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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Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

Entertainment

Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

Badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna has never been afraid to speak her mind. She’s a woman who speaks up for issues she cares about and people listen to her. That’s why so many love her – present company included.

The ‘Umbrella’ singer, how has been kind of off the musical radar as of late, spoke out in a new interview with British Vogue and she had a few things to say about her upcoming music, where she’s been living, and her relationship with migrant communities.

Rihanna continues to use her platform and reach of over 200 million followers across social media to bring awareness to social issues that are important to her.

Credit: Chesnot / WireImage

In an interview with Vogue, the creator of “Fenty Beauty” explained feeling empathy with Mexicans and Latinos who are discriminated against in the United States, since she says that she knows how it feels to be on the end of discriminatory policies.

“The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she said. “So I identify—and that’s why I really relate and empathize with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

Similarly, she recalled the times in which she suffered and the difficulties her and mother experienced when they emigrated from Barbados.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in St. Michael, Barbados to a Guyanese mother and Barbadian father.

In the Vogue interview, she added: “Let’s say I know what that fight is like. I have witnessed it, I have been there. I think I was eight years old when I had to live that in the middle of the night. So I know how daunting it is for a child, and if my father had been dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a disaster.”

In that same Vogue interview, Rihanna confessed to something that few people outsider her inner circle even knew.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

She explained that in recent years she has become a bit of a nomad, having a house in London, Paris, Barbados and Mexico, where she feels more relaxed.

“I just love Mexico. I really need to do my DNA test,” she jokingly told Afua Hirsch of Vogue. Perhaps she was an agave plant, in a past life, she pondered.

Rihanna has been vocal about immigrant rights in the past and takes great pride in her origins.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

The Grammy Award winning singer and entrepreneur has very publicly thrown shade at President Trump over his cruel immigration policies.

Rihanna, who’s been appointed as the ambassador of her native country Barbados, is no stranger to political matters. She sent a cease-and-desist letter to President Donald Trump in early November after he played her music at one of his rallies. She also rejected the opportunity to perform during the Super Bowl LIII in February 2019 out of protest for Colin Kaepernick.

Plus, in an interview with The Cut last year about the word ‘immigrant’, she said: “For me, it’s a prideful word. To know that you can come from humble beginnings and just take over whatever you want to, dominate at whatever you put your mind to. The world becomes your oyster, and there’s no limit. Wherever I go, except for Barbados, I’m an immigrant. I think people forget that a lot of times.”

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Things That Matter

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Anadolu Agency / Getty

The coronavirus isn’t stopping the United States from continuing its maximum pressure campaign on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

For well over a year, Venezuela has suffered from a massive political crisis. President Nicolas Maduro clings to power as a growing number of foreign countries (including the U.S.) recognize his main competitor, Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim-President.

But as the country struggles to confront a growing Coronavirus pandemic, the international community is imploring the Trump administration to ease sanctions of the struggling nation. Many are concerned over its spread amid a collapsing health care system and a deep economic crisis, aggravated by U.S. sanctions and low oil prices.

The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government.

Credit: Kenneth Rapoza / Getty

However, getting both Maduro and Guaidó to buy into the plan – let alone millions of Venezuelans – will be an immense challenge. Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó would both have to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.

Under the “democratic transition framework”, all political prisoners would be released, and all foreign – mostly Cuban – forces would leave. A five-member council would be selected, with two members chosen by the opposition, two by Maduro’s Socialist party, and the fifth member picked by the other four.

“The hope is that this set-up promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has long pushed for regime change in Venezuela and this could be a major step towards achieving this policy.

“The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the manmade crisis in Venezuela,” the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said.

“The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime’s failure to adequately prepare for and address the global Covid-19 pandemic. This framework demonstrates our commitment to helping Venezuela fully recover and ensures that the voice of the Venezuelan people is respected and included.”

The plan would mean the end of the Maduro regime and the likely withdrawal of his largest competitor.

Credit: Elizabeth Melimopoulos / Getty

Since early 2019, Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis with two clashing sides vowing to take back control of the country. Millions of people have poured into the streets in support of one side or the other – often resulting in violent flare ups that have left thousands dead.

But could the promise of zero sanctions against a struggling economy be enough to make the plan work?

Credit: @carmses_in / Twitter

The US and EU would then lift sanctions on the current leadership. Broader sanctions on the country’s oil business would be lifted after all foreign forces had left the country. All sanctions would be lifted after free elections, to be held within six to 12 months.

“The basic outline is simple: We call for a transitional government that would govern for nine to 12 months and hold free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday. “The United States will recognize the result of a free and fair election no matter which party wins.”

The proposal comes five days after the U.S. indicted Maduro and top members of his government and army for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Department of Justice indicted Maduro and many of his right-hand men on a range of charges, all but guaranteeing they will not be part of any potential democratic transition in Venezuela down the line.

The indictment for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to corruption to narcoterrorism puts the spotlight on the horrendous acts Maduro and his associates have allegedly perpetrated.

In addition to giving the U.S. additional leverage over Maduro, the indictment also acts as an incentive for the 14 individuals charged along with him — and others close to him — to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The plan has his critics on both sides of the aisle.

Skeptics of the plan said it provided few incentives for the incumbent officials to give up power, days after they were charged with serious offences and multimillion-dollar rewards put on their heads.

The ultimate focus must be on alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and though it will not be eased by these recent actions alone, the only way forward is to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with Maduro.