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Reunite an immigrant parent with their child
Fundraiser for RAICES by Charlotte Willner, Malorie Lucich McGee and Dave Willner ·

Who is this fundraiser for?

This fundraiser is for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). RAICES is the largest immigration legal services non-profit in TX, focusing on under-served immigrant children, families and refugees.

From their Facebook page: “RAICES is an organization that serves immigrants and refugees in our community by providing immigration-related legal services, advocacy and opportunities for educational and social support.

We believe that by actively promoting the well-being and informed participation of immigrants and refugees in the community, everyone benefits.”

Their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/raicestexas/ and their website is https://www.raicestexas.org/

MATCH ALERT: this fundraiser has been matched up to 260K by several private donors. Thank you, matchers!!

We're still looking for more matching donors - PM an organizer if you can help! FAQs about how RAICES gets the money, other ways you can help: https://bit.ly/2M4yWMm

STORY

We are collectively repulsed at what's happening to immigrant families on our southern border. In times when we often think that the news can't possibly get worse, it does -- we learned last night that 2000 children (many of them infants and toddlers) have been separated from their parents in just six weeks under President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.

These children don't know where their parents are. Their parents aren't allowed to communicate with them while in custody. The government hasn't set up a system to reunite separated parents and children if one or both are ultimately released.

In many cases, parents have been deported without their children -- sometimes, young children are deported without their parents. Until the election, I think there's little chance of a political solution to this grave American moral failing.

But there is still something we can do.

Today we are raising money for RAICES (https://www.facebook.com/raicestexas), the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas.

For years, RAICES has been working with some of the most vulnerable members of our society to ensure they receive advocacy and fair legal representation.

They have two key goals at this time: -directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings -ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas' immigration courts (last year, 76% of kids (over 13,000!) did not have representation)

Bonds are set at a MINIMUM of $1500, and are usually in the range of $5-10K, even for asylum seekers without any criminal history.

We are starting our goal at $1500 and will see how far we get.

'Urgent actions' needed to address violence against Indigenous women and girls — UN report

Special rapporteur says Canada should start addressing issues now and not wait for national inquiry to end

by Chantelle Bellrichard · CBC News · Apr 27, 2018

Dubravka Simonovic was appointed to her role as UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women in June 2015 by the UN Human Rights Council. (OSCE/Micky Kroell)

The United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women had some strong words for Canada at the end of her 13-day visit, saying the country has "unfinished business that requires urgent actions."

In presenting her preliminary findings on Monday in Ottawa, Dubravka Simonovic said violence against women in Canada remains a "serious pervasive and systematic problem."

Her visit involved looking into violence against women overall in Canada. But she spent a considerable amount of time speaking specifically to immediate actions that should be taken in addressing the safety and well-being of Indigenous women and girls.

"Indigenous women from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities are overtly disadvantaged within their societies and in the larger national scheme," she wrote in her end of mission statement.

"Indigenous women face marginalization, exclusion and poverty because of institutional, systemic, multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination that has not been addressed adequately by the State."

In particular, she said Canada needs to address the root causes that lead to disproportionate levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

'Being Indigenous and female is a risk'

During Simonovic's time in Canada she met with federal, provincial and territorial governments, independent institutions and advisory boards.

She visited women's shelters, correctional facilities and had a conference call with the chief commissioner of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Marion Buller.

Q&A: Chief Commissioner Marion Buller reflects on MMIWG inquiry as public hearings wrap

'It's helping me heal,' says survivor of B.C. serial killer who is now helping others still on the streets

While commending the government for following through with the establishment of a national inquiry, Simonovic also said the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Committee had also pointed out several other measures that should be taken by Canada.

"In addition to this national inquiry, urgent actions are needed now," she said.

"They are needed. They could be done now, irrespective of decision if this inquiry is going to be concluded soon."

Issues such as the high number of Indigenous children in the welfare system and the overrepresentation of indigenous women in the prison system should be addressed now, she said.

Marion Buller, the chief commissioner for the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

According to the interim report from the national inquiry, "simply being Indigenous and female is a risk."

The report details how Indigenous women are physically and sexually assaulted almost three times more often than non-Indigenous women in Canada. They are also experiencing domestic violence at higher rates and are roughly seven times more likely to be killed by a serial killer.

"It is not sufficient to work only on one issue," said Simonovic, adding that changes are needed across the board.

"What I'm seeing is only inquiry process ongoing, but other processes are not implemented or ongoing."

