THE DEPORTATIONS ARE THE CAUSE OF THE CRISIS OF THE CHILDREN AT THE BORDER – THEY MUST STOP NOW!

THE DEPORTATIONS ARE THE CAUSE OF THE CRISIS OF THE CHILDREN AT THE BORDER – THEY MUST STOP NOW!

Elvira Arellano, the internationally known human rights activist who has worked for the last six years with Central American migrants, issued a statement today on the so-called crisis of migrant children at the border. She was surrounded by a new mobilization of the extended families of those fighting deportations and those seeking to reunify their families after deportations. She made her statement in front of ICE headquarters in Chicago in the last and seventh week of “Promise Watch” demonstrations, designed to mark off the weeks in the President’s promise to take executive action if the Congress did not act on reform by July 4th.

moral monday elvira“The crisis at the border shows why the deportations must stop. It is the deportations that have caused this crisis, separating millions of families, leaving children in desperate situations. The primary motivation of the migration to the border is family reunification. To use the children as a reason to delay immigration reform, as some Republican members of Congress are doing, is both cruel and ridiculous since the lack of reform and the continuing deportations are the root cause of the crisis.”

 “I have worked for the last six years with Central American migrants, traveling on the trains with them, running from the gangsters – and the government – with them, searching for disappeared and kidnapped family members with them. They did not just wake up one morning and decide to come with their children thousands of miles to the U.S. They are part of families still living in the U.S. and they know that reunifying with these families is their best hope of survival. The millions of deportations have left families separated and strewn down across Mexico and Central America, struggling to survive the violence.

 “We must also begin now to establish the process for an orderly and safe reunification of families with U.S. citizen spouses and children who have been unjustly separated by a broken law: that is essential to any solution to the crisis.”

“We need also to stop the lies about “unaccompanied children.”. These children are in almost all cases accompanied by an adult, even a young adult, whose care they are in. As part of the process at the border, those children coming to the border must be treated humanely and they must not be separated and isolated from the adults whose care they are in.”

“Finally, much of the violence in all of these countries comes from a combination of the drug trade which prospers from the U.S. market, the deporting of gang members from the U.S. to Central America and the millions of dollars poured into Mexico for “security purposes”, turning Mexico and Central America into war zones. The response of the U.S. must be to support economic development and jobs in these countries not to further escalate the violence, not to fund the repression of families and children who are suffering because of U.S. policies.

“The Congress has proven that it will use any excuse to stop from acting on meaningful immigration reform. Last week it was “We don’t trust the President.” This week it is “the children on the border”. The Republican failure to act, however, does not excuse the Democrats who failed to act when they held super-majorities in the both the House and Senate. Nor does it excuse the policy of super enforcement which resulted in the deportations of two million people during Obama’s term in office – most of whom with no criminal record and with families still living in the United States.moral monday line up

“The time is up! President Obama MUST use his executive authority NOW to extend the deferments he gave the dreamers to their parents and the parents of U.S. citizen children and to provide an orderly, well defined process of emergency parole for those who have been unjustly deported and separated from U.S. citizen children or spouses.

“Until the President acts we must mobilize the entire Latino family of families. This is the fifteenth year in our struggle to fix the broken law. We need to make this summer a quincenera of struggle, mobilizing our extended families.”

Memorandum “On Right To Return Of Those Deported, Separated From Their U.S. Citizen Children And/Or Spouses”

Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras

2009 W. 22nd Place, Chicago Illinois 60608

773-647-7282 http://www.familialatinaunida.com

Elvira Arellano, Emma Lozano co-presidentes

Memorándum “Sobre el derecho de regresar de los deportados y separados de sus hijos y/o conyugues que son ciudadanos estadounidenses”

La Familia Latina ha enfocado su atención en varios casos claves en los cuales una madre o un padre ha sido deportada/o y separada/o de sus hijos menores de edad o esposo/a que son ciudadanos estadounidenses. En estos casos, por medio de un esfuerzo concentrado de una coalición de fuerzas de la comunidad latina, han logrado que las autoridades proporcionen libertad condicional humanitaria de emergencia para regresar a este país para estar con sus familias, presentándose personalmente a las autoridades fronterizas y proveyendo a tales autoridades una documentación adecuada para cumplir con ciertas condiciones. Presentamos en este documento un sumario de las condiciones con las cuales han cumplido y la documentación que han presentado.

Tenemos varios motivos por hacer esto:

1) En bastantes casos individuos, incluyendo niños menores de edad, se han presentado en las fronteras, a veces instados por otras personas, sin preparación y orientación adecuadas. Esto ha perjudicado sus posibilidades de regresar en el futuro, ha causado que algunos intentos fracasen en una manera peligrosa, y ha causado daño irreparable a sus familias y sobretodo a los niños.

Nuestra meta es la de proveer para esta clase de personas un sendero claro a la re entrada y un grupo claro y definido de las condiciones y documentación con las cuales deben cumplir para lograr re entrar y reunificación con sus familias.

2) Esperamos que las coaliciones como la que logramos establecer en los casos designados, pueden establecerse en ambos lados de la frontera con el fin de ayudar a la reunificación de las familias por medio de libertad condicional humanitaria de emergencia.

