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

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.”

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