Blog Archive

Friday, August 21

Asylum Grants and Sex Worker Murder Investigations: Both Take Lots Of Violence To Trigger

It seems like it sure does take a lot of "not-often-cared-about" people suffering for institutions with an official monopoly on violence to do anything to help even some of those suffering people.

I am angry that no one took him seriously when he said he was afraid for his safety if he returned to El Salvador. ... When someone professes a fear of returning home, claims they are afraid of the gangs and their penchant for random murders, I hope that you will listen.
aighmeigh's story got me thinking about asylum in the U.S.

I learned a few weeks ago that aighmeigh's husband wasn't the only Salvadoran trying to get asylum in the U.S. on account of gang members back in El Salvador. These folks are, too.

I thought, "What is it that makes this different? Oh. Right--the gang members aren't technically doing thugwork on behalf of a government."


Then I thought, "Wait a second. We've got how many Somali refugees around here? And there's no government in Somalia, so whoever they claimed was being violent towards them wasn't a government."

I don't know squat about their refuge/asylum claims, but I'm guessing...maybe they involved violence at the hands of people trying to be "the government."

"Okay," I thought, "the Salvadoran gangs are obviously trying to get a monopoly on violence wherever they operate. Does that make them people 'trying to be the government?' Why are these asylum cases not being considered violence by 'rebel militias?'"

I continued, "I guess they're only trying to have a monopoly on the right to use force to do certain things. They're not exactly running the schools and the postal service once they have that right in a certain area, are they? Not that I've heard."

So I dunno. Maybe you have to be shooting for being real governance, even if that's not your main concern (how many regional/national governments' main concern is real governance, compared to controlling money and such?), to be a violent group that the U.S. government will consider giving asylum to the victims of.

But then I thought about Honduras, and I thought about certain African countries w/ ruling-party political violence against ordinary folks who support opposition parties.

There are probably a couple of dozen people in Honduras who're at the exact same point, personally, as some of the people whose stories I heard out of African countries. Something like this:
  1. Member of a political party all through college (during which the beatings and arrests and such were always going on)
  2. Always participating in marches for one's political beliefs and/or party
  3. Arrested at a march and beaten the hell out of, taken down to the station, not let out for ages for no reason, etc.
  4. Still participated in marches
  5. Arrested at a march and beaten the hell out of, taken down to the station, not let out for ages for no reason, etc.
  6. Felt "done" enough w/ that routine to flee the country w/ intent to seek asylum in the U.S.
No "torture" at the station like some of the other stories I've heard. Just enough "protest, get beaten and harmed for it, repeat" to wear down a person who can't hold their beliefs in and make them want out of the country.

I know from experience that many people from those countries in Africa can get an asylum grant based on that experience. But I seriously doubt someone from Honduras with the exact same experience could right now.

The only difference I can think of between this happening in Honduras and this happening in some of the African countries I've worked with is how many people have had to endure it (due to the amount of time it's been happening).

And then, all of a sudden, I connected that with my comment on VivirLatino:
It really does make me feel like the police aren’t doing things well enough when a non-police person (Johnson) figured out that there was someone trying to kill sex workers after ONE person but the police don’t start looking to stop the deaths of sex workers until NINE. :-(

A potential Honduran asylee would have figured out that the government is going to have people keep on beating them up for demonstrating after A FEW DOZEN people but the U.S. government doesn't start looking to grant asylum until A FEW THOUSAND. :-(

Again: it seems like it sure does take a lot of "not-often-cared-about" people suffering for institutions with an official monopoly on violence to do anything to help even some of those suffering people.

It's just not at all the what happened that makes a murder investigation of sex workers happen or an asylum grant happen, is it? Even though that would make sense!! It's...the "how many." :-(

Wednesday, August 19

Immigrants Should Be Equally Eligible For Permanent Residency

I don't give a hoot if an immigrant's working in a kitchen or working as a programmer--if they're working X hours a week here, and especially if I'm benefitting from what they're doing, they should be EQUALLY eligible for permanent residency. EQUALLY.
No "points."

Monday, August 17

Please Pray For Donna (And Donate If You Can)

Donna, one of my favorite blog authors, has asked for prayers.
This is why.
I'd recommend sending money, too, if you can. She's said that money sent to Paypal link on the left side of her blog, in the sidebar, under her blogroll, is only accessible by her.

A message to those who have plenty of money to spare:
501(c)3 deductible? Hell, no. Neither prayers nor money. The right thing? Hell, yes.


Friday, August 14

More From BFP

I would like to learn to do this.

I'm glad you already do, bfp.

