Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern US border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the US are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country’s elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.
These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Unless your ancestors are native to this land, your family members came to the US to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.
US is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America’s wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.
By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to “defend” the US from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.
Rory Fanning Former US Army Ranger, War-Resister
Spenser Rapone Former US Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — One morning in April, federal immigration agents swept into a meatpacking plant in this northeastern Tennessee manufacturing town, launching one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump took office with a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration.
Dozens of panicked workers fled in every direction, some wedging themselves between beef carcasses or crouching under bloody butcher tables. About 100 workers, including at least one American citizen, were rounded up — every Latino employee at the plant, it turned out, save a man who had hidden in a freezer.
The raid occurred in a state that is on the raw front lines of the immigration debate. Mr. Trump won 61 percent of the vote in Tennessee, and continues to enjoy wide popularity. The state’s rapidly growing immigrant population, now estimated to total more than 320,000, has become a favorite target of the Republican-controlled State Legislature. In 2017, Tennessee lawmakers passed the nation’s first law requiring stiffer sentences for defendants who are in the country illegally. In April, they passed a law requiring the police to help enforce immigration laws and making it illegal for local governments to adopt so-called sanctuary policies.
But Morristown, a town of 30,000 northeast of Knoxville that was the boyhood home of Davy Crockett, has drawn migrant workers from Latin America since the early 1990s, when they first came to work on the region’s abundant tomato farms. As stepped-up security has made going back and forth across the border more difficult, many of these families have settled into the community, enrolled their kids in school, and joined churches where they have baptized their American-born children.
So the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the Southeastern Provision plant outside the city and sent dozens of workers to out-of-state detention centers was the day people in Morristown began to ask questions many hadn’t thought through before — to the federal government, to the police, to their church leaders, to each other.
Donations of food, clothing and toys for families of the workers streamed in at such volume there was a traffic jam to get into the parking lot of a church. Professors at the college extended a speaking invitation to a young man whose brother and uncle were detained in the raid. Schoolteachers cried as they tried to comfort students whose parents were suddenly gone. There was standing room only at a prayer vigil that drew about 1,000 people to a school gym.
Here, based on interviews with dozens of workers and townspeople, and in their own words (some edited for length and clarity), is how it happened.
ANGELA SMITH, 42, A LONGTIME RESIDENT OF THE AREA: My first thought was one of sorrow. Oh my goodness, this is going to hurt so many people in the community. It’s going to hurt their kids, our kids. It’s going to have a ripple effect throughout the entire community because these people are part of Morristown. Immediately, I drive over to the parish center to see what I can do to help. I had to park way at the end because it was so packed. I go in, I said, I’m an attorney, how can I help?
The April 5 operation signaled a return to the high-profile immigration raids that last happened during the presidency of George W. Bush. President Barack Obama’s chief workplace enforcement tactic was to conduct payroll audits and impose fines on businesses found to employ unauthorized workers. The Trump administration, on the other hand, has vowed to quintuple worksite enforcement. Last week, ICE agents arrested 114 employees at two worksites operated by a gardening company in Ohio.
All 97 workers taken into custody in the Tennessee raid now face deportation, though several have been released pending hearings. And much of the town is reeling. Up to 160 American-born children have a parent who could soon be ordered to leave the country; many families are relying on handouts.
NATALY LUNA, 12, WHOSE FATHER WAS DETAINED: My mom had told us one day it could happen, that one day one of them would be taken. The hardest thing is talking about it.
After the raid, immigrant advocates organized a peace march, and Nataly carried a sign bearing the image of her father, a native of Mexico who had been working in the United States without papers for 20 years before he was taken into custody at the meat plant that day. “We Miss You,” the sign read. “We need you by our side. You are the best father.”
Nestled between two mountain ranges and flanked by two large lakes, Morristown is the county seat and industrial hub of Hamblen County, where most of the plant workers’ families reside.
The Latinos who arrived here, especially those who came after the late 1990s, were part of a swelling wave of migrants bypassing traditional gateway states like California and Texas to seek opportunity in the fast-growing South. Word reached their villages that jobs were plentiful.
More recently, as with other places, Tennessee has been struggling with a meth and opioid epidemic. As drug abuse has sidelined many working-age American men and women, local employers have increasingly turned to immigrants.
KATIE CAHILL, A RESEARCHER WHO STUDIES PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE: Tennessee is facing one of the highest rates of opioid addiction among states. Within this challenged state, you have a county that is doing even worse.