3) Finalmente lo más importante es que queda claro, a base de nuestra experiencia, que el Presidente Obama y el jefe de Seguridad Interna Jeh Johnson DISPONEN DE PLENA AUTORIDAD de reunificar muchas familias que han separado durante los últimos años, durante los cuales 2 millones de personas han sido deportadas en una campaña de terror, un atropello inmoral en contra de familias y niños. INSTAMOS Y EXIGIMOS QUE LA ADMINISTRACIÓN EJERZA TAL AUTORIDAD ADMINISTRATIVA PARA PROVEER UN SENDERO CLARO A LA REUNIFICACIÓN DE EMERGENCIA PARA ESTAS FAMILIAS SUFRIDAS.

4) Finalmente exigimos que la administración extienda la libertad condicional que se logre por este proceso otorgándoles a estas personas la “libertado condicional en plazo” (parole in place) hasta el momento en que se logre una reforma legislativa adecuada, que corrija el daño ya hecho a nuestras familias y nuestros niños por el actual sistema quebrado de leyes migratorias. Es moralmente indefendible que este gobierno y nación toleren estas separaciones despiadadas. Es una imperativa moral que este gobierno provee UN SENDERO A LA REUNIFICACIÓN Y SEGURIDAD PARA NIÑOS QUE SON CIUDADANOS DE LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS. Los Estados Unidos a operado un sistema “de facto” de mano de obra indocumentado durante decenios, el cual benefició tremendamente a la economía de este país, bajo administraciones de ambos partidos, los demócratas tanto como los republicanos. Aquí se formaron familias nuevas y nacieron niños. Es una cosa inmoral y desmedida que esta nación simplemente destroce estas familias, que las deja como blancos de chantaje, secuestro y asesinato, lavando sus manos de su responsabilidad para ellas. Esto afecta no solamente a los que han sido tratados de esta manera, sino reta el alma de esta nación con su compromiso de tratar la familia como la institución más básica de la sociedad y el pozo del cual surgen la moralidad y la fe de esta nación.

Nos da placer informarle al público que en los casos en que hemos enfocado nuestra atención, las familias fueron unificadas. Ofrecemos estos casos como comprobantes de que un proceso de emergencia bien ordenado para el regreso de deportados con hijos que son ciudadanos estadounidenses puede establecerse siempre y cuando tales familias reciban orientación y ayuda en el proceso.

Las Condiciones que Deben Cumplirse para Lograr la Libertad Condicional Humanitaria (Humanitarian Parole) Cuando una Persona se Presenta a las Autoridades en la Frontera:

1. El individuo debe haber agotado todos los recursos legales de reunificación con sus familias. Esto es el caso cuando la persona se encuentra bajo una prohibición de 10 o 20 años de entrar a los Estados Unidos, haciendo imposibles las peticiones familiares.

2. La persona debe ser un padre, una madre, o cónyuge de un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos o un residente permanente legal.

3. La persona debe proveer documentación del hecho que los familiares en cuestión no pueden trasladarse a la patria de la persona deportada y vivir en condiciones de seguridad, y que al trasladarse al otro país, los niños ciudadanos pierden sus beneficios por razón de tal reubicación.

4. Debe proveer documentación que los familiares que permanecen en los Estados Unidos necesitan la ayuda del deportado/la deportada y de que el deportado / la deportada no puede prestar tal ayuda en sus actuales circunstancias.

5. Es indispensable proveer documentación de la ciudadanía estadounidense de los niños, por ejemplo por medio de actas de nacimiento.

6. También se requiere documentación que la persona que busca re entrar es de buen carácter y no ha sido encontrado culpable de un crimen serio.

7. Finalmente, debe proveerse documentación que la persona que va a regresar tiene garantía de un empleo legal en los Estados Unidos con salario adecuado para proveer la seguridad de su familia, o alternativamente, puede proveer cuidado para los niños mientras que el esposo/la esposa trabaja para proveer el apoyo.

Tres estudios de caso:

En todos estos casos, la violencia que rodea el individuo y/o su familia como resultado de su estatus como persona deportada y sus relaciones con familiares en los Estados Unidos constituyen un factor importante. Sencillamente es la situación real que personas deportadas, y sus familias, se convierten en blancos de organizaciones criminales por razón de la percepción de que los familiares en los Estados Unidos disponen del dinero para pagar rescates en el caso de plagios o atropellos, reales o amenazados. Esto también es una situación que los Estados Unidos ha creado y que debe aceptar su responsabilidad.

1. Elvira Arellano:

Este año Elvira se presentó en la frontera con su hijo Saúl, un ciudadano estadounidense. Estaba cargada con una prohibición de 20 años de no poder entrar en los Estados Unidos, y carecía de otro recurso. Su argumento fue que su seguridad personal y la de su hijo estaban bajo peligro de violencia que se dirigía a ellos dos por razón de sus nexos con personas en los Estados Unidos y por razón, también, de su posición destacada como defensora de derechos humanos de los migrantes, que ha retado la violencia de las organizaciones criminales y la colusión del gobierno mexicano con ellos. Argumentó que su hijo, un ciudadano estadounidense, no podía vivir en condiciones de seguridad en México y fue negado beneficios que le corresponden como ciudadano de este país por derecho. Elvira contaba con un apoyo amplio en la comunidad latina. A Elvira le otorgaron libertad provisional y ha podido regresar a los Estados Unidos con su hijo.

