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UndocuQueer Activist Changing the Immigration Debate

Undocumented queer youth are shaking up the immigration reform debate, at times even putting their own freedom in danger. Here are 9 UndocuQueer voices you should know.

Jonathan Perez

Credit: Jonathan Perez / Facebook

Jonathan Perez catapulted into life as an UndocuQueer activist following a brush with the law in south Louisiana. Perez, who had no record, has since spent time as co-founder and project manager for the Immigrant Youth Coalition, fighting against flawed legislation aimed to capture and detain undocumented people without criminal priors.

Yahaira Carrillo

Photo Credit: Yahaira Carillo / Facebook

Yahaira Carrillo became a face of the UndocuQueer Movement when she was one of four arrested for protesting in Senator John McCain’s office in 2010. Carrillo avoided deportation following charges of felony trespassing and has been fighting for comprehensive immigration reform by campaigning and mobilizing youths to back the DREAM Act.

Favianna Rodriguez

Repost @mechadestanford
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RAZA DAY TEASER: #5 FEATURED GUEST: FAVIANNA RODRIGUEZ Favianna Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence. Rodriguez lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country. Favianna’s mission is to create profound and lasting social change in the world. Through her bold and provocative art, she has already touched the hearts and minds of millions. In addition to her fine arts and community work, Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that’s visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational. When Favianna is not making art, she is directing CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. Favianna will hosting 2 art workshops at Raza Day! You do not want to miss this opportunity! Sign up for Raza Day now! Share with your friends and family so they too can learn and be inspired by her work!

A photo posted by Favianna Rodriguez (@favianna1) on

Julio Salgado

Photo Credit: Julio Salgado / Facebook

Julio Salgado is co-founder and art director for Dreamers Adrift, a program created by and for undocumented youths. Salgado is the creator of the UndocuQueer posters used nationally by various undocumented youth programs. Salgado’s art is inspired by experiences of undocumented queer youths fighting a two-front war for LGBTQ-inclusive immigration reform.

Jose Antonio Vargas

1st selfie of 2015: about to take behind-the-wheel driving test. #pleasegodnoparallelparking

A photo posted by Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) on

Prerna Lal

Day 1 as #undocuattorney #selfie. Discussing follow to join benefits w/ prospective clients over Skype.

A photo posted by Prerna Lal (@prernalal) on

Tania Unzueta

A photo posted by Tania (@ilehlainat) on

Jesus Barrios

My momma and I at Inland Empire Scholarship Fund 2012 #undocu$$

A photo posted by Jesus Barrios (@gsusbarrios) on

Alan Pelaez Lopez

Photo Credit: Ignation Solidarity Network / YouTube

Alan Pelaez-Lopez is an artist and poet who uses his words to bring light and understanding to the current climate of living in the United States as an undocumented, queer Latino. Pelaez-Lopez has worked extensively in making immigration reform more LGBTQ-inclusive. While attending college, Pelaez-Lopez was an organizer of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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