San Rafael-based Roots of Peace remained in the Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power, working to clear minefields and convert them to productive agricultural land, while also helping Afghan employees who wanted to leave and get their families out of the country.
Government & Politics
S.F. Organizer Sees Repetition of Brutal History in Myanmar Military Coup
When Ko Ko Lay has managed to speak to his 86-year-old mother living in Myanmar under a military regime, she has told him she cannot sleep through the night. Like many civilians, she fears armed nighttime raids. “They are so worried about one day some security forces will come and will break through their door, and and they’re going to torture, and they’re going to kill,” Lay said.
On Feb. 1, after a democratic election, Myanmar military forces seized control of the government and declared a year-long state of emergency. Civilians have been protesting that takeover, and the military has responded with deadly use of force, killing hundreds, including at least 40 children.
SF Fund for Undocumented Immigrants Has Disbursed Millions, but Thousands of Applicants Wait
Nearly a year into the pandemic, Undocufund has raised $3.7 million, and distributed $3.3 million, and since many recipients are families, those grants have benefitted more than 10,000 people, fund organizers estimated. But thousands of applications remain to be processed.
S.F. Immigration Defense Unit Represents Immigrants Statewide Through Pandemic
San Francisco’s office of the public defender has a unit dedicated to defending immigrants in court. In most states, they often have no representation because there is no right to counsel in immigration cases. Francisco Ugarte, managing attorney of this unit, talked with “Civic” about how handoffs between agencies work and what happens to someone who is arrested by immigration enforcement in San Francisco, as well as a class action suit the unit helped litigate over COVID-19 outbreaks in detention facilities.
Immigration Attorney: Rapid Deportations a New Facet of Old Policy
In October, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — ICE — began implementing an expansion of rapid deportations, in which undocumented immigrants may be removed from the country without a hearing before an immigration judge. While such deportations have been conducted for decades, the new policy expands who might be affected.
Government & Politics
‘Unforgetting’ Confronts Painful Personal, Political Histories of U.S. and Central America
Difficult and painful history connects gang violence and severe policing in Central America and in the United States, as well as mass migrations of refugees. In his new memoir, “Unforgetting,” Roberto Lovato teases out these connections with research and reporting, but also by telling his own story of coming of age as a U.S.-born child of Salvadoran parents and the stories of his family and friends. Lovato, born and raised in San Francisco, is an educator, journalist and writer. His book “Unforgetting” will be released Sept. 1.
S.F. Immigration Lawyers Cut ICE Detention Centers Population by Two-Thirds
In late March, a cell phone video made by detainees was leaked to the public from Mesa Verde Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Bakersfield, Calif. Dozens of men in orange jumpsuits walked past the camera while Charles Joseph read a petition. “Many of us have underlying medical issues,” he said. “This turns our detention into a death sentence, because this pandemic requires social distancing and that is impossible in this environment. We request that you give us parole or bond so we may return to our families.”
Joseph’s plea caught the attention of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, which joined a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and two law firms — Lakin & Wille, and Cooley LLP — seeking the release of detained immigrants with pre-existing health concerns.
LGBTQ Refugee Doc Debuts on Public Television, Streaming
The San Francisco Bay Area has a reputation for being a kind of “queer promised land,” says filmmaker Tom Shepard. In the documentary “Unsettled,” that notion is put to the test. The film follows four LGBT refugees as they try to build new lives in San Francisco after fleeing violence and discrimination in their home countries.
Nonprofits Retool to Serve Refugees Struggling During COVID-19 Shutdown
Refugees who arrived in the Bay Area around the time shelter-in-place orders were issued, as well as those who have been here for an extended period, are struggling to stay afloat, organizations who serve them said.
Teachers Pledge to Funnel Crisis Checks to Undocumented Neighbors
Teachers in San Francisco have begun pledging their federal coronavirus relief checks to undocumented members of their communities.
Latinos in This Liberal City: From San Francisco’s Big Strike to Gay Liberation
Years before charting the evolution and diversity of Latino political life in the city, a historian came here to become an activist. His book recalls major battlegrounds from the 1930s to the 1970s: union campaigns; civil rights organizing; elections; Great Society mobilizations; and feminist, gay and lesbian activism. Read an excerpt from “Latinos and the Liberal City” by Eduardo Contreras.