2. Presentación en la frontera en el día de las madres.

En el día de las madres este año, una madre se presentó en la frontera con sus hijos que son ciudadanos estadounidenses. A la madre le habían impuesto una deportación expedida cuando intentó entrar en los Estados Unidos antes. Casi inmediatamente después tuvo éxito en entrar. Conoció un ciudadano estadounidense y tuvieron 2 hijos, también ciudadanos estadounidenses. Cumpliendo con un consejo malo de parte de un abogado, ella y su esposo regresaron a México en un intento de archivar una petición para su regreso legal a los Estados Unidos. Le negaron su petición y además le impusieron una prohibición de 10 años de regresar a los Estados Unidos por razón de la primera deportación expedida. Su marido regresó a Chicago donde trabaja como profesor de educación bilingüe, para poder apoyar económicamente a su esposa e hijos en la ciudad de México.

Ella ha sido amenazada con demandas de extorción. Otras personas en la cuadra donde vive se han obligado a pagar pagos de extorción. Un hombre rehusó pagar, y lo mataron. Ella ha tenido que reubicarse y ha sido necesario no enviar los niños a la escuela. Varias veces el esposo ha tenido que ir a México para ayudar a las mudanzas de su familia.

Como parte de su presentación en la frontera en Laredo, la madre mostró comprobantes de la ciudadanía estadounidense de sus dos hijos y su marido. Presentó una denuncia formal de la violencia y las amenazas que tanto ella como sus hijos han tenido que soportar. Presentó comprobantes del empleo de su marido y su capacidad de apoyar económicamente a ella y a los hijos, explicando también que él no podría cuidar bien a los hijos mientras que trabajaba para ganar dinero. Presentó evidencia que jamás había sido declarada culpable de un crimen. Presentó cartas de apoyo de organizaciones latinas en los Estados Unidos, y cartas de México que explicaban la situación precaria de ella y de sus hijos ciudadanos estadounidenses;. Le concedieron libertad provisional humanitaria. Actualmente ella y sus hijos están seguros con su esposo y padre, un ciudadano estadounidense.

3. Presentación en la Frontera en el Día de los Padres.

En el día de los padres un padre mexicano se presentó en la frontera con su hija y su esposa, ambas ciudadanas estadounidenses. Presentó documentación de atropellos criminales en contra de su persona e inclusive del asesinato de un compañero de trabajo, que explicó porque era que su esposa e hija habían abandonado todo intento de vivir con él en México, y porque ellas regresaron a los Estados Unidos. Se presentaron también comprobantes de la ciudadanía de la esposa y la hija, en forma de actas de nacimiento, como parte del paquete de documentos. Presentó garantías de empleo en los Estados Unidos que le permitiría apoyar económicamente a su esposa y a la hija, y argumentó que por razón de la violencia documentada que se había dirigido en contra de él, no era posible para él seguir trabajando y apoyándolas económicamente en México. Presentó documentación que su esposa no podía trabajar y que su suegra que había sido el apoyo único de la familia ya no podía trabajar, y que era necesario que la esposa cuidara a la hija a causa del trauma causada cuando de facto deportaron a ella junta con su padre. Presentó evidencia que había agotado todos los remedios legales por razón de una prohibición de 10 años que le impusieron cuando un abogado le dio un consejo malo, y él y su esposo se presentaron para pedir una petición humanitaria para que él pudiera regresar.

Cuando este hombre se presentó abiertamente y sin esconder nada, a las autoridades en la frontera, lo llevaron preso, entregado a ICE y luego le otorgaron libertad condicional para re entrar en el país y reunificarse con su esposa y su hija. Este caso constituye un ejemplo del sistema trabajando para proteger a las familias y a los niños.

Circulación de Este Memorándum.

Tras ser revisada por nuestros abogados y otras organizaciones, vamos a presentar este memorándum a los funcionarios de ICE en Chicago; luego iremos a Washington para presentarlo a Jeh Johnson, el Jefe del Departamento federal de Seguridad Interna. También lo presentaremos a nuestros congresistas y senadores, y a organizaciones en todo el país.

Mantenemos nuestro compromiso con la aprobación de una legislación de reforma migratoria que incluya condiciones claras para el regreso de deportados y la reunificación de familias, además de proteger las familias que todavía se mantienen unidas en los Estados Unidos. Elogiamos a aquellos pocos congresistas que buscan la reforma en una manera seria. Sin embargo, creemos que familias y niños que se encuentran atrapadas/os en este sistema de mano de obra indocumentada y en el sistema roto de leyes migratorios, no deben pagar el precio de guerras políticas y parálisis político.

Por lo tanto exigimos que el Presidente Obama que cumpla con su promesa de utilizar su autoridad ejecutiva para dar alivio a nuestras familias si el Congreso no actúa para el 4 de julio a más tardar. Tenemos confianza que esto representa el sentimiento en el país en el contexto de la parálisis político en el Congreso y las practicas moralmente repugnantes de deportación masiva.

Vamos a seguir llevando a cabo nuestra “ Vigilia de la Promesa” y nuestros “lunes morales” hasta el 4 de julio para hacer claras nuestras demandas de “DACA Para Todos” y “libertad condicional de emergencia para los separados”. Si el presidente no actúa en cumplimiento de su promesa para el 4 de julio hacemos un llamamiento para que todas las personas de fe y consciencia se junten con nosotros para un verano de movilización y resistencia en contra de la maldad del atropello en contra de la familia latina.

Memorandum “On Right To Return Of Those Deported, Separated From Their U.S. Citizen Children And/Or Spouses”

Familia Latina Unida has focused on several key cases in which a father or mother has been deported and is separated from their U.S. citizen children and/or spouse. In these cases, through a concentrated effort of a coalition of forces from the Latino community, they have achieved emergency humanitarian parole back into the country, back with their families, by presenting themselves to border authorities and by providing documentation to meet certain conditions. We summarize here the conditions they met and the documentation they provided.

