By Crescenzo Vellucci
SACRAMENTO – In pre-dawn Wednesday morning – about the time the Davis Vanguard goes online today – 14 volunteers will begin a long trek from Sacramento and Yolo Counties to the CA-Mexico border to help aid thousands of asylum seekers stuck in a web of unrelenting bureaucracy and facing Homeland Security, police and troops from the U.S.
Legal observers, activists and other volunteers representing a coalition of groups will do border legal observing in conjunction with National Lawyers Guild and Al Autro Lados, and provide translation and other assistance to pro se clinics helping folks with asylum claims.
They will also assist in the shelters on the U.S. side of the border, sort donations, help with cooking, cleaning, and translation and clerical help, and provide relief for other volunteers who are stretched thin.
“We stand in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers and to condemn the violence exhibited towards them by both the Mexican and US governments. On October 12, this most recent caravan of migrants fled their home countries to escape extreme poverty, gang violence, political unrest and violent government crackdowns. Notably, US military intervention and economic policy has been a cause of much of the distress facing people in Central America,” explains Ruth Ibarra of NorCal Resist.
“The migrant journey has not been an easy one, as they have had to deal with excruciating circumstances: weather, terrain, lack of food, health issues, racism and violence. Regardless, they continued their journey in order to give their children a better life.
“(But) rather than welcoming these asylees with open arms, these brave individuals have been met with repression by both the US and Mexican governments. Our government is letting fewer than 100 individuals claim asylum at our southern ports of entry per day, meaning that the migrants currently in line may have months to wait before getting assistance.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 13 and 14 state that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state….the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country…the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. The United States should honor those rights,” Ibarra noted.
This was echoed by Autumn Gonzalez of NorCal Resist, who said: “NorCal Resists condemns the US and Mexico governments use of officers to block unaccompanied children escorted by faith leaders from reaching the Otay port of entry to seek asylum. All asylum seekers should have access to the border and a quick legal process to determine their eligibility for asylum, but particularly unaccompanied children should be treated with dignity! NorCal Resist will be going to the border to provide training and relief to the longer-term volunteers and take much needed supplies.”
Demands of the coalition include (1) A call on the U.S. government to respect the human right to migrate and seek asylum (2) Allowing people fleeing violence in Central America to present themselves to immigration authorities to express their fears, not illegally turned away or criminalized for entering between ports of entry to seek asylum (3) An end to border militarization (4) An end to the deployment of additional law enforcement, immigration enforcement agencies, military personnel to the southern border, which “endangers the rights of migrants and residents of border communities, wastes taxpayer dollars, and does nothing to make us safer” (5) Urging an immediate end to the detention and deportation of immigrants and opposition to any actions to hold immigrants in inhumane detention indefinitely, and calling for defunding ICE and CBP, (and) instead protect those seeking refuge, and to provide services and direct assistance to migrating people.
“We support the right of individuals seeking asylum to enter the U.S. freely, as required by international law, and are joining with other organizations in this local action in support of the AFSC border action on Human Rights Day…we call on our government to respect international law and the human rights of refugees from hunger and violence,” said Mario Galvan of the Sacramento Immigration Coalition.
“Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. Right now, mothers, fathers and children are arriving at the Mexican border seeking safe haven from violence and persecution. As a nation we cannot shut the door to these vulnerable families and we must stand for human rights…the US government must immediately respect people’s right to claim asylum both at and between official ports of entry,” said Rhonda Rios Kravitz of Step UP!
“I am going to walk in solidarity for the thousands of refugees seeking a better life away from deep poverty, a corrupt government and neighborhoods where they simply do not feel safe. Everybody has got a right to live and that’s why I am going to the border on December 10. I am showing up for those who can’t. And in doing so…it’s a way to say, ‘You’re not alone.’ Forward Together! Not One Step Back!,” said Pastor Pamela Anderson, Northern California’s Poor People’s Campaign -Participating in Action at the Border.