Writers for Migrant Justice Fayetteville


Opening Remarks

from Molly Bess Rector – Director, Open Mouth Reading Series

Thank you for taking time from your lives this evening to participate in activism through the arts and to honor and support those among us whose lives are impacted in real, tangible, and painful ways by the racist politics of exclusion and scarcity that would have us believe there isn’t enough to go around: enough work, enough money, enough food, enough space.

In gathering here tonight, we speak out against this lie of scarcity, and honor the organizers from marginalized communities who have always found ways to share, to advocate for sharing, resources. All over the country right now, in something like 40 cities, people are gathering just like this to share: to read poetry, to hold space for one another’s stories, and to pool their voices and their financial resources in the service of those excluded by our broken system.

Tonight, we do our part in showing that there is enough for everyone who needs it to have a share.

We’ll hear from

Clint Schneckloth
Geffrey Davis
Matthew Henriksen
Noelia Cerna
Kendra Pascual
Hiba Tahir
Julia Paganelli-Marín

Then we’ll have an open mic.

According to NBC News, 24 migrants have died in ICE custody this year, as of June 2019. That figure doesn’t include the deaths of at least four immigrants who died shortly after being released from ICE custody. It also doesn’t include the deaths of immigrants held by other federal agencies, including at least five migrant children who have died while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection or the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services charged with caring for unaccompanied migrant children who enter the U.S. As of June 2019, ICE detains more than 52,500 immigrants each day. It is very difficult for us to find the names of our deceased community members online because often the deaths of migrants are treated as a mere statistic and not the passing of somebody’s mother, father, sibling, cousin. As we have learned from the Black Lives Matter movement, it is important to say the names of our community members when they are taken by state violence. We want to acknowledge Black Lives Matter for their activism and for paving a way for migrant communities to also resist the detention and violence against us.

The names we are about to speak were provided by a LA Times Article (https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-migrant-child-border-deaths-20190524-story.html) which reported on six migrant children: five from Guatemala and one from El Salvador — who died in federal custody since from September 2018 to May 2019.

Most of the children died after becoming ill in Border Patrol’s crowded temporary holding areas.

Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, 10, El Salvador

Jakelin Caal Maquín, 7, Guatemala

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, Guatemala

Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16, Guatemala

Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 2½, Guatemala

Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, 16, Guatemala


Organizers: Open Mouth Reading Series and Teen Action & Support Center (TASC)

Venue: The Station (TASC)

Readers: Clint Schneckloth, Geffrey Davis, Matthew Henriksen, Noelia Cerna, Kendra Pascual, Hiba Tahir, Julia Paganelli-Marín, Vincente Yépez