Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome, Andrea Muraira as our new Hutto Visitation Intern. Andrea will be outreaching to volunteers, supporting all trainings as well as co-facilitating the Spanish language Hutto Visitation trainings. [node:read-more:link]
"Durante los últimos cinco años el programa de visitas Hutto Visitation Program ha buscado aliviar en parte el sufrimiento que viven las detenidas, al conectarlas con voluntarios de Austin.
La iniciativa es ejecutada por Grassroots Leadership, una organización que apoya causas relacionadas con justicia social, inmigración y activismo ciudadano, y les ofrecen amistad y les llevan esperanza mientras están confinadas.
Moncada vivía ansiosa, frustrada y, como muchas de las más de 500 mujeres que alberga el centro de detención T. Don Hutto, no sabía por cuánto tiempo debía pasar encerrada por su delito: entrar a Estados Unidos ilegalmente para no morir a manos del padre de sus hijos, aseguró. Su situación mejoró cuando conoció a Rocío Villalobos, una joven voluntaria del programa.
Para mujeres como Moncada, conocer a las voluntarias les da a las detenidas fuerza para seguir luchando por sus casos de inmigración y conseguir así un estatus legal, según sus organizadores y participantes." [node:read-more:link]
Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. [node:read-more:link]
Visiting Immigrant women in Detention in Taylor, Texas, came into my life at a particular time. The first year of my return to Austin, after more than 4 years teaching in Xalapa, Mexico was rough. Finally I turned 62 and began to receive a small income from social security– as well as land a studio apartment in a Foundations Communities property. Within weeks of moving into my own place and regaining some stability in my life, I attended an Orientation to Visitation. Geoff Valdes, who was an old friend from when we were part of Accion Zapatista, had suggested the Hutto Visitation Program to me when I told him that I wanted to get involved with something meaningful – where I could use my Spanish.
In November of 2011 I made my first visit to Hutto, with a woman who had been visiting a woman from Guatemala for a month or so already. After talking to me on a couple of visits, the Guatemalan woman told me that she knew a woman from Honduras who really needed a visit. That is when I met the first woman I would know from Honduras. Then there was another woman who wanted a visitor; she was from El Salvador. I have continued to visit, woman after woman, as ICE continues in its relentless seize and capture mission of Central American refugees. I have never been to Central America – though some astute students of Colonial and Imperialist history of the region might allow me to count three months in Chiapas as Central America.[node:read-more:link]
At the end of May I was part of a small delegation that went to Dallas to attend the opening festivities of a newly formed group, the Center for Theological Activism. At the dinner I met a number of progressive clergy who expressed real interest in learning more about the groups we represented. Alejandro Caceres and Susana Pimiento were there from the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and I was there to talk about immigrant detention and the Hutto Visitation Program. Two of the clergy that seemed to be the most interested in the issue of detention were a Methodist Youth Minister, Jason Redick and the Rev. Jim Mitulski, the senior Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope.
It was the first time I had been to the Cathedral of Hope, which is known as the largest LGBT congregation in Dallas, and probably in all of Texas. The congregation was also racially diverse and included many families and children as well. In fact, I believe the Cathedral of Hope may be the most integrated, inclusive religious congregation I have had the opportunity to visit.[node:read-more:link]
Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director, Bob Libal and CIVIC's Co-Executive Director, Christina Mansfield, planned and carried out a three city tour to Houston, Austin and San Antonio on October 10, 11 and 12th. The purpose of the tour was to generate interest in starting visitation programs in the Houston and San Antonio areas. Bob and Christina's combined knowledge covered an ample spectrum on the private prison industry's involvement in immigrant detention centers and the actual conditions within these facilities across the country.[node:read-more:link]
CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) and the Jesuit Refugee Service have teamed up to produce a series of videos to train volunteers for immigrant detention visitation programs. Our own Rocio Villalobos, who coordinates the Austin-based Hutto Visitation Program along with Grassroots Leadership, is featured in their video on recruitment. The full press release from CIVIC is below, but first some words of wisdom from Rocio: