Entertainment

Diane Guerrero Is Promoting An Immigration Hotline That Allows Women In Prison To Contact Their Family Free Of Charge

Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black” exposed several truths about ICE detention facilities and the struggles that jailed migrants face. From the lack of resources to the separation of children from parents, the Netflix original series was incredibly on point about these travesties that are being perpetrated with the permission of the United States government.

One of the major themes that impacted Maritza, Blanca and the other ICE detainees in the series was their inability to contact anyone for help. In the episodes, it was impossible for the women to call friends, family or lawyers for assistance without a phone card. Phone cards required cash. Each minute cost about $3 per minute. When the characters did have money for a card, the kiosk to buy the phone cards and stamps was broken. Essentially, they were trapped without the ability to call or write for help.

In order to combat this problem, the women of Spanish Harlem find a free number that the detainees can use and, as it turns out, the number and the organization it contacts is real.

Twitter / @dianeguerrero_

In Season 7, Gloria and Flaca find a number for the real immigration assistance charity, Freedom for Immigrants. Back in 2010, attorney Christina Fialho and cultural anthropologist Christina Mansfield co-created California’s first visitation program at the West County Detention Facility. From there, the organization grew to include other facilities.

Their visitation program joined forces with four other similar programs to become a non-partisan, non-profit organization called Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). This organization would later change its name to Freedom for Immigrants and would continue to help jailed migrants get access to the outside world.

In 2015, the program started its own national hotline that connects people in these detention facilities with volunteers and resources who can help.

Twitter / @MirgantFreedom

The organization sometimes receives as many as 14,000 calls per month from migrants from 148 different countries who speak over 80 different languages. The hotline is completely free and offers help to those who couldn’t otherwise afford the detention facilities’ expensive calls. Just like in Season 7 of “Orange Is The New Black,” the hotline helps connect detainees with pro bono legal services.

In the series, Maritza and Flaca write down Freedom for Immigrant’s hotline in order to distribute it to other detainees. However, Gloria cautions against getting too involved for fear of retaliation against the women. Sure enough, Maritza is soon deported as soon as the guards catch on to her actions.

Unfortunately, this same retaliation was aimed at Freedom for Immigrants last year and it limited the organization’s ability to help their migrant clients.

Twitter / @MigrantFreedom

Although visitors have the right to pass out their number to detainees, members of Freedom for Immigrants have always been cautious when passing out their hotline number. They were aware that guards and officials were not supportive of a free line to the outside. In 2018, ICE blocked access to Freedom for Immigrants number in their facilities. This occurred after volunteers for the program refused to sign away their rights to speak to the media about conditions inside the centers.

Blocking their number impacted the organization’s ability to offer support to the ICE detainees. The migrants already had such little help and contact with the outside world. By blocking Freedom of Immigrant’s number, ICE officials completely took away access to the outside world and all hope they had for freedom.

This isn’t the first bout of retaliation that the organization has experienced.

Twitter / @MsLauraGomez

Back in 2013, ICE shut down three visitation programs that Freedom for Immigrants was affiliated with. This happened following a Huffington Post editorial that the organization wrote about conditions of these facilities. In the past, ICE has also blocked the personal cell phone numbers of volunteers to further isolate detainees from the outside world. In the meantime, donors to the Freedom for Immigrants organization have helped volunteers spread calling cards to detainees as the nonprofit continues to fight to have their number unblocked.

While free people outside of these facilities can survive threats and retaliation, migrants trapped in detention do not have the same freedoms and assurances.

Twitter / @democracynow

When jailed migrants are caught attempting to access these helpful services, they also face retaliation. Just like Maritza, they have to worry about threats of deportation. Isolation, violence and transfers to other centers are also tactics used against detainees to keep them compliant.

Ultimately, ICE does not want these migrants to have any access to the outside world. They don’t want them to have help or hope. “Orange Is The New Black” is obviously a work of fiction but the series got this detail right and it’s painful to see. However, we can’t look away. To look away would be a disservice to the jailed migrants and the volunteers trying to free them.

