entertainment

These 2 Latinas Run Hollywood, Can Run The World

jen rosales and patty rodriguez
jen rosales and patty rodriguez
CREDIT: @JENROSALES / INSTAGRAM / PATTY RODRIGUEZ / FACEBOOK

Just because you don’t recognize Patty Rodriguez and Jen Rosales’ names doesn’t mean they’re not making sh*t happen in Hollywood.

As a matter a fact, Rihanna’s world — you know, the trips, tours, clothing lines, etc. — wouldn’t run the way it does if it weren’t for her personal assistant, Jen. As for Patty, would we even know who Ryan Seacrest was if it weren’t for the radio show she produces every morning on KIIS FM? She’s also joined forces with MAC Cosmetics to create a Selena makeup line and sold her children’s books to Barnes & Noble. These Latinas have been running Hollywood for some time, and they’re letting their hard work speak for itself… just like they were taught by their parents.

“Being successful in this industry came hand-in-hand with being Latina. Watching my parents just GRIND on a daily basis, from morning to night, everyday,” Rosales said. “The one thing I always knew was to work hard, and you’ll succeed.”

“To me, it just feels like a dream. It’s hard to imagine that this little Mexican-American girl, whose parents came here to this country with nothing, was able to go for it,” Rodriguez said. “It still feels like a dream.”

Both  Rodriguez and Rosales come from humble backgrounds. Their parents — Mexican and Costa Rican, respectively — all crossed the border with no money or language skills.

“My dad did it (crossed the border) the old school way, with a coyote and through gutters and desert. My mom crossed like a white woman. She did her hair all big, fabulous coat, high heels and crossed the border,” Rosales said.

The hard work that these Latinas have been putting in for more than a decade has been for one incentive. “With all the glitz and glamour comes a lot of sacrifice and hard work. You miss a lot of personal life, a lot of weddings and a lot of birthdays… but it’s all worth it,” Jen said. “I’ve been able to provide for my family. And that’s all I ever wanted.”

Listen to their interview on USA Latino here

READ: The Week in Photos: Latinos are Getting No Love in Hollywood

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Stepping Onto U.S. Soil Is the Beginning of Legal Battles for Central American Kids

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Stepping Onto U.S. Soil Is the Beginning of Legal Battles for Central American Kids

manuel portillo
CREDIT: MEREDITH HOFFMAN / VICE

For the Salvadoran kids who escape gang violence and actually make it to the United States, stepping onto U.S. soil marks the end of their grueling journey, but the beginning of their legal struggles.

Such is the case of Manuel Portillo, who, at 16 years old, left El Salvador to live with his parents in Austin, Texas, where they had moved to send money home. A year later — like many other kids from El Salvador seeking asylum — Portillo had to go to court and argue his case to seek refugee status, but he couldn’t find a pro bono lawyer that would help him. He missed his court date in fear of being deported and continued going to school and working at a local restaurant.

But he was arrested one night when he was driving without a license. “When I saw a judge later, he said I just had to pay a fine because of the license — but then he said I’d have to go into the hands of immigration officers,” Portillo told Vice. He was sent to a detention center for eight days.

Forty-nine percent of kids fleeing Central America between 2014 and 2015 had no legal representation to help them navigate the system and get asylum. Those who have access to a lawyer are five times more likely to stay as refugees.

Things could improve for these kids with the Day in Court for Kids Act proposed by House Democrats, which would provide legal representation for migrant youths. “We are talking about children running for their lives in many instances,” said Rep. Luis Guitierrez, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “We need to make sure they have access to a lawyer, translator and a fair chance to navigate the American legal system so that they can get justice if they qualify for asylum and are fighting deportation.”

Portillo was lucky enough to have attorney Jacqueline Gurany step in and reopen his case. He was released from the detention center on bond thanks to her. “Manuel actually has a very strong asylum claim. He lived with [his] grandmother in an area dominated by gangs, [which] start to recruit boys at age 9 or 10 in the neighborhood,” Gurany said. And his uncle was nearly killed by gang members.

“I’m surprised Jacqueline helped me — and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be here,” he said, “and I’ll keep fighting to stay.”

Read more about the future improvements on legal representation for migrant youth seeking asylum here

READ: Could the U.S. be Blamed for Gang Violence in El Salvador?

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