Una carta: Mi historia de migración

Personalmente la decisión de migrar hacia los Estados Unidos ha sido una de las más difíciles de mi vida. Por un lado, estaba la oportunidad de hacerlo de una forma relativamente fácil, la posibilidad de nuevas oportunidades que iban a significar un cambio radical en mi vida y de la de mis seres queridos, pero sobre todo de Santiago, mi hijo.  En contraparte, la difícil casi imposible decisión de obligadamente tener que separarme de mi bebé, sin saber cuándo iba poder verle de nuevo, cuantos días, meses o incluso años iba pasar sin poder abrazarlo…la sola idea de pensar que no lo iba arropar cuando fuera a dormir, de no poderlo cuidar cuando estuviera enfermo, significaba y significa un nudo en mi garganta y un dolor profundo.

Por una parte, la frustración de la falta o poca posibilidad de tener un trabajo digno en el cual se me respetara como mujer y profesional, llegando casi al conformismo de pésimas condiciones laborales de las que la gran mayoría somos víctimas.  Pero fue, finalmente el temor de la incontrolable violencia en Guatemala, de la que fui víctima en varias ocasiones y de la que también fui testigo, presenciando el vil asesinato de un niño de tan solo 13 años, me di cuenta de que Santiago pudo ser ese niño inocente, asesinado en la calle cuando salía de la escuela por no querer pertenecer a una mara.  Me di cuenta de que tenía que buscar un lugar mejor, en el que mi hijo no creciera con el temor del que somos presos todos en mi país, en el que salimos de casa y no sabemos si vamos a regresar, o terminaremos siendo parte de las estadísticas diarias.

Pese a mis propios deseos de luchar en mi hermoso país, tuve que enfrentar ese día en el que me despedí de mi hijo, madre y hermanos y sobrinas.  Efectivamente, pasaron seis meses sin poder ver a mi Santiago, me perdí su piñata de 4 años, también su primer día en el colegio y muchas otras cosas más que nunca podré recuperar en nuestras vidas, pero también está la gran satisfacción de saber que estoy trabajando con todas mis fuerzas, para que un día no muy lejano, estemos juntos para siempre.

Como profesional, mujer, madre y migrante es un honor trabajar en el Centro Colibrí con las familias de personas desaparecidas.  Hablar con las familias cada día me enseña una lección de amor y sacrificio, que cada una de estas personas realizó al tomar esta difícil decisión.

Como parte del equipo del Centro Colibrí y como individuos, somos testigos diariamente que el migrar es una de las más grandes muestras de amor que un ser humano puede realizar por sus seres queridos.  Cada historia es única y nos enseña una lección de vida.  Sus historias nos ayudan a entender que esa persona eran un padre/madre, hijo/a, hermano/a, esposo/a que alguien extraña y que ha dejado en vacío que nadie más podrá llenar nunca.  Es una historia de lucha, sacrificio, esperanza, pero sobre todo de AMOR.

Mirza Monterroso

A letter: My migration story

Personally, the decision to migrate to the United States has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life. On the one hand, there existed the opportunity to do it in a relatively easy way and the possibility of new opportunities that would have meant a radical change in my life and the lives of those I love, above all, the life of Santiago, my son. On the other hand, was the difficult, almost impossible decision to have to separate myself from my baby without knowing when I would be able to see him again; how many days, months, or even years were going to pass without being able to hug him. Just the thought that I would not be able to tuck him in when he went to sleep, that I would not be able to take care of him when he was sick…it meant and still means a lump in my throat and a profound pain.

A big part was the frustration over the lack or little possibility of a decent job in which I was respected as a woman and as a professional, a lack almost reaching the conformism of terrible working conditions which the majority of people are subjected to. In the end, it was the fear of the uncontrollable violence in Guatemala, violence of which I was victim on several occasions and of which I was also a witness, witnessing the vile murder of a 13-year-old boy and realizing that Santiago could be that innocent child, murdered in the street when he left school simply because he did not want to belong to the gang. I realized that I had to find a better place, a place where my son would not grow up with the fear to which we are all prisoners in my country, a country where we leave the house without knowing if we will return or if we will end up becoming part of the daily statistics.

Despite my own desire to fight in my beautiful country, I had to face that day when I said goodbye to my son, my mother, my siblings and nieces. Six months passed without being able to see my Santiago. I missed the piñata at his 4th birthday party, his first day of school and many other moments that I will never be able to get back in our lives, but there is also the great satisfaction of knowing that I am working with all my strength so that one day soon, we are together forever.

As a professional, a woman, a mother and a migrant, it is an honor to work at the Colibrí Center with the families of missing persons. Talking to families every day teaches me a lesson in love and sacrifice, which each of these people made when making this difficult decision.

As a team and as individuals, we are witnessing that migration is one of the greatest acts of love that a human being can perform for their loved ones. Each story is unique and teaches us a lesson in life. Their stories help us to understand that this person was a father / mother, son / daughter, brother / sister, husband / someone who is missed and has left a vacuum that no one else can ever fill. It is a story of struggle, sacrifice, hope, but above all of LOVE.

Mirza Monterroso

A letter: I see my family in the people I work with. I hear the same voices.

