Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want all to thrive in

Friday, January 04, 2019

Homeland security means "do not help those children"...

To understand what is happening at the border, we must understand that people are attempting to cross the border legally: it is the universal right of ALL people to seek asylum across borders.

Our immigration machine that controls border control AND the mexican immigration machine is forbidding all but a handful of asylum-seekers to cross the border 'legally'.

Literally ZERO to maybe 50 or at the most 80 people a day since the mass caravan arrived are being processed (which means being arrested and placed first in the 'ice box' a freezing cold cement floor and wire fenced cages with only one layer of clothing allowed - REALLY, fuckin REALLY????, then moved into a 'detention center' which is also a prison or deported).

The importance of being able to step onto u.s.ofa. soil is that once a refugee is on u.s.ofa. soil, she or he cannot be turned away but HAS to be processed (which might eventually mean being deported) but at least has the potential of providing the safety these human beings are seeking.

This leaves the thousands of refugees, stopped by border control from stepping onto u.s. soil, in limbo and truly struggling to survive (as opposed to those of us in this country struggling for our life-styles to survive).

THIS is how refugees seeking asylum were treated:

Comunique II

The week between Christmas and New Years is supposed to be a time of joy, a time to spend with your family, a small break from capitalism and the necessity of work-force education and work-force obligations. We from Moringa, Maiz, y Nopal hope that you enjoyed it and were able to spend time with the people you love.

For us, it was a week of getting to develop a small understanding of the current processes and encampments available for asylum seekers here in Tijuana and across the border in San Diego. On the south side, there are kitchens, there is food, clothes, tents, and blankets. Most basic needs are covered except for a need for battery/solar lights, backpacks, and self expression. There is no work available for asylum seekers, they remain self reliant in many ways, but of course have no real or consistent access to funding or the capitalistic system.

Today is January 2nd; “list managers” help assist their relatives in making it through the illegal numbering system “la lista” by calling out 0–10 numbers each day. Every number is representative of ten people; if you are not there when your name is called, good luck, they say. The system is managed by a composition notebook, and it is corrupted by a group (the Mexican equivalent to ICE) called Grupos Betas. Numbers can, thanks to their illegal infiltration and perpetuation of such a system as la lista, be bought or sold. There are organizations on the ground working to empower people throughout this illegal process and provide information about “las hielerias” or ice boxes, the asylum seeking process in general, and help available on the other side.

The last number called January 2 was 1511, on New Years Day, 0 numbers were called. The last number to be assigned was somewhere around 1900. That means 3,890 people are still waiting to be called for their turn to enter through the port of entry here in Tijuana.

On the night of December 31st, we had used some fundraising to fill in a gap of entertainment at one of the shelters here in town; we planned to show a movie with a projector and small chargeable speaker, hoping it would offer a momentary distraction from the reality of current circumstances, but electricity currents were too low at the shelter to power the DVD player and projector at the same time. We hope to return again with a charged battery that we can plug those devices into.
Every day here we drive home along the double walled, militarized border zone, enforced by razor wire on the north side that reaches up to 7 feet high.

*The only way to seek or request asylum in the US is to make it to the other side.*

Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., from December 31, 2018, and into January 1, 2019, more than 100 asylum seekers including children gathered in an effort to beat the illegal list and become capable of claiming asylum on what is considered US soil.

On our way home that night as we drove across that same highway we saw people standing near a point on the border known as a spot for crossing. We saw children wrapped in emergency blankets, and after rounding a hill we saw plumes of tear gas with more people walking along the highway. This was around 10 p.m.

We went to get medical supplies and returned. We parked and went to see what was happening. We joined up with those gathered there. We communicated with the folx and they asked us to accompany them and assist, since they had seen the tear gas and wanted us to provide medical assistance (a couple of us are trained as street medics and brought treatment for tear gas).

The Central American folks seeking to cross and apply for asylum collectively decided that even with the risk, it was their best and only option. We want to stress that these folks were families, young men, women and elderly folks- just like us, just like you- everyone simply looking for a better life escaping the violence and poverty that made them flee their home, literally walking and catching rides over thousands of miles.

They decided that the children and families would be prioritized to cross over the fence and surrender themselves to border patrol and make a claim for asylum.
The hundred plus people present had to climb up a hill along the border wall and reach a point safe to cross with no razor wire. As we crept along the wall and were waiting for those at the point to cross, border patrol with the help of two overhead drones assessed what was happening.

