl Effect: When Recreation and Culture Collide” 



Immigration and Worship  -- click here for resources



Registration now available: click HERE


Stories from the Sonoran Desert

Gustavo Velasco, is a fine young man charged with using someone else's social security number to work as a part-time cook. The judge refused to designate his conviction a misdemeanor and his immigration bond was cancelled. He has been in the detention center in Eloy, AZ almost four months now while I fight to keep him here in the U.S. But I am not writing about Gustavo...his wife, Mirna, and their two U.S. citizen sons, Aryam and Alam, ages 13 and 11. They have no money. They have been living on donations from their church and the lease on the apartment where they live is up in August. Then they will be on the street with nowhere to go. Gustavo and his family are fighting for the right of people to work, and they are all suffering greatly but especially his wife and kids. Like he said to me, "Here (in Eloy) I eat three times a day and have a bed, but what I can't stand is the fact that my wife and children are suffering so much.
Margo Cowan, Gustavo's lawyer and No More Deaths Volunteer.

Yesterday [June 18,2011] I went to Arivaca. Some of you are on the NMD email list and probably saw that we were going down for a "work day" at Byrd Baylor's [an 80+ year-old activist who has allowed NMD to set up a camp on her property near the border] home. I have never been down there so I jumped at the chance, knowing it was going to be a long, hot day. I rode down with Rev John Fife and a few NMD volunteers and stayed most of the day. Byrd is staying with her grandson and great granddaughter (Jessie and Lilly) in Tucson and her home in Arivaca has been largely unattended for the past few weeks. We (the gals) scrubbed the home top to bottom while the guys were busy tending to the feed barn and the solar panels on the roof. This was an amazing morning and we had the chance to really get to know each other as well as Byrd's family. Samaritans and NMD folks were coming and going, making themselves at home and I immediately knew what a special place this sanctuary truly is for so many.

The afternoon was quite a different story. Jessie led a few of the volunteers down the path to the Byrd Camp. Words simply cannot express what I witnessed at the camp. Considering I had never been there, I didn't really know what to expect and it is downright heartbreaking as well as heartwarming. We sat under a make shift shelter and spoke with a few volunteers while in the background I could see a migrant under another shelter barely moving. the NMD's were fanning him, putting cold cloths all over his body, they tried desperately to get his body temp down. I don't have all the details but he was left behind the night before and was all alone. NMD's were waiting for Dr. Norma Price to come down to evaluate...she did, he had to be medically evacuated immediately. I don't know where he is or how he is doing but while he was at the camp, he was tended to by caring, precious volunteers. I walked around by myself to see the rest of the "camp" and noticed a few more migrants in the medical tent, saw the cook tent and a few other areas. On the way out Jessie took us to the shrine that has become a symbol of what their work is all about. Personal belongings left behind, found in the desert by folks over the years. Unbelievable.

---Rhonda Walker, No More Deaths Liaison at the UU Church of Tucson and NMD volunteer

For more information on No More Deaths, a ministry of the UU Church of Tucson, and information on how you can support this organization, visit their website

Film Guide on Immigration

This came out from Sojourners -- thought it might interest you -- Ken

Immigration. It’s in the news, on TV, and in our in boxes – usually via
angry rants filled with half-truths. No, there is no  shortage of talk about
our immigration system these days, yet it remains an issue that is
surprisingly difficult for most of us to even talk about, let alone connect with
our faith.

All of us, it seems, except Hollywood. The number of films featuring
immigration has exploded in the last few years – providing the perfect way to
engage our friends and family on this hot-button issue.

Sojourners’ immigration campaign, Christians for Comprehensive Immigration
Reform, is pleased to share our newest online resource: “REEL Images of
Immigration: A Film Guide to Discussing Faith and Immigration. It’s a free,
guide to immigration films, complete with theological reflection questions.

We've provided you with summaries and discussion guides for four different
films  Dying to Live, The Visitor (,
Farmingville, and Made in L.A. that address various angles of the
immigration issue and how these issues relate to our faith.

“REEL Images” also includes a short toolkit on how to host a movie 
screening and discussion for youth groups, congregations, and small groups. Or – 
even better – just invite some friends over for a summer movie night, make
some popcorn, and watch a double feature.

Hosting a movie screening provides an opportunity to discuss this
politically sensitive issue in a nonthreatening and fun environment. It’s also a
great way to educate yourself and your community about the need for
immigration reform.

The lives of individuals and  families hang in the balance as we choose our
national immigration policies. Don’t sit this one out ... well, sit for as
long as the movie lasts. Then get talking – because immigration is an
issue too important to  ignore.