Culture

A Woman Captured Her Abuelo Finally Getting His U.S. Passport After Waiting Decades For His Citizenship And It’s So Sweet

The news cycle continues to feed us harrowing stories of communities of color under attack due to the unavoidable influence of Donald Trump’s racist beliefs. We continue to see devastating stories of gun violence against the Latinx community, images of children being ripped away from their families and more images of our communities suffering as a result of dangerous laws and policies put in place by the Trump administration. 

So it’s almost surprising (yet refreshing and hopeful) to see the opposite imagery and portrayal of our communities when they circulate on social media. 

Earlier this month, Brianna Valle shared a video that quickly went viral on social media of her 76-year-old grandfather, Arnulfo, who had just learned that he’d officially become a U.S. citizen.

In the video, the grandfather can be seen overcome with emotion as he reads the news that after nearly two decades, he’s finally become a citizen of the U.S. “It took my tata 19 years to finally get his citizenship. Unfortunately, some families have to wait even longer, even if it’s just to become a resident. Be grateful guys,” writes Valle in a tweet.  

Many people though think that obtaining your citizenship in the U.S. or being on the path to citizenship is as easy as “getting in line.”

There is no line, and if there is, it’s never-ending—especially with the Trump administration’s policies on immigration. 

According to an article in the New York Times, one California man applied for U.S. citizenship in the fall of 2017 (after paying a $725 fee) and it wasn’t until February of 2019 that his application was fully processed. It took more than a year after he applied to be scheduled for a citizenship interview. 

The same article also states that the time “aspiring” Americans must wait to be naturalized citizens has skyrocketed to almost twice as long. Of course, the delays are a result of the Trump administration’s scrutiny of these applications and the diversion of staff from reviewing them. Further, it’s a result of the administration “introducing proposals likely to make it more difficult, and cumbersome, for green-card holders to qualify and complete the process.”

Once the grandfather (Arnulfo) had received his citizen passport card, his wife/Valle’s grandmother laid it out on the table for him to find. In the heartwarming video, you can feel Arnulfo’s relief, happiness, and joy when he takes a look at the citizen passport card.

Valle also spoke to Mashable about the heartfelt video, and she told the publication that her grandfather had gone to the ceremony to become a citizen in July and then he had applied for the passport. “He’s not very familiar with the process and when he had to turn in his citizen certificate and his green card in order to get the passport, he became distressed after a few weeks when he still didn’t receive the passport,” Valle said. 

Valle shared with Mashable that her grandfather also felt stressed when he would see immigration-related news because he no longer had that physical proof of residency from the U.S., so when he finally saw the passport on the table earlier this month—many of his worries went away. 

This just comes to show the real ways that the Trump administration’s stance on immigration hurts our communities. The news alone is enough to trigger or traumatize folks who may fear deportation.

Despite the uneasiness, he felt in the weeks leading up to receiving his U.S. passport, we hope Valle’s grandfather knows that he has many people rooting for him.

People who don’t even know him but were touched by his reaction and his story. “I hope people realize their advantages, while others keep striving to get theirs,” the Twitter user said. 

People on social media shared with Valle their own story about being a naturalized citizen and wished her grandfather the best.

“We take this for granted sometimes, but I know he *never* will. Felicidad!,” another user Twitter said in a post.

Even Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa replied to the video and shared her joy for Arnulfo.

“Crying crying joy,” she said in a tweet. “This is who we are.” 

Valle also explained to Mashable that in the video, her grandfather can be heard saying, “God this is all I’ve asked you, and you gave it to me.” 

“He studied so hard for so long but because of his disability and age it was harder him to learn and understand the questions,” Valle said. But despite those challenges, we’re glad to see that he prevailed and was able to see his efforts pay off. 

Congratulations Arnulfo! 

Sonia Sotomayor Calls The Case On DACA’s Fate One Of The Justices Deciding Whether To Destroy Lives

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Sonia Sotomayor Calls The Case On DACA’s Fate One Of The Justices Deciding Whether To Destroy Lives

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While the US Supreme Court’s conservative-majority justices are seemingly ready to allow Trump to rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Justice Sonia Sotomayor clearly stated her opinion that the court’s decision, “is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.” The 2012 policy shields immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children without documentation, from deportation and allows them to work for up to two years at a time. Research shows that DACA has reduced the number of undocumented immigrants living in poverty, and has improved mental health status for DACA participants and their children. The Trump administration rescinded DACA protections for nearly 700,000 recipients in 2017. 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to end DACA and is expected to deliver a decision by Spring 2020.

Two memos lie at the heart of the decision.

Credit: @Princeton / Twitter

The first memo was begrudgingly given by then Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine C. Duke. Duke’s volunteer history included offering legal aid to immigrants. During a White House meeting with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, she was pressured to issue a memo that would end DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Duke that DACA was illegal, on the grounds of it exceeding presidential power. Duke issued a bare-bones memo that offered no policy reason for the end of DACA, except that it was unlawful. She later resigned.

Her replacement, Kirstjen Nielsen, retroactively justified the decision with a second memo, which included a new reason to end DACA: to project a message of consistency of enforcement of all immigration laws.

Now, US solicitor general Noel Francisco is arguing that Obama’s decision to introduce DACA exceeded presidential power.

Credit: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

“Basic administrative law is you look at what’s first given to you,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Francisco, not “what you add later.” Still, she said that even if “you ignore that and even look at the Nielsen memo, I think my colleagues have rightly pointed there’s a whole lot of reliance interests that weren’t looked at.” What’s crucial to this decision, according to Sotomayor, is that President Trump had told “DACA-eligible people that they were safe under him and that he would find a way to keep them here. And so he hasn’t and, instead, he’s done this.” 

