Things That Matter

Father And Daughter Celebrate Graduation Together On Bridge Between US And Mexico

Graduation is already a super emotional time. It marks the completion of often years of hard work and dedication. It also reflects the commitment and support of friends and family.

And for the Latino community, it’s a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and dedication from your parents because so many times they worked so hard to give us a life better than the one they had.

For one Laredo, TX student, it was an extra emotional night.

Credit: @ABC7 / Twitter

Sarai Ruiz recently graduated from Hector J. Garcia Early College High School in Laredo, TX and got to celebrate among her mother and friends, but there was one very important person missing from the celebrations – her father.

She told NBC News, “As I looked over at my mom that day as my principal was speaking, I couldn’t help but to see other parents there for their kids, and it wasn’t just a mom. It was mom and dad, or mom and dad and grandma and grandpa. And it really did hit home for me. I knew that my dad couldn’t be there.”

Ruiz’s father, Esteban Ruiz, had been deported from the United States when she was just four years old.

Though she now lives with both of her parents in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Ruiz continued to attend school in the United States, which meant crossing the border bridge every day to get her education.

Since her father couldn’t attend her graduation ceremony, she wore her cap and gown to meet him on the border bridge.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Sarai met her father after on the Gateway to the Americas Bridge so he could see her in her graduation attire.

I gave him a hug and I just started to cry a lot,” she told NBC News. “It’s like I fulfilled the dreams of both my mom and dad to find better opportunities that they didn’t have.”

Ruiz shared a video of the moment on Facebook, which has since gone viral.

Credit: Sarai Ruiz / Facebook

It’s been viewed more than 3.4 million times since May 25, writing, “I knew my father would never see me walk to get my diploma but today I’d thought I’d surprise him by crossing the bridge so he could see me with my cap and gown.”

The journey to graduation has not been easy for Sarai.

Sarai was born in Wisconsin and spent the first seven years of her life there, first with her mami and papi, and later with just her mother after her father was deported.

She moved to Laredo, Texas with her mother when she was seven to be closer to her father, and later to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, so their whole family could be together.

Twitter lit up at news of the emotional story.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

People were thrilled for the young graduate and many were moved to tears by her story.

Others questioned how innocent families are suffering through these heartbreaking stories.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Some pointed out that stories like this will only become more common as the Trump administration continues its policies of keeping families apart.

Ruiz plans to continue her studies at the University of Texas at Austin this coming fall.

And she wants everyone to know that her story is not unique, that she is one of many similar stories out there.

President Trump’s Border Wall Blew Over In High Winds And Landed On Mexican Territory—Yes, You Read That Right

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President Trump’s Border Wall Blew Over In High Winds And Landed On Mexican Territory—Yes, You Read That Right

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A stretch of President Trump’s infamous border wall that was newly constructed in Calexico, California, collapsed and fell into Mexicalli, Mexico due to strong winds this Wednesday. “We have a very powerful wall,” said the president in November, but judging by the photos of the toppled over structure, it doesn’t really look like it. 

Newly installed panels from the US border wall fell over in high winds Wednesday, landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border.

Agent Carlos Pitones of the Customs and Border Protection sector in El Centro, California, told CNN that the section of the wall that gave into the wind had recently been set in a new concrete foundation in Calexico, California. The concrete had not yet cured, according to Pitones, and the wall panels were unable to withstand the weather conditions.

The structure landed on trees that prevented it from hitting the ground.

Police said it happened a little before 12 p.m. local time. A portion of the wall landed on the trees, preventing it from hitting the ground. It runs about 130 feet in length.

President Trump’s prized border wall succumbed to gusts of less than 40mph.

“Luckily, Mexican authorities responded quickly and were able to divert traffic from the nearby street,” US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent Carlos Pitones said. Nobody is believed to have been injured.

The National Weather Service reported that winds in the area gusted as high as 37 mph Wednesday.

Video from CNN affiliate KYMA shows the metal panels leaning against the trees adjacent to a Mexicali, Mexico, street as the wind whips up dirt from the construction site on the other side of the border.

The fence is part of the Trump administration’s ongoing construction project to stop illegal migration across the 1,954 mile-long (3,145 km) US-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump declared at a campaign event in New Jersey that the wall was “going up at record speed.”A day later, the winds blew a section of newly installed panels against a road in Mexicali, on the Mexican side of the border.

When visiting a section of the wall in California last year, Mr Trump described its concrete and steel slats as “virtually impenetrable.”

