Things That Matter

This Mother Was Allowed Into The US With Her Daughters But Her Partner And Son Were Forced To Stay In Mexico, Now They’re Suing

Remember their names: Maudy Constanza  and Hanz Morales. They are two Guatemalans who are suing the United States to keep their family together (they have two daughters who are with Constanza in the United States and one son, aged 9, who was returned to Mexico with Morales).

The recent crackdown on undocumented migrants and refugees under the Trump administration has produced all sorts of stories of broken homes, crushed dreams and near impossible survival. Chief among the many controversial steps that the government has taken in the last two years is the set of policies and transnational deals that have led many undocumented migrants to deportation.

The influx of migrants and asylum seekers into the United States comes from all over the world, and people fleeing dangerous situations in places as far as the Middle East or Africa use the southern border as an entry point into the US. However, the spotlight is usually placed on people of Latin American origin, mainly from Mexico and Central American countries that have long faced sectarian violence, social unrest, gangs and armed conflicts that, oftentimes, can be led back to what some critics claim is United States interventionism. Whatever the case is, the truth is that the American continent is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and governments will need to cooperate to ease human suffering and make asylum seeking processes more bearable. 

Most people whose families have been separated by the United States federal government remain silent in their powerlessness. After all, who would legally fight one of the most powerful countries in the world, right? Well, the answer lies in a Guatemalan couple that is actually suing the federal government in an effort to keep the family together. 

Maudy Constanza is an asylum seeker living in Massachusetts, her partner and son were ordered to remain in Mexico so they are suing.

Credit: Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe

The lawsuit claims that Trump’s asylum policy violates constitutional due process and does not guarantee equal rights. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts in federal court in Boston last week.

The suit reads: “United States law protects asylum seekers like Ms. Constanza, Mr. Morales, and their children. The law forbids sending people to countries where they will be persecuted or tortured, and provides migrants with an opportunity to see an immigration judge before they may be sent to a place where they fear such persecution or torture.”

We have to remember that Guatemala lives unprecedented levels of violence and that the increasing flow of Central American migrants to Mexico has made them vulnerable as many individuals in the host country have perpetrated acts of violence and racism. 

Hanz Morales, Constanza’s partner, was shot four times in his home country of Guatemala, where criminality indexes are surging.

Guatemala is definitely not a safe place for Hanz Morales, and he fears for his life. The couple fled to Mexico with their three young children. They separated before crossing the United States border in July 2019. The Boston Globe details the ordeal that they escaped: “Hanz was a successful small business owner in a town 100 miles or so outside Guatemala City. Last year he witnessed a violent crime, during which he was shot. The family spent a year in hiding trying to evade the individuals who shot him, until they decided to move to the United States and seek asylum.” The rule of law not always holds true in Guatemala and other Latin American countries, so it was flee or die for the family. 

Constanza and her two daughters were allowed to stay in the United States, Morales and their 9-year-old son were sent back to Mexico, where unofficial refugee camps are dangerous and unsanitary.

Credit: Eric Gay / Getty

Morales and his son are among the approximately 50,000 individuals from Spanish-speaking countries that have been sent to Mexico to wait out their migration court process. This puts them in an extremely vulnerable situation and an economy of corrupt officials and lawyers, who take advantage of them, has sprouted in cities such as Reynosa and Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas.

As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, told The Boston Globe: “In Matamoros, we now have what’s been called the worst refugee camp in the world.”

As the Associated Press reports, Morales and his son have experienced a hell on Earth while waiting in Mexico: “Morales and his son have survived an attempted kidnapping, struggled to find food and rarely leave their home because of the violent and dangerous conditions near the border, according to the ACLU. The organization wants a federal judge to declare the asylum policy unlawful and allow Morales and his son to await the outcome of their case in the U.S. with the rest of their family.” The ACLU has started similar processes in the Californian cities of San Diego and San Francisco. 

Award-Winning Guatemalan Actor, Enrique Salanic, Couldn’t Attend His Film Premiere In NYC

Entertainment

Award-Winning Guatemalan Actor, Enrique Salanic, Couldn’t Attend His Film Premiere In NYC

José / YQstudioLLC

Award-winning Guatemalan film ‘José’ is about to make its US theatrical premiere in L.A. and New York. But thanks to US travel restrictions, its leading actor Enrique Salenic won’t be allowed to enter the country for the film’s release.

