This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Guatemalan Community Defense Network

Guatemalans living in the United States have come together to blow the whistle on abusive deportation raids.

The Guatemalan Community Defense Network (GCDN) came together to avoid "by any means" the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detentions. So far, they have freed at least 60 undocumented workers.

Rhode Island, Arizona, and Chicago are the areas where this group is the most organized.
The defense network is manned by volunteers, who remain on watch for a period of a few days.
"We have an emergency number that works 24 hours. In case ICE detains an emigrant on the street, or tried to knock down the door of his house, the undocumented persons must call immediately, so that we can arrive and protect his rights," Shanna Kurland, a GCDN organizer told Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre.

In Rhode Island, a local Guatemalan radio station is part of the network. It broadcasts 24 hours, and when the network phones start ringing, one of the volunteers calls the radio station, which begins to broadcast the address of the ICE deportation raid.

Those who arrive, bring cameras, and demand that the law is followed, and that rights are protected. The 60 undocumented workers who have been released were set free because when ICE executed the raid, they did so without deportation orders, which is illegal, explained Prensa Libre.

One other item of note from the Prensa Libre article:

Maricela Garcia, Latin Politics Forum representative in Chicago, asserted that the Guatemalans and Central Americans adopted a new lobbying procedure without having to leave their homes. “Fear reigns among the migrants; they have fear of being captured or deported, for which reason now they get together in homes and invite their friends to write lobbying letters for a migratory reform and afterward they send them to the congressmen of the whole country”, said Garcia. This new method is called “congressmen’s fiestas.”

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