These moments were tense and long. The minutes felt like hours. We had to be as silent as possible; mothers and fathers worked to keep their children quiet, la migra was just on the other side of the metal fence, we could hear their engines, they could hear the rocks move beneath our feet. We could all see the fear in all each other’s eyes, so many faces looked down the hill with doubt.

Border Patrol spotting the mass of us, without provocation or warning, they launched at least three tear gas canisters over the fence. The first one was maybe 2 yards in front of us. This forced all of us to flee into a clearing/construction site. We were in the light and it became apparent to border patrol how many of us there were. The people who ran from the gas needed treatment. We got those most affected afar from the gas and administered milk of magnesium. Another group stayed closer to the wall but in sight of border patrol. More border patrol agents arrived. The national guard arrived soon after.

The large group of us fled uphill to escape the smoke, but after that initial attack a dozen or more people returned to the wall determined to keep trying. More people steadily followed suit. The smoke cleared and people regathered to make their stand and demand the right to seek asylum. At first a few, but with numbers the people shook the initial shock off and regrouped at a hill point just up from the fence where no razor wire was laid.

The point on the fence where folks crossed was prepared and people encouraged the families and each other not to be afraid. People called out to each other “No tengas miedo!” “Don’t be afraid!”

The people yelled out to the soldiers and border patrol that they did not want violence, only harmony and jobs, they wanted peace for the new year. A few young men braved the flood lights and the leveled rifles aimed at their chests and jumped the fence and surrendered peacefully to Border Patrol. Families that had retreated from the gas came forward and the children and parents went to the fence to cross and surrender themselves. With hands raised, the national guardsmen aimed their rifles on them. We saw red lasers being aimed at them and those of us on the small hill behind the fence. As children were being lifted above the fence, the guardsman assuming command ordered his subordinates to not help the children. One guardsman closer to the fence was obviously conflicted as he saw that the children needed assistance dropping across. We heard one national guardsman repeatedly call out: “Do not help those children.”

Repeat that.

Do not help those children.

That is what homeland security means.

Do not help those children.

The people called out asking why they had their guns out leveled on all of us, leveled on unarmed children, why they tossed the gas, why they hated them so much.

Families and children made it across and this gave encouragement to the group and more families and individuals started to come down the hill towards the fence. Children were climbing to the point when the U.S launched a tear gas canister directly at them. It was completely unprovoked. Contrary to the Border patrol report the following day, there were no rocks thrown to provoke such an attack. Over the course of the next few minutes between 20 and 30 canisters were fired at all of us.

It was incredibly chaotic, the amount of gas in the air was overpowering- we all retreated helping each other, administering milk of magnesium to disinfect the tear gas, and make sure the families were together. What was terrifying was that where the families that had come down the hill, into basically a large ditch were completely drowned in gas and smoke. A mother who had sent her children down was crying out for them. She fainted, people were running blinded by the smoke, gagging and screaming- there was massive confusion not knowing whether or not the children had made it over without their parents, which would be horrible. We know what has been happening to children separated from their parents.

The children were found; a young Honduran man had gotten them out of the smoke. He was shot in the back with a canister as he was carrying them to safety. Those moments not knowing if the children had been separated, hearing the mother scream out for her two children- only toddlers, as tear gas stung though the air and the blades of a massive drone flew overhead with a blinding spotlight flashing over us all, is how the “New Year” greeted those seeking a better life. We all regrouped away from the smoke. People were dazed and in shock from the gas and the explosions of the canisters.

It needs to be stressed that the narrative that the Department of Homeland Security has issued via their official report IS FALSE, as with any media reports that describe a situation in which Border Patrol and National Guard were defending themselves against aggressors. This narrative must be stopped, it is a normalization and escalation of violence. The canisters that were launched were knowingly fired at unarmed families and children. We have video that directly contradicts this false narrative. If unchecked these men will undoubtedly escalate violence causing maiming and death.
As folks regrouped and recovered along the highway, a group of folks broke off to head to another point. We don’t know what happened to them. The majority stayed along the highway.

People were determined to make it across. Despite what occurred no one was ready to give up. But it was apparent that it was not going to happen, at least not here, not now.

We gave out what supplies we had, which was not much but all we had. We organized rides back to the shelters prioritizing the children and families that were still present.

