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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

This past March, according to El Pais, migrants crossed the Rio Grande at an all-time high not seen in the past 15 years. US government reports underlined that a total of 171,000 people arrived at the southern border of the United States in March. Eleven percent were minors who made the journey by themselves.

Reports say that this vulnerable group will continue to grow in size with recent shifts in the Biden administration child immigration policies. Five migrants girls recently found by the river recently became part of this group.

An onion farmer in Quemado recently reported that he found five migrant girls on his land.

The girls were each under the age of seven, the youngest was too small to even walk. Three of the girls are thought to be from Honduras, the other two are believed to have come from Guatemala.​ Jimmy Hobbs, the farmer who found the girls, said that he called the Border Patrol gave the children aid by giving them water and food and putting them in the shade.

“I don’t think they would have made it if I hadn’t found them,” Hobbs told US Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) in a New York Post. “Because it got up to 103 yesterday.”

“My thoughts are that it needs to stop right now. There are going to be thousands. This is just five miles of the Rio Grande,” Hobbs’ wife added in their conversation with Gonzalez. “That’s a huge border. This is happening all up and down it. It can’t go on. It’s gonna be too hot. There’ll be a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering.” 

“It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Austin Skero II explained of the situation in an interview with ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “Unfortunately this happens far too often now. If not for our community and law enforcement partners, these little girls could have faced the more than 100-degree temperatures with no help.”

According to reports, the Customs and Border Protection stated that the five girls​ ​will be processed and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.​

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At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

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At Least 17 Dead And Hundreds Injured Following Massive Protests Across Colombia

A massive protest movement that swept across Colombia seems to have paid off – at least in the short term – as President Ivan Duque says that he will withdrawal the controversial tax plan that sent angry protesters into the streets. However, the protests claimed at least 17 victims who died during the unrest and hundreds more were injured.

Now that the president has withdrawn the controverial bill, many are wondering what’s next and will they have to take to the streets once again.

Massive protests claimed the lives of at least 17 people and hundreds more were injured across Colombia.

Unions and other groups kicked off marches on Wednesday to demand the government of President Ivan Duque withdraw a controversial tax plan that they say unfairly targets the most vulnerable Colombians.

Isolated vandalism, clashes between police and protesters and road blockades occurred in several cities on Saturday, and riot police were deployed in the capital.

Rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of possible police abuse in Cali, and local human rights groups alleged up to 17 deaths occurred.

After a week of protests, the government has shelved the controversial plan.

Faced with the unrest, the government of President Ivan Duque on Sunday ordered the proposal be withdrawn from Congress where it was being debated. In a televised statement, he said his government would work to produce new proposals and seek consensus with other parties and organizations.

President Duque, in his statement, acknowledged “it is a moment for the protection of the most vulnerable, an invitation to build and not to hate and destroy”.

“It is a moment for all of us to work together without paltriness,” he added. “A path of consensus, of clear perceptions. And it gives us the opportunity to say clearly that there will be no increase in VAT for goods and services.”

The tax reform had been heavily criticized for punishing the middle classes at a time of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The government introduced the bill on April 15 as a means of financing public spending. The aim was to generate $6.3 billion between 2022 and 2031 to reignite the fourth largest economy in Latin America.

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