We do this for several reasons:

1)   Individuals, including minor children, presenting themselves at the border and requesting permission to reenter have often done so, and been encouraged to do so, without preparation or clear guidelines. This has resulted in harm to their future reentries, has resulted in dangerous failure and has often caused irreparable damage to their families and especially to their children. It is our intention to provide for them a clear path to reentry and a clear and defined set of conditions and documentation they must meet to achieve reentry and reunification with their families.

2)   It is our hope that coalitions, such as the one we established in the designated cases, can be established on both sides of the border to assist in the reunification of families through the vehicle of emergency parole.

3)   Finally, and most importantly, it is clear from our experience that the current administration, under President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Chief Johnson, DO NOW HAVE THE AUTHORITY to reunify many families which have been separated during these last years, during which two million people have been deported in a campaign of terror and immoral assault on families and children. WE ENCOURAGE AND DEMAND THAT THE ADMINISTRATION EXERCISE THIS EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY AND PROVIDE A CLEAR PATH TO EMERGENCY REUNIFICATION FOR THESE SUFFERING FAMILIES.

4)   Finally, we urge the administration to extend the parole status gained through this process indefinitely through the designation of “parole in place” or until such time as an adequate reform legislation is achieved, correcting the injustices already done to families and children by our broken immigration system. It is morally indefensible for this government and its people TO FAIL TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for these heartless and unjust separations of families, the great harm it has done to them, and it is a moral imperative for this government TO PROVIDE A PATH TO REUNIFICATION AND SECURITY FOR U.S. CITIZEN CHILDREN. The United States operated a de facto system of undocumented labor for decades to the nation’s economic benefit, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Families were formed and children were born here. It is immoral and unconscionable for the nation to simply destroy these families, leave them targeted for extortion and murder and walk away from its responsibilities to them. This not only affects those who have been so mistreated but raises a challenge to the soul of the nation in its covenant to protect the family as the most basic institution of society and the well from which morality and faith in the nation are generated.

We are pleased to make public that in the case of the families on which we focused attention and resources, the families were reunited. We offer these cases as proof that an orderly, emergency process for the return of deportees with U.S. citizen children can be established if the affected families are informed and assisted in the process.

The Conditions That Must Be Met For Humanitarian Parole Upon Presentation At The Border:

1)   The individual must have exhausted all other legal means of reunification with their family. This occurs when the deported person has had a ten or twenty year ban on reentry placed on them, making family petitions impossible.

2)   The individual must be a father, mother or spouse of a U.S citizen or legal permanent resident.

3)   Documentation should be provided that the U.S. citizen family members cannot move to the country of the individual’s deportation and live securely and that the benefits guaranteed to U.S. citizen children are being lost by their relocation from the country.

4)   Documentation should be provided that the family members remaining in the U.S. require the assistance of the deportee and that such deportee is unable to provide for them in his or her current circumstance.

5)   Documentation of the U.S. citizen status of the children and/or spouse should be provided; e.g. birth certificates.

6)   Documentation that the person seeking admission through humanitarian parole is of good character and has no felony criminal convictions.

7)   Finally, documentation should be provided that the returning deportee has a guarantee of legal employment in the U.S. sufficient to provide for the security of his or her family or, alternatively, will provide appropriate care for the children while their spouse works to provide support.

3 Case studies:

In all of these cases, the violence that surrounds the individual and/or his or her family as a result of their deported status and their relationships to family members in the U.S. is an important factor. It is simply a reality the nation must face that individuals who are deported, and their families, are targeted by criminal organizations because of the perception that family members in the U.S. have the means to pay ransom in the face of threatened or actual kidnappings and assaults. This again is a situation which the U.S. has created and for which it must take responsibility.

 

  1. Elvira Arellanoelvira2

Elvira presented herselfat the border with her U.S. citizen son Saul earlier this year. She suffered under a 20 year ban from reentry into the country and had no other legal resourse. She argued that her safety and the safety of her son was in jeopardy because of violence and threats of violence aimed at them because of their connection with people in the U.S. and because of her position of leadership as a human rights activists on behalf of migrants, challenging the violence of criminal organizations and collusion by the Mexican government. She argued that her U.S. citizen son, unable to live securely in Mexico, was being denied the benefits due him as a U.S. citizen. She received support from a broad coalition of forces in the Latino community. Elvira was granted parole and reentered the United States with her son.

 

  1. Mother’s Day Presentation at the Border

On Mother’s day of this year, a mother presented herself at the border with her U.S. citizen children. The mother had been given an expedited deportation when she first tried to enter the country. She entered successfully almost immediately.  She met a U.S. citizen and gave birth to 2 U.S. citizen children. Under bad advice from an attorney, she and her husband returned to Mexico in an attempt to petition for her return legally. She was denied reentry and given a ten year bar because of the earlier expedited deportation.. Her husband returned to Chicago where he works as a bi-lingual teacher in order to support his wife and children in Mexico City.

She had been threatened and extortion demands have been made against her. Others on the block where she lives have had to pay extortion. One man refused – and was killed. She has had to relocate and her children have had to be kept out of school. The husband has had to return to Mexico to relocate them several times.

