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.

As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

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As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

@themoteige / Twitter

On Dec. 18, just before Christmas, a gift arrived at the House of Congress, two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. After what seemed like an eternity of “will Trump ever be impeached?” the moment some Americans have been calling for finally came to fruition. Yet, the moment of justice against Trump was quickly fogged when Republicans began to attempt to derail the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it perfectly clear that articles of impeachment presented from the House chamber to the Senate chamber would be dismissed because no Republican would ever vote to impeach Trump. Then something magical happened. People started talking.

Almost a month after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate floor on Jan. 15 to begin the impeachment trial.

Credit: @speakerPelosi / Twitter

It took a while for Rep. Pelosi to get those articles of impeachment to the Senate, but many believed she had a strategic plan. After all, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he wouldn’t allow any witnesses or hear any new evidence. So, Rep. Pelosi must have had a plan, right? 

“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution,” Pelosi said in the letter, according to NPR. Rep. Pelosi also said she didn’t expect a fair trial. She proceeded, anyway. 

Democrats also announced they would have impeachment managers. Speaker of the House Pelosi named seven diverse lawmakers, including one Latina. 

Credit: @AlexNBCNews / Twitter

The seven lawmakers were picked because they have a legal background or expertise and also have served in Congress for decades. 

What’s remarkable about this diverse group of impeachment managers is that, as the New York Times notes, when President Bill Clinton had his impeachment trial in 1999, the impeachment managers back then were 13 white men. This time around, Trump is getting Rep. Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead manager, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Val Demings, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, Rep. Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

On the same day that the trial got underway — and the managers were sworn in, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial  — new revelations against Trump and others came roaring out of the TV.

Credit: @revsusanrussell / Twitter

If you’ve been keeping up with the impeachment process, you should know that Trump’s being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son for corruption. That’s what all of this is about, Trump asking for personal favors to get dirt against a politician who is seeking to run for office. Trump has said many times that request was not a favor. Now, at least one person involved in the Ukraine exchange of information is throwing Trump and many others under the bus. If you need a full refresher of the entire mess, click here

Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani, told multiple journalists that Trump’s request to get dirt on Biden was known by all.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

“Because of my Ukrainian background and my contacts there, I became like Rudy’s assistant, his investigator,” he told the New Yorker. “I don’t do anything on my own. I don’t lobby people. I go get information. I set up a meeting. I make sure that the call went right. I make sure the translation is done right.”

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he told Rachel Maddow, “He was aware of all my movements … I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

Even people who once said they never met Parnas, including Rep. Devin Nunes, finally admitted to having known Parnas.

Credit: @jennyrachelpal / Twitter

Just last month, Rep. Nunes said he wasn’t sure who Parnas was and added that he would never speak to random people. However, like many people connected to the scandal, Nunes has now admitted that he has talked to Parnas. Rep. Nunes went on Fox News to say that he did look back at his records and realize he had talked with him. 

“I didn’t remember the name. But I did remember going back, looking at where I was at the time. Because you know you can do that now,” he said, according to CNN. “You actually know where you physically are. Checked it with my records, and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random. Talking about random things. And I said, ‘Great, you know, just talk to my staff’ and boom, boom, boom. Which is normal, standard operating procedure.”

Seems like the impeachment trial is just heating up and more information is casting doubt on Trump and his most ardent defenders.

READ: Kellyanne Conway Is Convinced That Americans Think the Impeachment Process is a Sham

Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

dr.giammattei / Instagram

Tuesday marked a new era of leadership in Guatemala as the Latin country swore in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative doctor and former prison system director from the right-wing Vamos party. The 63-year-old won the presidency on his fourth attempt back in August with bold promises of changing a corrupt government and restoring the rule-of-law in city streets. 

“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said at his swearing-in ceremony that had a five-hour delay.

His ceremony somewhat overshadowed by delays and protests against ex-President Jimmy Morales, who for four years dodged accusations of corruption. The scene of protestors throwing eggs and voicing anger at the outgoing administration was a reminder of the displeasure against the country’s deep-seated political corruption. It’s also a key reason why many are looking to Giammattei to bring change to the struggling country. 

As Giammattei takes office, there are questions on what his presidency will mean to Guatemala in the short and long term as issues over the future of an asylum deal with the United States comes into focus. 

One of the biggest issues confronting Guatemala and one that Giammattei will have to address early is the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) that was signed by Morales last July with the U.S. government. The agreement, which was highly opposed in Guatemala, lets U.S. immigration officials send Honduran and Salvadoran migrants that are requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection here instead. There is now increasing skepticism as reports say that the U.S. wants to expand the deal to include Mexican asylum seekers as well.

Last year, there were many Guatemalans that were part of a 3,000 migrant caravan that made its way up from Latin America to the U.S. The caravan consisted of people that were looking to claim asylum and became a symbol of the growing migration crisis at the southern border. President Trump frequently attacked the caravan and eventually threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t agree to the asylum deal.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, “as of Friday, 128 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers had been sent as part of the agreement,” with only a limited number actually applying for asylum there and others returning home. Giammattei has previously said that he’s willing to make changes to the agreement but on Tuesday said he would revisit details later. 

The country, one of Latin America’s poorest nations, is a key part of President Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration and asylum claims. mostly from those coming to the U.S. Southern border. The issue for many living in Guatemala is how to let those seeking asylum when itself has become a major source of U.S. bound migrants. 

Poverty levels have only grown in the last 20 years and income inequality levels continue to be a big problem in the country. 

One of the big platform issues that Giammattei ran his campaign on was helping the shorten income inequality gap and poverty levels that have only grown in the last 20 years. Fifty-nine percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line and almost 1 million children under the age of 5 are believed to live with chronic malnutrition, according to the AP. 

There is also the rampant problem of street violence and cartel gangs that have had a major effect on the daily lives of many in the country. Giammattei plans to address this with reforms that include designating “street gangs as terrorist groups.”

“This is the moment to rescue Guatemala from the absurd. It is the moment to combat corruption and malnutrition,” Giammattei said on Tuesday in his first address to the country as president. “There is no peace without security, I will present a law that aims to declare street gangs for what they are – terrorist groups.”

There is hope that Giammattei will turn a new page in Guatemala that will see change come to all in the country that has faced uncertainty for years. But only time will tell if this is indeed new leadership or business as usual.

“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” Giammattei said. “We will govern with decency, with honourability, and with ethical values.”

READ: In Efforts To Double Latino Representation In Hollywood, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Unveils New Historic Initiative