Things That Matter

What You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren And Her Newly Unveiled Immigration Plan

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has just unveiled her plan for Immigration Reform. Many political pundits consider that unless there is a major escalation in the ongoing tensions with Iran, the 2020 United States presidential election will be defined by the issue of immigration, which has been the most controversial aspect of the Trump administration, and where the POTUS has focused his reelection campaign. Warren’s plan is bold and big and is based on the principles of human rights and dignity for migrants and refugees. 

The race for the Democratic nomination is a crowded field (perhaps too crowded if the Democrats wish to upstage Donald Trump), but Warren is one of the leading contenders if we are to take the constant attacks that Trump launches in her direction whenever he has a chance (particularly when mocking what he calls her doubtful claim to have Native-American heritage). According to the political website Real Clear Politics, Warren is tied with Bernie Sanders in second place, both around 11 points behind the leader of the pack, the former vice president Joe Biden. It is still too early to tell who will run against Trump, but Warren has charm, intelligence and above all the political savviness to give a good fight to Biden and Sanders, and ultimately Trump. 

This is Elizabeth Warren (in case you have been living under a rock for the past two years or so).

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She is an American politician and former academic. Since 2013 she has been the Senator from Massachusetts, an important state for the federal elections. She has brains, alright? She is a former law school professor and has lectured in universities across the country, specializing in bankruptcy law. However, don’t let her smarts make you think that she is not in touch with everyday voters: she has a long and successful history of working in community organizing, and she knows all about the trials and tribulations of the working class. 

Her grassroots approach to politics reminds some of the 2008 Obama campaign. Yes we can, again?

Credit: elizabethwarren / Instagram

Many commentators see similarities in the political careers and beliefs of Warren and Obama. They are both experienced in the Senate and former academics. The Independent even went as far as to say that Warren is the 2020 Obama, explaining: “Both Obama and Warren believe in ending political corruption, strengthening the American healthcare system and economy, restructuring the tax system to unburden the average citizen, eliminating bigotry, and ending the cycle of foreign wars. Obama’s potential constituents were most concerned about the economy, healthcare, education, energy, and Iraq. Today’s liberal voters feel similarly (substituting Syria for Iraq). And they both believe in raising their own campaign funds, though Warren rejects the PAC dollars that Obama didn’t.” 

Additionally, if Obama faced the aftermath of the Great Recession, Warren is facing a humanitarian crisis at the border that is bound to dictate the platform of whoever ends up being the Democratic Party’s candidate (there could be surprises, re: Kamala Harris!). 

If she ends up getting the Democratic nomination she won’t hold back calling out you-know-who.

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Trump and Warren have been adversarial for years now, and Warren has been one of the main proponents of impeachment proceedings against POTUS (she does know the law inside out, so…).  

She believes that immigration reform needs to be a priority for the next president.

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She describes the current policies as a mess. She wrote in a post on Medium: “We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands.” This is a very intelligent approach to immigration, as it appeals to both those worried about the economy and how the United States can respond to the competition of global markets, and to the voters who consider current zero-tolerance policies, including ICE raids, inadmissible. She vows to “Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity”. 

Her plan for immigration reform is BIG, and would define policies for generations: she wants more opportunities for migrants to enter the country legally.

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Thinking of pure numbers, her plan would increase the intake of refugees from 30,000 a year to 125,000 and then to 175,000 in gradual increments. This policy would provide more opportunities for those who are fleeing precarious situations in war-torn countries and regions savaged by criminal networks and civil unrest, such as Central America, where a high percentage of the migrants who are captured or die in the border come from (you surely remember the devastating photograph of a Salvadorian father and his toddler daughter, who sadly drowned in the Rio Bravo). 

She proposes an approach that puts human values and individual dignity above anything else (so, in short, 100 percent opposite to the current administration’s): this translates into legal changes.

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The biggest legal change proposed by Warren is a restructure of the immigration court system that translates into independence from Justice Department bosses. This would mean that courts who decide the fate of hundreds of immigrants would be more autonomous and not necessarily bend to the pressures coming from the political machinations of the Washington political elite. This would also mean that local judges would have carta ancha to follow their ethical stance in individual cases (and in situations such as the separation of families at the border). 

Under a Warren presidency, the poor conditions of detention centers would be looked at and changed from day 1 and the Office of New Americans would be created.

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One of the main challenges for the country is the assimilation of new intakes into society. Some tend to be resentful and violent towards migrants, and migrants find it hard to get their footing into their new reality. This new office proposed by Warren would be in charge of facilitating integration, including teaching English.

