Things That Matter

This DACA Recipient Was Assured He Could Get A Visa In Mexico To Start His Green Card Process But Got Denied

Mexican-born Marco Villada traveled to his native country on the promise that in order to get his green card, he’d have to first get a visa from the U.S. consulate. It was the last step Marco needed to have full protection from deportation because his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status just wasn’t stable enough — at least not under the Trump Administration.

Villada is eligible for a green card because his husband, Israel Serrato, is a U.S. citizen. However, during his interview at the U.S. Consulate things didn’t go according to plan for the DACA recipient.

The U.S. Consulate denied Marco his visa, which meant he couldn’t return to the U.S. with his husband.

CREDIT: Facebook/National Immigration Law Center

Villada and his husband traveled to Mexico for two weeks in order to be interviewed at the U.S. Consulate and get his visa. He was promised re-entry to the U.S. through a provisional wavier provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) back in January.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, writer Catherine Rampell notes that under U.S. law, U.S. citizens can sponsor green cards for their immigrant spouses, which is what Serrato intended to do for Villada. However, the immigrant in question must first go back to their birth country and apply for a visa through the U.S. Consulate in order to return. Then, they can continue the process of a green card legally.

Leaving the country is risky, though,” Rampell writes. “Normally if you’ve spent more than six months here unlawfully and you leave, you’re barred from coming back for years. Sometimes forever.”

Villada left Mexico at the age of 6 and has been in the U.S. ever since. Now he’s with family that he’s never really known.

CREDIT: Facebook/National Immigration Law Center

“I’m an American stuck in the wrong country,” Villada said, according to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “I don’t belong here. I belong in Los Angeles. My husband, my family, my job, my life — everything is there.”

Serrato adds that Villada’s absence has devastated not just his life, but his family in the U.S. as well.

This isn’t just hard on us, it’s impacting our family, Marco’s coworkers, and so many other people in our lives,” Serrato told NILC. “But despite all of this, we remain hopeful that our government will do the right thing and we will be together at home again soon.”

The 34-year-old is now suing the U.S. State Department and immigration services.

NILC states that the U.S. Consulate denied his visa on ungrounded terms.

“USCIS also failed to properly notify [Villada] that the information he provided in his visa application could render the provisional waiver he received invalid,” the NILC stated in a press release.

The lawsuit alleges that immigration services neglected to inform Villada that his waiver would be nullified based on his case.

“I don’t know if they were lazy and sloppy or looking for ways to trap people,” Villada’s lawyer Stacy Tolchin told The Washington Post. “Either way, they have an obligation to do their job, and they didn’t do it.”

“Immigrant youth like Marco are an inextricable part of our communities,” Nora Preciado, senior staff attorney at the NILC said in a released statement. “Marco is a loving spouse, a model employee, a brother to an active duty military member, and a vibrant member of the LGBTQ community. Our anti-immigrant policies don’t just hurt immigrants — they hurt all of us.”


READ: The Trump Administration Says It Won’t Protect DACA Recipients Unless Democrats Make Deals With Them

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Bruises And Cuts Are Visible, But Emotional Wounds Are Harder To Spot: Monica Lewinsky Launches “Epidemic” A Powerful Anti-Cyberbullying PSA

Fierce

Bruises And Cuts Are Visible, But Emotional Wounds Are Harder To Spot: Monica Lewinsky Launches “Epidemic” A Powerful Anti-Cyberbullying PSA

Noam Galai / Getty images

There may be no better person placed in our culture to talk about online bullying and harassment than Monica Lewinsky. Her story has been co-opted and manipulated for personal and political gain purposes for over two decades now. It’s taken long enough for the culture to catch up. She’s been speaking up about this for years and finally, she’s in control of her own narrative. In her latest campaign, the PSA “Epidemic”, Monica Lewinsky wants to raise awareness about the silent and lethal epidemic that is online bullying. 

Online bullying is a silent and lethal form of harassment and Monica Lewinsky wants to raise awareness around this issue so we don’t miss the signs.

credit Youtube The Epidemic

In her latest campaign, the third of a series of ads designed to raise awareness about a silent and lethal epidemic, Monica Lewinsky wants to shine a light on how this silent and invisible this form of bullying can be, and how a psychologically challenging situation can quickly escalate and become physical. In “Epidemic”, we’re introduced to a teenage girl whose health seems to be deteriorating for no apparent reason over the course of the film.  First she stays home from school, she can’t eat, she can’t sleep. In a panic, she reaches out for a bottle of pills. The viewer sees her go from a normal teen to an unconscious girl in an E.R. It’s obvious that she’s been sick all along, but what’s the disease?