The Guatemalan actor is the star of the award-winning film “José”

“José,” directed by Chinese-born American filmmaker Li Cheng, won multiple awards internationally during the international film festival season in 2018-2019, including the prestigious Queer Lion award at the 75th Venice Film Festival.

Guatemalan actor Enrique Salanic has been blocked from entering the United States ahead of the U.S. premiere of the film in which he is the star.

The fast-rising, U.S.-educated actor earned strong reviews for his lead performance in the Venice 2018 premiere as an impoverished 19-year-old gay man who lives with his mother and falls in love for the first time. 

Made in a neorealist cinematic tradition, the film is described in a press release as “a nuanced and vivid look at being gay in Central America.” 

‘José’ follows the eponymous character of the film, a closeted 19-year-old who lives an impoverished life with his mother, a street vendor, in Guatemala City. Guatemala, and most of Latin America for that matter, is a place dominated by conservative Catholic and Evangelical Christian religious values. When he meets an attractive migrant from the Caribbean coast, he finds himself falling in love for the first time; the relationship pushes him to rethink his repressed life, and before long he is contemplating a drastic change that will require a leap of faith he is still reluctant to take.

The film premiered in New York on Jan. 31.

And it’s premiered in Los Angeles one week later. Salanic has traveled widely in support of “José,” attending the Lido and festivals in Spain and Panama but the U.S. appears to be a step too far.

The U.S. embassy rejected his visa application twice. 

Efforts to bring Salanic to the U.S. have proved fruitless after the U.S. embassy in the Central American country rejected his non-immigrant visa applications. The embassy argued Salanic, who lives with his parents in Guatemala, could be a flight risk were he to enter the U.S. as he does not have a residence in Guatemala.

The premiere should have been a celebratory occasion for the film’s star.

The young newcomer named Enrique Salanic, should be celebrating the great success of his debut appearance. But instead it has become a senseless bureaucratic nightmare, the latest demonstration on the world stage of the current draconian stance on immigration and travel.

The actor’s first application was denied in November.

Salanic’s first visa application was made in November according to Paul Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, Los Angeles-based Outsider Pictures; the embassy rejected it, arguing that Salanic could be a flight risk if he were to enter the US. 

Hudson then sought the aid of Congressman Ted Lieu.

Congressman Lieu, wrote a personal letter on behalf of the young actor which was submitted with a second application. That request was also denied, with no apparent consideration of the congressman’s letter. According to Screen Daily, a copy of the embassy’s original rejection letter states that a requirement of a successful visa application is a residence in a foreign country which the applicant “has no intention of abandoning,” before going on to write, “You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”

Hudson, head of the film’s U.S. distributor, had something to say.

View this post on Instagram

#Repost @jose_movie • • • • • • OCTOBER premieres > PHILIPPINES > MEXICO > DENMARK > GERMANY > (SINGAPORE cancelled: gov’t censorship) + USA festivals > Tampa FL > Seattle WA > Rochester NY > Duke University / UNC Chapel Hill NC ver/see trailer: https://youtu.be/BosKW_Zspgs Venice film festival Queer Lion award + best film in Boston, Mumbai, Honolulu – "festival favorite" premieres: 35+ countries Guatemalteco cast + crew – CDMX post-production sigue a Jose y comparte con tus amigos: detalles completos que se publicarán pronto: peli en español ‘José’, una historia épica de amor en Guatemala: https://tinyurl.com/y6rr4gub confident visual sense.. tender, transfixing – The Hollywood Reporter magical.. deceptively simple, sexually frank, honest – Screen Daily raw and authentic – Remezcla brilliantly restrained.. powerful performances.. unsentimental yet deeply affecting: "best film"+ "best script" (160 films from 43 countries) – Jury, Mumbai visual storytelling and honest performances connect us to the human vulnerability of love – Jury, Boston Enrique Salanic: Jose, Herrera LK: Luis, Ana Cecilia Mota Chavarria: Jose’s Mom among the most violent countries, yet ‘José’ is a tender look at love in Guatemala: https://tinyurl.com/yxdhmdme gay, indigenous, resistant: https://tinyurl.com/yxw28dmo BANNED: Singapore, 3rd richest country, while "Jose" is modest man’s struggle for love and dignity, in Guatemala poverty rates exceed 50% – https://tinyurl.com/yy4ycq2n Outsider Pictures North American distribution + world sales @outsiderpictures Rediance int'l festivals Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival @tiglff Portland Queer Film Festival @pdxqueerfilm Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Hamburg | International Queer Film Festival ImageOut Seattle Queer Film Festival @imageoutfilmfest QCinema Cuorum Morelia Reel Pride AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center Cine+Mas SF / San Francisco Latino Film Festival Cinema Queer @diasdecine #josethemovie #moviejose #peliculajose #filmjose #queerlion #queerlionaward #latinomovies #guatemalamovie #gaymovies #lgbtmovies #queercinema #vivejose #vivajose #gaylatinomovie