It was 5 a.m. Still people had to walk what is usually a 40 min drive through the highways of Tijuana.
We began the New Years with ojos blancos, white eyes. The milk of magnesium, the disinfectant for tear gas leaves a white residue along your eyes. Our compañerxs, looked north to the U.S and instead of the land of the opportunity, the supposed “land of the free and home of the brave” they saw men with rifles leveled on their children, they felt the burning gas and smoke of hate.

We don’t know what the repercussions from that night will be, or where we go from here. What we do know is that this type of violence is unacceptable on any and every level. The United States must be held accountable and we must challenge the false narrative that portrays asylum seekers as combative invaders. We know the truth of what happened that night and we hope you share that truth widely so that these voices may be lifted up and heard by all of our hearts

The violence does not end once you get across the border either. We hear stories about the hieleras, we know that families and babies are being dropped off in the middle of empty concrete parking lots, dropped off at bus stations; escaping days or weeks in cold detention only to find themselves detained in another way, still struggling, still without a warm or safe place to rest their heads.

We were lucky to meet a woman who is helping tremendously on the other side, the north side of that long and violent wall. This week we ask you to direct any support to her, and the work that she is doing to help secure safe places to sleep, warm clothes, toys for children, and hygiene items for families and individuals.

A link to her GoFundMe: Bridge of Love Across Borders.

Thank you for reading and continuing to follow us. Please continue to discuss this with your friends, family and community. We have to be brave in discussing these things and not shy away from the discomfort of these tragic truths.

As always, feel free to email us at

Friday, December 28, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Day 4 end: Barretal at last!

In case this is the first entry you've read, I'll explain about El Barretal again.

When the first mass caravan of refugees from Honduras arrived in Tijuana to legally cross the border in order to seek asylum in the u.s., they were turned away in mass numbers: illegally and immorally by border patrol under unconstitutional and anti-international law orders by tRump, enforced by immigration officials and in collusion with the mexican government (prior to Obrador taking power).

The refugees crowded into a sports complex called Benito Juarez, a few steps from the western pedestrian bridge to wait entrance into the u.s.

This complex has no roof nor asphalt but dirt ground. The last weeks of November rain turned the ground into mounds of mud and running water filled with debris and garbage. This two week rainfall was equivalent to the amount of rainfall Tijuana normally gets in a whole year!

Police then raided this camp and others, often at 3 o'clock in the morning, jostling humans from their tents, swiftly and forcefully marshaling people onto buses, often without their possessions let alone documents, to ship them far away.

Police smashed tents and destroyed the scant but precious personal property that refugees were not given a chance to gather together before being forced to vacate Benito Juarez - a police practice that has been honed in the u.s. and transported around the world.

So Barretal is very far from the border crossing: a location that refugees did NOT want to go to. But it is on asphalt. I have not been there yet but intend to go tonite to help serve after we finish cooking the evening meal.

The kitchen runs like one of a mother with 12 children: efficient, quick, with no waste or hesitation. Pots are big enough to wash a child in; aluminum containers enough to easily cover the entire first floor of a very large living room.

Finally we are ready to load the food and head out to Barretal.

Another of the beautiful and incredibly affirming side benefits of this work is the meeting of other committed and remarkable volunteers. Tonite, I share a vehicle with four extraordinary and diverse u.s.ofa. humans: a brown Latina elder, a white womon youth, a young Black man, and a 30-something Lebanese man.

After almost an hour of bumpy curvy driving thru crazy traffic, we arrive in the pitch dark at a huge solid rust-corroded metal wall illuminated only by our vehicle headlights. Our leader Cybele, jumps out and bangs on the wall, causing it to buckle a little revealing it is a gate. After many clangs, it finally squeaks slowly open, just enough to allow our vehicles inside.

Instantly, lean men materialize to help unload the trucks and Cybele has us immediately organized into teams. Within minutes, aprons and gloves are donned, tables are washed, simple white paper cloths spread over surfaces, utensils, napkins, empty plates are set out. Food trays organized.

We are ready to begin.

We are in the covered part of Barretal: it is the section where womxxn and children are given priority and are supposedly housed. We cannot see far into this complex but we can see rows of tents on two floors, as well as a large section of occupied sleeping bags with small bundles where pillows could be, lined up parallel on the ground without the benefit of tents.

When I look up from completing my assigned tasks, serving spoon in hand, ready to dish out the recommended portion, I see that people crammed into layers of sweats and coats and sweaters and blankets have been silently lining up in front of the tables and out the door into the dark, cold night.

A couple of adorable little girls, their heads only visible over the table top when they step up on tip toes, hold hands and sway in front of the food. I ask them if they're hungry and offer them a plate but they ignore me and the plate.

