My unfinished October 11 tale

Dani Marr


“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
– Sen. Ted Cruz (whose newsletters I’m mysteriously subscribed to)

This will not be the best thing I have written.

I have been debating all month on whether to post something on the celebration that is happening tomorrow. I mean, everyone knows already, right? There are no more secrets to tell. It has been three years. I am out and about, living freely, sliding down rainbows and landing on pots of gold.

Except I’m not.

I am currently sitting at a coffee shop in Manhattan. I arrived just about an hour ago from Boston to attend an event. I am meeting up with “my NYU friend,” as I poorly describe her to everyone, later tonight for some hookah. She is…

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#BorderSurgeSelfie Project

Lots of people support sending more border enforcement to our communities because they don’t know what the border is really like and believe whatever politicians in Austin and the media tell them.

This project is meant to show our fellow Texans outside the valley and other border regions what sending troops and patrols really means to border communities.

How to participate:

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DPS troopers are all over west Hidalgo County in areas where lots of immigrants live and work #BorderSurgeSelfie

1. Take a selfie with any representation of border militarization/surveillance/patrols you feel is directed at border communities, threatens your rights or liberties, or disturbs the peace of our area. That could be all the DPS troopers patrolling our communities, national guard posts, border patrol surveillance equipment, etc. Great pics could have any DPS vehicle in background (lots would show the sheer number of them down here), a hotel parking lot full of DPS or border patrol vehicle, any military-looking equipment, like automatic weapons or armored vehicles. Make sure not to get too close to border patrol since they could try to confiscate your camera (probably illegally if you’re not interfering with their duties, but better to avoid the situation).

2. Post it on social media with the hashtag #BorderSurgeSelfie and a short message saying how it feels to be watched/patrolled/have military presence in our communities.

3. If you have space, tag @jmtorr on Twitter so I can find your posts easily!

I will compile all the pics I find and put them on the blog at sonaorillasdelrio.wordpress.com

Help advocate for refugee families, no matter where you’re from

I’ve been getting asked how people outside of the Valley can help the refugee crisis. Besides making monetary donations, there are a number of other ways you can help where you’re from.

Connect with legal aid and immigrant rights groups in your area

The refugee families released from Border Patrol custody with their notices to appear are only passing through the Valley to unite with family members throughout the US. As Salvadorans are now the third largest Latino minority group in the U.S., and migration from these nations has been constant since the late 80s, there is a chance that some of them will be heading to your area of the country. Besides showing general support for them and their efforts to escape violence and grinding poverty, you can try volunteering with the organizations in your area who are probably taking on extra work in light of this crisis.

Many states have a network of legal aid service providers. Also check out the Catholic Legal Immigration Network to find an immigration legal office in your area. Many states also have an immigrant rights network. If there is no network in your area, join one of the campaigns here.

Call your congressional representative

It will take all of us if the rights of refugees are protected.

It will take all of us if the rights of refugees are protected.

In terms of advocacy, the congressional reps from your area probably need to get more calls and actions supporting protecting refugees, not sending them to their deportation (and likely their death). Chances are they are getting more calls from people fearful of a lawless border with terrorists pouring across than from people concerned with the welfare of these children.

Find out who represents you in congress and get contact information on this nifty map.

Educate people around you

Along that vein, you can help educate the general public in your area about the reality of the situation. There is a lot of disinformation being perpetuated by right wingers supporting border militarization and expediting the deportations of these kids. Arm yourself with knowledge from the US Committee on Refugees and ImmigrantsCommittee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (on Facebook here) and La Union del Pueblo Entero. Then write a letter to the editor of you local newspaper, call your TV news outlet, and comment on the publications of your congressional representative’s Facebook page.

Learn about the root causes of the crisis

This crisis is not going to go away unless we address the root causes in the countries that these children and families are fleeing: stark economic inequality, US-backed neoliberal economic policy and US foreign military aid. There are a number of good articles online, including this analysis of Neoliberalism in El Salvador (opens a PDF). We need a wider sector of the public to be familiar with the broad strokes of these root cases if we are going to move forward and not just repeat past mistakes.

If you want to donate toward helping the refugee families, check out www.SouthTexasRefugees.org

New website aims to be central information hub for refugee crisis response

Local organizations have created a new site to help connect you with the different volunteer opportunities and donation needs of the refugee families arriving to the Rio Grande Valley.

The website, located at www.southtexasrefugees.org, was developed by McAllen’s Calvary Baptist Church and is sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, The City of McAllen, United Way of South Texas, Salvation Army McAllen, Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley and others.

So next time someone asks you how they can help, you can easily share this site with them!

Update on volunteer opportunities and supporting from out of town

If you are looking to volunteer in support of the migrant refugee families, the church needs more help in the mornings from 8 to 1pm and in the evenings from 6 to 10 or 11 at night.

