Entertainment

These Celebrities Experienced The Devastating Impact Of The US Immigration System And Are Fighting Back

The current crackdown by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on individuals who live in the United States as undocumented migrants has generated concern throughout the world. Stories of broken families and shattered hearts constantly appear on the media, and thousands of hard-working migrants tremble every time the president tweets a threat announcing a further crackdown. Some celebrities have been able to voice their concerns and share their stories of family and community separation. But let’s not forget that not everyone is afforded a voice, and that lives are being torn apart every single day! 

These are a few of the celebs who have been affected by immigration policies and who have spoken out against the separation of family and friends in a country that was founded on the principle of having open arms for new, hard-working arrivals. 

Diane Guerrero (actress, Orange is the New Black), whose parents were taken by ICE when she was a teenager

Credit: Instagram. @dianexguerrero

The actress was born in the United States from Colombian parents. When she was only 14 in 2001, a high school freshman, her parents were taken by ICE and deported back to South America due to their undocumented status. Guerrero told The Washington Post reflecting on her own experience as a teenager and what younger kids must be going through: “I remember my cries, and it’s nothing like what a 2-year-old must feel. It’s terrifying. I relied on friends and the kindness of strangers. I can only imagine how much harder it would be for children to have to rely on [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents and prison guards for comfort.”

Guerrero narrated her experiences in the book My Family Divided.

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She also told Vogue: “We need to protect our children. There are real people behind these issues: families, children’s lives at stake. I was a casualty of it. Me staying behind, living the way I did, a lot of kids go through this. We need comprehensive immigration reform so that we’re not creating this cycle of poverty and depression and everything that comes with separating a family.” What a story, and what an incredibly strong woman. 

Cardi B, who dealt with the deportation of a dear friend.

21savage / Instagram
Credit: Instagram. @iamcardib

Cardi B is famous for being outspoken and never, ever holding back (that is why we love her!). On February 4, 2019, she came in defense of her friend, British rapper 21 Savage, a British citizen who was taken by ICE because he allegedly overstayed his visa. Cardi B wrote: ““Now let me get ghetto ….and for ya d*** breath mother****** talking bout ‘sO hE nOt FrOm AtLaNta’ he grew up there,” she wrote. “His kids and family live there and BLEW UP there with the support of the community he was raised in. Thank you @21savage for being really good friend to me and @offsetyrn and always coming thru when we need you (sic).” Those who defended the rapper claim that the detention had a racial bias: perhaps his real name, Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, had something to do with it?  

Real Housewives star Teresa Giudice, whose husband was never a U.S. citizen. 

Credit: Instagram. @teresaguidice

Giudice’s husband Joe is due to be deported to Italy after being released from prison in 2018. As it happens, Joe was not aware that he was never a United States citizen, as he migrated with his parents when he was an infant. A statement released by the authorities read: “As standard practice, ICE, through its Criminal Alien Program (CAP) works with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to identify foreign-born nationals who are amenable to removal”.

We can only think of all the Latino families that are in the same boat. In the end, it is all about family. As E! News reported at the time, a source informed them that: “Teresa and Joe have no current plan in place for what to do next in their marriage, even though she is committed to finding a way to make this situation work for her family”. Joe remains in ICE custody as the legal proceedings continue. 

Stories like these break our hearts, but some celebrities are using their migratory status to raise awareness!

The Cuban singer shared how at just six years old, she left her hometown of Havana with her mother on a trip she thought would take her to Disney World. From Mexico, the singer traveled to the United States through Texas where she left on a 36-hour bus ride to Miami. Together, Cabello and her mother started off a backpack that held onto their possessions and $500. “Her goal was always to end up in the United States,” Cabello told the magazine in her retelling of the story. “When she got pregnant with me, she wanted me to be in a place where there was no ceiling to whatever I wanted to do.”

Camila Cabello’s story concerns how much her parents were willing to give up for her in order to ensure she had the best life possible.

While Cabello’s mother had been an architect in Cuba she worked in the U.S. at a Marshalls. To ensure Cabello could attend a public school of the highest quality her mother used a fake address associated with an affluent neighborhood. A year later, Cabello’s father, who is from Mexico, swam the Rio Grande to join his family. To help his family make ends meet her father washed cars at a mall. In 2016, he finally received his green card.

César Millán has also spoken up about living in fear of deportation.

