Year in Review 2022: Child and Family Detention Direct Action

Wow! 2022 was a big year for us. Through study, action, and interaction, we grew into a powerful team with a deep sense of belonging, healing, and purpose.

Whenever we had opportunities to work in-person together, we found a joyful, passionate energy that manifested in arts action, creativity, singing, cooking together, talk-story, and much play. We found joy and laughter in our gatherings and built trust to share deeply with one another our reasons for engaging in this work, including our family stories of WWII incarceration and the years of resettlement and what that meant for members of our group. As a result of our work in 2022, we found a sense of ohana (family) with each other. And we share and bring our sense of kimochi (feeling of care for community) wherever we go and with all of our partners in the struggle. 

An example of this is our return to El Paso. In 2021 we had staged a direct action at Fort Bliss on the outskirts of El Paso, a former JA incarceration site that now contains a child detention center, and also led multi-community healing circles. In 2022, a delegation of 10 Tsuru members went back to El Paso to further build our relationships with some of the women activists we met the previous summer. We rented a house to gather, invited them to bring their children, and for a weekend we put aside the organizing work in order to stop and build our friendship and trust. We told our family stories, taught each other how to cook our family recipes, and fed one another. Everyone played with the children, and we again did healing circles. We made art and sang folk songs, danced, and on the last morning we created a healing ceremony together in a park next to Fort Bliss. We even collected soil for the Ireicho Ceremony that Reverend Duncan Williams organized at JANM this past October. Powerful connection emerged from that weekend. 

 

In 2022 we fought fiercely to leverage change in immigration policy and within ourselves, as the southern border and the plight of asylum seekers and child migrants has become even more politicized. This year as the federal government doubled the number of people in detention to more than 30,000, continued to separate families, and expanded the network of detention sites for unaccompanied migrant children, Tsuru for Solidarity emerged as a national leader in the fight to end child detention. 

We welcome everyone to join us as we prepare for direct action in 2023!

 

Here are a few other highlights of our busy year!

  • Tsuru for Solidarity became one of the leading organizations of the national coalition to end the cruel practice of incarcerating migrant children as we helped build bridges between national and state coalitions to end child detention.
  • We became Steering Committee members of the Detention Watch Network National Communities Not Cages Campaign
  • As a member of the Shut Down Berks Campaign, we are proud to say that we played a part in forcing the shutdown of a notorious site that detained immigrant children and families and single women for decades. 
  • We were invited to participate in a national research project for narrative change in the media and public discourse regarding child detention. 
  • We partnered with the We Are Home Campaign and produced three powerful anti-detention films by filmmaker Claudia Katayanagi, featuring conversations between Japanese American survivors of WWII detention and recent survivors of immigrant detention. The films lift up the stories of Tule Lake and Minidoka survivors along with Black and Queer immigrants, young DACA immigrants and SE Asian refugee immigrants- all targeted by ICE for detention and deportation. We held a screening of the films in the Bay Area at J-Sei with panelists: Satsuki Ina, Lam Le, Stacy Suh of DWN, and Jun Hamamoto that lifted up the fight to stop deportations of SE Asians. 
  • We initiated a series of three weekend workshops to offer training in shugyo (internal strength practices) and nonviolence theory and methodology, led by Kazu Haga of East Point Peace Academy and the Fierce Vulnerability Network as a means to better prepare for a return to direct actions.
  • We sent a delegation back to El Paso to continue building relationships and demonstrate solidarity with local movement organizers at the southern U.S. border. 
  • We launched our brand new and celebrated newsletter, JIZO, to educate and advocate for an end to child and family detention. 
  • As a member of the Defund Hate Coalition we sent delegates to Washington D.C. to meet with Members of Congress to advocate and educate for cuts to ICE and CBP budget appropriations.
  • We sent members to join the Grassroots Leadership’s Operation Lonestar Witness Delegation in Texas. Operation Lonestar is an expansive and cruel weaponization of state enforcement agencies by the governor of Texas to militarize and politicize the border – with horrific, violent consequences for the border communities as well as asylum seekers.  
  • We were then invited to participate in a delegation sent by Grassroots Leadership and Immigrant Legal Resource Center to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and demand that the federal government stop cooperating with Operation Lonestar.  
  • Tsuru will send our own delegation back to D.C. in February of 2023 to do further education and advocacy with Asian American Members of Congress to end child and family detention and stop all federal cooperation with Governor Abbott’s Operation Lonestar.
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