Quote From BFP

Where’s the news in women being raped? Unless it’s in an african country that has lots of resources?

And more from the same post...
I think this also has a lot to do with “what are the legal ramifications for the nation/state, for private corporations, for individuals, if rape of WOMEN is declared a way to torture?” I mean, I think you’d be hard pressed to find many who would say that rape and sexual violence against men is not torture (because *REAL* men don’t raped, right–it’s the worst of the worst of the WORST thing to do to a man)–but against women–it’s just normal–I mean, I’ve asked myself over and over again, what would have happened if those pictures released in Abu Ghraib were of women–and I know the answer because there WERE pictures released that were of women being raped. They *never* made front page news, and half the people who saw them declared them fakes–the other half didn’t have much of anything to say.
The thing *I* want to know: Why do we recognize that Jose Padilla’s detention drove him mad (and yes, I specifically use the gendered terminology of mental illness there), but a woman who lived through many, if not all and more, of the same situations that Jose Padilla did is considered "faking it?"

Nothing to add...just trying to amplify.

Thursday, August 13

Quick note

I love the phrase "slightly more enlightened in gut wrenching privilege and ignorance by Sydette. I will try not to be that. What a memorably worded reminder...thanks, Sydette.

Oliphant v. Suquamish + news out of Alaska

Geez, heaven forbid Alaska, either, let tribal police do to everybody what Alaskan police get to do to everybody.

The Visitor

Just watched "The Visitor." Wanted to blog at the beginning, "What an unempathetic a*****e."

Towards the end, changed my mind to him being one of those people who seems to only be able to love (have empathy for) a few people total. (A description I learned from the book version of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables describing the innkeeper's wife who genuinely loved her daughter but treated the girl she was taking care of, and many other people, like sh**.)

And now, at the end...WHAT. THE. F***!

They did a "things don't always end up okay" "deep" movie by giving Tariq a sad immigration outcome. Tariq, the guy who didn't DO anything against the law to get arrested. All he did was jump his way out of a turnstile that'd gotten him stuck, but that he'd paid for.

I'm just sure that Tariq's pause and dodging the question when Walter asked him why he didn't try playing in the subway was supposed to show him knowing that he could get arrested (and then sent to a deportation center) for doing so, because it was against the rules w/o a permit.

And yet then they f***ing END THE MOVIE by having Walter--the guy we're supposed to see as now more empathetic than he was at the beginning of the film--twiddle around and break the subway system's regulations? This asinine abuse of white-skinned born-citizen rich privilege is supposed to somehow be tied in with having LEARNED to be MORE empathetic?

Is that SERIOUSLY supposed to make us LIKE Walter more?

Well f***--not me. He's still an unempathetic (except-towards-a-few) a*****e, for everything and for that.

Wednesday, August 5

Ho. Lee. Sh**. 350 a year in ONE country.


From Liquidate Empire by Chalmers Johnson:

in October 1953, the Japanese and American governments signed a secret "understanding" as part of their SOFA in which Japan agreed to waive its jurisdiction if the crime was not of "national importance to Japan." The U.S. argued strenuously for this codicil because it feared that otherwise it would face the likelihood of some 350 servicemen per year being sent to Japanese jails for sex crimes.
350. A. Year. (Or, as the Economist said, citing Shoji Niihara:)
Why did America fight so hard in 1953 to maintain control of criminal cases involving its boys? The documents do not say, but provide a clue: in numerous settings, American officials express unease that American servicemen commit roughly 30 serious crimes each month.
(Third source.)

AGGH. Crap.

(By the way, although I don't know what they were like in 1953 compared to ours, in 1984, this is what it was like to be in a Japanese prison. Fair. Unlike the "who the hell cares about letting Japanese people convict & punish American rapists?" Status of Forces Agreement.)

Tuesday, August 4

Community Conflict Deescalation On The Public Bus

On the public bus about a week ago, a man seemed quite drunk (trouble speaking and moving coherently--though more likely to fall asleep than to barge around harmfully), had an open water bottle full of brown (like whiskey) liquid, and had a huge splint on his foot.

The bus driver wasn't okay with the drunkenness and bottle of what seemed to be alcohol. When I boarded, they'd obviously been arguing for a while, and the man said he'd get off the bus. But he didn't.

As time went on, I felt like it became obvious he wasn't getting off the bus because he couldn't walk. I'm not sure if that was obvious to the bus driver in the heat of the moment (who felt under pressure to follow agency rules).