Credit: Instagram. @cesarsway

The most famous dog trainer of them all, Mexican (and now an American citizen) César Millán arrived to the United States as an undocumented worker. He was just 21 and had $100 dollars with him when he crossed the border. His story is a true manifestation of the American Dream and evidences the hard-working nature of many migrants. He wrote in his book “Cesar’s Way”: “I am not ashamed to say it: I came to the United States illegally, for the poor and working class of Mexico, there is no other way to come to America except illegally. It’s impossible”. He is now a United States citizen and has generated hundreds of jobs. 

Bambadjan Bamba, the beloved “Black Panther” is a Dreamer.

Credit: Instagram. @bambathegreat

Bambadjan Bamba is a 35-year-old actor who “came out” as a Dreamer in 2017 after the Trump administration threatened to end the program. He was just ten when he arrived in the United States with his parents, feeling a precarious situation in his native country of Ivory Coast.

He was one of the first and few Hollywood actors to reveal his DACA status. He told Variety: “I’m going public first and foremost because I’m sick and tired of living in fear and hiding about this issue. I’ve kind of been in this status for 25 years of my life. I remember when the administration decided to cancel DACA — that was the last straw for me because not only am I married, but I have a daughter now. I didn’t feel like I could still sit back and keep hitting the snooze button.”

Salma Hayek has said that she was also undocumented when she started out in Hollywood

Credit: Instagram. @salmahayek

Our beloved Salmita moved to Los Angeles in 1991 as a student, hoping to become an actress. She has admitted that her visa expired and was in the country illegally, a fact that has been confirmed by her publicist. The truth is that Salma is one of the most representative Mexican voices in the United States, and she often voices her support for immigration reform.

She told World Entertainment News Network about her early days working in Hollywood saying “We are productive for society in many ways. The movies that I’ve worked in have amounted to almost one billion dollars. This is good for this economy. We contribute and it’s a lot of money that I had a part in”.

She also defended the decision of farm workers and other types of laborers to migrate north: “If they could work legally, then they would pay the taxes that benefit America. There needs to be immigration reform. It is really horrible that we are not spending the time actually working out a good well-planned, well thought-out immigration reform.” Hear, hear, girl! 

Town Outraged After Gas Station Worker Threatens to Call ICE on Spanish-Speaking Latinas

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Town Outraged After Gas Station Worker Threatens to Call ICE on Spanish-Speaking Latinas

After a viral video surfaced of a Mobile gas station employee threatening that “ICE will come” for the Mexican women simply trying to buy chips, community protests have led to the suspension of the employee. That’s not enough for the community members of Naperville, Illinois, who are continuing to protest outside the gas station until the racista is fired.

Speaking Spanish is not a crime in this country, but racists are feeling empowered more and more often to harass brown people for speaking Spanish.

Carolina Buitron and her visiting family from Mexico just wanted to buy some chips.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

Buitron told NBC Chicago that they were speaking Spanish when the cashier, self-identified as Joseph Phillip Daniel on his social accounts, assumed they were “illegals” and asked them to leave.

Buitron said that once “he started asking about my cousins, if they were illegal, family or friends, are they adopted,” she took out her cell phone and started recording to Facebook Live.

“I am an American,” Daniel says, pointing to himself.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

He asks the woman in the video, “Are you a citizen?” to which she responds, “Yes. What is your problem?” She repeatedly asks him, “What is your problem?” but he responds, “Don’t you know the rules? They need to go back to their country. It’s illegal. You’ll be sorry.

The group threatens to call the police on him, and he then starts to say “I hate that…” when the woman emotionally responds, “I hate you.”

People in line were either silent or joined in Daniel’s hate speech.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

One viewer of the Facebook Live stream noticed that the “white lady didn’t care bcuz she felt wht he felt. b****.” A second video published by another member of the group showed both Daniel and another customer yelling, “You have no rights,” to the women.

“ICE will come. Bye. God bless you. You’re in the wrong country,” he says on their way out.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

One woman chuckles and responds, “God bless you, too. God bless you, too.” Another mutters, “stupid,” under her breath as they exit the scene as America’s newest victims of recorded blatant ethnic and racial discrimination.

The video quickly went viral with over 400k views in a single day.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

Naperville resident, Juan Garcia, was “so pissed” after watching the video and rallied his community to protest the store that employs the racist. While Mobile’s name is front and center, it’s Bucky’s Convenience Stores that operates the snack shop.

