Hard-Won Victories! Refugee Caravan & Adelanto Hunger Strike

Yesterday, our Immigration Issues Team delivered newly released Adelanto hunger-striker Luis to the airport in Los Angeles, a free man.  But first, Yolanda drove him for an interview with Undocumedia, than to the Santa Monica Pier and a long walk on the beach.  So much to celebrate!  Here’s the inspiring updates from coalition member Alex Mensing (en Español):

Good Evening! Buenas Noches!

 

Thank you, to each and every one of you. Here’s the news:

  • Mateo’s bond reduced!
  • Luis is free!
  • Aaron is free!
  • Jonathan won!
We have several victories to celebrate, but I’ll start with Mateo, since I just got off the phone with him. Keep reading, though, and you’ll see there’s lots to celebrate today.

 

Mateo, one of the #Adelanto9 hunger strikers, just called me from Adelanto Detention Center. Today his immigration bond was lowered from $30,000 to $5,000, and he was literally on the brink of tears, bursting with joy and gratitude for everything that has been achieved in this struggle.

 

“I have no words to thank you all,” he said. “I never imagined we would get this far.”

 

Mateo joined the Refugee Caravan in Chiapas, Mexico in April. He joined 250 other Central Americans on an organized, self-defended journey north to the US border, where he crossed, was detained by US immigration officials, and sent to Adelanto in Southern California’s high desert. Despite repeatedly stating that he feared for his life in El Salvador – both verbally and in writing – on May 30th, ICE attempted to deport him, denying him the right to seek asylum. After a flurry of early morning phone calls & emails, Mateo was literally pulled out of line for a deportation plane and returned to Adelanto. A volunteer prepared him for his credible fear interview, which he passed, but ICE told him only $30,000 would get him out of jail.

 

On June 12th, Mateo and 8 other Central Americans launched a nonviolent hunger strike to protest abysmal conditions and impossibly high bonds. They immediately suffered brutal repression by GEO’s private prison guards, who beat and pepper sprayed them before sending them to solitary confinement. Mateo was drenched with pepper spray, especially in his crotch area, leaving him with skin problems that he still suffers from. Never to be deterred, in the following weeks they joined forces with Haitian detainees to launch even larger hunger strikes.

 

Despite all the hardship Mateo has faced, he and his companions have supported each other, encouraged each other, helped each other call their families when they don’t have any phone credit, and stayed focused on their goal. Today, with the help of a great many of you, Mateo took a huge step towards that goal. Bond reduced from $30k to $5k. With a few more bond fund donations (wink wink) he’ll be free in no time!

 

Today, we won a victory. That’s real teamwork. Special thanks to Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and UC Irvine law students.

 

And what else?

 

Last night, Luis, another of the Adelanto hunger strikers, walked free!!! Here he is:

 

 

Thanks to generous donations, Luis’ entire $10,000 bond was paid. That means he did not have to resort to evil bond companies like Libre By Nexus who put a GPS ankle monitor on you and charge you 20% + $880 fee + $420/month – an amount that doesn’t even go towards paying your bond. Luis is free, and he’s really free. No ankle monitor. No monthly payments. Just court. In other words, just due process for an asylum seeker, as it should be. Well done, everyone! Luis’ first meal as a free man was two carne asada tacos and a coke! Special thanks to Mark Kleiman, Undocumedia, Human Rights Alliance and Indivisible Morongo Basin.

 

Also last night, Aaron, a well-loved member of the Refugee Caravan, also walked free!! Here he is with Maria Elena. Hi!