My name is Arturo Magaña. I recently joined the Colibrí Center for Human Rights as the Missing Migrant Project Associate. I spend work days speaking with people who lost someone crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

When I arrive in the morning to work, I plug in my laptop and go through the inquiries we received the evening before. I take down messages from people in El Salvador, Honduras, México, Guatemala, the United States, and elsewhere. These people have lost brothers, mothers, fathers, in the Sonoran Desert.

This day, a woman tells me her story. Her son, Francisco, is missing. The last time they spoke, he called her from Nogales, Sonora, just south of the border. She is from Jalisco, México. She tells me, “My son’s birthday is June 18, 1998. He has light brown skin. He is left handed. He likes to tell jokes. When he walks down the sidewalk, he doesn’t stand up straight. You can tell it’s him by the way he walks. He snaps his fingers. He’s always moving. Nunca está quieto. He likes to stand in front of the hallway mirror and watch himself practice his soccer.”

As I hang up the phone, I think to myself, this woman’s son is from the same streets my grandparents were from.

I record Francisco’s details in our database. As the day goes on, I listen to other stories. Other families. Lost people. People’s worries. But the woman from Jalisco sticks in my mind. She told me, “I remember the way my Panchito would buy me little gifts when I knew he had no money.”

I take my lunch and sit down, thinking about things in life behind and before me.

I think about the change in my pockets. My wallet: a few bucks and a prayer card my grandmother gave me. I feel the weight of the woman’s words on my shoulders. Sweat gathers on my brow and under my arms.

An old fisherman once told me that the stench of history hangs about all of us. I sit there thinking, perhaps, there are cycles in history. But, you know, there are always the same human wants and needs. Human needs remain the same throughout all history. People need to eat. A person must find love and that love must fulfill them. People need a roof over their heads to cover them from the wind and the rains. Mothers and fathers need to provide a future for their children. People must carry in their chests some sort of hope. Hope of a better reality. Hope of a better job, one that makes a person proud to stand in front of their family. People need to lie in their beds at night and sleep deep sleep, undaunted by the uncertainty that awaits their children tomorrow.

The truth is, I know so very little, but one of the things I do know is that people need to move to different places to get ahead in life. I think about students moving to university. Or parents moving to a neighborhood where there are better schools. The campesinos move with the harvest seasons of Arizona and California. I believe that to migrate is an act of love, because people always migrate with the worries and hopes of others in mind. People migrate to help others, and helping others comes from love.

The other day someone asked me, why I do the work I do? This is a difficult question for me to answer. I think one reason is because my parents gave me an example, an idea of life to work towards. I think I have been brought to this work, because my family has always been a working-class family. My grandfather fished in the Sea of Cortez. My grandmother worked in a vegetable packing plant. My father and uncles worked in the fields.

I see my family in the people I work with. I hear the same voices, and I want to do something for them, because it is just simple rightness.  

Una carta: “Veo a mi familia en las personas con las que trabajo. Escucho las mismas voces.”

Mi nombre es Arturo Magaña. Recientemente empecé a trabajar en el Centro Colibrí de Derechos Humanos como Asociado del Proyecto de Migrantes Desaparecidos. Paso mis días de trabajo hablando con personas que perdieron a alguien al cruzar la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos.

Cuando llego en la mañana a trabajar, enchufo mi computadora y reviso los mensajes que recibimos en la noche. Tomo mensajes de personas en El Salvador, Honduras, México, Guatemala, y los Estados Unidos entre otros lugares. Estas personas han perdido a sus hermanos, madres y padres en el desierto de Sonora.

Este día, una mujer me cuenta su historia. Su hijo, Francisco, está desaparecido. La última vez que hablaron, él la llamó desde Nogales, Sonora, justo al sur de la frontera. Ella es de Jalisco, México. Me dice: “El cumpleaños de mi hijo es el 18 de junio de 1998. Él tiene la piel marrón clara. Él es zurdo. A él le gusta contar chistes. Cuando camina por la calle, no se para. Puedes saber que es él por la forma en que camina. Él chasquea los dedos. Siempre se está moviendo. Nunca está quieto. Le gusta pararse frente al espejo del pasillo y verse practicar su fútbol.”

Mientras cuelgo el teléfono, pienso que el hijo de esta mujer es de las mismas calles de donde eran mis abuelos.

Escribo los detalles de Francisco en nuestra base de datos. Mientras transcurre el día, escucho otras historias. Otras familias. Personas desaparecidas. Las preocupaciones de la gente. Pero la mujer de Jalisco se queda en mi mente. Ella me dijo: “Recuerdo la forma en que mi Panchito me compraría cositas cuando sabía que no tenía dinero”.

Llevo mi almuerzo y me siento, pensando en las cosas de la vida detrás y delante de mí.

Pienso en el cambio que está en mis bolsillos. Mi billetera: unos pocos dólares y una tarjeta de oración que mi abuela me dio. Siento el peso de las palabras de la mujer sobre mis hombros. El sudor se acumula en mi frente y en mis axilas.

