The 18-year-old teen’s journey to the United States was multiple living hells: He was orphaned at 5 years old, left Guatemala at 12, and was kidnapped before making it to Los Angeles. Once here, however, Gaspar has taken every little opportunity to make something of his life. He told the Los Angeles Times that he only sleeps about three hours a night because he’s juggling both school and work.
But wait, there’s more: Gaspar will also donate half of the money he gets to help his classmates at Casa Libre LA, the shelter home and organization that provided so much support to this wonderful teen.
Pretty much me right now.
Although there’s been much support coming in, the the crowdfunding campaign has only reached 25 percent of their total goal. If you, too, have been moved by Gaspar Marcos’s story, feel free to donate here.
There have been some heated words between California Governor Gavin Newsom and President Donald Trump over funding health care for undocumented immigrants. By signing a $214.8 billion operating budget last week, California’s governor will guarantee that low-income adults 25 and younger living in the country illegally will be eligible for the state’s Medicaid program. President Trump criticized Newsom for the move as the issue has become a key talking point going into the 2020 presidential election.
California will become the first state to expand health coverage for those living in the country illegally.
In his first state budget as governor, Newsom will be extending public health insurance to undocumented low-income immigrants up to the age of 26. There was some push to put a bill forward that would cover seniors as well but Newsom was hesitant about that because of costs. The governor has previously said he wants to eventually cover all undocumented immigrants in the state. These new measures come with an expected cost of $98 million to cover about 90,000 people.
The call for public health coverage for undocumented immigrants in the state is the opposite stance for the Trump administration and Republican leaders. Many see the volatile issue will become a hot topic issue during the 2020 presidential election.
“To my friends at Fox News, I know we’re keeping you in business and getting your advertising rates and clicks going, but we believe in universal healthcare — universal healthcare is a right,” Newsom said at a press conference in Sacramento on Monday.
Newsom’s approach to healthcare in California has angered some Republicans particularly, President Trump.
Within hours, Trump went on the attack. “The Democrats want to treat the illegals with health care and other things better than they treat the citizens of our country,” he told reporters in response to a question about his administration’s push to ask about citizenship on the census.
“You look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people — they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants,” he continued, adding that “we’re going to stop it, but we may need an election to stop it.”
The topic of health insurance for undocumented people in the U.S. has become a hot button issue after the Democratic debates.
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro spoke this weekend again about the importance of offering undocumented people health insurance.
“What I’d like to Americans to know, right now, No. 1, undocumented immigrants already pay a lot of taxes,” Castro told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “Secondly, we already pay for the health care of undocumented immigrants. It’s called the emergency room. And then third, it’s the right thing to do. We’re not going to let people living in this country die because they can’t see a doctor. That’s not who we are as Americans.”
When pictures emerged last week of the devastating conditions immigrant children were being subjected to at detention centers, Patty Rodriguez felt she couldn’t idly stand by. The images made such an impact on Rodriguez that she knew she had to do something to help the children any way she could.
In one weekend, the co-founder and author of bilingual children’s books Lil’ Libros mobilized her social media followers to raise over $9,000..
Rodriguez mobilized her 90,000 Instagram followers to raise enough money to send hundreds of pairs of shoes to a shelter in Texas. On June 28, Rodriguez saw a photo of a little boy about her son’s age, with a diaper completely soiled and wrapped in a foil blanket. The phot was enough to spur the entrepreneur into action.
“How are people debating this?” Rodriguez said while choking up during a phone interview with mitú.
“There’s no time to focus on that. I went on Zappos to buy shoes myself, and I thought I could purchase a handful myself, or ask my community on Instagram if they wanted to help,” Rodriguez said. “People want to help, they just don’t know how. There’s all this information that you can’t donate to detention centers, but there’s a loophole that you can donate to shelters, but people just don’t know that.”
The shoes are not the only way Rodriguez is using her platform to help the migrants. She recently teamed up with Super Mamá’s Bricia Lopez to raise money for RAICES.
“I called my girlfriend Bricia Lopez to do a dinner and use our platform to get people inspired. Within hours we had set up a website, it was $150 a ticket, and in less than 12 hours we had sold out. 100 percent of the proceeds go to RAICES,” she said.
RAICES is a non-profit legal services organization in Texas. They made national news when the migrant crisis started directly targeting children at the southern border. They offer legal aid to the migrants as they cross into the U.S. to guarantee the best outcome for their cases.
Rodriguez used the momentum from selling out her charity dinner in less than a day to push to do more.
“I saw a photo of a little girl, Afro-Latina, with foil blanket [strings] to tie her hair—things we take for granted. I got fired up and decided to put it [buying shoes] on Instagram Stories and show the receipts through the process,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez started posting on her Instagram Stories about buying shoes and asking her followers to help at 9 p.m. Friday night. By Saturday morning, her Venmo account had reached $7,000 with donations.
Sunday saw another outpouring of donations and her account hit $8,000. By Monday morning, $9,000 had been raised to help the children at the detention centers.
In total, Rodriguez estimates she was able to buy 50 pairs of high-quality shoes for every $1,000 raised. With $9,000, Rodriguez said she estimates Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande will be receiving close to 400 pairs of shoes.
Sizes ranging from toddler sizes to sizes for 15 to 16-year-olds will be shipped out and arriving as soon as this week.
“As a mother of two kids, I can’t sit down and do nothing. I spent Saturday on Zappos figuring out what’s the fastest way to get it done,” Rodriguez said.
No matter how small the action—or donation—Rodriguez sees it contributing to the good of the cause. Although some donors were writing to her that they didn’t think their $1 or $5 donation would do much but they wanted to help, she encouraged them by continuing to post on her stories that every dollar was helping a child get a new pair of much-needed shoes.
Rodriguez calls it being the “granito de arena in a situation.”
Tiny but mighty changes can make a big difference. When asked if a call for donations will happen again, Rodriguez said she is open to the opportunity.
“It’s spur-of-the-moment—that’s how I operate. I would like to think it’s something I can continue doing. Perhaps more streamlined—helping more shelters,” she said.
Rodriguez said she is aware that as much as shelters are in need of basic necessities, they also don’t have enough hands. She continues to wonder what shelters may be in most need of besides shoes, and if it’s better to send money to the shelter or if sending over boxes of items is better.
“I haven’t thought that far,” Rodriguez said. “I want to continue helping because this situation won’t have a solution anytime soon. We have to continue advocating and continue collaborating as a community.”
While she said there’s not much we can do right now besides calling Congress, she still wants to encourage others to galvanize awareness.
“What we can do as a community is mobilizing to donate and help shelters where kids are being held,” she said.
Rodriguez said she hopes this inspires others to start their own donation drives within their own community, work, and a group of friends. When one granitode arena joins with another, it can be a sandstorm of change.