The New York Times: They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

After crossing the Rio Grande, three immigrant women were picked up by a Border Patrol agent. Their relief soon turned to terror.
12 November, 2018

merlin_133357848_a922aecb-924c-4037-b9c0-69e44ec8f695-jumboM.G. showing the scars on her wrists. Credit: Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times.

Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “The more one represses undocumented migration, the more one pushes such migrants into the hands of criminals, be they smuggling rings, human traffickers, unethical recruiters, exploitative employers, greedy landlords, corrupt officials or deranged individuals. Violence begets violence. Zero-tolerance policies only lead to a growing underground economy and unaccountable violent behaviour, as we have learned from the inefficient but lethal “war on drugs”. In effect, zero-tolerance policies entrench and subsidise the exploitative employers as they do for the drug cartels. Since 99.9% of undocumented migrants are not criminals, one needs to tackle the phenomenon of undocumented migration with harm-reduction policies, reducing the pull factors such as underground exploitative labour markets (through actively repressing exploitative employment), taking into account all the parameters of each case (doing case management as social workers do for residents), focusing on the well-being of individuals (empowering them to defend their rights) and punishing the real culprits, i.e. all those who take advantage of the precariousness in which such migrants find themselves”

MCALLEN, Tex. — The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend’s mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

“I only asked him why he was doing this,” she recalled. “Why me? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days.”

 To read the full article, please click here.

Soirée-performance ROBAA, 30 mai 2017

10 November, 2018
Centre des Arts Visuels, Université Fédérale de Pelotas (RS- Brésil)

Réalisée dans le cadre de l’exposition Onde são/estão os ossos, de Michel Peterson, tenue en juin 2017.

Curateurs : Helene Sacco et Cláudio Tarouco de Azevedo

To see the video, please click here.

The Guardian: 3,121 desperate journeys: Exposing a week of chaos under Trump’s zero tolerance

15 October, 2018


Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “An excellent analysis, with lots of cool infographics, of why, on immigration issues as it is the case on other complex social issues, zero-tolerance policies must be replaced by harm-reduction policies.”

On 6 April 2018, the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued a memoto federal prosecutors along the US-Mexico border directing them “to adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy” for violations of a federal law barring “improper entry” into the country. “You are on the front lines of this battle,” Sessions wrote, as if rallying his troops against an invading army.

Over the next six weeks, the collateral damage of the Trump administration’s policy was revealed: some 2,654 children were taken from their parents or guardians in order to fulfill the mandate that they be prosecuted for a criminal misdemeanor. As of 27 September, 219 children whose parents had already been deported remained in government custody.

They came to the US seeking a better life. They ended up behind bars. Thousands of documents analyzed by the Guardian provide the most comprehensive picture yet of what happened to immigrants prosecuted under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.

To read the full article, please click here.

The Guardian: The part of Brexit everyone’s been avoiding is finally here: immigration

The migration committee has made its mind up on free movement. Now does Theresa May listen to angry leavers, or business?
18 September, 2018


‘Immigration has been oddly sidelined as an issue so far in the Brexit negotiations.’ Photograph: Peter Nicholls/AP

Commentary by Francois Crépeau: Myths and fantasies are being slowly eroded, but, unfortunately, the show must go on!”

By: Gaby Hinsliff

Brexit was never really about immigration.

Or so liberal leavers fall over themselves to claim, at least. They can’t bear the idea of being associated with a racist backlash and so they insist it was really all about sovereignty; that all those inflammatory posters of dark-skinned migrants queuing at European borders and the cynical scaremongering about Turkey didn’t really have any bearing on the result, and that all they really wanted was just a fairer and more open system in which people could come to Britain more easily from Commonwealth countries.

Even Nigel Farage sounded as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth on the radio this morning, insisting all he ever wanted was control of our borders and equal opportunities for Indians to come here just as Romanians once did.

So it will be interesting to see what happens now the migration advisory committee has taken leavers at their word. Its long-awaited report on immigration after Brexit concludes, as expected, that once we leave the EU free movement should end, although it notes drily that that may leave us in the position of scrapping it “just as public concern falls about the migration flows that result from it”, and that both the benefits and the supposed negative impacts of it have been over-egged.

You can’t help wondering where its chart coolly summing up the facts – no evidence that EU migration has reduced wages or job opportunities for Britons on average, although some possible impact on the young and lower-skilled; some evidence that migration has pushed up house prices but also confirmation that migrants pay more in taxes than they take in benefits – was during the hysteria of the referendum debate.

To read the full article, please click here.

BBC: Nauru refugees: The island where children have given up on life

Suicide attempts and horrifying acts of self-harm are drawing fresh attention to the suffering of refugee children on Nauru, in what is being described as a "mental health crisis".
6 September, 2018


Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “Australia has adopted a policy which utterly violates the human rights of all human beings concerned. Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is prohibited, and children must be treated according to the principle of “best interests of the child”, to name only a few international human rights law standards at stake here. Adopting a policy that treats harshly some individuals (who have incidentally committed no crime) in order to deter others from a particular behaviour is a violation of the fundamental principle of individualisation in the human rights doctrine, itself based on Kant’s categorical imperative (“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”). Australian authorities will not avoid moral, political and legal condemnation for such an outrageous treatment of children, for the welfare of whom they are responsible.”

The tiny island nation, site of Australia’s controversial offshore processing centre, has long been plagued with allegations of human rights abuses.

But a series of damning media reports recently has also highlighted a rapidly deteriorating situation for young people.

“We are starting to see suicidal behaviour in children as young as eight and 10 years old,” says Louise Newman, professor of psychiatry at the University of Melbourne who works with families and children on the island.

“It’s absolutely a crisis.”

Australia intercepts all asylum seekers and refugees who try to reach its shores by boat. It insists they will never be able to resettle in Australia, so over the years has sent many to privately run “processing centres” it funds on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.

Groups working with families on Nauru paint a brutal picture of life for children on the island. Many have lived most of their life in detention, with no idea of what their future will be.

The trauma they have endured, coupled with poor – and often dangerous conditions – contribute to a sense of hopelessness.

To read the full article, please click here.