Reflections on Three Weeks at the Border

Peaceful Communities

Most days, all we could see of the deportees who were being forced onto planes bound for Central America was their feet shuffling in chains. But occasionally the buses and fuel trucks that were parked in a manner to obstruct our view were not carefully aligned, and we got a clear view of the adults and children. Sometimes the shades on the plane were not closed, and we could see faces looking out at their last view of our country.

On any day, we could go across the border into the camp where children would be playing with sticks and balls just like children everywhere. Parents would be sweeping the dirt outside their tents and tidying up. Some people would be cooking on wood stoves they had built out of mud or tubs from old washing machines. People would be passing the time.

When we crossed back into the United States, there were never more than three people in line ahead of us waiting to present U.S. passports. People from Mexico, who have permits to cross every day in order to work or go to school, have to wait for hours in their own line. We regularly saw paramedics tending to people who succumbed to the heat while waiting.

If we went into the tent courts, we could watch as judges who were miles away conducted hearings via closed circuit television. They were so polite we could almost believe that the asylum seekers had a reasonable chance of winning their cases. But they didn’t. Almost no one ever gets asylum in these courts, by design.

It is generally thought that people from Cuba and Venezuela have an easier time getting asylum than people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The reason doesn’t seem to be that they are at greater risk and therefore more deserving of asylum. Rather, it seems that our international politics and relationships dictate how lenient we are with people trying to flee their countries. The Cubans and Venezuelans also seem to be more likely to have enough money to hire lawyers, which makes a huge difference.

Lawyers tell us that detainees are being moved inland from American detention facilities that are near the border, presumably so that there will be room to detain more people near the border. This might happen if Mexico decides not to continue to allow the U.S. to warehouse immigrants there, if Central American countries stop letting us dump people there, or if the coronavirus keeps the detention camps in Mexico from being viable.

There is almost no medical care of any sort in the camps and little in the surrounding communities, so an outbreak of COVID-19 could be catastrophic. The organization that has been bringing in volunteers from around the country has asked people who are not locals not to come anymore as a precaution against their carrying the virus into the camps. There is no indication that our government would relax its policies and let stricken people come across in order to be treated in U.S. hospitals. The situation is grim.

I learned a great deal during my recent three-week stay on the border. Along with other volunteers, we were able to help people who came to witness how our country’s policies are being implemented and how they are affecting people. We also helped reporters understand what they had come to investigate. We made sure immigration officials knew we were watching. We supported local relief and advocacy efforts. And now I am home, ready to do what I can to keep this issue in the public’s awareness.

Because of the coronavirus situation, it is unclear what form our witnessing will take in the coming days and weeks, but we will find a way to move forward together. Thanks to everyone who has supported these efforts in so many ways.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc

peacefulcommunities.org

Join Lin-Manuel Miranda, Billy Eichner, Ai-jen Poo, and Malcolm Jenkins Inspiring Activists

Swing Left just launched a powerful new video campaign called Winning Is Everything, to communicate exactly what’s at stake this November, and that winning can—and must—start now.

We know you know that, but we need your help making sure everyone does. As one of Swing Left’s most engaged members, will you watch the Winning Is Everything video and share it with your network?

 

Go Green Deerfield – Deerfield Passes Sustainability Resolution

Go Green Deerfield

Great news from Deerfield!  Our Village Board of Trustees passed a Sustainability Resolution to reduce village wide GHG emissions 45% by 2030, and net zero by 2050.  Read the full resolution here. It took 12 months of Go Green Deerfield working closely with our Mayor, Village Staff, and the Board of Trustees to bring this to a vote last night.  It passed 5 to 1 and we are all very excited!

This step paves the way to taking Action- Village wide.  Our next step is to work with the Village to create a Green Action Task Force to carry out these goals. While our ultimate goal is to bring all stakeholders together, we intend to start with a smaller group to quickly pull together a plan and start implementing ready-to-go actions.  Our target timing to have this task force in place is by late March/ early April.

This outcome is the work of many, including each of you.  You have been open, supportive and collaborative partners in this joint effort to address climate change.  Every experience you shared, every person you connected us with, and every piece of knowledge you offered played a role in getting us to where we are today. Thank You!

