JULY DCQC Newsletter

Lise Hicks

 8th Annual BBQ Democratic Club of Quail Creek

Last month over 60 members and guests attended the Democratic Club of Quail Creek 8th annual BBQ and fundraiser, hosted by Jerry and Carol Smith. The food was provided by Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-Be-Que at the Fry’s Food Center, Sahuarita. The event included a silent auction, 50-50 cash raffle and a demonstration of the club’s updated website and new blog:

The special guests who attended were: State Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón, LD2, State Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, LD2; Jeff Latas, who is considering a run against Rep. Martha McSally (R) CD2 incumbent in 2018, was a Democratic candidate for Congress in Arizona’s CD8 primary in 2006 against Gabby Giffords, a former USAF pilot with five tours in the Middle East and is currently a captain with JetBlue; and Sen. Steve Farley (D) LD 9, who is also considering running for governor next year.He was first elected to the Arizona Legislature as State Representative from District 28 in November 2006, eventually rising to become House Assistant Minority Leader. He was elected to the senate in 2012 and now serves as Senate Assistant Minority Leader and the Ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, as well as Member of the Appropriations, Financial Institutions, and Ethics Committees. The Arizona Republic named Steve as one of 16 Arizonans to Watch in 2016. Cindy Mayron

From left: Mena Latas, Jeff Latas, and Sen. Andrea Dalessandro

 left: Nancy Gibbs and Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón

Group shot of attendees

Al Miller and Carol Smith present DCQC newly formatted website and new blog

 

DCQC visits the Kino Border Initiative (KBI)

Immigrants seeking a better life in the US and deportees who have been exported from the US may find themselves in desperate straits, facing unfriendly government officials and human predators. They may be disoriented, confused, cashless, and in need of social support. They are vulnerable to gangs who may traffic them or use them to carry contraband across the border. They may find themselves unable to return to their country of origin for fear of violence to themselves or their families. Reading about the immigration problems, the plight of the undocumented, and the social and political situations that have created the crisis does not necessarily put a human face on the story.

The DCQC has made two recent trips to Nogales, Mexico in order to get a better understanding of the immigrant situation. Sean Carrol, a Jesuit Priest, and director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) provided DCQC members a firsthand experience with the immigrant situation and a look inside the problem with human faces that were more than words on a page or photographs of those seeking a better life. The following account was written by Lise Hicks from the DCQC.

Earthquakes shake more than ground, uproot more than trees, topple more than buildings.

Phillipe (pseudonym) knows this all too well. When the earthquake in Haiti destroyed all that he owned, and all he had ever known, Phillipe left his wife, four daughters, and the rest of his family to find work – first in the Dominican Republic, and then in Brazil. After all, his family depended on him. He was the only male, the major breadwinner. The construction jobs he secured kept them all fed. And Brazil worked out for four years, until its president was impeached and political uncertainty dried up the work.

What to do? There was still no work in Haiti. Word filtered down that some Haitians were given work visas in the U.S. after presenting themselves on the border. And so Phillipe left Brazil with hope for a better life, walking for two months, through jungles and deserts, under blazing suns and torrential downpours, over five thousand miles of treacherous and dangerous terrain. He saw fellow travelers washed down raging streams. He lost his documents. He faced danger and death each and every day.

But his belief in God, in doing right by his family, kept him walking, kept him believing.

And upon reaching Nogales, Mexico, he was forced to face the cruelest of truths. There would be no work visas – not from the U.S., not from Mexico.

“I walked a long way to get here,” he said, “It is hard to be away from my family for so long. I may look fine to you, but inside, my heart is crying. I went looking for a life, but my life’s been destroyed.”

His only hope now is to earn enough money to make his way back to Haiti. He works in a taquería and makes beaded earrings and woven bracelets for sale to tourists. Every little bit helps. Despite the hardships and the adversity, he is grateful for everyone who helped him along the way. “I believe in God,” he says.

Phillipe’s story is not unusual.

One woman waits to return to Guatemala, stopped at the border with her son’s three children, all U.S. citizens. She took them in when their mother died, raised them while her son got back on his feet. Now the children are in detention on the U.S. side of the border, separated from both their father and their grandmother. Their father is undocumented and must go to court to get custody – if he can get custody.

A pregnant woman from Jalisco waits in Nogales. She and her husband were both detained for crossing the border. She was immediately deported, and he was sent to New Mexico. She will not leave without him and wonders where, and when, he will be deported.

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit bi-national charity, offers a safe place for the border’s most vulnerable citizens. They provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care for up to one week. They offer assistance in communicating with family, cashing checks or securing wired funds. KBI cautions them on ways to stay safe, to avoid falling prey to the drug cartels or suffering abuse at the hands of the Mexican police. Their words of advice – Never walk alone. Don’t lend your phone; don’t borrow a phone. Unscrupulous people will claim they have kidnapped you to extort money from your relatives, whether or not you have actually been kidnapped.

“We provided over 46,000 meals last year,” Father Sean Carroll, KBI’s director said, “Seventy-five percent of the people we help are men; twenty-five percent are women and children. Most are from Mexico, I’d say about 90%, and the rest are from Central America, many of whom are fleeing violence. Last October, Haitians migrants started to arrive in Nogales.

“Besides the humanitarian work we do, we have been able to give legislative offices current information about what is really happening at the border. Each person coming through our doors completes a survey. We find out why they are here, how they got deported, what their journey has been like. We accurately document abuse in any form. We give this information to our Jesuit partners in Washington, D.C. and we have worked closely with a professor at George Washington University to publish our findings.

“So far in 2017, we have seen a significant drop in recent crossers over the border. Many of the constituents we see now have been living in the U.S. long-term, ten years, twelve.”

One recent morning, about forty men and one woman were served breakfast at long tables at KBI’s Nogales, Mexico location. They were offered second helpings, thirds. One man, who looked to be in his 70s, was the last one to leave the table. He ate several helpings, and asked for a baggy to carry some food with him as he left on his skinny legs. Another man, slightly younger, hobbled with a cane.

After a warm welcome, Sister Alicia asked them to join her in playing some simple hand coordination games that were, well, not quite so simple. This broke the ice. The men were soon laughing, their tension temporarily released, their worries erased if but for a few minutes. Father Sean then led them in prayer, his words offering comfort and safety.

Earthquakes, drug violence, unemployment, and despair may shatter lives. KBI attempts to rebuild them. With hope. And respect.

You may contribute to the Kino Border Initiative at www.kinoborderinitiative.com. Monthly recurring contributions are especially welcome.

Lise Hicks

 

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit organization that is working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities. Our current activities are centered around the proposed Rosemont Copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains. At the May meeting, we heard from Gayle Hartmann of the Save the Scenic Santa Ritas Association. It appears that the mining activity is delayed and maybe permanently. Although – anything is possible. Should the mining operation be approved it will be an economic and ecological disaster for our part of the world. If you have not visited their website and blog. It is worth time.

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One comment

  1. Signs of wondrous life abound in the friendly desert, if you only look close enough. Keep bringing people together to the action and bringing actions to the people. Improve the quality of our democracy in seemingly safe red districts.

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