The Salmeron Family

The Salmeron Family

As part of her presentation at the border at Laredo the mother showed proof of citizenship of her husband and two U.S. citizen children. She presented a formal denunciation of the violence and threats with which she and her children had been living. She presented her husband’s employment and ability to provide for her and the children but explained that he could not care for the children adequately while he worked to provide for them. She provided evidence that she had no criminal convictions. She presented letters of support from Latino organizations in the U.S. and letters from Mexico explaining the precarious situation facing her and her U.S. citizen children. She was granted a humanitarian parole. She and her U.S. citizen children are safe and secure with their U.S. citizen husband and father.

 

  1. Father’s Day Presentation at the Border
DSC_8205

photo credit to Eileen Meslar

On Father’s Day, a Mexican born father presented himself at the border with his U.S. citizen daughter and U.S. citizen wife. He presented documentation of criminal assaults on himself, including the murder of his co-worker, that explained why his wife and daughter had given up their attempt to live with him in Mexico and returned to the U.S. Evidence of the citizenship of his wife and daughter (birth certificates) were presented in his package of documentation. He presented guarantees of employment in the U.S. through which he could support his family and argued that because of the documented violence against him he was unable to work to provide for them in Mexico. He presented documentation that his wife was unable to work, that his mother-in-law who had been their sole support was no longer able to work and that the care for his daughter by his wife was necessary because of the trauma produced by the violence when she was de facto deported with him to Mexico. He presented evidence that he had exhausted his legal alternatives because of a ten year ban placed on him when, on bad advice from an attorney, he and his wife presented themselves of a waiver petition for his return.

Upon his presentation, openly without concealment, to border authorities, he was taken into custody, turned over to ICE and given parole to reenter the country and be reunified with his wife and daughter. This was an example of the system working to protect families and children.

Circulation of This Memorandum

After review by our attorneys and other organizations, we will present this memorandum to ICE officials in Chicago and will travel to Washington DC to present the memorandum to Homeland Security Chief Johnson. We will also present the memorandum to our Illinois U.S. Senators and Congressmen and will circulate it to organizations throughout the country.

We remain committed to the passing of reform legislation that would establish clear conditions for the return of deportees and the reunification of families as well as protect families still remaining together in the U.S. We commend the effort of those few members of Congress who are sincerely pursuing reform. We believe however that families and children which have been caught up in the system of undocumented labor and a broken immigration system should not continue to pay the price of political wars and political paralysis.

We therefore urge President Obama to keep his promise to use his executive authority to provide relief to our families if the Congress does not act by July 4th. We are confident that this reflects the majority sentiment in the country in the face of the political paralysis in the Congress and the moral repugnance and cruelty of family separation.

We will continue our “Promise Watch” on “Moral Mondays” until July 4th to make clear our demands for “DACA Para Todos” and “Emergency Parole for the Separated”. If the President does not act according to his promise by July 4th, we call on all people of faith and conscience to join with us in a summer of mobilization and resistance to the evil of the assault on the Latino family.

We Are Not Dreaming Anymore (Full Length Feature Film)

NEW FILM RELEASE – FREE ON YouTUBE!

LA FUERZA FOR JUSTICE: “DACA FOR ALL”

WE ARE NOT DREAMING ANYMORE!

The dreamers have taken their place in the struggle for legalization of the undocumented. They are a unique part of the population caught in the turmoil created by the domination of the continent of the Americas through the global economy and the long history of the Monroe Doctrine, the century old doctrine that the U.S. could intervene in any country on the continent if it served the interest of the United States and its corporations.

Like all empires, the U.S. imported cheap labor from the nations it dominated. In the context of modern economics, there was no longer the need to capture workers and bring them here in chains. The dependent economies of Central America and Mexico could not provide jobs for their own populations. For over a century, workers were allowed to cross the border without papers to fill the needs of U.S. companies for cheap labor, of U.S. agribusiness for farm labor, of the growing service sector in restaurants and hotels – and for domestic workers for the wealthy. The undocumented worker, without rights, without protection, without recourse to the courts, was a perfect worker for these needs.

The expansion of so-called “Free Trade” agreements allowed U.S. agribusiness to dump their production at costs with which domestic farmers in Mexico and Central America could not compete. With the passage of NAFTA in 1990, nearly 5 million agricultural workers and small farmers in Mexico were put out of work. This is almost the exact number that migrated and were allowed to enter the U.S. without papers during the 1990’s. The complex fiscal moves that decimated the Mexican economy, taking over banks and bringing about the devaluation of the peso, added to the crisis – and the flow of undocumented workers.

As Elvira Arellano once said, “We did not come here for the American Dream; we came here because of what the American nightmare did to our countries.”

The undocumented worker, while perfectly filling the needs of the U.S. corporate economy – and contributing at the same time to the beleaguered social security fund and other tax revenues – also had a “surge effect” on the demographic change that was sweeping the country. The impressive increase in the Latin American population had become the largest single grouping in the nation. It became a political imperative – for many Democrats as well as Republicans – to insure that the undocumented workers they had brought to the U.S. did not achieve citizenship – and the vote. While the white population had enjoyed its occasional visits to Mexican restaurants, it now felt threatened by a cultue and a language it did not understand.

The undocumented workers of the nineties did not come and return because there were no jobs to return to in their decimated economies. Increased border enforcement also made it more difficult to return and then come back to find work. They stayed, married and formed families. Five million U.S. citizen children were born of these families – and the number still increases every year. And then there were “the dreamers”, those who had come with their parents before the age of fifteen, some even as infants.

The dreamers were often indistinguishable from U.S. born young people in their mastery of the English language, their accomplishment in school and their integration into the culture. Some among the democrats believed that the dreamers could be legalized and added to their political base. At the same time this “concession” would be used to substitute for legalization of the 12 million undocumented, many of whom had U.S. citizen spouses and children. In short, the dreamers and”the dream act” would be used as a foil against comprehensive immigration reform.

