Got miles? Help Ale get to the Beyond Bars conference!

 
 

Ale is hoping to attend Beyond Bars 2019: Until She’s Free. The conference, organized by the Center for Justice at Columbia University, is specifically focusing on the incarceration and criminalization of women and girls this year. Ale is eager to attend and connect to other people doing this work.

If you have any flight miles to share or would like to sponsor her participation, please get in touch with us here. Thank you!

OC Weekly: A Letter to Cyntoia Brown in Solidarity From an Immigrant Sister in Struggle

 
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Editor’s Note: Cyntoia Brown received clemency last week after serving 15 years in prison for a killing committed while a victim of child sex trafficking in Tennessee. Alejandra Pablos, a former Santa Ana resident, is an immigrant and reproductive rights activist who’s planning to appeal a recent immigrant court ruling that revoked her green card and ordered her deported to Mexico.

By Alejandra Pablos (Guest columnist) 

Dear Cyntoia,

I first heard about your story in 2014 by watching Me Facing Lifenot long after being released from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody following two years spent in an immigration prison. Most call them detention centers, but that makes me think of juvenile detention centers, and although most would argue those are mini-jails only preparing our youth for the prison-industrial complex, I can assure you there are no teachers, social workers, or bells to release you in ICE detention centers.

Before I continue, I just want to let you know that I see myself in you. You are worthy, you are loved. You should’ve never spent a second in the hands of the state.

I was born in Mexico and am actually originally from Orange County. I lived in Santa Ana with my family for almost 15 years. Then my mom moved us to Tucson, Arizona. My OC life was very different compared to my new life in the desert–or so I thought. California has always been more “progressive” because it’s represented by mostly black and brown people, informed by immigrants. Arizona, a red state, was proud of being anti-immigrant and home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I used to think that if I would’ve stayed in Santa Ana, that I wouldn’t be in deportation proceedings for a DUI and possession of paraphernalia. The Latinx and Chicanx communities in OC have been challenging criminalization and immigration enforcement just like everyone else. Wherever there are black and brown folks, there will be a fight for dignity, respect and self-determination. And the truth is, Arizona is home to some of toughest sentencing laws, especially for women and for non-violent drug offenses.

I want to thank you for being courageous and fighting the injustice of your incarceration. We’ve been failing black girls for too long and I won’t stop sharing your story in solidarity with mine. I share my story as well because, I, too, am committed to helping others avoid what I went through. My outspoken support of immigrant rights and reproductive justice led to my arrest last year outside of the Department of Homeland Security in Virginia, which then led to my second time being detained at Eloy Detention Center. And finally, on December 11, a day I longed feared, I was ordered by a judge in Arizona to be deported to Mexico – a country I have never lived in. Now, I am preparing to ask the clemency board for a recommendation letter so that our Governor can grant me a pardon. Can we fight for a pardon for you? I know that a pardon cleans your record and doesn’t disenfranchise you for the rest of your life.

How can many folks be okay with being a country of punishment instead of nurturing, growing and healing?

Separating families is an atrocity that should never happen anywhere, but it’s happened to black folks since the beginning of this nation. Their solution is to put us in prisons where children die in the hands of ICE officials and where young girls can spend their entire lives behind bars, with little regard for rehabilitation or transformation. There is clearly a war against poor people, black and brown women and girls, immigrants, families and LGBTQ folks. The tearing apart of our communities has been due to lack of responsibility and oversight from the same people that are here “to serve and protect” us. I want you to know that I am going to keep fighting for us because I know that my liberation is directly tied to your full liberation, to the liberation of all black women and girls.

I, along with millions of people, are waiting for you.

Peace and justice.

Your sister in life,

Alejandra


ELLE: Letter from an 'Imperfect' Immigrant

 
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BY ALEJANDRA PABLOS

For the majority of 2018, Americans watched in horror as mothers were torn from their children at the border after the Trump administration’s family separation policy gained media attention. We saw heart-wrenching images of parents with young children being separated and put in actual cages. But these portrayals also inadvertently reinforced the bias of which undocumented people do and do not deserve protection from the violence. What about those who aren’t the “perfect immigrant”? Those like me.

I am not married. I have chosen not to have children, my sexuality is fluid, I have been arrested, and I am not a Dreamer. I am also highly vocal about systemic injustice and have spent my entire life in the United States with all of my family, including my naturalized citizen parents. I am a woman with a past, a future and experiences to share that I will continue to be outspoken about. My active support of immigrant rights and reproductive justice actually led to my second time being detained at Eloy Detention Center in 2018. And on December 11, 2018, a day I long feared, I was ordered by an immigration judge in my home state of Arizona to be deported to Mexico – a country I have never lived in.

State and federal governments have waged a war on immigrants. Arizona’s sentencing laws are some of the toughest in country, and for two years former Attorney General Jeff Sessions worked relentlessly to make the process even harder for folks who were seeking asylum and nearly impossible for those of us who don’t fit into the administration’s mold (including human rights defenders and women fleeing domestic violence). Because most of the narrative surrounding deportations has been framed around cruel family separations and children being put in cages, those of us who are single adults, who are queer and trans, who speak out against state violence, or who may have already been through the U.S. criminal justice system, have been left out of the conversation. We become the “bad immigrants” that are constantly vilified by the Trump administration and conservative pundits on Fox News.

