BorderLinks summer internship

BorderLinks seeks a talented and energetic person who is interested in migrant justice to intern with us in the summer of 2018.

The primary duties of the summer intern will be to maintain the delegation follow-up program. In the course of that work, the intern will learn a great deal about BorderLinks, migration justice issues, and other Tucson-based organizations led by or working as allies with people directly impacted by border enforcement or immigration policies.
 
The internship is unpaid, but BorderLinks will provide housing and food or prepared meals at no cost in the BorderLinks dormitory.
 
The internship lasts a minimum of six weeks but can be longer if the intern wishes. Those weeks can take place at any point between the end of May and the middle of August. Read more about the internship on our jobs page.

Application deadline is March 1. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to employment@borderlinks.org.

BorderLinks delegation for individuals and small groups

Normally BorderLinks delegations are pre-existing groups of five or more people. But what about individuals or smaller groups? How can they take part in what BorderLinks offers? By joining our August delegation! 

The Delegation for Individuals and Small Groups will begin on Monday, August 6 and end on Friday, August 10. Participants will likely want to arrive the Sunday before and depart the Saturday after. 

The cost is $900 per person ($750 for delegates who sleep elsewhere – but we don’t recommend that option), not including travel to and from Tucson. Reduced rates are available. 

For more information, see our delegation information page. To reserve a space in the delegation, send an email to info@borderlinks.org.

Trump Administration ends protections for thousands

The decision this week to end Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years -- even decades -- would leave them with no legal status.

This decision comes following the Trump administration's decisions to end TPS for Haitians and Nicaraguans and may indicate similar decisions lie in store for Hondurans and for others.  

Temporary Protected Status is a protection from deportation and authorization to live and work legally for nationals of countries that have suffered from war, epidemics, or natural disasters. TPS typically includes two-year protections, but it was extended by previous administrations due to conditions in those countries. But now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that TPS depends on the original reason for designation, not current conditions. 

In the case of El Salvador, a serious of earthquakes led to the TPS designation in 2001. The administration says earthquake-related problems have been sufficiently resolved to terminate the protections. This view does not take into consideration current violence and economic conditions in El Salvador nor how ingrained in U.S. culture and society these Salvadorans have become. TPS protectees have until September 9, 2019 to find a different way to stay in the United States or prepare to leave, unless Congress acts to extend deportation protection.

Please call your congressional representative and senators (202 - 224 - 3121) and ask them to sign onto H.R.4253 - American Promise Act of 2017, introduced by Nydia Velasquez of New York, and S.2144 - SECURE Act introduced by Senators Van Hollen and Cardin of Maryland. Both pieces of legislation would grant further protection to the hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation due to the termination of TPS.

BorderLinks Fall Fundraising Campaign

Friends,

I arrived in Tucson a year and a half ago and immediately jumped into migrant justice work. I volunteer with Keep Tucson Together, helping people fill out citizenship applications. I volunteer with the Tucson Samaritans in efforts to prevent more people from dying in the treacherous journey across the Sonoran desert and am currently tracing a trail that appears to be heavily used and does not have water or food drops. But those efforts don't address the injustices that cause so many people to migrate in the first place. As Executive Director of BorderLinks, I am directing more of our resources towards efforts to building a national migrant justice movement, strengthening efforts to change the policies driving migration in the first place.

BorderLinks has been a vital part of migrant justice efforts since its conception in 1988. Since then, we have held fast to our mission of raising consciousness and inspiring action in the borderlands. Now we want to increase and improve our communication with delegates once they've returned home. To do this, we need to raise more revenue from individual donations. You can make a difference by donating to my fundraising campaign right now.

Help our campaign succeed. Your money goes to BorderLinks' unrestricted fund, which means the money can be used in a variety of ways. Our fundraiser this year is dedicated to strengthening the local and national migrant justice movement. We need to strengthen our relationships with local community migrant justice organizations like Mariposas Sin Fronteras and ScholarshipsA-Z, and we need to dedicate staff time and resources to see what has come of the actions delegations planned, and to connect delegations with migrant justice activists across the country.