Un viejo pescador me dijo una vez que el hedor de la historia pende de todos nosotros. Me siento allí pensando, quizás, que hay ciclos en la historia. Pero, ya sabes, siempre hay los mismos deseos y necesidades humanas. Las necesidades humanas siguen siendo las mismas a lo largo de toda la historia. La gente necesita comer. Una persona debe encontrar el amor y ese amor debe llenarle. La gente necesita un techo sobre sus cabezas para cubrirlos del viento y las lluvias. Las madres y los padres deben dar un futuro a sus hijos. La gente debe llevar en sus pechos algún tipo de esperanza. Esperanza de una mejor realidad, de tener un trabajo mejor, uno que haga que una persona se sienta orgullosa de estar frente a su familia. Las personas necesitan acostarse en sus camas en la noche y dormir profundamente, impávidos por la incertidumbre de qué les espera a sus hijos mañana.

La verdad es que sé muy poco, pero una de las cosas que sí sé es que la gente necesita mudarse a diferentes lugares para salir adelante en la vida. Pienso en los estudiantes que se mudan a la universidad. O padres que se mudan a un vecindario donde hay mejores escuelas. Los campesinos se mueven con las temporadas de cosecha de Arizona y California. Creo que migrar es un acto de amor porque las personas siempre migran teniendo en cuenta las preocupaciones y las esperanzas de los demás. Las personas migran para ayudar a los demás y ayudar a los demás proviene del amor.

El otro día alguien me preguntó, ¿por qué hago el trabajo que hago? Esta es una pregunta difícil de responder. Creo que una razón es porque mis padres me dieron un ejemplo, una idea de la vida para tratar de realizar. Creo que me han traído a este trabajo, porque mi familia siempre ha sido una familia de clase obrera. Mi abuelo pescaba en el Mar de Cortés. Mi abuela trabajaba en una planta empacadora de vegetales. Mi padre y mis tíos trabajaban en el campo.

Veo a mi familia en las personas con las que trabajo. Escucho las mismas voces y quiero hacer algo por ellos, porque es simple, es lo correcto.

A letter: the work of caring for the dead as an act of love

Dear Colibrí Community,

As we come to the end of a difficult year when we have seen unprecedented attacks on immigrants and their families, we are compelled to reflect on our work at Colibrí, and share with you what inspires us to continue. Every day, we speak with the relatives of those who have died or disappeared along the U.S.-Mexico border, and we collaborate with forensic scientists trying to connect the dots between the dead and the missing. Every day in these interactions, we witness profound acts of love, care, and compassion.

I have been committed to the work of identifying the unknown dead and supporting the families of the missing since 2006. Over the years, I have frequently been asked the question, “how can you do this work?” Sometimes it is asked with genuine concern and empathy, and sometimes it is asked with more than a hint of disgust—why would you choose to work in a medical examiner’s office and focus on something so macabre?

I choose this work not because it has to do with death, but because it has to do with love. I often look through the items migrants were carrying when they died. Although clues to their identity are often difficult to find, it is easy to find clues that these journeys across the border are acts of love. In their wallets are photos of their children. In their pants pockets are letters from their husbands and wives. In their backpacks are bibles, prayer cards, and rosaries.

Sometimes there are clues that other migrants had shown care and love to the dead or dying, even while facing their own risk of death or deportation in the desert. Once, after helping to identify a man named Carmen, I asked his brother if Carmen had been carrying several rosaries. His brother said no, it wouldn’t have been Carmen’s habit to carry that many rosaries. They were likely placed on Carmen’s body by migrants who passed him on their journey.

In other cases, the dead have been found with handmade stretchers built by migrants who had tried to carry the dead or injured to safety. Migrants offer a model of how to show care and compassion in extremely difficult conditions. So do the forensic scientists I have had the privilege of working with over the years. Despite being overwhelmed with an enormous caseload, forensic anthropologists carefully attend to each and every bone on their examining table. They not only chart the presence or absence of every tooth, but also the condition of each of the five surfaces of every tooth. Human rights scholar Adam Rosenblatt has written that “forensic care is involved in the creation of more caregivers” (2015: 181). By identifying the dead, forensic scientists can connect unknown remains back to a family and community that can properly care for them.

At the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, we see it as our duty to not only help identify each and every individual unknown person so that they can be returned to those who know and love them, but also to expand the community of care and love around those we have collectively lost on the U.S.-Mexico border. They were loved, they were cherished, and they are irreplaceable. They were beautiful, they were challenging, they were funny, they existed. They mattered.

This holiday season, we invite you to join our community of care around migrants and their families. Their deaths were untimely and unnecessary, but their lives were meaningful. Their families remember them with joy, and with love. Please support our work with a donation, and call your community in as well. Together, we can claim those who have died and disappeared as ours, and reject the hate and fear that has led to their deaths.

Robin Reineke, PhD
Executive Director
Colibrí Center for Human Rights


Querida Comunidad Colibrí,

Al llegar al final de un año difícil en el que hemos visto ataques sin precedentes contra los inmigrantes y sus familias, nos vemos obligados a reflexionar sobre nuestro trabajo en Colibrí y compartir con ustedes lo que nos inspira a continuar. Todos los días, hablamos con los familiares de aquellos que han muerto o desaparecido a lo largo de la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, y colaboramos con científicos forenses que tratan de conectar los puntos entre los muertos y los desaparecidos. Todos los días en estas interacciones, somos testigos de actos profundos de amor, cuidado y compasión.