 

 

And the good news for Aaron doesn’t stop there. He walked free because HE WON HIS ASYLUM CASE!!! With pro-bono legal representation while detained in Theo Lacy (a notoriously horrendous detention center in Los Angeles) and then James Musick detention facility, Aaron fought his asylum case and won. He will have permission to live and work in peace, he will not be deported, and in a year he can apply for legal permanent residency. Special thanks to Friends of Orange County Detainees, LA Public Counsel, Mayer Brown LLP,

 

And last but not least, Jonathan, another Refugee Caravan member, won protection under the Convention Against Torture! That means that while Jonathan doesn’t have a path to citizenship (at least not yet! we’ll keep fighting…), he will not be deported to Honduras, where he faces grave danger, and he will be able to get out of immigration detention and hopefully be reunited with his beautiful little boy, “el colocho,” who was everyone’s favorite trouble-maker on the Caravan. Here are his little boy and him on the Caravan:

 

In conclusion…

 

You are part of something extraordinary and unusual that is growing, a hopeful effort to develop new ways to stand in solidarity with migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, brothers & sisters from all over the world for justice & freedom and against border imperialism. Black & Brown solidarity has flourished in this movement, grassroots support has been key, and migrant leadership has been constant. I really hope that you share this good news with your friends, family and colleagues, because we’re not hearing enough of it these days! I wish I could individually thank everyone who was involved in this effort, but there are too many – truly an army.

 

And if you’d like to get more involved or donate, please take that step! To find out how you can help, shoot me an email at mensing.alex@gmail.com. To donate to pay for Adelanto hunger strikers’ bonds, go to this website. Also, there’s another caravan taking place right now! The Viacrucis Guadalupano. Check it out here.
 
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU!!!

Immigration Team Update!

It’s been a busy period for the IMB Immigration Issues Team. Team Co-Leads Yolanda and Deborah were able to meet some of the released Adelanto Hunger Strikers (thank you so much, Indivisibles, for your invaluable assistance to the Bond Fund with contributions and sharing! together, we have made a difference!).

The team quickly organized a rally held October 6, calling on Representative Paul Cook to support a clean DREAM Act. We tried to invite Representative Cook to attend, but his email inbox was full!

Beautiful afternoon in Joshua Tree

Even without the congressman, we had a solid group of about 35 people in Joshua Tree on a Friday afternoon, standing up with our DACA recipient brothers and sisters, and there was lots of support from passing cars. Thank you to those who showed up, and to those who shared their support! A local DACA recipient came by and thanked us for the action and the moral support. It’s gratifying to know that you’re making a difference, and we’re so happy to show our solidarity with these young people.

Trump chicken flies in for DACA rally. Thanks, Indivisible San Bernardino!

Team Co-Leads were also able to see Senator Kamala Harris speaking at a jam-packed DREAM Act rally organized by CHIRLA and the student chapter of KRC at UC Irvine October 11. Senator Harris is an inspiring speaker, and the rally was fun and very loud! We were proud and happy to stand with the DREAMers, “chin up, shoulders back,” as Senator Harris put it.

Senator Kamala Harris at DACA rally at UC Irvine.

The only sour note was that some pro-Trump, anti-immigration counter-demonstrators were there, too…these particular people are familiar to Indivisible members, since they have exercised their First Amendment rights as loudly as possible at several demonstrations we’ve attended, including at Adelanto Detention Center and San Bernardino. This time, it appeared that they were encouraged to leave by police, although we weren’t close enough to hear exactly what transpired. We note that every time they have been present at a rally, they have been hugely outnumbered! And so it goes.

Supporting the DREAMers at UC Irvine

See more pictures and video of the rallies in Joshua Tree and at UC Irvine on the IMB Facebook page.

Kudos to MB Dems for Stand Against Racism

In the wake of Charlottesville, the Morongo Basin Democratic Club has issued a resolution calling for the club and its members to take action against racism and also published a letter asking local residents to take down Confederate flags.  Indivisible Morongo Basin applauds them for their stand.

Here is the text of the MBDC resolution against racism:

Whereas, racism, religious discrimination, homophobia and misogyny are contrary to American values; and,

 

Whereas, intolerance in all its forms has been shown to be learned behavior; and,

 

Whereas, it has been shown that racism and hate harm the emotional and physical health of both the victims and perpetrators.

 

Therefore, be it resolved that the Morongo Basin Democratic Club challenge laws, policies, and traditions that propagate, influence and support racism, bigotry and discrimination.

