K fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has been imprisoned in San Diego 18 months

By | Detainees | One Comment

Dear Becca,

I am writing you this letter regarding my situation in detention, it is so hard to live a life in detention without any support and family. I am a single man and do not have any children. I flee from my country to save my life and right now I am detain in OTMD for almost more than one and a half year, it is far away from your imagination the life I used to live and the present situation. I cry at night when other sleeps and I miss my parents so much because I grown up as a good and favorite kids of my family.

(continue reading below)

 

Political dissident refugee from Cameroon detained 18 months at Otay

By | Detainees | No Comments

“Well I ran away from my country because I was publishing what was going on in Cameroon and the malpractices of the Cameroon soldiers on social media and because I am a member of an activist group call SCNC. I was arrested and detained for almost 2 weeks under horrible conditions back in 201 but was later released and in 2016 I was serve a warrant of arrest through my mother so I decided to run away from Cameroon that let me here. I have been in detention here in CCA since April 2016. I was given a 50000$ bond which I am unable to pay even through a bond company because I have no family in the united state. The only way I can get out of detention now is to pay the 50000$ bond. Please I am begging you to help me or find benevolent groups like yours who can help me pay the bond company. I have been in detention for 18 months now please I need your help.”

–A, September 23

More information from Amnesty International.

Listen to the leader of the nonviolent SCNC movement here.

“The police put electric shocks on my toes.”

By | Detainees | No Comments

My name is Jesus M. And I like to tell you I receive your letter. And I like to tell you about me. I come from [Mexico]. I went to school in that is were I learn little English and star[t] working driving a boat taking tourist on tours thats were practice my English and I run from Acapulco because people from the cartel star[t] killing people so I run from them on. I end up in Tijuana and is worst the cartel already kill 2,400 thousand people in Mexico so I’m asylum from them and the police Because police torture me with electric shocks. They put electric cables in my toes this [is] a cruel torture that’s why I don’t want to go back I don’t have an attorney, I don’t have funds to hire one. I don’t have money to call my family.

I’m single but I have mother and brother and sister and sons. I like outdoors like fishing, riding bike, riding a motorcycle. I love to cook, I made real good chuck roast in the oven. I love sports, football, tennis, soccer. I play tennis before and racketball when I arrived to Tijuana I was robbed, my money and clothes the police that’s why I come to the border asking for protection. I don’t have family in here, my family far away. I would like to know if your organization can help me with little bit of funds to put on the phone so I call my family. I been here 9 months and I don’t know nothing about my family and if you would can help me to buy som commissary – I don’t have funds to buy coffee or soups sometimes the food is no good and is sad going to sleep hungry, well that’s story of my life sorry for my writing there is no google in here so I wrote this myself if you can help me get i touch with my family I will appreciate with all my heart. Thank you very much for you kindness and understanding, I hope I hear from you soon.

-Jesus

[p.s.] I’m afraid I will get deported to Tijuana and in Tijuana there are kidnapping people for ransom like me. I don’t have families in U.S. probably they will kill me if I can’t have a little of money I will pay for a ticket to go somewhere else like [por BC?] or Ensenada. I don’t want to stay at the border please help me to go out of Tijuana I don’t want to be kill out [cut into] of pieces or put on acid, that’s a cruel torture.

F. was shot twice, beaten, and raped, and that’s why he fled Honduras. Why is he in a US prison?

By | Detainees | 2 Comments

Hello good day with a lot of respect I direct to you By this means requesting help, well if you can.

My name is F., ____ I am 23 years old
I’m from Honduras and I’m here asking for asylum because
I have problems in my country, I was shot on 2 occasions
once was in 2014 the second time in 2017 I was beaten
about 5 or 6 times and this year I was beaten and
sexually abused and I really did not like any of those
bad experiences that I had, that’s why I left my country.

All those problems that I had in the past were because I gave my
services to the Military (Military) forces of my country I gave
my services in the year 2014 until 2017.

Well I’m asking you for a little help since I do not have
family here in the United States or in Honduras so that I can get
support, since I grew up alone with my grandmother. She raised me since
I was a year old because my father killed my
mother, well given the fact that my grandmother mom of my
mom took care of me I never met my dad or his relatives.