Cybele greets everyone as we smile warmly, ready to serve, and firmly reiterates "womxxn and children first". The line shifts as womxxn step forward and men retreat a little. The tiny girls dance away somewhere into the crowd.

And the joy begins. There is little I love more than cooking and feeding especially to womxxn and children, but here tonite, also to these men. And these are mostly men. The universal appearance here is great fatigue yet eyes occasionally sparkle and smiles cross even the most serious of faces if but only for a moment.

Lucia takes plates of food deep into the dark area where some people have not emerged to join the line: maybe they are too sick, too scared, too hurt, or simply too tired. She returns several times to the food table to fill her arms up with plates and disappears again into the dimness. 

When the line starts dwindling, Cybele goes to negotiate with the police to allow men from the other side access to the food. Men who are not attached to a female partner are supposedly restricted from this area and the rumor is police are not good at restricting men except when it comes to access to food.

Way too soon, we have run out of food and completed our tasks of cleaning up and reloading the trucks with the empties.

Then we're off to return to Tijuana and the kitchen.

Day 4 continued: the credit of my wife

I am asked to do a speedy run to a meat store for the evening meal with are preparing. The chefs want to do a chicken and rice meal for tonight. I request that a spanish-speaking womon come with me, just to eliminate the possibility of being misunderstood. Really, I don't want to make others suffer thru my poor spanish...

Lazaro joins me. He seems to be a critical part of the team: I've seen him organize, explain and hand out tasks, tackle dishes and floors, direct menus and prep, as well as cook. And now he's accompanying me to the market.

Which is closed! We drive around what appears to be a warehouse district and do not see anyone open - only a couple of street vendors beginning to cook menudo and tamales!

He instructs me to make left hand turns on red arrows and to proceed forward on red lights where there is no cross traffic coming. Not likely!

We go to Costco - closed, even tho the internet says it will be open today. Then check out Smart and Final - closed. I'm desperately trying to take our World Kitchen money anywhere but walmart, which of course is open.

We have to go to walmart - all the organizers and volunteers are getting super anxious about not being able to provide meat for this meal.

At walmart, I'm trying to buy 200 pounds of chicken - they have less than 50 pounds and not at bulk prices. The middle aged soft spoken butcher, soft black eyes and glowing hickory skin, comes out behind the counter and we communicate (without Lazaro who is looking for more ham and cheese) between my spanish and his english our shared deep concern for feeding refugees and all the hungry people here in Tijuana.

We find out about another store very close by that does wholesale and is open today. I apologize to my butcher friend as he insists I leave my basket full of 50 pounds of chicken and waves me off to leave, assuring me he will take care of everything.

Lazaro and I find the next store and purchase over $800 worth of meat and veggies for tonite's meal and a little for tomorrow's lunch. I use a credit card from a womon at the kitchen and at first, it is accepted no question but when the supervisor comes to approve, she notices my driver's license doesn't match the credit card name.

I convince her the card belongs to my wife and I hear Lazaro say something about the u.s. and lesbians and discrimination. By now, there's a crowd of workers and curious shoppers around us. I'm not sure if the supervisor is more impacted by the amount of money we are spending or the fact that I'm a lesbian, but she ends up approving the sale and the crowd melts into strong arms hoisting heavy boxes of food onto the back of the truck - under my supervision of course!

I can text the kitchen to let them know we are on the way. The rain has stopped and the sun shines brightly through the formerly gray skies, shining brightly all the way back to the next set of strong arms that swiftly unload boxes into the waiting pots and onto the empty tables.

We are to prepare, cook, and package the meal by 4:30 so folks can eat before 6! Okay

Day 4 A xmas score

My sistah roommie activists and I arrive at the Tijuana headquarters of the fabulous World Central Kitchen minutes before the promised rain begins to drench the muddied streets. Once inside, we see the space is organized into two separate rooms with a smaller storage room all the way at the back: the room on the right is dedicated to cooking and cleaning, the room on the left is where all the food prep and packing takes place, as well as storage.

Immediately, the 20 or so volunteers who have showed up to prepare and serve meals today are assigned tasks and put to work.

Stacy and I begin making coffee, first on the list. Other volunteers begin to put together tables for work spaces, chopping veggies, cleaning and organizing. We have to make sandwiches for at least 800 people.

The tables stretch at least 20 feet and are covered first in rows maybe 8 deep of bread, then each slice spread with a spicy mayo before generous slices of ham, then cheese are once again recovered with more mayo then the last bread.