These days, Latinos make up about 11 percent of Hamblen County’s population and account for one of every four students in its public schools. Immigrants toil in meat, poultry and canning plants, as well as at automotive parts, plastics and other factories that dot the area.
This is 26-year-old Ethan Saylor, killed in a Maryland movie theater in 2013 by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies who were working security. Mr. Saylor, who had Down Syndrome and an IQ of 40, had been ordered to leave the theater and had refused. He wanted to see the movie again and to wait for his caregiver, but had no money for a second ticket and was ordered out. He died shortly after deputies threw him to the ground and knelt on his back to handcuff him. Although the coroner ruled his death a homicide caused by asphyxiation, the deputies were not charged. It took until last month, after years of public struggle and legal appeals, for the Saylor family to finally win what would have to pass for justice for their son.
America is a dangerous place for some people. Identifying those most vulnerable to state intrusion or violence reveals much of what is most important about our country.
We cannot for a moment set aside the intense scrutiny required of us by law enforcement’s constant threat to African American lives. In 2017, for example, although only 13 percent of the population is Black, 23 percent of police shooting fatalities were Black. But that specific danger lies near the far end of a continuum on which everydegree of difference from a narrow norm represents a risk. A lot more of us are on that continuum than we realize. In spite of national rhetoric to the contrary, the United States is really a strikingly conformist society, something we often don’t notice until a kind of confrontation suddenly pops up – that is, when the language of a public ideal collides with widespread social stigma instead of covering that stigma up.
Down Syndrome is such a good example of how that happens, even after the long, hard, and apparently successful struggle by families to transform public perception. It’s hard to believe the clumsy, rough, mean-spirited, and ignorant treatment Ethan received. He called out for his mother, yelling that he was hurt, shortly before he drew his last breath. And this happened long after Down Syndrome meant a lifetime in institutions, beginning in early childhood. In fact, America has long been introduced to both the potential and the particular charm of Down Syndrome people, many of whom have big personalities. Until you remember that they used to be routine targets – of ridicule, bullying, physical abuse, hostility, and social isolation. And it looks like, under society’s veneer, they still are – that’s the mentality exhibited by the deputies who killed Ethan. They admitted that they had immediately recognized him as disabled, but for them that clearly didn’t mean he had specific civil rights protected by federal law. For them, his disability had a meaning much older than that: Ethan was upset and uncooperative, not compliant and inferior. Thus, the deputies ignored the informative pleas of Ethan’s caregiver and moved with quick hostility put him in his place.
If we look at what I believe must be a constant struggle for humanity on the part of just this one segment of disabled Americans, we have reason for deep sadness on behalf of so many, many more of our people. Inside their hearts, it’s almost like no one really believes they fit in! Maybe that’s why so many of us are preoccupied with keeping others out. I think our nation’s legacy of slavery was so prolonged that violence crept into every crevice of American culture, where it lives like a poison in our bones.
This is Florida resident Gilberto Powell, 22, beaten in the face by police who found the bulge in his shirt suspicious. The bulge was Powell’s colostomy bag. Gilberto has Down Syndrome
Junie was rolled into the House of Gold late last summer on a dry desert afternoon, three weeks before her 98th birthday. A wind followed her through the huge front door, carrying the smell of walnut trees and hay. Hundreds and hundreds of walnut trees surround Casa de Oro, extending in neat rows as far as the eye can see. Junie lay back and watched the ceiling lights zoom past far above her as she was whisked along a network of hallways smelling of urine and bleach. The ceiling was the only thing she could see. It was a view I had come to know well.
I was hunched on my bed with the curtain pulled closed when Junie was deposited three feet away onto the adjourning bed. If I had looked, I would have seen the tiniest, oldest, and most fragile woman in the world. I would have been taken aback by Junie’s unexpectedly purposeful and glowing gaze.
I didn’t open the curtain right away, though, or even say hello. Medicaid had just kicked me out of the House of Gold’s Rehab Unit without any notice or stated cause, thus eliminating my physical therapy. I’d been hustled out of my separate Rehab Unit room with a speed rarely seen in Casa de Oro, and certainly never hinted at by teenage nursing assistants Yolanda and Tutu. The surgery I’d been preparing myself for was automatically terminated.
I sat behind the curtain, absolutely seething, waiting for a medical van to take me home.
I wasn’t used to this part of the House of Gold and I couldn’t wait to leave. I was there thirty years too early.
Nurses and their assistants came in and out, speaking loudly to Junie, but not listening to her replies. She spoke very softly, which made it easy for them to ignore her.
