2014 End-of-the-Year Newsletter




Dear Coalición de Derechos Humanos Community Supporter,

You made 2014 a successful year, and I want to share with you all that we have accomplished together!  I want to emphasize that we wouldn’t have been able to do this work if it hadn’t been for you and would like to ask you to continue supporting the work we are envisioning for 2015 and beyond.

In every city there is always an organization central to the movement that speaks with the people at the forefront of the struggle, and with your support that is what Coalición de Derechos Humanos has been doing for over 21 years.  Coalición de Derechos Humanos is a voice for the Border Community. It always speaks about the deaths that result from this country’s border policies, it speaks up when the poli-migra (police and ICE collaboration) tears our families apart, it speaks up for workers whose wages are often stolen, and it speaks up for immigrants and for families.

We do not just speak up; we work for justice and for OUR communities.

In 2014 we overcame a challenging year, and as you may know we spent a considerable amount of time working on our strategic planning.  With your support we were able to rise up and successfully continue to work towards justice, and as we have reflected, we feel very proud of the work that we have been able to accomplish. We responded to 255 families calling about their missing loved ones, we collected over $15,000 in unpaid wages, we did monthly potlucks that brought communities together, held one citizenship fair, continued to strategize with the promotoras, became part of the National Not1More Deportation Campaign and the US Human Rights Network, and supported various efforts in Tucson in fighting the poli-migra.

This year we want to grow and overcome more challenges, and we ask you to please consider making a tax-deductible donation today!

Your gift of $25, $100, 500, 1,000 or $5,000 can make all the difference.  You can donate by going through our website at http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net/ and clicking on the “Donate” bottom.  Or you can send a check in the enclosed envelope or you can sign up for monthly donations with our enclosed form.  Please consider being a monthly sustainer and see your donation go a long way. (More details on becoming a sustainer on page 4

Thank you!


Isabel Garcia

Board Chair

highlights of the year


The Missing Migrant Project

 People are still dying. How can we say it more bluntly than this? People are still dying, and the U.S. government continues to deny responsibility for the more than 6,000 deaths that have occurred along the border since the 90’s when free-trade agreements wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of small farmers in Mexico and Central American and border security became a higher priority in Congress.

We continue to fight against policies that are directly linked to death. At the same time, calls from family members looking for their lost loved ones continue to pour into our Missing Migrant hotline. In the year 2014, Derechos handled over 255 missing migrant cases. Of these 255 family members who called to report their lost loved ones, we were able to assist families in locating 147 missing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children. Many of those 147 family members were lost in the complex detention-center system, either in ICE or U.S. Marshals custody. Our team of dedicated volunteers have spent countless hours calling detention centers so families could rest knowing that they didn’t lose their loved ones to the harsh terrain along the U.S./Mexico border. But we are sad to report that we referred over 50 cases to morgues along the border. In most cases, these families are still waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones.

This year we are also very happy with our close relationship to No More Deaths.  Our teams are working closer than ever.  No More Deaths volunteers work closely with Derechos Humanos in many aspects of the work, but perhaps the most important is activating search teams when a search and rescue operation is needed or when there is a case where there is enough information to recover a deceased community member in the desert.

Most of this work relied on volunteers and the coordinator, Cristen Vernon, who works part-time. We need more support to improve our efforts and increase our resources in 2015.  Please consider making a donation to help us in our quest to hire another staff person to do this work. We are also in desperate need of a desktop computer and help sustaining our phone system including funds or resources for international phone calls.

The Wage Theft Clinic


Thanks to our strategic planning process, we decided to transform our service-model Abuse Clinic into an organizing-model and to focus on wage theft.  The Wage Theft Clinic is a space where workers demand accountability from employers and are provided with information about their rights, skills for advocating on their own behalf, and a space to organize. We use a holistic approach to address abuses where community members have knowledge and the power to create justice regardless of living under anti-immigrant conditions.

Through a six-month grant from the Berger-Marks Foundation we worked together to open the clinic, and in these short six months we developed a curriculum, a process in which workers learn their labor rights and decide if they would like to follow a self-advocacy plan.  We also created a Community Action Committee comprised of 32 allied community members who are willing to support workers in their direct actions and/or court cases.

The numbers:

  • 37 people have engaged in Know Your Rights Trainings
  • 9 workers decided to follow the self-advocacy plan
  • 5 direct actions were implemented, which included phone-call marathons, groups of workers going together to personally confront their employer, and/or protests outside the employer’s homes.
  • Of these nine workers, six have been able to reclaim their wages with the total recovered wages totaling $15,403.51.

In addition, we instituted a 4-session “Train the Trainer” class in order to further develop the leadership skills of workers who went through the self-advocacy phase as well as the promotoras already involved with us.  7 people began the Train the Trainer Program, three graduated and are already doing the Know your Rights piece during the Tuesday night clinics, four are still in the process of taking the training, and we have trained six allied volunteers to facilitate wage theft trainings.

Javier Cordoba came through the clinic to recover his stolen wages.  Javier chose a self-advocacy approach and fought his case preparing for a direct action outside the employer’s house.  The next day Javier received an injunction against harassment placed on him by his former employer for protesting in front of his house. Javier defended his first amendment right by standing up in court with an allied attorney who did not have to say a word.  Javier did most of the work, and his first amendment right was upheld!  This was a huge victory, but Javier is still fighting to recover his wages!