Notice the lack of fresh veggies - not a slice of tomato nor a leaf of lettuce. Perishables are harder to come by as most people donate non-perishables and not funds to buy fresh veggies.

When the ham and cheese is gone, the process starts again with peanut butter and then jelly until all the loaves of bread have also been turned into sandwiches.

All have to be wrapped in saran wrap and stacked into stainless steel containers which are then put into slotted shelves of the bigger plastic containers on wheels to be wheeled outside and into the waiting trucks.

By 11a.m. lunch has been prepared, stacked into proper containers, and set off in a couple different trucks in a couple different directions.

There are hungry people to feed all over Tijuana, like all huge cities, and then there are the refugees. For so many today is a time of eating way too much and getting way too many things, and making gads of trash piles.

We have succeeded in both feeding lots of people and making lots of trash: not just all the plastic bags that held bread and cheese and ham or empty jars of peanut butter and jelly or aluminum serving trays and single use utensils, but the outer wrappings of cabbages and remains of squeezed limes, the bad spots cut out of potatoes and burnt rice, a few trays of leftovers that have spoiled in the heat or before they could be connected with the hungry.

We bag up our garbage in huge black trash bags and set them outside next to the overflowing dumpster. Then it is time for the rest of us who did not go to serve the food to begin preparing the evening meal.

Outside, two men, whose billowing trousers are tied on minuscule waists with straps of plastic, with frayed backpacks slung over their jutting shoulders and wire carts listing behind rickety bicycles have attacked the pile of garbage. One of the womxxn organizers rushes out to hand them a couple of fresh sandwiches, which they reach for and accept with gnarled hands, downcast eyes and and shy smiles.

She tries to convince them they will get sick if they eat from the food we threw away but they are not deterred from their swift, organized raking thru each bag and reorganizing mounds of scraps into piles they then shove into emptied plastic bags, stuffing them into their carts, their backs, around their necks.

Their xmas score.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Yikes! Backing into the police....

To say navigating around Tijuana is difficult is like saying tossing 6000 pounds over your head is difficult. Between reading the Spanish and then figuring out which right they want you to take, and then because much of the action is so close to the border, literally like feet, I find myself almost stuck in the streets heading back over the border only.

Today, after trying to figure out which left I was supposed to veer towards (which turned out to be the other left, a right!) I ended up stuck in traffic on the bridge to San Diego. A young man hurries over to me, asking me if I really want to be crossing into the u.s.ofa.

How he knew I was stricken to be in this line, I'll never know. He tells me he'll walk me back down the 4 lanes of traffic. When I tell him no thank you, I can back up myself, he tells me the police are going to give me a ticket if he doesn't accompany me.

He calls over another man, who comes running up to breathlessly talk to me to interpret for his friend. I tell him again I can back up by myself. As they are now both insisting, I ask if they're wanting money for assisting me. $20 u.s.ofa. dollars, sola!

I tell them no thanks and proceed to back up. Thankfully there is hardly any traffic and I can back up easily. When I get within maybe 20 feet from the place where I can dash over to the other left, there's a police car sitting at the intersection. He starts his car and pulls in behind me, forcing me to stop.

He approaches the truck after talking into something on his shoulder and tells me how dangerous my
maneuvering backwards down the road is... I agree and then speak to him only in english - I tell him the men up ahead told me I had to back up.  He asks for my license, studies it, and then tells me to hand over my papers.

I tell him I keep getting lost and pull out my cell phone, show him maps, drop the Marriott name and ask him as innocently as I can where should I go? He wants to know if I have anything illegal in the truck. Thank goodness I've totally unloaded so the back only has my clothes and veggie oil tanks. He peers in and is satisfied. When I accompany him around the side of my truck, I tell him this is my home. His eyebrows shoot up and he tells me I do not need to open the door.

Back at the driver's side door, he tells me he is going to write me a ticket and I will have to go to the police station. I stare dismayed at him and ask how much will that be? He answers me in Spanish a mil something. I ask in dollars and he says $50. "What?" I shriek. "That's sooooo much money." I'm externally upset (altho internally relieved - I can cover that!)

He seems to soften so once again I whip out my phone, hold it out to him and ask for the address, which he either doesn't know or won't say but tells me it is far and I have to follow him. Okay, I've been there before.

