Culture

Here Are The Latinas We Should Honor This #WomensHistoryMonth

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March is Women’s History Month which means we’re all celebrating the Latina poderosas in our lives. Be sure to give them a big hug and a cosita or two to show your appreciation. There have been so many women that came before us that, in small and big ways, created space and inspiration for our poderosas to thrive.

Here are some of the most inspiring, history-writing Latinas, in every field from science, the arts, law and politics.

Rita Moreno

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Rita Moreno has been making headlines in the entertainment industry for over 70 years. The Boricua is one of a handful of people who have won an Academy, Emmy, Tony and Grammy, making her an EGOT. Our parents remember her as one of the first Latinas to be portrayed on screen in West Side Story.

Yalitza Aparicio

CREDIT: @yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

Aparicio is the first Indigenous American woman, the fourth Latina and the second Mexican woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Roma. This is no small feat. The actress had no formal training in acting and was working as a teacher at the time of her casting.

Frida Kahlo

CREDIT: @fequalsHQ / Twitter

The now famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was not appreciated during her time and was simply known as Diego Rivera’s wife. Today, her art, which explored ahead-of-her-time questions of gender, identity and being differently abled, have resonated with the masses.

Selena Quintanilla

CREDIT: @athena_vintage / Twitter

The one and only Selena was the Queen of Tejano music. She broke out in a genre that was dominated by men, and made it her own. You don’t think Tejanjo music without thinking of Selena.

Dolores Huerta

CREDIT: @txstbcat08 / Instagram

Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is the little known co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, most closely associated with her co-founder, Cesar Chavez. In fact, Huerta was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that resulted from the game-changing grape boycott on behalf of migrant workers.

Ellen Ochoa

CREDIT: @fiercebymitu / Instagram

Ellen Ochoa is the first Latina woman in the world to go into space, making history on April 8, 1993. She was aboard the Discovery shuttle for nine days while conducting research into the Earth’s ozone layer. Since then, she’s logged 1,000 hours in space total.

Sonia Sotomayor

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Nuyorican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Justice in history. At the time of her swearing in, people were criticizing every little thing she did, down to her red nails and red lips. She showed up in red nails anyway because she’s Latina.

Sylvia Rivera

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Sylvia Rivera is the Puerto Rican trans woman believed to have started the infamous Stonewall riot with Marsha P. Johnson that launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement 1960s 1960’s. She’s not often credited for her organizing efforts and fearlessness. Pray to Santa Rivera next time you need a little courage.

Maria Elena Salinas

CREDIT: @mariaesalinas / Twitter

Maria Elena Salinas is not only the longest running female news anchor on American television, she’s also the first Latina to earn a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Her hard hitting work is focused on the injustices facing immigrant children, and her voice has spoken for and to Latinos for generations.

Sylvia Mendez

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Sylvia Mendez has been making waves for Latinos since she was eight years old. She’s the Mendez in Mendez v. Westminster, which ended school segregation in California. Today, her civil rights work has earned her a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

CREDIT: @aoc / Twitter

We all know who AOC is, because she demands to be heard on behalf of her constituents in the Bronx. This Nuyorican is the youngest Congresswoman ever elected and is here to shake things up. Her ambitious Green New Deal is enlivening the Democratic party with a true urgency to address climate change before it ravages humanity to the point of no return.

Celia Cruz

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

We all know Celia Cruz as the Queen of Salsa, but the Afro-Latina had to leave everyone and everything she knew in Cuba behind after Castro came to power. He vindictively permanently exiled her, and she wasn’t allowed to return even to say goodbye to her dying mother. Cruz sacrificed it all to bring the world a poderosa to aspire to.

Julia de Burgos

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Burgos’ poetry made waves in Puerto Rico, but when she moved stateside, her ballads to Puerto Rico and struggle with identity as an Afro-Latina weren’t acknowledged. Afro-Caribbean writers have paid tribute to her lasting work, and it’s time for the rest of us to follow suit.

Carmen Carrera

CREDIT: @carmen_carrera / Instagram

Don’t be fooled by her supermodel looks. Carmen Carrera is not someone to be messed with. The trans Latina has put RuPaul himself in his place around trans-inclusive language on his show, and is fighting for space for trans women on the runway. We see you, girl.

Gloria Estefan

CREDIT: @gloriaestefan / Instagram

Gloria Estefan is one of the greatest voices in a generation. The singer brought the sounds of the Cuban island to the U.S. and expanded on the hard work Celia Cruz already put forward. She has been honored with high-ranking awards for her cultural contributions to the U.S.

Gwen Ifill

CREDIT: @michele_norris / Instagram

Ifill was one of the first Black women to host a national public affairs program in the United States and the first to moderate a vice presidential debate. The Panamanian journalist paved the way for many others and Afro-Latino journalists today have Ifill to thank for the path she blazed.

