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Horrible Living Conditions in Immigration Detention Centers

Posted on 29. Aug, 2015 by .

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The following Op-Ed is from the Huffington Post and was written by Mill Chapado:

Worms for Dinner: Inside a U.S. Immigration Detention Center

As an undocumented immigrant, I was familiar with the realities of detention centers, but I never thought I’d find myself in one, even as a visitor. When I was eight, my family and I immigrated to the Miami-metro area from South America. Despite the many struggles of living undocumented, I graduated from Florida State University last year and was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a temporary relief program for those like me who came to the U.S. as children. While being detained and deported was always a risk, in my mind, it had a very small chance of actually occurring.

120313.karnescountydetentioncentericeBefore, I thought I understood the living conditions the women and children endured in detention centers. But as I interviewed more women and heard their stories, I learned the conditions are far worse than I imagined. Many of the women and children get sick when they are first apprehended by Border Patrol and confined in the hieleras, or freezers, holding cells so cold that people often get fevers. By the time they are brought to Karnes, they aren’t any better, and they receive inadequate medical care, if any.

I wasn’t prepared to hear about the psychological impact of being imprisoned. The women I interviewed fled horrific violence in Central America and risked everything to bring themselves and their children to safety in the U.S. Many of them were victims of unspeakable crimes at the hands of gang members and were unable to seek the protection of their own countries.

Anabel (I’ve changed her name to protect her identity) was kidnapped by a drug cartel member in Honduras. She was held captive in his house for several years, endured physical and sexual abuse, and gave birth to a son. She escaped with her four-year-old one night when the house wasn’t under watch by other cartel members. But Anabel believed her kidnapper would find her if she stayed in Central America and she was afraid to turn to police, controlled by the cartels.

Immigration-detention-center-overload-1024x699The women at Karnes have stories like Anabel’s. They escaped life-threatening circumstances and crossed multiple borders with their children, thinking they were coming to a welcoming place, but instead they were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, shackled, and imprisoned like criminals. After having already experienced trauma, they are confined at Karnes, essentially an internment camp, where they spend months in uncertainty. Many women, including Anabel, said they feel depressed and powerless over what ultimately will happen to them and their children.

The guards make these feelings of helplessness worse. The women and older children told us that they are often ridiculed, laughed and yelled at in English, even though the staff knows most detainees don’t understand. One of the women recalled a time when a guard said the women looked like dogs huddled around a food bowl.

When the detainees speak out about the conditions in Karnes, they face retaliation. After voicing a complaint about a guard, one of the women was told she was going to the medical center in the middle of the night, but was deported instead. Some guards threatened women with disciplinary actions they say will affect their immigration cases.

The degrading conditions don’t stop there. The women repeatedly told me that the food is rotten, sometimes even infested with worms and flies. They often have to skip meals or go a whole day without food because the food is inedible. The women told us that they have reported to prison staff that their children are underweight, but nothing is done to change the conditions. Our two-week stay coincided with visits by members of Congress, during which the food at Karnes improved slightly.

Before I knew it, my two weeks of daily visits to Karnes ended and I was back in New York, helping clients who have been living in the U.S. for years apply for immigration benefits. I went back to hearing the same responses to the question “Why did you come to the U.S.?” For a better life, to work, to study, to prosper. The circumstances that pushed most of my clients, and my own family, out of our home countries are very different from the stories I heard in Texas. At Karnes, they came to survive.

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Blessings of St. Francis and St. Clare

Posted on 29. Aug, 2015 by .

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Prayers of St. Francis and St. Clare

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Blessing of St. Francis:

May the Lord bless you.
May the Lord keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy. May He turn to you His countenance and give you peace.
The Lord bless you.

Bendición de San Francisco:

El Señor te bendiga y te guarde.
El Señor te muestre su rostro y tenga misericordia de ti.
Te mire benignamente y te conceda paz.
El Señor te bendiga.

Blessing of St. Clare

What you hold, may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon. But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, may you go forward securely, joyfully and swiftly, on the path of prudent happiness, not believing anything, not agreeing with anything, that would dissuade you from this resolution or that would place a stumbling block for you on the way, so that you may offer your vows to the Most High in the pursuit of that perfection to which the Spirit of God has called you.

