Things That Matter

Migrant Families Are Still Being Ripped Apart At The Border As Parents Are Sent Back To Wait In Mexico

The end of year holidays are generally a joyous time to spend with your loved ones. In some cases, they are the perfect push one needs to reconnect with a estranged relative or friend. It is a time to be together, hold your little mijos or sobrinos tight and perhaps spend one last New Year’s with an old abuelita who might not be here next time around. However, for many migrant and asylum-seeking families who fail in their attempt to enter the United States this is not an option. 

Family separation at the border has been a very contentious issue during the Trump administration, as opponents to this measure say that it is simply wrong and inhumane, while supporters provide the simplistic assumption that detained migrants get what they deserve because no one asked them to try to enter the United States. Legal battles have been waged and pundits on both sides of the immigration debate have taken their gloves off. Now a recent investigation has revealed that misinformation has effectively altered the lives of migrants, for the worse. 

The investigation revealed that bad info has led migrants to nightmarish situation in which parents and children are separated.

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Adolfo Flores over at BuzzFeed went to the border town of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in Mexico to inteview asylum seekers who had been separated from their families. As he interviewed them a constant theme emerged: bad information is leading the authorities to take kids off their parents, who are then sent to Mexico even if they originally come from thousands of miles south in Central America.

Such is the case of one Miguel, and Honduran asylum-seeker whose son Francisco was taken by Border Patrol in August. Francisco was only 12-years-old. Miguel hasn’t seen him since then and the only thing he was told by an agent was “Your son can’t go where we’re taking you. We’re taking him to a safe place”. Can you imagine the pain this causes? We simply cannot.

Parents are being sent to Mexico to wait until their cases in the US are resolved: 60,000 have been sent south of the border during the Trump administration.

Credit: Denver Journal of International Law & Policy

Talk about a state of cruel purgatory. As reported by Flores, Miguel and Francisco “are now caught in the middle of the government’s continued separation of families at the border and a Trump administration policy, known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), that has sent thousands of immigrants to wait in Mexico while their US cases are completed”. This is simply inhumane. The Mexican government of course shares some responsibility as the Lopez Obrador administration has been extra accommodating to Trump’s demands much to the disdain of human rights activists… and pretty much any human with a heart and a little bit of compassion in their veins. 

Once in Mexico, often in unsafe and unfamiliar locations such as Reynosa, parents try to find legal help to get their children back.

Miguel believes that his case is mired with misinformation and that this complicates his prospects. He is waiting in the city of Reynosa, perhaps one of the most dangerous in Mexico. In Reynosa and other border cities, an emerging legal industry is aiding migrants. However, it is possible that lawyers are also taking advantage of them. Added to this, the population is developing a xenophobia against Central American migrants as the number of asylum seekers sent to Mexico rises.

As reported by Flores, cases like Miguel’s highlight how this policies “sometimes based on incomplete or misleading information, leaves an unknown number of desperate parents and guardians at a loss to know how to get their children back while holed up in dangerous locations in Mexico”. Just close your eyes and try to imagine the desperation and utter despair of now knowing where your children or siblings are, if they are sick, if they are eating. 

Many of the stories are heartbreaking.

Credit: Daniel Noriega / Slate

Many of the cases need to be read to be believed. As reported by Flores: “A complaint filed by the Women’s Refugee Commission in August with two DHS watchdog agencies detailed 20 cases where families were separated by CBP at the border and at least some members were sent back to Mexico under MPP.”

There is a Guatemalan man who speaks almost no Spanish and whose son was taken by Border Patrol solely based on the belief that the birth certificate was fake. A Salvadorian young woman who had been taking care of her siblings after their mother was murdered was separated from them even if custody had been granted in El Salvador. And the list goes on and on. 

A Group Of Women At A Migrant Detention Center Demanded Information About Covid-19, Then They Were Pepper Sprayed

Things That Matter

A Group Of Women At A Migrant Detention Center Demanded Information About Covid-19, Then They Were Pepper Sprayed

Nick Ruiz / Getty

As the Coronavirus spreads throughout communities across the United States, one group of people are at particular risk for contracting the virus: migrant detainees.

Tens of thousands of migrants are packed into crowded detention centers with little access to proper sanitation or medical treatment. Even before the outbreak of Covid19, migrants were facing outbreaks of measles and influenza at greater numbers than the general public.

Now, as they demand information on the risk this new virus poses them, they’re being met with violence.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, so have confrontations between detainees and guards.

Credit: DHS / Office Of Inspector General

On Monday, migrants clashed with guards over a lack of safe conditions and demanded to be released from the South Texas Processing Center. The melee led to a standoff and the guards shot pepper spray at the detainees, which ended with nine of the migrants now held for disciplinary charges. The detainees had raised concerns about the lack of screening measures for new arrivals to the complex.

Then, a day later in Louisiana, an ICE spokesman said seven people were pepper-sprayed at the Pine Prairie detention center. Earlier, an ICE detainee in New Jersey described harrowing conditions and said migrants went on a hunger strike for soap. ProPublica obtained an audio recording in which the detainee said that guards, in response to the strike for hygiene products in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, told the detainees that they “have to die of something.”

The threat faced by detainees in ICE custody is real.

Credit: Grisel Gringis / YouTube

Four people — two correctional officers and two detainees — tested positive for COVID-19 at New Jersey detention facilities.

According to ICE’s guidance, new detainees who arrive at facilities are screened and isolated for a certain period of time if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms. The staff is also consulting with local health departments to determine whether there’s a need for testing.

For ICE’s part, they’re defending the use of chemicals against detainees as a necessary tool.

ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox told Mother Jones that pepper spray was used because “four persons became confrontational.” The rest of his statement said:

“The facility was conducting an informational briefing on COVID-19 preparations and safety measures in a detainee housing area to ensure persons in custody have accurate, timely information about the situation,”

As far as the use of force against migrants, he goes on to say: “ICE is tasked with providing safe and secure detention facilities for individuals in its custody. On March 25, at the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana, a group of ICE detainees became disruptive and confrontational with facility staff in their housing area. Detainees refused to comply with directives from facility staff and four attempted to force their way out of the housing area, at which time facility staff deployed oleoresin capsicum, commonly referred to as ‘OC’ spray. Upon deployment of OC, the detainees became compliant and facility staff was able to mitigate further risk of injury to both detainees and staff. This immediate use of force was conducted consistent with agency protocol. Medical staff evaluated all individuals who came in contact with the pepper spray; no detainee or staff injuries were reported.”

Even before the outbreak, ICE was using pepper spray against migrants in its facilities.

Last summer, over 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at a Louisiana Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. The incident happened after a group of detainees began to protest the conditions they were being forced to endure.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said that a “group of ICE detainees refused to depart the outdoor recreation area at the Pine Prairie facility Friday evening,” adding that “after repeated attempts by facility staff and ICE personnel to disperse the group and restore orderly operation of the facility, a brief, calculated use of pepper spray was employed Saturday morning.”

And this incident came just a day after 30 migrants were sprayed at a separate Louisiana facility. It’s obvious ICE is eager to use pepper spray against detainees in their care.

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.

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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.”