He estado comprometido con el trabajo de identificar a los muertos desconocidos y apoyar a las familias de los desaparecidos desde 2006. Con los años, muchas personas me han preguntado: “¿Cómo puedes hacer este trabajo?” A veces se pregunta con preocupación y empatía genuina, y algunas veces se pregunta con disgusto: ¿Por qué elegirías trabajar en la oficina de un médico forense y enfocarte en algo tan macabro?

Elijo este trabajo no porque tenga que ver con la muerte, sino porque tiene que ver con el amor. Miro a los artículos que los migrantes llevaban cuando murieron. Aunque las pistas sobre su identidad son difíciles de encontrar, es fácil encontrar pistas de que estos viajes al otro lado de la frontera fueron actos de amor. En sus billeteras hay fotos de sus hijos. En los bolsillos de sus pantalones hay cartas de sus esposos y esposas. En sus mochilas hay biblias, tarjetas de oración y rosarios.

A veces hay evidencia que otros migrantes han mostrado  amor a los muertos, incluso mientras enfrentan su propio riesgo de muerte o deportación en el desierto. Una vez, después de ayudar a identificar a un hombre llamado Carmen, le pregunté a su hermano si Carmen había llevado varios rosarios. Su hermano dijo que no, Carmen no tenía la costumbre de llevar tantos rosarios. Probablemente fueron colgados en el cuerpo de Carmen por migrantes que lo pasaron en su viaje.

En otros casos, encuentran a los muertos con camillas hechas a mano por migrantes que intentaron llevar a los muertos o heridos a un lugar seguro. Los migrantes ofrecen un modelo de cómo mostrar cuidado y compasión en condiciones extremadamente difíciles. También lo hacen los científicos forenses con los que he tenido el privilegio de trabajar a lo largo de los años. A pesar de estar abrumados por un enorme número de casos, los antropólogos forenses prestan atención a todos y cada uno de los huesos en su mesa de examen. No solo registran la presencia o ausencia de cada diente, sino también la condición de cada una de las cinco superficies de cada diente. El politólogo Adam Rosenblatt escribió que “la atención forense está involucrada en la creación de más cuidadores” (2015: 181). Al identificar a los muertos, los científicos forenses pueden conectar los restos desconocidos a una familia y una comunidad que pueden cuidarlos adecuadamente.

En el Centro Colibrí de Derechos Humanos, consideramos que es nuestro deber no solo ayudar a identificar a cada persona desconocida para que puedan ser devueltos a quienes los conocen y aman, sino también para expandir la comunidad de atención y amor para aquellos que colectivamente hemos perdido en la frontera de Estados Unidos y México. Fueron amados, apreciados, y son irremplazables. Fueron hermosos, desafiantes, divertidos, existían. Ellos importaban.

En esta temporada de fiesta, te invitamos a unirte a nuestra comunidad de cuidado para los migrantes y sus familias. Sus muertes fueron inoportunas e innecesarias, pero sus vidas fueron significativas. Sus familias los recuerdan con alegría y con amor. Por favor apoye nuestro trabajo con una donación y incluye a tu comunidad también. Juntos, podemos reclamar a aquellos que han muerto y desaparecido como nuestros y rechazar el odio y el miedo que los ha llevado a la muerte.

Robin Reineke
Directora Ejecutiva

Today on Día de los Muertos

Written by Reyna Araibi

NOVEMBER 2, 2017Today we once again celebrate el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to remember those precious loved ones who we’ve lost. On this sacred day, tradition says that the veil between worlds lifts to reunite families, friends, and communities.

It has become our own special tradition at Colibrí to share words on el Día de los Muertos, particularly around the loss of life on the border and the communal need to remember and recognize the individual, irreplaceable lives that are being sacrificed to brutal border and immigration policies. Today, I’d like to keep my words short and instead turn your attention to photos — photos of the individuals who we’ve worked to help identify this year.

Spend time holding the images of these faces in your mind.
The expressions.
The smiles.
The individuality.

It’s a small action, but the least we can do today to celebrate their lives and to pay respect to their families who grieve an indescribable loss.

32 photos. 32 irreplaceable people. 32 people who led complex, happy, painful, loving, challenging lives; the full intricate spectrum of the human experience.

What makes me ache with horror and shame is that these lives were not lost to “fate”, at least not to that intangible, unpreventable figure of myth that foresees death. No, these deaths were anticipated by human forces, the same who design punitive policies that say migrant lives are dispensable, the same that deport and separate families, the same that build walls, the same that funnel people into remote deserts.

Since 1998, more than 7,057 people have died crossing the borderlands. At Colibrí, we currently have 2,452 open missing persons cases reported by families who are still searching for their loved ones. We work each day to bring answers to the families, but also to bring these words to you all: our border and immigration policies must change.

Today, on Día de los Muertos, remember those who have lost their lives on the border, remember those who are still missing, remember their families, their friends, their communities. Celebrate. Grieve. And when tomorrow comes, recommit yourself to being an advocate for humane border and immigration policies, policies that fundamentally protect the right to life. To create change that truly protects human life is not a task to be shouldered alone by the families of the missing and deceased or by one organization; it is a demand we all make together.

Feliz Día de los Muertos.