In a statement, Bucky’s commented that Daniel’s language is “not reflective of the core values of Bucky’s Convenience Stores. We are aware of the situation and are managing this personnel issue. We take this matter seriously and strive to ensure that all customers are treated with respect.”

The day after the video went viral, Daniel was suspended pending “investigation.”

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

Even while justice has not yet been fully served, the fact that Daniel was suspended has @robluft correctly tweeting that there are “higher standards for a gas station attendant than the President.”

Still, Juan Garcia isn’t going to stop organizing protests until Daniel is fired.

The Naperville community has been overwhelmingly supportive of the protests.

@GarciaJuanPOL / Twitter

@PhoebeP46 responded to the video saying, “As someone who used to live in Naperville, I’m not even surprised. It was honestly just a matter of time until they went viral for someone exposing them.”

While organizer Juan Garcia is being lauded for doing “the Lord’s work,” Daniel turns out to be just a straight up piece of work.

Plot twist: Daniel calls himself a Minister and thinks Nancy Pelosi is a Satanist.

Joseph Phillip Daniel Ministries / Facebook

His last post was on July 17, the day he was suspended from his work as a cashier. In the post, Daniel gives us an intense mixture of right-wing politics and a God that sends curses and combats demons. According to Daniel, those of us who call out racists are riddled with demons.

Daniel titled the post, “The Trump curse /Begins taking its effect on the political career of the Satanist, Nancy Pelosi.” He goes on to say, “The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi defames our President Trump, bringing curses upon herself as the demons inside her lead her to falsely call him a racist on the House floor….”

The Mayor of Naperville has condemned the speech, and residents are apologizing to the women on behalf of all of Illinois.

@CahilMaureen / Twitter

Mayor Steve Chirico posted to Facebook saying that “hate has no home here in Naperville.”

Chirico is clear as he continues, “Quite frankly, this type of behavior has no place in society at large. Our city prides itself on being open and inclusive to all. Civility towards each other is an important component of being a global citizen, and I urge everyone in our community to showcase the kindness, compassion, and good decorum that our residents are known for and that our world needs more of.”

Meanwhile, a smattering of racists have defended Daniel, but allies are clapping back louder.

@foreverstefanie / Twitter

One commenter thought the video only showed Daniel telling the women “that illegal people are here illegally” and Latinos are just being dramatic. This is a long-used method to gaslight and oppress minorities.

Politico maintains a record of hate speech and found that the phrase “go back to where you came from” is a very common dog whistle. Telling women that they’ll “be sorry” and “ICE will come” for speaking Spanish is racist. Punto.

See for yourself what pendejada looks like:

You can help offer justice to these women by making sure Mobile and Bucky’s know that a suspension isn’t a satisfactory response to discriminating against customers based off their language. This will not blow over until justice is served. #MakeRacistsAfraidAgain

Because Words Matter: Rep Joaquin Castro Wants To Get Rid Of The Words “Alien” And “Illegal” In Federal Law, And That Is A Big Deal

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Because Words Matter: Rep Joaquin Castro Wants To Get Rid Of The Words “Alien” And “Illegal” In Federal Law, And That Is A Big Deal

Before we go ahead with this story let’s do something rapidito. Ready? OK, so let’s do a little thought experiment… 

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read or hear the word “alien”? Perhaps something like this?

Credit: @rzaba3 / Giphy

Yeah, something totally out of popular culture sci-fi imaginary, and what all those people that are pretending to storm into Area 51 are hoping to find. 

Or perhaps something out of a Hollywood blockbuster? A slimy, flesh-eating beast?

Credit: @nerdist / Giphy

The stuff that comes in your pesadillas at night! 

And what about the world “illegal”? Que te viene a la mente? Perhaps a police headshot? 

See where we are getting at? Your mind goes to criminality, shoot outs, police stations and fugitives, the world of law enforcement. It makes you feel threatened. 

Now, if you combine “illegal” with “alien”, this is what some gringos might think about:

Credit: @machetekills / Giphy
Credit: Giphy. @machetekills

Although Danny Trejo is a sweetheart, he is the epitome of the visual representation of the “bad hombre” in Trumplandia. 

And now think about “illegal alien” in the current political context. Does your brain produce an image similar to this?

Credit: image1170x530cropped. Digital image. UN News

It’s a big jump from movie characters and slimy monsters to the plight of thousands of migrants who are fleeing violence, war and persecution in their home countries, right? It doesn’t take a law or literature degree to see how the use of “alien” and “illegal” criminalizes anyone who tries to migrate to another country through whatever means necessary. 