Bendición de Santa Clara

Que lo que mantengas, siempre lo mantengas. Que lo que hagas, siempre lo hagas y nunca lo abandones, pero con paz, pasos iluminados, pies firmes, de tal manera que aún tus pasos no levanten polvo, que avances seguro, animado y en el camino de la alegría prudente, sin creer cualquier cosas, sin estar de acuerdo con cualquier cosa que te disuada de alguna resolución o que coloque un ladrillo en tu camino, para que puedas ofrecer tus votos al Altísimo en el deseo de alcanzar la perfección a la que el Espíritu de Dios te ha llamado.

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Nuclear Disarmament & the Iran Deal

Posted on 29. Aug, 2015 by .

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In 2015, 70 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world community is making important moves toward nuclear abolition…

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Just a few months ago, the Holy See issued a ground-breaking paper entitled Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, which said, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.”

Most recently we have seen the significant July 14 agreement between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States – plus Germany) and the European Union to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. After years of tense and delicate negotiations, the signatories agreed that Iran’s uranium stockpiles will be considerably reduced, various uranium enrichment activities either will be stopped or greatly limited, and the International Atomic Energy Agency will have regular access to its nuclear facilities. In return, the crippling economic sanctions against Iran will be lifted.

Congress, which will return from its break Sept. 8, has until Sept. 17 to vote on a resolution supporting or rejecting the accord. It is imperative that the Iran deal enter into force without obstacles created by the U.S. Congress.

Take Action!

Urge Congress to support the Iran nuclear deal. Call (202-224-3121) to get in touch with your senators!

Also, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns suggests that you share these documents with your Senators and Representatives:

  • Pax Christi International’s statement on the Iran deal, available here.
  • The Holy See’s paper on the immorality of possessing nuclear weapons, available here.
  • Letter from Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, NM, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, available here.

 

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World Peace Weekend

Posted on 26. Aug, 2015 by .

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logo-banner450x450This year, the peace movement will unify in mass demonstrations of Inner Peace and Social Action.  There will be Global Synchronized Meditations, Musical Celebrations, Peace Marches, and Social Action Projects.

World Peace Weekend: September 19th-21st 

The focus of this weekend will be “Global Meditation and Social Action.”

For more information such as a listing of the events that will take place, click here.

If you are unable to participate in World Peace Weekend, you can work for peace on a more personal level:

Here are a few suggestions:  

  • Forgive one person in your life for something they did, or yourself for something you did to them.

  • Take a few deep breaths before you walk into the office this week.

  • Pause before you react to a frustrating experience, and look at the situation from a bird’s eye view.

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Pope Francis’ Visit to the United States

Posted on 15. Aug, 2015 by .

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Pope-PhiladelphiaWith Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States a little more than a month away, preparations are under way at parishes all over California to celebrate this momentous occasion.  Parishes and schools are planning viewing parties and forming faith groups to talk about the Pope’s message of love.

Many groups made plans well in advance to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.  The Pope’s attendance has magnified the size and excitement surrounding the Philadelphia meeting.  Now with the canonization of Fr. Junípero Serra, talks before the U.S. Congress and the United Nations and stops at Catholic Charities and an East Harlem school, interest in this trip has skyrocketed.  (View the complete schedule here.)

Admission for events in Washington, New York and Philadelphia is extremely limited but several events such as the Pope’s appearance on the West Steps of the Capitol Building after his address to Congress are open to the public. Please be suspicious of any tickets offered for sale.  They are fraudulent.   No tickets are sold and scammers are known to prey on unsuspecting pilgrims.

However, there are many other options for viewing.  Several cable systems will set up temporary channels for complete, non-stop coverage and all major events will be streamed live on the Internet.  We will post details on all options as we get closer to the event.

The Catholic News Services has prepared a preview of what we can expect to hear from His Holiness in a story, A Trinity of a Different Kind on the Pope’s U.S. Agenda.  It should be no surprise that the Pope is anticipated to talk about immigration, hunger and the environment when he visits in September.  These are some of his most recurring messages.

The Archdiocese of Washington has prepared a special website for parishes, schools and other organizations to help them celebrate, reflect upon and learn.  Go to www.walkwithfrancis.org for an abundance of resources and information on the visit.  And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has catechetical material available for all age levels.

We will have extensive coverage – especially information on Fr. Serra and the canonization – in the weeks leading up to the visit.

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