News

  • What Guatemala explains about Roy Moore

     

    The similarity between the theocratic vision of candidate Roy Moore and former Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt is a conversation we should all be having.

  • ICE is quietly developing plans to add up to 30,000 beds in the Midwest

    Photo: Getty Images/Stock Photo

     

    ICE has had a renewed focus on arrests in the interior of the country as border arrests have declined. In October a response to growing interior deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quietly released a, 

    "Request for Information (RFI) to identify multiple possible detention sites to hold criminal aliens and other immigration violators in support of its public safety mission under the authority of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. These sites will be located in the greater Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, and Salt Lake City area."

    If the plans proceed forward between 10,000 and 30,000 beds will be added to the deportation regime in predominantly Midwest cities.

    Today, Congressman Keith Ellison along with six members of the Minnesota congressional delegation sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Duke and ICE Acting Director Roman.

    In the letter, they explain that,

    "We write to express our serious concerns regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s plan to expand the number of detention sites in Minnesota and around the country."


    In Minnesota, signs point to the possibility that influential private prison giant CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) owned Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota become a detention center. The facility was closed in 2010 with ongoing attempts to reopen it.

    In the last legislative session, a law was passed and signed by Governor Dayton with a provision that directs the department of corrections to conduct reviews and assessment of Prairie Correctional facility. The study is due January 15th.

    In Minnesota, there has been a push for added capacity as racialized incarceration rates and arrests increase. The Minnesota prison system is overcrowded. The Department of Corrections has already been sending prisoners to rural county jails County jails also have US Marshall's office to house immigrant detainees. Therefore there aren’t many options to meet goals set forth by the Trump Administration

    Under the Obama administration, within the Department of Justice strategies were deployed that reduced incarceration rates. Furthermore, Private Prison contractors faced intense scrutiny over poor conditions leading President Obama to announce in August 2016 that the federal government would no longer contract with private prison companies.

    During the 2016 election the two largest prison contractors CoreCivic and GEO group donated heavily to the Trump campaign as well as congressional Republicans. According to October reporting in The Observer, "GEO group alone spent more on the 2016 election than it had in the past seven years combined." Furthermore GEO group had also already spent $1.3 million on lobbying.

    On February 23, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama order paving the way for a windfall for CoreCivic and GEO group.Combined the private prison companies have amassed close to 1 billion dollars in new contracts on top of existing contracts in the billion. Their stock price has increased dramatically since the Obama era low point.


    With an available Praire Correction Facility and a close relationship with the Trump Administration, CoreCivic will likely be a leading contender to house more deportees.

    -Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

    filiberto@elhuateque.com

  • Podcasting with Latinx Youth

    Of all the things I had imagined happening during the tension and anxiety leading up to the 2016 presidential election I did not consider that I would be facilitating a podcast class the day after Trump was elected president. I drove to Centro Tyrone Guzman (El Centro) anxious, a knot in my stomach and dried tears in my eyes. It was my first of many  podcast session over the course of a year working with Minneapolis based latinx youth. I was tasked with facilitating their exploration of new technologies to find and disseminate their perspective and voice, but this day my work had added purpose.

    I sat in my car wondering how to address the election, feeling very unsure. I read posts from educators describing their approach. There wasn't a real consensus but what I saw most consistently was the idea of stopping the daily motions, setting things aside and acknowledging each other's feelings. So that’s what we did. I grounded the space as best I could with the support of youth facilitators that worked for El Centro. The observations, experiences and reflections of the Latinx youth surprised me. It hurt to hear it.

    One of the oldest of the group, who went to a majority white school, described how white youth had already started chanting, "build a wall". Worst still the school blamed him if he got upset. He, along with the other youth of color, were forced to be quiet in the face of bigotry and hostility. He was asked to be resilient in a way that should be asked of no one.  

     Other students expressed fear and anxiety. The strain on mixed-status families was already present as the youth faced the possibility of the deportation of undocumented family members and for some, the possibility of their own deportation.  I was surprised by how much these middle school youth had observed and absorbed so much. Our conversation centered me. I began to consider what I would be willing to risk and how my life would be directed by being apart of the resistance to Trump with the greatest urgency I had ever experienced. It was the sort of bonding I would have never anticipated: anchored in our shared vulnerability in unprecedented times.

    So here is the product of middle school-aged Latinx youth wadding into introspection to  find an aspect of their voice through podcasting. While their age is evident, their moments of clarity and directness are things that feel hopeful while simultaneously unkind.  Our experience together became a needed space for mutual vulnerability and processing during this new hostile and uneasy time.

    Enjoy!

     

    -Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

  • Reflections on the Deportation Regime

    As our community tries to make sense of the Trump administration and the escalating hostility towards immigrant communities it's important to look back to move forward.

