A project of the Center for Community Change

State Level Immigrant’s Rights

The Growing Human Rights Crisis on the Northern Border

For three years, OneAmerica community organizers had been hearing about the fear and mistrust border residents harbored toward U.S. Border Patrol. Residents living in Snohomish, Whatcom, and Skagit counties were too afraid to go to the courthouse to pay a fine, too mistrustful of the authorities to call 911, or too fearful to leave their home to attend church or go to the grocery store.

How could they become active participants in their communities if they were too scared to leave home?

Organizers interviewed residents in their homes, at work, and in church. We researched and observed how U.S. Border Patrol’s funding soared, its jurisdiction crept further and further inland, and how its role in the community became virtually indistinguishable from local police and 911 emergency service personnel.

Download the Executive Summary (2MB pdf)Download the Executive Summary

 

Download the full report (5MB pdf) Download the full report

OneAmerica compiled this research into a report and, in April 2012, released The Growing Human Rights Crisis on the Northern Border, which truly demonstrates the transformation of these border communities in the wake of the post-9/11 buildup of U.S. Border Patrol activity in the area.

The report shares the findings from 109 on-the-ground interviews with mothers, fathers, workers, and students. The majority of stories are marked by fear, mistrust, harassment, and abuse. They are rooted in specific—and avoidable—patterns of practice implemented by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), working in close coordination with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies.

In particular, Growing Human Rights Crisis calls attention to three interrelated patterns of practice:

  • First, in its own independent operations, the Border Patrol engages in systematic profiling of religious and ethnic minorities.
  • Second, collaboration between Border Patrol and other agencies, including local law enforcement, emergency responders, and the courts, results in a confusing and dangerous fusion where vital services are perceived as immigration enforcement.
  • Third, these first two patterns result in a third: U.S. Border Patrol’s behavior and dangerous partnerships with other agencies have created extensive fear and mistrust, leading to community members’ unwillingness to call 911, access the courts, and even to leave their house to attend worship services or fulfill basic needs.

We believe firmly that we must not trade away our rights for security. Documenting what is happening allows us to educate our policy makers so we can push together to change the situation. Our report offers policy recommendations aimed at correcting these wrongs while still protecting our borders, improving the ability for CBP to carry out its mission, and protecting the safety and rights of all who live in these communities.

This report is the product of a unique three-way partnership between OneAmerica, theUniversity of Washington Center for Human Rights, and the residents and leaders of these border communities. It culminates the first stage of a long process of organizing, educating, and empowering northern border communities to defend their human rights.

Governor Welcomes Immigrants in New Hampshire

Declaration Welcoming Immigrants in New Hampshire

Texas GOP Turning Texas Blue

Today, the Texas House will not address closing the Texas-sized deficit. Nope. Instead it will hold a hearing on banning “sanctuary cities” and other nonsense legislation aimed at appeasing its conservative base and alienating the Latino population.

From the Dallas Morning News:

The State Affairs Committee takes up several bills designed to punish cities or other entities that adopt policies limiting police or sheriff’s officials from enforcing federal immigration laws. The bill would withhold state grant money and other funding and allow the Attorney General to sue if such policies become known. Gov. Rick Perry has condemned such so-called sanctuary cities, although he has declined to name any cities that have such policies.

The House is pursuing this harebrained idea despite the protest of much of the state’s police and without much regard to the financial strain it will add to local governments.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said the county jail already holds 3,200 undocumented inmates and costs $6 million a year. This legislation would add about another $1 million to that bill, she said. A cost estimate done by the city of Houston and Harris County said implementing the legislation would cost local taxpayers $4.5 million a year, including 22 officers for immigration functions, 33 jail guards for additional prisoners and increased jail and housing costs.

There will be a lot of hearings in Texas similar to this one.  Republican legislators have been tripping over each other to file anti-immigrant and anti-Latino bills, which is really puzzling considering the 2010 Census numbers confirmed what everyone already knew: Latinos in Texas will soon be the largest ethnic group.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post wrote about the growth of the Latino population and the Republicans all out effort to alienate Latinos:

Don’t look now, but Texas is turning blue.

Not today, to be sure, nor tomorrow. But to read the newly released census data on the Lone Star State is to understand that Texas, the linchpin of any Republican electoral college majority, is turning Latino and, unless the Republicans change their spots, Democratic.

The GOP in Texas, though, is showing no sign of changing its spots. They’ve done the opposite. You would think after what happened to Sharron Angle in Nevada or all the Republicans in California that Republicans would know better than to actively agitate and enrage the fastest growing voting bloc in the state. Nearly half of all Texas under the age of 18 are Latino, a staggering statistic. Talk about sacrificing the future for a fleeting victory today.

Of course we shouldn’t wait until all these young Latinos are of voting age. We should let the GOP know today we do not want Texas to follow Arizona’s lead. The Reform Immigration FOR America campaign is encouraging people to send faxes to their Texas representatives. Go here to send yours.

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