Soledad O’Brien

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O’Brien has had air time for as long as we can remember, and has had to struggle with combating prejudices and straight ignorance against Afro-Latinas along the way. Her hard work has made it easier for the women who have come after her.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

CREDIT: @roslehtinen / Instagram

After forty years of serving the American public in politics, this Cuban-American icon finally retired. I’d be ready to if I was the first Latina to serve in the Florida House, Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and finally the first Cuban-American in Congress. Pioneering is exhausting. Thank you for your service for the trans community.

MJ Rodriguez

CREDIT: @PoseOnFX / Twitter

Honey, if you haven’t seen Rodriguez’ performance on Pose, buckle up. Rodriguez is the first trans Afro-Latina starring actress to be on a television series drama and the camera is eating it up. We all are. 🤩

Sophie Cruz

CREDIT: @sharabkaufman / Instagram

Last, but certainly not least, is Ms. Cruz, who is not a future trailblazer, but a right-now-blazer. When she was five years old, she gave Pope Francis a letter that read, “I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents. I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy.”

In 2017, she was the featured speaker at the Women’s March, and is advocating for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program up to this very minute.

READ: You’re Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You’re Not Celebrating These Trans Women

A Bay Area Family Admits They Have A Secret Room To Hide Their Parents In Case ICE Breaks Into Their Home, Reminding Many Of The Holocaust

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A Bay Area Family Admits They Have A Secret Room To Hide Their Parents In Case ICE Breaks Into Their Home, Reminding Many Of The Holocaust

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The president made a show last week of ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids last weekend. None were reported but the continued fearmongering used against the undocumented community for political gain is impacting families across the country. One family in San Francisco admitted to ABC 7 San Francisco that they created an elaborate plan to hide their parents if ICE breaks the law and forces themselves into the home.

The continuous threat of immigration raids has prompted immigrants across the nation to take action and protect themselves.

Credit: @abc7newsbayarea / Twitter

The president of the United States continues to call for immigration raids nationwide, leaving families and communities an edge. The political war waged from the White House on the immigrant communities is taking a toll on families wishing to live in peace.

In response to the raids ordered last weekend, ABC7 news interviewed a mixed-status family about how they planned to deal with the raids. They admitted that it is something they are constantly concerned about and a year ago they planned a way to avoid having their family ripped apart.

“This weekend was very scary. I don’t want to lose my parents,” a young woman told the reporter while standing next to her mother.

The ABC 7 reporter asked the family if they have a plan and they admitted that they do have a plan. Not only do they know their rights and acknowledge that they do not answer the door if there is a knock they were not expecting. The family has a plan if ICE breaks the law and forces themselves into the home, something we have seen happen to multiple families in the past.

“So, we always say that if we do have people knock at the door, to not answer, to pretend like we’re not even home,” the young woman said. “If there is, like, a forced entry, we also have a hiding spot for our parents.”

It might seem extreme, but immigration advocates are ringing the alarm about just how the ICE agency works.

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ICE has been terrorizing immigrant families for years. There have been several examples of immigration authorities breaking down doors to arrest undocumented people despite the laws restricting them from such actions.

The historical comparisons made by politicians and activists is startling for many Americans.

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The camps along the southern border of the U.S. have been compared to concentration camps by many Americans. Jewish activists have drawn this comparison as well as calling on the end of such conditions. However, some politicians are fighting to change the semantics around the camps detaining migrants in inhumane conditions. For some, they fear being connected to a party allowing these concentration camps to reemerge in 2019.

Watch the video of a family admitting their desperate plan to stay together.

READ: What You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren And Her Newly Unveiled Immigration Plan

It Hasn’t Always Been A Crime To Cross The US-Mexico Border, So When Did Things Change?

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It Hasn’t Always Been A Crime To Cross The US-Mexico Border, So When Did Things Change?

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Let’s start from the beginning. While immigration has been an issue on everyone’s lips over the past while after the Trump administration started enforcing a zero tolerance policy against border crossings, a new way of thinking about the issue was introduced during the Democratic debates.

Presidential hopeful Julián Castro suggested that border crossings should be decriminalized. Because if border crossings aren’t a criminal offense, then people can’t be charged for crossing the border illegally, right? Well, in short, yes. But the issue concerning what’s officially known as “Section 1325” is more complicated than what it initially seems, on the surface.

Decriminalization does not mean a free-for-all across the border.

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As much as the Trump administration would likely characterize the proposed policy as a stab at open borders, that’s not the case. The reality is that crossing the border at the moment is treated as a criminal offense, meaning that those without the appropriate documentation are automatically detained indefinitely: they are treated as a criminal.