I put 'police station' into my maps and several options pop up. I ask him to point out which one I have to go to. He tells me nevermind, he doesn't want me to go to the police station, he's not going to write me a ticket.

Now this is tricky. Do I offer him money as he's letting me off or will that be bribing an officer? I figure I can only pretend to misunderstand if he challenges me. I pull out the two 5's and three one's that I have in u.s. money, telling him I don't have $50 but this is all the cash I have now. I think he's going to take it but instead he walks me to my driver's side door, tells me to be careful when backing up the rest of the way, and to take the fork in the road.

I think he's going to escort me but instead he gets into his vehicle and takes off.

Okay, I back across 4 lanes and then head forward on yet another exit that luckily doesn't send me over the border.

What I learned today #4 … or stuff you need to know when volunteering to assist refugees

One of the first things you need to know is that migration across the ‘border’ (although the true framing is that the border migrated across the people and their land) has been happening since we 'drew' these ‘borders’ during the ‘forming’ of the u.s.ofa. in the 1800’s.

So you also need to know this ‘forming’ of borders came about through war, violence, even legislation and laws, as well as the threat and use of military and police violence.

And another very important thing to know is that groups and organizations as Enclave Caracol and Al Otra Lado and the intensely difficult work of body recovery of Aguilas del Desierto have been happening for many many years if not decades.

So what is different now about this migration movement? One of the biggest differences is the massive scale at which refugees are arriving. But the other even bigger difference is that the u.s.ofa. and Mexico are collaborating together to shut down the border for asylum seekers. And trust me, they are coming up with crueler and crueler ways to hurt these most vulnerable human beings.

These two governments are engaging in a totally ILLEGAL, let alone inhumane process.

The u.s.of a. has instructed the Mexican government to direct a few refugee men (like 4 or 5) to create a list of names and hand out numbers in order to make refugees wait – most of the time far away – until their number is called to even begin the walk over the border.

Can you imagine being one of those refugee men making his fellow country people come to him for a number to not just get across the border but to face an immigration official (not even a judge) who will decide if they can even pursue asylum.

It is clearly both an absolution of responsibility on the part of both governments, and a divide and conquer tactic that foments distrust and ‘corruption’ that can be blamed on refugees themselves. For example, a mother approaches you, desperate to get to a safe place so you demand sex in exchange for the next number; a man with money tucked into his worn shoe approaches you with $100, more than you’ve had in your hand for the past year, so you sell him a number.

The vulnerable exploiting the vulnerable, everyone perilously close to starvation if not death.

The making of a list itself is in and of itself illegal. People seeking asylum are legally supposed to walk over the border. Period. No list, no number.

The getting your name on a list and being assigned and holding onto your number is the ONLY way a refugee can cross the border now. Several awesome legal groups are suing over this list and number shit.

Once you’re lucky enough to get a number and be put on a list, you have to figure out how to find out when your number is going to be called and then how to get from El Baratel or wherever you’ve landed to the border crossing.

If your number is called and you’re not there, too bad for you. You go to the bottom of the list.

So 18,000 to 19,000 numbers have been given out since the beginning of December when the list was instituted. At an average of 40 numbers called a day, plus with more refugees landing here daily, you can imagine how long people will have to try to survive in refugee camps. Every day, the u.s. tells the Mexican government who then tells the four refugees in charge of handing out numbers, how many numbers will be called that day.

Maybe it will be the truth; maybe it will be a lie.

I understand that often the number called is 0, and the most called might be as much as 80. Again, think about how the hell you will be able to find out if your number is called? Plus an excuse of the u.s.ofa. government limiting refugees to such a low number is their claim that they can’t handle it. They process 200 THOUSAND people daily across the border – and they can’t do a few thousand more? Puleeze

The other thing that those in positions of power are doing is viciously spreading rumors: telling people the border crossing will be closed tomorrow when they really intend to open; or that they are only taking 2 numbers when they end up calling 10 or 100 and then you’ve missed your chance. Keeping people confused and jumping through high hoops they have little or no chance of clearing.

Prior to the number list, the average wait in a refugee camp was five weeks; now it’s at least a twelve week wait. Three months  - after walking for months.

So now suppose you’ve been at the entrance to the border crossing when your number has been called. What next?

You cross the border into the heavily armed arms of the Border Police where you will have to face an administrator – probably a white male who doesn’t speak Spanish – and tell them in enough compelling detail about the worst violence you’ve ever fallen prey to and then wait and see if this man judges you damaged enough to allow you to proceed to the Credible Fear Interview (CFI).