The Wage Theft Clinic is an important program for the community.  Every day wages are stolen in many forms and the most vulnerable workers are left without legal recourse.  We need your support to continue growing and empowering more people to fight for their stolen wages. Our six-month grant has ended, and we want to thank Sandra Garnica for an amazing job. While we continue to look for more grants, we will need your support to keep this community resource going.  To hear the power that is built through the clinic, visit our website, and see the video on how Paty García, feels about recovering her wages!  Your support for this program is invaluable!

The Day of the Dead Pilgrimage

Crosses at San Xavier

On November 1st, we held our 14th annual Day of the Dead Pilgrimage to honor those whose lives have been lost crossing the U.S./Mexico border.  This year, the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office received the remains of 122 fathers, mothers, children, sisters, friends, brothers and community members.  89 of our community members have yet to be identified and their families continue to live with anguish.

Since the year 2000 we began to make a cross for each of the community members found in the Arizona Desert and reported by the Medical Examiner’s office.  To date we have made 2,771, which represent the inhumane border policies such as NAFTA, Operation Gatekeeper and the continued militarization of our community.

This year, we joined about 100 other community members, including several from Corazón de Tucson, Southside Workers Center, and Fortin de las Flores and walked a total of eight miles, carrying 122 crosses to the San Xavier Mission.  We remembered each one of our community members who are represented by the crosses, including those whose identity is yet to be found and also those whose remains have yet to be recovered.

We won’t stop until the deaths stop! Please join us in 2015 and walk with us to stop the deaths.

Corazón de Justicia       Miquiztli

On November 15th, we held our 10th Corazón de Justicia Awards Dinner, with over 300 community members in attendance from across the numerous organizations and allies fighting for social justice in Southern Arizona. This successful event was a testament to Derechos’s solidarity with Labor, Indigenous Peoples, LBGTQI, Youth, Environmental, African-American, and other related struggles for full equality and justice for all.  We celebrated the work of 12 members of our communities whose labor is often unseen and in the trenches fighting to build a better Tucson, a better Arizona, and a better world,  We honored: Corazón African-American:  Javetta Clemmons,  Corazón Arts: Pancho Medina, Community Empowerment: Alex “Miquiztli” Valenzuela, Corazón Environmental: Richard Elias,  Corazón Faith- based: Maryada Vallet, Corazón Human Rights: Jose Matus, Corazón Immigrant Rights: Belem Chagolla, Corazón Indigenous: Jose Matus, Corazón Labor: Lani “Kira” Johnson,  Corazón LGBTIQ: Carolina Lopez, Corazón Women: Dr. Maria Teresa Velez,  Corazón Youth: Michelle Jahnke Raygada.

Thanks to all who contributed to the event, a special thanks to Santa Pachita for their amazing music and el Saguarito for the amazing food!

Obama’s Executive Action and Local Efforts

As a result of communities standing up and demanding action, Obama finally signed the executive action, which granted temporarily relieved from fear of deportation to about 5 million undocumented immigrants.  You and I know that is this not a gift, but the result of years of direct struggle and we are happy for the families who benefit and who fought for this to become a reality. We are deeply concerned about new border security provisions that will put migrants and border communities at further risk of death and abuse and the administration’s deportation priorities.

In his speech in November, Obama emphasized that his administration continues to focus on “felons not families” as a deportation priority.  We firmly believe this fails to address the criminalization of our communities, the “making of felons”, which includes people who have been previously deported and who sought to re-enter the United States to reunite with their families. We will continue to fight for the inclusion of the over 6 million people that did not qualify for this relief.

From experience, we have reason to worry about the Obama administration’s plans to ramp up “border security” without planned measures to hold agents accountable for abuse and killings.  Still remains to be seen what the Department of Homeland Security is going to do under the border security provisions of the plan. They have set up a task force to work on the details but it’s disturbing that the President made no mention of the need for Border Patrol reform even as more abuses are being documented by national and local groups. It remains critical for us to continue opposing further militarization and to demand oversight and accountability for Border Patrol abuses.

On a local level, we supported a local fight to forbid School Resource Officers placed in schools to ask students about their immigration status.  The City attorney and the Tucson Police Department (who have always insisted that their duty is to uphold SB 1070 and ask for Immigration Status) were faced with a united community and one voice.  Council Woman Regina Romero said what we all meant “That question should not be asked at all. Not in any school in Tucson. Not in any school in the country” referring to asking students for immigration status.

The City Attorney and the Chief of Police mentioned yesterday that the Executive Action changed everything for them and that they were going to review their policies. Chief Villaseñor said officers will only call Border Patrol if they fall under high priority for the administration. We have still a lot of work to do!

Your tax-deductible contribution is essential so that we can continue to raise our voices against border militarization, the inclusion of all immigrants, and to empower our communities to join this struggle and be the voice.

Group PhotoPS

Become a Derechos Humanos Sustainer!

Sign up by going to our website,  http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net/. Click on the Donate Here button. Scroll down to the second option which is: convenient recurring monthly donation. Pick the amount you can afford from the drop-down menu. Click the Donate button in the text line and fill out your credit card information. Once a month your card will be automatically charged.


Please Consider Making a Tax-Deductible Donation Today!


Your gift of $25, $100, 500, 1,000 or $5,000 can make all the difference.  You can donate by going through our website at http://www.derechoshumanosaz.net/ and clicking on the “Donate” botton.  Or you can send a check in the enclosed envelope or you can sign up for monthly donations with our enclosed form.  Please consider being a monthly sustainer and see your donation go a long way.


We have a lot of work to do! A Community United is a Strong Community!


Coalición de Derechos Humanos – PO Box 1286, Tucson AZ, 85702 – 520-770-1373 coalicion@derechoshumanosaz.netwww.derechoshumanosaz.net