From the Rio Grande Guardian and KGBT 4 TV Harlingen come two advance stories about next week’s walk. For background on the issue, also see subtopia and aztlan electronic news. Materials forwarded by Jay Johnson-Castro.–gm
Johnson-Castro walking in the Valley again, this time against immigrant detention camps
By Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian
AUSTIN – Anti-border wall activist Jay Johnson-Castro, Sr., is heading back to the Rio Grande Valley next week… for another walk.
“I’m hoping many of the friends I made on my last Valley walk will join me on this next one,” Johnson-Castro told the Guardian, announcing details of the walk.
The walk starts in Brownsville on Wednesday, March 21, and ends in Raymondville on Sunday, March 25.
“This time I want to help give voice to the immigrants locked up in the children’s camp in Los Fresnos, the prison camp in Bayview, and the new tent city in Raymondville,” Johnson-Castro said.
The 60 year-old Del Rio bed and breakfast owner achieved international attention last October when he walked 205 miles from Laredo to Brownsville to protest the federal government’s plans to build 700 miles of extra fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Johnson-Castro also protested the border wall on a 55-mile walk from Ciudad Acuña to Piedras Negras in November and a caravan tour from San Diego to Brownsville in February.
However, much of Johnson-Castro’s focus of late has been directed towards what he claims is the inhumane treatment of immigrant children and families in prisons administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
He has walked from Austin to Taylor and participated in a number of vigils to protest conditions for Other Than Mexican families detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Uni*n filed a lawsuit over conditions at the center.
Johnson-Castro has also walked from Abilene to Haskell , Texas , to protest an ICE facility in Haskell.
Johnson-Castro said one of his main objections to ICE policy was the decision to award huge contracts to private prison operators.
“I just cannot understand how our government can pay private companies to imprison children. I do not know how to equate that in history. It’s like rounding up wild horses. It’s beyond my imagination,” he said.
Johnson-Castro said that in Raymondville, that meant awarding Management & Training Corporation (MCT) $7,000 a month per inmate. In Hutto, he said it meant awarding Corrections Corporation of America $126,000 a month for medical services the immigrants do not get.
Johnson-Castro said he was “encouraged” by all the attention the Port Isabel Detention Center in Bayview was getting in Massachusetts and in Congress.
ICE’s decision last week to round up hundreds of immigrants, mostly female factory workers, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and fly them to both Bayview and a detention facility outside El Paso, angered Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and many in the state’s congressional delegation.
Johnson-Castro said the BBC news network was interested in filming the Bayview facility.
“I cannot tell you how many folks contact me every day now from all over the state, the country and the world,” Johnson-Castro said. “They are waiting for this next walk. I believe that we will get special solidarity like never before.”
Johnson-Castro said he hoped groups that have supported him in the past, such as LULAC, LUPE, ARISE and the South Texas Immigration Council, would participate in the latest walk.
He said he planned to meet with the Valley staff of U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, before setting off on the walk.
Protest Walk in the Valley
March 14, 2007 09:09 PM
reported by Ryan Wolf
KGBT 4 TV Harlingen
Action 4 News gets exclusive details on another protest walk coming to the Valley. It’s in response to government detention centers used to house illegal immigrants right here in the Valley.
Jay J. Johnson-Castro, the man who brought a protest walk last October in opposition of a border wall, says he’ll be staging a 5-day walk next week.
The self-proclaimed border ambassador says he was outraged to learn families were ripped apart during an illegal immigration sting along the east coast. Many were sent to holding centers in the Valley.
Johnson-Castro wants to highlight how the government facilities in Bayview and Raymondville translate into nothing more than prison camps… he calls it taxpayer waste.
We ask, “Jay, you’re going to have people who are going to say these people were illegally in our country and the government is doing what they need to secure our border… to this you say what?”
“I say the term illegal is a recent phenomenon… most of the people who came to this country… did so as a migrant… and most of them came illegally…. I don’t consider it illegal when looking for refuge . . . when looking for hope,” says Johnson-Castro.
Here’s a look at where his 5-day walk will take him. On Wednesday March 21st… Johnson-Castro says he’ll leave from Brownsville and walk his way to the Bayview Detention Center arriving on Thursday March 22nd. From there, he’ll head West to Harlingen and then North to the Raymondville Detention Center, arriving on March 25th.
Johnson-Castro encourages anyone from the public to join him on his quest… he says he’ll provide more details as the walk draws near.