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Goodbye to Plastic Bags in Laredo Texas April 14th, 2015

Laredo, Texas has banned the use of plastic bags, after a nearly decades-long campaign by community based environmental groups. Fr. Bill Davis, OMI joins in this PSA video to alert people to the ban, which will start on April 30th.

The ban will prohibit single-use retail plastic bags with a less than 4 mil thickness, and single-use paper bags with a less than a 30-pound weight standard. Exceptions have been made for restaurants, fast food establishments, meat products, dry cleaners, newspapers, nonprofits, and foods that are chilled or frozen.

Each year, Laredo – a city of roughly 240,000 people – consumes an average of 120 million plastic bags, according to city estimates. The city is littered with plastic bags, and they have created a significant problem for the city’s creeks and storm drains, as well as the Rio Grande, the city’s only source of drinking water.

The Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), a non-profit that works with the Oblates in Laredo and now the JPIC Office, spearheaded the effort to clean up local waterways.


Mexican Migrant Children Forgotten at the Border January 22nd, 2015

Border Patrol and Mexican Authorities Fail to Screen and Protect Mexican Migrant Children

Last year, the issue of Central American children fleeing violence made headlines in the United States. But unlike unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, Mexican children fleeing violence rarely get an opportunity to tell their story before an immigration judge. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has released an investigative video and report on the treatment of unaccompanied Mexican migrant children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Every year, U.S. Border Patrol apprehends approximately 15,000 unaccompanied Mexican children. According to a 2014 report by the United Nations Refugee Agency, nearly 60 percent of unaccompanied Mexican minors surveyed mentioned violence as one reason for leaving home. But in 2013, less than 5 percent were transferred to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to be screened and later granted an immigration hearing.

Through interviews with migrant children, Border Patrol officials, Mexican authorities, and experts, WOLA’s video “Forgotten at the Border” demonstrates the plight of Mexican children who migrate to the United States in an attempt to escape violence. Unless these children can prove to a Border Patrol agent that they face a credible risk of persecution or trafficking, they are sent right back home.

WOLA’s video highlights the stories of minors like Esteban, a 17-year-old who describes fleeing from a local cartel, crossing the Arizona border, and being deported by Border Patrol. The video is accompanied by an investigative report, as well as recommendations for the U.S. and Mexican governments to better protect and screen unaccompanied Mexican children.

Report: Forgotten on La Frontera: Mexican Children Fleeing Violence Are Rarely Heard

Recommendations: How the U.S. and Mexican Governments Can Better Protect Unaccompanied Mexican Children Fleeing Violence​

Interested in following WOLA on social media? You can find them on Twitter @WOLA_org or link to their Facebook page.




FACT Launches Podcast Series August 11th, 2014

New Program to Examine Issues, Promote Work of Partners

cropped-logo1Looking to more widely broadcast its message, the FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition, of which the Oblate JPIC Office is a member, is launching a podcast series to focus on its core issues of corporate tax avoidance, transparency in corporate ownership, and combatting money laundering.

The FACT Podcast will be released initially on a monthly basis, and more frequently as policy developments and the news of the day as events warrant.

The first podcast, Who We Are, What We Do, and Why It Matters, is available on the FACT website, provides an introduction to the FACT Coalition and the work that it does on corporate tax avoidance, more transparency in corporate ownership, and combating money laundering. Upcoming podcasts will examine these issues individually and in more detail. Later podcasts will feature interviews with subject-matter experts and highlight the work that their organizations are doing.

“This is an exciting new addition to the FACT arsenal of information on these vital issues,” said Nicole Tichon, Executive Director of FACT. “The FACT podcast provides a new way to reach even more people and that’s a good thing.”

As mentioned above, the podcast is available on the FACT website. Users can also receive it via an RSS feed.

New Video on Human Trafficking from the USCCB’s Amistad Project July 8th, 2014

USCCB Infographic to Stop Slavery! July 2nd, 2014

Please watch this new info-graphic from the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference Anti-Trafficking Program, and take action today!


Solitary Nation April 28th, 2014

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Last week, PBS FRONTLINE aired Solitary Nation, portraying the brutal reality of solitary confinement in a Maine maximum-security prison.  FRONTLINE has made a significant contribution to the work to end torture by revealing, in graphic detail, the heart wrenching inhumanity of isolation.

Viewers meet a young father, desperate to earn his GED, who deteriorates repeatedly under the crushing reality of daily life in solitary confinement. And yet the inhumanity of isolation in this one prison is ongoing in prisons, jails and detention centers throughout the U.S. 

The full video is free and available for viewing here:

We invite you to view the video, and share it with members of your community.  Thoughts and additional resources to consider when viewing the film are enclosed in a viewers guide below, and available for download here. This material is from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:, of which Oblate JPIC is a member.

Click here to read more »

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