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Alternatives to militarizing our border towns

National Hearing in Tucson Will Collect Recommendations to Restore Rights

The Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (CDH) with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) and sister organizations from across the country are convening the national public hearing, “Communities on the Line: The Impacts of Militarization and Impunity,” in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday, Aug. 17. The national public hearing brings together communities from border and non- border regions to speak out on the effects that immigration policing and more than 12 years of border militarization are having on the rights, livelihood, services, and health of migrants, refugees, working people and communities of color in the United States.

Gerald Lenoir, representing the Black Alliance for Just Immigration from Oakland, Calif., will present testimony on the impacts of immigration enforcement and border control on communities of color. Lenoir declared, “What most people do not realize is that law enforcement policies piloted on border and immigrant communities are being extended into our neighborhoods in cities across the U.S, depriving our communities of their rights and undermining their well-being.”

He pointed out that “African Americans — with our history of fighting brutal racial slavery and its long aftermath, who continue being economically exploited and subjected to extreme discrimination — have much in common with migrants of color and others who come to the United States, documented and undocumented. This national hearing will be an opportunity to lift up the interconnections between our communities’ demands for restoring and expanding civil rights as part of achieving just immigration reforms, to fulfill our dreams of a community where all communities fit.”

Border communities, indigenous people, communities of color, immigrants and working people along with experts and scholars will present testimony and critical assessments of the impacts of immigration control and border militarization. The convening organizations will issue a report with the testimony and recommendations collected at the hearing to obtain desired changes and accountability in immigration control and border militarization.

Participants will propose alternatives and solutions to border militarization and its consequences.

Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (CDH, Human Rights Coalition), explained, “Border militarization is the deadly face of the crisis undermining the health of immigrant and refugee communities and fueling gross and massive rights violations that are destabilizing our communities and the country. Our hearing will provide much needed space for the voices of the excluded, examining alternatives to achieve a more just and humane border.”

Catherine Tactaquin, NNIRR’s executive director, added “We have organized this national hearing to learn directly from members of our communities about their experiences with the harsh immigration law enforcement and border control policies. We want to break the national silence on the social disaster these policies have wrought on border communities and migrants everywhere.”

The hearing will be presided over by the Honorable Congressman Raul Grijalva with fellow panel members including Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, local African-American artist/activist Barbea Williams, Liz Hernandez, a Tucson High School student leader and member of the Social Justice Project, and Donald Carson, professor emeritus with the University of Arizona Department Of Journalism and others. This prestigious panel will receive testimony and documentation about the impact of border and immigration enforcement strategies. Invited speakers from local, state, national and international organizations include:

— South Asian Network, Los Angeles, Calif.

— Seminario Permanente de Estudios Chicanos y de Fronteras, UNAM, Mexico City

— Colonias Development Council, Las Cruces, N.M.

— Union del Pueblo Fronterizo, N.M.

— Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Oakland, Calif.

— Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Albuquerque, N.M.

Members of the community are invited to attend and participate in the community hearing, which will be held at Armory Park Community Center Ballroom (220 S. 5th Avenue, Tucson) on Thursday, Aug. 17, 6 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The hearing is part of a critical national effort to educate and mobilize members of communities, the public at large, voters and elected officials on the mounting threat current and pending immigration legislation poses to the rights, well-being and safety of our communities. Results and recommendations of the hearing will be presented to local, state and federal elected officials and policy-makers, community members and leaders, and partners and allies as part of demanding just and fair immigration reforms.

The public hearing, “Communities on the Line: Militarization and Impunity,” is one of a series of community hearings, activities and actions being launched during August, September and October in Arizona, California, Washington state, Michigan, Florida and New York in coordination with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights as part of the Liberty & Justice for All campaign, an alliance of immigrant rights, civil liberties, civil rights, human rights and immigrant community organizations working to restore and protect civil liberties.

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