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Stop the Racism Stop the Hate. Francisco Sanchez, Dylann Roof, James Holmes – All use Guns to Kill

July 14, 2015

Too many times we hear reports of people being killed by guns. Guns whether in the hands of a male, female, child or law enforcement, permanently destroy and devastate many lives. On average 31 Americans are murdered with guns everyday, 55 people kill themselves, 46 people are shot or killed in a firearm accident. A gun in the home is times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than in self defense. This year alone there have been 25, 579 verified incidents with 6,584 deaths and 2,259 involving law enforcement. Guns cause permanent damage and death in much higher numbers.

The recent shooting of Kathryn Steinle has created a media and political frenzy attacking immigrants and the city of San Francisco. The death of Kathryn Steinle is a tragedy. It is senseless — a young woman lost her life and a family lost their daughter. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented male immigrant from Mexico, allegedly shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle as she was sightseeing with her father along a popular local pier.

The way the media and the politicians are describing this incident it is dehumanizing to immigrants, allowing. This allows their audiences to justify their xenophobia, bigoted, and racism towards others. As the New Sanctuary Coalition of NY a network of faith organizations that works with immigrants to fight against racism and economic injustice we are compelled to respond. This dehumanizing and demonizing of a community goes against our scriptures and has led to murders of millions of people throughout history, including the lynching of Africans and Native Americans who were not seen as fully human.

The generalization that this death was because Sanchez was an immigrant is inane. If that was the case then everyone would be at each other’s throats as descendants of immigrants. We would have to wary of Presidential candidate Canadian Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal are all first generation immigrants. There are millions of immigrants documented and undocumented in the country. A recent report, The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States by Walter A. Ewing, Ph.D., Daniel E. Martínez, Ph.D., and Rubén G. Rumbaut, Ph.D. confirms that immigration is associated with lower crime rates and immigrants are less likely than the native-born to commit serious crimes .

Sanchez is a male, should we then put all males in custody? According to the right-wing he committed this violent act because he is undocumented. Are they saying that being undocumented makes someone more susceptible to violence? Let’s make everyone citizens and the violence will stop . Sanchez was also guilty of having prior felonies. There are 65 million people who have gone through the system but most of them have gone on to change their lives and become part of their communities. These generalizations become absurd; focusing on them will not create a safer place.

What we do know is that Sanchez had a gun in his hand, which he fired. The authorities agree that this was a random act and that Kathryn was not a target. But that does not matter. When you use a gun the damage is permanent. It is also very destructive. Although this may have been an accident, when we see how guns are used we see their destructive nature. Dylann Roof methodically stood and shot 9 people in cold blood. Jayden Fryberg killed 5 in Marysville high school, Jared Loughner killed 6 in an attempt to murder Congresswoman Giffords in Tuscon Arizona, Aaron Alexis killed 13 in Washington Navy Yard, Adam Lanza killed 28 children in Newtown Connecticut, and James Holmes killed 12 in Aurora Colorado. All citizens, all males and with the exception of Alexis all white but all of them using guns in a mass murder spree.

Had Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez and all of the others not had access to guns, we would not be having this tragic conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Back Deported Veterans – NOW!

May 25, 2015

 Bring Back Deported Veterans

Today, May 25th, we honor the men and women who died in military service. On Memorial Day the President of the United States traditionally visits Arlington National Cemetery, where America’s honored dead are interred, to deliver a speech in remembrance and to lay a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

While he is at Arlington Cemetery we ask President Obama to also lay a wreath on an open grave in Arlington for those service men and women he deported. We have seen an increase in deportations since 1996 when President Clinton implemented an inhumane immigration policy, but President Obama has taken it to the extreme by deporting millions of people, including veterans. Even though they have served the US, veterans who are deported can only return to the US upon death to be buried with full military honors at a government burial plot.

Today under the Obama administration, the Veterans Administration continues to illegally withhold benefits from all deported Veterans, many of whom suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and others who are in need of earned VA medical benefits. The VA has confirmed that deported Veterans must apply in person in the U.S. to claim benefits, but deported Veterans can’t cross into the U.S. once they are deported without facing federal prison for illegally re-entering the country. These deported veterans were honorably discharged yet they are allowed to die away from their families, often in poverty and suffering because they cannot get treatment.

