Things That Matter

PHOTOS: People Are Showing Up All Over The Country To Tell Trump To #CloseTheCamps

As Fourth of July came and went, Americans reconsidered what it meant to be An American. The U.S. claims to be based on liberty and justice for all yet, migrant families are detained in deplorable conditions and children are caged in federal concentration camps. The Fourth of July parades around the country reflected American concern and outrage over recent images of children in cages, and the parades aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Mass days of action, organized by advocacy group MoveOn, have been scheduled, and this week saw 185 mobilizations alone. Here are the most visceral, powerful photos of the #CloseTheCamps protests thus far.

In case anyone is desensitized to seeing photos of brown kids in cages, here are some white kids in a cage speaking out.

Credit: @jacobsoboroff / Twitter

The photo, taken in Ojai, California during a Fourth of July march, caused a huge stir on social media. These are children, just like anyone else’s child, who absolutely, never ever belong in cages.

This Independence Day Lady Liberty was passing out flyers for the July 12 demonstrations.

Credit: @RiveraSunAuthor / Twitter

“I was Lady Liberty inviting everyone to stand up for the freedoms of all people,” tweets @RiveraSunAuthor. It doesn’t take a large number of people to make and a big and lasting impact. Just do your part and raise awareness immediately around you.

While this protester in Maine wanted to remind the President of the actual law.

Credit: @Individisble_MDI / Twitter

It’s called human rights, and for most, it’s obvious, but this Lady Liberty wants to spell it out for the bobos in the back. There is power in knowledge and the more we all know the better we can exist as a society.

That same Maine protest committed to showing children’s clothes on a laundry line questioning the meaning of freedom.

Credit: @Individsible_MDI / Twitter

“Freedom? Family? Fun? Close the Camps,” the clothing line reads. This is the kind of civil demonstration that people are looking for right now.

Never Again Action made a culinary masterpiece to fuel their demonstration.

Credit: @NeverActionActn / Twitter

Never Again Action is a Jewish activist group that ensures that #NeverAgain starts right now. The group acknowledges that the “detention centers” fit the criteria for concentration camps that target a group of individuals and jail them without due process. 

“Good Shabbos! Let’s all get the rest we need,” tweeted the advocacy group, “so we can enter next week reenergized and focused on demanding our government #CloseTheCamps.”

Over 30 Jewish activists have been arrested thus far for their protests.

Credit: @SanctuaryDMV / Twitter

The group has been adamant in reminding folks that Anne Frank didn’t die in the gas chambers. She died from typhus spread by lice because of filthy, unsanitary and crowded conditions. Over twenty immigrants have died in federal custody since the family separation policies began.

Latinos can’t see red stripes without seeing bars.

Credit: @VotoLatino / Twitter

For so many, Independence Day felt like a day of grief. It feels wrong to celebrate freedom when traumatized children are denied the basic human dignity of a bed, soap, and toothpaste. Children deserve better and the U.S. government has failed to give them the most basic needs.

Famous actress Padma Lakshmi made this very American pie on the Fourth.

Credit: @PadmaLakshi / Twitter

“A truly American pie for the bbq today,” she tweeted. Liberty looks a whole lot like #closethecamps.

Just three hours after seeing Lakshmi’s pie, this little girl made a cake of her own.

Credit: @rafaelshimunov / Twitter

“Just three hours after my daughter Nadia saw @PadmaLakshmi’s #CloseTheCamps #July4th pie,” tweets Nadia’s mom. Seeing so many American children who understand the horror of Family Separation raises their fists in the airs is what America looks like.

This Kentucky family came out on July 2nd with a baby-sized protest sign fit for an actual baby.

Credit: @ACLUofKY / Twitter

The Kentucky division of the ACLU tweeted out the photo saying, “Louisville families joined people in 183 other cities today for Close the Camps protests! They demand the closure of migrant detention centers and an end to inhumane conditions. #closethecamps #familiesbelongtogether”

This dedicated protester wants other tax-payers to know that $750 a day per child goes to a private detention company.

Credit: @PaulineHill01 / Twitter 

This group has demonstrated against the current administration every single week for two years. “Today we are in solidarity with others across the country who are against separating children from families. #FamiliesBelongTogether,” tweets Pauline Hill.

This protest group crowded Grant Central station to get the administration’s attention.

Credit: @BPie7 / Twitter

The only way to do that is to get media attention. Every single one of these protests has garnered media attention that starts local and grows to the national press. Once the administration feels public pressure, they’re more obligated to take action.

READ: A Week After AOC Compared Detention Centers To Concentration Camps, Jewish Activists Arrested For Protesting ICE

There Is Chaos At The Mexico-Guatemala Border As The Next Migrant Caravan Tries To Enter Mexico And AMLO Pushes Back

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There Is Chaos At The Mexico-Guatemala Border As The Next Migrant Caravan Tries To Enter Mexico And AMLO Pushes Back

Jose Torres / Getty

Last week news broke that another migrant caravan was forming in Honduras, in an attempt to safely cross Guatemala and Mexico on the way to the United States. Immediately, the reports were met with a mix of panic and indignity among Central American leaders who vowed to stop the caravan before reaching the US-Mexican border.

And it looks like that plan has been put into motion. Although Guatemala allowed many migrants through its territory, upon reaching the border with Mexico, many migrants were turned away, or worse.

