Things That Matter

The Trump Administration’s Assault On The Undocumented Community Is Negatively Impacting People’s Mental Health

“I’d gone from being this really gregarious, social, extroverted person to not being able to go to the grocery store when there were other people around because I felt like I was having a heart attack,” undocumented immigrant Azul Uribe told USA Today about her experience of learning that she was undocumented at 22 years old. Uribe moved to the United States from México when she was 11 years old, proud to be a first-generation immigrant. It wasn’t until her 22nd birthday that her family told her they were all undocumented. For Uribe, that’s the moment that her mental health would change forever. Three years of immigration legal battles later, she voluntarily deported from the U.S. at 36 years old, taking a bus to a place that she hadn’t been to since she was a child.

Roughly 10 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are subject to far higher rates of depression, anxiety, and trauma-related stress because of their status. It’s also their status that prevents them from accessing treatment.

While Trump hasn’t deported nearly as many immigrants as Obama, his administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a far more intense culture of fear.

Credit: @Rschooley / Twitter

Obama’s administration did not advertise its hardline immigration stances or boast about ICE raids. Trump, however, has listed ongoing threats of ICE raids as promises to his base that have resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants becoming afraid to even grocery shop. A recent study by the Urban Institute shows that immigrant families that avoid routine activities for fear of ICE are three times more likely to experience psychological distress than immigrant families who don’t avoid those same daily routines. 

Researchers and psychologists are pointing to a chronic state of elevated fear response as responsible for the depression, anxiety and stress exacerbated in the undocumented community.

Credit: @usfca / Twitter

Liliana Campos, 32, has become a permanent resident in the last year, but the 22 years of fear she felt prior still puts her on high alert when ICE raid rumors are spread. “It’s very alarming to be in a position to be in,” Campos told USA Today of her previous undocumented status. “Our fear response is activated every day for years. It has consequences.” Today, Campos is a P.h.D. student at the University of San Francisco working on a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She also works for Immigrants Rising as the Mental Health Advocate and is creating an online service that will connect undocumented people with pro bono mental health workers.

Undocumented immigrants also lack access to health care, often needing to pay out of pocket for any kind of medical treatment.

Credit: @jesuswired / Twitter

Gustavo Guerrero, 27, suffers from anxiety as a result of his undocumented status. Guerrero, originally from Honduras, swam across the Rio Grande when he was 12 years old. “It’s always in the back of your mind,” Guerrero told USA Today. “You’re driving, you’re working, you’re sleeping in your home, you’re picking up your kids from school, you’re constantly thinking about it.” Without health insurance, the only way he can treat his anxiety is by paying the full $150 per therapy session out of pocket, and he can only go once a month. 

Some families have been torn apart because mental healthcare access wasn’t available to treat severe mental illness.

Credit: @megalatina979fm / Twitter

Garcia Mendoza, 23, has dedicated her life to helping the undocumented community cope with stress through holistic health practices like yoga and breathwork. She and her older brother moved to Albuquerque from México when she was 8 years old. Two years later, her brother began suffering from bipolar disorder. Without access to resources and fear of even searching for those resources, her parents felt like they had no choice but to send him back to México for treatment. Mendoza grew up in Albuquerque without her brother.

Mixed status families suffer as a family unit for fear of deportation as well.

Credit: @MIRACoalition / Twitter

Undocumented immigrants move to the United States to create a new life for themselves. That life includes creating a family. The children of undocumented immigrants who carry U.S. citizenship grow up in fear of their parents being deported. Regardless of status, the rhetoric of President Trump has seeped into brown children’s heads. Cristian Solano-Córdova told USA Today that maintaining a positive sense of self is challenging, “especially when society is telling you that you’re, you know, evil, that you’re a criminal, that you’re a rapist.” 

The night Trump was elected, his eight-year-old sister asked him if she was going to be deported.

READ:

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

Things That Matter

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

ImmigrantFood / Instagram

Sometimes we read a news story that just makes us exclaim: “Wow, these people are seriously shading like a boss! Damn!”

Humor and directness are great assets when it comes to political activism. When it comes to confronting anti-immigration views with elegance and wisdom, one of the best strategies is actually showcasing the richness of multiculturalism and the vast benefits to local culture that diversity brings. 