 

Be it further resolved that individually we commit ourselves to speaking up and out whenever racism, discrimination, homophobia or misogyny is present.

Three Released From Adelanto

This is solidarity in action:  Thanks to your generosity, three of the Adelanto hunger strikers were freed this week.  Meet Isaac, Julio, and Civile.  They will now join the coalition to actively free the remaining detainees.

Isaac, Julio, and Civile

We’re up to $15,000, with nearly up to 5 detainees able to be released from Adelanto!  Isaac, Julio and Civile are the first three.  So we were excited that the average bond amount for the Adelanto Hunger Strikers had come down to about $2,300 per man. Then when CLUE started going to get them out, they found a little fine print addition of an $800 per man “release fee.” So the total per detainee is now about $3,100 each–still attainable, but it will take a little longer. Nonetheless, we are delighted we’ve collectively raised more than $9,500! That’s three detainees. Please help the remaining hunger strikers go home to their families:  contribute if you are able, and share.

Read  more on our Immigration Issues page, and the San Bernardino Sun has a new article on the situation here.

Standing Up for DACAmented Youth

August 15th was the fifth anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that has provided safe harbor to live and work in our communities for 800,000 Americans who arrived in the U.S. as children. With Trump in office, these young people are facing the unthinkable prospect of being ripped from their homes and shoved into the deportation pipelineOn Tuesday, August 15, IMB members joined others across the nation to take the future of the DACAmented youth out of Trump’s hands by urging Senators Feinstein and Harris and Congressman Paul Cook to co-sponsor the bipartisan DREAM Act — S.1615 and H.R. 3591 (learn more about DACA and these bills here).

Indivisible National highlights some of the actions taken last week:

Thanks to all the groups who stood side-by-side with DACAmented Americans this week. You should continue to tell your MoCs to stand up for childhood arrivals and co-sponsor S.1615 and H.R. 3591 now using our explainer and script developed in partnership with United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center.

You can read more about United We Dream’s events in Washington and Indivisible Co-Executive Directors’ civil disobedience arrest in support of DACAmented Americans on the Indivisible Guide blog.

Report from Shut Down Adelanto Rally!

Members of Indivisible Morongo Basin and Indivisible Yucaipa attended the Shut Down Adelanto Rally Thursday night.  Yolanda reports back:

The rally organized by Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice to demand an investigation into the most recent death and immediate release of all detainees with a medical history, was a success.

At least 40 people attended the event. The names of all deceased detainees were read, we prayed for them, we chanted, and we had a minute of silence. IC4IJ had a couple of speakers and a speaker from ACLU was also present.

45’s supporters were also present. They had a non-stop siren with the intention of drowning out our chants and speakers. They spewed hateful speech non-stop and called us sinners.

Our side was peaceful. Prior to and after the event, music was played. Most people danced at the end before peacefully leaving the rally.

“When hate is behind you, sometimes you just have to bow your head and pray.”

IMB Participates In Immigration Actions in the Coachella Valley

Members of Indivisible Morongo Basin went down to Cathedral City last Wednesday night to support a motion making that city the Coachella Valley’s first official sanctuary city, which was approved by the City Council by a 3-2 vote.

“While other desert cities such as Coachella and Palm Springs have unofficially operated as sanctuary cities, Cathedral City moved towards becoming the first in the region to publicly proclaim that it will not utilize city funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws,” according to KESQ.

“The motion was passed after about three hours of public comments from residents on both sides of the issue. Chambers were so full the fire marshall had to be called when the room reached capacity. Dozens of people waited in the lobby and even outside. The meeting was played on a small speaker that was amplified with a cone so others could hear.”

Our congratulations to our sister group Courageous Resistance Palm Springs and Other Desert Cities, and to the many desert citizens and other groups that worked so hard in coalition for this important step forward!

Read coverage in the Desert Sun here.  View the KESQ video coverage here.

The IMB Immigration Team also worked in coalition to sponsor the May 1 rally at the Indio Border Patrol Station, and our members traveled down to the low desert to join nearly 100 demonstrators at the protest.

