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Two months after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded fines ranging between $300,000 – $500,000 against seven women living in Sanctuary in churches across the country, ICE has sent letters threatening renewal of the civil fines and potential criminal prosecution. Until now the only thing preventing ICE from carrying out an enforcement action at a place of worship has been a “sensitive locations” memorandum issued years ago. “The fines and the threat of criminal prosecution are an extreme form of retaliation against people whose lives are in danger if they are deported. This tactic is consistent with the Trump administration’s unlawful campaign to end asylum and deport immigrants of color.”
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The Cleveland Immigration Working Group is engaged in a number of immigrant defense and support activities. We need more volunteer help. Please read below and consider helping with some of these needs: A. Safe Hotels Campaign B. Rapid Response Team C. Bond Packets for Release from Detention D. Court Monitoring E. Bus Reception F. Public Actions G. Sponsor Families H. Help for ICE Raid Victims and those in detention I. Prayer Support . If you would like to learn more about any of these initiatives, please email irtf@irtfcleveland.org or call (216) 961 0003.
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The US plays a major role in push factors that cause Central Americans to take the risky journey north. One is land grabs. Powerful economic interests (including transnational corporations with subsidies from US taxpayers) forcibly seize land for mining, logging, oil drilling, industrial-scale agriculture, hydroelectric dams and more. Peasant, indigenous, and Afro-descendant communities suffer intimidation, threats, assassinations and massacres. Colombia has more than 6 million internally displaced people! Read about historic push factors in Juan Gonzalez' book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
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Tuesday marks the 69th annual Human Rights Day which celebrates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as put forth by the United Nations in 1948. This year's theme for the celebration is "Youth Standing Up for Human Rights." In a statement, the United Nations said it wants to "celebrate the potential of youth as constructive agents of change, amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights." "We have a duty to ensure young people's voices are heard," read a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. "All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives. In order to ensure more effective decision-making, and to build greater trust and harmony across their nations, the leaders of every society should be listening to their people—and acting in accordance with their needs and demands."
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In the third case seeking justice for genocide on behalf of the Maya Ixil people, three high-ranking military officials, retired Colonel César Octavio Noguera Argueta, retired General Manuel Callejas y Callejas, and retired General Benedicto Lucas García have been indicted on charges including genocide, crimes against humanity, and forced disappearance. Callejas y Callejas and Lucas Garcia are both School of the Americas graduates. This is the first judicial process to try the high command of Fernando Romeo Lucas García’s military dictatorship for genocide. The present case involves 31 massacres in which 1,128 people were killed; the destruction of 23 villages; 97 selective killings; 117 deaths due to forced displacement; 26 cases of sexual violence; and 53 cases of forced disappearance. The Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) awaits justice for this case since they first filed formal charges in this case in 2000.
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La Via Campesina: Many NE Ohioans met Marlen Sanchez, national coordinator of agroecology, when she was here from Nicaragua in November 2018. One year later, the first Instituto Agroecologico Latinoamericano (Latin American Institute of Agroecology or IALA) held a graduation ceremony in Chontales, Nicaragua, for its first cohort of graduates. Contingents from several nations arrived, highlighting the diverse bonds of solidarity that were both created by, and strengthened by, the school. The graduating class is comprised of students from the region: Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. These students were chosen by their home organizations, all of which are participants in La Via Campesina. Congratulations to these agroecologists!