Amplifying voices

Dr. Sarah Hunt, a professor at UBC's First Nation and Indigenous Studies program who focuses much of her attention on issues concerning Indigenous girls, women and two-spirit people, said it's notable how much time the special rapporteur spent talking specifically about violence against Indigenous women and girls.

"The fact that this was such a huge focus of her visit shows the amount of work that we still have to do," said Hunt.

Sarah Hunt is Kwakwaka’wakw, from the Kwagiulth community in Tsaxis. She holds a PhD from Simon Fraser University and currently works as a professor in the UBC First Nation and Indigenous Studies program. (Supplied by Sarah Hunt)

In laying out her roadmap for change Hunt said it was concerning that Simonovic didn't mention transgender or two-spirit people, or how Indigenous law and principles fit into the equation.

Still, she said the preliminary findings were strong in a lot of ways, and that they closely echo what Indigenous women have been advocating for for decades.

"So I think that this can be used to amplify those long-term advocates in our community," she said. "That's where it can be a real tool for change."

When asked what value she sees in having the special rapporteur call attention to violence against women in Canada, Hunt said she thinks it can be a valuable pressure mechanism for the government to take action, in an area where things have been slow to change.

'I think she really nailed it'

For her part, NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson is taking the special rapporteur's visit and statements as an opportunity to remind the federal government of its responsibility to take action.

"She was only in Canada for 13 days but I really think she really nailed it," said Malcolmson, reflecting on what Simonovic presented in her preliminary findings.

Sheila Malcolmson is the MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith and critic for women's equality. (Twitter)

She said Canada has made a lot of commitments on the international stage when it comes to the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and sees this visit as a good accountability mechanism for the federal government.

"Yes, it's good to say that you're aligned and that you will honour human rights, but you can't just say it — you have to do it," said Malcolmson.

She said while things like a national action plan on violence against women are important, there are actions that need to, and could, happen immediately — like more domestic violence shelters in First Nations communities, better public transportation in rural areas and more affordable housing.

Malcolmson said the Trudeau government has acknowledged what needs to be done.

"But then when the budget comes, we see that the spending is for the year 2021," she said.

"It's extremely discouraging, for a government that's willing to spend money but somehow not willing to spend it right now in a way that would change immediately the lives of people that need the government's help the most."

Simonovic is expected to issue a final report to the UN Human Rights Council on her findings next year.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/un-special-rapporteur-violence-against-women-1.4637613

Human trafficking trend very real in Kings County

By SARA ERICSSON KingsCountyNews.ca, June 2, 2018

“These youths are at risk of disappearing and being swept up by this — it’s textbook and it’s a growing issue.” 

Russ Sanche has worked to fight human trafficking abroad, where he saw children without identities disappear from small villages. He saw the same thing happening in Calgary and now sees potential for it to start happening in the Annapolis Valley. (SARA ERICSSON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA)

RELATED: ‘He owned me’: Kings County woman talks escaping human trafficking in Toronto

Russ Sanche is seeing trends he experienced while working to fight human trafficking abroad happen in Kings County.

That trend is the disppearance of children or youths with a lack of identity and support system who slip through the cracks of the social justice system.

And while Sanche and Halifax RCMP human trafficking co-ordinator Cpl. David Lane agree anyone can be groomed for human trafficking, they also both state these youths are more at risk because their vulnerabilities make them easier to target.

“These youths are at risk of disappearing and being swept up by this — it’s textbook and it’s a growing issue,” said Sanche.

Tip of the iceberg: Sanche

Lane confirmed in an email statement that there have been two RCMP investigations into human trafficking in Kings County since 2014.

The crime, which the officer said is difficult to track, is often larger than numbers show, since data is hard to collect and the crime difficult to prosecute.

Sanche believes two investigations represent just “the tip of the iceberg” — a problem so difficult to follow it remains hidden.

“We’ve heard the trafficking route may start in rural areas, then extend from Halifax to Moncton and to Montreal, but don’t know specifically how this impacts us locally,” he said.

Lane described how at-risk youth facing challenges at home, school, or even with themselves, who have pre-existing trauma in their lives, are prime victims for traffickers looking for a vulnerable target.

Common methods of targeting occur online through social media, and in person at locations like group homes, schools and malls.

“These predators will . . . recruit them into the sex trade by promising them a better life than what they are currently experiencing,” said Lane.

A core group at risk of being trafficked

The Homeless No More strategy to eliminate youth homelessness in the Annapolis Valley over the next 10 years was created by The Portal, Kentville’s youth outreach centre where Sanche works as director, and found an average of 70 youths are homeless on any given night in Kings County.