Despite three years of slow progress, Trump has pledged to build 450 miles by 2021, in an attempt to boost his electoral chances later this year. While President Trump has often claimed the wall “can’t be climbed”, viral footage has shown multiple people climbing existing portions of the costly barrier, and to-scale replicas, with ease.

Even with funding, the administration will have to fight private landowners whose property may be seized to build barriers along the border.

As well as facing political and legal challenges, the Trump administration has also had to beat physical obstacles, filing three lawsuits towards the end of 2019 as part of efforts to seize US citizens’ property. The Department of Justice has said it’s preparing to file more lawsuits of the same nature, Associated Press reported in November.

The US president claimed he wasn’t familiar with a Washington Post report suggesting smugglers had cut through.

The Post’s report said that smugglers had succeeded in cutting through sections of the border wall using everyday household power tools. “I haven’t heard that. We have a very powerful wall”, President Trump said. “But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching.”

Customs and Border Protection says local Mexicali officials diverted traffic from the area of the accident, and the agency is working with the Mexican government on the next steps to right the wall. Pitones said it is not currently known how long the construction work in the area will need to be suspended in order to allow for cleanup.

Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

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Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

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Iranian-Americans were held by U.S. immigration agents at the Canadian border over the weekend, following escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Traveling Iranian Americans now fear being racially profiled by Customs and Border Protection as they re-enter the county. 

CBP says they have enhanced security at ports of entry, according to NPR. Homeland Security is also on high alert as Iran’s leaders vowed they would retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed the military leader Qassem Soleimani. The country kept its promise yesterday when it fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq. 

Today President Donald Trump announced an increase in sanctions on Iran, rather than using military force (right now), as a response. 

Iranian Americans pay the price for U.S. conflicts in the middle east.

Roughly 200 Iranian Americans were held for up to 12 hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing last weekend. 

“I’ve heard from people who are saying they’re going to cancel their vacations,” said Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C., told NPR. “They had planned to travel abroad or, you know, leave the country for spring break. And people are already saying we’re going to cancel those trips because we don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”

Travelers were detained and questioned, while some were denied re-entry into the U.S. The New York Times reported that a detained Iranian family told Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that an agent told them: “This is a bad time to be an Iranian.” 

“Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances. CBP officials contacted at the Blaine Port of Entry provided no comment or reasons for the detentions,” Fouladi said in a statement. “We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance.” 

CBP denies that Iranian Americans were held and questioned at all. 

“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” said Matt Leas, a spokesperson for CBP. 

CBP instead claims that security has increased at ports of entry overall and that processing times at some ports had increased due to the holiday seasons. According to the New York Times, border officers are not allowed to refer someone to a secondary screening based on their national origin alone, but it is one of many factors. In fact, agents may place extra emphasis on the country of origin if it is one that can pose an alleged national security threat. 

“If you were an Iranian citizen returning from the British Columbia, you would be sent to secondary as a result of the increased tension with that country,” Girl Kerlikowske, former commissioner of CBP, told the paper. “It wouldn’t be the main factor in many cases, but certainly in this particular instance the country of origin would be the determining factor.”

While CBP denied any wrongdoing, immigrants’ rights advocates and attorneys begged to differ. Representative Pramila Jayapal and Representative Adam Smith expressed their concerns about the matter. 

“Let me be clear: Instituting xenophobic, shameful and unconstitutional policies that discriminate against innocent people, trample over basic civil rights, and put fear in the hearts of millions do not make us safer,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Many feel the treatment of Iranians is mimicking the circumstances that eventually led to Japanese internment during World War II. 

The kind of racial targeting evokes the same sense of American racial paranoia that resulted in Japanese internment and rampant Islamophobia following the September 11, 2001 attack of the world trade center. 

“It doesn’t make any sense, because these are individuals who are U.S. citizens and don’t have any individualized suspicion associated with them, other than the fact that they’re Iranian or of Iranian heritage,” Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle office, told Politico. “What’s clear is that they are being targeted for the secondary inspection because of their Iranian background, and there must be some kind of directive” to CBP officers to pull them over, he added.

Attorneys say detained Iranians were questioned about where they traveled in recent years, their work and education history, and were asked if they had family in the Iranian military. Iranian American historian John Ghazvinian was one of the 200 who was taken in for secondary questioning when he landed in JFK. 

“Well, just landed at JFK and — no surprise — got taken to the special side room and got asked (among other things) how I feel about the situation with Iran,” Ghazvinian wrote in a tweet. “I wanted to be like: my book comes out in September, preorder now on amazon.”