Bus riders were shouting out that the bus driver should leave him alone--and when the bus driver finally closed the door and picked up a phone after the man kept not getting off the bus or handing over his bottle and he'd heard lots of shouts to get moving so people wouldn't be late to work, the riders shouted things like, "Oh now he gonna call the cops." "Why you have to call the cops on that poor old man? Let him off! He said he was gonna get off!"

I realized the bus driver felt kind of powerless to facilitate the man being off his bus on his own and was turning to his support network from the agency. I didn't want to see someone arrested for having a shitty, painful day and getting drunk, so I got out of my seat, went to the front, and asked the man if he'd like help getting off the bus. He said, "Yes pleashe," and I extended an arm like a gentleman does to a lady on some sort of date from the 1900's.

While he struggled to stand up, I asked the bus driver to open the door so I could help him leave like he'd offered to, and the bus driver thought for a moment, then did. Only thing is...the man I'd offered to help wasn't even managing to stand up (partly because he didn't seem much in control of his body, and partly because his pants were falling down and he didn't seem much in control enough to take care of that). I was NOT offering enough support for him to lean on--especially w/ my opposite shoulder full of my belongings.

Thank GOODNESS someone the same size as the drunk man, if not larger, asked, "You need a hand?" from behind me (to the other man), to which he said, "Yes," and HE was strong enough (and experienced enough holding people up) to REALLY give him full support--support standing and everything.

After he was off the bus, on a bench, and we'd given him his bottle and taken our seats and our bus was on its way, I was feeling pretty darned good. As a community of "people on the bus right here and right now," we'd given the bus driver the support he needed to implement our ideas about what he could to, rather than pushing him to rely on the agency's support!


And then...

"You happy now?!" I heard from behind me. "You gonna check MY bottle? Oooooh, you never know what's in it!" The heckles rained on the bus driver.

Those heckles, after he'd switched and sided with our plan for getting the man who was offering to leave off the bus (rather than having authorities take him off the bus) and people had already pretty much offered the same ones before he did.

*sigh* I don't know if he'll ever let the rider community be his support network for executing their suggestions rather than the authorities be his support network for executing their suggestions again. I talked a bit w/ everyone (nods & smiles to the people saying, "let him stay!" / "let him go like he said to--don't call the cops!"; a thank you to the strong man; a thank you to the bus driver for processing so many thoughts so quickly and doing what I thought was the right thing), but I just don't think that'll really help.

Oh well. Crud. :-(

I got real "I tried" experience to keep w/ me for the rest of my life, and I realized that I really need to work out and practice things like holding limp people (I would like to be able to let a 190-pound person lean on me and do a serious assist in walking. 190 isn't beyond reason).

Cirila Baltazar Cruz And Action Links To Help Other Mothers

Just keepin' the names Cirila Baltazar Cruz and Rubi Juana Baltazar Cruz on the radar every couple of weeks till November (the next court date that has anything to do w/ the case). You could donate/volunteer for the SPLC or MIRA, by the way, if you want to do something that won't hurt the case while that gag order's on, maybe. (Lawyers working on the case, after all, still get to talk about it to each other...)

Or, for another thing to do between now and November: volunteer and/or raise hell about these issues brought up by BFP:

i hadn’t known about the “offer” to let her be a governess to her own child. thanks for pointing that out. it makes me sick to my stomach–mothers of color are SO good at helping white women reach their full potential as mothers. they even provide a child to practice on and everything!

I also want to say, women caught up in the immigration system ALWAYS have responsibility of the children, if there are any. they are forced to do things like express milk from their breasts to prove they are breastfeeding (in front of gaurds who make mooing sounds at them), they are locked up in small cells with the children (check out hutto prison), they are silenced or kept from protesting while in jail with threats of separation from their children (which has happened–there are several cases of women being deported while the children are left in prison with no caretaker at all–and to add insult to injury, those children often are u.s. citizens who have committed NO crime at all)–there have been *several* cases of women being raped while in front of their children by prison guards in “exchange” for extra bedding or food–and it’s a small thing, but a devastating thing–mothers are often not believed when they say who the father of the child is (i.e. a husband or partner)–and children are thrown into foster care until “paternity” can be established. and none of this gets into the abysmal way *pregnant * women are treated.

All of these things–including more, are regular experiences of mothers going through immigration. I think it’s important to point out so that we don’t only support women like Cirila–but so that we also ask the right questions and support the right answers (and organizations–because trust me, not all immigration orgs are as connected to the community as MIRA is) as the U.S. begins to confront “immigration”–as Barack Obama et al have promised to do in the next year.