A caravan of nearly 3,000 people has been met with force as they’ve tried to cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

Credit: Jose Torres / Getty

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration giving them more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants. Even though these exact same countries are ill-equipped to handle the influx of migrants – let alone fight back against their country’s own poverty, violence, and corruption that force many migrants to flee in the first place.

Mexican government officials ordered them to block entry into the country. 

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute issued a statement saying it would detain any migrants without legal status, and deport them if they couldn’t legalize their status. 

Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.

Hopes were raised on Friday after Mexican President AMLO announced that there were 4,000 jobs along the southern border available to migrants.

The day after AMLO’s statement regarding possible job opportunities, more than 1,000 migrants attempted to cross into Mexico. According to the country’s National Institute of Migration (INM), each migrant was interviewed and told about opportunities with two government development programs. which will be implemented along the southern border and in both El Salvador and Honduras.

Meanwhile, as migrants waited to be processed for entry into Mexico, a loudspeakers warned migrants against applying for asylum in the US. However, many migrants are doubtful when it comes to Mexico’s offer of work.

“I don’t believe that. It is a lie,” one migrant told Al Jazeera. “They are just trying to find a means trap us and to debilitate the caravan.”

The violence at the Mexico-Guatemala border has left children separated from their families as crowds were sent fleeing from pepper spray.

Credit: Jeff Abbott / Flickr

As Mexican security forces launched tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of migrants attempting to enter the country – hundreds were forced to flee. The ensuing chaos left children lost without their parents and mothers and fathers desperately searching for their children.

A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers said their children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.

“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

Many have harsh words for Mexico’s President AMLO – calling him a puppet and a coward.

Although most agree that every country has the right to enforce its own immigration laws, many are upset with AMLO for the way his administration has cracked down on Central American migrants. Many see the crackdown as little more than bowing to pressure from Trump – turning him into a puppet of the US.

So what should AMLO do when dealing with unauthorized migrants and pressure from a US President?

First, violence and attacks on migrants simply crossing territory should never be on the table. Second, AMLO’s administration should let the caravan reach the US-border and let the asylum process play out as it was meant to do under international law. Just because Trump wants AMLO to join him in breaking international norms, doesn’t mean he should.

But many doubt that will ever happen. Neither of these presidents, Trump nor AMLO, will change course to support legal asylum claims.

So what’s next? Will Mexico relent and agree to pay for Trump’s border wall? Don’t dismiss the idea, not when the Mexican president has so far carried out Trump’s every whim.

Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

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Guatemala’s President Is Going To Have To Settle The Immigration Negotiation With Trump

dr.giammattei / Instagram

Tuesday marked a new era of leadership in Guatemala as the Latin country swore in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative doctor and former prison system director from the right-wing Vamos party. The 63-year-old won the presidency on his fourth attempt back in August with bold promises of changing a corrupt government and restoring the rule-of-law in city streets. 

“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said at his swearing-in ceremony that had a five-hour delay.

His ceremony somewhat overshadowed by delays and protests against ex-President Jimmy Morales, who for four years dodged accusations of corruption. The scene of protestors throwing eggs and voicing anger at the outgoing administration was a reminder of the displeasure against the country’s deep-seated political corruption. It’s also a key reason why many are looking to Giammattei to bring change to the struggling country. 

As Giammattei takes office, there are questions on what his presidency will mean to Guatemala in the short and long term as issues over the future of an asylum deal with the United States comes into focus. 

One of the biggest issues confronting Guatemala and one that Giammattei will have to address early is the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) that was signed by Morales last July with the U.S. government. The agreement, which was highly opposed in Guatemala, lets U.S. immigration officials send Honduran and Salvadoran migrants that are requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection here instead. There is now increasing skepticism as reports say that the U.S. wants to expand the deal to include Mexican asylum seekers as well.

Last year, there were many Guatemalans that were part of a 3,000 migrant caravan that made its way up from Latin America to the U.S. The caravan consisted of people that were looking to claim asylum and became a symbol of the growing migration crisis at the southern border. President Trump frequently attacked the caravan and eventually threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t agree to the asylum deal.

According to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, “as of Friday, 128 Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers had been sent as part of the agreement,” with only a limited number actually applying for asylum there and others returning home. Giammattei has previously said that he’s willing to make changes to the agreement but on Tuesday said he would revisit details later. 

The country, one of Latin America’s poorest nations, is a key part of President Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration and asylum claims. mostly from those coming to the U.S. Southern border. The issue for many living in Guatemala is how to let those seeking asylum when itself has become a major source of U.S. bound migrants. 

Poverty levels have only grown in the last 20 years and income inequality levels continue to be a big problem in the country. 

One of the big platform issues that Giammattei ran his campaign on was helping the shorten income inequality gap and poverty levels that have only grown in the last 20 years. Fifty-nine percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line and almost 1 million children under the age of 5 are believed to live with chronic malnutrition, according to the AP. 

There is also the rampant problem of street violence and cartel gangs that have had a major effect on the daily lives of many in the country. Giammattei plans to address this with reforms that include designating “street gangs as terrorist groups.”

“This is the moment to rescue Guatemala from the absurd. It is the moment to combat corruption and malnutrition,” Giammattei said on Tuesday in his first address to the country as president. “There is no peace without security, I will present a law that aims to declare street gangs for what they are – terrorist groups.”

There is hope that Giammattei will turn a new page in Guatemala that will see change come to all in the country that has faced uncertainty for years. But only time will tell if this is indeed new leadership or business as usual.

“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” Giammattei said. “We will govern with decency, with honourability, and with ethical values.”

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