And I was left alone since my grandmother passed away in 2016 and
from that date I have been alone in this life.

Sorry for bothering you and taking a little bit of your time but
I would really like to be helped.

Thank you very much Happy Day Blessings.

Fernando from Honduras: “I am alone in this life”

By | Detainees | One Comment

This week, the New York Times covered the Honduran caravans fleeing their home country–which is effectively in a low-level civil war–to seek asylum here. . . . only to be imprisoned as criminals in Otay Mesa rather than taken in as refugees.

Read this letter we received this week from Fernando from Honduras, 23 years old and “alone in this life” after losing his mother and grandmother and being shot, assaulted, and raped because of his military service:

Hello, good day, with a lot of respect I direct to you by this means a request for help, well if you can.

My name is Fernando ____. I am 23 years old. I’m from Honduras and I’m here asking for asylum because I have problems in my country. I was shot on 2 occasions: once was in 2014 the second time in 2017. I was beaten about 5 or 6 times, and this year I was beaten and sexually abused, and I really did not like any of those bad experiences that I had, that’s why I left my country.

All those problems that I had in the past were because I gave my services to the military forces of my country. I gave my services in the year 2014 until 2017.

Well I’m asking you for a little help since I do not have family here in the United States or in Honduras so that I can get support, since I grew up alone with my grandmother. She raised me since I was a year old because my father killed my mother. Given the fact that my maternal grandmother took care of me I never met my dad or his relatives.

And I was left alone since my grandmother passed away in 2016 and from that date I have been alone in this life.

Sorry for bothering you and taking a little bit of your time but I would really like to be helped.

Thank you very much.

Happy Day Blessings.

Can you write to Fernando, or help support someone like him with a modest commissary contribution so that they can phone family or supplement the terrible, insufficient food inside while awaiting trial and likely deportation?

A poem from the caravan: “We are the hope for a better world”

By | Caravan | No Comments

Luis is 19 years old.  He fled El Salvador with the caravan of migrants who arrived in San Diego last May. He was driven out of his home country by gang violence, including violence targeted at LGBTI people.  Before he fled, he was studying to be an accountant.

I want the world to know that

Migrants are

The hope of our families

The hope of our countries

The hope for a better society

The hope for a better world

We are the hope that won’t stop shining

We are the light that won’t go out

We are strong in our journey and most of all our lives

And we are not what President Trump believes us to be.

“All are brothers in the eyes of God”

By | Detainees | No Comments

Photo Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters

Last week, we received a letter from Ulises, an LGBTI refugee held in prison at Otay Mesa while he seeks asylum.  He relayed a remarkable story:

“Inside there are 140 of us who have organized to share our commissary.  We are from all over the world:  Pakistan, Vietnam, China, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, Africa.  We do not speak the same language so we communicate in sign language, but even so we can provide moral support to each other.  We do so because we know that we are all brothers in the eyes of God.”

This week, we received a letter from a detained woman named Alegria who asked us to provide more commissary to her friend Diana, who has fled violence in Central America and is now detained at Otay Mesa:

“She is a beautiful person.  Everything you have given her in commissary she has given to others–to the most needy.  I bought a sweatsuit because I was dying of cold inside this place and I gave it to her because she had given all her own funds away to others, buying them food.  She buys paper, stamps, coloring pencils and gives them to all.  She buys ice cream and food and shares it.”

NEW: Preparing for the caravan

By | Caravan | No Comments

A caravan of refugees from Honduras is now reaching the Tijuana/San Diego border.  The Government of Baja California has created a temporary shelter at Deportivo Stadium Juarez with capacity for 2300.  As of 11/16, the government estimates:

  • There are three caravans.  The first numbers 6,628 people, of whom 2,679 migrants have arrived in Tijuana–including about 420 children.
  • The second and third are comprised of 3,036 people.
  • 9,664 people total are expected.
  • Authorities estimate that people could be waiting 1 year or more in Tijuana for their turn to seek asylum. Customs and Border Patrol is accepting only 10 – 100 asylum seekers per day.
  • The government shelter is already full, and families are sleeping in the streets.
  • Border closures and the stressors of having 9,000 new residents in an underresourced city are generating among some Mexican citizens resentment and hostility towards caravaners.

