Tucson Immigrant Rights Activist Isabel Garcia Wins Culture Freedom Award
The Lannan Foundation announced that it has recognized five human rights advocates with Cultural Freedom Awards for 2008.
The purpose of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award is to recognize individuals working on behalf of communities struggling to uphold and defend their right to cultural freedom and diversity. As defined by the Foundation, Cultural Freedom is a basic human right dependent on political, economic, and environmental justice.
Isabel Garcia is the co-chair of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that promotes respect for human and civil rights and fights the militarization of the Southwestern border region, as well as discrimination and human rights abuses by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials affecting U.S. and non-U.S. citizens alike. She is also the legal defender of Pima County, Arizona. Ms. Garcia has been at the forefront of immigrant and refugee rights since 1976.
The goals of Derechos Humanos include strengthening the capacity of the border and urban communities to exercise their rights and participate in public policy decisions, increasing public awareness of the magnitude of human rights abuses, deaths and assaults at the border resulting from U.S. policy, and seeking changes in government policies that result in human suffering because of the militarization of the U.S. border region.
As a lead speaker on behalf of Derechos Humanos, Ms. Garcia works to counter anti-immigrant hysteria and to change the stereotypes and misinformation about immigrants.
In addition to education and activism, Derechos Humanos keeps track of the body count of migrants who die attempting to cross the desert between Arizona and Sonora, one of the most treacherous border crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to Ms. Garcia, "Immigration policy has been a total failure and needs to be changed. It has not prevented people from attempting to cross the border but has put the lives of thousands of men, women, and children in serious danger. Their deaths are the direct result of U.S. policy."
Ms. Garcia has received many awards for her work including the 2006 National Human Rights Award from the Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de Mexico. This was the first time this award had been granted to someone who was not born in Mexico nor living in Mexico.
Read more at Lannan Foundation Website.
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