Update: Immigrant Families Resist Criminalization
Immigrant communities in Richmond are more and more fed up with being criminalized for just existing.
In Richmond we have been spending a lot of time talking about immigration, why we immigrated to this country, why we were displaced, and how and why the US state is responding so aggressively. Together we are building a political analysis of our situation as immigrants, and how we hope to change it.
We have learned a few key things together:
Obama has decided to militarize the border even more than before, and is clear that the goal is stop specifically mothers and their children from crossing the borders.
Women leave Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries to risk their lives to come to the United States. Often, women are escaping the factories on the border. They live and work in cities where 100% of the people in the town work for US companies. Often, the factories will pick up overnight and disappear without a trace, leaving before even paying the women for the last few weeks of work.
In detention centers, mothers report being fed only one bologna sandwich in a 24 hour period. They are forced to wait in the sun for hours to receive even this sandwich. Children get sick and medical care is denied them. There is zero legal support for anyone in these centers. Many of the people being released are released with ankle bracelets on, and they must report every week to immigration to confirm they are not a threat to the security of this country. Immigrant agents also come to their house to check their IDs and take a picture of them in their homes.
Whole families are being criminalized without ever having committed a crime.
In the last three weeks, I have worked with six mothers and their children who were released from the Artesia Detention Center in New Mexico and came directly to Richmond. The families, even children as young as two, have deportation papers. Children are traumatized by their experience in the detention centers. At the center they are treated like criminals, yelled at, and asked aggressively why they came to the US when there is nothing here for him.
Communities in Richmond are organizing and are tired of continuing on in silence. They want to share their stories and their analysis of their unjust criminalization and the impact on their children and larger families. Many feel that it is time to take action in order to protect their children and their families.
Wayside organizer Carolina Velez has been organizing in immigrant communities in Richmond for almost 8 years. Every week Wayside attends and organizes a community meeting, a Mixteca embroidery group, a summer lunch program provided by local non profit, and now, with the help of Wayside’s summer interns, ESL classes.