A post shared by Outsider Pictures (@outsiderpictures) on

“Denying Enrique Salanic his entry visa to promote his work in a film produced, financed and distributed by American citizens and companies represents just one way in which the current administration’s immigration rules impact U.S. businesses, and it perpetuates the negative impression the world has of America. Denying entry to a man who has already successfully studied in the U.S. just because he is from Guatemala is unjust and cruel,” Outsider Pictures’ Paul Hudson told The Wrap.

Robert Rosenberg of Outsider Pictures also had an issue with the rejection of Salanic’s entry visa. 

“It broke my heart that such a talented young actor like Enrique, who is the star of our movie, is being thwarted in pursuing his career by our own government in the U.S.,” Rosenberg told The Wrap. “Our policies should encourage this kind of ambition and success, not trap Central Americans in their countries, as if they were less than human.”

In a statement on the creation of the film, director Li Cheng discussed the movie’s cultural relevance.

View this post on Instagram

Busy week! Come see the movie JOSE now in Seattle USA, Hamburg Germany, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines, Rochester NY, Morelia, MEXICO! JOSE is the Queer Lion winner in Venice film festival. Find out why it's called "brutally authentic," "a form of resistance", See information below: FOLLOW & SHARE! Jose is the non-industry film that beat Oscar-winner THE FAVOURITE and SUSPIRIA and other films to win Queer Lion, It is an art-film from Guatemala: reflecting realities, it features a lower-class non-white protagonist HAMBURG GERMANY @lsfhamburg_iqff Thu 17-Oct 8pm – Metropolis Kino tickets: https://www.lsf-hamburg.de/pages/timetable-2019?locale=en SEATTLE, USA: – first showing sold out this is the last showing tickets still available now @threedollarbillcinema Thur 17-Oct 7pm – Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ+ Center tickets: https://tinyurl.com/y5sxk9of QUEZON CITY, MANILA, PHILLIPPINES Sat 19-Oct 9pm – Galleria 3 Mon 21-Oct 9pm – Gateway 6 @qcinemaph tickets: https://qcinema.ph/venues ROCHESTER NY, USA @imageoutfilmfest Sat 19-Oct 1:15pm – Dryden Theatre, Eastman Museum tix https://festival.imageout.org/2019/tickets/how-to-buy/ MORELIA, Mexico @cuorummorelia función gratis con invitación – preguntas: comunicacion@moreliaprograma.com Jueves 24-OCT 15H / 3pm – Centro Cultural Clavijero trailer: https://youtu.be/BosKW_Zspgs confident visual sense tender, transfixing – The Hollywood Reporter magical.. deceptively simple, sexually frank, honest – Screen Daily raw and authentic – Remezcla brilliantly restrained, powerful performances, unsentimental yet deeply affecting: winner of TOP AWARD – Jury, Mumbai visual storytelling, honest performances connect us to the human vulnerability of love – Jury, Boston BANNED: Singapore, 3rd richest country, while JOSE is modest man’s struggle for love and dignity, in Guatemala poverty rates exceed 50% Outsider Pictures N America distribution + world sales Rediance int'l festivals Photo @marcoviscastudio #josethemovie #josemovie #josefilm #josepelicula #moviejose #peliculajose #filmjose #queerlion #queerlionaward #latinomovies #guatemalamovie #gaymovies #lgbtmovies #queercinema #vivejose #vivajose #gaylatinomovies #qcinema2019

A post shared by Jose (@jose_movie) on

“‘José’ is really a page ripped from today’s news headlines,” he said. “The crises of young people, single mothers and dark-skinned peoples in Guatemala frames the film’s story. Guatemala has become an increasingly violent and dangerous place, where more than half the people live in poverty. Indeed most of the children separated from their parents and locked in dog-like cages in Texas (shocking people around the world) are Guatemalan, not Mexican, as is often claimed.”

