2014 Projection Vigil

In honor of all the journalists fallen i n the line of duty…
Between 2004 and 2014 more than 150 journalists haven been killed or disappeared in Mexico simply for reporting on the reality in their country.

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VoV 2014 Forum

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Thursday: Vigil

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Update: Rosa Hilda Carrera released!

Your phone calls, faxes, and letters protesting the unjust detention of Rosa Hilda Carrera have accomplished their purpose. With the help of journalists, attorneys, and countless volunteers, Rosa was released from ICE custody on December 30th, after a year of wrongful detention. She has now been reunited with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas, where she is continuing the legal process to seek protection for herself and her family here in the United States.

Thanks to all for your support.

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Join the International Community in Protesting the Closing of Tutela Legal

Para informacion en espanol, haga click aqui.

This past Monday, the archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, closed the historic institution Tutela Legal, to the surprise not only of its employees but of civil society in general. Tutela Legal, the institution that houses archives of countless cases of human rights violations since the time of Monseñor Romero, has long been a hallmark of the Salvadoran Church, and a place for the consolation and support of the victims of human rights violations. Many of the documents in the care of Tutela Legal were used in the UN Truth Commission after the war, but because of the Amnesty law passed by President Cristiani in 1993, they have not been made available to the public or the Salvadoran court. Among these documents are Rufina Amaya’s testimony about El Mozote, documentation about the Sumpul River massacre, and evidence regarding the assasination of Monseñor Romero. img_3083

Annunciation House has joined other international groups in signing a petition to protest the closing of Tutela Legal and the silencing of its prophetic voice. Do you work with a social justice organization that might also add your support to this petition? Your involvement is greatly needed!

Read a more detailed article here. Or download the petition itself:

International Solidarity Tutela Legal ENGLISH

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Continuing Call to Action

We are still trying to keep the pressure on ICE to release Rosa Hilda Carrera.

Rosa Hilda Carrera Moreno was denied asylum by an Immigration Judge on September 4, 2013 and is appealing the decision. 98 out of every 100 Mexican asylum petitions are denied even though over 120,000 men, women, and children have been killed in Mexico over the past six years, more than have died in Syria. Preparations have also begun to prepare an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court if necessary. Help get Rosa Hilda released on parole.

Please help by faxing Officer Adrian Macias, local ICE Field Office Director of Enforcement & Removal Operations at (915) 225-1809, calling his secretary at (915) 225-0885, or writing him at 1545 Hawkins Blvd., El Paso, TX 79925 and REQUEST that Rosa Carrera- Moreno, A# 205-483-791, be released on humanitarian parole.

Read more about Rosa’s story, and what you can do about it, here (this is a downloadable Word Doc):

ReleaseCampaign-RosaHildaCarrera-2013-OCT-1

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URGENT ACTION ALERT: Update

El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!

Good news–as a result of our campaign over the last few days, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has RELEASED MANASES CANO BONILLA from detention, where he had been held for nearly a year after requesting political asylum and passing a credible fear interview. The calls and faxes you made on Manases’ behalf have worked!

Now, we must focus our efforts on calling for the release of ROSA HILDA CARRERA, who is still being wrongfully detained. We can do this. We can set one more person free.

12/30/13 – see update on Rosa Hilda Carrera here.

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Urgent Action Alert: Call to free two political asylum seekers

Annunciation House has issued an urgent alert calling for the release of two Mexican nationals, Manses Cano Bonilla and Rosa Hilda Carrera, from detention in El Paso. Both have applied for political asylum and have passed credible fear interviews, but have been detained for almost a year due to the failure of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to follow their own policies and procedures.

We are asking everyone to contact Adrian Macias, the local ICE Field Office Director, who has the authority to release these wrongfully detained individuals. Contact information and many more details of the case can be found in our Urgent Action Alert.

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One Woman’s Struggle to Escape Her Fears

Following Annunciation House’s press conference this past Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News published this story about Rosa Carrera, a Mexican woman who sought political asylum here after members of her family were murdered in Mexico. After being threatened and harassed by ICE agents, she agreed to voluntary deportation, then returned to the U.S. afraid for her life. She is now in detention and faces separation from two of her children, who are U.S. citizens.

Says Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia, “When someone expresses well-founded fear and that agent doesn’t set a credible-fear interview, the consequences are horrendous.”detain_0814int

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PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT RELEASED BY ANNUNCIATION HOUSE ON AUGUST 13, 2013

For thirty-five years, Annunciation House has offered hospitality to the poor in migration. Our guest population has evolved, but one theme remains constant: the threatened continue to seek protection in the United States.