The Dream Act movement came replete with a readymade mythology. “All we want is the American Dream, the chance to succeed in the land of opportunity.” Their desire to come out of the shadows became a testimony to the superiority of the U.S. system of government and its free market economy, a superiority that had been created, after all, by Europeans, by Caucasians, by WHITE people!

The Dream Act campaign also required the dreamers to denounce their own parents as “criminals” and to support their deportation. The Dreamers were being coerced into becoming the defense of the nation against the Latin American challenge to injustice and forced dependency.

Some young people went along with the campaign, dazzled by opportunities and fame. Others chose to remain in the shadows, especially those “undesirables’”, victims of the massive criminalization machine in the U.S., excluded from the limelight or the opportunities of the dream act.

That is the point at which this movie takes place. The organization Familia Latina Unidahad been organized by Elvira Arellano and Emma Lozano to defend the mixed status families, undocumented parents with U.S. citizen children or spouses. The separation of families had become the face of the undocumented, particularly during the year long sanctuary of Elvira and her U.S. citizen son Saul, which gained international coverage. Although sympathetic to the cause of the dreamers, Familia Latina Unida saw the danger the “Dream Act Substitution” held for the movement. They also saw the intense psychological terrorism with which these young people were being hit, demanding that they separate themselves from their families, from their culture and from their history.

It was then that Familia Latina Unida organized “La Fuerza Juventud” which joined the dreamers with the U.S. citizen sons and daughters of undocumented parents in the demand for legalization for all. They were one million dreamers and five million U.S. citizen sons and daughters of the undocumented: Six million strong! They shared a life in the shadows with all the everyday acts of discrimination which that included – and the fear of coming home to parents that had been disappeared from their lives.

In the face of a politically paralyzed congress, the Fuerza and Familia Latina Unida began the campaign to get the President to use his executive authority to stop the deportations. With Gutierrez as their champion they rallied and mobilized, first winning a policy of prosecutorial discretion to set aside some deportations of those with U.S. citizen children, and then, on the eve of Obama’s second Presidential election, the process known as “DACA”, through which dreamers could apply for and receive deferments and work permits.

In defiance of those who had hoped to use the dreamers as a blockade against legalization of the 12 million, the new DACA recipients continued in the struggle with the Fuerza Juventud for legalization for all. They joined in the demand for the President to extend “DACA for all”. They were joined in turn by other Latino and African American youth with whom they had grown up, bound together in one generation.

They also joined in a new demand. Elvira Arellano’s dramatic challenge to her 20 year bar from reentry at the border and her miraculous parole back into the country – because of popular support – brought to light the situation of those parents who had been deported. They became immediate targets for the criminal organizations in Mexico and Central America for extortion, kidnapping and murder since it was perceived that they had family in the U.S. who would pay for their lives. These criminal organizations, created by the massive market for illegal drugs in the U.S., the overproduction of guns by U.S. companies and the devastated economies of their countries, had turned on the deportees. To the demand on President Obama for “DACA para Todos” was added the demand for “Emergency Parole for the Separated”.

The dreamers had turned back to their families, their history – and their struggle. In a nation in which the family was falling apart, the presence of 12 million faithful people fighting to keep their families together was an offer of redemption, a challenge to the pride, arrogance and individualism that had corrupted a nation and devastated a continent.

This film depicts the new reality of a generation in struggle. They were not dreaming the American Dream anymore. Nor were they advertising themselves as victims, begging for a chance at the American dream. They were telling this nation it must take responsibility for the system of undocumented labor from which it had drawn great profits. They were wide awake and the tip of the spear of the people of Latin America in their centuries long quest for survival and self-determination, a new dream that the arc of history could be bent towards justice – if the people would struggle.

The film’s release comes as Familia Latina Unida and La fuerZa Juventud organize weekly Promise Watch protests in front of ICE. They are “building a moral mountain” on which the President must stand to keep his promise that he will use his executive authority if the Republican controlled Congress does not act by July 4th. Ironically, the offering of DACA to the dreamers is the proof that the President has the power to offer the same deferments to their parents and the parents of U.S. citizen children.

The Fuerza would also begin to launch an impressive campaign to secure health care for the undocumented who were excluded from Obamacare – but that is the subject of Sergio Perez’ next film. They would also begin to build a bridge to African American youth, the victims, along with Latino youth, of the most massive campaign of criminalization in the history of any country, the descendents of the cheap labor brought to the continent of the Americas from Africa. Together, they would represent the future transformation of the nation and perhaps the salvation of the continent. That too is the subject of a future film.

No, they are not dreaming anymore. The youth are a part of a new generation that is not the problem – they are the solution!

While many contributed to this film, the principal camera work and editing was done by Sergio Perez, a true son of the pueblo. He was at every march, every meeting and he traveled with Congressman Gutierrez to events across the country. Sergio gives special credit to his wife Miriam Perez, the first organizer of La FuerZa Juventud. Miriam herself was a dreamer, brought here by undocumented parents, deported, separated from her husband and U.S. citizen child at a young age. She worked to return legally to this country and made it through both high school and then college on a basketball scholarship. She continues to lead the organization of the Fuerza in its effort to close “the 20 year death gap” which the undocumented suffer because of lack of access to health care.

Miriam and Sergio also represent a personal victory: a unified family in the faith and in the struggle, with a son and a daughter who are a part of the solution!

