Migrant RIghts Organizers, Faith Leaders, Academics to Convene Forums, Initiate Community Development, Release Study Profiling Deportees
On the last day of college, the director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Pablo Alvarado, left his home country atop a train headed toward the US with his little brother who had become the target of threats by death squads. Decades after their journey North, Alvarado is leading a delegation in the opposite direction to expand the conversation on migration, investigate root causes, and release a study of those Salvadorans who were returned by deportation instead of by choice.
Beginning Sunday, July 19th to the 27th, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network will bring organizers from the front-lines of the domestic immigrant rights movement accompanied by faith leaders and academics, hosting public forums on the dynamics of migration and releasing a new study “Deported Dreams” by the University of Central America in San Salvador.
“We are going to uncover the truth of what’s happening in Central America without the political spin,” explains Alvarado. “To advocate effectively, we have to be grounded in reality and that is what we are going to witness in El Salvador.”
The pre-existing crisis caused by rampant deportations under President Obama has recently compounded with the phenomenon of refugee children arriving at the border; forcing a shift in the immigration debate that so far has been overly simple or overly complicated. Over the course of the past year, the University of Central America in partnership with NDLON has compiled the data related to and conducted thorough interviews with returned Salvadorans as they disembark from the deportation planes.
The results of that study will be released in public forums with representatives of government, civil society, and deported Salvadorans in the country’s municipal centers. While there, the US immigrant rights organizers will exchange strategy with those focused on migration in El Salvador and meet with government officials and security forces in order to inform their work in the US and seed transnational organizing opportunities.
The delegation will break ground on a public soccer field in El Níspero, the hometown of NDLON’s director, in a pilot project of locally rooted transnational development that activates Salvadorans abroad, involves Salvadoran government in community investment, and includes job opportunities and recreation for the families living there.
For NDLON’s director, east-coast organizer Francisco Pacheco, Martha Arevalo of CARECEN and others on the trip, the delegation represents a homecoming to a place they left in civil war while for others it will be the first time traveling outside the US, together forming a vision for transnational work that holistically approaches migrant rights both in the countries they are displaced from as well as within the US where they seek safety, opportunity, and a better life.
As Alvarado described in a recent CNN publication, “When I return to El Salvador, as a citizen of the United States, and I interview those who were deported for a soon-to-be-released study, the most common refrain people share is “What choice do I have but to go north?”
The walls erected and the troops deployed and even the legislation that has been introduced do not answer that question and do not address people who desire to survive, harbor the hope for something better and see the possibility of neither.
Participating Organizations include: National Day Laborer Organizing Network, CARECEN, Renase, United We Dream, Puente, Congreso de Jornaleros, Unitarian Universalist Church, University of Illinois at Chicago, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, NICE, Human Resource Center of Mamaroneck, and others.