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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Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

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Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

As the United States ramps up its vaccination program (with more than two million people getting vaccinated each day), many Americans are eager to get that jab in the arm. But who is eligible varies from state to state and sometimes even county to county.

Despite the different eligibility thresholds in each state (depending on age group or risk factors), there is no immigration requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level. However, not all places are following that guideline and some undocumented residents are being incorrectly turned away.

The pharmacy chain Rite Aid is apologizing after two undocumented residents were denied vaccines.

The giant pharmacy chain Rite Aid has apologized to two undocumented immigrants who the company said were “mistakenly” denied COVID-19 vaccinations at Southern California stores. However, since then, the two women have been invited back by Rite Aid to get their vaccinations and the chain has issued an apology.

Rite Aid spokesperson Christopher Savarese described both cases as “isolated” incidents resulting from workers at the stores not following established protocols for vaccine eligibility. The employees will be re-educated on the protocols to make sure everyone is on the same page.

In a statement later sent to ABC News, Rite Aid officials said, “In such an unprecedented rollout, there are going to be mistakes and there will be always areas for providers to improve — we’re seeking out those opportunities every day.”

Savarese added, “This is very important to us that this is corrected. Both of the situations that we’re talking about have been resolved, and both of those people will be getting their vaccine at Rite Aid.”

To clarify, just who is eligible for the vaccine at this moment?

Although vaccine eligibility does vary from state to state, even county to county, there is nothing requiring that someone prove their immigration status to receive a vaccine. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who represents Los Angeles, told ABC News that the legal immigration status of a person is not supposed to interfere with them getting vaccinated.

“That is not a requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level, and that organization (Rite Aid) has been told very clearly that that was wrong, and they immediately apologized for doing so, but it left the woman very distraught,” Cárdenas told KABC of Rager’s employee.

On Feb. 1, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that the agency and its “federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants.”

“It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines,” the DHS statement reads.

However, the confusion over whether undocumented immigrants qualify to receive vaccine has continued to occur not only in Southern California, but elsewhere in the country. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley issued an apology to at least 14 people who were rejected Feb. 20 at its vaccination site because they could not provide proof of U.S. residency.

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Watch This Video Called ‘Project Abuelita’ About COVID-19 and Try Not To Cry

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Watch This Video Called ‘Project Abuelita’ About COVID-19 and Try Not To Cry

Screenshot via YouTube

Slowly but surely, the COVID-19 pandemic is winding to a close. If you’ve been following the news closely, you know that the CDC has given the go-ahead for fully-vaccinated people to gather indoors without social-distancing or having to wear a mask.

This is especially good news to those of us who haven’t had close-contact with our family members in over a year.

Unfortunately, many Latinos are suspicious of the COVID-19 vaccine–especially the older, less-informed generation.

Luckily, the Ad Council has partnered with ad agency Pereira O’Dell to create a marketing campaign called “Project Abuelita”.

“Project Abuelita” is a campaign aimed at encouraging older Latinos to get vaccinated. The campaign is part of the Ad Council’s Vaccine Education Initiative. And as a side note, we dare you to watch the minute-long video and try not to cry.

The video shows an abuela cleaning her home and getting dressed. She has knick-knacks and sentimental mementos around her house, like kids’ drawings and family photos. The doorbell rings and the abuela greets her daughter and two grandchildren.

The children, visibly excited to see their abuelita, hesitate to touch her. But after their mother gives them the go-ahead, they rush into her arms. The abuela looks overcome with emotion as she is finally able to hug her grandchildren for the first time in ages.

Despite COVID-19 hitting the Latino community particularly hard this past year, Latinos remain skeptical about the safety of the new vaccine.

According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 26% Latinos said they would get the vaccine as soon as possible, compared to 40% of white people. 43% of Latinos said they would “wait and see”.

Latinos aren’t skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine for no reason. There are multiple historical incidents where the U.S. government has exploited people of color and Latinos in the name of “health”. Like when U.S. Public Health service purposefully exposed unknowing Guatemalan prisoners to syphilis in order to record its symptoms. And unfortunately, there are many other examples.

But the COVID-19 vaccines are nothing to be afraid of. Scientific consensus is that the vaccines are safe. Not only that, but getting vaccinated will help us get back to our normal lives.

The “Project Abuelita” video is for a free service of the same name that the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force launched.

According to a press release, the service will utilize bilingual volunteers to reach out to the elderly, monolingual Latino population to help with vaccination efforts. The volunteers will schedule testing, vaccination appointments and follow-up appointments.

As Jay Tamsi, co-founder of the Kern County Latino COVID 19 Task Force says: “Our abuelitos need us more so now than ever in setting up their vaccination appointments solving transportation issues, and helping them make sense of our changing ways.”

Find out more about Project Abuelita here.

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