If you need to call to ask about specific volunteer opportunities, you can call 956-702-4088 and ask for Tracy. Sacred Heart Church is located on the corner of 15th St and Dallas, down town McAllen.

If you are out of the area and want to help, the most direct way to impact the needs of the families is to donate to Catholic Charities of the RGV. Do that at this web address.

If you donate via check, write “immigration crisis” on the memo line. Financial contributions can be mailed to or dropped off at the Catholic Charities of The RGV office.

Mailing Address:
Catholic Charities of the RGV
P.O. Box 1306
San Juan, TX  78589

Drop Off Address:
Catholic Charities of the RGV
700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd.
San Juan, TX  78589

Out of towners can also help by calling Sacred Heart church and Catholic Charities of the RGV and telling them how much you appreciate their good work. They have been getting hate calls and mail since they started. Your encouraging words go a long way toward giving them the strength they need to continue. Call them at 956-702-4088 or 956-686-7711.

Also consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper showing your support for the refugees and calling on your member of congress to be a champion for these children and families. They need protection from being deported back into the extreme violence they are fleeing. They need child best interest advocate lawyers and humanitarian protections like Temporary Protective Status.

If you are local and want to donate items, check out www.foodbankrgv.com for a regularly updated list of needs.

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[Update] Wendy Davis is basically calling for the refugees to be quickly deported back to the extreme violence they’re fleeing

UPDATE: We just got word from reps from the Wendy Davis campaign that Wendy has called on President Obama, in the form of a letter, to provide attorneys guardian ad litem for unaccompanied minor children immediately. This would be a major improvement and would be absolutely essential granted that the Obama administration is going to send more immigration judges to speed up these people’s deportation proceedings. Read more on the lupenet.org website here.

Original post follows below.

This is disturbing. When I heard the news that Wendy Davis was going to address the humanitarian crisis of the refugees arriving to the RGV, I was hopeful she would draw a clear line between Rick Perry and Greg Abbott’s “secure our borders, Obama’s not enforcing the law” political grandstanding. I never would have received her to join their charge.

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“Federal border agents and facilities are overwhelmed trying to address this human crisis instead of focusing on their first priority to secure our border from drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists,” the democratic candidate for governor wrote in a letter to governor Rick Perry.

Wow. So you’re back tracking from your previous stance on Abbott and Dewhurst’s DPS border surge, opening yourself up to “flip-flop” criticism. Plus you used Abbott’s call for border security in the RGV to rally border Latino voters to your side, so your flip-flop makes you look like you’ve abandoned us.

But there’s more.

“I agree that this is a federal issue. While I believe it is imperative for the state to act in the short-term, we need the federal government to do its job — including sending more immigration judges to the border,” she continued in the letter.

For those who don’t know, more immigration judges is fine, but only if there is more legal aid. In refugee crisis situations such as these, the minimum the U.S. should do, to comply with international law and basic human decency, is to screen for asylum and refugee status. The federal government does not have to give legal aid, which would help refugees make their case and have a shot at winning and staying in the U.S. So basically a call for more immigration judges without a call for additional legal aid means a faster deportation process. So she wants to deport them back to the extreme violence they’re fleeing. WTF.

Then, in possibly the most ridiculous move, she called for a special legislative session to address the crisis.

What the heck? What does Wendy Davis expect to come out of a legislative session on immigration and the border? A special session would open the legislature to a flood of anti immigrant bills. We’d see a repeat of 2011, when more than 90 anti immigrant bills were introduced, many just as bad as Arizona’s SB 1070, others a lot worse. Back then, the anti immigrant bills had a whole slew of regular bills to compete with for attention and fortunately we were able to keep them from getting passed. But with a special session just for border and immigration issues, we wouldn’t stand a chance against the vitriol and filth coming from racist republicans like Debbie Riddle (Tomball, TX).

All this while advocating for these refugees to be processed and deported faster with no call for legal aid to help them with their asylum and refugee cases.

On Wednesday, Wendy Davis will be celebrating the one year anniversary of her historic filibuster for women’s rights and women’s health with filibuster anniversary parties throughout the state. I for one will not be attending. I will be in mourning of the death of her campaign’s integrity.

Updates:

I’ve gotten some feedback and need to correct that a special session would not necessarily open the legislature to a flood of anti-immigrant legislation. Possibly more likely would be a few key anti-immigrant bills slash the inclusion of anti-immigrant provisions into the bills passed to address the crisis.

Also, I spoke to an immigration lawyer who told me that only people who have been harmed based on specific grounds under the law–race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group or political opinion–are entitle to asylum/refugee status. Those refugees that have viable claims to asylum/refugee status need lawyers, so we would need pro-bono or government paid attorneys (which is not a right of immigrants) for these refugees to have any shot at winning their case. But Humanitarian or Temporary Protective Status type relief would be essential in this crisis, since immigration courts are hostile to claims of gang violence as a basis for asylum.