Catholic Leader Decries Opening of Family Detention Center in Texas

(Washington, D.C.) — Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, decried the opening of a 2,400-bed detention center in Dilley, Texas, constructed to house, among others, families fleeing persecution in Central America.

The detention center, operated by a private, for-profit group, was inaugurated December 15.

“It is inhumane to house young mothers with children in restrictive detention facilities, as if they are criminals,” said Bishop Elizondo December 16.

“Already traumatized from their journey, these families are very vulnerable and need care and support, not further emotional and psychological harm.” Studies have shown that detention has a harmful psychological impact on children.

Bishop Elizondo added that the Obama administration’s pursuit of a deterrence policy– including detention and interdiction– against children and families fleeing violence undermines basic human rights.

“Many of these families are fleeing persecution and should be afforded the full benefit of domestic and international law,” Bishop Elizondo said. “As we saw in the case of Artesia, detention denies mothers and children with valid legal claims meaningful access to due process, including legal representation.”

A temporary detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, housing families was recently closed down, in part, because of strong opposition to due process violations and conditions there, especially for children. The average age of children detained in Artesia was six and a half years old.

Bishop Elizondo added that humane alternatives to detention exist, particularly community- based alternatives based on a case management model.

“Past community-based programs have shown that vulnerable groups such as families can be placed in a community setting and still appear at their immigration hearings, provided they are

given the proper support,” Bishop Elizondo said. “The government should explore this humane alternative and not cause further harm to these families, particularly children.”

Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins scholarship campaign

This month Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) launched the inaugural fund raising campaign for the newly established JC:HEM Alumni Association Scholarship for graduates of the Diploma of Liberal Arts program offered in areas of the world where higher education opportunities rarely exist.

JC:HEM is an initiative of the Society of Jesus that brings higher education to those at the margins of our societies. Through a generous donor, JC:HEM offers Community Service Learning Tracks and Diploma courses through a blended on-site and on-line approach at no charge to the students.

According to the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, 51.2 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide and of these people, less than 1% can access higher education.

Since 2010, in partnership with Jesuit Refugee Service, with professors and Universities around the world more than 1,900 students have studied in JC:HEM programs, 28% of whom are women.   The first JC:HEM students graduated in September 2013 with a Diploma in Liberal Studies worth 45 US credits. They and the recent 2014 graduates are now actively seeking funds that will enable them to continue their studies towards a bachelor’s degree at other universities.

For approximately $9,000.00, a graduate of the JC:HEM Diploma program can continue their studies by enrolling in a college or university, either locally or in another country, to complete their Bachelors degree within three years.

“It is because of JC:HEM that even the grade school children now have a goal to further their education.  Before JC:HEM, many in this community had never seen a University.  This is a significant paradigm shift in a community that for years never had opportunities to stimulate their intellectual capabilities. Having a university for people living at the margins creates an impact that will be seen for years to come,” said JC:HEM’s Alumni Association Coordinator Karen Cordova

For more information about how to donate to the JC:HEM Alumni Association Scholarship fund or to share the campaign, visit the JC:HEM website at www.jc-hem.org or http://www.gofundme.com/JC-HEM-Alumni

for more information, please contact:

Deene Yenchochic
Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins
304-479-5193

Job: Kino Border Initiative seeks an Associate Director

kino

Kino Border Initiative

Associate Director

PROFILE

The Kino Border Initiative, a dynamic, faith-based, non-profit located on the border of Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Sonora, seeks an experienced, bi-lingual professional to work closely with the Executive Director to manage internal operations including planning, finance, human resources, facilities and general business administration and engage with external constituencies.  The ideal candidate will possess experience in a non-profit setting in these key areas, be fluent in English and Spanish, and be fully committed to KBI’s mission and values.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Associate Director will be responsible for enhancing the internal organization processes and infrastructure that will allow Kino Border Initiative to effectively fulfill its mission, as well as engage externally with key constituencies.

The Director of Operations will manage the following functions: Read the rest of this entry »

Ruling by Dominican Republic Constitutional Court threatens access to international justice for victims of human rights violations 

Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2014) — Kerry Kennedy and Santiago A. Canton, on behalf of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (Robert F. Kennedy Center), condemn a ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic invalidating the State’s acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In particular, they express profound concern for the impact this ruling will have denying access to international justice for all Dominicans, including most recently hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who have looked to the international community and the Inter-American human rights system for protection.

“The Dominican Republic had an opportunity to demonstrate bold human rights leadership by protecting the rights of its most vulnerable citizens,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center. “Instead, the Dominican Constitutional Court has not only failed to protect them, but also pretends to deny all Dominicans the possibility of appealing to international law to protect their fundamental rights. The Constitutional Court is playing politics at the expense of the very people it is obliged to protect.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Central America Now a Zone Free of Cluster Munitions

Strong Condemnations of Ongoing Cluster Munition Use in Syria and Ukraine

(San Jose, Costa Rica) September 5, 2014 — Central America this week became the first region to become free of cluster munitions with Belize’s accession to the international treaty banning cluster munitions, said the Cluster Munition Coalition at the close of the treaty’s meeting. In addition, the Republic of Congo announced ratification of the treaty at the meeting, bringing up to 114 the number of states that have joined the Convention.

“Central America’s unanimous support for the ban on cluster munitions should embolden other nations to cooperate in eradicating these insidious weapons that cause unacceptable harm,” said Jesús Martinez, El Salvador Cluster Munition Coalition member. “We do not want to see any more victims from cluster munitions and urge no use of these weapons anywhere, anytime by anyone.”

The announcement was made at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which ended today in San José Costa Rica. Costa Rica hosted the meeting – the first ever of its kind to be held in Latin America, taking over the convention presidency from Zambia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cluster Munitions Ban: National Laws Needed 

(San Jose, Costa Rica, September 3, 2014) – Countries around the world should enact strong laws to implement the treaty banning cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today at an international meeting of nations party to the treaty.

The 81-page report, “Staying Strong: Key Components and Positive Precedent for Convention on Cluster Munitions Legislation,” urges countries to pass robust national legislation as soon as possible to carry out the provisions of the treaty. The report describes the elements of a comprehensive law and highlights exemplary provisions in existing laws. The report was jointly published with Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.

“To maximize the global cluster munition treaty’s impact, all countries should adopt national laws that apply its high standards at home,” said Bonnie Docherty, senior researcher in the arms division at Human Rights Watch and lead author of the report. “Prohibitions that can be enforced in domestic courts can help ensure that these deadly weapons don’t harm civilians.”  
Read the rest of this entry »

Central American refugees flee violence

Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has risen steadily as violence has increased. Mary Small of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Shaina Aber of the United States Jesuit Conference explain what is driving people to flee for their lives.

Learn more at jrsusa.org

Youth gang violence has intensified in the last decade, and as drug trafficking routes have shifted to Central America, violence associated with the drug trade has risen as well. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in world; from 2005-2012, murders of women and girls have increased 346% while murders of men and boys are up 292%. In all three countries, rates of impunity are over 90%.

Child advocates, especially from Honduras and El Salvador, report accounts of children and teenagers subject to assaults and intimidation from gangs, and of children being forcibly recruited by gangs who have “join or die” polices. In a survey conducted by UNHCR of 404 Central American children detained at the border in 2013, UNHCR found that 58% of the children might be in need of international protection.

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