Open Americas Statement on Zero Tolerance Policy & Family Separation

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On Friday, April 6, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in a memorandum the introduction of a zero tolerance policy for migrants who enter the United States without documentation.

Although there is no specific law that mandates family separation at the US-Mexico border, the separation of parents from children has occurred as parents who cross the United States’ southern border without documentation are prosecuted in criminal court for the misdemeanor of entering the country. Meanwhile, youths are referred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn sends them to shelters or places them in the custody of sponsors.

Between May 5 and June 9, 2,342 children were separated from their parents at the border, according to the Trump administration.

There has been great public condemnation of the policy, with all four living former first ladies stating their opposition to it. Republicans and Democrats alike have also been vocal in their criticism. Responding to public outcry, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen called on Congress to “fix” the policy, negating the administration’s responsibility and complicity in family separation. “You do not need to break the law of the United States to seek asylum,” she stated. “We are a country of compassion. We are a country of heart.”

Open Americas does not believe that separating children from parents is compassionate. It is heartless.

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“The Ultimate Expression of Freedom”: A Q&A with Dr. William Arrocha

William ArrochaDr. William Arrocha, Assistant Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, recently shared his expertise and thoughts on compassionate migration, DACA, the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico, and what truly makes us human with Open Americas.

Can you describe your background? How did you become interested in the field of international policy and more specifically in U.S./Mexico relations, migration, and human rights?

I am an eternal migrant, born from immigrant parents in Mexico City, a place where many worlds have met, clashed and thrived for centuries. As someone born within an international and multicultural family, my reason for being will always involve more than one country or place. As the Argentina poet Facundo Cabral once said, “I’m not from here… I’m not from there.”

Being born in Mexico to an American mother and a Mexican father always placed me in the confines of U.S.-Mexico relations. Being raised in a family with parents engaged in the realms of the law, social justice, and human rights, studying in the French system during all my formative years and at my bachelors at the National Autonomous University of Mexico could not have taken me to any other path than that of an internationalist.

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President Donald Trump: Catalyst for ​The Clash of Civilizations?

By Aidan Sanchez

The current political climate in the United States in 2018 is volatile. Among the many contentious topics is Islam’s place in modern Western society. Much of the kindling for growing islamophobic sentiments in the West has come from President Donald Trump. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump regularly established that Islam, and by extension Muslims, are public enemy number one. During a campaign rally in December of 2015, Trump infamously called for “​’a total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims entering the United States ‘until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.’” In the same speech, Trump conceded that “we have no choice,” and must prevent Muslims from entering the United States. Establishing such a travel ban was, according to supporters, imperative in the interest of preserving national security.​ In his 1993 article ​The Clash of Civilizations?​, Samuel Huntington predicted that cultural differences between the East and West would be the fundamental source for international conflicts in the post-Cold War Era. Using Huntington’s hypothesis, it is possible to identify the historical framework that has led us to where we are now.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union took the place as the U.S. collective ‘other,’ unifying two distinct conservative political sects: civilizational and ideological, against a common enemy. The civilizational conservatives opposed communism due to ideological reasons. The Soviet Union was an atheist state; its lack of faith ran contrary to Anglo-Saxon Christian traditions. Ideological conservatives stood against communism in the interest of preserving liberty and preventing the global domination of a totalitarian regime. This ‘us versus them’ paradigm is useful in analyzing this time period. Politicians and media outlets alike utilized this worldview to frame international politics because it was easy to identify the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ From this perspective, the United States was the good guy, and the Soviet Union was the godless enemy. In a December 1992 memo to his staff, ​New York Times​ foreign editor Bernard Gwertzman wrote, “​In the old days, when certain countries were pawns in the Cold War, their political orientation alone was reason enough for covering them.” However, when the threat of nuclear annihilation subsided, the United States emerged as the clear global hegemon.

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Interviewing Maria, Immigrant Advocate and DACA Recipient

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“On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000  immigrants benefit from the program.” – Excerpt from Staff Release: Open Americas Condemns Decision to Rescind DACA Program

The following interview was conducted in November 2017 between Maria, a DACA recipient, and Alexia Rauen. Maria came to the United States from Mexico when she was only seven years old. She has an older brother and an older sister, neither of whom are eligible for DACA.

1. How did your life change on June 15, 2012 when former president Barack Obama implemented DACA?

My life was changed dramatically when President Barack Obama implemented DACA. DACA was not given to us, and on the other hand, it was as a result of immigrant activists, organizations, and allies fighting for it. With DACA, I now could continue to follow my dreams in this country without any fear for myself. Of course, I had fear for my parents, but at least with DACA, we had hope that there would be better things in the future for us.

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Staff Release: Open Americas Condemns Decision to Rescind DACA Program

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On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000  immigrants benefit from the program.

Sessions maintained that to best serve the national interest, Congress must determine and enforce a legislative limit on immigration. Claiming that DACA violates the Constitution, he stated, “…it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld. No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.”

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As United States Seeks to Decrease Migration Flow, Message of “Harvest of Empire” More Relevant Than Ever

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By Laura Schroeder

The 2012 film “Harvest of Empire,” based on the book of the same title by journalist Juan González of Democracy Now, demonstrates how U.S. policy toward Latin America has created political, social, and economic instability in the region. Directed by Peter Getzels and Eduardo López, it discusses the cases of Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. It also addresses the United States’ role in the military and corporate interventions that have triggered mass migration to the United States. Five years later, particularly given President Trump’s recent backing of the RAISE Act, the central theme of the documentary is relevant: anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States reflect a woeful ignorance of the structural forces that have caused millions in Latin America to flee their homes.

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