In April 2014 deported Veteran Hector Barrios died from a stroke and on March 10 2015 deported Veteran Gonzalo Chaidez died from tuberculosis. Both were far away from their families and the country they fought to protect. Hector Barajas who heads the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico has also been fighting to return to the US to be with his daughter.

Today we honor all of those who served selflessly to protect what they believed in, yet we cry out for Not One More deportation and an end to the destruction of thousands of families.

Contact: Ravi Ragbir, 917 566 4816, ravi@newsanctuarynyc.org

Thanksgiving, Ferguson, deportation and mass incarceration

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving is a day to spend with our families when we can enjoy eating and having a good time with each other. Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a white cop, will not be at that table. Mark Maynard, deportee, cannot sit at that table. Hundreds of thousands of young men incarcerated for being brown and black cannot sit at that table.

 

On Monday November 24th we heard from Ferguson MO that it is ok for a white cop to shoot and kill a black, unarmed young man. This is not an isolated incident. We have had the recent killing of Tamar Rice, a 12-year-old black child in Cleveland, Akai Gurley in NY, Andy Lopez, the 13-year-old who was murdered in California or John Crawford who was shot to death in Ohio. In fact, the police kill a black man approximately every 28 hours in the United States. These killings are justified by the officers saying that they were afraid for their lives.

 

They are holding the guns, they are “trained” to be calm under pressure, they are the “good guys with guns” but they are afraid. If you are afraid to do your job in our community, to protect and serve, then leave. If the first thing that you do is pull out a gun and shoot then you are not able to work as an officer of the court in our community. You were trained and you need to be held to a higher standard from the ordinary folks that you are serving. This higher standard means that every time you discharge your weapon you should be taken off duty without pay. Every time you shoot someone you should face a jury of our peers, the community of the person you killed. We need to remove this shield of immunity that you are given when you do bad things.

 

Then those who are not killed are imprisoned. We are faced with a society and a criminal justice system in which one of every three African American men, and one of every six Hispanic men, can expect to go to prison in his lifetime if current trends continue. There were 70,792 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2010. The incarceration rate in America is the highest in the world. This allows the system to disenfranchise our brown and black community by taking away our basic human rights and making us second-class citizens. And for non-citizens, most who have experienced the criminal system will end up exiled from their families, from their lives in the United States.

 

On Thursday November 20 we heard President Obama issue an executive order that will allow about 5 million people to come out of the shadows, leaving a few million still in the shadows afraid. In the last 5 years we have seen millions of immigrants locked up in immigration prison, over 2 million deported. This order has not come soon enough and it does not go far enough. As much as we can celebrate the benefits for some, we need to continue in the struggle against criminalization, against the system that dehumanizes black and brown communities, and in favor of ending incarceration, deportation, and violence.

 

The New Sanctuary Coalition believes that no one should be deported, including our members who have criminal records. We fight to keep families together. We work in the intersection of the criminal justice and the immigration deportation/detention system and we speak out about the underlying racism that permeates the “laws” that kill, imprison and deport us. We stand with Ferguson and our brown and black communities that protest this vile decision not to indict the white officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, a young black man. This violence has to stop whether the killing of our black and brown people by police or by Customs and Border Patrol along the US border, it has to stop. We demand an end to mass incarceration, an end to deportations, an end to private prisons and an end to the immunity of enforcement agencies who now have a license to kill.

 

As we sit with each other at our tables, let us give thanks for this privilege of being together, knowing that others don’t have that privilege. Let us share ideas to challenge the oppression that impacts people who are poor, people of color, and immigrants living in a climate of fear. But as much as those communities are suffering, they can give thanks for the growing movements that are challenging the murder in Ferguson, the millions of people incarcerated, and the millions deported.

