Things That Matter

This Former Marine Had To Self-Deport To Mexico Before He Could Become A U.S. Citizen

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Meet Daniel Torres. The former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran finally became a U.S. citizen after self-deporting five years ago.

Credit: @DeportedVets / Twitter

Despite being unauthorized to live in the United States, Torres wanted to fight for this country, so he used a false birth certificate to enlist.

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Credit: Hector Bajaras / Facebook

“When I enlisted in the Marines, I knew the risks. It was something that could come up; it was something that could come back and hurt me,” Torres told the press outside of San Diego’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ office. “I was just hoping that I wasn’t going to pay for that mistake for the rest of my life. And now I’m able to finally go home and live the life I feel like I need to.”

Torres was forced to leave the country he loved and defended because of a lost wallet.

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Credit: Hector Bajaras / Facebook

The Iraq vet went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his lost ID card replaced, but Torres’s story raised enough suspicion that the DMV notified his superiors. The U.S. Marines discovered his immigration status and gave him an honorable discharge.

Torres originally went to France to fight for the Foreign Legion, but he eventually relocated to Tijuana, Mexico.

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According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Torres lost part of his hearing while serving in Iraq, which barred him from serving in the Foreign Legion. As a result, he moved back to TJ, the border city where was born.

It was in Tijuana that Torres got the support from other military vets that were deported after serving.

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Credit: Deported Veterans Support House / Facebook

The Deported Veterans Support House, or “the Bunker,”  helps vets adjust to their new country. The organization also provides assistance with food, housing and clothing, while also advocating for legislation that would end the deportation of those who have served.

Living in Mexico didn’t stop Torres from seeking legal status in the country he grew up in. Thanks to a special provision in the 1964 Immigration and Nationality Act, Torres could apply for citizenship because he served during a “time of hostility.”

Credit: @TatianaYSanchez / Twitter

That’s right. Undocumented people who serve in the military during certain times CAN become U.S. citizens after serving, but they have to serve during a time of hostility. Torres’ case was made easier because he wasn’t deported.

Here are the “times of hostility” that would allow undocumented service men and women to become  U.S. citizens if they so choose.

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Credit: uscis.gov

“[D]efending US interest is the one thing I am the proudest of. I did not join the Corps because I wanted an alibi for citizenship, no,” Torres said in an open letter to some haters (seriously). “I will not use my military service as an excuse, I love being a Devildog and I will be one till the day I die. All people who survive know they do so at a risk, the same goes for me; it was a risk to join claiming I was a citizen when I wasn’t, but you know what? I would do it all over again…”

“I just am really, really happy, to be able to finally go home and be here where I feel I belong,” Torres told local media.

Credit: @SDACLU / Twitter

“I’ve missed birthdays, Thanksgivings, reunions, weddings, funerals,” Torres continued in his open letter. “I cannot be there now while my mother struggles with chemotherapy. I do not want your pity or to feel bad for me, but I do want you to know, that we are people, good people.”

Way to go, Daniel.

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Credit: The Voice / NBC / The Voice / Giphy

Let’s hope that this conversation will continue so we can help all of our veterans, documented or not.

READ: How these Latino Military Heroes Put Trump to Shame

Share this story with all your friends by tapping that share button below and show them the forgotten faces of the U.S. frontline!

Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Selena Gomez continues her reign as a Netflix producer with Living Undocumented. It is always great when celebrities use their platforms to enrich and educate. Gomez has a huge platform and can generate huge numbers. 13 Reasons Why blew Netflix’s expectations out of the water, and I can’t help but think it’s because of Gomez’s enormous Instagram following. The girl has reach. 

As you might have guessed, Living Undocumented is a documentary series that follows the lives of undocumented immigrants as they navigate life under the looming threat of increasingly cruel immigration policies and ICE raids.

Selena Gomez announces Living Undocumented on Instagram

“I am so humbled to be a part of Netflix’s documentary series Living Undocumented. The immigration issue is more complex than one administration, one law or the story you hear about on the news. These are real people in your community, your neighbors, your friends—they are all part of the country we call home. I can’t wait for you guys to see this and hope it impacts you like it impacted me. Available globally October 2,” Gomez wrote.

Living Undocumented 

Living Undocumented will focus on eight undocumented families. Premiering on October 2nd on Netflix, the show will chronicle the families as they face possible deportation. The narratives will range from hopeful to infuriating, but the series will put a human face on a dehumanized group of people. 

It cannot be said again that the United States has always struggled with two contradictory narratives: the one where it is a beacon of hope for the tired, hungry, and poor, versus the one where it has upheld numerous racist and xenophobic immigration policies. This is an issue that predates Trumpito, even if he has kicked it into it’s most degrading form. 

“I chose to produce this series, Living Undocumented because, over the past few years, the word ‘immigrant’ has seemingly become a negative word,” said Gomez. “My hope is that the series can shed light on what it’s like to live in this country as an undocumented immigrant firsthand, from the courageous people who have chosen to share their stories.”

Gomez is joined by executive producers Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Mandy Teefey, Anna Chai, and Sean O’Grady. Chai will also co-direct the series.

“Living Undocumented is designed to illuminate one of the most important issues of our time. But rather than discussing this issue with only statistics and policy debates, we wanted viewers to hear directly from the immigrants themselves, in their own words, with all the power and emotion that these stories reflect.”