These migrants are fleeing torture, extortion, death threats, rape, assault, violence directed at LGBT people, and civil unrest in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  The UN has called this a western hemisphere refugee crisis.

What can you do to help?

1. SPEAK UP:  Educate yourself, and use social and traditional media to make these points:

  • REFUGEES ARE HUMAN BEINGS:  Many of the people arriving at our southern border are fleeing death threats, assault, rape, and torture in their home countries.  They are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Some are college-educated; some are veterans who have been targeted for their service; some are LGBTI people who are targeted for their sexuality. We know their individual stories.  We ask our friends and neighbors to listen.
  • #COMPASSIONNOTDETENTION:  Refugees need shelter, food, medical care, information, and support.  They should not be imprisoned, harmed, or further persecuted. History will judge us as to how we respond to them.  We call on the UN, the United States, and our federal, state, and local officials to provide resources and protection to refugees at our southern border and to end refugee detention now.

2.  ORGANIZE:  Reach out to friends and neighbors who you believe want to act as well.  Hold a house meeting and educate yourselves about the caravan and immigration policy. In this quickly shifting humanitarian situation, we can put aside our fear and hesitation to act directly in compassion and courage. Have faith that you can organize a small grassroots effort that will be meaningful–such as contributing in one of the ways outlined below.

3. DONATE CASH:  Pueblo Sin Fronteras is on the ground with the caravan and accepting donations to help. You can also donate to Al Otro Lado / PayPal to EspacioMigrante (Tijuana-based direct aid), Jewish Family Services (San Diego-based direct aid–though please note, the needs are more acute on the Tijuana side at this time), Alliance San Diego (travel funds to help released asylum-seekers get to safe places in the US).  You can also purchase goods through Border Angels, which maintains a registry at Target.

4.  DONATE GOODS:  If you can purchase and bring items to Tijuana, donations of supplies can be delivered to “Enclave Caracol” Address: Calle Primera 8250, Zona Norte, 22127, Tijuana.  Most needed items include tents, blankets, sleeping pads or small mattresses, sleeping bags, towels, bottled water, winter clothes (nighttime temps in 40s and 50s), underwear and socks, diapers, tampons and pads, razors and other personal hygiene items.

5.  VOLUNTEER:  Immigration attorneys and legal observers are desperately needed.  Contact Erika Gonzalez: volunteer@alotrolado.org.  Medical personnel are also needed to treat malnutrition, flu, and injuries from assaults and rock throwing directed at refugees and foot injuries sustained during caravan travel. Sign up here. Spanish-speaking volunteers will be needed in San Diego to assist arriving asylum seekers.  Sign up here.

6.  DIVEST:  Call on CALPERS and CALSTRS to engage with CoreCivic and demand end of detention for refugees and humane treatment according to California state standards, or to divest entirely.  If you are a state or represented employee, talk to your union local to join the effort and educate its members. Background here.  Petition here.

7. INVESTIGATE:  Write a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra to visit Otay Mesa and read the accounts of refugees held in detention.  (The California Department of Justice has been charged by the State Legislature with exercising oversight over detention centers in California and is required to submit a comprehensive report of its findings to the state lawmakers by March 2019.)  Call on him to hold Core Civic accountable to California standards for human rights in detention.  Copy your assembly members, state senators, and congresspeople.

Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

http://www.assembly.ca.gov
http://www.senate.ca.gov

8.  WITNESS:  Request a stakeholder tour of the Otay Mesa Detention Center: (619) 671-8700 . OMDC has historically held stakeholder tours each Wednesday at 10 a.m and 1 p.m. to groups of up to 12 affiliated with an established organization (church, synagogue, community group, etc.). We believe that the Detention Center, as a publicly-funded entity, should welcome the San Diego community to see how it works and who is inside. If they do not grant your request, write to your congress member and let them know that you are concerned that refugees are being held in prisons without oversight or accountability, and email otayallies@gmail.com.