July 4th. A celebration of Freedom and Independence But not for All

July 4, 2014

July 4th. A celebration of Freedom and Independence

But not for All

As we celebrate the nation’s independence today, July 4th the New Sanctuary Coalition would have expected that the United States, which defends the rights of the family, would embrace the children, toddlers arriving in the US in desperation, seeking protection, an urgent humanitarian crisis. Instead the President and Congress want to expedite deportation and send those children back to the violence and bloodshed that they have fled.

“Given our foreign policy that favors the transnationals and corporations, home and abroad, and complicit with our different home country governments and under the banner of spreading democracy and security, our nation has sown so much violence that children and youth and their families do not have a choice but look for safer grounds. We cannot blame those whose future we have taken away and who are victims of a present that we have created for seeking shelter or a place where they can begin to pick up their pieces. Where is the generosity of this nation? What is our responsibility?” challenged Juan Carlos Ruiz, co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

With tens of thousands of unaccompanied kids from drug-war-torn Central America showing up at the U.S. border, President Obama has labeled it an “urgent humanitarian situation” yet the White House response has been to ask Congress for an additional $2 billion for enforcement. This is in spite of the $18 billion that is already spent on immigration enforcement. The spending on Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection dwarfs the combined $14.4 billion spent on the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Secret Service. Who benefits from this request for more money?

We usually think about the private prisons like GEO and CCA which lobby for increased enforcement as they benefit directly from the detention of immigrants. Now President Obama is calling for more detention beds and increased use of electronic monitoring programs for the newly arrived asylum seekers, an inhumane response that will only put more money into the coffers of these private companies as well as the contractors that are part of the militarized systems.

Instead of giving more money to the myriad of private contractors that have created and sustained our militarized border, the New Sanctuary Coalition calls for a response that protects the human rights and dignity of migrants and respects our international obligation under the Refugee Convention. We stand ready to provide shelter and support to these young people, separate and apart from the privatized, militarized system that demeans humanity.

Rev Donna Schaper, Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church and co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition pleaded “Ann Frank would understand. Children are not to be abused or used in international conflicts. But they are. May we come to our senses soon and not destroy the innocence of one more child. Please god please”

How can we expect to win when money talks in Washington DC?

 Only through the power of faith and communities.

 

 

 

 

 

“Leaving NO Man Behind” – Bringing POW Home, Yet Ok to Deport Thousands of Veterans?

June 15, 2014

The NY New Sanctuary Coalition believes that the Obama Administration did the right thing to secure the release of the only US prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because “we do not leave a comrade behind”. Yet this administration has been doing the wrong thing for the last 5 years and deported thousands of veterans who put their lives on the line and fought in wars for the US. It is a travesty of justice.

According to the group Banished Veterans, founded by deported veteran Hector Barajas an estimated 30,000 former military service members have been deported since 1996. Veterans who fought for the United States in wars from Korea to Afghanistan have been sent to Mexico, Germany, Jamaica, Portugal, Italy, England and other nations. Most of them came to the United States as children; many have been deported to countries where they know no one and don’t speak the language.

Today, hundreds of thousands of service men and women and recent military veterans have seen combat. Many have been shot at, seen their buddies killed, or witnessed death up close. Members of the military exposed to those wars/combats are at high risk for trauma exposure and at risk for developing PTSD. Non-citizens veterans faced the same trauma, yet when they come back “home” to the US, they are quickly “left behind” by the system and deported back to countries that they do not know.

Fortunately, they are welcome to return when they are dead. Honorably discharged veterans, even deportees, are entitled to burial at a U.S. military cemetery with an engraved headstone and their casket draped with an American flag, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“As we celebrated Father’s day today millions of immigrant families are crying, saddened because they have had their fathers, including those who put their lives on the line for this country, taken away and deported. Our hope that this President will change things was shattered but he still has time to live up to that hope. Congress isn’t going to work with him so we urge the President to take executive action and stop deporting our veterans and our people.” says Ravi Ragbir, director of NY New Sanctuary Coalition. 

 President Obama is becoming known as the Deporter-in-Chief. He – through his administration – has deported over 2 million people since he became President. We asked for change and we got it -it was just change for the worse.

