September 4, 2006

charges against Sellz/Strauss dismissed

This past Friday, the ridiculous charges against Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss were dismissed. The Tucson Citizen reports:

In a dramatic ruling Friday, the year-long case against humanitarians Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss was dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Raner Collins found that the government for years has led No More Deaths volunteers to believe they could legally provide care to ailing illegal immigrants. Sellz and Strauss could not be prosecuted for what had been deemed legal, Collins found.

The college students were in the desert near Arivaca on July 9, 2005, when they encountered five illegal immigrants. Two of the men showed signs of severe dehydration, so Sellz and Strauss called physicians in Tucson and were advised to rush the men to a hospital.
Before they could reach Tucson, Border Patrol agents arrested them and apprehended the two men.

Sellz and Strauss willingly faced an uncertain future, refusing from the outset to accept a plea agreement.

"We have committed no crime," Strauss said on July 21, 2005.

On Friday, Collins agreed. "The judge recognized that Samaritans (a group that is part of No More Deaths) really is a humanitarian organization," said Bill Walker, who joined Stanley Feldman, a former chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, to defend Sellz free of charge. "What the judge said is, No More Deaths isn't an organization smuggling immigrants. "That's a great victory for everybody in Tucson and on the border who wants to make sure people don't die in the desert."

The Rev. John Fife, founder of Samaritans, rejoiced. "This is vindication for our position from the very beginning. And that is, humanitarian aid is never a crime," he said.
(full article)

For background on this case, view the video posted on Migra Matters last February.

Posted by almamia at 9:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2006

beauty at the border

No author is mentioned, but the following report was found on the website of No More Deaths.

Its mid-afternoon and the sun has taken its harsh toll since the morning hours of meeting deportation buses. By 10am we have given water, food, and medical care to more than two hundred people. Hundreds and hundreds of tired eyes, blistered feet, and hungry stomachs.

"We have another bus," shouts a volunteer who sees the large, white Homeland Security bus pull up next to the U.S. customs and immigration building at the Mariposa Truck Port of Nogales, Arizona and Sonora-Mx. By now we know the drill and we station ourselves to be a team of hospitality. Volunteers take on the roles of handing out fliers telling of migrant shelters and aid for migrants in Nogales, distributing baggies of bean burritos and 1-liter bottles of water, conducting interviews for abuse documentation and general statistics, and ready to provide medical care. From a distance we watch and count, twenty-threethirty-eightfifty-twoa full bus. My stomach sinks, however, when I see that among the figures walking in a line through the port and in our direction are quite few smaller figures as well.

"Looks like there are women and children," I add. As it turns out, they have been in the desert four to six days. The childrens clothes reek of urine and there is dirt smudges on their faces. They are disturbingly quiet and still for the bundles of energy normally characterizing the ages of 1.5, 3, and 5 years of age. They sit on the curb near our humanitarian aid station while we bustle around trying to provide care and aid as quickly and to as many people as possible before they move on.

A young girl, twelve years old named Isabel, sits with her head between her knees. She has been vomiting and from the touch of my palm seems to have a fever. Her younger siblings and mother sit beside her, with the other young families nearby. I ask some of the mothers if they drank the dirty water from cow tanks in the desert, infamous for parasites, bacteria, even Giarrdia; indeed they have. The youngest ones, in diapers, have diarrhea as well. As a surface-level response to this situation, Ive heard debates coming from others of my socio-economic background automatically blaming the parents of neglect for putting their young children in such a dangerous position. A twisted position to take in light of this reality.

Worried and thinking medically of what I know about the rapid physical deterioration of a severely dehydrated child, I find myself almost lecturing one of the mothers while distributing glasses of Gatorade and clean socks. "She must drink a lot, especially electrolytes," I say in my basic Spanish, "It is very dangerous for children to be so sick in the heat. It is very dangerous out there..." and I stop myself. The dark, weary eyes of the mother are staring back at me.

I feel as if my deep concern and genuine intentions are patronizing. I was telling her something she already knew, talking about the very dangers that have turned over in her mind so many times they haunt her like chronic pain in the bones. She has endured this emotional distress ever since she made the decision to make this journey with her children from the far away southern state of Oaxaca to join her husband who is working in Atlanta. My concern quickly turned into respect. Despite governmental and economic systems that do not allow a livelihood for her family in their native land, she was using her feet to demand to live and prosper. Most of all, she was demanding the human right to provide opportunity for her children and to reunite their family.

