Entertainment

Maritza’s Heartbreaking Storyline In ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Is A Reality So Many Undocumented People Face Every Day

On July 26th, we said goodbye to our favorite inmates as the final season of “Orange Is The New Black” dropped on Netflix. In Season 7, we laughed, we cried and we grieved the loss of these characters who have been in our lives since 2013. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the huge part ICE and immigration plays in Season 7. For the final season, the writers, actors, and directors of “Orange Is The New Black” respected the experience of the migrants detained at our southern border by shinning a truthful light on their struggles and abuse. By doing so, hopefully, these stories will reach others and the turmoil that these migrants experience will be recognized and reversed.

Here is what “Orange Is The New Black” got right about ICE and immigration during its final season.

Warning: The following contains major spoilers for Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black”

1. Migrants aren’t the criminals conservatives claim them to be.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

Conservatives are quick to claim that immigrants are dangerous criminals who just want to hurt American citizens when they arrive at our borders. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most migrants are just looking for a better life. Some are looking to escape persecution, gangs, and drugs in their home countries.

In episode 2 of Season 7, we first see the ICE detention facility that Litchfield has become. In it, detainees are split between orange (non-felons) and red (felons). Notice how few felons are in this facility. OITNB knows what’s up.

2. Some immigrants don’t realize that they aren’t US citizens.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

It might seem unlikely that someone would think they were a US citizen when they were really undocumented but it happens more often than we realize. Some are brought to the US as children and are raised to recognize America as home. Their parents avoid telling them the truth so that they don’t feel any less American than they are.

This is something that Maritza experiences first hand in Season 7. The Latina is released from prison but gets caught in an ICE raid. When she can’t produce her identification, she is brought to a detention facility where she finds out she was not born in the US as she thought.

3. The citizenship process is a confusing and difficult one.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

The process of becoming a US citizen is a long and confusing one. There are several requirements that have to be met over a series of years. Even people who have legal permanent resident status need to renew their green cards and can be deported if they don’t follow the rules.

When Diablo goes to visit Blanca at the Litchfield detention center, his green card is flagged because it had expired and he was in the process of renewing it. When he isn’t able to provide additional documentation, he is detained and eventually deported.

4. ICE detention facilities are super crowded and lack resources.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

We’ve all seen the reports from Congressmen and women who have toured ICE Detention Facilities. In these images and first-hand accounts, the centers are described as being overcrowded and lacking in essential necessities needed for its detainees.

This is shown throughout Season 7 but really examined during a scene in episode 5 while Maritza is getting dressed. She is surrounded by other detainees and forced to change in front of others. She can’t even brush her teeth as the sinks are set up right next to the open-air toilets. Not what we would call refreshing.

5. Detainees are not given access to legal counsel.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

When detained and held by ICE, migrants are not given access to legal aid or counsel. This makes it nearly impossible for them to have someone advocate for their best defense. Detainees then go up in front of a judge unequipped for their trial.

This commonality was shown during Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black.” In it, Blanca and other detainees go up before a judge without any representation or access to help. They are unable to make calls, send letters or reach family or friends who can help them. Often, if they do not know their rights, migrants will be deported without given their fair chance to dispute the claims against them.

6. ICE Detention Camps are corporate money-making businesses.

 Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

In case you weren’t aware, migrant detention facilities are run by corporations looking to make money off of human rights violations. Boycotts have been held against businesses like Wayfair who have contracts with these facilities. Essentially, they’re like any other business — trying to maintain its bottom line despite the human cost.

In Season 7, Poly-Con Vice-President Linda Ferguson brags to Figueroa about how much the company is able to profit off of each person they house. In the episodes, there is no empathy or shame in making money off of this travesty and we can’t help but be disgusted because we know that is the same mentality that real detention facilities take on.

7. There are people who are trying to help the detainees.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

Though there is a lot going against migrants who are detained in these facilities, there are good people trying to help. Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a nonprofit based in Texas that is dedicated to providing free legal counsel to immigrants and their families. The ACLU has also done lots of work to keep these centers accountable.

In Season 7, the ladies of Spanish Harlem contact an organization to help Maritza and Blanca get free from the detention center. After the two have left, Flaca continues the work and gives out the free number to other detainees.