    Professor Jimmy Patiño’s research examines the effects of immigration in the 20th century. His forthcoming book, Raza Sí, Migra No, focuses on the developing political consciousness of Chicana activists as they focused their advocacy against an increasingly violent Border Patrol during the 80s and 90s.

     

    Professor Vichet Chhuon has been actively involved with a Minnesota campaign called ReleaseMN8, which was organized in 2016 to fight the deportation of Cambodian Americans and bring visibility to unjust immigration policies. His writing on this has appeared in a number of forums including the Huffington Post, MinnPost, and Angry Asian Man. His research has focused on Cambodian American identity and academic engagement, and how youth of color feel known in school.

     

     Jimmy’s research and applied to insights offered through Vichet’s recent advocacy allows us to understand how the past speaks to the present and offer some perspective on, “where the deportation regime is at.” We also wanted to expand how immigration works by comparing and developing a dialogue between the Latino and Asian experience. Their conversation can be best described by Jimmy as recognizing “the limits of respectability or assimilation politics.”

    While our conversation was expansive we acknowledged how Trump’s deportation regime is rooted in the mechanisms that were created under the Obama administration. As we continued to explore the unique textures of immigration we were reminded that Asians are the only racial group to date not permitted to enter the US as prescribed by immigration law. Vichet argues that the removal and lack of complication of this fact from the popular imagination is an example of the whitewashing of history by not acknowledging how much Asians were thought of as unfit, thus challenging the contemporary “model minority” narrative.

    In the end, all communities of color are well served to examine their relationship to respectability because as Jimmy describes, “ in our communities there are also folks who are down to play the game to get into the club”. The better we can defend against these tendencies the stronger our movement can become.

  • Support Zapatista Coffee based Cafe in Oakland!

     

     

    The innovative Akat Café Kalli is a community-based café in Oakland, California. They are expanding their vision by directly sourcing coffee from Zapatista growers. To support the project you can pre-order coffee online at www.sinfronterascoffee.com.  If you pre order now the coffee will likely arrive by Mid August. Donations will also be accepted to help Akat Café Kalli purchase its own roaster. 

    Co-owners of Akat Cafe Kalli  Rocio Cervantes Garcia and Jose Rodriguez, answered some questions below about their vision and work. 


    1. How did you get connected to growers in Chiapas?

     

    We had been to Chiapas a number of times before. This time it was through the context of coffee that we wanted to connect.  We reached out and eventually had a chance to go visit the Zapatista cooperative.  This past January we had the privilege to work part of the coffee harvest and learn first hand about the coffee and how it relates to autonomy.  We have been doing coffee talks called, Cosechando Autonomía in public spaces such as libraries, flea markets and farmer’s markets with the goal of further connecting a solidarity economy

     

     

    2. As Oakland is becoming increasingly impacted by gentrification how does this cafe respond to that?

    We moved to Oakland in 2012 from across the bay in San Francisco.  As migrants/xicanos and community/cultural workers there, rents became less affordable and we were not able to stay.  We found ourselves in a situation where, as working class migrants and xicanos/Mexicanas and as newcomers to our neighborhood, we had to be part of the solution.  We hosted workshops that shared skills, music, art and events that informed of the empowering actions happening in the community. The community also organized their own events and gatherings at the café. Akat Café Kalli became a place of connection for us and our community. We have been about creating positive impacts and relationships in the community since day one. Now we aim to create sustainable incomes with opportunity for growth.


    3. Have you met many Latin American coffee growers in Oakland? That is to say folks that have migrated and grew coffee in their native lands.

    Yes, we have met folks from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.  Some are working in coffee and others in different industries. We are working to connect more with those folks who have had a connection to growing coffee and now find themselves in other industries.  There is a growing opportunity for them to share their coffee experience and directly impact their communities back home. It is also key to build a stronger community together here as well.

    4. What does it feel like to be in your cafe?

    We have been told many times that folks feel inspired by what we have built so far.  Not by any measurement of economics, but by the fact that we have been about building this coffee space in a good way, one based on collaboration and participation.  We call this an autonomous coffee space. It is safe, rebel, dignified and community-oriented with so much to learn and contribute.

     

    5. How has working directly with growers changed your perception of coffee?

    Its all about the relationships.  When we worked part of the harvest, we saw a dedication present in the coffee growers and all their relations which includes but is not limited to the land, community, the struggle, autonomy, self-determination and tradition.  Applying those values to our own geography, we see that coffee can be shed of its colonial legacies and be used to benefit the people working the land and the coffee shops. It starts with shifting the value back to the relationship.


    6. What does "Akat Café Kalli” mean?

    Akatl is Reed in Nahuatl, awareness, flexibility and perceptive of energy and the deep root which connects the earth and the sky.  Kalli in Nahuatl means a space for learning or creating; a foundation or house. 

     

    -Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

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