As immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from Mexico, Central and South America, Africa and the Caribbean seek entry in the US at the border with Mexico, the discourse on global migration has gotten shrill and disingenuous. The human rights of migrants are being violated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, Border Patrol agents, police officers and vigilante groups everyday. The root causes of migration and US complicity in forcing people to leave their home countries are obscured. A panel of activists and academics will shed light on the crisis in US policy that has led to the displacement and demonization of migrants. Featuring live poetry readings by Arnoldo Garcia and Catherine Labiran.
NATIONAL NETWORK FOR IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE RIGHTS (NNIRR)
Alma Maquitico is the co-director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Her work has centered on developing initiatives to address rural development, climate change, and human rights. Over the past twenty years, she has provided technical assistance to various grassroots organizations addressing food, agriculture, and ecological sustainability with migrant and refugee communities on the US-Mexico borderlands. Additionally, Alma has helped built grassroots networks to monitor and document human rights violations resulting from immigration enforcement in communities along the US-Mexico border.
BLACK ALLIANCE for JUST IMMIGRATION (BAJI)
Nana Gyamfi is the executive director of BAJI . She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. She brings with her over three decades of service to the Movement for Black liberation, and over twenty years of experience directing Black social justice organizations and networks. Nana is a human rights and criminal defense attorney, a professor in the Pan African Studies Department at the California State University Los Angeles, and radio personality who hosts two popular shows in Los Angeles, CA. She is also the president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL). As a seasoned organizer and activist, Nana has been involved with and led various local, national, and international social justice organizations for over thirty years.
COALITION FOR HUMANE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS (CHIRLA)
Arturo Viscara is the International Programs Manager for CHIRLA and joins us from Tapachula, near the Mexico/Guatemala border. A staunch anti-imperialist, he has long organized and worked to reduce the US-led militarization and exploitation of Latin America/the Caribbean and all peoples. Arturo works with asylum seekers in Mexico in order to get them the best information possible on the US asylum and detention systems so they can make the best possible immigration decisions for themselves and their families. The majority of folks he works with are Central American, but also Haitian, Cuban, Mexican, and other asylum seekers. He was born in El Salvador and grew up in the US before moving to Mexico three years ago. He studied law and international relations at Boston University.
COALICION DE DERECHOS HUMANOS
Isabel Garcia is the co-chair of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that promotes respect for human and civil rights and fights the militarization of the border region in the American Southwest. She is also a retired legal defender of Pima County, Arizona. Ms. Garcia has been at the forefront of immigrant and refugee rights since 1976. As a lead speaker on behalf of Derechos Humanos, Ms. Garcia holds press conferences and interviews, hosts media crews, leads demonstrations, weekly vigils, symposiums, and marches to draw attention to unjust policies and inhumane treatment of immigrants. She works to counter anti-immigrant hysteria and to change stereotypes and misinformation about immigrants
Elsadig Elsheikh, Moderator
OTHERING & BELONGING INSTITUTE
Elsadig Elsheikh is the Director of the Global Justice Program at the Othering & Belonging Institute, where he oversees the program’s projects on corporate power, food systems, forced migration, inclusiveness index, Islamophobia, and human rights mechanisms; and manages the Shahidi Project, and the Nile Project. Elsadig's research interests focus on the themes and socio-political dynamics related to state and citizenship; race and corporate power; and measuring social policies of exclusion and inclusion.
Originally from South Texas, Arnoldo García is a culture-maker, community organizer, and poet based in Oakland, California. He edited and published "Poets against War & Racism | Poetas contra la guerra y el racismo," a poetry chapbook featuring multinational poets, available at this link PAWR. Arnoldo worked for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights for over a decade and now works with community-based organizations to train and build intergenerational multiracial leadership for restorative justice. Arnoldo's work has been featured on La Bloga, Poets Responding @PoetryofResistance and in the upcoming book on Oakland's movements for racial justice and Black Lives Matter, Painting the Streets, co-published by EastSide Arts Alliance and Nomadic Press of Oakland. His poetic work is available at: lacarpadelfeo.blogspot.com and artofthecommune.wordpress.com
As a Nigerian woman who was born in New York and raised in London, Catherine Labiran is passionate about advancing human rights through poetry, advocacy, and research.