With respect to Ms. Baltazar Cruz's case, please keep in mind the following comments by AnonymousCoward (1,2,3):
As terrible as this situation is, contacting the presiding judge is not the appropriate course of action. Your letters, calls, faxes, and other communications will go completely unheeded, as the judge is ethically obliged to ignore them.
With that in mind, I think donating to SPLC or writing letters to the editor of the Clarion-Ledger would be more productive. Citizens of Mississippi may want to consider writing their representatives in the state legislature to encourage them to explicitly condemn the actions of CPS and pass legislation to make this action clearly illegal.
(emphasis mine)
I’d just hate to see this case get prolonged because the “foster” parents find out about the flurry of letters and raise the issue on appeal, claiming that the judge should have been recused or something.
If you want to put pressure on someone in this case to make them consider doing the right thing, you should be pressuring the parties (apparently the Department of Human Services), not the court. You’ll just annoy the clerk of court, frustrate yourself, and arm your opponent with grounds for appeal.

Here’s the contact information for DHS, obtained from Shakesville.

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
(601) 359-4499
Ex parte communications are not limited to factual matters. Ex parte communications are *not permitted* unless explicitly authorized, for things like administrative matters, emergencies (TROs, for instance), speaking with court personnel, or asking disinterested legal scholars with notice to both parties and the opportunity to respond. Notably excluded from that list is: “angry members of the general public.”

A judge isn’t permitted to discuss (including listen to) their own family on how a case should be handled; what makes you think it would be appropriate for them to factor in the opinions of the general public? I’d refer to this as a “question of justice,” but it’s not even really a question – judges interpret and apply law, not the views of the general public, no matter how outraged that public may be.

As I said before, contacting the parties, writing letters to the editor, or supporting SPLC are appropriate reactions. Attempting to sway the court proceedings via unethical direct contact with the judge won’t be effective, and might create grounds for appeal if the judge ultimately rules against the “foster” parents.

Another thing you can do between now & November, besides following AnonymousCoward's suggestions, is to help this other mother whose child the state has unjustly kept away from her.

Get Mad That The Rape Occurred. And Stop There.

WOW, do people have their priorities out of wack.

YOU PEOPLE who are berating this girl's family: STOP IT.


Your own families, if not you, are just as bad. TRUST ME. They are. In some way or another. You'll figure it out one day.

So LAY THE HECK OFF that family and get yourselves and your media railing against:

the actual crime and the socio-economic factors that may have contributed to the horrific incident.

Saturday, August 1

Cheap hot peppers

Note: As always, written in response to BFP's call for recipes for healthy cooking while in poverty.

You might've already known this, but to me it was only book knowledge until recently: at least in certain climates, fresh hot peppers don't mold; they just change colors and dry out.

I can buy them and not worry about not using them in time.
Thanks, God! I like these things.
(Still can't handle the taste of more than 1, seedless & pithless, in a whole dish...but I definitely like the concept.)

Amaranth & Potatoes (cost)

Note: As always, written in response to BFP's call for recipes for healthy cooking while in poverty.

I had a somewhat bland, but not too bland, quickly made, healthy meal for lunch. It cost $2.36 by my estimate.

$1 of fancy-schmancy potatoes (actually, I cooked the whole $4 pound, but this is what I ate in my stir-fry)
$0.01 salt
$0.01 sugar
water (cost not figured)
$0.02 roasted garlic (keeps well in the freezer!)
$0.10 herbes de provence

$0.35 amaranth leaves (35% of a big $1 bunch)
$0.33 onion (1 onion)
$0.33 garlic (half a head)
$0.20 ginger (out of a jar)
$0.15 sesame oil
$0.07 dried chili pepper
$0.05 mustard seeds
$0.05 garam masala
$0.02 cinnamon

I was boiling the potatoes the way they're prepared in this book w/ an addition of flavorings, so I'd have something to eat right away as I prepared my amaranth dish.

The amaranth dish was kind of a funny combination of the basic starter techniques I'm picking up from an Indian-ish cookbook and a Cantonese-ish cookbook. My order today was, "Heat wok. Pour in oil. Add dry spices. Add onions. Add ginger. Add garlic & hot pepper. Add a few more dry spices. Add greens."

And, finally, "Hey--the potatoes are done and I'm not ready to eat them--but a few of them sure would work chopped up in this thing I'm in the middle of making!"

And come to think of it, I didn't eat the entire I guess the cost was more like $1.75 for lunch and $0.61 for a snack later on.

Got other shoestring healthy eating recipes? Pass it on!
(P.S. Chop your amaranth coarsely first. Alanna Kellogg mentioned it here, and I followed her advice and it went well. I couldn't really imagine having eaten those leaves whole.)

Recent headlines from the blog "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten:"