8. Not all migrants are Latinx.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black

There’s a common misconception that all migrants at our borders are Latinx folk. Some even believe that all immigrants are Black or brown. This isn’t true at all. Migrants come to the United States from all over the world, including white immigrants from Europe, Canada, and Russia. However, they have less of a chance of getting caught by ICE because they don’t look like the stereotypical immigrant.

In Season 7, the detainees of the Litchfield Detention Center are shown to be more than just Latinas. The migrants include Asians, South Asians, Africans, Mexicans and people from Central and South America. It’s important that we don’t erase any migrant story by overlooking them because of where they are from.

9. Children stand trial just like adults do.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

Unfortunately, we know that children are detained as often as adults. These children are separated from the only family they know and are left with insufficient care. They even have to go before a judge to determine their deportation. They are given as much assistance as adults are: none.

In episode 11 of Season 7, we see this portrayed as children fill a newly built courtroom at the detention facility. The judge asks two children if they are aware of why they are there and if they have a lawyer. She then asks the pair if they even know what a lawyer is. It’s no surprise that they don’t as they look to be no older than 3 and 5. This actually happens in our world and it’s deplorable.

10.  Immigrants travel vast distances and face many dangers to be here.

Netflix / “Orange Is The New Black”

Another common misconception is that migrants come to the US on a whim; that they are just here to benefit from our economy and steal American jobs. The truth is that they are here to escape danger and, in doing so, often find themselves in even more peril.

We see this when Karla attempts to gain re-entry into the US after being deported. The mother walks over mountainous terrain in order to get back to her sons who are still in America. While walking, she becomes injured and is left behind by those she is traveling with. The reality is that many die on their journeys to America only to be locked up once they get here.

Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee

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Trump Administration Hikes Up DACA Renewal Fee

Juan Escalante @JuanSaaa / Twitter

A new proposal brought forth by immigration officials might hike up the cost of immigrants entering the United States as children. According to a New York Times report, the Trump administration proposal would increase fees for applicants by more than 60 percent and handover more than $200 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Friday, the Trump administration proposed increasing a “range of fees” tacked onto applications for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship.

If it is sent into motion, the proposal would increase citizenship fees by more than 60 percent. Under the new plan, fees for applicants would skyrocket from $725  to $1,170. The proposal would also allow the government to charge asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. Such a rule would make the United States one out of four countries in the world to force asylum seekers to pay for applications. Australia, Fiji and Iran all charge for asylum protection. 

If instituted, the proposal would be yet another roadblock implemented by the Trump administration to restrict immigration through legal means.

Over the past few months, immigrants and immigration advocates have seen similar attempts at hacking through the rights of immigrants before. Recently the Trump administration issued a series of policies that work to withhold permanent residency to immigrants in the United States have been deemed incapable of financially supporting themselves. They have also blocked entry to immigrants applying for visas on the basis of health insurance status. On October 4, 2019, Trump published a Presidential Proclamation that prevents entry to visa applicants are unable to provide proof of their ability to obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the United States. 

“Healthcare providers and taxpayers bear substantial costs in paying for medical expenses incurred by people who lack health insurance or the ability to pay for their healthcare.  Hospitals and other providers often administer care to the uninsured without any hope of receiving reimbursement from them,” the proclamation read. “The costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.  In total, uncompensated care costs — the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients — have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years.”

 Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration called the new policy, “one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable.”

“Currently, USCIS is conducting its biennial fee review, as required under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, to study the agency’s revenue, costs and needs,” a spokesperson for USCIS told BuzzFeed News. “As always, USCIS will publicly communicate information on its fee review through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the federal register, should a decision be made to adjust its fees. No determination has yet been made.”

Immigration advocates on social media have been quick to slam the proposal as unfair. 

“The proposal to get rid of fee waivers is a whole statement and stand against the poor. From the public charge stuff to this. Worse thing too is this is how people actually feel,” film director Angy Rivera wrote in a thread that lambasted the policy. “The Department of Homeland Security’s plan will be open to public comment for 30 days starting Nov. 14. Make sure to flood them!”