It also found 38 per cent of these youths are exploited for sexual work and other forms of illegal labour.

Sanche says this demographic of homeless youths who have lost their formal identities become even more of a target when they are disengaged and without a home base.

He recalls an instance just three weeks ago when a female previously supported by the Portal found herself in Moncton with her boyfriend, staying among a group of men who began discussing how she could make money by “working” in Montreal.

Sanche was working to get her back here and, just before he called the RCMP, she called him and told him she’d returned safe.

Another instance, two years ago, involved a 15-year-old male who’d met a much older American man online who then travelled here, booked a hotel room and convinced him to visit.

“This young man was sexually assaulted by this older man. It happened right here, under the noses of everyone,” he said, mentioning other youths he’s worked with who have traded sex for a place to stay.

“I can’t say any of these youths were trafficked, but it’s a slippery slope from this to becoming a victim.”

Problem not just abroad, but in Canada, too

Lane wants the public to realize most people trafficked in Canada experience it within our domestic borders. Those smuggled in internationally represent a small piece of this large problem, he says.

Reports Lane has studied indicate human trafficking has become the second-most-common organized crime activity in the world, second only to illicit drug sales.

Victims are constantly on the move, pushed by their trafficker through different towns across a region or the entire country on a regular basis.

“This makes it difficult for the police to track the crime, as well as for the victims to develop a support system to help them out of their situation,” he said.

Lane says trafficking victims are often forced to work in strip clubs, massage parlours and can be made to advertise themselves online as well, and they often don’t realize they are being victimized.

“Often, the victims . . . believe they are in a relationship with their trafficker. Other times, (they) are too afraid to seek help,” he said.

Awareness: a silver lining

A small positive note to consider is the growing awareness of the public of the threat posed by human trafficking across the country, says Lane. While reports of the crime’s frequency are increasing, so too is the amount of people informed on what to look for in identifying the problem.

When compared to what people knew on the subject in 2005 — the year human trafficking legislation was introduced into the Criminal Code — the increase in understanding is clear.

This is not the only positive note, says Dale, who added that police are working with non-government organizations to identify and fight human trafficking, and are constantly attempting to improve their response to the problem.

Sanche also looks to small changes that could mean significant improvements in Kings County, like changing how authorities process victims’ disclosures of sexual assaults or trafficking.

“The youths who’ve experienced previous trauma don’t want to disclose. To fix this, we’ve got to change the system and make that first interaction comfortable,” said Sanche.

“This decreases the chance of them becoming marginalized and later victimized. We make sure they are heard and that they have support — that then ensures they have a name, and they don’t disappear.”

Human trafficking watch signs

Cpl. David Lane offered several signs of human trafficking:

Victims are often branded with a tattoo or other marking with their trafficker’s name to show ownership

Victims are moved often and will have unexplained income (i.e. brand-name handbags, high-end clothing, vehicles, etc.)

Victims will not want to talk to their family about the relationship they have with their trafficker.

In the beginning, the victims may disappear with their trafficker “boyfriend" for days at a time.

The family may never, or just very briefly, meet their daughter’s trafficker.

Victims may not have access to identification or bank accounts.

Victims may be hard to get in touch with and not free to talk when they do call home.

World’s second-largest organized crime activity

“Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking,” says Halifax RCMP Cpl. David Lane, the city’s human trafficking response co-ordinator.

The problem, which has become the second-largest common organized crime activity, is a hard one to detect for many reasons, chief among them that the relationship between the trafficker and their victim can resemble a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, according to Lane.

“Although your daughter/son may appear to be choosing this lifestyle, they are not choosing it at all — they are being forced,” he said.

He also describes how victims become involved by being tricked into the sex trade by their pimps, who refer to it all as “the game.”

Lane urges parents to talk to their children about the threat of human trafficking, to make them aware of what to look for and where to get help if they feel concerned about a person who makes them uncomfortable.

“Once they become involved, victims are being exploited and controlled, making it difficult for them to leave,” said Lane.

Anyone can report suspicious incidents to the local police detachment or call the Nova Scotia Human Trafficking Tip Line: (902) 449-2425.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1574730-human-trafficking-trend-very-real-in-kings-county

Experts say human traffickers are out in full force now that kids are out of school http://cbs12.com/news/local/experts-say-human-traffickers-are-out-in-full-force-now-that-kids-are-out-of-school

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