She doesn’t believe in little efforts, but in big changes overhauling of previous policies.

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Under Warren, two of Trump’s most heatedly debated decisions would be given marcha atras. On ine hand, the travel ban (referred to by many as the “Muslim ban”) would end. The termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, which benefited thousands of Dreamers during the Obama years, would also be overhauled. 

She argues that the United States is enriched by immigrants, their stories and their efforts.

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A big part of Warren’s message is that immigrants are not space aliens, but actually part of the very fabric of the United States. Friends, neighbors and fellow Americans, even if the law or their migratory status might suggest otherwise.

Do you think she has a shot at “the big one”? 

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Few gave any chances to Barack Obama at this stage in 2008, or to Trump in 2016, so Elizabeth Warren is far from being out of the picture. She certainly looks presidential and has stood up to Trump when she has had to, so a Warren presidency is not un sueño guajiro.

READ: Senator Warren Speaks On The Removal Of DACA, Making Her Statement Personal With These Three Stories

Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

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Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and lawyers for Jilmar Ramos-Gomez have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The lawsuit claims that the agencies acted in a racist manner when unlawfully detaining Ramos-Gomez, a Latino-American war veteran who had his American passport on his person at the time of his arrest. Last week, Michigan-born Ramos-Gomez won a $190k settlement against the City of Grand Rapids after its City Commission voted unanimously to pay the former marine after Grand Rapids Captain Curt VanderKooi invited an ICE officer to “please check his status.” Ramos-Gomez was then detained in ICE custody for three days, even though police body camera footage shows his American passport in the hands of the law enforcement that transferred him to ICE custody.

The new lawsuit seeks data and policies on all wrongfully detained people and policies and procedures regarding people with mental health issues or disabilities.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez suffers from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan. 

CREDIT: @CHUCKPFARRER / TWITTER

Ramos-Gomez has received numerous medals for his service, which he served between October 2011 to August 2014 in Afghanistan. Often, Ramos-Gomez will ‘come to’ without having any recollection of what happened. During those PTSD episodes, he acts erratically. In November 2018, Ramos-Gomez allegedly set a small fire at a hospital, pulled a fire alarm and was found on the hospital’s helipad during one of those PTSD episodes. He was promptly arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Later, off-duty Cpt. VanderKooi saw his face on the local news and emailed an ICE officer, asking him to “please check his status.” When Ramos-Gomez was released from jail, he was transferred into the custody of ICE.

“Jilmar Ramos-Gomez fought and served our country selflessly, yet ICE tried to deport this hometown hero and blatantly disregarded his citizenship, service, and mental health challenges,” said Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. “Mr. Ramos-Gomez and the public deserve to know why the United States government abused its own citizen and veteran, and how many others have suffered in the same way.”

The ACLU is alleging that ICE detained and tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, even though they had documentation that proved his veteran and citizenship status.

CREDIT: @ALEXHORTONTX / TWITTER

The ACLU obtained body camera footage from the arresting officer that shows Ramos-Gomez’s United States passport in his hands. Later, footage proves that the passport was key in identifying Ramos-Gomez. One officer asked if he had been identified, to which the officer responds, “His passport is down there.” Ramos-Gomez was detained in an ICE detention facility from Dec. 14 to 17 last year. 

“This is flagrant racial discrimination against a United States citizen and decorated combat veteran simply because of the color of his skin,” said Anand Swaminathan, ACLU cooperating attorney and partner at the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy. “Ramos-Gomez’s own government ignored his irrefutable proof of citizenship, and cruelly detained him because of his Latinx background.”

What’s worse, Cpt. VanderKooi mocked Ramos-Gomez’s mental illness in an email chain obtained by the ACLU.

CREDIT: ACLU OF MICHIGAN

This wasn’t simply a human error. Cpt. VanderKooi forwarded the email chain to the detective assigned to Ramos-Gomez’s trespassing charge, but changed the subject line to read “Spectrum Helicopter Pad Loco,” according to documents obtained by the ACLU, mocking the veteran’s PTSD as “loco” or “crazy.” “It is not clear what mad intent was involved in this breach of hospital security but here is the report,” Cpt. VanderKooi added in the email. Another police officer forwarded the chain to a prosecutor, who replied, “I am confused. Didn’t his property have a U.S. Passport in it? And he was a veteran?!” The officer simply responded, “Who knows, not sure it was a US passport. … I am not sure about the vet thing.”