(Photos provided by families to Colibrí Center for Human Rights)


Escrito por Reyna Araibi

2 DE NOVIEMBRE 2017 Hoy celebramos una vez más el Día de los Muertos para recordar a aquellos preciosos seres queridos que se nos han adelantado en el camino. En este día sagrado, la tradición dice que el velo entre los mundos se eleva para reunir familias, amigos y comunidades.

Se ha convertido en nuestra propia tradición especial en Colibrí compartir palabras sobre el Día de los Muertos, particularmente sobre la pérdida de vidas en la frontera y la necesidad comunitaria de recordar y reconocer las vidas individuales e irremplazables que se sacrifican por las políticas brutales de la frontera y la inmigración. Hoy, en lugar de escribir muchas palabras, me gustaría dirigir su atención a unas fotos: fotos de las personas que hemos trabajado para ayudar a identificar este año.

Toma un tiempo para tener las imágenes de estos rostros en su mente.
Las expresiones.
Las sonrisas.
La individualidad.

Es algo simple, pero lo menos que podemos hacer hoy para celebrar sus vidas y respetar a sus familias que sufren una pérdida indescriptible.

32 fotos. 32 personas irremplazables. 32 personas que vivieron vidas complejas, felices, dolorosas, amorosas; el espectro intrincado de la experiencia humana.

Lo que me llena de horror y vergüenza es que estas vidas no se perdieron por el “destino”, al menos no por esa figura intangible e inevitable del mito que prevé la muerte. No, estas muertes fueron anticipadas por fuerzas humanas, las mismas que diseñan políticas punitivas que dicen que las vidas de migrantes son desechables, las mismas que deportan y separan familias, las mismas que construyen muros, las mismas que empujan a la gente a desiertos remotos.

Desde el año 1998, más de 7.057 personas han muerto cruzando la frontera. En Colibrí, actualmente tenemos 2.452 casos de personas desaparecidas reportadas por familias que todavía están buscando a sus seres queridos. Trabajamos cada día para darles respuestas a las familias, pero también para darles estas palabras a ustedes: nuestras políticas fronterizas e inmigratorias necesitan cambiar.

Hoy, en el Día de los Muertos, recuerde a aquellos que han perdido la vida en la frontera, recuerde a los que aún están desaparecidos, recuerde a sus familias, sus amigos, sus comunidades. Celebrar. Afligirse. Y cuando llegue mañana, vuelva a comprometerse a ser un defensor de las políticas humanitarias de frontera e inmigración, políticas que protegen fundamentalmente el derecho a la vida. Crear un cambio que realmente proteja la vida humana no es una tarea solo las familias de los desaparecidos y fallecidos o una sola organización; es una demanda que todos hacemos juntos.

Feliz Día de los Muertos.

Colibrí denunciamos la decisión de poner fin a DACA

“Perder DACA significaría perder las herramientas que tengo para vivir la vida. En vez de ser un miembro contribuyente de la sociedad, volvería a vivir en el limbo. Sin ninguna manera de progresar en la vida, me haría incapaz de proveer para mi esposa. Haría de la vida cotidiana una lucha, y tendría que depender constantemente de otras personas. La cosa que sería la más difícil sería no cuidar de mi esposa. “- Manny Bartsch, receptor de DACA y graduado de la Universidad de Heidelberg

Hoy es un doloroso día de traición para la comunidad de inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos y para todos nosotros que somos aliados. Esta mañana, el gobierno de Trump anunció que terminará oficialmente el Programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegado de la Infancia (DACA). DACA protege a más de 800.000 jóvenes indocumentados que llegaron a los Estados Unidos como niños, permitiéndoles solicitar demoras renovables de dos años de deportación y hacerlos elegibles para permisos de trabajo y licencias de conducir. Los receptores de DACA están comprando casas, graduándose con grados avanzados, y construyendo vidas. Aunque todavía había mucho por hacer para proteger y dar justicia a la comunidad indocumentada en los Estados Unidos, DACA fue al menos un paso hacia la creación del futuro que todos soñábamos. Como lo expresó nuestro amigo e indocumentado Juan Escalante, DACA dio a la gente una sensación de libertad para vivir sin temor y tener éxito en sus vidas.

La decisión de Trump de poner fin a DACA es inequívocamente injusta. Pone a cientos de miles de jóvenes estadounidenses y las personas que los aman en peligro. Esta es la última de una serie de acciones que tienen consecuencias devastadoras para la protección de los derechos de los inmigrantes y los derechos humanos en los Estados Unidos. La persecución directa a la comunidad inmigrante, la islamofobia, la falla en denunciar las acciones de los supremacistas blancos y la campaña sostenida de lenguaje racista y xenófobico son una repugnante y vergonzosa traición de los valores americanos.

