Culture

A Transborder Grad Student Is Using Facebook To Help Others With Their Daily Border Crossings

School has always been a challenge for Vanessa Falcon. Getting to class means navigating her way through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the largest land border crossing in the world. Many other students live this “transborder lifestyle,” having to cross the US-Mexico border daily to go to school and work. With recent hostility at the border, it has drastically impacted their daily lives. That’s why Falcon, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at San Diego State University, started the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos (Transborder Students). The group helps students navigate border-related challenges including long waits and border closures. Yet for Falcon, this lifestyle began way before college.

Falcon has been living a transborder lifestyle since she was 12 years old.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

Born in Los Angeles, Falcon was always transitioning from one side of the border to the other. Her mother and father, who are Mexican and Peruvian respectively, frequently moved from San Diego to Tijuana due to economic hardships. They would eventually buy a trailer home, which transported them between their lives in San Diego and Tijuana. Falcon began crossing the border daily in the 6th grade, which she says was a personal decision due to many factors including quality in education and cultural identity.

Falcon recalls dealing with homelessness and early 4 a.m. starts to her day just to make it to school. She recollects long days waiting in her family’s car during school for time to pass and nights when food wasn’t always on the table. Falcon credits those hardships for making her who she is today more than ever and says they represented not only her lifestyle but her cultural identity.

“During 6th grade, I started crossing the border for school on a regular basis and it made living arrangements hard,” Falcon said. “It was challenging but now I draw a lot from that. It was definitely more of a choice than necessity but it became part of who I am today.”

Fast forward to today, Falcon is using those experiences to help others navigate through cross-border challenges.

CREDIT: Credit: Vanessa Falcon

As Falcon pursues her doctoral degrees in the joint Ph.D. in Education Program at SDSU and Claremont Graduate University, she is helping the transborder community in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Upon starting her studies at SDSU, Falcon felt compelled to help others that were going through similar daily journeys across the border.

In 2015, she began the Facebook group Estudiantes Transfronterizos, which grew into a student group at SDSU called the Transfronterizx Alliance Student Organization (TASO). Officially recognized by SDSU in 2017, the organization focuses on creating an inclusive campus environment for transborder students on campus by connecting them with others who live a similar lifestyle.

“You can meet virtually, and now in person, which has created a small community here at SDSU,” Falcon says. “I wanted to accomplish three things here: Having a place where we can engage, having a safe space where we can discuss our lives and creating a culture where we can discuss these relevant daily challenges.”

Students say their experiences crossing the border every day means enduring intense scrutiny and discriminatory practices from Border Patrol agents. A 2015-2016 study found that young people who’ve lived and studied in two countries from San Diego and Tijuana were at a higher risk for depression than other students.

TASO gives SDSU students who live a transborder life an opportunity to share their experiences, identity, and culture.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

TASO has helped create an inclusive community on the SDSU campus that has gone beyond just a Facebook group but an organization putting together services for transborder students. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the organization hosted a transborder studies lecture series where speakers describe their own experiences as transborder students. The group has also utilized Facebook Live to stream content for transborder students who couldn’t attend in person.

“We’ve had live streams of lectures if a student can’t arrive at campus due to border-related challenges,” Falcon says. “We’re creating a community that was once invisible to many and are getting to share our stories along the way.”

The Facebook group has also given students the opportunity to network among each other when it comes to logistics. Some offer to carpool with other transborder students and post regular updates if there are major stalls crossing the border.

Due to recent closures at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, wait times can extend to several hours long.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Falcon says recent border closings caused by the Trump administration and the migrant caravan residing in nearby Tijuana have added to already long wait times crossing the San Ysidro Port of Entry. She describes the scene at the border as more militarized with a larger presence of police than in the past.

“There is militarization going on everywhere at the border. Just 3 weeks ago it seemed like we were at a war zone,” Falcon says. “The border has become intense and we see the suffering of refugees at the border and that has resulted in four-hour waits just to enter.”

A letter recently sent out by SDSU’s Dean of Students Randy Timm acknowledged some of the problems students are facing due to the border closures. The letter showed support for transborder students and offered assistance on the campus. Falcon notes this is a step in the right direction in terms of institutions recognizing transborder students.

Falcon is hoping to create a larger community of transborder students that she hopes will help others navigate their daily lives easier.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Vanessa Falcon

Just last year, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) opened up its own TASO chapter on its campus where the group has begun mentorship and educational programs for transborder students. Both chapters hope to work with each other and expand to other universities in border states. Falcon says she could have never imagined the Facebook group growing the way it did. She says there are plans to pilot a transborder students ally training program at SDSU, where she will use research to train students and staff about this lifestyle.