Catherine strives to infuse her diverse cultural experiences into exhilarating bodies of work enabling them to live lives of their own. She was selected as a winner of SLAMbassadors UK 2010, a winner of 30 Nigeria House, and was conferred the honour of writing the official Olympic Poem for London 2012 as one of London’s “12 Poets for 2012". Her poetry has been translated into several languages for publications across the globe.
Catherine has worked for a number of human rights organizations including the US Human Rights Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and currently at The Praxis Project. Catherine was selected as a Fellow for People of African Descent by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. In 2020, she was named as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent by MIPAD 100.
About this Series
This Livestream series, “Rise Up For Justice: Black Lives and Our Collective Future,” from the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, is providing space for cutting edge conversations among activists, scholars, journalists, and other thought leaders to provide context and analysis on this transformative moment and envision what comes next in the movement for racial justice.
A Black-led movement demanding police accountability and justice has galvanized anger, grief, and frustration over the repeated killings of Black men and women both historically and in the present day—but also hope for a future rooted in true belonging. People worldwide are participating in a pivotal uprising that will reshape not only our relationship with Black communities but also our collective future. Launched in June 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Check out our PLAYLIST OF PREVIOUS EVENTS
Reclaiming Asylum, Rethinking the Border (The Progressive, April 12, 2021)
What’s Driving the Surge at the Border (NYT, April 5, 2021)
Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs. (2021). Biden Administration to Keep Using Public Health Rule to Turn Away Migrants. New York Times.
Franco Ordoñez. (2021). Title 42 foes go back to court to try to end COVID measures blocking asylum seekers. NPR.
Rising Border Encounters in 2021: An Overview and Analysis. American Immigration Council.
Sabrina Rodriguez. It’s Not a Border Crisis. It’s a Climate Crisis. There was a time when rural Guatemalans never left home. (2021). POLITICO.
Caitlin Dickerson. (2019). ‘There is a Stench’: Soiled Clothes and No Baths for Migrant Children at a Texas Center
Suketu Mehta. (2019). Why Should Immigrants ‘Respect Our Borders’? The West Never Respected Theirs. New York Times
Jason De León. (2015). The land of open graves: Living and dying on the migrant trail. Vol. 36. Univ of California Press, 2015.
Bill Ong Hing. American Presidents, Deportations, and Human Rights Violations: From Carter to Trump
Nolan Kline. (2019). Pathogenic Policing: Immigration Enforcement and Health in the US South. Rutgers University Press.
Angela Garcia. (2019). Legal Passing: Navigating Undocumented Life and Local Immigration Law. University of California Press.
Heide Castañeda. (2019). Borders of Belonging: Struggle and Solidarity in Mixed-Status Immigrant Families. Stanford University Press.
Wendy A. Vogt. (2018). Lives in Transit: Violence and Intimacy on the Migrant Journey University of California Press.
Immigration: A Women’s Humanitarian Perspective: A true discussion on the border crisis. w/ Alma Maquitico, NNIRR’s Co-Director on a panel of border women leaders (FB video, March 27, 2021) Co-hosted by Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers and the South Texas Human Rights Center
KPFA radio interview with Cathi Tactaquin, former NNIRR founder/director and policy expert (March 23, 2021)
Follow our Collaborators
- Global Justice Program, Othering and Belonging Institute
- National Network for Immigrant and refugee rights
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
- Coalicion de Derechos Humanos
- Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
- Justice Teams
- Anti Police-Terror Project
- Inland Empowerment
- We the People Michigan
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Atlanta
- UC Berkeley School of Public Health
- ACLU of Northern California
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Warehouse Worker Resource Center
- Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
- Healthy Black Families, Inc.
- Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
- Rural Community Workers Alliance
- Black Voters Matter Fund
- Texas Organizing Project
- Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
- Advancement Project
- Elect Justice
- Revolve Impact
- Athletes for Impact
- More than a vote
- Vote Save America
- The Movement 4 Black Lives Electoral Justice Voter Fund
Poetic Justice: A world of Human Rights
by Arnoldo Garcia
We want human rights because…
No human being is illegal,
No human being is a minority,
No human being is undocumented
Everyone has a story to tell, a history to be made, a dream to fulfill, a life to live to the fullest, to the deepest end of time
Everyone has the right to grow old, live gently, love openly, work passionately
We want a world where our families…
Can live together free from fear and borders
Have human rights that are untouchable
Have poetry, bread, laughter, horizons, dreams that can’t be stopped
Can have children every year, every season, because there are schools, childcare centers, homes with heat, jobs with living wages, nutritious meals, healthcare, choices to be made, options to be created, and nobody goes to war
Are led by single mothers, single fathers, teen mothers, teen fathers, queers, lesbians, gays, transgenders, and everyone praises them because they take care of the present and the future.
We want a world where our communities…
Can live, love, labor, stand still or walk freely without fear of tomorrow
Are part of a living community of communities
Respect the natural world and her seasons
Remember our ancestors everyday, because we are ancestors-to-be
Respect the elders, the newborn and young with equal portions of energy, wisdom and hope
Listen equally to women and men, to elders and youth and make no decisions that will harm the newborn, the infirm, the disabled, the unemployed, the dreamers or the ancestors
We want a world where our leaders…
Have no more say than the poorest and certainly don’t earn more than four times than a farmworker
Don’t have to have a university degree, be a lawyer or speak English
Listen and don’t impose
Consult and don’t confuse the people
Dialogue and dream together with those nobody wants
Live and work with those they purport to lead
Understand that everyone is a leader
Build organizations and movements where everyone is a leader
Set up the chairs and sweep the floors after the meeting
Know that only communities and peoples can have visions
We want a world where justice means…
That women don’t have to confront tanks with stones to demand bread and peace
Children don’t have to work, but have all the time to study, learn, dream and play
Our elders are not abandoned in the shadows
Borders are mutually agreed upon and interdependent or they don’t exist
We want a world where no borders means…
People have the right to a home, health, education, land, healthy community, place, the natural world, music, poetry, peace, justice, languages, colors, art, love, family, solitude, sunsets, silence and bustle
Military leaders cannot send our sons and daughters to war because we resolve our differences through dialogue and sharing resources.
Hunger is an exhibit in the museum of antiquities
We can talk through the night in each other’s pleasure and love and wake up early to go to work, study, worship, or play because tomorrow will come without worries or fears.
Passports will be stamped: she/he knows his/her human rights and is free to enter.
We want a movement where human rights…
Are the highest form of politics, of strategy, of being
Are the language of everyday meetings and conversations
Are on every agenda, on every tongue
Are not a on a long list along with civil rights, racial justice, environmental justice, social justice, l/g/b/t rights, women’s rights, children’s rights…
Are the passwords of community, brotherhood/sisterhood
Let us dream that this world of injustices cannot last long and that another world is possible only if we organize and fight for a new day
We want a world of human rights…
Because everyone is important in the movement, in the community, in the family, in the relationship of struggle and justice
Because dreaming in color is the only thing possible or desirable when we go to bed alone or together
Because sorrow must end and anguish becomes impossible
Because everyone deserves hope and certainty
Because it IS the world that can’t be stopped
Because everything is possible when everyone has human rights
Livestream tech, Marc Abezeid
Graphic design, Erfan Moradi
THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS FOR SUPPORTING THIS SERIES
UC Berkeley School of Public Health, ACLU of Northern California, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mijente, Warehouse Worker Resource Center, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Black Voters Matters Fund, Healthy Black Families, Inc., Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Rural Community Workers Alliance, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Texas Organizing Project, Advancement Project, Africans Rising, Athletes for Impact, APALA NV, California Calls, Center for Knowledge Equity, Community Action Partnership, Elect Justice, Family Action Network Movement, GARE, Greater Good Science Center, Health Impact Partners, I'm Making a Difference, International SEIU, Jewish Voice for Peace, Make it Work NV, Make the Road NV, More in Common, MOSES MI, National Center for Law and Economic Justice, New Florida Majority, Policylink, Community Change Action, Race Forward, Revolve Impact, SEIU NV, Texas Organizing Project, University of California at Berkeley, Visíon y Compromiso, Vote.org, Wayne State University (Detroit Equity Lab) and the Workers Center for Racial Justice.