Photo: Gustavo Solis/The Desert Sun

“The rally, dubbed ‘Stop Deporting & Separating Families,’ criticized enforcement policies that treat undocumented immigrants like convicted felons and rhetoric that paints all immigrants as criminals,” per USA Today.

A couple of agents came out of the station and ended up having an informal exchange with demonstrators that remained courteous and informative.

Video coverage on KESQ here.

Keep abreast of the activities of our IMB Immigration Team on our new Immigration Issues page.

Stop the Wall Rally in Yucca Valley, Cinco de Mayo 2017

The Stop the Wall Rally in Yucca Valley on Cinco de Mayo was just plain beautiful.  Positive, peaceful, musical (!), with 75 people or more and lots of honks from drivers. Even the weather was pleasant! Thanks to the Indivisible Morongo Basin Immigration Action Team and to everyone who came out.

Team lead Yolanda writes:

Thanks to every single person who came to the Cinco de Mayo Stop the Wall rally.  My call was answered by many.  Today we were the definition of a true community.  Our town is small but our presence on that corner was notable.  Watching you stand side by side and bring attention to our fight for justice renewed my fighting spirit and encouraged me to never give up.

 

I know some of you made great efforts to be there and it truly touched my heart.  All my gratitude to the action team that signed up and helped realize my vision.  Thanks to the couple who brought that awesome sound system and played wonderful music; it really kept everyone energized.  Thanks to everyone who posted pictures; I too believe in the importance of documenting events.

 

Finally, as cars were driving by, I spotted a little boy with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.  His eyes lit up, waved and bounced in his seat as he realized what the rally was about.  I will probably never get the chance to meet him, but his smiling face and bright eyes will be ingrained in my heart forever.  You, little brother, are worth fighting for.”

Yolanda adds about the below photo:  “This little boy was told about the rally and told his dad they should go.  He came up with the logo for the sign too.”

 

Cinco de Mayo Rally in Support of Immigrants

Our Cinco de Mayo Rally is the brainchild of Yolanda Brown, coordinator of the Indivisible Morongo Basin Immigrant Issues Team. Yolanda is of Mexican heritage and spent time there growing up, and she wanted to do something to demonstrate support for the people of Mexico as well as the many immigrants to the United States from Mexico at a time when our President is talking about building a border wall. So, she decided to build a different kind of wall–a wall of support for our immigrant brothers and sisters from all over the world, standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. Cinco de Mayo seemed like a great opportunity to celebrate our efforts to support people fighting against stronger forces.

A border wall between the US and Mexico would be a manifestation of hatred and fear, as well as a colossal waste of time, treasure, and effort. We at Indivisible Morongo Basin choose to build support, tolerance, and acceptance of all immigrants: No Bans, No Walls, No Raids!

Stand shoulder to shoulder with us on May 5, 2017 from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, at Route 62 and Old Woman Springs Road in Yucca Valley, CA.

 

We did it!

We did it! YOU did it! Every one of you who called, wrote, shared, showed up, rallied, and reached out contributed to this win – and this is a BIG win! We’re under no illusions that TrumpCare is gone for good, but this giant defeat out of the gate has to be demoralizing for the Right and is revealing of the fragility of the Republicans’ foolhardy bargain with Trump. People all over the Basin worked really hard to make this happen, and that work made a difference. Thank you, Indivisibles of the Morongo Basin and throughout the 8th District!

Now, it’s time to get back to work. Our next general meeting is coming up in early April and it will be all about ACTION! Look for details soon.

Finally, a word from the national Indivisible Guide Team:

Friday was just an incredible victory for Americans—and also an incredible victory for you. There is no way TrumpCare would have been defeated before coming to a vote if it hadn’t been for the thousands of office visits, phone calls, and town hall questions from constituents like you and your Indivisible group members. This is your win, and you did it by standing indivisible. Phenomenal, just phenomenal. We hope you and your group are taking the time to celebrate—you deserve to relish this moment and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.