Suppose you ‘pass’ your admittance to the CFI, then you will be stripped of all layers but one of clothing and thrown into a concrete holding cell that is called the Ice Box for at least several days, often for weeks, until you are able to go to your interview. You will most likely not be allowed to remain with your husband (especially if you’re not 'legally' married, thus the great number of marriages being hastily performed at the border or along the route) or children or mother.

Or if you stumble into a kinder Border Patrol, you might get released quicker with an ankle bracelet that you are forced to rent at $490/month – not dissimilar to people caught in the prison industrial complex on this side.

So let’s get this clear: you’ve experienced horrific violence, so physically, mentally, emotionally damaging you actually believe you are going to be killed, or you are going to or have watched your child, your father, someone you love being killed first.

You’ve fled your home, your family, your country; walked, bused, run, scooted sometimes thousands of miles thru the worse hostile terrain, without food, without water, with or without children; with or without parents. You’re exhausted and probably sick, scared and probably suffering.

You reach the border crossing into the u.s.ofa. and attempt to cross as a human being seeking asylum, and are turned back, blocked from crossing, forced to remain in a foreign country where your life is still in danger, where you have to stand, sit, sleep on the ground somewhere close to the border crossing, compete with thousands like you; then your number finally comes up, you step across the border onto u.s.ofa. soil and into the heavily armed arms of police. 

Then you’re put into a concrete freezing building and not even allowed to wear a coat or a sweater over your t-shirt or dress?

Why is that?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

the ocean wall

I spend the morning giving rides to people and then head to the beach where we have extended the 'wall' far into the ocean.

see how far out this wall extends into the ocean? it's at least 40 feet - this is low tide. immigration police patrol up and down the beach yelling at people to get out of the water when they're too close to the wall. as if anyone could venture beyond that surf - at least anyone who would survive

look closely - altho the gaps look wide they're probably close to an inch maybe. beyond the wall see the rolls of barbed wire? about 5'wide and 4' tall - JUST in case one makes it over the wall from this side, they will tumble into rolls of barbed wire. then look beyond the barbed wide and see the second wall for those who happened to crash thru the barbs and onto the ground then can what, run to the next wall??? crazy

the beautifying of something so ugly

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My first day across the border

I’m sooooo lucky to have hooked up with a new dear womon friend and brilliant lawyer who also has a room she is willing to share with me so, at least for a couple of days, I don’t have to worry about housing, which frees me to roll up my sleeves and jump in.

After dropping Luisa off at her lawyering-duty place, I head over to Enclave Caracol – at least I attempt to head over there. It is supposedly very close, like half a mile maybe but it takes me several false turns, more than 45 minutes and through crowded city streets bustling with dozens of street vendors, entertainers, and just ordinary city folks going about their daily business.

And I regret dropping Luisa off first instead of having her with me helping me get the lay of the land before I deposited her at another locale.

The smells and sites and sounds and colors remind me so much of the New York City of my youth – but without the honking of horns and the  rear-end slamming into cars stopped at lights. It’s so very exciting yet sobering as I see tons of evidence of vulnerable humans, although I can’t tell if they are refugees from the current migration or refugees from poverty and oppression.

Finally I find the caracol and I’m disappointed to see that it is closed until 10 today. As I hang out on the steps waiting to be told where to take the donations that are loading down the truck, I am able to talk with several refugees.

I remember my grandmother telling me that when they arrived on these shores, my grandfather couldn’t find a job – no one but Jewish businesses – was hiring Jews except for Macy’s. She said he had to work in the changing room with dozens of other Jewish men. They would get 50cents for every dropped hanger they were able to dive for, snatch up and return to the desk.

She also told me that he didn’t talk for 9 months. His illusions of the promised land must have been shattered.

I see that desperation that I imagine shut my grandfather’s mouth, shoved his words right back down his throat, for the time it takes to give life, grow bring a baby into our world. I see it in the young men – maybe unaccompanied minors – who are wanting work, anything, anything at all, just a way to make some money. Just to be able to provide for themselves. Maybe for their families also.

Oh my god, but the womxxn – their eyes hold the historical trauma embedded deep, so deep in their tiny bodies, their troubled dark skin, in the curve of their shoulders but their eyes holding so many conflicting emotions in a huge tormented reservoir: pain, curiosity, hope, distrust, despair, disappointment, and incredible courage.