Introducing Immigrant Food, a literal melting pot of deliciousness from all around the globe

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

The restaurant, located at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C.,  brings fusion cuisine to a new level, in unexpected ways that defy culinary conventions. For example, pickled platanitos on a Vietnamese noodle salad. One of the staples of Latino food, the humble banana is given a German treatment and thrown into a Southeast Asian dish. The restaurant’s mantra is simple: “We celebrate America’s story — the story of immigrants”. Amen! Take that, bullies! 

Chef Enrique Limardo and political activist Peter Schechter have taken adventurous paths and basically mixes dishes that have nothing to do with each other…until now.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

Diversity is at the core of the new restaurant, which seems to be a sort of cachetada con guante blanco to those who refuse to admit that any healthy democracy needs cultural diversity. As Forbes reports: “Immigrant Food is the brainchild of political activist Peter Schechter who refers to this dining concept as more “cause casual” than fast-casual”.

So yes, it is food with a cause… and the cause is reminding us that diversity is at the core of any democratic society. Schechter told Forbes: “Rather than having a great business that then gives a portion of the profits as an afterthought to a cause, our cause is baked into our business model. We wouldn’t function without the cause.” As reported by CNN, Schechter is no spring chicken in political spheres, being described as “a seasoned political consultant and veteran of Washington’s think tank scene”. 

Just look at this symphony of colors and flavors: Ethiopia meets El Salvador!

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

At first sight the food from African and Central American countries have very little to do with each other, but if you think about it there is more in common that one might think. Ethiopian food is a delicious mix of grains, beans and sauces, and Salvadorian cuisine shares many of these core ingredients. Ethiopians and Salvadorians are two of the most vivid and active migrant groups in recent years. BTW, this is the Columbia Bowl and it looks just delish.

As chef Limardo told CNN in regards to how this dish came into existence: “I came up with the idea that we can use the berbere spice that is very common in Ethiopian food, and then in Salvadoran (food) they make a dressing that is made from pepita seeds. And the combination of both, it’s something that is unbelievable. Starting from that point, I just think that everything can be matched, if you’re using the right amount, and if you go back in history, and try to find the right spot to connect” . And it is right spot to connect that we all have to strive for, not only in food but also in life in multicultural societies.

The menu will change constantly and feature fusion dishes based on the traditions of 40 countries.

The menus will be supported by NGOs such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Ayuda, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, CARECEN and CASA. The menus will reflect the needs of the associated NGOs and basically speak to the causes of the time through culinary expression. In off-hours the restaurant is used as a space for these organizations to organize events such as meetings and English classes. Clients are also invited to make a donation when they pay the bill, and the sum is divided among the partner organizations. 

Seriously, can we please eat some of these platillos espectaculares.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

We really hope that this restaurant remains open for a long, long time, and that others are inspired by the operation and message of what could very well become a Washington D.C. icon. After all, immigrants are deeply attached to the food and hospitality industries in the United States.

It is immigrants who sudan la gota gorda harvesting the fields, it is immigrants who bring their dishes and mix them with ingredients from other parts of the world (other than Native American dishes, no food is totally endemic to the country), it is immigrants who work in the kitchens as cooks, and it is increasingly immigrants such as top Mexican chef Enrique Olvera who are dictating the pace and trends in the industry. Immigrant Food is sort of stating the wonderful obvious: immigrants enrich any society through hard work and creativity.

As Schechter, the mastermind behind Immigrant Food and who is himself a product of Austrian and German migration told CNN: “This isn’t the America I recognize… Somehow it has become normal to disparage, to feel you can talk down to immigrants, like immigrants are not good for this country. Immigrants have been the foundation of growth and vibrancy. This country has been great again and again and again because of immigrants”. Preach! 

Sonia Sotomayor Calls The Case On DACA’s Fate One Of The Justices Deciding Whether To Destroy Lives

Things That Matter

Sonia Sotomayor Calls The Case On DACA’s Fate One Of The Justices Deciding Whether To Destroy Lives

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While the US Supreme Court’s conservative-majority justices are seemingly ready to allow Trump to rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Justice Sonia Sotomayor clearly stated her opinion that the court’s decision, “is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.” The 2012 policy shields immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children without documentation, from deportation and allows them to work for up to two years at a time. Research shows that DACA has reduced the number of undocumented immigrants living in poverty, and has improved mental health status for DACA participants and their children. The Trump administration rescinded DACA protections for nearly 700,000 recipients in 2017. 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to end DACA and is expected to deliver a decision by Spring 2020.