“I want people to understand our experiences and be educated on the daily journeys that we go through,” Falcon said. “I want to teach online through Facebook and make the program accessible to all.”

Falcon says living a transborder lifestyle has given her not just an education but an appreciation of her Latina background and identity. She hopes TASO can encourage legislative changes that improve the lives for transborder students like creating a specific student lane at the U.S border.

“We still live in the margins and our experiences are often not acknowledged,” Falcon says. “We are trying to make a difference on both sides of the border and we are just seeing the potential we have as transborder students to help both sides of our communities.”


READ: Congress Members Camp Out With Asylum Seekers Including Honduran Mother And Children In Viral Tear Gas Photo

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A Border Patrol Chief Caught In That Racist Facebook Group Says She Didn’t Know It Was Racist

Things That Matter

A Border Patrol Chief Caught In That Racist Facebook Group Says She Didn’t Know It Was Racist

Zach Gibson / Stringer / Getty Images

You’ve heard of #ICEBae, now get ready to meet #ICEQueen. On July, 24th, the head of the U.S. Border Patrol, Chief Carla Provost, appeared before a Congressional subcommittee hearing in Washington DC to answer questions about her involvement in that secret, racist Facebook group that was recently exposed.

As it turns out, she was in on it too.

At the beginning of July 2019, ProPublica broke the story about a secret Facebook page made up of active and former members of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Twitter / @MarshallProj

In the group, members shared disgusting pictures, memes, and messages about government officials and the same migrant detainees they were ordered to guard. In some posts, graphic threats were made against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress. Other reports say that one particular post was dedicated to disputing the authenticity of a photo of a drowned man, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his young daughter.

Shortly after the discovery of the Facebook group, Chief Carla Provost publicly denounced the group and its sexist and racist content. In a public statement to the press, Provost declared:

“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out. Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

However, in a wild twist, we probably should have seen coming, Provost has now admitted that she was also part of the 9,500 member group. 

Twitter / @Never270

Provost testified in front of the Congressional committee that though she was a member of the group, she rarely ever logged on to the social media site. She also claimed that she immediately reported herself to an oversight division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection after she realized she was a member of the same group she had condemned just weeks ago. 

During the hearing, Provost claimed that she gave her login and password to Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility. She went on to add that she hardly ever used her Facebook account — only using it to stay in touch with friends and colleagues whom she doesn’t often see.

Recent reports had already claimed that the ICE Queen was a member of this Facebook group. However, the Border Patrol Chief did not deny or confirm her membership before yesterday’s Congressional hearing. 

The ICE Queen admitted that she only joined the group after being told that agents were talking about her. 

Twitter / @christiansarkar

According to Provost, she accepted an invitation to the group back in 2017 when it was sent by a colleague. The colleague had told the Border Patrol Chief that her agents were discussing her performance as she was then the organization’s acting chief. Provost claimed that she would periodically search her name on Facebook and read the posts that she would find. The ICE Queen further went on to explain that she never noticed any of the specific groups that the posts came from.

The Border Patrol Chief also admitted to answering one specific post in the Facebook group. The post was supposedly about a question from the TV show “Jeopardy” and she saw that her agents were talking about her. The ICE Queen says that she was the subject of a Jeopardy question and that’s why the conversation mentioned her name. 

The Border Patrol Chief still committed to her denunciation of the Facebook group and the members who participated in the sexist and racist posts.  

Twitter / @Fogfaaja

“Let me be clear, on July 1 was the first time that I saw those highly offensive and highly unacceptable posts when I saw them in the ProPublica report,” Provost told lawmakers during the session. “I am as outraged as everyone else when it comes to the statements that were made on that page.”

Despite her condemnation of those who participated in the group, the ICE Queen insisted that, for the most part, Border Patrol guards are good people. 

Twitter / @Archerlady1

When suggestions were made that this Facebook page was indicative of a racist subculture within the Border Patrol agency, Provost pushed back. 

“I would still not call it a subculture,” she insisted. “The vast majority — 99-point-whatever percent — of our men and women are good hardworking American citizens who are doing the best they can in a very difficult crisis.”

Of the about 9,500 members of the group, only 62 current members and 8 former Border patrol agents are being investigated for posts and comments made. Provost used this fact to insist on the overall good of her agency. 

