200 freed from immigration custody in Arizona

More than 200 people have been released from immigration custody in Arizona in the last month following the Department of Homeland Security’s new enforcement priorities, ICE officials said.

On Nov. 20, President Obama announced that parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents may apply for temporary relief from deportation and for work permits. He also expanded a similar program for children brought to the country illegally. About 140,000 people may benefit in Arizona, the D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute estimates.

The same day, citing limited resources, the DHS issued new guidance on who is a priority for deportation, including who agents and officers should stop, question and arrest, and which people they should release.

Nationwide, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released 618 people as of Dec. 27, following case reviews of people in custody. That includes detainees who appear to qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents, as well those who no longer fall within DHS’ specified enforcement priorities based on their case histories, ICE officials said in an email.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Women volunteers work for a better Mexico

Volunteer Doña Lupita Mota, 73, stirs the soup she is making for lunch while talking with Alma Angelica Macias Mejia, middle, and Esther Torres at the Home of Hope and Peace. Photo by A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star.

NOGALES, SONORA — Doña Lupita Mota grabs her cane and pink Betty Boop tote bag, blows a kiss to her two cockatiels, and says goodbye to her 76-year-old husband before she heads out the door.

She has to be at the Home of Hope and Peace by 9 a.m.

It’s not far, but the 73-year-old totters up a steep dirt road, then grabs on tight to a metal railing as she pulls her way to the top of a long stairway that winds up the hill.

Every day she can, she makes the trek to help prepare lunch for more than 100 hungry children from impoverished neighborhoods. This might be the only warm meal they have all day.

The Home of Hope and Peace is a grass-roots organization that works to empower Nogales residents to create their own opportunities so people don’t feel forced to immigrate to the U.S., risking arrest or death in the desert.

The center is in the heart of the area it aims to help. To the north is the steel border fence. To the south, tiny houses, some held in place by old tires, cling to the hillside.

“It’s about building a more just community in order to have a generation of boys and girls who don’t only see the border as a place of deportations and misfortunes,” said the center’s director, Jeannette Pazos, “but also of opportunities.”

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Report: Migrants often deported without personal belongings

Sara Camarillos, 41, picks out clothes at the Aid Center for Deported Migrants in Nogales, Sonora. She was deported more than a week ago after being caught by the Tucson sector Border Patrol. Photo by Perla Trevizo/Arizona Daily Star.

NOGALES, Sonora — Sara Camarillos arrived here more than a week ago, without a dime in her pocket and no official identification.

The 41-year-old tried to cross the border illegally through Altar but was caught by the Border Patrol. She carried a backpack with a change of clothes, her Mexican voter ID, about $20 in pesos, a camera card with pictures of her children and a piece of paper listing her relatives’ phone numbers.

For someone who lives off subsistence farming, that $20 can mean getting back home safely.

Camarillos said she was transferred about five times in the 11 days she was detained. She’s not sure where because she can’t read or write.

She said she never got a list of what she was carrying the day she was apprehended.

“When they were going to deport me I asked about my things and I was told I would get them before I was sent back,” she said Tuesday from the Aid Center for Deported Migrants.

And when she was dropped off at the port of entry, she said, she was told her consulate would help her.

She never got her belongings.

Camarillos’ story is a common one, especially among those who go through multiple detention centers or those criminally prosecuted and serve more than 30-day sentences, a local immigrant rights group said.

Through a report titled “Shakedown,” set to be released today, No More Deaths members said they want to shed light on a problem that is largely invisible, but one that hugely impacts migrants when they are most vulnerable.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

Binational border ministry Frontera de Cristo celebrates 30th year

Miriam Maldonado, with Frontera de Cristo, helps children hold banners containing messages of love and peace that adorn a church service celebrating the 30th anniversary of the binational ministry in Douglas and Agua Prieta. Photo by Perla Trevizo/Arizona Daily Star.

AGUA PRIETA, Son. — Borders are often divisive but they can sometimes also help bring people together, as with Frontera de Cristo.

The binational Presbyterian ministry celebrated its 30th anniversary Saturday with a service, food and music and about 100 people from both sides of the border — with some coming from as far as Florida.

The ministry was born in 1984 out of the idea of having two churches on both sides of the border truly working together, said founding member Jerry Stacy, who traveled from San Antonio to be part of the event.

“We wanted to learn how to build bridges of common understanding and friendship,” he said.

Frontera de Cristo is one of seven binational ministries of the Presbyterian church from San Diego/Tijuana to McAllen/Reynosa.

It’s one of the most progressive, Stacy said. “They’ve even gone beyond the border.”

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.