En el Centro Colibrí de Derechos Humanos, reconocemos y celebramos las numerosas e invalorables contribuciones hechas cada día por la comunidad inmigrante en los Estados Unidos. Los inmigrantes indocumentados, en particular, traen inmensos beneficios económicos, culturales y sociales a nuestra nación tal como lo han hecho durante generaciones. Estos beneficios no son tangibles. Se estima que aproximadamente 65.000 estudiantes indocumentados se gradúan de las escuelas secundarias americanas cada año. Estos estudiantes pasan a buscar títulos universitarios, educación de la escuela de comercio, o puestos de trabajo en la fuerza laboral. Estos estudiantes son nuestro futuro. Son nuestros amigos, nuestros vecinos, nuestras familias. Como todo el mundo, merecen vivir libres con la oportunidad de seguir sus sueños, al igual que sus padres lucharon tan duro para lograr el sueño de llevar a sus hijos a un país donde podrían prosperar. Merecen sentirse seguros. DACA les proporcionó esa seguridad, y hoy, este país los traicionó.

La derogación de DACA pone en riesgo a cientos de miles de jóvenes con la posibilidad muy real de ser deportados. La deportación no es burocrática, es violenta. Puede ser mortal. Arranca a las personas de sus comunidades y las pone en situaciones dolorosas y peligrosas. Aislados de sus familias, de su vida, de la comunidad de la que siempre han formado parte, deja a las personas sin otra opción que intentar volver a todo lo que conocen y aman. Muchos de los que han sido deportados tratan de cruzar de regreso a través del desierto, el único terreno disponible, pero el más mortal. En Colibrí, vemos esta realidad todos los días. Vemos fines inimaginablemente trágicos a las historias de padres, niños, hermanas, hermanos, personas que murieron luchando por un sueño. Trump está una vez más demostrando que no tiene ningún respeto por estos seres humanos, por los inmigrantes y sus familias. Él no tiene respeto para los más vulnerables y no tiene sentido real de lo que realmente hace que los Estados Unidos sea increíble.

Todos nosotros en Colibrí estamos profundamente enojados y dolidos por la decisión de Trump de poner fin a DACA. Estamos constantemente impresionados por la fuerza, tenacidad y valentía de la comunidad de inmigrantes. Sabemos lo difícil que la comunidad luchó por programas como DACA y nos comprometemos a estar siempre luchando junto a nuestros aliados por la verdadera y justa protección de los derechos de los inmigrantes y los derechos humanos.

TOME ACCIÓN. Esto es lo que usted puede hacer para luchar por los jóvenes en su comunidad:

  1. Asista a una manifestación o velatorio organizado localmente. Pon atención a los eventos locales o vea organizaciones como Movimiento Cosecha o United We Dream que están organizando acciones a nivel nacional.
  2. Llame a los funcionarios electos que han estado haciendo campaña para terminar con DACA.
  3. Comparte esta declaración en tus redes sociales con el hashtag #DefendDACA y deja claro tu apoyo a los jóvenes de DACA

Colibrí Denounces Decision to End DACA

“Losing DACA would mean losing the tools I have to live life. Instead of being a contributing member of society, I would return to living in limbo. With no way to progress in life, I would become unable to provide for my wife. It would make everyday life a struggle, and I would constantly have to depend on other people.  The biggest thing that would be the hardest pill to swallow would be not taking care of my wife.” – Manny Bartsch, DACA recipient and Heidelberg University graduate

Today is a painful day of betrayal for the immigrant community in the U.S. and for all of us who stand as allies. This morning, the Trump administration announced that it will officially end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. DACA protects more than 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children by allowing them to apply for renewable two-year deferments from deportation and making them eligible for work permits and driver’s licenses. DACA recipients are buying homes, graduating with advanced degrees, and building lives. Although there was still much to do to protect and give justice to the undocumented community in the U.S., DACA was at least a joyous step towards creating the future we all dreamed of. As our friend and undocumented activist Juan Escalante phrased it, DACA gave people a sense of freedom to live without fear and to succeed in their lives.

Trump’s decision to end DACA is unequivocally wrong. He places hundreds of thousands of young Americans and the people who love them in danger. This is the latest in a series of actions that have devastating consequences for the protection of immigrant rights and human rights within the United States. The blatant targeting of the immigrant community, the overt islamophobia, the refusal to denounce the actions of white supremacists, and the sustained campaign of racist and xenophobic language are a repugnant and shameful erosion of American values.

At the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, we recognize and celebrate the numerous and invaluable contributions made every day by the immigrant community in the U.S. Undocumented immigrants in particular bring powerful economic, cultural, and social benefits to our nation just as they have done for generations. These benefits are not just opinion, they are tangible. It is estimated that approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools every year. These students go on to pursue college degrees, trade school educations, or jobs in the workforce. These students are our future. They are our friends, our neighbors, our families. Like everyone, they deserve to live free with the opportunity to pursue their dreams, just as their parents fought so hard to pursue the dream of bringing their children to a country where they could thrive. They deserve to feel safe. DACA provided them with that safety, and today, this country betrayed them.

Repealing DACA opens hundreds of thousands of young people up to the very real, very dangerous possibility of being deported. Deportation is not bureaucratic, it is violent. It can be deadly. It rips people out of their communities and forces them into painful and dangerous situations. Isolated from their families, from their life, from the community they have always been part of, it often leaves people with no other viable choice than to try coming back to all that they know and love. Many who have been deported try to cross back through the desert, the only terrain available, but the most deadly. At Colibrí, we see this reality every single day. We see unimaginably tragic ends to stories of parents, children, sisters, brothers, people who died fighting for a dream. Trump is once again demonstrating that he has no regard for these human beings, for immigrants and their families. He has no care for the vulnerable and no real sense of what actually makes America great.

