Entertainment

French Montana Says He Wants To Be The ‘Face Of Hope’ For Migrants And He’s Determined To Make That Happen

French Montana told TMZ he wants to be the “face of hope” for immigrants who come to America. It’s a feeling no doubt many immigrants have right now. The Trump Administration’s depraved immigration policy has resulted in the deaths of citizens and non-citizens. Many immigrant children have died in immigration detention centers due to inhumane and unhygienic conditions. The deeply racist rhetoric towards Latinx and Muslim immigrants, in particular, has made the two groups targets of domestic terrorism. 

This summer a gunman killed at least 20 people in an El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart. In his “manifesto,” the shooter referred to his attack as a response to a “Hispanic invasion.” In January, four men were arrested in New York for planning to attack a small Muslim community. Trump has referred to Mexicans as “rapists,” and called people from Syria, a Muslim-majority nation, “snakes.” All of these men were avid Trump supporters and some unabashedly spewed his hateful talking points on their social media accounts. 

French Montana is proud to be an immigrant.

French Montana has always been outspoken about his African heritage. Born and raised in Morocco before his family immigrated to the Bronx, New York when he was 13 years old. Even with English as his second language, he was able to have a thriving career as a rapper. 

French believes if he hadn’t come to America he wouldn’t have been able to pursue his dreams. He wants similar opportunities for all the other “French Montanas” out there who are seeking the American Dream. 

“I just feel like I came from nothing and I was immigrated to this country,” French told TMZ. “I would have never been ‘French Montana’ if I wasn’t immigrated. I feel like there’s a lot of French Montanas out there.”

French wants to be the “face of hope” for immigrants. 

“I want to be the perfect example for these young kids that come from Africa, that come from third world countries, that come from places that have no hope and all you have is faith,” French said. “I want to be the face of that. We got to mold that and use this platform to broadcast whatever dreams everybody got.”

But he won’t be working with Donald Trump on a better tomorrow for immigrants.

When he was asked if he would work with Trump, Montana seemed uninterested. Instead, he hoped to take a more hands-on role in the African community. 

“I don’t know if I would do that,” he said. “But, I’ll go build a couple hospitals in Uganda and Morocco. Build schools and things that I’ve been doing.” 

While celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Karamo Brown have had meetings with Trump and his administration to improve criminal justice, race relations, and LGBTQ+ relations, respectively, only one has had success. Kim Kardashian credits herself with getting the President to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who spent 21 years in prison for a first-time, non-violent drug charge. 

While every fight for human rights requires everyone to be activated, many activists felt Kardashian’s role overshadowed and downplayed the decades of work put in by real organizers and activists. 

French Montana has been critical of Trump in the past.

Last year, French was critical of Kanye West’s association with Trump and expressed disappointment in Trump’s plan to end the DACA program. 

“But I’m not feeling what he [West]  doing with holding Trump down. I don’t respect nobody who take away education from students. [Trump] took away education from millions of students. They don’t have the DACA program. You know, this country was built on immigrants. Nobody’s from here,” French said. 

The President is just as responsible as the gunmen who pull the triggers.

It isn’t shocking that any immigrant, whether as successful as French or not would oppose the Trump administration. The President’s hateful rhetoric puts immigrants and their loved ones at great risk every day.

“The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb, but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence,” wrote Mehdi Hasan for The Intercept.

This isn’t the first time French Montana has stepped up for immigrants.

In 2018, French teamed up with MTV and the nonprofit Get Schooled for the “We Are the Dream” campaign which provides resources to undocumented immigrants seeking higher education. 

“I am one of tens of thousands of first- and second-generation immigrants that are having a significant positive impact on the United States. I am excited to lead others in this fight to ensure Dreamers connect with support they need to get to college and make their American Dream come true,” he told Rolling Stone. 

We need celebrities like French Montana to use their platform and stories to amplify the voices of immigrants. We’re not safe here until all of us are safe here. 

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

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