“A few bad apples are not representative of the organization,” Provost said. “There are bad doctors, there are bad nurses, there are bad teachers, but we don’t vilify the entire group.”

It should never be forgotten that these other professions do not house children in cages or separate families as part of their jobs like U.S. Border Patrol workers do. These agents are being investigated for a reason and their bad rap has more than been earned. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUh_wCbaGxo

We Haven’t Fully Recovered From The Frustration And Anger With The Aunt Becky College Scandal But Lifetime Is Already Working On A Movie

Entertainment

We Haven’t Fully Recovered From The Frustration And Anger With The Aunt Becky College Scandal But Lifetime Is Already Working On A Movie

Lifetime is gearing up to immortalize the epic college admissions scandal into our digital zeitgeist and release a two-hour movie this fall. The movie will highlight two mothers obsessed with getting their children into elite colleges and the consequences of their actions as they unfold. Audiences are hoping the movie will feature the lives of Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — the two most famous women involved in the scandal.

As juicy as it will be to see the dramatization, there’s another layerLori Loughlin, also known as Aunt Becky from “Full House,” was on Lifetime’s payroll until the network terminated their contract after the scandal erupted.

The network does not plan to hold back.

@DrakeBeTheTypa / Twitter

In a statement released by A+E Networks, College Admissions Scandal will center “on the story that captivated a nation where over 50 privileged and elite individuals from across the country were exposed for criminally conspiring to influence the undergraduate admissions decisions at some of America’s top schools.”

The Internet is assuming this movie will focus on Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

@runningjoke / Twitter

While there were plenty of high-profile names involved in the scandal, including several fathers, the Internet is taking a cue from A+E’s own description of the movie. According to A+E, “College Admissions Scandal will follow two wealthy mothers who share an obsession with getting their teenagers into the best possible college.”

“When charismatic college admissions consultant Rick Singer offers a side door into the prestigious institutions of their dreams, they willingly partake with visions of coveted acceptance letters in their heads. But when Singer cooperates with the FBI and pleads guilty, the mothers who risked everything for their kids, must face the consequences of their crimes and the loss of trust and respect from their families.”

Here’s a breakdown of the charges.

@historyjk / Twitter

Felicity Huffman pled guilty to paying $15,000 to boost her daughter’s SAT scores. Huffman and husband, William H. Macy, are parents to Sofia Grace Macy. Since the chaos, Sofia has put her college plans on hold, taking at least a year off.

Ironically, Felicity Huffman has previously played the role of a criminally-minded mother on screen.

@swim24 / Twitter

Huffman is best known for her role as Lynette in Desperate Housewives. During Season 1, she “donates” $15,000 to an elite private school to get her twin boys accepted. During a tour of the school, the headmaster suggests that they make a generous donation to secure the spot, so the family sells their boat and the boys go off to school. 🤯

Meanwhile, Lori Loughlin has pled “not guilty” to a much bigger charge.

@THR / Twitter

Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were both indicted on fraud and money laundering charges for paying $500,000 to “admissions consultant” Rick Singer. The donation went to Singer’s nonprofit organization, Key Worldwide Foundation, which prosecutors are alleging is just a front for accepting bribes.

Loughlin’s two daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, were designated as crew team recruits for USC, though they’ve never played crew, and are not listed on the USC women’s rowing roster. If convicted, Loughlin and Giannulli could spend up to 20 years in prison on each charge.

The television network may have already released the names of the cast.

@davidmackau / Twitter

Currently, all the Internet can think about is who will be cast to play who. While some are rooting for their favorite actresses, others don’t want them dragged into this mess.

Writer, Stephen Tolkin, has already co-created a series with Loughlin.

@SarahWatson42 / Twitter

Tolkin and Loughlin co-created Summerland together. That time, Loughlin’s character was the hero raising her niece and nephews after their parents die. This time, Tolkin may be using his intimate working relationship with Loughlin to depict her character on screen. It is to be determined if Tolkin be objective in this new movie.

By the time the movie is released, the public should know whether Loughlin is guilty or innocent.

@TheHEartBroke / Twitter

Still, many students, especially first-generation students, are left with loan debt and a decreasing number of opportunities for college graduates.

Despite obstacles, Latinos and POC have been getting into college without help from SAT rigging and privilege.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are fewer and fewer Latino students going to college. In fact, despite how rapidly the Latino community is growing in the U.S., a widening education gap lands us at half as likely to hold a college degree as non-Latino white adults according to The Education Trust.

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