Those who seek asylum have the greatest urgency in seeking protection. Asylum, a legal vehicle for those whose very lives are at risk, ideally protects those who articulate a “well-founded fear of persecution” and are thus “unwilling and unable to return to their home country.”

The basic right to life, and thus the right to seek asylum, is enumerated in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, this fundamental right is being lost in translation when applied on the border. For many immigrants without legal status in the U.S., the first point of contact to accessing the judicial process may happen when the immigrant presents at a U.S. Port of Entry or is detained by Border Patrol after entering without inspection. Denying immigrants expressing fear for their lives a Credible or Reasonable Fear Interview leaves the individual isolated from the court system and violates both international and domestic law. We are profoundly concerned about the denial of the rights of asylum seekers.

Today we expose specific instances of attempts to intimidate asylum seekers at Ports of Entry as well as the criminalization of immigrants because they continue to pursue their asylum claim. We go public with these abuses out of a profound concern that these specific cases may be emblematic of systemic practices that in the end deny individuals, who may already have suffered horrific losses, the fundamental right to seek protection.

To this end, we call for the following:

  1. That at the moment an individual expresses fear – those who speak about the killings of their family or threats made to their lives or the lives of their families – he or she categorically be processed for a Credible or Reasonable Fear Interview.
  2. That Credible or Reasonable Fear Interviews be conducted by an Asylum Officer of the USCIS and not agents with ICE, CBP, or Border Patrol.

The asylum process is predicated on Credible and Reasonable Fear interviews. These interviews establish the validity of the persecution claim and catalyze the court process in which a decision can be adjudicated. The law is clear. A person is automatically guaranteed the right to a Credible Fear Interview the moment fear is expressed. The USCIS manual states:

“If a CBP Officer determines that the arriving individual is subject to expedited removal, the CBP Officer is required by procedure to notify the individual about the expedited removal process, and take a sworn statement concerning the individual’s admissibility. When taking the sworn statement, the CBP Officer is required by procedure to read a statement30 explaining the right to seek protection in the United States and is also required by procedure to ask the individual a set of questions31 to determine whether the individual fears return to his or her country and is seeking protection in the United States. The CBP Officer records the answer to each question on the form.”  (USCIS Chapter 5).

  1. Cease the criminal prosecution of individuals who were denied Credible or Reasonable Fear Interviews and removed or who were intimidated into signing volunteer departures and then re-present at Ports of Entry or who attempt to enter without inspection.
  1. We cite two examples that are emblematic of this type of abuse. Both Manses Cano Bonilla and Rosa Hilda Carrera have suffered undue duress, all while simply trying to seek asylum. Both Mr. Cano and Ms. Carrera expressed fear but were ignored and returned to their home country. Each reentered, again articulating fear. Both were then criminally charged in Federal Court and convicted for entering without inspection. They are now convicted felons even though both were found to have valid asylum claims by Asylum Officers. The implications of a felony conviction on an individual’s record are horrendous. They become ineligible for asylum relief and must seek Withholding of Removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture. They become ineligible for bond and must pursue their relief from detention, a process that can take from many months to years.
  1. We specifically demand that in the cases of both Mr. Cano and Mrs. Carrera, they be released on parole, released on recognizance, or at an absolute minimum, they be allowed to post a reasonable bond so that they can be released from detention and may continue to work with their attorneys in pursuit of immigration relief. The ability to release both of these individuals is categorically within the authority of ICE. It is particularly disconcerting that once a mistake has been made in how an individual was processed, as was the case for both Mr. Cano and Ms. Carrera, it is incredibly difficult to get ICE to rectify that mistake.

We fear that the process of branding asylum seekers as convicted felons, and thus making them ineligible for release, is utilized as a strategy to make detainees’ lives so unbearable that they finally withdraw their petition for asylum and sign a deportation order in an attempt to end their suffering.

  1. Finally, and most importantly, we explicitly call on Customs and Border Patrol at Ports of Entry (POE) to guarantee that the practice by some officers of intimidating and threatening families seeking asylum ceases. We demand that officers end the pattern of telling parents that they will be locked up for long periods of time, that their children will be separated from them and locked up in separate detention facilities, or that they will be sent to different geographical areas in the U.S.  We call on CBP to ensure the credible training of officers in the processing of individuals expressing fear at Ports of Entry and a more viable supervision of line officers so as to guarantee that individuals expressing fear are scheduled for Credible Fear Interviews.
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