Monday, December 22, 2008

Media Coverage of Dec. 20 Toy Delivery

December 24, 2008: The Williamson County Sun* gave extensive front page coverage of Saturday's Toy Drive, including interviews with former detainees who have received asylum and now live in the United States. As you can see from the pictures, hundreds of toys were delivered. But as Denia Borjas points out, received donated toys pales in comparison to receiving gifts from family in the comfort and safety of a home.

The article also notes some of CCA's intimidation tactics--driving past protestors at high speeds, filming the protest, and the inspection of toys prior to delivery. According to the article, there is still some doubt about whether the detainees would receive the toys. If you have information regarding toy delivery, please share it with us...

Thank you to each and all who donated. Please continue to support the closing of Hutto in our "100 events in the first hundred days" campaign! (Check this blog for more information on that in the coming weeks, and contact us if you would like to schedule a film screening, vigil, forum, letter writing, or other event.)

*There is no online version of this article available... please click on the image to view and download a scanned version of the article.

December 22, 2008: New America Media's Roberto Lavalo gives us some "Hope for the Holidays" that begins with the Hutto toy delivery and vigil last Saturday, recounts the Chicago Republic Window factory occupation, and ends with workers' protests for backpay at a San Francisco poultry processings plant. Interviewing Grassroots Leadership's Luissana Santibañez, he writes...

One of the many measures of the hardness of our times can be found in South Texas, where even the simple act of bringing Christmas cheer to children can sometimes require more than just a spirit of charity. In some cases, it often requires the kind of stonecutter's determination one finds in a (Charles) Dickens tale, the determination of someone like Luissana Santinbañez.
"The fact that we're able to bring these toys to children is a huge victory. It took an incredible amount of struggle" says Santibañez, a 25 year-old San Antonio resident who is one of the organizers of a toy drive for children detained along with their immigrant parents behind the concrete walls and barbed wire fences of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center.

"We only got to deliver these toys as a result of lots of litigation and many protests" she says adding "We got to do this because of the community outcry about what's going on behind the walls of those privately-run immigrant detention centers: children and families living in horrific conditions –the lack of medical treatment, the bathrooms without soap, the food with cockroaches, the people dying in detention, the suicides. We can't let them be so cruel to kids; We can't let them hide this."

The "we" Santibañez mentions includes a very broad and diverse group of people of numerous religious, racial, ethnic and class backgrounds, many of whom had never been involved in immigrant rights or any other activism.

The determination exemplified by Santibañez, who got involved in immigrant detention issues after her mother, a former permanent resident detained and eventually deported for allegedly transporting undocumented immigrants, is spreading across the entire country; It mirrors how the plight of immigrants in the United States has given rise to a different kind of hope, a hope rising out of the darkly fertile soil of very hard times.

"I'm committed to this because of people like my mother," she says, her throat trembling with conviction as she also describes how she and her four siblings must rely on one another now that they are "left without a mother." In a country facing colossal challenges – poverty and economic divisions not seen since the Great Depression, fabulous political and corporate corruption surpassing anything seen during the Gilded Age, panic and fear of epic proportions – immigrant stories in the United States are inspiring people around the world.