I finally pulled the curtain, leaned over, and took her hand. Then I listened to Junie as hard as I could.
“I know all of the walnut trees,” she whispered. “And I knew all of the horses.”
Now that I am safe in my own home, I think of Junie. I won’t ever again set foot in the House of Gold, but I want you to remember what she said.
Junie knew all of the walnut trees and all of the horses.
Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job Wednesday to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first national women’s strike in the country’s history . Photo / Cobertura Colaborativa Nosotras Paramos
Not One Less! Latin America Says “Ya Basta!” to Violence Against Women
The gruesome rape of a 16-year-old girl has united women across Latin America to demand an end to femicide and sexual violence.
Women from over 150 cities took part in marches to call for an end to the epidemic of violence against women. The marches were organized by the Argentine collective Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, after a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered.
Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget!” /Photo: Facción
In Costa Rica, women smeared signs reading “I’m tired of being afraid! I want to be alive tomorrow” with red handprints to represent the victims of sexual violence. Photo: Ale Ara
In Peru, women held a candlelight vigil to honor the thousands of women who are killed at the hands of men.
Women in Rosario, Argentina yell “We want us alive!”
A man in a march in Chile stands with a sign that reads “I am half naked, surrounded by the opposite sex … and I feel protected not intimidated. I want the same for them.”
Women placed candles in tribute to the victims of femicide, committed primarily by their spouses and partners.
Sign reads “66,000 women are killed each year worldwide.”
The increasingly violent attacks by North Dakota police and private security forces against peaceful, Indigenous water protectors have caught the nation’s attention as well as that of the United Nations, an arm of which has begun an investigation into the protesters’ claims of human rights abuses, including “excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail,” the Guardianreported late Monday.
Those detained at the Morton County Correctional Center said that while they were held in the 10-by-14-foot cages they were forced to wait for basic necessities, such as “access to bathrooms, food, water, and medical attention,” the Guardian reported.
“We embarked upon a peaceful and prayerful campaign,” Standing Rock Sioux member Phyllis Young told the U.N. representatives. “They were placed in cages. They had numbers written on their arms very much like concentration camps.” Young said that the police’s treatment of native people was “not only conditions of colonialism, but conditions of war.”
“The government is allowing the police force to be used as a military force to protect an oil company,” added protester Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation.
The Morton County Sheriff’s office has also been accused of tracking the activists through a feature on Facebook, a claim which spurred more than one million people worldwide to “check in” to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Monday in an attempt to “overwhelm and confuse” law enforcement and express solidarity with the demonstrators.
The fact that a campaign of “intimidation and repression” is being waged on behalf of a private company is not to be overlooked, according to a coalition of environmental groups, which late last week sent a letter (pdf) to the owners of the $3.7 billion tar sands pipeline, reminding them of their “complicity” in the ongoing human rights abuses.
“As joint owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, you have a corporate duty under international law and the laws of the United States to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in further human rights abuses. It is imperative that you take action to stop the attacks on peaceful occupiers immediately,” states the letter, which is addressed to officials with Energy Transfer Partners, Phillips 66, Enbridge Energy Partners, and Wells Fargo bank.
The violent raid and mass arrest last week “has created a situation of urgency in which the companies must take immediate responsibility for the human rights impacts of their actions, including the companies’ complicity in the actions of others,” the letter continues:
As a matter of international law, your companies have an affirmative responsibility to protect human rights, including the responsibility to: avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts to peaceful protestors through your companies’ own activities; and to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to your companies’ operations. These responsibilities also apply to banks and other institutions that provide financing for a project that will cause such adverse human rights impacts.
“We emphasize and caution that the active involvement by persons acting under color of governmental authority, including state or local law enforcement, does not absolve your companies of these duties,” it further states.
The signatories, who are leaders with the Center for International Environmental Law, Honor the Earth, Bold Alliance, Climate Justice Programme, EarthRights International, Oil Change International, and Greenpeace USA, note that they “have spent decades advocating and litigating on behalf of Indigenous communities outside the United States,” whose rights are too often “violated by proponents of extractive industries around the world…And we are alarmed that these all-too-familiar patterns are playing out in the United States at Standing Rock.”
Similarly, Roberto Borrero, a Taino tribe member and representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, who is assisting the U.N. in collecting the testimonies, told theGuardian, “When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony.”
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has also sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the police response to the ongoing protests. Meanwhile, the water protectors have vowed to maintain their vigil throughout the winter and continue their resistance as the pipeline construction encroaches upon their sacred land and water.
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