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.

Samantha Bee Sat Down With Four Undocumented People Who Once Worked For President Trump

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Samantha Bee Sat Down With Four Undocumented People Who Once Worked For President Trump

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

President Trump has made it a key part of his presidency to go after undocumented immigrants. He has used tactics to demonize them and uses fearmongering to make sure his base of supporters blame the undocumented community for their problems. Samantha Bee recently sat down with three undocumented people who were once employees of Trump and how they saw a change after his practices were exposed.

Samantha Bee started by asking them if they needed papers when they were first hired.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samanta Bee / YouTube

“When I got there I asked the supervisor, ‘Do we need papers here?’” one of the women recalled. “And she says, ‘No, no, it doesn’t matter. But in 2016, they started asking for documents. And then my manager told me, ‘This guy will take you somewhere where they make those papers.’”

That’s right. A former housekeeper for President Trump told Samantha Bee that she was not required to have papers are the start of her job but was eventually taken to get fake ones made.

Originally, the undocumented workers for Trump did think that things might get better for them when he was running to be president.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

However, they quickly realized that he was going to do anything but help them if he won the race. Unfortunately, they were right. Trump has a documented record of attacking undocumented immigrants and has started taking aim at legal immigrants.

Within the company, things did change when Trump started his presidential campaign.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

“When he started his campaign, from then on they didn’t let me go to his house,” one woman told Samantha Bee. “So, I would go into Ivanka’s house and sometimes Eric’s when he would visit.”

Yet, instead of firing people for being undocumented when he became the president, he gave them certificates.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

The certificates were to show the employees how much Trump appreciated their hard work while working for him. They originally thought they were pretty cool because they are from the White House. Yet, it was not enough to combat the darkness to come.

It wasn’t long until there was abuse from the supervisors, according to one woman.

Credit: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee / YouTube

“The supervisor would assign me double shifts,” the first source said. “And she would tell me, ‘This is how we should treat immigrants’—and if we said anything, immigration would come. And when [Trump] called us ‘immigrant rapists,’ the supervisor would say, ‘Good, good, that’s nice because immigrants are no good. Garbage.’ … There were many insults, and she even hit me three times,” she alleged. “So I decided to speak out, because there was so much injustice.”

Watch the full interview below!

READ: Undocumented Employees Are Being Fired From Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Resort After Hiring Practices Were Exposed

‘Ya Me Voy’ Documentary Gives And Intimate And Emotional Look Into The State Of The Immigration Debate In The US

Entertainment

‘Ya Me Voy’ Documentary Gives And Intimate And Emotional Look Into The State Of The Immigration Debate In The US

imleavingnowdoc / Instagram

The recent immigration debate in the U.S. has largely centered around the forced separation of families at the southern border and indefinite detentions. However, “Ya Me Voy,” a documentary by Mu Media, is shining light on the internal immigration debate. The story centers on a man living undocumented in the U.S. and his decision to stay in the U.S. or leave and rejoin his family. However, unexpected love and troubles at home in Mexico play a major role in his decision.

“I’m Leaving Now (Ya Me Voy)” is a touching look at the personal immigration debate many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face.

Credit: mumedia / Instagram

Felipe, an undocumented immigrant living in New York, has spent years living away from his family in Mexico. His mission was to find work and send money home regularly to help his family with the ultimate goal to move back to be with his wife and kids.

The documentary starts with Felipe calling his family telling them that he was ready to move back to Mexico and reunite with them.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

After several attempts and changes of mind, Felipe is finally ready to go back home. He had been sending his family money and expects to come home in a better position. It has been 16 years and he has been diligent in sending money back to his family.

However, during a phone call home, he learns that everything he had worked for has fallen apart.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

His family had managed to squander the money he had sent back for them. Not only that, they had gotten themselves into debt. Felipe, who was planning to go home, realizes that it might not be able to go home since the family is now indebted after his 16 years of hard, manual labor in the U.S.

During the documentary, the audience learns that Felipe has fallen in love with a woman in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

The romantic relationship complicates his decision to do home. On one hand, he wants to reunite with his sons and wife more than anything. He misses them terribly and knows that his heart ultimately lies with them. However, his family has spent the money he managed to send them and returning would put him back where he was when he came to the U.S. all those years ago. The new romance offers him solace and comfort in the U.S.

We witness Felipe having tough conversations with his new life in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

Felipe is trying to determine if he is still able to move back to a family he does not know. It has been so long since he left Mexico that he is essentially a stranger to his children. His wife has been without him for 16 years and he has set unexpected roots in a place that was supposed to be temporary. At one point, you see him telling a vendor that he was preparing to leave and she jokes that she’ll believe it when he is no longer here.

Ultimately, he is forced to make a decision as to whether he is going to stay in the U.S. or be with a family he left years ago.

Credit: mumedia / Instagram

His tale is one that so many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. experience. They leave friends and family behind in an attempt to better the lives of those they are leaving behind. Many will never see their family again and have to miss major moments, like funerals, to sacrifice it all to help their family.

Watch the full trailer below.

READ: Say Their Names: The People Who Have Died In US Immigration Custody In 2019