However, decriminalizing border crossings would instead ensure that those who do attempt to cross the border are not slapped with charges of a criminal offense.

Instead, border crossings without appropriate documentation would be treated as a civil offense. In the same way that people aren’t considered a criminal for accruing a speeding fine, people crossing the border also wouldn’t be automatically treated as a criminal. This proposed approach is also more consistent with the US’ role as a signatory for the United Nation’s 1951 Refugee Convention. That is, that it’s not illegal for people to cross international borders and request asylum from another country.

Decriminalization would mean considering a new model for regulating the traffic of people across the border.

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Granted, the US still has to consider its security interests when processing requests for asylum. However, the current state of things has seen exponential overcrowding and related issues in detention centers near the border, with no indication as to whether people are seeing their requests for asylum considered at all.

Beyond the human rights problems this presents, there is also a legal quandary that must be considered in the US judicial system. Currently, the appropriate punishments for migrating across the border include both detainment and deportation – which, let’s face it, cannot be fulfilled at the same time. 

This turns into an argument around semantics: should someone be deported if they haven’t served their time in a detention center? And should someone stay in a detention center when they really should have been deported long beforehand, to prevent them from accessing the US at all? Castro’s proposal is not just about alleviating the stress being placed on US resources by detaining considerable numbers of immigrants, nor is it only about correcting human rights atrocities. It’s also about considering how immigrants are treated by the legal system.

It’s actually possible that decriminalization could reduce the number of illegal immigrants who stay indefinitely in the US.

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And yes, that’s including those who have been detained. Instead, if an immigrant was caught crossing the border without papers, they would be detained only for a brief amount of time. Once it is determined by authorities that the immigrant doesn’t raise any red flags, they would be released into the US, complete with a case management system to check in on them. The immigrant would then have to attend an immigration hearing, which would determine their status. Should it be found that the immigrant did not qualify for asylum, they then would accordingly be deported.

The positive of such a proposal is that family separation would be a thing of the past. Because border crossings wouldn’t involve criminal prosecution, there would be no reason to detain, and thus separate, families. Children would not be psychologically scarred for life simply because their parents sought a better future for them.

In fact, the US has had a longer history of decriminalized borders than criminalized ones.

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It’s worth noting that this idea of decriminalized borders isn’t really a new one. It wasn’t until 1929 that the US passed a bill that considered border crossings as a criminal misdemeanor, which meant that people could be prosecuted for entering the US without the proper authorization.

Most immigration laws before this point were focused on keeping out alcohol, gun traffickers and Asian immigrants. But, it was a white supremacist senator, Coleman Livingston Blease, who suggested fees and testing at the US-Mexico border – or, Section 1325 of Title 8 in the US Code. Are we surprised? In retrospect, no, no we are not. 

To be honest, even with this relatively short history of the criminalized border crossings, most presidents paid immigration little attention, as doing so would result in forever prosecuting misdemeanor illegal entry cases. Generally speaking, those caught crossing the border were simply informally returned.

Granted, there were some exceptions to this attitude. For example, The Great Depression saw Mexicans demonized for taking much-needed work, and deportations spiked around that time. However, it wasn’t really until the Bush administration that more decisive, ongoing action was taken on immigration. This gradual escalation in enforcing immigration policies led us to the catastrophe we’re seeing today at the borders, under the Trump administration.

So, how can you look forward to a future of decriminalized border crossings?

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Voting for 2020 presidential candidates who favor decriminalized border crossings are your best bet, if you’re keen on seeing the law changed. It’s worth listening to each candidate’s stance on immigration. For instance, aside from Castro, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has also endorsed repealing Section 1325. On the other hand, Beto O’Rourke rejected the idea from the outset, proposing his own set of aggressive immigration plans. The key is to listen to the policy proposals – not just smooth platitudes.

While voting strategically is probably one of the most effective ways to see decriminalized border crossings, you do have other ways of continuing the conversation. Sharing articles on social media, like this one, can educate people and start worthwhile discussions around the issue. Writing, and even meeting with, your local political representatives can increase their own awareness of constituent interests. After all, it’s their job to represent you! Getting involved with activist groups that promote immigrant rights is another way that you can promote and work towards the decriminalization of border crossings.

Anyway, we’ll leave you with this: the wildest fact is that, from 1980 to 2010, the Border Patrol budget was increased 16 times. This was despite the reality that the number of attempted undocumented entries did not rise during this time. Considering the mounting numbers of detainees at the border, it stands to reason that immigration is yet another issue reduced to sound bites and narrative twisting from those politicians seeking to Make America Great Again – despite human welfare being at stake. While we can discuss all we like about when and how border crossings have been treated by the criminal system, the important thing to focus on is how we value human lives.

READ: Fear And Anxiety Grip Undocumented Community Nationwide As Walmart Arrests Escalate

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