You can help further the cause of Freedom for Immigrants by volunteering or donating here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j0Qf-UjgKQ&t=2s

Bolivia’s Ousted President Won’t Run Again As Indigenous People March In Guatemala In Solidarity With Him

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Bolivia’s Ousted President Won’t Run Again As Indigenous People March In Guatemala In Solidarity With Him

evoespueblo / Twitter

South America’s poorest country, Bolivia, is in the midst of a political crisis, and Guatemala’s indigenous people are marching in solidarity with ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales. After the Guatemalan government joined the United States in recognizing extreme right self-appointed Jeanine Anez as the interim president of Bolivia, Guatemala’s indigenous people expressed their outrage in an organized protest. Hundreds of indigenous people marched in Guatemala’s capital Thursday to protest the change of government, which they view as a coup d’etat of Bolivia’s first indigenous president. With a “Brother Evo, Guatemala is with you” banner in hand, the protesters marched toward a heavily guarded US embassy. The next day, Morales announced that he won’t be “taking part in new elections.”

Before Morales rose to the presidency, he was a campesino activist, representing indigenous traditions and customs under attack by the US government. “We are repudiating the discriminatory and racist coup d’etat that took place in Bolivia,” said Mauro Vay, march organizer and head of Guatemala’s Rural Development Committee. 

Protesters proudly waved the wiphala flags, an indigenous symbol of solidarity.

CREDIT: @UKREDREVOLUTION / TWITTER

This man held an image that told the story of a thousand words. As a child, Evo Morales’ family were subsistence farmers, which allowed him to enjoy a basic education. He later moved to grow coca, the raw plant used to make cocaine. During the U.S.’ “War on Drugs,” coca farmers were under attack. Morales rose to defend the campesinos from what he called an imperialist violation of indigenous culture. His protests may have led to several arrests, but his notoriety grew to elect him to Congress as the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party. 

In Paraguay, Bolivian ex-patriates went up against the police to rehang the wiphala flag at the Bolivian embassy.

CREDIT: @WILL_J_COSTA / TWITTER

Several indigenous residents of Paraguay arrived at the Bolivian embassy to hang the Wiphala flag, which was reportedly taken down. They faced police resistance but eventually succeeded. The next day, the flag was removed. 

In 2005, Morales ran against former President Carlos Mesa and won, becoming the first indigenous president of Bolivia. 

CREDIT: @BRETGUSTAFSON / TWITTER

Then, it gets murky. By the time his first term was over, MAS rewrote their constitution to lift the one-term limit on presidents. Morales ran for a second term and won. Even though he claimed he wouldn’t run for a third term, Morales claimed the first term didn’t count because it was completed under the old constitution.  So he ran again and won for the third time. In October 2019, Morales ran for his fourth term, and won by a small margin, prompting a recount.

Just 24 hours into the recount, Morales ordered the recount to an end and declared himself president over his opponent, former president Mesa. the Organization of American States (OAS) conducted an audit that flagged the election as possibly fraudulent.

The OAS is not in the service of the people of Latin America, less so the social movements. The OAS is at the service of the North American empire,” Morales later said. Still, protests erupted across the country.

In a quickly developing government coup, military chiefs removed Morales.

CREDIT: @FAFASCHMITT / TWITTER

On Nov. 10, General Williams Kaliman, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, decided, along with other military chiefs, that Morales should step down. Morales tweeted, “I denounce to the world and the Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he is instructed to execute an illegal arrest warrant against me; likewise, violent groups assaulted my home. A coup destroys the rule of law.” He added, “After looting and trying to set fire to my house in Villa Victoria, vandalism groups of the Mesa and Camacho coup docked my home in the Magisterio neighborhood of Cochabamba. I am very grateful to my neighbors, who stopped those raids. A coup destroys peace.”

Mexico offered him asylum and sent a plane to escort Morales to Mexico City.

CREDIT: @EVOESPUEBLO / TWITTER

“This was my first night after leaving the presidency, forced by the coup of Mesa and Camacho with the help of the Police. There I remembered my times as a leader. Very grateful to my brothers from the federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba for providing security and care,” Morales tweeted. Right-wing Christian opponent, Luis Fernando Camacho, also called “Bolivia’s Bolsonaro,” led violent protests against Morales and his Indigenous supporters, burning Bolivia’s Indigenous Wiphala flag. 

Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Argentina have maintained that his removal from office was a coup. The United States, led by a right-wing president, has recognized Bolivia’s interim right-wing president as valid.

Morales announced Friday that he won’t run for president in the reelection “for the sake of democracy.”

CREDIT: @VERSOBOOKS / TWITTER

Morales resigned Sunday after protests left four people dead. “For the sake of democracy, if they don’t want me to take part, I have no problem not taking part in new elections,” Morales told Reuters while remaining in asylum. “I just wonder why there is so much fear of Evo,” he offered.

READ: A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

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This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

One of the biggest misconceptions that the world has about the United States and its approach to migration, particularly during the Trump administration, is that immigrants are facing rejection everywhere. It is important to explain, however, that federal policies for which the White House and State Departments are responsible sometimes run contrary to what states and even city officials do. 

That is the case of immigrant policies: states like California, for example, have often disagreed with federal authorities in issues such as sanctuary cities. In turn, cities like Chicago, for example, boost and celebrate migration and the multicultural prism that it generates, and run programs that attempt to make new arrivals feel welcome and become a part of the wider community. 

A new study has revealed which cities are most welcoming for migrants, fostering their incorporation into the wider community and encouraging diversity and cultural exchange.

Credit: New American Economy

The study was conducted by New American Economy, a bipartisan research group that is doing work on Immigration Reform. This is the second annual city-index. New American Economy was established by very wealthy corporate executives and mayors including Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. The group’s webpage states its aim: “fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans”.

The group conducts high-end research and they have found that migrants are very important to the economy (duh! did you need all that research to find that out?).

In their first report they found out that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children – a key takeaway that has shifted perspectives and laid the foundation for better conversations about the role of immigrants in our economy and society”. Yessir! The study took into account cities that met these criteria: “Total population is more than 200,000 people. Foreign-born population is more than 10,000 people. The share of total population that is foreign-born is more than 3.6 percent”. 

Chicago reigns supreme! The jewel of the Midwest.

Credit: Crain’s Chicago Business

As a region, the Midwest was the most accomodating site for new arrivals. So why was Chicago ranked on top? Because it provides a better environment for social, political and economic integration. The city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot was, of course, superhappy, and said in a statement: “We are tremendously proud Chicago has been named the most welcoming city in America for immigrants and refugees. This ranking reflects the passionate and dedicated work of countless public officials and community members across our city who have come together to stand up and fight for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, no matter the cost”. Preach!

Let’s not forget that Chicago’s history is full of migratory waves from Greece, Poland, Mexico, Italy… basically people from all over the world have contributed to the economic and social fabric of the city. 

Second place, Chula Vista, California… and the state as a whole is pretty well ranked.

Credit: Port Of San Diego

It is interesting how the border state of California has a total of four cities in the top 10. Common sense could dictate that the states closer to the border would face more challenges when it comes to migration, but the study reveals that California is using its history to develop better programs for integration. The state is in a key geopolitical position: bordering Mexico and the conflicted entry point of Tijuana, but also with a shore in the Pacific Ocean which encourages ties with Asia and Oceania.  Chula Vista got perfect scores for Economic Empowerment, Community, and Inclusivity. Well done! 

A very honorable third spot: Jersey City.

Credit: Jersey Digs

Jersey is sometimes seen as secondary to New York City, but it is the third place, a great win in itself. According to the report: “The city earns high marks for Government Leadership, Inclusivity, and Community, among others. Economic Empowerment and Civic Participation are two areas where the city could improve”. 

4th… San Francisco, California, the entryway for many Asian migrants.

Credit: AARP

San Francisco’s history is tightly linked to migration. This city has attracted multiple groups since the Gold Rush, up to the dotcom era when many young professionals arrived in the city looking for that big breakthrough. According to the report, the city scores great in most areas but is expensive: “The city boasts impressive marks across the board in all policy categories. There is room to improve when it comes to Livability, which takes into things such as cost of living and educational attainment levels”.

Yes, the city is very expensive for anyone… one of the most costly in the world. But those views, though!