Things That Matter

A Group Of Angry Tias And Abuelas Is Doing What The Government Cannot: Helping Undocumented People

All over the country groups and nonprofits are taking it upon themselves to deal with the immigration crisis in a humane way. They are doing what the government cannot: provide help to thousands of undocumented migrants looking for refuge. However, helping people isn’t as easy as one may think. Dr. Scott Warren was just on trial this week for giving undocumented migrants water and food. Thankfully the trial ended in a hung jury, but that goes to show that in this country, people do risk prosecution for giving people the dignity they deserve. That is why the story of these women warms our heart.

A group of women received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for their advocacy of undocumented people.

Facebook/angrytiasandabuelas

The women, who call their organization the Angry Tias and Abuelas, got honored last week for helping undocumented people transition from the moment that government officials release them from detention.

Here’s their mission: To advocate for dignity and justice for individuals and families seeking asylum at our borders. As they embark on their journeys to destinations across the U.S., our aim is to assure their basic health and safety needs are met. We provide emergency assistance such as food, water, clothing, toiletries, logistical support, and cash funds when needed to those recently released from ICE custody at bus depots or shelters in Brownsville and McAllen. We inform asylum seekers of their rights as they await entry across international bridges and give direct financial support to refugee shelters in the RGV and select immigrant shelters in Matamoros and Reynosa.

While the group said the award means everything to them, they are more frustrated with how the government is treating people at the border.

“Yes, we are mad,” she told NBC News. “We’re mad at the brutality of the United States government against the same people who are the same background as our own. These are families seeking safety from repression exactly like our own forefathers.”

The group launched just last year after seeing groups of women and children sleeping outside in torturous heat.

“It was quite a shocking scene,” Joyce Hamilton told CBS News about their first encounter with undocumented people. She said that her friends gathered to do something about it and help any way they could.

“We started talking to each other and meeting, and then enough of us were seeing each other enough times that some of us met for coffee at my house just to talk about coordinating a little bit and we formed the Angry Tias, thinking it would last for a few months,” Jennifer Harbury also said to CBS News. But the issue has not been resolved, and so they’ve continued to work.

Click here if you’d like more information on how you can help the Angry Tias and Abuelas group.

READ: Trial Begins For Scott Warren, The Volunteer Arrested For Giving Undocumented People Water, Saving Lives

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In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Things That Matter

In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Photo: Bryan Cox/Getty Images

A bombshell report published in The Guardian alleges that ICE officers are using torture to force Cameroonian asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders. The report paints an even starker picture of Immigration and Customs Enforcement–an agency that is already widely criticized as corrupt and inhumane.

The deportation documents the immigrants have been forced to sign are called the Stipulated Orders of Removal. The documents waive asylum seekers’ rights to further immigration hearings and mean they consent to being deported.

The asylum seekers allege that the torture in ICE custody consisted of choking, beating, pepper-spraying, breaking fingers, and threats on their lives.

“I refused to sign,” recounted one Cameroonian asylum-seeker to The Guardian. “[The ICE officer] pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras.”

He continued: “They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck…They did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture.” Other witnesses recount similar violent experiences.

Experts believe that the escalation of deportations is directly related to the upcoming election and the possibility that ICE might soon be operated under a different administration. The theory is that ICE is coercively deporting “key witnesses” in order to “silence survivors and absolve ICE of legal liability.”

“In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in Ice prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse,” said Christina Fialho, executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, to The Guardian.

Many of the Cameroonians who are in the U.S. to seek asylum have legitimate claims to danger back in their home countries. Many of these Cameroonians come from an English-speaking minority in Cameroon that are violently target by the government there–some have died. The violence has been condemned by The United Nations and Amnesty International.

As with many immigrant stories of people who are seeking asylum, these immigrants’ lives are in danger in their home country. They are coming to the United States for a better life. But instead, they are faced with the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whom they claim brutally mistreat them.

According to report, the U.S. is deporting entire airplanes full of asylum-seekers back to their home countries–deportations that have not been given due process and have been authorized under duress.

An ICE spokesperson contacted by The Guardian called the reports “sensationalist” and “unsubstantiated” while roundly refuting the claims. “Ice is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. Ice provides safe, humane, and appropriate conditions of confinement for individuals detained in its custody,” she said.

Read the entire report here.

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Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Things That Matter

Social Media Shows Up To Help Abuela Living In Dire Straights While Taking Care Of Disabled Great-Grandson

Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

All too often we hear stories involving social media that don’t paint the best picture of the digital platforms. From trolls coming for people or fights and arguments going public to sexual harassment and doxxing, social media has so often been used as a tool to do harm.

Thankfully, though, that’s not always the case.

Now we get to tell the story of how one viral video has helped rescue a 90-year-old abuelita and her disabled 17-year-old great-grandson from dire straights.

A 90-year-old abuela and her great-grandson will soon have a new home thanks to support from social media.

Last week, a video was posted to social media about the dangerous and unsanitary conditions a 90-year-old woman and her great-grandson were living in. The woman, from Veracruz, Mexico, lived with her great-grandson, Pedro Miguel, in a shack with tarps for walls and rusted-out tin roof.

The shack was furnished with not much more than a bed, which got wet every time it rained. López’s children have died, her grandchildren have abandoned her, and Pedro is basically the only family she has.

Since the video went viral, DIF Family Services agency met with López and her grandson to assess their health and announced both would get the medications they need. Meanwhile, Leonor López, has been housed in a shelter for the elderly and Pedro was placed in a state-run home where each will remain until authorities can find a home for her and Pedro.

The great-grandmother and her great-grandson are all the other has.

Credit: Isabel Zamudio / Getty Images

Leonora has cared for Pedro ever since he was abandoned by his mother shortly after birth. The 17-year-old does not speak and suffers from epileptic seizures.

Before being placed in supportive housing, each day Leonor would leave her house with a rope tied to the arm of her great-grandson as they went out to collect whatever they could to earn money. Some days they’d collect aluminum cans or cardboard to sell and some days they’d visit verdulerías or even private homes to dig through the garbage to find something to eat.

Every two months Leonora would receive her disability pension of $2,500 pesos (or about $125 USD), which she had to use to buy medicines for Pedro. She also told Milenio that she owes money from the last time Pedro got severely ill.

“When he gets sick I take him to the hospital or to the Red Cross, but they charge me a lot, because he has seizures. This time he got sick I took him but they charged me $6,400 [pesos or ($320 USD)] for three days of care.”

However, since being taken into assisted care, Pedro has also been enrolled to receive his own disability pension, which will definitely help address his medical costs.

Sadly, there misfortunes haven’t ended there.

In what is truly a disappointing story, often times when Leonor and Pedro have gone out to try and earn what money they can, they’re home is robbed of what little they have. According to their neighbor Rogelio, the community hasn’t come to their support – instead they steal from the family.

“I don’t see someone coming to help her, on the contrary, what little she has there they steal from her, even though she is alone in her house they steal what little she can gather; people take advantage,” Rogelio told Milenio.

Thankfully, the viral video has helped spur change for the family and they’ll soon have a proper home and the government benefits they’re both entitled to.

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