All of us at Colibrí are deeply angered and pained by Trump’s decision to end DACA. We are constantly in awe of the strength, tenacity, and bravery of immigrant community. We know how hard the community fought for programs like DACA and we commit ourselves to always standing and fighting alongside our allies for the true and just protection of immigrant and human rights.

Here’s what you can do to take action and fight for the DACAmented youth in your community:

  1. Attend a rally or vigil being organized locally. Check out your local events or see organizations like Movimiento Cosecha or United We Dream that are organizing nationwide actions.
  2. Call the elected officials who have been campaigning to end DACA.
  3. Share this statement on your social media with the hashtag #DefendDACA and make clear your support for DACAmented youth.

We’re Hiring! Two Full Time Positions

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights is looking for two new members to add to our team! We are hiring a Missing Migrant Project Associate and a Family Network Coordinator who can join us full-time. Please review the two job descriptions below. Deadline to apply is August 31, 2017.

Missing Migrant Project Associate/Asociado(a) del Proyecto de Migrantes Desaparecidos 

Tucson, AZ; Regular Full Time; Non-Union

Job Summary
The Missing Migrant Project is the Colibri Center for Human Rights’ flagship project, which provides support to relatives and loved ones of migrants who have gone missing while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border through forensic science, rigorous data, and advocacy. The Missing Migrant Project Assistant coordinates and collaborates with key interdepartmental staff to manage office operations and deliver key services to families of the missing. Colibrí is seeking a highly organized, detail-oriented self-starter with strong organizational and IT skills to manage incoming inquiries from families, day-to-day office operations, company expenses, and administrative affairs for executive management. In addition to taking missing person reports from relatives of missing persons, this role would include day-to-day office management responsibilities such as bookkeeping, scheduling/arranging travel, managing all aspects of the office, and improving internal operations so that they run smoothly and efficiently.


  • Office management duties including
    • Managing vendors to ensure that our office is clean, functional, and organized
    • Using our bookkeeping system to pay bills & organize receipts
    • Recording employee expenses through our expense management system
    • Functioning as the “Admin” and “Light Tier 1” support for various platforms, ensuring that onboarding and offboarding are done on time and with accuracy
    • Coordinating around deeper technical issues with our IT support and vendors
    • Handling ad-hoc tasks around the office as they arise
    • Making travel arrangements
    • Scheduling appointments
  • Call Center management duties including
    • Checking voicemail, Facebook messenger, and company email daily and routing correspondence to appropriate team member
    • Handling requests and queries appropriately
    • Taking missing person reports from families of missing migrants
    • Traveling with Colibrí team for week-long DNA collection events throughout U.S.
    • Traveling internationally occasionally for partner meetings
    • Serving as the point-person for team travel and overseeing packing, printing, and trip preparation


Education and Experience:

  • BA/BS required
  • MA preferred (in anthropology, psychology, social work, business administration or related fields)
  • At least 2 years of experience in service provision and/or office management.
  • Non-profit experience preferred.
  • Fluency in both written and spoken Spanish required.
  • Experience as an executive administrative assistant, senior executive assistant or in other secretarial position a plus


  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills (in English and Spanish)
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Full comprehension of office management systems and procedures
  • Excellent knowledge of MS Office 365 and Google Suite
  • Naturally skilled in planning, organization and logistics
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Exemplary planning and time management skills
  • Experience working with impacted communities, especially those going through emotional trauma
  • Knowledge of immigration political discourse in the United States and/or humanitarian issues on the U.S.-Mexico border is strongly preferred
  • Ability to think strategically in a fast-paced environment while prioritizing to meet deadlines
  • A sense of humor, humility, and a collaborative spirit

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights is a family advocacy nonprofit working to end migrant death and related suffering on the U.S.-Mexico border. We partner with families, forensic scientists, and humanitarians to find the missing and help identify the dead. We also work to bear witness to the loss of life and hold space for families to build community, share their stories, and help raise consciousness about this human rights crisis.

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA applicants. Individuals with personal immigration stories are encouraged to apply!

To Apply:

Please submit the following materials to [email protected] by 8/31/17:

-Cover letter
-Resume or CV
-Names and contact information for 3 references (email addresses & phone please)

*Note: Applicants with limited Spanish speaking skills will not be considered for this position. Applicants should clarify Spanish language proficiency in Resume or Cover Letter.*

Start date: October 1, 2017

Family Network Coordinator/Coordinador(a), Red de Familiares

Tucson, AZ; Regular Full Time; Non-Union

Job Summary

The Family Network Coordinator will implement communications strategies to build and sustain the Family Network, Colibrí’s space of connection and support for relatives and loved ones of migrants who have gone missing while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. This position coordinates and collaborates with key interdepartmental staff to deliver training and resources to Family Network members.