Attend our monthly meeting – February 27, 7pm at the Deerfield Public Library
Learn about what actions and opportunities are coming up. Share your ideas and find collaborators to help bring those ideas to life. There is important work to be done now that the sustainability resolution has passed. All are welcome.

Bear Witness in Brownsville, Texas

Peaceful Communities

Thousands of college-age revelers are about to descend upon the beautiful beaches on South Padre Island, Texas for their spring break. Just down the road, I will be standing vigil at the Mexican border in Brownsville, witnessing how our government is treating people who are trying to claim asylum as they flee violence in their home countries.

I leave tomorrow and plan on staying three weeks. I’ll try to post some reports on the Peaceful Communities Facebook page while I am down there, but before I go I wanted to invite anyone who would like to observe firsthand what is going on to come down while I’m there. I’ll be happy to show you around and help you understand what you are seeing.

If you come, you’ll definitely want to walk across the bridge into Matamoros, Mexico. It’s safe and it’s an easy walk. The asylum seekers are camped out in tents right outside the border bridge, and they are very friendly to visitors. Bring your passport.

If you want, you can volunteer to prepare food that is being brought each day to feed more than 1,000 people in the camp. You can also, if you like, volunteer to help serve the evening meal.

You might also want to sit in on the immigration courts at the border. Visitors are allowed at preliminary hearings but not at the hearings where final decisions about asylum are made. Even so, you will be able to see how masses of people are processed into a system that in almost all cases will eventually result in their being deported.

If you’re willing to wake up very early, you can join us at the airport to watch as people are loaded onto airplanes – in darkness – to be flown back to the countries they fled. Our government has been trying to hide the planes from us so we can’t photograph what is going on, so we think it is important to show up so they know we are still watching.

And of course, you will want to stand with us on the American side of the border and hold a sign, showing that we are witnessing all that is going on. Volunteers have maintained a daily presences for more than five weeks, and we hope to keep it going.

There are plenty of hotel rooms and B&Bs to stay in, and the weather should be springtime beautiful.

So think about stopping by. I think you will find it worthwhile. I would certainly enjoy the company. And our vigil may just help save lives.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.Peace
Lee@PeacefulCommunities.org

Volunteer – Democratic National Convention Host Committee

Volunteers are important to the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee and the convention.

During the Democratic National Convention, which will be held from July 13 to 16, 2020, and in the weeks leading up to the event, the host committee will welcome thousands of guests and delegates to Milwaukee and the surrounding region. Some of them will be visiting the city for the first time, and our volunteer team will be the first smiles they encounter and a friendly source of information.

Our volunteers will serve as Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee ambassadors, joining a history-making team that welcomes and delivers a positive experience to thousands of visitors from around the country and world, inspiring them to plan return trips to Milwaukee.

Sign up to Volunteer here

Learn more about the volunteer effort here.

Witness: MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols)

Large numbers of Central Americans are no longer appearing at our border seeking a better life. The government of Mexico, under pressure from President Trump, is keeping most of them from getting here. Mexico has reinforced both its southern border and its border with the U.S.

Nonetheless, thousands of people have made it to our border. Instead of following our prior practice of letting them into the U.S. while we consider their requests for asylum, we are forcing them to wait in Mexico.

The conditions on the Mexican side of our border are awful. Neither our government nor the Mexican government is providing adequate food, shelter, or medicine to the asylum seekers. Fresh water, bathing facilities, and toilets are in short supply. Diseases spread quickly through the tent-camps where people are concentrated. The only life-support many of these desperate people get comes from American volunteers who walk over the bridge from the U.S. each day carrying food and supplies that have been donated.

We worked with activists from around the country to bring attention to the immigrant children’s prisons, and we had great success. Several of those horrible places were closed, and the children were freed. Because people showed up at city council meetings and objected, San Antonio, Texas, Universal City, Texas, and Marietta, Georgia have recently refused to allow immigrant children’s prisons to open there, and our fellow activists are working right now to prevent such prisons from opening in other towns. Citizen involvement works!

Starting on January 12, we will begin a new effort. This time we are not only focusing on individual detention facilities. We will be calling for reversal of the Trump policies that force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico. We hope to maintain a regular presence in Brownsville, Texas, at the border crossing that leads into Matamoros, Mexico, where thousands of immigrants are stranded. Once again, we will be bringing attention to a problem that might otherwise fall out of the public consciousness as other news stories emerge.