Two memos lie at the heart of the decision.

Credit: @Princeton / Twitter

The first memo was begrudgingly given by then Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine C. Duke. Duke’s volunteer history included offering legal aid to immigrants. During a White House meeting with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, she was pressured to issue a memo that would end DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Duke that DACA was illegal, on the grounds of it exceeding presidential power. Duke issued a bare-bones memo that offered no policy reason for the end of DACA, except that it was unlawful. She later resigned.

Her replacement, Kirstjen Nielsen, retroactively justified the decision with a second memo, which included a new reason to end DACA: to project a message of consistency of enforcement of all immigration laws.

Now, US solicitor general Noel Francisco is arguing that Obama’s decision to introduce DACA exceeded presidential power.

Credit: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

“Basic administrative law is you look at what’s first given to you,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Francisco, not “what you add later.” Still, she said that even if “you ignore that and even look at the Nielsen memo, I think my colleagues have rightly pointed there’s a whole lot of reliance interests that weren’t looked at.” What’s crucial to this decision, according to Sotomayor, is that President Trump had told “DACA-eligible people that they were safe under him and that he would find a way to keep them here. And so he hasn’t and, instead, he’s done this.” 

In 2017, Trump tweeted, in reference to DACA recipients, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?”

Trump tweeted Tuesday that DACA recipients are “far from angels.”

Credit: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

“Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels,'” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Some are very tough, hardened criminals. President Obama said he had no legal right to sign order, but would anyway. If Supreme Court remedies with overturn, a deal will be made with Dems for them to stay!”

A major requirement for DACA recipients is that they have no criminal record. “Trump is fear-mongering and falsely accusing people of color,” Dr. Eugene Gu tweeted. “Many DACA recipients are doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, teachers, and integral members of society. Many have never set foot in their original countries for their whole lives and speak mainly English. Threatening to deport them through racist fear-mongering is evil.”

The events leading up to the memo led Sotomayor to believe “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”

Credit: @Grindr / Twitter

Trump’s promise to protect DACA recipients during his campaign and his about-face is “something to be considered before you rescind a policy. Not just say I’ll give you six months to do it – to destroy your lives.” At the end of the day, Sotomayor is pointing out that Francisco’s argument is not evident in the memos. “Where is all of this in the memo? Where is all of this really considered and weighed? And where is the political decision made clearly,” she asked. Sotomayor concluded, “that this is not about the law; this is about our choice to destroy lives.”

Sotomayor also argued that DACA simply allows law enforcement agencies to prioritize its use of its limited resources.

Credit: @Grindr / Twitter

“I have always had some difficulty in understanding the illegality of DACA,” Sotomayor offered her opinion. “We all know [ICE] has limited resources. It can’t, even when it wants to remove the vast majority of aliens we have here. And so I’ve always had some difficulty in understanding what’s wrong with an agency saying, we’re going to prioritize our removals, and for those people, like the DACA people who haven’t committed crimes, who are lawfully employed, who are paying taxes, who pose no threat to our security, and there’s a whole list of prerequisites, we’re not going to exercise our limited resources to try to get rid of those people. I — I still have an impossible time.”

Oh, and Sotomayor was interrupted numerous times by Francisco and her male peers.

Credit: US Supreme Court

A 2017 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law study found that male justices interrupt female justices three times as often as each other during oral arguments. The study also found that conservative justices were twice as likely to interrupt liberal justices than liberal justices were to interrupt their conservative peers. According to Supreme Court transcripts, Justice Sotomayor was interrupted by Justice Neil Gorsuch. The two both awkwardly apologized to each other when Sotomayor graciously told Gorsuch, “No, no, continue.”

When Justice Sotomayor was in the middle of her arguments, General Francisco interrupted her, saying, “So I guess I have three responses, Your Honor.” Sotomayor bluntly said, “All right. But let me just finish my question.” Francisco casually said, “Oh, sure,” to which Sotomayor incredulously asked, “Okay?” “Yeah,” Francisco responded to the Justice.

A decision is expected to be made public by Spring 2020.

READ: Justice Sonia Sotomayor Breaks New Two-Minute Rule By Interrupting Lawyer During Immigration Case