The Salmeron Family Returns to Chicago!

20140510_145957

Gustavo Salmeron

On Tuesday May 6, Familia Latina Unida set out to San Antonio Texas along with father and husband, Gustavo Salmeron, to begin the journey of reuniting his family in, “Operation: Save the American Family.” His wife, Marlenne and two U.S. citizen children have been in Mexico for almost seven years without their father. Marlenne was given bad advice from an attorney that led to her arrest and deportation. Gustavo, a U.S. Citizen, stayed back to work but often traveled to Mexico to keep his family safe. In the last few years, violence has increased in Mexico and Gustavo’s children were under the constant threat of kidnapping and exploitation. At times they were too afraid to even leave their home to go to school.

Gustavo has fought for the reunification of families with Familia Latina Unida for over a year. His commitment to the struggle and the stories of his own family touched our hearts and moved us to head to San Antonio and then Laredo, Texas to meet with Marlenne and their children at the border. Marlenne was to present herself to Homeland Security to ask for humanitarian parole for the freedom to be with her family in safety in the United States while she fights her deportation case.

Before the big day, Gustavo and Familia Latina Unida arrived in San Antonio to meet with United Farm Workers Union and Brown Beret members for a march to city hall. All of these groups stood in solidarity with Gustavo on his journey to bring his family back. While at city hall, the community petitioned their local government to make San Antonio a sanctuary city for the undocumented community.

After our work in San Antonio, we traveled to Laredo, Texas to prepare for the crossing of Marlenne and their children on May 10, Mexican Mother’s Day. Members of Familia Latina Unida met with agents from Homeland Security and Border Patrol. Gustavo and Marlenne’s Attorney, John Antia, prepared all necessary legal documents and was in communication with the family and organizers in Mexico.

20140510_142753

Nick waves to Marlenne, Yemi & Said

Mother’s Day in Laredo was hot and humid. Groups assembled for a press conference on each side of the border. In attendance were Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, Father John Davis of St. Francisco Javier Catholic Church, several members from the local LULAC counsel, Elvira Arellano/Familia Latina Unida and several others- all in unity with the Salmeron Family. Many spoke of the injustice that lies there at the border and stressed that we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are families. And all families, no matter where its members were born, deserve to be with one another in safety.

Gustavo spoke of the heart ache he and his family has felt and the fear they live in each day. He passionately pleaded to President Obama to STOP all deportations by extending DACA FOR ALL. Immediately following, Gustavo lead the group to Bridge #1 and proceeded to meet Marlenne. It was an emotional scene, especially for the children, Said, age 11 and Yemi, age 2 who witnessed their mother be detained. While the reunification of Gustavo with his son and daughter was a joyful occasion, the attitude remained somber and anxious in anticipation for news about Marlenne. At the time, it was not clear how long Marlenne would be detained or if she would be granted humanitarian parole at all.

 

20140510_195517

Prayers of thanks to the Virgencita

Less than three hours into our wait for information, John Antia received the fateful call from Homeland Security – Marlenne was to be released into the U.S. on parole in about one hour!! And the whole room began to chant, “Si Se Pudo! Si Se Pudo! Si Se Pudo!” Gustavo and his children embraced with tears in their eyes and even some disbelief about the good news.

Gustavo, his children and the rest of the team caravanned to pick up Marlenne. And then began the celebration! When the entire family was together again, they all prayed around the Virgensita giving thanks and beautiful red roses at her altar. The entire team came together in prayer and thanksgiving to God for the reunification of the family after seven long and fearful years.

20140510_195302

Elvira Arellano & Emma Lozano greet Marlenne

But this experience did not just affect the Salmeron family. Potentially, this crossing shows thousands of other families in the same situation that reunification is possible and a protocol for similar crossing events can be created. The Salmeron family is just one of two million that have been deported during the Obama Administration. But we have faith that this family’s happy ending will mean the beginning of two million more happy endings for all those affected by these deportations.

Elvira Arellano leads a prayer

Elvira Arellano leads a prayer

Upon our return to Chicago, Gustavo and Marlenne’s extended family waited at Centro Sin Fronteras with roses and smiles and hugs. The unity and the excitement of the homecoming was palpable and the group convened in prayer with Elvira Arellano. Familia Latina Unida debriefed about the success of the trip and spoke about what is to come next in the immigration struggle. Arellano stressed that we must all keep fighting for the reunification of all families and that the Salmeron Family will be essential to do so. Gustavo, Marlenne and their children committed to continuing in this struggle until all families can have the peace they have newly found together. And in the wake of this great success, we continue to make two clear demands to President Obama:

 

1. Extend the DACA deferments to all the parents and spouses of eligible DREAMERS

AND

2. Offer immediate parole in place for those who have already been deported but are now targeted for extortion and kidnapping because they have U.S. citizen family still working in the U.S.

 

The two year old Yemi Salmeron summed it up the best and said, “Obama, DACA pa’ ca!”

The Salmeron Family

The Salmeron Family

An Open Letter to DREAMERS

March 21, 2014 Spanish Follows
Dear DREAMER,
Congratulations on applying and receiving your DACA benefits! Centro Sin Fronteras feels privileged to have been a part of this exciting process for you and your families. We worked with Congressman Gutierrez to complete the first two thousand forms and since then we have successfully completed around 350 DACA applications (all of which have been accepted). We could not have done this without your volunteer support. We are committed to continuing our relationship with you and your families.
GET READY TO RENEW YOUR DACA !
We are in a very important time in the struggle for immigration reform. First, we are close to the two year anniversary of the DACA program and that means many will need to begin the process of renewal. We expect the renewal process to be less difficult than the original application. However, it is very important that you make sure you have filed your 2013 taxes. If you do not do so there is a chance your legal status will expire. We don’t want any of you to have to go any period of time without your DACA protections. We encourage you to contact us or visit our weekly help sessions for more information. Our sessions run Thursdays at 7pm and Saturday at 1pm. We are also working on establishing a tax work shop for DREAMERS.

