Things That Matter

Menstruating Girls Being Detained At The Border Are Being Denied Sanitary Napkins

Since the crisis at the border began, we’ve heard a lot of horror stories coming out of border detention centers. Among these stories, reports of basic hygiene products being denied to migrants have especially outraged us. The Trump administration had to be taken to court before it was decided that they would legally have to provide child detainees basics such as toothpaste and soap. Access to medication and healthcare has been limited, resulting in an epidemic of treatable illnesses throughout these camps. It has become obvious that part of the mission in detaining these humans is to treat them as inhumanely as possible.

Unfortunately, it seems that these stories are just the start of the cruel treatment these migrants are being inflicted with.

The newest reports from the border tell that detained girls are being denied the access they need to feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads.

Twitter / @AuthorKimberly

A lawsuit that has been filed by 19 states reports that detained migrant girls are being given limited access to the supplies needed while menstruating. One of the girl’s interviews for the lawsuit claimed that they were only given one tampon or sanitary pad per day. If they bled through these products, the girls “had no choice but to continue to wear [their] soiled underwear.”

In the lawsuit, testimony from civil rights investigator, Alma Poletti, was included. Among her testimony, Poletti said one young woman who was having her period at the time was only allowed to shower after 10 days.

“She recalls there was another girl at the facility who was also on her period. They were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants,” Poletti reported in the lawsuit. “This girl had no choice but to continue to wear her soiled underwear.”

Washington’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, is among those behind the lawsuit that pushes for human treatment of these children and for their release to occur after no longer than 3 weeks of detention.

Twitter / @C_doc_911

Ferguson has compared the immigration policies of the current administration to “shameful chapters in American history — the internment of Japanese Americans, and the forced separation of Native American families.” He cited other atrocities as well such as the “lack of toothbrushes, soap or access to shower…extremely cramped cells, younger kids put in cages as punishment and guards throwing food on the ground for children to fight over.”

The current administration’s suggested policy is indefinite detention of these migrants and to ignore the Flores Agreement   a 1997 detention standard for children. According to the president, this new proposal is meant to deter migrants from attempting to come into the United States. However, using cruelty to deter migration is downright immoral and  — at this point illegal.

“Detaining families indefinitely and needlessly inflicting trauma on young children is not an immigration policy — it’s an abhorrent abuse of power,” Ferguson declared in response to the proposed policy. “The president’s actions and policies are cruel, inhumane and illegal.”

Ferguson isn’t the only one outraged and sickened by these claims. Twitter was just as disgusted by the reports coming from detention centers.

Twitter / @TracyGarland

Besides being a moral issue, this is a healthcare issue. As this Twitter user explains, forcing the girls to only use one tampon or sanitary pad per day could lead to TSS Toxic Shock Syndrome. Failure to change sanitary products can result in this dangerous condition and could lead to death. This is a potentially life-threatening act of negligence.

Some users online were outraged about the mental anguish being inflicted onto these girls.

Twitter / @JenLuvsAmbition

Menstruation can be an emotional part of a young girl’s life. Especially if they don’t have their mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other female family members to walk them through it. These girls are already in a vulnerable place and now they have to suffer extra embarrassment by being denied their rights to general hygienic items and bathing. No doubt, this will cause lifelong trauma that is completely avoidable.

This Twitter user compared the treatment of these young girls to those in the American prison system.

Twitter / @DRHBashur

The prison system imposes similar rules on menstruating women as these detention centers are now doing. We also have to consider the girls who have begun menstruating while in detention. How devastating that must be to experience this change without the right emotional support and without the needed supplies.

Since detention centers will not accept donations of any kind, we can only sympathize with these girls and hope that this lawsuit wins out in the end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFtOyWcvNJo

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

Things That Matter

Trump Finally Gave The Green Light To Start The Transition But Many Immigration Policies Are Already Affected

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Ever since election night, President Trump has been sowing discord and disinformation while showing himself to be the big sore loser he always has been. Basically, he’s been showing his true colors.

But his actions have real consequences. As he instructs many in his administration to avoid any contact with President-Elect Biden’s transition team, he is doing damage to the peaceful transfer of power. He’s also risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans as the country continues to struggle to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, his actions are impacting the future of immigration reform.

Trump has instructed his immigration department to avoid working with the Biden transition team.

As Trump’s General Services Administrator refuses to provide the Biden transition team with much-needed funds to begin preparing for office come January 20th, his immigration department is also keeping the transition team in the dark.

According to Buzzfeed News, an official that oversees US immigration and naturalization services told employees not to communicate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team until a Trump appointee “deems the results ‘clear’” and recognizes the winner.

”It’s disturbing and disheartening that the agency is not permitting staff to aid the Biden transition team to ensure a smooth transfer,” said one USCIS employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “These delays could hamper the new administration’s ability to hit the ground running on important issues facing the agency and our country.”

But the transition delay has also caused concern among officials in other agencies, especially those responsible for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

As president, Biden plans to undo many of Trump’s immigration reforms.

Credit: Natalie Sounders / Getty Images

President-Elect Biden has made it very clear that we will govern very differently that his predecessor. One of the areas where he’s looking to truly separate himself from Trump is on immigration.

Already, the transition team has promised to unroll Donald Trump’s legacy on immigration, but it faces an uphill battle to make good on that promise.

When it comes to DACA, the administration plans to reinstate protections DREAMers, but also to expand protections for their health care and education. A threat to the DACA program is making its way through the courts, so the Biden camp is under pressure to act quickly to make good on its promise.

For Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, Biden plans to bring that to an end as well. It is estimated that 20,000 migrants are waiting in northern Mexico in cities like Matamoros while seeking asylum in the U.S. But the exact number is not known for certain, in large part because the Department of Homeland Security has not yet shared such data with the Biden transition team.

Another big change would come in the form of revamping the country’s seasonal worker program. Biden wants to make it easier for both employers and workers to hire and find jobs while providing much-needed legal protections and fair pay to workers.

Biden has also committed to increase the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. annually to 125,000, a historic high and a dramatic increase from the historic low of 15,000 set by the Trump administration.

Biden can use executive action on many fronts but others will require congressional action.

Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Although Biden can accomplish many of these immigration reforms through executive action, he’ll need to work with Congress to achieve many others.

His platform outlines larger goals to work on with Congress, such as increasing the number of employment-based visas, providing a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country and creating a new, decentralized immigration stream for foreign workers that is based on local employers’ needs as well as a new visa option for entrepreneurs. 

These plans will be contingent on which party controls the Senate—to be decided in January by two runoff elections in Georgia—and the course of the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to spike across the country, leaving millions of workers unemployed.

Dreamers are celebrating President-Elect Biden’s plans but remain cautious.

Credit: Steve Marcus / Getty Images

While they aren’t eligible to vote, DACA recipients found ways to harness their political power ahead of the election. And it very much worked.

Over the course of the campaign, many politicans – including President-Elect Joe Biden – made serious promises to the nation’s immigrant population. And Dreamers show up, so if promises were made but progress isn’t, then DREAMers aren’t afraid to go show up in someone’s office and say, ‘Hey, I thought you were on our side.’

“Those are promises that would literally change my life,” said Mariana Castro, 26, a DACA recipient from Peru living in a mixed-status family in Florida.

So although much of the stress and weight has been lifted off immigrant communities shoulders with the results of this election, so much work remains to be done.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

Things That Matter

This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

David McNew / Getty Images

Across the United States there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Americans doing their part to protect and better the country. But far too often, our communities and our leaders don’t return the favor.

One man, a former inmate who was injured while battling California’s historic wildfires, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he was released from prison. Instead of being given a second chance, he faces likely deportation back to his native country of Laos – a place he hasn’t known since he was 4 years old.

A California man is facing deportation after nearly dying on the frontlines of the state’s wildfires.

A formerly incarcerated firefighter who helped battle California’s historic wildfires is now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, after the state notified the agency he was being released.

Bounchan Keola, 39, left his native Laos at the age of 4. His home is here in the United States – in San Leandro, CA to be exact. But he’s facing the ultimate punishment of being sent back to a place he knows nothing about.

“He made a mistake as a child. He came here impoverished and he was resettled as a refugee when he was 6,” said his San Francisco Asian Law Caucus attorney, Anoop Prasad. “And he literally risked his life. California didn’t have to call ICE to deport him…This case is extremely sad and unfortunate. Society has failed him again and again.” 

Even more shocking is that Keola only had 14 days left on his prison term when he was crushed by a tree while battling the Zogg Fire in early October. He was soon released from prison but then taken into immigration custody by ICE.

While fighting a wildfire, Keyla was severely injured.

Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Although Keola was convicted of attempted second degree murder, not only has he served his term but he also gave back to the community as one of the thousands of inmate firefighters battling the state’s blazes. In fact, he received a shorter prison sentence because of the extra credit he earned for fighting fires. 

Incarcerated firefighters get two days credit off their sentence for every day they’re working and are paid up to $5 a day. It’s estimated they save the state tens of millions of dollars a year. 

But then Keola got injured.

While he was stationed in Redding, CA., a tree fell on him while he was clearing brush to stop the fire from spreading. He is still in excruciating pain, his lawyer said, and he has not received the proper medical attention.

Since his release from prison, Keola has been in ICE detention.

Just seven days after being injured and with seven days left in his prison term, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notified ICE that his release would be coming up. On Oct. 16, the day Keola finished serving his prison sentence in Sacramento, ICE came to pick him up. On Oct. 29, an immigration judge ordered his removal to Laos, records show.

Since being picked up by ICE, Keola has been held at a detention facility in Kern County. Although he faces a deportation order, Laos doesn’t have a repatriation agreement with the U.S., which means he could end up staying in California. But his fate is still unclear. And only a pardon from Newsom, his attorneys said, would expunge his record and allow him to go home freely to his parents and sister. 

I just want to go home and give my mom and dad a hug,” Keola told The Guardian, the first news organization to report the story. “All I know is I’m American. I’ve never thought of myself not being a citizen. I’m just asking for that one, second chance.”

Keola’s fate is in the hands of Gov. Newsom as he awaits a potential pardon for his crime.

Gov. Newsom has painted himself as a champion of those who have been incarcerated and fought on the front lines to save California during the wildfire season. That’s why Keola and his attorney say that his fate is in the hands of the governor. He has asked for a pardon from his prison sentence, showing that he has changed for the better and that his service to the state battling wildfires should count for something.

On Sept. 11,  Newsom signed AB 2147, a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to be able to try to expunge their records and become professional firefighters. Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Newsom later said in a tweet after signing the bill. 

Yet Keola, an inmate fighting fire on the frontlines, hasn’t been given that chance. And although California is a sanctuary state, which forbids most cooperation with ICE, Keola was still handed over to the agency.

Newsom’s spokesperson, Jesse Melgar, said in a statement: “We are unable to discuss individual clemency applications, but can assure that each application receives careful and individualized consideration.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com