The information was there, but it seems the intent to discover the truth was less than the intent to deport this man.

Since ICE tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, he “rarely leaves his home.”

CREDIT: JILMAR RAMOS-GOMEZ / FACEBOOK

According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez’s mental health “severely deteriorated” while he was in ICE custody. He and his fellow detainees were “mistreated and ridiculed,” and Ramos-Gomez was hospitalized shortly after his release from custody. It’s been exactly one year to the day since that fateful day Cpt. VanderKooi saw a Latino man’s face on the local news and invited ICE to investigate.  According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez “now rarely leaves his home or spends time in his community.”

READ: A Latino Veteran Wins $190K Settlement After Being Detained By ICE While Carrying His US Passport

Neon Indian’s ‘Toyota Man’ Is A Pro-Immigration Anthem That Fans Are Loving And Supporting

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Neon Indian’s ‘Toyota Man’ Is A Pro-Immigration Anthem That Fans Are Loving And Supporting

alan_palomo / Instagram

Amidst President Trump’s impeachment hearings, a new protest song is making the rounds online. Except this one sounds more like a festive, satirical and catchy tune; rather than a political critique. Just last week, Neon Indian dropped his first song in Spanish “Toyota Man” after four years of not releasing any new music. The pro-immigration anthem references classics like Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” The song talks about migrant laborers, the American dream, and DACA recipients in a catchy and witty way. 

Alan Palomo aka Neon Indian dropped his new single last week, “Toyota Man,” with a self-directed video that tells his immigration story. 

Palomo’s video for “Toyota Man” opens with himself standing at the U.S.-Mexico border flipping through cue cards. “Llegamos al apartamento cuatro de un tío después que cruzamos el río en Reynosa.”  Born in Monterrey, Mexico, the Chillwave singer tells the story of his crossing the border through Reynosa on to San Antonio and Austin. Once in ‘el otro lado’ he gets hired to wash Toyota trucks. The musician takes a rag to a red vehicle in what could be an ode to American underground experimental filmmaker, Kenneth Anger’s “Kustom Kar Kommandos,” 

Fiestas, piñatas, tacos, and abuelas, the satirical video is all about representing Alan Palomo’s Mexican culture.

Credit: Neon Indian / YouTube

At a backyard party featuring the classic taquiza and piñatas, a  Trump-shaped piñata comes to life and makes a run for it. The 45th president  duels with an abuela, and gets chased by children to the sound of the chorus “Venimos a estudiar, queremos trabajar, y aunque lo quieran negar, todos somos Americanos” Spanish for “we come to study, we want to work and even if they want to deny it, we’re all American.” There’s also a puppet show about migrant labor, a cowboy giving birth to cars and a lot more weird stuff going on before the Trump-ñata gets hits by a car and spills green cards all over the road.

The pro-immigrant anthem speaks to the American dream.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

Palomo calls out Uncle Sam for all the obstacles the U.S. government has put in place to ensure that immigrants find it hard to achieve success and stability. He talks about citizenship trials, labor rights violations, ’Aquí tu no cuentas igual,’ he sings. “Though my music has always been generally apolitical,” Alan Palomo said in a statement to Pitchfork, “I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized.”

Palomo’s first song in Spanish, “Toyota Man” takes from a variety of both Mexican and American classic tunes.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

The beat of the Mexican folk song “La Cucaracha,” plays in the riff of ‘Toyota Man’. Palomo mentions “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” “Te tienes que aguantar hasta que no te puedan deportar, asi es este party in the U.S.A.”

But above all, ‘Toyota Man’ is a satirical pro-immigration Latino song.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

“Recognizing the absurdity of it all,” said Palomo in a statement, “I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy — nods to Benny Hill, misremembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it’s equally as fun to watch.”

“Toyota Man” is Neon Indian’s first track since his 2015 album.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

The track is Palomo’s first new single since his 2015 album, “VEGA INTL. Night School” and his all-star Prince tribute in 2016. The tone and sound of his new song “Toyota Man,” hints at a new direction for the indie-rock artist. He’s talked about singing in his native language for a while, and if this track is any indication, perhaps we can expect more personal, political works from Neon Indian, and hopefully, a new album is in the works.

Neon Indian is nearing the end of a fall U.S. tour that wraps up on Nov. 29 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

READ: These Drug Smugglers Left The Internet Laughing At Their Less Than Intelligent Attempts At Smuggling Drugs