Humanizing immigrants is key

People don’t just bring guns into Walmarts to kill 22 innocent humans beings for no reason. It is no secret that President Trump’s dehumanizing language was a catalyst for the El Paso shooting. The suspect whose name shall not be invoked told officers he was looking to kill “Mexicans.” Mexicans — the Latinxs Trump referred to as rapists and criminals. The mass murderer also said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic Invasion,” in his manifesto. Trump called Central Americans “invaders.” 

According to Pew Research Center, this year they found that 58 percent of Latinx adults say they experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity. Across all races and ethnic groups, two-thirds of individuals surveyed say that expressing racist views has become more common since Trump was elected. 

This year, at a Trump rally, supporters were cheering about shooting immigrants. 

“How do you stop these people?” Trump asks. Then someone yelled back, “Shoot them.” Trump smiled. The crowd cheered. Three months later, the El Paso shooting took 22 lives.

“The language that criminalizes and makes Latinos out to be evil is affecting our own citizens and it’s going to have both short- and long-term consequences that we are starting to see in the Latino population,” Elizabeth Vaquera, an associate professor at George Washington University who studies vulnerable groups, told the Washington Post.

A Bipartisan Non-Issue Becomes A Partisan Issue

This immigration “issue” started off as a hoax but through Trump’s horrible policies he created this new immigration crisis. In 2017, when Trump took office, migrants arrested at the border were at the lowest level in three decades. 

Three former employees of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote in Politico, the border crisis is all Trump’s fault.

 “It is Donald Trump himself who is responsible. Through misguided policies, political stunts and a failure of leadership, the president has created the conditions that allowed the asylum problem at the border to explode into a crisis.” 

Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 80 percent of Democrats view the fact that the majority of the United States will be nonwhite by 2045 as a good thing, while 61 percent of Republicans say it is bad. 

The barrage of harmful rhetoric has turned what was not even a problem into a national crisis with opinions straddling partisan lines, and a heightened hatred of Latinx people. Living Undocumented might be exactly what this country needs. 

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Things That Matter

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Outside of a school or courthouse. A place of business such as a meat factory plant. A traffic stop. Outside your home. What do all of these locations have in common? These are all place where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown up to detain, roundup, and arrest undocumented people. They can also show up just about anywhere, even sports games. 

On the first day of the Raiders season —during a game against the Denver Broncos — the real commotion wasn’t on the football but rather outside in the parking lot where ICE showed up. 

Credit: Instagram/@raiders

On Sept. 9, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, ICE was there to seize unofficial Raiders merchandise. It’s unclear if they were there looking for undocumented people, or whether they believed the vendors of the unofficial Raiders merchandise were undocumented people. Either way, ICE agents took all of the fake swag. 

ICE reports they seized $11,000 worth of counterfeit goods. ICE also claims that last week’s seizure is part of a nationwide trend of illegal merchandise that generates $1.4 billion a year. 

Credit: Instagram/@itstartedinoaklandbaby

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco is committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations throughout the year and preventing the sale of counterfeit goods during the home opener of the Oakland Raiders is just one example of HSI working to ensure that the public is purchasing legitimate products” Tatum King, special agent in charge, HSI San Francisco and Northern California, said in a press release statement. King added, “The lost revenue equals lost jobs and counterfeit materials typically contain substandard products and can also be a safety risk to the public.”

Here’s what ICE said you should look for when purchasing your Raiders gear: 

Credit: Instagram/@BzioaFenxn3

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Buy tickets from authorized dealers
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point.

“Oakland Raiders fans attending the first game of the season deserve genuine products and the proceeds of counterfeit merchandise ends up in the hands of transnational criminal organizations engaged in varying types of illegal activities,” King stated. King didn’t elaborate or give evidence as to the type of criminal organizations they have arrested in the past. 

People on social media were not pleased to hear that ICE attended an NFL game during the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month.

It is definitely clear that ICE wanted to show their presence at an NFL game especially when an overwhelming amount of Latinx were expected to show up. 

This is not the first time ICE and the NFL have partnered up. ICE has paid for commercials during the Super Bowl games.

It’s not clear whether these campaigns launched by ICE — that included the hashtag #TackleICE — but it’s not so much about whether something works or doesn’t. ICE wants to get their message across that they are everywhere, and there’s no denying that. 

Some on social media some wondered now that Jay Z is an official NFL employee whether he will speak up against ICE and about how they’re targeting Latinos. 

Last month, the NFL announced that they “formally launched the Inspire Change initiative in early 2019, after more than two years of work with NFL players, with the goal of creating positive change in communities across the country.” The NFL added, “Through this initiative, NFL teams and the league office work with the Players Coalition and other NFL players to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay Z said in a press release. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

Do these communities include undocumented immigrants? 

We will have to wait and see how Jay’s involvement will help the Latino community, especially as the NFL is clearly targeting them. 

ICE also failed to disclose why they were targeting illegal merchandise since that doesn’t seem to all under the umbrella of immigration. Also, if ICE is showing up at games, you know they will definitely be attending the Dodgers games as well. Just for a heads up, here’s the entire Raiders season schedule 

READ: ICE Had A Super Bowl Campaign But Immigrant Advocates Clapped Back With #TackleICE