OUR NEXT MEETING:  February 10th, 7:00PM, Congregational Church.  If you have any item you wish to have added to the Agenda, please email before Monday, Feb 3d.

Minutes from the January 13th meeting are attached below.


The Associated Press reports on its visits to immigration courts in 11 different cities in the late fall, sharing accounts of the chaos it observed. In courts from Boston to San Diego, reporters observed scores of hearings that illustrated how crushing caseloads and shifting policies have landed the courts in unprecedented turmoil. From double– and triple-booked hearings, to children sitting on the floor and crying in cramped courtrooms, there’s so much chaos it’s hard to keep track.

In previous Task Force Meetings and From the Chair emails, I have mentioned that the US has entered into “safe harbor agreements” with countrie to which the US deports nationals from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvadore. At the same time the US Dept of State in its travel advisories for US citizens planning to travel to those countries, cautions against doing so due to unrest, kidnapping, high crime, etc.  Now The American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigrant Justice Center, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and Human Rights First filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s policies regarding so-called these “safe third country” agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador that force people fleeing for their lives to seek asylum in the same dangerous region they fled.

CNN reports that DOS plans to amend a regulation to ensure that visitor visas to the United States are not used for “birth tourism,” the practice of foreign nationals traveling to the United States to give birth. Details about how it will be enforced were not immediately available. Last year, ICE announced arrests related to three “birth tourism” outfits in Southern California.

Immigration Court Backlog continues to grow:  TRAC reports that the immigration court backlog continues to grow, standing at 1,089,696 cases at the end of 12/19, up 65,929 compared to end of FY2019. Fastest growing segments of the backlog are Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans. Majority are from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico.To read the Report, see:  https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/591/

The Administration has floated some information that it intends to add other countries (unnamed so far) to its list of banned countries.


CONTINUING WEDNESDAY WITNESS:    WHERE?:  First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Parlor Room (downstairs, past the double doors, the first room on the left), 23 Dedham Avenue, Needham, MA  02494. Plenty of parking spaces are available, behind the church, in the Great Plain Ave. CVS parking lot.]  WHEN?  Continuing on Wednesdays, continuing April, 29, 2020 (except Feb. 19 & April 22), we gather indoors for postcard writing to federal, state and local government officials and legislators.)

            JANUARY 26, 2020: “I Am Every Migrant Child: Reflections of a World War II Orphan” On Sunday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM at Temple Beth Shalom, 670 Highland Avenue in Needham, author, survivor, and renowned speaker, Sylvia Gutmann will share her story as a migrant child and how that experience resonates today. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by Temple Beth Shalom Tzedek, the Needham League of Women Voters, the Needham Area Immigration Justice Task Force, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

            JANUARY 30, 2020:  The Trustees of the Needham Free Public Library, the Needham Diversity Initiative and the Needham Human Rights Committee are holding a Diversity and Discussion Book Club Meeting on January 30th at 7:30PM at the Library.  The discussion will be based upon the book We are Here to Stay: Voices of Undocumented Young Adults by Susan Kuklin.  The book is available as an ebook or may be obtained thru an inter-library loan request.  For further information contact Anna Giraldo-Kerr, a Trustee of the Needham Free Public Library(Anna.giraldokerr@gmail.com)

Friday, January 31, 8:00PM At the Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, Rinaz Mala, Needham resident who spoke at the June Suitcase Stories in Needham will be a story teller at the Suitcase Stories at Somerville Theatre.  Tickets are  $28 Reserved seating.  For more information contact Cynthia (cganung@gmail.com) Suitcase Stories® features foreign- and US-born residents sharing powerful and inspiring stories of refugee and immigrant life. Featured nationally on PBS, Suitcase Stories exposes the complexity of immigrant experiences through personal narrative. Part of the proceeds support critical programming for local refugees and immigrants. This performance may include content that might be disturbing to some audiences.”

            FEBRUARY 8:  Unitarian Universalist Area Church, 11 Washington Street, Sherborn will hold a panel discussion from 9:30am – 2:30pm,  on how climate change effects social justice.  Panelists will include Susan Church, Immigration Lawyer; Sonja Spears, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program; and Craig Altemose, Founding Executive Director, the Better Future Project. A sliding scale for tickets may be found at racialjustice@uuac.org.

MARCH 22: The Needham League of Women Voters is again sponsoring a Civics Bee on Sunday, March 22d.  If interested in joining a team from there Task Force, please contact me.

Enjoy the week,

Gerry Rovner