I've made a donation to this campaign, and I invite you to do so as well. Click here to donate today. My fundraiser runs through November 10, with a goal of $10,000. While we need large donations, small ones are important too. Can you give $500? $100? $25? Give what you can and help strengthen the national migrant justice movement today.

Mil gracias,

Brian Best
Executive Director
brian@borderlinks.org

BorderLinks welcomes new staff member Josue Saldivar

Josue is an undocuqueer Mexican immigrant directly impacted by the risk of being detained and/or deported. His activism started in 2009 when he was employed by ScholarshipsA-Z, one of BorderLinks’ community partners. ScholarshipsA-Z provides resources and scholarshipsto make higher education accessible to all regardless of immigration status. In 2014, he was introduced to another BorderLinks community partner, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, and has been a member since then. Josue’s first involvement with BorderLinks was as a presenter for ScholarshipsA-Z in 2011. He became a BorderLinks delegation leader in 2015 and has led a half-dozen delegations.  Josue's position is a temporary one, funded through the end of June 2018, when the number of delegations drops significantly.

Josue in the March.jpg

Staff Update: Patricia Hohl returns!

Long-time Program Organizer Patricia Hohl is back on the staff of BorderLinks.

Patricia left employment at BorderLinks in March. Her return, along with her fellow program organizer and now Education Director Cathie Pacheco, is very good news for BorderLinks.   

Patricia is originally from upstate New York but has called Arizona home for the past seven years.  For nearly a decade, Patricia's studies and community organizing have centered on raising consciousness and building power to change unjust U.S. immigration policies. She has volunteered and organized with a number of grassroots community organizations, including  No More Deaths, the Southside Workers' Center, the Protection Network Action Fund, and Tucson Showing Up for Racial Justice.  

Patricia for website.jpg

Pardoning Bigotry: Trump’s words and deeds strengthen systems of oppression

President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio sends a signal of support to those who believe that some people in this country are less human than others.

Trump pardoned Arpaio on August 25, after Arpaio had been found guilty of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to end racial profiling. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. The pardon proclaims that racial profiling and the criminalization of people of color  are legal and socially acceptable methods of policing.

Grassroots opposition to Arpaio was strong in response to the many dehumanizing tactics that he directed his department to employ. He targeted brown-skinned people in a state that has a large Latinx population. Arpaio’s defeat in the November 2016 election was due in large part to years of organizing work done by migrant- and Latinx-led organizations in Arizona. Trump’s pardon sends a signal that even victories claimed at the ballot box can be undermined with the stroke of a pen.

Arpaio’s actions as sheriff are similar to the actions of bigoted officials during the civil rights movement. Arpaio used the power of the office of sheriff to harass and imprison people based on nothing more than the color of their skin. Trump’s pardon tells Arpaio and others with similar views that there is nothing wrong with mistreating people based on their appearance.

Racism is rooted in systems that give power and privilege to white people while denying the same benefits to others. Those systems of oppression deny people of color and people who don’t speak English equal access to employment and housing and have led to the deaths of over 6,000 migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Arpaio used his power to support those systems, and Trump has now endorsed those actions, giving succor to the enemies of freedom and justice. This was an inexcusable act, and it sets back the fight for justice for migrants by decades.

BorderLinks calls on the people of the U.S. to proclaim in words and deeds that bigotry and oppression have no place in this country, nor in our world.

BorderLinks Statement on DACA

BorderLinks stands with our undocumented and DACAmented community, especially as the current administration’s pronouncements and policy directives shake up people’s lives on a daily basis. BorderLinks supports dignity for all people in this country, regardless of status.

The latest news from Washington DC shows that groups are being bargained against each other: DACAmented people may receive a pathway to citizenship while their parents may not, and people who undertake the migrant journey in a year or two may find the hazards of the journey have increased significantly due to increased “border security”. One person’s dignity does not outweigh another’s. We cannot gain our humanity by denying someone else theirs. We stand in solidarity with our immigrant community’s fight for a just and humane life for all people in this country, and we ask you to stand in solidarity with all undocumented people.

Please call your representative and senators (202-224-3121) and demand that they support a stand-alone DREAM Act/ Immigration Reform bill that does not increase the militarization of border communities like Tucson or criminalize other migrant communities.

Operation Streamline

A delegate from Montview Presbyterian Church wrote this reflection during a BorderLinks trip in 2014.

On Monday, we had the opportunity to go and be witnesses to Operation Streamline at the courthouse building here in Tucson. None of us really knew what to expect walking into this courthouse building on our second day in a brand new city. The only information we had was the short description of the process that our group leader, Kathryn, had told us while we were waiting to be invited in. Everyone was excited and anxious as we silently walked into the courtroom and had a seat. As the doors opened and we walked in, we could hear the sound of the 70 migrants’ shackles clanging as they all turned around to look at us. The judge began the trial and called 8 people to be sentenced at once. He read the questions in run on sentences that had to be translated by a women into a microphone that played her translation into the headphones the migrants were wearing. Prior to the beginning of the trial, these people caught by border control had no more than 30 minutes to speak with their lawyer and had to sign documents in English that they couldn’t fully understand. The judge asked them if they understood what they had done and what the consequences would be and after answering yes to these questions, the judge would give them a sentence of anywhere from 30-180 days. The sentence depended on the previous criminal record these people had. After the 8 people before the judge got their sentence, they would walk, shackles and all, out of the courtroom and would be transported to a private prison. Private prisons are very expensive and because, obviously, these migrants aren’t paying for their time in prison, millions of taxpayer dollars every year are spent on these private prisons. If you’re as confused as I am, you are probably wondering why we are spending so much of our money on private prisons for people who we are just going to deport again after they serve their sentence. I understand that these people have broken the law and that many have previous criminal records from anywhere from 1-20 years ago, but spending money to keep the people we want to keep out of our country in our country for up to 6 months is a little bit of a confusing concept.

After the trial, we had the opportunity to speak with a public defender. It also happened to be his last day as a public defender, so we may have heard many things the public wasn’t supposed to hear, but some of the stories he told us were absolutely appalling. He spoke of one day when he was running late for the trial and he had run into the judge in the elevator. He apologized to the judge for running late and said he was on his way up. The judge’s response was that that was fine because the trial was already over. This particular judge had asked the migrants if they wanted to talk to their lawyers of if they just simply wanted to get the trial over with. They didn’t speak much English and ended up doing the trial before they even had a chance to speak to a lawyer. The judge simply asked them if they had crossed the border illegally and when they answered yes, the judge gave them their sentence and dismissed the court, all within approximately 5 minutes. Another story the public defender told was of a young man living in L.A. who had migrated as a child with his parents. He was caught by border patrol and deported. However, he spoke little Spanish and had no idea how to adjust to life in Mexico. This man also had a previous criminal record from 20 years ago that caused him to have to serve jail time for simply living in the U.S. since he was a child.

All of these stories got me to thinking about what it means to be an American. Legally, it means you were born in the United States or waited 25 years to get a visa. For most of us, it means having an American flag shirt from Old Navy and eating hamburgers and hotdogs with your family and friends on the 4th of July. However, for many people who have migrated to the United States, it means working as a garbage man or working in a slaughter house because even these “dirty jobs” pay better than the factory job they could have in Mexico. It means living in fear every single time you see a white truck that might possibly be border patrol, just seconds away from pulling you over and deporting you. Being an American to them means doing all these things, all because they want a better life for them and their family. After seeing all of these things, I have come to understand that the way we classify people as citizens and criminals is just plain wrong. The people who want to be in our country so badly that they are willing to risk their lives walking through the desert for days on end are the ones who deserve to be Americans.