Things That Matter

Cristina Jimenez Moreta’s Fight For Immigrants Just Won Her A $625,000 ‘Genius’ Grant

Every year, the MacArthur Foundation hands out a $625,000 “no-strings-attached” award to creative geniuses in various fields. Academics, engineers, activists, writers, and musicians have all won the award, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sandra Cisneros.

There’s no application for the MacArthur fellowship, so the recipients often have no idea that they’re being considered. According to the MacArthur Foundation website, this is the criteria for selecting the fellows:

  1. Exceptional creativity.
  2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments.
  3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Cecilia A. Conrad, a managing director of the foundation and the leader of the fellows program, told The New York Times that the whole point of handing out this money to great minds is to inspire others to do amazing work.

The 24 winners of 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellowship were announced yesterday and Cristina Jiménez Moreta was one of the winners.

Cristina Jiménez Moreta is one of the MacArthur Fellowship winners that won $625,000.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

The 33-year-old told The Washington Post that she could not believe the news. She was informed weeks ago but had to keep it a secret until the news was formally announced.

I felt like it just took me a few minutes to believe — is this really happening?” Moreta tells The Washington Post. “For me, this recognition is a recognition of the lives of undocumented people, of the work that we have been doing to advocate and create change.”

Moreta, the co-founder of United We Dream, was recognized for her work as an immigration rights activist.

CREDIT: Facebook/United We Dream

Founded in 2008, United We Dream is a national youth-led organization that fights for the fair treatment of immigrants, regardless of immigration status.

Moreta knows the struggles that immigrants face very well. She came to the U.S. from Ecuador as an undocumented immigrant when she was 13.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

According to the MacArthur Foundation, Moreta was chosen for “changing public perceptions of immigrant youth and playing a critical role in shaping the debate around immigration policy.”

After winners were announced, Moreta posted this lovely message on her Facebook, thanking her parents for their hard work.

CREDIT: Facebook/Cristina Jimenez

She writes: “To my family and community, you have been with me and United We Dream throughout the years. Thank you for your love and support. I’m humbled to have received the FDR’s Freedom from Fear Medal from the Roosevelt Institute and have been selected as a MacArthur fellow by the MacArthur Foundation. I could only think of my parents as I received the news of this award. It was my mother and father who heroically risked everything to come to the United States from Ecuador seeking a better life for my family.

This award celebrates the resilience and strength of my parents and and of all immigrants who’ve defeated the odds to make the United States their home. As a proud immigrant woman of color, I ask the country to see me, see my brother, my parents, and the generations of immigrants who’ve come before. This recognition symbolizes the pathways we take to survive and thrive.”

Moreta says this award isn’t just about fighting Donald Trump’s racist politics but about recognizing what immigrants have to offer this country.

“Regardless of what Trump or anyone has to say, this award recognizes our courage, our sacrifices of the community, our humanity, and that this is our home,” Moreta told ThinkProgress. “This award and this journey really reflects that community [of undocumented immigrants] and the power and courage that comes with it when you’re dreaming together of what you want to achieve.”

READ: Activists, Politicians And Celebs React To The Announcement To Rescind DACA

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A Ted Cruz Piñata Exists And People Want One So Bad

Culture

A Ted Cruz Piñata Exists And People Want One So Bad

abcpartyhq / Instagram

Sen. Ted Cruz has reached peak infamy with a piñata in his honor. People have been turned into piñatas over the years for both good and bad reasons. The Cruz piñata serves as a reminder of the senator’s attempt to flee the brutal Texas winter crisis.

A Texas party store is selling piñatas of Sen. Ted Cruz and people are into it.

Piñatas are always the centerpiece of a fun party and they are even more exciting when they are topical. One party shop in Texas is riding on the wave of local and national news criticizing Sen. Cruz to cash in.

Last week Sen. Cruz was caught boarding a United flight to Cancún, Mexico to escape the winter storm devastating Texas. As millions of Texans survived without water and power, the Cruz family booked a Mexican getaway to warmer weather and reliable electricity.

At first, Sen. Cruz tried to blame his daughters for fleeing Texas as his constituents suffered from the weather. He soon changed his story and claimed that he realized he had made a mistake as soon as he sat down on the plane waiting to depart from Houston.

Finally, after days of speculation, someone came forward and leaked text messages from Sen. Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Turns out, according to the texts, that the Cruz family was actively planning a vacation to avoid the snowstorm. According to the texts, the Cruz family was trying to convince neighbors and friends to join them so they can get out of their freezing house. The criticism amplified when it was reported that the Cruz family left the family dog behind as they fled to Mexico.

People are eager to get their hands on a Sen. Cruz piñata.

Families have been in quarantine for almost a year and they are hitting a wall. Now that the weather is starting to warm up, it is no surprise that people would want to have something to do together outdoors. Seems that a lot of people would like a piñata party to celebrate the bad weather slowly moving out.

There are even some people asking for different people made as piñatas.

You never know unless you ask, right? Never hurts to try to make your own request to better your birthday. It seems that the party store is able to make various different piñatas. The party store made a piñata after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ famous mitten moment at President Biden’s inauguration.

READ: Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Things That Matter

Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Joshua Roberts-Pool / Getty Images

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is Cuban-born and was one of the original architects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Mayorkas is inheriting a Trump-era DHS and is immediately getting to work to rectify issues that the Biden administration has highlighted. Two of the most pressing issues are heading up a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated by the previous administration and reviewing the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Remain in Mexico” is a policy that the Trump administration created and enforced that sent migrants to Mexico to await their asylum cases. The policy has been criticized both by U.S. and international politicians as a humanitarian issue.

It isn’t Mayorkas’ first time working for DHS.

Sec. Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of DHS from December 2013 – October 2016 under President Barack Obama. During that time, Mayorkas was crucial in responding to the 2013 – 14 Ebola virus epidemic and 2015 – 16 Zika virus epidemic. Mayorkas is ready to come back to the department and to bring back what he sees are the department’s mission.

“DHS bears an extraordinary weight on behalf of the American people, the weight of grave challenges seen and unseen,” Sec. Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to return to the Department to lead the men and women who dedicate their talent and energy to the safety and security of our nation. I will work every day to ensure that they have the tools they need to execute their missions with honor and integrity. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. The United States is a welcoming and empathetic nation, one that finds strength in its diversity. I pledge to defend and secure our country without sacrificing these American values.”

Mayorkas is no stranger to working on America’s immigration system.

Mayorkas is one of the original architects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is at stake because of the previous administration. The Biden administration has made a promise to preserve DACA and to create a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

President Biden has introduced legislation to reform the current immigration system. The legislation has a timeframe for all undocumented people in the U.S. to become citizens if they follow certains steps and meet certain criteria.

While Mayorkas got bipartisan support in the Senate confirmation, some Republicans did not like his work in immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban, voted to opposed Mayorkas.

“Not only has Mayorkas pledged to undo the sensible protections put in place by the Trump Administration that ended the dangerous policy of catch and release, but his nomination is further evidence that the Biden Administration intends to pursue a radical immigration agenda,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

READ: President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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