Suddenly the popsicle cart carrying fruit-filled "paletas" comes strolling by and the eyes of the young ones light up and they surrounded the cart. The mothers scold that they do not have money for that expense, 5 pesos eachabout fifty cents. "Its okay," I say, even though it is not within our protocol to give beyond what we have for all. "Paletas all around!" I reach for change in my pocket reasoning, of course, that they needed to cool their body temperatures and needed the sugar intake anyway.

Simply, I want to give the best possible care and the largest doses of compassion to these people who move quickly through my life and forever strengthen my soul, hundreds each day, knowing that I am sharing moments with the human rights heroes and heroines of our time.



Posted by almamia at 7:07 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2006

migrant deaths

According to this Houston Chronicle article, 291 immigrants have died in attempted border crossings in the past 44 weeks. The deaths Monday, also mentioned in the article, bring that number to 300. With 8 weeks remaining in this fiscal year, the deaths are on track to surpass the 400 mark, as they have over the past 6 years. Additional troops at the border have only served to push the crossings back into California. The number of deaths has not been reduced.

Meanwhile, No More Deaths continues their tireless work of washing immigrants' feet and providing them life-giving food and water on both sides of the border.

Don't be fooled by those who argue that tighter border security will solve our immigration issues. They are tragically mistaken.

Posted by almamia at 8:51 AM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2006

a glimmer of hope

I think we need to match up a No More Deaths Volunteer with each member of the Colorado GOP too...
The following article which was published on www.azcentral.com

Desert-rescue tales sway GOP legislator

Apr. 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Rep. Doug Quelland stuck out as he waded through the prayer rally on the lawn of the state Capitol. And not just because of his trademark handlebar mustache.

Quelland, a Republican who represents north Phoenix, has been a reliable vote on "get-tough" immigration measures. His name is listed on several bills this session, including one that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to be charged with felony trespassing and another that seeks to deny them benefits.

They're the kinds of bills the Tuesday rally was designed to protest. The group of religious leaders asked for humane immigration reform.

But there was Quelland, who once stood on the lawn to support anti-undocumented-immigrant legislation, standing on the lawn amid people pleading for sympathy toward border crossers.

Quelland said his position on illegal immigration hasn't changed as much as it has evolved.

"I think it's good intentions," he said of the legislation introduced at the Capitol. "But I would like all the people in the House and the Senate to open dialogue and talk with people. You don't get anything done by staying uninformed."

Quelland's education was partly aided by talks with the woman who was standing next to him. She's the daughter of a longtime family friend he met at church. She was a fair-haired 22-year-old, wearing a bandanna on her head and a long prairie dress. She seemed to be constantly smiling. Her name was Maryada Vallet, and as her T-shirt indicated, she was a volunteer for No More Deaths.

That's the organization that camps out in the Arizona desert during the summer looking to rescue border crossers in distress. Two volunteers from that group are facing federal charges after they drove three undocumented immigrants to get medical attention.

Vallet, who was the class president and homecoming queen at Centennial High School in Peoria, became intensely interested in border issues while at Azusa Pacific University, a private Christian college in California. Upon graduation, she volunteered to work a summer with No More Deaths.

She said her parents were not immediately supportive of her plans, not because they feared for her safety as much as they didn't support the cause. "I had to de-mythicize a lot of this," she said. Her parents, she said, watch a lot of Fox News Network. "A lot of what they thought is what most people think about migrants."

But Vallet tells stories that put a face on the problem. She tells of Lorena, the 22-year-old she met who was crossing into the United States to make enough money to care for her sick son. She tells of Alberto, the corn farmer she found in the harsh Arizona desert. How she gives them water, tends to their blistered feet.

"It's very much like the good Samaritan," she said, referring to one of the parables told by Jesus in the New Testament.

Those tales softened her parents' views, she said. And apparently Quelland's. At least, it's made him take a second look.

"I don't know if my basic beliefs have changed," he said, "but I do know that there's some information out there that everyone should have, and they're just not getting it."

Part of it is faith based. The two share the same religious convictions, and Quelland seemed to get emotional as he heard this young Christian woman speak of her call to help the stranded in the desert.

And as we stood on the Senate lawn, and Vallet spoke of more experiences with No More Deaths, Quelland started openly weeping. "There's your story," he told me, pointing to Vallet. "Make her your story."

It will be a couple of more months before No More Deaths starts its summer saturation of the desert. Until then, the group might do some good by assigning a volunteer to each Republican member of the Arizona Legislature. A rescue mission to cool down their hearts.

Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or richard.ruelas@arizonarepublic .com.