  • Facilitates, sustains, evaluates and builds (in English and Spanish) the current components of the network: a closed group on Facebook where families discuss topics and share thoughts; one-on-one calls with key Family Network members; conference calls where family members connect with one another; and regional meetings where individuals can meet face-to-face, share time with each other and meet Colibrí staff and members.
  • Recruits, supports, and advocates with Family Network members.
  • Develops an outreach strategy and field training model in conjunction with staff on communications (i.e. spokesperson skills) and advocacy strategies per the organization’s priorities and initiatives.
  • Maintains current contact information and other data for Family Network members in organizational systems and databases.
  • Tracks and reports on Family Network activities and needs.
  • Serves as link between Family Network members and Colibrí staff.
  • Presents positive image of Family Network and Colibrí to others.
  • Basic analytic ability is required to identify established guidelines and procedures to follow for solving problems.
  • Participates in shared responsibility and collaboration with internal and external constituents.
  • Participates in staff calls and meetings, as well as periodic external convenings.
  • Other assignments as needed.


Education and Experience:

  • BA/BS required (in Communications, Journalism, Education and/or related field).
  • At least 3 years of communications, training, advocacy, and/or education experience.
  • Non-profit experience preferred.
  • Fluency in both written and spoken Spanish required.


  • Excellent written and oral communications skills (in English and Spanish) including public speaking, training, and facilitating.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Social media savvy, especially knowledgeable about Facebook platforms.   
  • Ability to use tact and discretion to obtain cooperation and understanding on routine matters.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Team building and excellent presentation skills are required.
  • Experience and ability working collaboratively toward our shared goals.
  • Experience working with impacted communities, diverse audiences/trainees, and populations going through emotional trauma.
  • Ability to work well with limited day-to-day supervision.
  • Familiarity with PowerPoint of Keynote and other office software.
  • Knowledge of immigration political discourse in the United States and/or migrant death and related suffering on the U.S.-Mexico border is strongly preferred.
  • A sense of humor, humility, and a collaborative spirit.

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights is a family advocacy nonprofit working to end migrant death and related suffering on the U.S.-Mexico border. We partner with families, forensic scientists, and humanitarians to find the missing and help identify the dead. We also work to bear witness to the loss of life and hold space for families to build community, share their stories, and help raise consciousness about this human rights crisis.

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQIA applicants. Individuals with personal immigration stories are encouraged to apply!

To Apply:

Please submit the following materials to [email protected] by 8/31/17:

-Cover letter
-Resume or CV
-Names and contact information for 3 references (email addresses & phone please)

*Note: Applicants with limited Spanish speaking skills will not be considered for this position. Applicants should clarify Spanish language proficiency in Resume or Cover Letter.*

Start date: October 1, 2017


Released January 30, 2017

The past week has left us all shaken but holding stronger than ever to our commitment to fight for the protection of human rights and the preservation of human life in the face of disturbingly zealous xenophobia.

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump survived by playing to his supporters’ fear of immigrants, refugees, and anyone they considered “other.” He repeatedly perpetuated false claims about undocumented immigrants and promised merciless action against such “threats” upon taking office. On Wednesday, the Administration put the first of its anti-immigrant promises into action by signing an executive order calling for the immediate construction of a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border among other directives that will further militarize border communities. Then came another xenophobic executive order indefinitely barring all Syrian refugees from entering the country, suspending all other refugee admission for 120 days, and banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen for at least 90 days.

It is clear that the Administration is intentionally targeting refugees, immigrants, and migrants. The Colibrí Center for Human Rights stands in unequivocal opposition to these actions, which violate human and civil rights, disregard Indigenous sovereignty, endanger precious border ecosystems, and threaten human life.

The current Administration’s focus on the U.S.-Mexico border is not only dangerous, but also misguided and misinformed. There already exists approximately 650 miles of a border barrier: 352 miles of primary fencing and 299 miles of vehicle barrier fencing. The remaining border terrain is heavily surveilled and enforced by stadium lighting, ground sensors, state-of-the-art cameras, checkpoints, drag roads that disrupt the local flora and fauna, and a record number of border agents. For the migrants who are apprehended, a complex and lucrative court process awaits to prosecute them, filling the coffers of the private prison industry at the expense of the American taxpayer.  Meanwhile, data show that overall immigration from Mexico has declined since its peak in 2007 and that apprehensions have decreased at the border, making the multi-billion dollar proposal not based in fact but in an interest in instilling fear.

For those of us who actually live and work on the border, we know exactly what the effects of these executive actions will be; we have seen them for more than 20 years. We bear witness to the continued death and disappearance of migrants on the border, the separation and devastation of families, and the devastation brought upon border communities.

Since the mid-1990s, at least 7,000 men, women and children have died crossing the border. More than 2,500 people are still missing. The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner currently has approximately 900 cases of individuals recovered on the border who remain unidentified. These deaths are a direct result of border militarization policies just like those proposed by the Administration. We need not wait and see — further militarization will lead to more deaths.

If the Administration carries through on its injudicious orders and continues to ignore the checks placed on them by federal judges and the judicial branch, then it won’t only be migrants and refugees who are in danger, but the very fabric of our government.

The Colibrí Center for Human Rights remains steadfastly committed to the families we serve, to those whose lives have come undone after losing a loved one on the border, to those who know all too intimately the painful effects of anti-immigrant policies and border militarization. We pledge to stand together with all communities whose very humanity is being called into question and who find themselves targeted by bigotry. We will not be silent as the lives of migrants, their families, or any other community are being devalued and attacked.