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February 24, 2012

Groups Along U.S.-Canada Border Call on Napolitano for Border Patrol Changes

Martinez family testifies at a People's Hearing in Lynden, WAOne year ago on February 28, 2011, Jesus Martinez, a resident of Lynden, WA, called 911 to get medical attention for his son Alex. Within an hour, U.S. Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement had killed Alex, firing 13 shots at him, with 10 of those bullets hitting Jesus' son.

On February 28, 2012, the Northern Borders Coalition, a union of advocacy organizations along the U.S.-Canada border, will mark the Martinez family tragedy as part of “We Are the Border. We Are Alex Martinez,” a national day of action to remember Alex, lift up border stories, and call on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to make significant policy changes in how ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CPB) carry out enforcement. The Coalition is also demanding a meeting with Napolitano to share some of the thousands of stories of people living in border communities who face harassment, profiling, and abuse as a result of the collaboration between CBP and local police. Read more in Coalition letter to Napolitano.  

In the phone conference, coalition members from Washington, Michigan, and New York will highlight the questionable practices that violate the constitutional rights of those living within 100 miles of the border as CBP's enforcement activity has continually drifted inland while their budget has soared. Jesus Martinez will also share his story of a 911 call for help turning into a tragedy. All will be available for questions afterwards.

WHAT: Telephonic Press Conference: “We Are the Border. We Are Alex Martinez” National Day of Action 

WHEN: 10:00-10:45am PST, Tuesday, February 28

Ada Williams Prince, Policy Director, OneAmerica (Seattle)
Ryan Bates, Director, Alliance for Immigrants Rights (AIR) Michigan
Jacki Esposito, Director of Immigration Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition
Lidia Reyes, Director, Latino Family Services (Detroit)
Jesus Martinez, father of Alex Martinez

HOW: Call in: 1-619-326-2750 / Pin: 2469950# / Please RSVP by replying to this email

For over a year, OneAmerica’s Northern Border Project has worked with community volunteers and several local organizations to educate people living in border communities about their human, civil, and legal rights, plus documenting over 125 stories where residents believe their rights have been violated. Local residents attended a People's Hearing in Lynden, WA on February 1 where they shared devastating stories to a respected panel of community leaders who issued a powerful statement which concluded that routine emergency calls to 911 should "never again result in deportation, death, or panic," and that "policies that violate our human and moral values are ended so that everyone in our community can live with freedom from fear."

At 11:30am on Tuesday after the press conference, many of these leaders and residents will deliver a letter to Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo (311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham) asking for an independent investigation into the Martinez killing. Solidarity events will be held in cities across the northern border, including Detroit, Brockton, MA, Baltimore, Chicago, Rochester, NY, and Bend, OR.

Voices from the Border Community 

"It’s not nice living by the border. We can’t go out, we live in fear that we will be stopped by the police and then deported." — Maria 

"When it comes to having to deal with the police one doesn’t feel protected or safe. Instead, well at least as a Latina, one cannot feel safe. You feel discriminated and judged." – Dolores

"[My co-workers] didn’t want to come to this part of Lynden and Bellingham because the police are here and as soon as you are pulled over by the police, the first thing they do is call Border Patrol." — Roberto


To RSVP for the press conference, please reply to Charlie McAteer, OneAmerica Communications Director, 206-452-8402, charlie@weareoneamerica.org

See more about the Northern Border Project, including video, statements, and media coverage.

About OneAmerica

OneAmerica, formerly Hate Free Zone, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice by building power within immigrant communities.

About The Northern Border Coalition

The Northern Borders Coalition is a union of organizations along the northern border working to stand up for civil and human rights together. The Coalition helps build shared strategies amongst our members to address new border challenges and collaborates with our partners in the Southwest to share best practices.


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