Here is how we can help No More Deaths:

***Food and First Aid Kits Needed at the Border*** No More Deaths and Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) need your help! We must take death out of the migration equation! The number of tragic, migrant deaths in the desert along the Arizona/Mexico border is continually increasing. Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) is helping No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes collect the following items to distribute to migrants.

Needed Items:

FOOD KITS
For each Gallon-Sized Closable Plastic Bag, place 7-10 items, ideally 1 bag contains each of the following items:
X Sports Drink
X Pop-top lid meat or tuna
X Nuts, Trail mix, dried fruit, chips, fig bars, or cookies
X Granola, Power, or snack bars
X Pudding or fruit cup (with spoon)
X Peanut Butter or Cheese filled crackers
FIRST AID KITS:
For each Small Closable Plastic Bag add the following items:
X 4 to 8 bandages
X Gauze Pads
X Small first aid cream or ointment
X Alcohol Wipes
X Sunscreen, Chapstick, Hand Cream or Lotion
X Foot care creams, powders, or Moleskin
X Wrapped Candy or throat lozenges
X Aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil packets

What You Can Do!
1) Create a collection drive for the above materials at your church/organization/job etc.
2) Mail kits directly to No More Deaths, c/o St. Marks Presbyterian Church, 3809 East 3rd Street, Tucson, AZ 85716.

Posted by almamia at 9:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

let's get busy!

The following are excerpts from an email I received today from Gina Huett of the American Friends Service Committee in Denver.

If you wish to participate in a march/rally on May 1st, the Denver-specific information will not apply to you, but much of her advice can be adapted to your city:

The media would lead us to believe that every one of the tens of thousands of people turning out to support comprehensive immigration reform across the country is undocumented. Let's help them see the thousands that support our friends, co-workers and neighbors in the struggle for a just society. As we continue to see the many contributions immigrants make to our communities, let US be seen wearing white in solidarity. We encourage families of all backgrounds to join in the We Are America/Somos America March for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

What you can do!

Monday, May 1st, 2006, march from Viking Park to the Capitol with your church organization, your school flag, your organizational banner! Gather at Viking Park (intersection of Federal and 29th) at 9:00; march steps off at 10:30 and walks to the Capitol. Please wear white and remember to bring water and a snack. During the march, find the media and tell them you support a path to citizenship, worker protections, an end to the back logs and family unification. After the events on May 1st, write a letter to the editor reflecting on your experience unified with your community! Your voice in support of comprehensive immigration reform is necessary!

The following is a specific way you can be involved in preventing deaths in the desert. This group tries to reach immigrants in physical distress before tragedy occurs. They help provide first aid, food and water to those in need. Last year such acts landed two of their volunteers in jail. Here is how you can help:

***Food and First Aid Kits Needed at the Border*** No More Deaths and Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) need your help! We must take death out of the migration equation!

The number of tragic, migrant deaths in the desert along the Arizona/Mexico border is continually increasing. Coloradans for Immigrant Rights (CFIR) is helping No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes collect the following items to distribute to migrants. CFIR members will take the kits to Tucson at the end of May for No More Deaths to distribute at water camps and other designated areas along the border.

Needed Items:

FOOD KITS
For each Gallon-Sized Closable Plastic Bag, place 7-10 items, ideally 1 bag contains each of the following items:
X Sports Drink
X Pop-top lid meat or tuna
X Nuts, Trail mix, dried fruit, chips, fig bars, or cookies
X Granola, Power, or snack bars
X Pudding or fruit cup (with spoon)
X Peanut Butter or Cheese filled crackers
FIRST AID KITS:
For each Small Closable Plastic Bag add the following items:
X 4 to 8 bandages
X Gauze Pads
X Small first aid cream or ointment
X Alcohol Wipes
X Sunscreen, Chapstick, Hand Cream or Lotion
X Foot care creams, powders, or Moleskin
X Wrapped Candy or throat lozenges
X Aspirin, Tylenol, or Advil packets

What You Can Do!
1) Create a collection drive for the above materials at your church/organization/job etc.
2) Deliver the kits:
a. Contact Corey Sampson, with CFIR, at 303.861.0165 or coreyleft4@yahoo.com for questions or for large pickups. Contact Corey before May 17, 2006.
b. Drop off kits to the American Friends Service Committee by May 17, 2006 from 9-4 Monday-Friday, except May 3-5, when the AFSC office will be closed. AFSCs address: 901 W. 14th Ave., Suite #7, Denver 80204; phone: 303.623.3464.
c. Mail kits directly to No More Deaths, c/o St. Marks Presbyterian Church, 3809 East 3rd Street, Tucson, AZ 85716.

Posted by almamia at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)