Things That Matter

Guatemala’s Groundbreaking Decision To Allow U.S.- Based Citizens To Vote Could Change The Way We Cast Ballots In The Near Future

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Voting in every single election is a crucial part of voicing your concerns about how your country is run. It’s also the perfect time to dictate change, especially with presidential elections.

There’s so much corruption in Latin American — and in the U.S. — that the only way we can make a difference is by voting corruption out. That’s exactly what is taking place in Central America.

Elections are taking place in Guatemala and for the first time ever, 60,000 Guatemalans living in the U.S. will be able to cast their vote.

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“At least 60,000 were eligible to vote in Los Angeles, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all home to large numbers of Guatemalan emigres,” the Associated Press is reporting.

Aside from voting for a new president, Guatemalans will be able to vote for a new vice-president, 158 congress members, and 340 mayors. Guatemalans living in the U.S. will only be able to vote for the president and vice president.

These elections are extremely important as the three previous presidents have been charged with corruption.

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“There is a belief that instead of advancing in these four years of government, we’ve gone backward,” Marco René Cuellar, 39, told the New York Times. “We’ve lost our way as a country, but we should not lose faith in the democratic process we have.”

Furthermore, the next president can help bring peace to the country and end the mass exodus that is going on in Guatemala.

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Since 2016, more than 90,000 Guatemalans have been deported from the U.S, NPR reports, and thousands more make the trek back due to lack of work, violence, and poverty.

While voting is taking place now, the second round of voting will happen in August.

Out of 19 presidential candidates including a former First Lady and an indigenous woman, it looks like Guatemala will have a female leader.

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According to the Times, “Sandra Torres had captured more than 22 percent of the vote, followed by four-time presidential candidate Alejandro Giammattei with 16 percent.” They also report none of the candidates will secure 50 percent of the votes or more so that 22 percent is looking really good for Torres.  

READ: Here’s How These Huaraches Are Helping Guatemala’s Mayans Fight Pollution

An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

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An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

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TW: This story contains disturbing anecdotes of sexual violence.

Arizona’s Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) announced the arrest of an Iowa couple for human smuggling and sexual assault after a Guatemalan girl was found in the streets of Sioux City and told her story to authorities. The girl, whose name will not be released for her own safety, is being referred as  “ABF” on the federal affidavit detailing the perpetrator’s charges. Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas have been arrested and charged.

The couple was arrested in San Diego, but will likely face a federal court in Iowa.

ABF was found wandering Sioux City, urgently telling pedestrians she’d been sexually assaulted.

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From there, Sioux City police interviewed ABF to learn that she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco were smuggled into the U.S. by relatives, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and his wife Amy Francisco. She said they were released from El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding and were flown to Omaha by their relatives.

The couple then locked ABF in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for a bathroom.

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Above is a Google image of the couple’s home where she was allegedly locked in. The affidavit said that, “ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room. After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”

She then snuck out of the house while Amy Francisco was sleeping. She roamed the streets looking for someone who spoke Spanish to help her. 

The Iowa couple admitted to smuggling ABF in but requested an attorney when law enforcement began questioning them for the alleged rape of ABF.

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Francisco-Nicolas told police that he made arrangements for a coyote to transfer the father and daughter to the U.S. after learning through his sister that they were desperate to leave Guatemala. 

“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”

In response, some folks are taking the opportunity to demand CBP shut down the concentration camps and seek justice for victims within the system.

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In February 2019, a report was released that detailed thousands of immigrant children saying they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers. Between 2012 and March 2018 alone, there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE. Certainly, not every victim files a complaint. 

Last year, the ACLU helped an asylum-seeker from Honduras file suit against an employee at a detention center for failure to protect her from sexual violence.

Untitled. Digital Image. ACLU. 17 July 2019

 Court documents detail how her abuser threatened her with possible deportation while their coworkers stood by and continued the jokes. There are laws in place that criminalize any kind of sexual behavior between a correctional facility staff member and the people in their custody. That’s because consent cannot happen when powers are imbalanced. This facility is still trying to deflect responsibility by saying the detainee “consented.”

Some people are taking the opportunity to blame Democrats for ABF’s assault.

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Given that ICE and CBP are not being held accountable by anyone. That fact, among many others including the conditions of the camps themselves, has incited public outrage, nationwide protests, and finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle. 

Everyone seems to agree on one thing: prosecute.

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Folks who don’t want to see immigrants in this country are weaponizing the tragedy by alleging it as cause to close the border. Folks who care about immigrants see the instance as a clear example of why undocumented immigrants should be granted basic rights that would allow ABF’s father to be lawfully employed and to live openly.

