If you want to check out the full article with more details, dialog and pictures, go here: Tucson Sentinel – Mexican musicians play to mend frayed cross-border ties
As spectators began to take seats, all sorts of uniformed personnel and law enforcement whizzed through the walkways between photographers and reporters. Lights dimmed down in the college auditorium, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Honor Guard marched in solemnly across the stage. They presented the many flags hanging from staffs which they posted on both sides of Mexico’s Federal Police woodwind symphony, who sat in arched rows spread across the stage at the base of the auditorium, a performing arts theatre which now sat about one hundred uniformed personnel. Mexico, the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, CBP, and the state of Arizona all had representative colors which stood hanging for the entirety of the concert. This colorful array of flags seemed a reminder of the occasion, which brought real connective space and action between groups that often find themselves divided, misinformed or just a bit unfamiliar with one another.
These are articles and resources related to Faith and Phoenix: Convening in Arizona after SB1070, a series about how faith based groups with national conventions scheduled in Phoenix responded to Arizona’s image crises during and after the passage of SB 1070; check out Part 1 here. “I personally was of the opinion that it was a real opportunity for us to shed light on the issue nationally by going,” said Unitarian Universalist President Peter Morales. He told the local congregations and advocacy groups, “I need for you to invite us; that will break the boycott.” And they did, allowing the 2012 Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations convention to take place from June 20 to June 24. “That’s what made the whole thing work because of what we did because it was clearly the most effective public witness we’ve ever done was on this issue, that we committed to working in close partnership with local people.
This is the first part of Faith and Phoenix: Convening in Arizona after SB1070, a series about how faith based groups with national conventions scheduled in Phoenix responded to Arizona’s image crises during and after the passage of SB 1070; check out Part 2 here. Several years ago when the largest Anabaptist organization in the U.S. picked Phoenix for the location of its biannual conference in 2013, they didn’t anticipate that the state would be a hotspot for national debates on immigration and border issues – or that they’d be attempting to produce a denominational statement about immigration there. Yet, Arizona’s attractions as a tourist and convention destination seemed smashed when the 2010 passage of a controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, sparked intense national debates including issues border violence and racism in the state. Local community advocate James Garcia, who works with Promise Arizona, said that the news coverage affected everybody’s perceptions, whether they supported the SB 1070 bill or not. “Suddenly 24-hour news channels for six months straight, all they hear about is the words coming out of the mouth of the governor and Russell Pearce which claimed that the state is being overrun by words of immigrants and everybody is somehow physically endangered,” Garcia said.”So that negative representation was stamped into the brains of America and brains of America include all the people who are part of these conventions.”
(a post discussing sourcing with examples from backgrounding work I did on The New York Times 19 August 2013 piece Carwash Managers Held in Immigration Raids)
“We’re asking all the families to please prepare in case of these emergencies to know that they have the right to see an attorney, they have a right to a call and of course at every moment it’s so important to have an emergency plan for when things like this happen,” ACLU Arizona Immigrants Rights Project Coordinator Dulce Juarez told reporters at a rally in front of Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Phoenix field office Monday afternoon. I’d heard the message before at a school assembly for parents last fall when community organizers gathered parents, pastors, and politicians to discuss how to protect children of undocumented immigrants, sometimes U.S. citizens and sometimes undocumented themselves, in a situation where anything from a workplace raid to a traffic stop for a broken tail light or speeding can throw the family into every kind of limbo with no warning: undocumented immigrants should have emergency plans in place to protect their children and their assets because it may be too late to make arrangements once they’re apprehended. “We’re asking all the families to please prepare in case of these emergencies to know that they have the right to see an attorney, they have a right to a call and of course at every moment it’s so important to have an emergency plan for when things like this happen,” said Juarez. This isn’t the story I was assigned to cover – but it’s another side of living here. Organizers from Puente Arizona and National Day Laborer Organizing Network had gathered protestors to support 30 workers still in detention after federal agents raided 16 Danny’s Family Car Wash locations in Phoenix on Saturday morning to make arrests in a criminal identity theft investigation and also detained 223 people, most of whom were quickly released, on immigration status checks.
(a post discussing sourcing with examples from backgrounding work I did on The New York Times July 23 piece 9 in Deportation Protest Are Held in Bid to Re-enter U.S.)
This week on Tuesday, I got invited to help locate sources and gather background information for a brief follow-up story that Julia Preston was working on. A big part of reporting is reaching sources – and this becomes doubly high pressure when working on a breaking news or developing story. The day before, nine protesters were intentionally apprehended in Nogales on Monday morning. In press releases sent out before the event, protest organizers said that eight young immigrants who’d grown up in the U.S. but then had either voluntarily left or been deported would be protesting family separation (a ninth person joined the initial eight during the protest). They’d try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at Morley Gate, a pedestrian crossing between Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona and request humanitarian parole.
A bittersweet reunion lets three young immigrants see – and reach for – their deported mothers through a fence. Read more here in the June 11 The New York Times piece: Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion
As a young man and two young women approached the border from the Arizona side, a cry rang out through the bars of the border fence. Waiting for their children in matching turquoise t-shirts on the Mexican side were their mothers, separated for years since their deportations for being illegally present in the U.S.
The six came together, reaching through the spaces between the thick metal poles, with sobs and laughter under the watchful (and not always dry) eyes of organizers, reporters, Border Patrol, and Mexican Federales last Tuesday – the culmination of days of travel and two months of planning. All three children are in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gives qualified applicants the ability to go to school, work and in some states get drivers licenses while they wait for a more permanent resolution to their legal status limbo. It’s a way for participants to start coming out of the shadows.
One year ago today, this blog started with its very first post. Since then the goal has been to follow Eddie’s search for his missing brother-in-law, Andy, while also expanding coverage of related border issues including missing persons and forensics cases. A lot has happened already. There’s been ups: MfM has gone social with a Twitter account and a Facebook page. The growing database of articles, radio pieces, video and official reports about border issues, forensics and reporting is constantly growing with with room for many, many more submissions.
On a cloudy day with cool-for-Phoenix temperatures in the low 90s, a small group clustered around the Arizona Department of Health Services entrance, reporters holding mics and cameras up to catch the words of local activists giving press conference follow-up comments amid the noise of street and air traffic. The faces and backgrounds were as diverse as the groups they represented which included churches, labor organizations and activists for peace. The real event that would bring them all together would take place that evening, when the Caravan for Peace tour arrived downtown, but they were here to explain why they brought the tour to Arizona. “We have members who have family members living in Mexico,” said Rev. Liona Rowe of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ. “I can’t say that there’s anyone particularly in the congregation who’s been directly impacted by that and yet all of us are impacted, the way our communities are so dysfunctional can certainly be traced back to what’s going on.”
And it’s communities like Shadow Rock that did the planning for the events and are also providing hospitality for the Caravan tour as it travels.