How does our TINY organization move forward AGGRESSIVELY?  COLLABORATION!

NEWS FOR September 25, 2014

September 24, 2014


Dear Friends,


One of the main strategies of mission advancement with the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC), which is staffed by two full time volunteers and is aided by other volunteers, is collaboration.  This week has been a good example!


On Saturday, six persons, two lawyers and four paralegals, came to the STHRC from ProBAR, the Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, in Harlingen, TX.  They came on their own time because they wanted to find out more about the STHRC.  All are part of the Immigrant Children's Assistance Project (ICAP)Founded in 2003 with just one staff-person, ProBAR's Children's Project now has a team of ten attorneys, two Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representatives, twenty paralegals, and two full-time volunteers. The Children's Project currently serves more than 1,000 detained, unaccom�panied children at shelters in South Texas by provid�ing them with "Know Your Rights" presentations and coordinating their legal representation.  After wonderful conversation, all of us worked together to set up a water station.  Because of the confidential nature of their work, especially since they are working with minors, it seems unlikely that we will be able to visit them in Harlingen, but several in the group told us to give them a call when help is needed here.  In addition it gives all of us more connections in the BIG state of Texas.   I believe that the information that the group gained from spending time with us will further their understanding of the experiences of the children.  Check ProBAR out.

Yesterday Eddie and I were on a conference call with two persons from PERF, the Police Executive Research Forum.  As a recent project, the organization was hired to do an independent study which was eventually published for the public.  The report is entitled:  US Customs and Border Protection Use of Force Review:  Cases and Policies.   I found the report to be professional and thorough, and it contained multiple suggestions of improvements for practice and safety.  PERF is currently doing research on the immigrant situation in South Texas as it relates to law enforcement.  Our interview was part of their fact finding.  Our hope is that our experiences can assist in the adoption of protocols/best practices that will influence the system. Eddie and I also had an opportunity to meet yesterday with the Chief Deputy of Brooks County, Urbino (Benny) Martinez.  When Sheriff Martinez called to say that he had a few minutes to fill us in on what was happening, we dropped what we were doing and bee-lined to his office.  His willingness to work with us is very heartening.  I believe that the feeling is mutual. 

This week we received two communication from Colibr� in Arizona regarding persons they learned went missing recently in south Texas.  The mission of Colibr� is to improve the identification of human remains found on the US-Mexico border and to inform the public of this human rights issue by building a unique system for the collection, management, and sharing of data about the deaths and disappearances.  The word for hummingbird in Spanish is colibr�. The colibr� are migratory birds restricted to the Americas and can be found migrating from the US to the northern deserts of Mexico to Central America and back.  In 2009 the remains of a man who died while crossing the border were found. In his pocket, he carried a small dead hummingbird - a common indigenous symbol of safe passage and a messenger between the living and the dead. Colibr� is named for this man, and the thousands of other people who have died or disappeared crossing the US-Mexico border.


I even received a phone call last night from Ohio at the recommendation of Sr Judith Mary, a fellow Sister of Notre Dame, who recommended that a call be made to the STHRC when a parishioner learned that a relative may have drowned near McAllen, TX while crossing the river during the heavy rains.   Tonight is the monthly Community Meeting with the Border Patrol (BP).  This will be the second month that I will be attending.  It is good way to learn what is happening in the secret world of the BP.  It is also a way to meet and mix with the ranchers and their wives, to build relationships, and to continue to educate the group on what the STHRC is about.  It is a way to better understand different perspectives and to influence.   

This Saturday, Eddie and I will go to Houston to meet with the Prevention of Migrant Deaths Working Group, an effort to confront policies that are contributing to a rising number of migrant deaths in South Texas.  This group has been the main support of STHRC.  I am looking forward to meeting many persons whom I keep hearing about.  The purpose of this meeting is to work together to establish STHRC as a formal organization with a board and a strategic plan, etc.  I have already had the pleasure of meeting one of the members, Dr. Christine Kovic, who in addition to her other involvements, is a volunteer for STHRC.  I am linking here two articles written by Dr. Kovic in collaboration with many other groups.  Deaths at Texas Border and  No Effort to Bury Deceased Migrants.  

This is the tip of the iceberg of the groups involved and of the group effort.  Though the STHRC is working on many cases, we have yet to locate any of the persons involved.  The land is so expansive and overgrown.   


See picture attached.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Sr. Pam


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Members of ProBAR helping to put up a water station.