Commitment, Community, Cooperation

Archive for the ‘Refugees & Immigration’ Category

Immigrant Families Torn Apart

In Refugees & Immigration on April 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Press Release:  Research by OHI Reveals the Ongoing Separation of Families through Detention and Deportation

April 15, 2013

The organizing efforts of The National Immigrant Youth Alliance continue to shine light on the grim reality of the vast complex built for the detention and deportation of immigrants that separates families and expose immigrants to all sorts of human rights abuses.

Claudia Munuz, a NIYA organizer, allowed herself to be detained by border patrol in order to infiltrate the unjust immigrant detention complex to discover the stories of women facing deportation.  While she was prepared to face the daily struggles of detainment and possible deportation herself, she tells me further, “I was unprepared to hear and respond to the despair of women facing separation from their children.”  Just over 70 percent of female detainees facing deportation from Calhoun County Jail in Michigan will be separated from at least one U.S. born child under the age of 10.

The Calhoun County Jail, located in Battle Creek, Michigan, is the largest immigration detention facility in the State.  They began housing immigrant detainees in 2007 after signing an indefinite contract with ICE.  Claudia has observed the Assistant ICE Field Office Director using intimidation and verbal abuse to force immigrant detainees to sign a Voluntary Departure (foregoing their right to a hearing before a judge).  When one detainee refused to sign saying he was not a bad person and that he wanted to see a judge, the Assistant ICE Field Office Director laughed into his face saying, “ICE has more power than any immigration judge.”  He continued with further threats if the Voluntary Departure was not signed.  This among many other documented abuses at Calhoun County Jail demonstrates a lack of Federal oversight that exposes immigrant detainees to unjust human rights violations.

Tomorrow (April 16), the Senate “Gang of Eight” will most likely reveal their plan for immigration reform that will not include any answer to the unjust treatment of immigrant detainees.  In fact, their immigration reform bill will include an increase in interior enforcement and a long path to citizenship for a select few contingent on 100 percent U.S.-Mexico border surveillance and a 90 percent detainment rate on that border.   This makes no sense for those of us working for a better America towards justice!

Claudia was literally detained as a criminal for no other reason than lacking “proper” papers.  This is the fear immigrants face everyday while going to work or school and caring for their families.  There is no just and fair immigration reform without an end to the detainment and deportation of immigrants.  Claudia has lived in the United States for 12 years, but it was these 11 days (so far) in jail that taught her, she tells me, “I was never free.”  Whether in detention or not, life in America for immigrants offers no freedom or justice.

Today (April 15), The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is calling for two actions:

  1. Demand the Release of All Low-Priority Detainees!
  2. Demand the Removal of ICE Director Rebecca Adduci and ICE Assistant Director James Jacobs

For more details on other immigrant detainees in Michigan and to Sign the Petition, go to the following link:


Steve Pavey, Ph..D., is an applied anthropologist engaged in activist scholarship as a Senior Research Scientist at the One Horizon Institute in Lexington, Ky.

The Immigrant Industrial Complex: America, You Must be Born Again! – By Steve Pavey, Ph.D.

In Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on April 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

PRISM Magazine (March/April 2013)


But what can I—or any of us citizens without real political power—do? According to Steve Pavey, our cover story writer who has been fighting alongside undocumented immigrants for the last three years, it’s not complicated. We can walk in solidarity with them, acknowledge our common humanity, and recognize christ in them.

“As i live and work with undocu- mented migrants,” says Pavey, “I’m with Jesus. I’ve learned that they do not need saving—I do! The biggest challenge for me is facing my own complicity in a global political-economic order that sins against migrants everyday. Standing against this system—which benefits me—will necessitate suffering and solidarity with the least of these.”

“Solidarity,” he continues, “asks not what we can do for them but whether we are willing to walk the road with them.  Herein lies the opportunity to walk with Christ.”