A mother, seeming at least a foot shorter than I, wrapped in layers of thick clothes and colorful worn shawls, tries unsuccessfully to comfort her maybe 6 year old boy who has to go to the bathroom. But the caracol is closed and what business is going to let her or him in? As in the u.s., people guard their fuckin toilets.

Where are 18,000 people supposed to go to the bathroom, especially the children? Did you think about that when you thought about the refugees stuck at the border? I didn’t.

The little boy swells up with rage that spills into tears of reproach and accusation when a lawyer approaching Enclave speaks briefly to her and then opens the door for her son to proceed. This child stomps in, yelling at his mom something over his shoulder I can’t understand as she swiftly turns her back on him.

Chris, the FNB (food not bombs) guy I was supposed to connect with has already left for the u.s. I also learn that, although FNB (a part of Enclave Caracol) was cooking and serving 5 or more meals a day when Benito Juarez was operating as a shelter for the first massive wave of refugees, now that the majority of refugees have been relocated 25 miles away, they are only cooking Tuesday thru Friday.

I find out they probably don’t need/can’t take the donations I have on the truck but someone will figure out where they should go. While I’m waiting, I meet another volunteer Sofia, a Spanish-speaking womon who translates my Spanish into Spanish for others – and into english for me. I’m glad. Sofia is here from L.A. and is going to go to Costco to pick up $800 worth of supplies. She wants to carpool to the border with me.

Finally, a young man who has some information tells me he’s with a revolutionary support group or organization based in Mexico City that provides services for refugees. I hadn’t thought about Mexicans coming from other parts of Mexico to work here, yet now that I’ve been here a couple of hours, I’ve met Mexican volunteers from almost every part of Mexico, including Tijuana!

 Carlos tells me that the ‘new’ shelter location is over 45 minutes away, that’s where these donations are desperately needed, but it is too dangerous for me to go to by myself.

Furthermore, I’m told, I cannot deliver directly to the camp because the Mexican government that is running the camp will either confiscate or refuse delivery of the donations. But there are several other smaller shelters that feed and provide for refugees where I can leave things.

During the time I’m waiting for Sofia to return from Costco, three young men approach Carlos with a small sheet of paper and a list of items needed for El Baratel camp. I have some of those things, but not most. I want to take a picture so I can pass on to you, generous reader, in case you’re moved to provide necessities to these vulnerable humans.

The three young men are extremely skinny, clothes hanging more loosely than on an outdoor clothes line, with contrasting mod hip haircuts that belie their current condition. They want to ride back with me to Baratel but I tell them I’m waiting for Sofia.

Another womon, Sara approaches me and asks me if I feel comfortable with a couple of guys riding out with me to show me where to go and who to contribute to. Of course I say. Sara looks doubtful so I tell her I will just push them out the truck if they try anything. They guys overhear me and laugh deep belly laughs. I’m supposed to be afraid of them?

Sofia can’t make it back so I motion to the guys to load up into the front seat and we head out. All three of us peer at the electronic directions, trying to figure out the right way to go. At least we are not in danger of crossing over the border. I forgot to ask their ages, as we’ve been instructed not to EVER give a ride to unaccompanied minors. I’m putting their ages to the back of my mind for now.

We finally get to El Barretal and our first stop. I walk across the uneven pale rust dirt ground thru the colorful crooked door hanging open by a thread and the first thing that hits me is the delicious smell of something cooking over the fire.

Womxxn are of course cooking, and the men appear is if conjured up with the smoke to help unload the truck. Other people are sitting around a table, looking intently focused on the papers and pencil in front of them.

The guys swiftly take over and decide how much and which things to distribute here. Everything happens so fast, no one - not even the slightest, youngest one - stumbles under 100 pound bags of rice or 50 pound boxes of beans.

I’m so glad there are also coats and sweat shirts as it is supposed to rain again in the next few days plus the nights are chilly.

We leave there and proceed to the Echo Village folks who are here doing ground support. I don’t have time to ask them if they’re going to do a village with refugees here in Tijuana before we are off again, this time with two different passengers.

We return to Tijuana and to another refugee shelter also called Benito Juarez like the original one but this is much smaller and happier, as there’s music playing and people dancing.

All day many people approach me re:the message on my shirt: “Make Amerikkka Mexico Again”, expressing their love and laughter as well as positive support. It has enabled me to talk with Tijuana folks, some refugees, and many tourists as well as volunteers.

Finally the truck is empty and I get a text from Luisa to come pick her up. Cross fingers I can make it without getting caught in border traffic.