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.

A Quick Explanation About What Is Happening In The Dominican Republic

Things That Matter

A Quick Explanation About What Is Happening In The Dominican Republic

josejhan / Instagram

Dominicans across the world are protesting in unison to demand transparency in the recent elections in the Dominican Republic. The protests stem from a recent municipal election that many are calling into question. Faulty voting machines and a lack of transparency have set off a warning call within the global Dominican community fearing election tampering and a power grab. Here’s what we know so far.

Dominicans are demanding answers about irregularities in the latest election on the island.

Four hours into the voting process, the Dominican government reported irregularities with the voting machines. According to officials, 60 percent of the voting machines were experiencing the same issue of showing voters incomplete ballots. Many showed just one party on the ballot. That’s when the government, in an unprecedented move, suspended the Feb. 16 elections.

People across the island have joined in taking to the streets to protest against the government’s decision to suspend the elections.

Tensions are flaring on the island about election tampering and voting after one party has ruled the presidency for 24 years. It is also three months until the general elections and Dominicans don’t trust the process after the latest snafu.

“The electronic vote failed us that morning,” Electoral Board Presiden Julio César Castaños Guzmán, said at a press conference.

Yet, Casatños Guzmán admitted that the Dominican government was warned that they knew of the issue before the elections began but were under the impression that they could be fixed when the machines were installed. The elections proved that the issue was not corrected.

Concerned Dominicans are desperately trying to shine a full light on what they consider an imminent dictatorship.

“The Dominican people are under a dictatorship disguised as democracy,” Alejandro Contreras, a protester in New York told NBC News. “We will be demanding the resignation of all the members of the electoral board, as well as a formal public explanation on the impunity and corruption within the government, among other issues.”

The protests and election fears come the same week as the Dominican Republic’s independence day.

On Feb. 27, 1844, the Dominican Independence War led to the imperial independence of the Dominican Republic from Haiti. The number of casualties from the war are unknown but Haiti is estimated to have lost three times more soldiers than the Dominican Republic.

The fears of a dictatorship are real on the island who was under a dictatorship for 31 years in the 20th century. Rafael Trujillo ruled the island with a brutal fist from February 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. He was president of the island for two terms covering 18 years from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952. After the last term, he ruled as an unelected military man keeping the island in fear.

All eyes are on the Dominican Republic and their government as Dominicans across the world fight to preserve its democracy.

Credit: @sixtalee / Twitter

Sigue luchando. El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido. Viva la democracia.

READ: After A Year Of Bad Press, The Dominican Republic Launches Campaign To Bring Tourists Back

Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

Things That Matter

Bernie Sanders Faces Backlash For Saying That Not ‘Everything Is Bad’ In Castro’s Cuba

berniesanders / Instagram

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is once again touting what he sees as the benefits of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The Vermont senator first made comments praising parts of Castro’s Cuba in a 1985 interview. Now, 15 years later, Sen. Sanders is standing behind his idea that not everything is bad in Cuba in a 60 Minutes interview.

Senator Bernie Sanders is facing backlash from critics after his 60 Minutes interview because of his comments on Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

In the 1980s, Sen. Sanders was caught on camera more than once praising parts of the Castro regime in Cuba. He points to the health care and education systems as parts of the government that works for Cuban people. The comments resurfaced in 2019 and caused a backlash against the senator in the Cuban diaspora, whose pains are still fresh from the overthrow of the government.

Now, in a “60 Minutes” interview, the Vermont senator has doubled down on his comments that some of the Cuban government is good.

Anderson Cooper – “What is Democratic Socialism?”

Bernie Sanders – “When Donald Trump was a private businessman in New York, he got $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing. That’s called Socialism. What Democratic Socialism is about is saying, ‘Let’s use the federal government to protect the interest of working families.’”

BS – “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But, you know, it’s simply unfair to say that everything is bad. You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?”

AC – “There were a lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba.”

BS – “That’s right and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear. I do not think that Kim Jung Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.”

The comments have sparked some backlash on social media from Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Credit: @marcorubio / Twitter

Senator Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, has been a vocal opponent of Socialism. He has used the crisis in Venezuela to solidify his point about the dangers of the government system he believes Sen. Sanders wants to start in the U.S. Yet, Sen. Sanders’s point is not that the Castro regime is good. In the “60 Minutes” interview, the senator made it clear that he does not support the Castro regime and the brutality it caused for the Cuban people. However, he does believe there are things we can learn from the Caribbean island about offering health care and education to the population.

One point of contention with the senator’s comments is that the Cuban people didn’t fight back because of the new programs.

Credit: @DebbieforFL / Twitter

The Castro regime is known to have oppressed dissidents and political opponents. Speaking out against the authoritarian regime was not safe. People were jailed, killed, and exiled for standing up to Castro’s rise to power. Families fled the island and settled around the world to escape what they saw as a justifiable threat to their lives and sovereignty.

Some people are sharing personal stories of their families’ treatment under the Castro regime.

Credit: @GiancarloSopo / Twitter

The generational trauma created by the Castro regime is still felt today. Some people used Sen. Sanders’s comments as a chance to tell a fuller story of the government some have praised for their social services.

A clip of President Barack Obama speaking on the same social issues in Cuba is also circulating.

President Obama worked tirelessly to reopen relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He was the first sitting president to visit the island when it was announced that diplomatic ties were reopened between the two countries. Part of being able to open those relations was eliminating the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cuban nationals to stay in the U.S. after migrating. This allowed Cubans to be deported back to Cuba, something that hadn’t happened since Cubans first started to flee their homeland. In response, Cubans illegally in the U.S. have been subjected to ICE raids and detention for the first time because of President Donald Trump’s increasing escalation against the immigrant community.

There is a lot of concern from Democratic supporters that the comment could cost the party Florida in the general election if Sen. Sanders is nominated.

Credit: @IvanBrandon / Twitter

The Cuban and Cuban-American population in Florida is a key demographic to win the state in general elections. His comments cherry-picking what is and is not good about the Cuban government is having a resonating effect in Florida. Cuban Democrats and Republicans in the state are untied in rebuking the senator’s comments as glossing over the true victimization and terror millions faced.

READ: Bernie Sanders Praises Fidel Castro And His Revolution In Cuba During Resurfaced Interview From 1985