– Reflections from the Editor, Kristyn Komarnicki

Read the Full Article here:

Click to access MA13-PRISM-Full-Small.pdf

2013 SFAA Presentation: (Un)documented, Unafraid, Unapologetic: Pushing the Boundaries of Application Through Activism and Action

In Refugees & Immigration on March 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 12.26.57 PM

2013 SFAA Roundtable Discussion Chaired by:  PAVEY, Steve (One Horizon Institute) and NUÑEZ-JANES, Mariela (U of North Texas):

This roundtable discussion will focus on a dialogue about the role of applied anthropologists and applied anthropology in documenting the experiences of undocumented youth. Participants will reflect on the ways in which applied anthropologists are and can work as allies to the undocumented youth movement and will discuss the challenges they encounter in the process. Two applied anthropologists, a practitioner and a university professor, will discuss their work with undocumented youth. Undocumented youth activists and undergraduate students who participated in a service learning-course will talk about the opportunities and challenges of working with applied anthropologists or as practitioners assisting policy driven programs. Some participants will join via Skype.

2011 American Anthropological Association in Montreal

In Refugees & Immigration on December 13, 2011 at 10:09 am









Dr. Steve Pavey traveled to Montreal, QC, Canada to present a paper at the 110th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.  The paper presentation was part of a SUNTA (Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology) sponsored session entitled “’Coming Out’: Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies of LGBT Politics in the DREAM Movement.”  In this paper Steve continues to build theoretically on his ethnographic research and activism with undocumented youth for immigrant rights.

The Undocumented Immigrant Youth Movement:  Coming Out of the Shadows of Fear and Shame, Into the Light of their own Story and Community

This paper is based on activism with and ethnography of the dream activist movement.   It seeks to capture the diversity within this movement out the shadows, a movement searching for and claiming rights of “dreamers” to live, work and go to school in the United States.  The ethnographic description is built around the central themes of story and community while exploring theoretical questions of subjectivity, agency, and structural power.  The paper privileges the voice of the dreamers who are coming out of the shadows, declaring their status as, “Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic.”  Nationally, the focus of both research and media reports has been largely on the barriers and access to education, while often missing the broader socio-political context of the lived experiences of undocumented youth.  Our ongoing research projects hope to fill a gap by intentionally using the light of those who are stepping out of the shadows to illuminate the majority of undocumented youth who remain in the shadows.

Undocumented & Unafraid Youth Visit Historic Montgomery, Alabama to Fight for their Human Dignity!

In Refugees & Immigration on November 15, 2011 at 10:43 am

This video created by Felipe Vargas uses the photography of Steve Pavey to capture a window into the growing immigrant rights movement for justice.

When:  November 15, 2011

Who: Immigrant Youth Justice League, The Alabama Youth Collective and the National Immigrant Youth Alliance

Where: Alabama State Legislature, 11 South Union Street, Montgomery, Ala. 36130

What: 15 undocumented immigrants, 2 undercover, 13 public

Participatory Action Research Project with Latino/a Youth in Kentucky

In Community, Culture, Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on October 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

In partnership with the Bluegrass Community and Technical College & the University of Kentucky, Dr. Steve Pavey facilitated a week long participatory action research project at the LLCEC (Latino Leadership College Experience Camp).  The youth called their project,  “Walk a Mile in Our Chanclas:  Nuestra Lucha as Undocumented Students in Kentucky.”  Dr. Pavey hopes this pilot project will be the seed that grows into a regular program he is calling the Artivism Research Collective.

A.R.C. – Artivism Research Collective

Artist + Activist + Researcher = Bending Towards Justice

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
–  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The artivist (artist +activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary.  The artivist merges commitment to freedom and justice with the pen, the lens, the brush, the voice, the body, and the imagination.  The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.”
–  M.K. Asante, Jr. (Its Bigger than Hip Hop)

“The silenced are not just incidental to the curiosity of the researcher but are the masters of inquiry into the underlying causes of the events in their world. In this context research becomes a means of moving them beyond silence into a quest to proclaim the world.”
–  Paulo Freire 

Creative Exchange

In Refugees & Immigration on September 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Building Community with Refugees through the Arts

 Creative Exchange aims:

To offer an opportunity for refugees to share artistic expressions of their experiences and feelings.

  • To create a supportive community for refugee youth.
  • To use the arts to help them tell their stories of conflict and resettlement.
  • To use these artistic products to educate the public about the effects of conflict and resettlement on young people.
  • To offer the broader Lexington community opportunities to discover more about the many assets refugees bring with them.


