Monday, June 13, 2011

Streamline steamrolls human dignity

 Vicki is a community member of Casa Mariposa in Tucson and a volunteer with the Restoration Project visiting, writing, and offering hospitality to detained immigrants. This article by her was published on the National Catholic Reporter blog. 

Tougher immigration enforcement ignores the humanitarian needs of migrants

Jun. 13, 2011
TUCSON, ARIZ. — Every day, the courtroom in the De Concini Federal Courthouse which hosts Operation Streamline is typically full of 70 men and women from various parts of Mexico and Central America. Processed in groups, they are divided up into groups of people who will receive the same sentence. Each group, listening to the proceedings through interpretation headphones, waits its turn to be called in front of the Magistrate. Each person is given a plea bargain that has been created in advance between prosecutors for the U.S. Government, and defense attorneys who have met with each defendant for a few minutes that morning.

Operation Streamline was created in Del Rio, Texas, in 2005 to place criminal penalties on illegal entry into the various jurisdictions along the border. These criminal charges were to act as a deterrent to people; the idea was that the threat of jail time would prevent people from attempting to enter the United States without authorization.

I'd been there before, and this was all I expected to see when I walked into the courtroom recently. But it was not all: I walked into the courtroom and was greeted by a friend, a young man named Jaime*, with whom I had been visiting over the course of several weeks in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. 

Jaime turned his head toward the door, expressed his surprise to see me, flashed a smile, and lifted his hands, shackled together and to his waist, to wave. I smiled and waved in return, with some worry mixed in, and found a seat.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arizona Daily Star/ La Estrella article

Newspaper article about our greyhound station hospitality with men and women just released from Eloy detention center...

Sí tenemos una cara amable para indocumentados: los voluntarios

Una noche, hace muy poco, dos mujeres, una de China y la otra de México, entraron a la terminal de autobuses Greyhound del centro de Tucsón. Se veían perplejas y cansadas, y cada una llevaba una bolsa transparente de plástico y un sobre grande color amarillo, además de algunas pertenencias personales.
No conocían a nadie en la prácticamente vacía sala de espera. Ninguna hablaba inglés.
Pero al cabo de algunos minutos, Vicki Kline y Jean Boucher amablemente recibieron a las dos temerosas mujeres...

Read the full article in Spanish and English here...

On a recent night, two women, one from China and other from México, walked into the downtown Greyhound bus terminal. They looked bewildered and tired, and each carried a clear plastic bag and a large yellow envelope, plus a few personal belongings.

They knew no one in the near-empty waiting room. Neither spoke English.

But within minutes, Vicki Kline and Jean Boucher gently greeted the two scared women.

The twoare volunteers who welcome immigrants released from the Eloy immigration detention facility. Five nights a week a government vehicle arrives at the Greyhound station, housed in a temporary building squeezed between Interstate 10 and the federal courthouse, and deposits the freed immigrants. They are released with the belongings they had with them when they were detained.

They are given nothing else but their release papers in the envelope.

That’s why a few Tucson volunteers with the Restoration Project have stepped in to offer assistance and, more important, a friendly smile.

“They’re free,” said Boucher.

Some of the immigrants require no assistance or don’t want help, said Boucher and Kline. Most do, however.

“Some people don’t know how to use a phone or don’t speak English,” said Kline.

The Restoration Project is a small, faith-based group which offers respite and hospitality to immigrants like María García. She was released from detention and looking to return to her New York City home.

Full article

Things we need

Four people have stayed at Casa Mariposa in the last week and a half. And volunteers have met dozens of folks at the greyhound station.  Some one goes every week night.

We bring water and snacks, extra bags and sweatshirts. If you'd like to help out this effort, we could currently use:

bags, like cloth shopping bags, duffle, or back packs
longsleeve shirts or sweatshirts (the buses are cold)

Thanks to Jim M. who has brought us a lot of water, drinks, and snacks. And to Sean's mom who has donated a great deal of supplies and water as well. Thanks to all the amazing crew of volunteers too.  If you'd like to get involved, please contact us.