JOIN THE STRUGGLE!

Secondly, your voices as DREAMERS are crucial for the fight for your families who still have no protection under the law. The movement needs you to use your new DACA benefits to speak out against deportations and the separation of families. We will march several times this Spring demanding a moratorium of deportations and extension of DACA benefits to all the 11 million undocumented.
We have been blessed to learn of the news that ELVIRA ARELLANO, our president who stayed in sanctuary for a year at Adalberto United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park, has returned to the United States. She is returning to Chicago to continue the struggle for Immigration Reform and urging President Obama to use his executive authority to STOP ALL DEPORTATIONS & EXTEND THE DACA DEFERMENTS TO ALL 12 MILLION UNDOCUMENTED.
In order to achieve this we need you! Please join Congressman Gutierrez, Elvira Arellano, elected officials and clergy members at the Federal Plaza and Dearborn on Thursday March 27 at 2pm (see attached flyer)

THE TIME IS NOW TO STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE LATINO FAMILY!
THE TIME IS NOW FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ACT! BASTA YA!

To get involved, please visit us at any help session, our Saturday forum, or call our church at 773-847-7282. If for any reason you have not received your DACA benefits and/or you have received a request for more information, please visit our help sessions and our expert volunteers will answer your questions and help you move forward with your case.
You can also call or text Sarita at 773-580-4000. This number can be given to anyone who wants more information about DACA.
Sincerely,
The Centro Sin Fronteras staff

March 21, 2014

Querido SOÑADOR,

Felicidades por haber aplicado y recibido sus beneficios de Acción Deferida (DACA)! Centro Sin Fronteras se siente privilegiado de haber sido parte de este proceso emocionante para ustedes y sus familias. Hemos trabajado con el congresista Gutiérrez para completar las primeras dos mil formas, y desde entonces hemos completado con éxito alrededor de 350 aplicaciones DACA (todas las cuales han sido aceptadas). No podríamos haber hecho esto sin su apoyo voluntario. Estamos comprometidos a continuar nuestra relación con ustedes y sus familias.

PREPÁRATE PARA RENOVAR TU DACA!

Estamos en un momento muy importante en la lucha por la reforma migratoria. En primer lugar, estamos cerca del segundo aniversario del programa DACA y eso significa que muchos tendrán que comenzar el proceso de renovación. Esperamos que el proceso de renovación sea menos difícil que la aplicación original. Sin embargo, es muy importante que te asegures de que hayas presentado tu declaración de impuestos del año fiscal 2013. Si no lo hace hay una posibilidad de que su situación jurídica se venza. No queremos que ninguno de ustedes tenga que pasar un período de tiempo sin sus protecciones que le da DACA. Los animamos a ponerse en contacto con nosotros o visite nuestras sesiones semanales de ayuda para más información. Nuestras sesiones corren los jueves a las 7:00pm y los sábados a las 1:00pm. También estamos trabajando en el establecimiento de un taller de impuestos para los soñadores.

ÚNETE A LA LUCHA!
En segundo lugar, sus voces como DREAMERS son cruciales para la lucha por sus familias que aún no tienen protección bajo la ley. El movimiento necesita que usted utilice sus nuevos beneficios DACA para hablar en contra de las deportaciones y la separación de familias. Vamos a marchar varias veces esta primavera exigiendo una moratoria de las deportaciones y la extensión de los beneficios DACA a todos los 11 millones de indocumentados.

Hemos sido bendecidos al enterarnos de la noticia de que ELVIRA ARELLANO, nuestra presidenta que se quedó en santuario durante un año en Adalberto United Methodist Church en Humboldt Park, ha regresado a los Estados Unidos. Ella regresa a Chicago para continuar la lucha por la Reforma de Inmigración e instando al presidente Obama a usar su autoridad ejecutiva a PARAR todas las deportaciones y EXTENDER EL los aplazamientos de DACA A TODOS los 11 millones de indocumentados.

Para lograr esto, te necesitamos! Por favor únase a congresista Gutiérrez, Elvira Arellano, funcionarios electos y Pastores en la Plaza Federal , Jackson y Dearborn el jueves 27 de marzo a las 2:00pm (ver folleto adjunto).

Ahora es el momento de estar en solidaridad CON LA FAMILIA LATINA!
EL TIEMPO ES AHORA PARA QUE EL PRESIDENTE OBAMA ACTUE! BASTA YA!
Para participar, por favor visítenos en cualquier sesión de ayuda, nuestro foro de sábado, o llame a nuestra iglesia en 773-847-7282. Si por alguna razón usted no ha recibido sus beneficios DACA y / o haya recibido una solicitud de más información, por favor visite nuestras sesiones de ayuda y nuestros voluntarios expertos responderán a sus preguntas y ayudarle a seguir adelante con su caso.
Usted también puede llamar o mandar un texto a Sarita al 773-580-4000. Este número se puede dar a cualquier persona que desee obtener más información sobre DACA.

Atentamente,
El equipo del Centro Sin Fronteras