The words “The story is not what it seems” appear across the screen. “Go to the-epidemic.com/realstory to get the message.”

Once you follow the link, a new screen message asks viewers to enter their phone number. When the video starts over, the person watching it is receiving the same texts messages that Hailey, the protagonist of the film, is getting. The cruel messages are a deluge of threats, harassment and abuse. And by receiving the texts, viewers don’t just watch it all unfold, they experience it. “It’s like the difference between seeing something in 3D and seeing something in VR,” Lewinsky told Glamour of the campaign’s interactive elements. It makes the abuse that people face on the internet, through their phones, and IRL feel real, immediate, and dangerous. 

Although cyber-bullying happens online, the feeling can be very real, and it can even lead to sickness.

credit Youtube The Epidemic

The feeling of being bullied isn’t just one of fear and shame. Bullying can affect your physical and mental health in potentially dangerous ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being bullied can increase your risk of sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression, headaches, stomachaches, and more. Since bullying can lead to illness, it’s a sort of sickness in itself. Andd that’s exactly what Lewinsky is trying to convey in the PSA in partnership with advertising agency BBDO New York, and Dini von Mueffling Communications.

“We compare [bullying] to an illness for several reasons,” Lewinsky, an anti-bullying advocate, speaker, and former bullying victim, told Teen Vogue. “Just last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online. But the problem is, it can be hard to see the signs when somebody is going through something like this. With cyberbullying, even though it may take place online, it has offline consequences — and these consequences range from bad to grave.”

The film was a deeply personal project for Lewinsky who was bullied on a national scale in 1998.

credit Instagram @Notablelife Lewinsky was famously bullied on a national scale after her relationship with former president Bill Clinton went public when she was 24 years old and an intern at the White House. She has personal experience with how severe bullying can be and it’s something she’s spoken out about consistently. It’s that very issue which made this project a challenge she wanted to tackle. “It was hard for me to do this,” she admits. Drawing from her own experiences, Lewinsky, wanted to capture what she calls “that cascading feeling, that overwhelming feeling, the tsunami of texts that come in and the vitriol.” Not just in the video, but in the messages that participants receive. With “The Epidemic”, Lewinsky wants to show victims of bullying that they’re not alone and that they don’t need to remain silent about what they’re going through. 

While bruises and cuts are visible to parents, teachers, and friends, emotional wounds can be harder to spot.

Credit Twitter @MonicaLewnsky

“This is everybody’s worst nightmare—to miss the signs,” Lewinsky said on The Today Show. “And I think one of the best things that we can be doing is have these kinds of conversations, and what we hope to be a positive result from this PSA is that it brings awareness to the kinds of conversations parents should be having with their kids.” Lewinsky who is now 46 years old, remembers that when she was growing up, her parents would tell her, “Be home by sundown.” They wanted her to to be safe. But now, as she notes, “kids can be safe in their physical home, but they’re not emotionally safe because of what may be happening online.” 

The PSA supports a several organizations, including Amanda Todd Legacy, The Childhood Resilience Foundation, Crisis Text Line, Defeat The Label, The Diana Award, Ditch The Label, Organization for Social Media Safety, Sandy Hook Promise, Sit With Us, Think Before You Type and The Tyler Clementi Foundation. If you or someone you know is being bullied, tell someone right away or call the bullying hotline to speak with a professional. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

Mexico Knows How To Celebrate And Día De Muertos Celebrations Are Extra Special, Here’s Where You Can Join In On The Celebration

Culture

Mexico Knows How To Celebrate And Día De Muertos Celebrations Are Extra Special, Here’s Where You Can Join In On The Celebration

Here’s one thing we know: Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

The rituals are rife with symbolic meaning. The more you understand about this feast for the senses, the more you will appreciate it. And with celebrations taking place across not just Mexico, but also major cities throughout the US, here’s everything you should know about the major holiday.

But first, what exactly is Día de Muertos?

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For these pre-Hispanic cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit—and during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth.

Today’s Día de los Muertos celebration is a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. It takes place on November 1 and 2—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar—around the time of the fall maize harvest.

It’s such an important part of the Mexican identity, that UNESCO has recognized it.

