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Unearthing the Root Causes of Immigration



The United States prides itself as a nation of immigrants, and yet has repeatedly endorsed immigration policies based on race and class exclusions and harm. The immigration policy problem is bipartisan and compounded by decades of intervention in coups, civil wars, and sanctions that have led to the death and displacement of millions of people. What we are left with is a double-edged policy that neglects historic and present-day responsibility for causing the conditions of forced displacement, and then subjects survivors to the dehumanizing ordeal of family separations, forced detention, and denial of entry at the border. This panel examines the multiple contradictions of current immigration policy including the missing factors of the Biden/Harris “root cause strategy” that supports and/or fails to hold accountable governments that undermine collective land rights, worker rights, environmental protections, and community control of resources. Panelists will also address efforts by social movements and progressive governments to advance public and resource policies to sustain human life in community and the right to migrate for all peoples.



Carla García

Carla Garcia is the International Relations Coordinator at OFRANEH. She came to the US in 2013 and works with the Garífuna communities in NY. She has a history of activism and participation in civic action for over 20 years and serves as representative of culture at the national and international level of the Ballet Nacional Folklórico Garífuna.

Gustavo Torres

Gustavo Torres is the Executive Director of CASA. He oversees the largest Latino and immigrant organization in the Mid-Atlantic. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his leadership and vision in the immigrant rights movement in the United States. 

Marco Castillo (Moderator)

Marco Castillo, born in the city of Puebla, Mexico, is a human rights activist, anthropologist and political analyst, specializing in social justice in the Mexico-US region. He has led the formation of several binational non-profit organizations, including the Institute for Social and Cultural Practice and Research, the Migrant Families Popular Assembly, and the Transnational Villages Network. Currently, he is the Co-Executive Director Director of Binational Advocacy with Global Exchange.

Yesenia Portillo

Yesenia Portillo is the Program Director at CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. In her role, Yesenia has supported coalition building and strategic campaigns to raise awareness and push back against the most harmful impacts of U.S. policy in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In 2022, she helped lead a delegation of progressive Members of Congress to Central America to learn from grassroots groups about the consequences of the militarized and corporate-driven "solutions" that drive U.S. policy in the region, including through the Biden Harris plan for Central America.

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