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

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Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

Smugglers Are Tagging U.S.-Bound Migrants With Color Coded Wristbands And Here’s Why

As the United States experiences a so-called surge of people attempting to enter the U.S., human traffickers and smugglers are working double time as they try to capitalize on the increased movements.

Cartels and human traffickers have long run their smuggling operations like a legitimate business but they’ve only got more advanced in how they move people across the border region and one key tool: color-coded bracelets. These bracelets almost act as passports for migrants to safely cross a cartel’s territory without interference or threats of violence. But what do these bracelets mean and how are they fueling the problem of human trafficking?

Plastic bracelets are being used by cartels to identify migrants in their territory. 

U.S. border agents carried out nearly 100,000 apprehensions or rapid expulsions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, which is the highest monthly total since mid-2019. With the increase in people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, cartels are managing this migration of people over their territory and trying to make money off the humanitarian crisis. 

Many cartels have implemented a color-coded bracelet system that identifies those migrants who have paid for permission to cross their territory. In the Rio Grande Valley sector, Border Patrol agents have recently encountered immigrants wearing the bracelets during several apprehensions, Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters.

The “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups,” Dyman said.

The color-coded system isn’t totally understood.

Credit: ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Migrants can pay thousands of dollars for the journey to the United States and human smugglers have to pay off drug cartels to move people through parts of Mexico. This is a money-making operation and cartels want to pay close attention to who has paid. The bracelets may just be a new way to keep track.

Criminal groups operating in northern Mexico, however, have long used systems to log which migrants have already paid for the right to be in gang-controlled territory, as well as for the right to cross the border into the United States, according to migration experts. In fact, in 2019, smugglers kept tabs on rapidly arriving Central American migrants by double checking the names and IDs of migrants before they got off the bus to make sure they had paid. 

One man, a migrant in Reynosa – across the border from McAllen, Texas – who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, showed Reuters a picture of a purple wristband he was wearing. He told them that he had paid $500 to a criminal group in the city after he arrived from Honduras to ensure that he wasn’t kidnapped or extorted. He said once migrants or their smugglers have paid for the right to cross the river, which is also controlled by criminal groups, they receive another bracelet.

“This way we’re not in danger, neither us nor the ‘coyote,’” he told Reuters.

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

Things That Matter

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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