"THE CURRENT NARRATIVE GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT THERE ARE GROUPS OF IMMIGRANTS THAT SOMEHOW DESERVE TO BE KIDNAPPED, BRUTALIZED AND DETAINED BY THE GOVERNMENT."

Organizations like Mijente and the Advancement Project national office are working with immigrant communities of color to shed light on this disparity, because the current narrative gives the impression that there are groups of immigrants that somehow deserve to be kidnapped, brutalized and detained by the government. This contributes to the systemic criminalization of Black and Brown migrants, which enforces White supremacy and xenophobia. I've realized, through my own experiences and in hearing the stories of others, that only certain people are allowed to make mistakes: people who are White, male and cis-gender are often given a slap on the wrist for heinous crimes like rape and assault while, Black and Brown people, such as Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison for defending herself, are routinely over-sentenced and underrepresented.

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Separating families is an atrocity that should never happen anywhere, and the value we place on human life should not exclude people like me, who are also being violently targeted and deported. As families and friends start their New Year with a clean slate and fresh resolutions, my family and I have been told I have to leave the only place that I’ve known as home. And I’m not alone. I am one of 45,000 people fighting this fight. We may not be minors. We may not be mothers. We may have even made some mistakes. But our lives are not disposable, and we must challenge injustice on behalf of everyone who is at risk.


Alejandra Pablos is a member of Mijente, social justice organizer, and writer working at the intersection of immigration and reproductive justice. Connect to her work and journey at www.KeepAleFree.org. You can show support and advocate for support and advocating for immigrants like Alejandra through petitions, protests, and pushes for systemic change.

Immigration Court Orders Alejandra Pablos Deported

 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CONTACT: Danielle Moodie-Mills, danielle@abpartners.co, 202-445-5210

Tucson, Arizona-- Today a federal immigration court ordered the deportation of nationally known reproductive rights and immigrant rights activist Alejandra Pablos. Pablos, along with Mijente, a national Latinx organization leading on mobilizing against immigration enforcement and criminalization, released the following statement.  

“We are extremely saddened and angered by the Tucson Immigration court’s decision to deport Alejandra. Alejandra is precisely the kind of person we need to push back against the Trump administration - someone who stands up for the rights of her community, her family, and herself. She is a recognized leader in the fight for reproductive rights and immigrant rights - the very reasons her life could be threatened if deported. Her case is also an example of the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken asylum law, and their obsession with deporting as many immigrants as possible,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, leading Mijente’s organizing supporting for Pablo’s case.

“I’ve been living here since I was a baby, and Arizona is the place where I’ve grown up and learned how to fight for our rights. I will continue to fight for my right to stay here, to speak out about my story. This is not the end of our fight; we will appeal this decision and urge Arizona Governor Ducey to issue a pardon for the arrests that led to my detention in the first place. Getting a pardon from the Governor would significantly increase my chances to be able to continue to fight to stop my deportation and allow me to stay home with my family and community,” stated Alejandra Pablos.

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Sign & Share the Petition: A Pardon from Arizona Governor is Ale’s Last Chance to Fight Deportation

Mijente is a political, digital, and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. Launched in 2015, Mijente seeks to strengthen and increase the participation of Latina/o people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice.

Immigrant Rights Activist Targeted By Ice Set For Asylum Hearing On Dec. 11

 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, December 7, 2018

CONTACT: Danielle Moodie-Mills, danielle@abpartners.co, 202-445-5210

  • What: Asylum hearing for Alejandra Pablos

  • Who: Alejandra Pablos, nationally recognized immigrant rights activist and Mijente member

  • When: Tuesday, December 11th, 12:30 pm MST

  • Where: Tucson Immigration Court 300 W Congress St #300, Tucson, AZ 85701

TUCSON, AZ — Nationally recognized immigrant and reproductive rights activist, Alejandra Pablos, is set to appear in federal immigration court in Arizona in her effort to appeal for asylum after being targeted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Pablos was singled out and detained by DHS agents during a peaceful protest outside of DHS offices in Virginia in January 2018, which flagged her case to her case manager in Arizona. She was then taken into custody during her regularly scheduled check in with ICE in Tucson, denied bond, and sent to the Eloy Detention Center for 43 days.

Raised in California and a permanent resident of the US, Pablos is a member of Mijente and worked as the Field Coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, through which she advocates for immigration reform, reproductive rights and criminal justice reform. She is now requesting asylum given the dangers she would face as an activist deported to Mexico.

Pablos is one of many immigrant rights activists who are now being targeted by ICE to silence dissent by the Trump administration. Other activists targeted and arrested include Ravi Ragbir, a former green card holder from Trinidad and the head of the New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) in New York City; Jean Montrevil, an immigrant from Haiti who also worked at NSC, deported despite having lived in the US for over three decades with his four US-citizen children; Daniela Vargas, a Mississippi “Dreamer” brought to the US as a child from Argentina, detained minutes after speaking about her experience at a press conference; Maru Mora Villalpando, a high-profile undocumented activist from Mexico; and Baltazar “Rosas” Aburto Gutierrez after he was quoted in The Seattle Times.

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Mijente is a political, digital, and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. Launched in 2015, Mijente seeks to strengthen and increase the participation of Latina/o people in the broader movements for racial, economic, climate and gender justice. @conmijente