Other users who quick to underline the significance of taking the funds from these applicants and transfer them to  Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration plans to “transfer money raised through the new proposed fee schedule to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency under DHS that carries out deportations, workplace investigations and other immigration enforcement actions. The money would be used to root out any potential fraud in future applications for citizenship, green cards, asylum and other immigration benefits.” 

“At this point I feel like they are just putting numbers in hat, and tossing it around. This is money we use to live and maintain our families, minimum wage ass job won’t cover this. This is just business to make money, y’all taking advantage of us,” Cristal Ruiz Rodriguez wrote in a tweet.

There’s no doubt that the Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants is a wealth tax.

The Trump administration’s new policy would not be applicable to immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asking for asylum. 

Melissa Rodgers is the director of programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and told the Washington Street Journal that the proposed fees would be unaffordable for those who could have had a chance at citizenship.

“This is a wealth tax on becoming a U.S. citizen,” Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s part and parcel of the assault on the naturalization process.”

Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

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Latin America’s First Indigenous President Is Forced To Resign After Weeks Of Protests And Irregular Election Results

José Luis Rodriguez / Getty

Protests are occurring throughout Latin America as calls for environmental and economic justice strengthen from Chile and Brazil to Venezuela and Ecuador. Now, Bolivia has become the latest flash point for the growing widespread movements across the region.

What started as a protest against President Evo Morales seeking an additional presidential term (he was constitutionally term-limited) has resulted in his abrupt resignation and in what many are calling a coup.

President Morales resigned the presidency after he lost support from the Bolivian police and military.

Bolivia’s political crisis deepened Sunday as President Evo Morales resigned amid allegations of “serious irregularities” during last month’s election and pressure from the country’s armed forces.

Morales faced mounting protests in the aftermath of the October 20 vote as demonstrators and the Bolivian opposition accused electoral authorities of manipulating the vote count in favor of the incumbent. He denied the allegations and declared himself the winner, but was eventually forced to resign

But what led to his resignation?

In the hours after polls closed, preliminary results showed Morales slightly ahead of his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa. But the opposition and international observers became suspicious after election officials stopped the count for about 24 hours without an explanation. When the count resumed, Morales’ lead had jumped significantly.

Electoral monitors from the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report Sunday alleging irregularities that impacted the official vote count.

In the aftermath of the report, Morales initially promised new elections would be held and the country’s electoral council replaced. However just hours later the president had resigned after the head of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Cmdr. Williams Kaliman, asked Morales to step down in order to restore peace and stability.

The decision follows weeks of raucous anti-government protests across the country. 

Demonstrators have burned down the headquarters of local election offices, set up blockades, and paraded a mayor barefoot through the streets after cutting her hair and showering her in paint.

Many are calling this an outright coup committed by the military and US-backed politicians.

The international reaction has been swift and vocal.

On Monday, Mr Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, struck a defiant note on Twitter, saying that “the Bolivian people have never abandoned me and I will never abandon them”. He has also said that he was the victim of a “civic coup”.

International allies of Mr Morales echoed his characterisation of what had happened. The Russian foreign ministry said that “the wave of violence unleashed by the opposition didn’t allow the presidential mandate of Evo Morales to be completed”.

Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said that events in Bolivia constituted “a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president, and that violates the constitutional order of that country”.

Spain also expressed its concern over the role of Bolivia’s army, saying that “this intervention takes us back to moments in the past history of Latin America”.

But what do Bolivians actually think of all of this?

Mr. Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006. He has earned praise for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia’s economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional term limits to run for a fourth term in October’s election, which is alleged to have been rife with irregularities.

The biggest criticism of Evo Morales was his lack of respect for Bolivia’s democracy – accused of overstaying his welcome and refusing to step down. 

But the fact that the military has called the shots on the president standing down does not do much for Bolivia’s democracy either. 

Now Evo Morales has gone, there is a power vacuum. Increasing numbers of his Mas party are resigning, and it feels like there is a need for retribution – for Evo Morales and his people to pay the price for the mistakes they made while in power.

His supporters have called this a coup – his detractors the end of tyranny. The priority now is to choose an interim leader, call new elections and bring a polarised Bolivia together or face yet more unrest and violence in the coming weeks.