Thanks to efforts by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, the term “cultural heritage” is not limited to monuments and collections of objects. It also includes living expressions of culture—traditions—passed down from generation to generation. In 2008, UNESCO recognized the importance of Día de los Muertos by adding the holiday to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Today Mexicans from all religious and ethnic backgrounds celebrate Día de los Muertos, but at its core, the holiday is a reaffirmation of indigenous life.

One of the most popular places to celebrate Dia de Muertos is in the Mexican city of Oaxaca.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

In Oaxaca, you’ll find spectacular markets selling festive items from which locals construct their Day of the Dead altars—look for sugar skulls and specialty food items like black mole. Oaxaca schools have contests for homemade altars, and the city goes all out with elaborate creations like sand tapestries. You’ll also find spontaneous carnival-like processions in surrounding villages and neighborhoods, like Etla.

Ever since the movie Coco, the villages of Michoacán have been ground zero for tourists wanting to experience Dia de Muertos.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

One of the most moving Day of the Dead celebrations takes place each year in Pátzcuaro, a municipality in the state of Michoacán about 225 miles west of Mexico City. Indigenous people from the countryside converge on the shores of Pátzcuaro Lake, where they pile into canoes, a single candle burning in each bow, and paddle over to a tiny island called Janitzio for an all-night vigil in an indigenous cemetery.

The crew of Disney’s Coco also said that the lakeside village served as inspiration for the film, and after visiting I can totally see why.

If you’re in Mexico City, you need to visit the network of canals in the south of the city called Xochimilco.

Take a nighttime ride through the canals of Xochimilco capping with a show narrating the legend of la llorona (The Weeping Woman). This year the spectacle will take place between October 5 and November 18 and will be celebrating its twenty-five years on stage. Also, this event is the only of its kind that has won multiple awards for its efforts in preserving a piece of Mexican history, recognized in 2008 by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Also near Mexico City, is the pueblito of Mixquic which has an incredible and authentic celebration that many say is among the country’s best.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Mixquic, located in the Tlahuac Delegation of Mexico City (southeast of the Mexico City center) has been swallowed up by the megalopolis’s urban sprawl, but retains the ambiance of a rural village with strong indigenous roots. Street stalls are set up in the days before the celebrations. A procession through town with a cardboard coffin leads the way to the cemetery where a candle-light vigil will take place.

Or you can hang out in the city and watch the massive parade.

This year marks the third edition of the Día de Muertos parade — a celebration full of iconic folklore associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

As every year, you can awe over decorated floats, José Guadalupe Posada’s classic catrinas turned into giant marionettes, and Day of the Dead-themed balloons. Contrary to popular knowledge, this parade was not a norm in Mexico City until the release of the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre; in the film, Bond casually weaves through the parade before changing into a suit and pursuing his targets. The scene made an international impact, and Mexico City saw an opportunity to boost tourism while finding a new, fun way to celebrate their beloved holiday.

Meanwhile, in the US, Los Angeles is home to one of the largest celebrations in the world.

You’ll find a traditional Day of the Dead celebration in Los Angeles, on vibrant Olvera Street, home of one of the city’s largest Mexican marketplaces. This area upholds many festive Mexican traditions, commemorating the holiday with face painting, theatrical performances, altar displays, nightly candlelit processions, and more.

While just a few miles away, there is a two-day celebration that takes place at the Hollywood Forever Cemtetary that attracts more than a quarter million people. At L.A.’s most photogenic Day of the Dead celebration, the cemetery grounds are covered with art exhibitions, dance rituals, musical performances, children’s arts and crafts projects and food vendors (and crowds) aplenty. You’ll see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can either watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest. This year’s theme honors sacred migrations and the monarch butterfly.

Chicago is another US city that knows how to celebrate the beauty of Dia de Muertos.

Credit: National Museum of Mexican Art

Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art celebrates the Day of the Dead with a special presentation, called Día de los Muertos Xicágo. Families are invited to upload a photo of a loved one they want to remember, which is then projected onto the museum’s exterior during the one-day celebration. Other highlights include a community altar display, traditional foods, face painting, and live performances.

And in Arizona, the city of Tucson has one of the country’s most powerful displays of celebration.

Credit: Rebecca Noble

Tucson‘s All Souls Procession and All Souls Weekend are held just after the Day of the Dead. With more than 150,000 participants walking in the two-mile-long procession, it’s one of the most powerful Día de los Muertos celebrations in North America. Events include a communal urn burning, cultural performances, and art installations.