The culture of fear for undocumented immigrants makes them among the most vulnerable members of our society. ABF was not registered with a school. Her father couldn’t go to authorities without risking deportation. It’s clear that an undocumented child wouldn’t go looking for the police unless her claims were valid. 

Yes, prosecute these individuals, and also make it safer for every family to exist without harm.

READ: Major Hotel Chains Are Rolling Out Panic Buttons To Protect Their Employees From Sexual Assault

A Guatemalan Child Migrant Had His Throat Slit And Was Found Next To His Dead Father In Mexico

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A Guatemalan Child Migrant Had His Throat Slit And Was Found Next To His Dead Father In Mexico

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The migrant crisis has a death toll. Whether it is migrants dying trying to traverse some of the most hostile parts of North America, violent gangs, police brutality, medical negligence in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention, or homicidal coyotes, the death toll is rising. Immigration policies in Mexico and the U.S. are partly to blame for the deaths and the desperation to live a life free of fear and violence is what forces families to be put in harm’s way. That is the story of Cristian, a Guatemalan boy left to die with his father’s body.

A 10-year-old Guatemalan boy is recovering after being left for dead in the desert with his father’s body.

Credit: @RafaelRomoCNN / Twitter

CNN reports that a 10-year-old migrant boy was left for dead with his throat slit next to his father’s body. The boy was found in the Mexican state of Morelos. The father and son were making their way from Guatemala to the U.S. with the help of a coyote.

Despite having hired the smuggler to get them from Guatemala to the U.S., they were abandoned in Mexico.

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The father and son were abandoned by the coyote and that’s when they were kidnapped, according to CNN. That is when the pair were kidnapped by members of the Los Zetas drug cartel and held for ransom. The cartel members contacted Cristian and his father Rudy’s family in the U.S. demanding $12,000. CNN reports that they could only get $8,000 and that’s when the cartel ceased communication.

Cristian and Rudy were on the journey with Rudy’s brother and his son.

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Rudy’s brother and his son managed to escape the gang members and CNN reports that they are now in the care of Mexican authorities. Cristian was found on July 6 with his throat slit lying next to the body of his dead father. Cristian’s survival is a miracle.

Migrants are regularly the victims of crime when passing through Mexico to the U.S. border. The crimes committed in Mexico against migrants range from robbery to murder.

The latest tragedy in the migrant crisis has Christians calling out Evangelicals for their harmful and dangerous approval of Trump’s immigration policies.

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The “Remain In Mexico” policies and the increased restrictions on asylum claims is leading to an increase in deaths for the migrant crisis. Men, women, and children are dying trying to get the U.S. and some have started dying once in immigration authority custody.

The deaths of migrants desperate to reach the U.S. border have garnered more attention in recent months.

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The tragic deaths of Óscar Martínez Ramírez and his very young daughter shocked the U.S. but haven’t spurred any change. The father and daughter were desperate to reach the U.S. border to apply for asylum from El Salvador. The father and daughter tried swimming across the Rio Grande after being denied a chance to request asylum at a port of entry.

The migrant crisis has become so prevalent in the U.S consciousness that presidential candidates are being asked how they will save lives if elected.

“Watching those images of Óscar and Valeria is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off,” Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro said during the Democratic Debates. “If I were president today, I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, the ‘Remain In Mexico’ policy, and the metering policy. This metering policy is basically what prompted Óscar and Valeria to make that risky swim across the river.”

Castro added: “They had been playing games with people coming and seeking asylum at our ports of entry. Óscar and Valeria went to a port of entry and then they were denied the ability to make an asylum claim. So, they got frustrated and they tried to cross the river and they died because of that.”

The policy of metering at the border is not new but Trump has ramped it up making it more and more dangerous for asylum seekers.

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According to NPR, “metering is the term that Customs and Border Protection uses for a process by which it limits the number of people who can request asylum at a port of entry at a U.S.-Mexico border crossing each day.”

NPR reporter James Frederick explains, “As far as U.S. asylum law says, anyone who steps foot in the U.S. has the ability to request asylum. So what CBP is doing is they’re stationing a guard at border crossings. Asylum-seekers that show up there, they tell them they have to turn around and go put their name on a waitlist, basically, back in Mexico and wait for their turn to request asylum. And these lists are getting very long. People are waiting weeks or sometimes months for their opportunity to request asylum. The latest figure we have is that 19,000 asylum-seekers are waiting on the Mexican side of the border for their chance to request asylum in the U.S.”

It is important that Americans stay engaged in the discussion about immigration and asylum seekers.

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The Trump administration is further restricting asylum claims and only making it harder and more dangerous for people to seek legal asylum in the U.S. Call your representatives and senators and let them know what you think about the change to asylum laws attacking migrants.

READ: Yesterday’s Attack On An ICE Detention Center Could Have Resulted In The Mass Murder Of Migrants

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