In 2017, Trump tweeted, in reference to DACA recipients, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”

Trump tweeted Tuesday that DACA recipients are “far from angels.”

Credit: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels,'” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

A major requirement for DACA recipients is that they have no criminal record. “Trump is fear-mongering and falsely accusing people of color,” Dr. Eugene Gu tweeted. “Many DACA recipients are doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, teachers, and integral members of society. Many have never set foot in their original countries for their whole lives and speak mainly English. Threatening to deport them through racist fear-mongering is evil.”

The events leading up to the memo led Sotomayor to believe “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”

Credit: @Grindr / Twitter

Trump’s promise to protect DACA recipients during his campaign and his about-face is “something to be considered before you rescind a policy. Not just say I’ll give you six months to do it – to destroy your lives.” At the end of the day, Sotomayor is pointing out that Francisco’s argument is not evident in the memos. “Where is all of this in the memo? Where is all of this really considered and weighed? And where is the political decision made clearly,” she asked. Sotomayor concluded, “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”

Sotomayor also argued that DACA simply allows law enforcement agencies to prioritize its use of its limited resources.

Credit: @Grindr / Twitter

“I have always had some difficulty in understanding the illegality of DACA,” Sotomayor offered her opinion. “We all know [ICE] has limited resources. It can’t, even when it wants to remove the vast majority of aliens we have here. And so I’ve always had some difficulty in understanding what’s wrong with an agency saying, we’re going to prioritize our removals, and for those people, like the DACA people who haven’t committed crimes, who are lawfully employed, who are paying taxes, who pose no threat to our security, and there’s a whole list of prerequisites, we’re not going to exercise our limited resources to try to get rid of those people. I — I still have an impossible time.”

Oh, and Sotomayor was interrupted numerous times by Francisco and her male peers.

Credit: US Supreme Court

A 2017 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law study found that male justices interrupt female justices three times as often as each other during oral arguments. The study also found that conservative justices were twice as likely to interrupt liberal justices than liberal justices were to interrupt their conservative peers. According to Supreme Court transcripts, Justice Sotomayor was interrupted by Justice Neil Gorsuch. The two both awkwardly apologized to each other when Sotomayor graciously told Gorsuch, “No, no, continue.”

When Justice Sotomayor was in the middle of her arguments, General Francisco interrupted her, saying, “So I guess I have three responses, Your Honor.” Sotomayor bluntly said, “All right. But let me just finish my question.” Francisco casually said, “Oh, sure,” to which Sotomayor incredulously asked, “Okay?” “Yeah,” Francisco responded to the Justice.

A decision is expected to be made public by Spring 2020.

READ: Justice Sonia Sotomayor Breaks New Two-Minute Rule By Interrupting Lawyer During Immigration Case

Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination

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Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination

JuanSaaa / Twitter

The United States Supreme Court heard over an hour and a half of arguments Tuesday on whether or not the Trump administration can end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The case has been brewing since the Trump administration first announced plans to end the Obama-era program in 2017. As of early reporting, it seems the justices are pretty closely split with the conservative members of the court seemingly leaning towards ending the program.

The Supreme Court heard more than an hour and a half of oral arguments in favor and against the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Obama-era program gave deportation relief, driver’s licenses, work permits, and access to student loans for hundreds of thousands of young people in the U.S. Despite Trump consistently telling the media that the issue of DACA will be handled with heart, the president’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced the end of the program in 2017.

According to The New York Times, Trump moved to end the program because of “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.” Sessions stated that the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Plaintiffs and attorneys for DACA left the Supreme Court today and chanted with thousands of protesters demanding the preservation of the program.

“Home is here! Home is here,” the crowd can be heard chanting as the plaintiffs all left the Supreme Court. The arguments helped determine where certain justices fall on the issue of preserving DACA and protecting hundreds of thousands of young people from being deported from the only home they know.

NBC News reports that the nine justices are closely divided on the issue with all of the conservative justices seemingly leaning against it. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh asking questions that seemed to confirm their alignment with the Trump administration’s decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer appear to be in favor of preserving the program. The deciding vote might come from Justice John Roberts, who in the court’s last term ruled against the Trump administration’s wish to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

A majority of Americans support the DACA program and the recipients who benefit from it.

Credit: @selenagomez / Twitter

Selena Gomez recently debuted a new docu-series highlighting the lives of undocumented people in the U.S. The show has given new perspective to the immigration debate that has been raging in the U.S. for decades.

More than 60 percent of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center also favor a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. That poll found that 48 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

All eyes are on the Supreme Court as more than 600,000 DACA recipients wait to know their fate.

With such overwhelming support, it would seem that passing legislation to protect DACA recipients would be easy. However, Democratic Representation Lucille Roybal-Allard of California introduced a bill in March of this year called The American Dream and Promise Act. The bill would enshrine the protections offered by DACA into law. The bill passed the House of Representatives on June 4 and is awaiting a vote from the Senate. However, the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, has refused to take a vast array of bills up for a vote in an increasingly partisan pushback.

DACA and the lives of undocumented people in the U.S. are being evaluated at the highest court of the land today.

Credit: @JuanSaaa / Twitter

Americans overwhelmingly support the program. The president has used this vulnerable community as a political pawn. At one point, the president was willing to offer DACA protections in exchange for border wall funding.

The nation is watching the Supreme Court closely as they are waiting to hear the fate of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S.

Students in Los Angeles joined in with major walkouts to demonstrate in favor of DACA and their peers benefitting from the program. We are all waiting to hear how the Supreme Court rules on this issue.

Check back with mitú as this story develops.

READ: Luis Cortes Is The 31-Year-Old Dreamer Attorney Fighting To Save DACA In The Supreme Court Case