READ: Go Guatemala! You’re Finally on Your Way to the Oscars

Mexico Is Doing Trump’s Dirty Work: More Than 800 Migrants Are Detained, Most Of Whom Could Be Deported

Things That Matter

Mexico Is Doing Trump’s Dirty Work: More Than 800 Migrants Are Detained, Most Of Whom Could Be Deported

Alfredo Estrella / Getty

Mexico’s immigration policy is coming under increased scrutiny as another caravan of Central American migrants cross into the country. Mexico’s response has been condemned by many international migrant right’s organizations, as the country has come down hard on people attempting to seek asylum in the United States.

Mexico’s response included the use of tear gas and pepper spray to repel migrants who had attempted cross several bridges from Guatemala. The response left parents scrambling to find their terrified children, many of whom were lost in the crowds.

Mexico’s hardline approach is blamed on Trump’s pressure of Mexico to enact immigration policies that will prevent asylum seekers from ever reaching the US-Mexico border. Many are accusing Mexico’s President AMLO of being a coward as he bows to pressure from the United States.

Its been reported that more than 800 people from the migrant caravan have been detained by Mexican immigration authorities.

Credit: Alfredo Estrella / Getty

Immigration authorities have taken a tough stance against Central American migrants as they attempt to enter the country on their journey to the United States. So far, the country says that it has detained more than 800 migrants who have entered the country illegally from Guatemala.

The National Migration Institute (INM) said it had transferred 800 migrants, some of them unaccompanied minors, to immigration centers where they would be given food, medical attention and shelter. If their legal status cannot be resolved, they will be returned to their home countries.

Mexico is under intense pressure from President Donald Trump to contain migrants before they reach the border.

Credit: Salvador Herrera / Flickr

Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American countries economically if they fail to rein in migrant flows. Tariffs and other economic penalties could be used according to Trump.

The current caravan is the largest surge of people to cross into Mexico since its president reached agreements with Trump and some central American governments to reduce pressure on the US border. It’s also the first group to test the new ‘Safe Third Country’ agreements that the US has signed with several Central American countries. So far, it’s not sure how those agreements will affect asylum claims by migrants.

Mexico says all detentions and deportations are being done according to law and with full respect for human rights, but many organizations disagree.

Credit: Alfredo Estrella / Getty

Migrant advocates dispute the government’s claims and say they’re worried about Mexico’s new hardline policies. However, the toughness of these new immigration policies aren’t always reflected in the language used by government officials, many of whom use sugarcoated language to describe the policies.

In his daily morning press conferences, the president describes the mass deportations of Central Americans as “assisted returns.” 

While last week, just one day after troops had arrested more than 800 migrants who crossed a river into Mexico, the country’s Foreign Minster interrupted a reporter who asked how many migrants had been detained, saying “They are not detained,” Ebrard insisted. “They are in migration stations.” That’s the euphemism the government uses to refer to migrant detention centers.

According to Ebrard and the National Migration Institute, migrants are not arrested or detained — they are “rescued.” Deportations are “assisted returns,” which most of the time — officials say — are voluntary.

Meanwhile, the mass detentions come amid news that nonprofit groups and advocate organizations are being denied access to detained migrants.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Mexico’s immigration agency announced Tuesday that it has temporarily suspended visits by civic, activist and religious groups to migrant detention centers.

Such visits have long served as a safeguard to check on the treatment of migrants, some of whom have complained in the past of crowding, prolonged detention and unsatisfactory conditions. The National Immigration Institute did not give a reason for suspending visits, saying only that “rescheduling the visits will depend on the work load of each migrant center, with the goal of providing services to the migrants to continue without interruption.”

Even Mexico’s President, came out against the announcement made by his own government saying that it’s not the right move and that he would look into the reason for the policy change.