Kentucky Refugee Ministries; EnterChange Clinical Counseling; Fayette County Schools

Therapeutic Art Project

Since 1990, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) has placed over 5,300 political refugees in various Kentucky communities. In 2009, the Lexington office of KRM settled 230 refugees in the Lexington area. With the current political instability in many countries, there is every reason to believe the number of refugees arriving in Lexington will not decrease any time soon.

Before coming to live in Lexington, most refugees have experienced horrific trauma and are still dealing with the aftermath. Upon arrival, they are still in survival mode, scrambling to secure housing, food, clothing, employment, etc.

When fleeing the country in which they were persecuted, refugees also left behind the only social, emotional, and cultural support they have ever known. And because most do not know English, there is no means of reaching out for support here in their new country. Through translators, gesturing, and intermittent concrete grasps of American English, refugees eventually make known their most basic survival needs.

However, there are limited means by which to express the less concrete thoughts of their emotional trauma.  There are limited ways of reaching out for help for dealing with the piercing ache of seeing their fathers and brothers gunned down before their very eyes. No second-hand translation which can adequately convey the overwhelming sense of terror/rage/helplessness that refuses to leave after watching their mothers and daughters raped. No elementary word in a bilingual dictionary to express the constant longing for the time before the trouble began, for a home which does not exist anymore, for people who are not alive anymore.

There is an incredible need for refugees in Lexington to express their past and present experiences of displacement, conflict, and trauma through a non-threatening, therapeutic outlet. Artistic expression provides such an outlet. Helping refugees express themselves through artistic media would not only provide a means of conveying/coping with their traumatic experiences, it would also build a bridge of communication between refugees and their new community, allowing them to forge a new means of social and emotional support.

A picture really is worth a thousand words.  Artistic expression allows the refugees to immediately communicate, to themselves and to their new community, the question of “Who I Am.” The high level of communication and cultural understanding required to communicate this verbally normally takes years to master, bypassing the crucial bonding time with the new community and creating a situation in which the refugees live among-but-separately from their new community.

No Longer Strangers: A Conversation on the Church and Immigration

In Refugees & Immigration, Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dr. Steve Pavey leads workshop at Englewood Christian Church, Indianapolis, IN

Immigration is one of today’s most pressing issues, one on which there is much fear, misunderstanding and tension. We believe that in the church community – where, despite our ethnic heritages, we are brothers and sisters – we can begin to untangle the misunderstandings and seek justice and reconciliation together.  We hope that you will be able to join us for this important conversation – in English and Spanish – on the church and immigration.

Out of the Shadows and Into the Light:  A Conversation with Dreamers on the Dream Act

This workshop moves the weekend conversation on church and immigration into a conversation with immigrant youth and their allies around our activism fighting for the Dream Act.  You will learn about the Dream Act that would provide a path toward citizenship for the nearly 2.1 undocumented children and youth living in the US today.  More important, you will be challenged to enter into relationship with and learn from immigrant youth themselves to break down barriers that keep us living as strangers.

April 8-9, 2011

The DREAM Team

In Refugees & Immigration on September 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Dream Act

Nearly 65,000 undocumented children graduate from high school every year in the United States. Although they can legally attend most colleges, they are not eligible for most forms of financial aid including in-state tuition.  The DREAM Act (Development, Relief & Education for Alien Minors Act) will create a conditional pathway to citizenship for undocumented children who complete two years of military service or college education.  The DREAM Act would provide 360,000 undocumented high-school graduates with a legal means to citizenship, and could provide incentives for another 715,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 17 to finish high school and pursue post-secondary education.

The Kentucky Dream Coalition

The Kentucky Dream Coalition is a network of student and immigrant youth led organizations that are working diligently with allies and educators for immigrant and refugee youth rights, access to higher education and empowerment through leadership, networking, community building and esteem building programs.  The KDC and its allies have focused their efforts in 2010 on getting the Dream Act passed by participating in marches/lobbying in Washington, D.C., fasting for 65 hours, organizing Dream Universities/Graduations in Kentucky, and many other educational advocacy programs.


Kentucky Dream Coalition; BCTC Enlace Latino Student Association; Migrant Network Coalition (Lexington); United We Dream Network