A portion of the border wall painted with a butterfly, a symbol of migration. Used with permission from Lili Shidlovski
The center for Al Otro Lado was a short walk from the border at Tijuana. To reach it, Heather Appel flew to San Diego and went by taxi to the San Ysidro Port of Entry. “It was shocking how easy it is to cross with an American passport,” she recalled.
Responding to a call for volunteers who speak Spanish, Heather accompanied five other members of SURJ Bay Area to spend a week at the US-Mexican border in November 2019. Heather wanted to do more to address family separation and the crisis at the border, and she appreciated the chance to join experienced SURJ leaders from other committees who provided both mentorship and kinship.
Since this blog post was published, there has been a vocal and growing outcry about the book American Dirt. Many Latinx writers and artists have raised criticisms of the book and its author’s treatment of Mexican people, and this has sparked a critical conversation about the extremely white publishing industry, the exploitation of Black and brown people and their traumas by outsiders, and who gets to tell whose stories. We join presente.org in the call to action to lift up #dignidadliteraria and amplify the voices of brilliant Latinx writers who have been largely shut out of the publishing industry.
There is additional information available from Vox, Huffington Post, Tropics of Meta, and The LA Times,
This is an ongoing conversation, and the situation continues to develop. Did you read American Dirt? Did you read the criticism of it? Share your opinions with us by email at email@example.com
By Micki Luckey
In my blog about the book, The Faraway Brothers by Lauren Markham, I described the 2013 true story of two teenagers who fled gang threats in El Salvador and eventually made it to Oakland, California. Markham, a journalist who knew the boys at the high school they attended here, was able to expand on their story with her reporting on detention centers, migrant shelters, and border crossings. As we know, all of these have only gotten worse in the years since.
If you follow the California State Legislature, May was an exciting month! Since all California bills must pass both state legislative houses (the California Assembly and the California Senate), May is the month when bills that successfully passed with enough votes in their house of origin “cross-over” to their second house, hopefully on their way to the governor’s desk.
The Policy Working Group of the SURJ Bay Area chapter is working in service to, and in collaboration with our POC-led partner organizations that work on legislative advocacy: Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) / All of Us or None(AOUON), Essie Justice Group, and Initiate Justice. We listed our original policy goals in our previous post SURJ Bay Area Policy Priorities For 2019, and now that some bills have successfully crossed-over, here’s the updated list of bills that we are actively supporting as the bills go through their second house!
By Lynn Levey
Children separated from their parents, families traveling on foot for months to get to the U.S. border, people fleeing rape, gang violence, government brutality, torture, and murder - we were horrified by the stories we had been hearing about the situation at the southern border. So earlier this month, my daughter and I traveled to Tijuana, to volunteer and support asylum-seekers there. We knew thousands of migrants had arrived in Tijuana without resources, facing a standoff at the border where, in violation of U.S. and international law, they are not being allowed to cross into our country to seek asylum.
SURJ Bay Area is committed to standing with our Arab neighbors and community members as they face renewed persecution and Islamophobia! Arab and Middle Eastern communities in the United States have been targeted with a renewed ferocity under the Trump Administration. Policies that for years had been couched in code of “combating terrorism” and “defending national security” are now explicitly framed in Islamophobic terms. It is telling that one of the Trump Administration’s first acts was to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries, a cruel policy that separated Muslim-Americans from their families, and, as one circuit-court judge wrote, “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination” (p. 12). The current administration is working tirelessly to institutionalize Islamophobia in this country.
By Felicia Gustin
We are all feeling outrage over the cruel and inhumane immigration policies that separate families at the border. Trump’s Executive Order is a smokescreen, a distraction, and we have to keep up the pressure. Now is the time to do something. You can turn your anger into action. Do one thing today. Do several things this week. Join with others because collectively we are stronger. Here’s a consolidation of the many lists floating around to give you more information on what can be done.
What are your rights if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) comes to your home?
Know Your Rights Cards from the Immigration Legal Resource Center
Know Your Rights from the ACLU
Know Your Rights from the Immigrant Defense Project
5 Ways to Fight ICE Raids with Power, Not Panic from California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
California TRUST Act from ICE out of California
As a part of SURJ Bay Area’s #12DaysToShowUp Fundraising Campaign — and our ongoing commitment to racial justice and reparations — 50% of all donations raised for SURJ are passed on to local POC-led organizations. The other 50% will be used to fund under-resourced rural SURJ chapters and to support our own work mobilizing white people in the Bay Area.
Donate to SURJ Bay Area before December 31 to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000.
In addition to your donation to SURJ, we encourage you to match donations directly to POC-led organizations like those we’ve featured each of the 12 Days of this campaign.
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