Actually the dictionary definitions of these two words are pretty damning: 

Credit: black-and-white-dictionary. Digital image. EF English Live

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines them as follows:

“Alien” means “coming from a different country, race, or group” or “strange and not familiar” or “relating to creatures from another planet”. 

“Illegal” means “not allowed by law” and the dictionary gives the following examples: “a campaign to stop the illegal sale of cigarettes to children under 16”, “Prostitution is illegal in some countries”, “It is illegal to drive a car that is not registered and insured” and “Cocaine, LSD, and heroin are all illegal drugs/substances”. 

Phrasing is important, so that is why Texas Representative Joaquin Castro introduced a bill to change federal legislation and taking off the words “alien” and “illegal” from policy. So what is the terminology he is proposing?

The terms “alien” and “illegal alien” are an accusation rather than a denomination, and Castro doesn’t hold himself back from calling this a way of demonizing and dehumanize migrant communities. According to an article published by Foreign Affairs New Zealand, Castro is proposing a different, middle-ground terminology for describing individuals who migrate to the country outside of the official immigration system: “Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today introduced the CHANGE Act, legislation that eliminates the term “alien” and “illegal alien” from the Immigration and Nationality Act, and replaces them with “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national” respectively”. 

This small but significant change would alter how courts and the justice system in general perceives migrants. Repeat after us: “words matter”!

This is how Joaquin Castro himself puts it: “Words matter. It’s vital that we respect the dignity of immigrants fleeing violence and prosecution in our language. The words “alien” and “illegal alien” work to demonize and dehumanize the migrant community. They should have no place in our government’s description of human beings. Immigrants come to our borders in good faith and work hard for the opportunity to achieve a better life for themselves and their family. Eliminating this language from government expression puts us one step closer to preserving their dignity and ensuring their safety”.

The legal system deals in the currency of words and descriptions. Judges and juries make their decisions based on how the alleged crimes are presented, and the words “alien” and “illegal alien” certainly cast a shadow of criminality over migrants. These words strip them of a face, of a life story, of a personality. And this institutional act of stigmatization takes place regardless of whether the person being judged is an old woman, a adult man or a child (we seriously can’t get over how brutal authorities can be, even getting kids to decide which parent they want to stay with at the border). 

The use of “alien” has long been a stigma on the Latino community.

Credit: LATimes

As Jose Antonio Vargas wrote in a heartbreaking 2015 editorial published by The New York Times (we really recommend you read the whole thing):

“RESIDENT ALIEN.”

Those two words, in all caps, adorn the plastic-covered green card that my grandfather, a naturalized U.S. citizen, handed me shortly after I arrived in the United States from the Philippines. I was 12. I don’t remember thinking much about the card (which was not green) or the words (which, strung together, seemed like the title of a video game or a movie). It wasn’t until four years later, while applying to get a driver’s permit, that I learned the card was fake. I wasn’t a “RESIDENT ALIEN” at all but another kind of alien — in common parlance, an “illegal alien.”

The label “alien” is nothing but alienating. And when coupled with “illegal,” it’s especially toxic. The words seep into the psyche, sometimes to the point of paralysis. They’re dehumanizing.

So does Joaquin Castro look like VERY familiar? Well get used to that face (two very trending politicians wear it with Brown Latino pride!)

Credit: joaquincastrotx / Instagram

 Joaquin is the twin of Julian Castro, one of the candidates in the run for the Democratic presidential nomination. The brothers were born to a chicana political activist. That is why  social justice and human dignity runs in their blood. They are sort of a Latino Kennedy duo championing migrants rights! Yes, please. 

BTW, Castro has a long history of fighting for migrant rights, of course

Credit: @joaquincastrotx / Twitter

Joaquin Castro was born in 1974, so he is a pretty young politician at just 44 years of age. As we said, his family was politically active from a very early age, so it is no surprise that migration is on top of his legislative agenda. Depending on how his brother Julian does in the Democratic primary (our prediction is that he will get better recognition in mainstream politics, but it is a long shot for him), the Castro twins could either become an important part of the new administration or a fierce opposition to a second Trump term (oh, we hate to say this but we might need to consider the possibility that this might actually happening). 

And he is no fan of POTUS.

Credit: @joaquincastro / Twitter

He is unafraid of calling him out when needed, like when Trump went ballistic over the progressive agenda of the Fantastic Four (that’s how we prefer to call Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib).

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