If you think you might want to stand witness at the border for a few hours or a few days, you can get more information here:

https://tinyurl.com/tlnctgk?fbclid=IwAR2ABsAl13rhjI9jW9D0VBm7GklOJ9G8cdY7L1cJaAXLXBadyyVmxSQMvcQ

Or you can just contact me through the website I will try to answer any questions you have. We will need people not just on January 12, but for as long as it takes to restore decency to our country’s treatment of migrants.

Contributions to help this effort can be made online at:

http://www.peacefulcommunities.org/contribute/

or you can send a check to Peaceful Communities, Inc., PO Box 2324, Northbrook, IL 60065. Contributions are not tax deductible.

Thanks to everyone who has gone to the border, who will go, and who is supporting this effort in any way.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.

Ways You Can Become/Stay Involved

Let the countdown begin! 305 days until Election Day on November 3rd. We all signed up in January, 2017 to resist Trump’s agenda and fight for our democracy. Everything we’ve done has had an impact. It’s been an exhausting journey but let’s not give up now. There is still so much more to do. Below are some of the ways you can stay involved along with links to websites to continue getting information.

  • Chicago Women’s March – https://www.womensmarchchicago.org/
    • Saturday, 1/18/20 in Grant Park, 11am to 1pm
  • Help Flip Wisconsin Blue – https://northshoreindivisible.com/flip-wisconsin/
    • Letter writing campaigns
    • Register voters in Milwaukee
    • Canvass
  • Deputy Voter Registration Training – https://tenthdems.org/events/
    • 1/8/20 – Northbrook Library, 7 to 8:30pm (for Cook County residents)
    • 1/15/20 – Lake County Central Permit Facility (2nd Floor Conference Room), 500 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville, 6pm (for Lake County residents)
    • 1/22/20 – County Building (10th Floor – Assembly Room), 18 N. County Street, Waukegan, 2pm (for Lake County residents)
  • Volunteer to help re-elect:
    • Dick Durbin (D-IL) contact Chicago Office 312.353.4952
    • US Rep. Brad Schneider, Deerfield (D-IL-10) contact Lincolnshire Office 847.383.4870
    • US Rep. Sean Casten, Palatine (D-IL-6) campaign contact Phone 630.534.3018
    • Lauren Underwood, Naperville (D-IL-14) campaign contact Phone West Chicago 630. 549.2190
    • IL State Sen. Julie Morrison (29th Dist) campaign contact Deerfield Phone 847.945.5200
    • IL State Rep. Bob Morgan (58th Dist) campaign contact Highland Park Ph. 847.282.0577

CCAN-HRA still meets regularly and all are welcome to attend. If you would like to be notified of our meetings, please let us know and we will add you to our HRA email list. Most of you have hung in there over the past arduous three years and we are so grateful for your willingness to stay involved. However, we also respect those who no longer wish to stay active. Just let us know and we’ll remove your name from the CCAN email list.

We have the opportunity to flip the White House and YES, even the Senate this November! If we do this together, our activism will have a better chance at succeeding. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get back to work!!

CCAN-HRA

Human Rights Alliance Committee

Joni Reed

847-948-7333 (h)

847-558-5826 (c)

joni.reed@comcast.net

Wisconsin Actions You Can Take Between Now and January 16, 2020

Help us WIN WISCONSIN!  We have several initiatives going on that you may want to consider:
1. Registering voters in Milwaukee.  This commitment is during the week, during business hours. Attached is information (click for PDF) about the program.  Laura Kushner, our Wisconsin Initiative Campaign Manager has been up to Milwaukee herself a few times to register voters, so reach out to her if you have any questions about the process.
2. Letter writing campaigns.  You are welcome to write letters on your own at home. Attached is a ‘how to’ sheet on what to do.  You are also welcome to come and join our monthly letter writing parties at the Vernon Area Library in Lincolnshire.  our next party is January 16 at 7:00 PM. We will be in the Youth Services Room.  Come and join us!
3. There is canvassing going on in Kenosha on Jan. 11.  If you are interested you should contact Nancy Bruski at nancysbruski@gmail.com .  Note that there are more canvassing opportunities coming up later in the winter and spring.  If you are on the email list you will receive emails about them from North Shore Indivisible.