The NYC New Sanctuary Coalition asks President Obama to do the right thing and leave no one behind. Stand with the people, change your legacy and stop deporting people who love this country and deserve to stay here.

President Obama, Congress will not work with you!! Take Executive Action NOW!

June 10, 2014

President Obama, this Congress will not work with you!!

Take Executive Action Now!

Stop Deportations!

 

Understanding that the republican will not work with you, as President you still have to lead and act for the best interest in of the country. It is understood that a better immigration policy will help the country, the economy and thousands of U.S.C. families. Change your legacy and act for the people for whom you wanted a change.

 

President Obama when will you learn that this Congress will not work with you? The recent prisoner exchange for the POW US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl is such an example. Instead of rejoicing in the homecoming of an American soldier who spent five years as a captive of the Taliban, the Republican response has been one of contempt and condemnation. Prior to Bergdahl’s release, Republican lawmakers, including Senator Ayotte(R-N.H.) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) were some of the sergeant’s biggest advocates, and repeatedly pressed the administration to do something — in fact, everything within its power — to get him returned to the United States.

 

You did just that. You rescued POW US Army Sgt Bergdahl and got him back to the US. And the subsequent attacks have been virulent. Even the family of the recused sergeant has gotten threats. The rhetoric has been that the US does not negotiate with terrorist and hostage takers. Yet, the republican most idolized president, Reagan not only negotiated but delayed the release of 52 Americans from their captors in Iran.

 

Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason.

 

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-K) said in an interview “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”They shut the government down in 2013 that inflicted completely unnecessary damage to the economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. They want you out and office and will not govern until that happens.

 

Understanding that the republican will not work with you, as President you still have to lead and act for the best interest in of the country. It is understood that a better immigration policy will help the country, the economy and thousands of U.S.C. families. Change your legacy and act for the people for whom you wanted a change.

 

Take action and stop the deportation of parents and loved ones whose only objective is to make a better life.

 

President Obama, inhumane House leaders will not act. Take Executive Action and stop deportations now.

May 30, 2014

 

The New Sanctuary Coalition of NY urges President Obama to use his executive authority to stop deportations despite the request from some misguided immigrant advocates who are waiting for the House to act on reform.
 
The Speaker of the House Jon Boehner recently said that he is not going to bring any immigration legislation to a vote because of Obamacare. This does not make sense. This congress does not make sense. Only yesterday, the House of Representatives, which won’t bring immigration reform to a vote, found time to vote on rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) amendment pushing for increased scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security’s use of prosecutorial discretion. This legislative session has been filled with disruptive, destructive and do nothing members of Congress who continue to show their inhumanity by protecting corporations instead of people.
 
Everyday thousands of lives are destroyed by deportation. Waiting will not help Dave Johnson, a father of 4 US citizen children who was given prosecutorial discretion which was immediately broken by ICE, who broke its own rules and took Mr. Johnson away to deport him. Waiting will not help Khalil who was going to graduate with Honours(4.0) from graduate school but was taken away days before the ceremony and detained to be deported. Their children are crying every night for their fathers.
 
President Obama’s decision to delay deportation review feels like a blast of cold air this spring. Organizations like ours, the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, hoped that the President would do the right thing and ease the constant suffering, the pressure and anxiety that immigrants and their families face every day.  The Rev. Susan Karlson, co chair of the New Sanctuary Coalition, expressed outrage at the President’s decision to delay the review on deportation policies.  “For decades, we have been seeing the effects of this country’s harsh immigration policies and the inhumane treatment of those who are separated from their families and loved ones.  Immigrants often work hard providing services, paying taxes and raising their families.  Some have spent years in immigration detention centers and there are those who have served their sentences and yet are faced with compounded losses and deportation. They all face deportation and the splintering of their families.”
 
You, President Obama, who fought on side of the people against injustice when you were an organizer, who said that you will fight for the people as a candidate, now you fight the people with your policies that destroys many lives. You have already deported over 2 million people, which goes against your ‘own principles’ of justice. This is an opportunity to change your legacy and take action.
 
Use your executive authority to stop the deportation of the people.

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