Things That Matter

Spurred By Anger At The Trump Administration, One Latina Entrepreneur Raised $9,000 For Migrant Children

When pictures emerged last week of the devastating conditions immigrant children were being subjected to at detention centers, Patty Rodriguez felt she couldn’t idly stand by. The images made such an impact on Rodriguez that she knew she had to do something to help the children any way she could.

In one weekend, the co-founder and author of bilingual children’s books Lil’ Libros mobilized her social media followers to raise over $9,000..

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Rodriguez mobilized her 90,000 Instagram followers to raise enough money to send hundreds of pairs of shoes to a shelter in Texas. On June 28, Rodriguez saw a photo of a little boy about her son’s age, with a diaper completely soiled and wrapped in a foil blanket. The phot was enough to spur the entrepreneur into action.

“How are people debating this?” Rodriguez said while choking up during a phone interview with mitú.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“There’s no time to focus on that. I went on Zappos to buy shoes myself, and I thought I could purchase a handful myself, or ask my community on Instagram if they wanted to help,” Rodriguez said. “People want to help, they just don’t know how. There’s all this information that you can’t donate to detention centers, but there’s a loophole that you can donate to shelters, but people just don’t know that.”

The shoes are not the only way Rodriguez is using her platform to help the migrants. She recently teamed up with Super Mamá’s Bricia Lopez to raise money for RAICES.

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⁣ I can’t sit here and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the headlines. Migrant children being treated worse than animals. Living in the worst conditions, going days without showering and having a nutritious meal. Children as young as my little Oliver walking around soiled without diapers – having no one around to hold them and properly love and care for them. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the horrendous images of a 2 year old and her father, having drowned after attempting to cross the border. ⁣ ⁣ My heart breaks. And I feel helpless. And I cannot continue to go about my life without trying to help and I think the best way right now is using our platforms. ⁣ ⁣ @bricialopez and I are coming together for a very intimate dinner with 100% of the proceeds— meaning, every penny will go to two foundations working around the clock to offering assistance to families and children at the border, @raicestexas and @thisisabouthumanity. I know many of you guys have asked how you can help. We hope that this dinner inspires you and encourages to help. ⁣ ⁣ This is your opportunity to pick our brains about anything and everything and help our children at the border. ⁣ ⁣ We will have drinks with you, dinner with you, we will even FaceTime your mom! ⁣ ⁣ Dinner will be at Bricia’s restaurant @laGuelaguetza on July 9 at 5p⁣. ⁣ Tag your friends. Let’s come together. We cannot continue seeing our black and brown children hurting and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ Tickets are very limited and are $150, remember every penny will go to the organizations. ⁣ ⁣ You can purchase now by clicking link on my profile. ⁣ ⁣ And even if you can’t make it, I hope this inspires you to give what you can to the organizations mentioned above.

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“I called my girlfriend Bricia Lopez to do a dinner and use our platform to get people inspired. Within hours we had set up a website, it was $150 a ticket, and in less than 12 hours we had sold out. 100 percent of the proceeds go to RAICES,” she said.

RAICES is a non-profit legal services organization in Texas. They made national news when the migrant crisis started directly targeting children at the southern border. They offer legal aid to the migrants as they cross into the U.S. to guarantee the best outcome for their cases.

Rodriguez used the momentum from selling out her charity dinner in less than a day to push to do more.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“I saw a photo of a little girl, Afro-Latina, with foil blanket [strings] to tie her hair—things we take for granted. I got fired up and decided to put it [buying shoes] on Instagram Stories and show the receipts through the process,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez started posting on her Instagram Stories about buying shoes and asking her followers to help at 9 p.m. Friday night. By Saturday morning, her Venmo account had reached $7,000 with donations.


Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Sunday saw another outpouring of donations and her account hit $8,000. By Monday morning, $9,000 had been raised to help the children at the detention centers.

In total, Rodriguez estimates she was able to buy 50 pairs of high-quality shoes for every $1,000 raised. With $9,000, Rodriguez said she estimates Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande will be receiving close to 400 pairs of shoes.

Sizes ranging from toddler sizes to sizes for 15 to 16-year-olds will be shipped out and arriving as soon as this week.

“As a mother of two kids, I can’t sit down and do nothing. I spent Saturday on Zappos figuring out what’s the fastest way to get it done,” Rodriguez said.

No matter how small the action—or donation—Rodriguez sees it contributing to the good of the cause. Although some donors were writing to her that they didn’t think their $1 or $5 donation would do much but they wanted to help, she encouraged them by continuing to post on her stories that every dollar was helping a child get a new pair of much-needed shoes. 

Rodriguez calls it being the “granito de arena in a situation.” 

Credit: Instagram / pattyrodriguez

Tiny but mighty changes can make a big difference. When asked if a call for donations will happen again, Rodriguez said she is open to the opportunity.

“It’s spur-of-the-moment—that’s how I operate. I would like to think it’s something I can continue doing. Perhaps more streamlined—helping more shelters,” she said.

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Date night with my heart. @lafc

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Rodriguez said she is aware that as much as shelters are in need of basic necessities, they also don’t have enough hands. She continues to wonder what shelters may be in most need of besides shoes, and if it’s better to send money to the shelter or if sending over boxes of items is better.

“I haven’t thought that far,” Rodriguez said. “I want to continue helping because this situation won’t have a solution anytime soon. We have to continue advocating and continue collaborating as a community.”

While she said there’s not much we can do right now besides calling Congress, she still wants to encourage others to galvanize awareness.

“What we can do as a community is mobilizing to donate and help shelters where kids are being held,” she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes this inspires others to start their own donation drives within their own community, work, and a group of friends. When one granitode arena joins with another, it can be a sandstorm of change.

READ: All Of The Migrant Children That Have Been Killed At The U.S. Border

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Mexican Officials Point To Provision In USMCA That Safeguards Migrants’ Health

Things That Matter

Mexican Officials Point To Provision In USMCA That Safeguards Migrants’ Health

Healthcare is a universal right. However, it’s one that depends on your immigration status in the United States, unfortunately. This has become more evident with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as many officials across the country are saying that they will not offer the vaccine to undocumented residents.

It’s long been known that the country’s Brown and Black residents have long suffered the consequences of inequality in the nation’s healthcare system. But now, as those very communities are hit the hardest by the pandemic, they’re being denied the one tool we have to help relieve the community’s suffering.

Update January 14, 2021

Mexican officials are ready to invoke parts of the North American trade agreement to ensure vaccines for undocumented migrants.

Earlier this month, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced that undocumented people will not be included in the vaccination plan. He has since attempted to at least partially walk back those comments. Mexico immediately raised the alarm and offered to help undocumented migrants in the U.S. receive the vaccine.

According to Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has provisions about the health of migrant workers. In the agreement, which President Trump touts as his accomplishment, the countries have agreed to safeguard the lives of migrant workers.

Minister Ebrand is prepared to invoke the provision designed to protect vulnerable migrant workers. As stated in a press conference, the Mexican government is prepared to consider any effort not to vaccinate undocumented migrants in the U.S. a violation of the trade agreement.

Mexico’s AMLO offers to vaccinate migrants who are unlawfully living in the U.S.

Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), recently announced that he was ready to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to undocumented residents living in the United States.

“It’s a universal right. We would do it,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said before his regular daily press conference after the press asked him if Mexico would step up to help vaccinate undocumented migrants living in the U.S. – many of whom are Mexican nationals.

Although, like many of AMLO’s promises, he offered little in the way of details and many are rightfully skeptical of the promise given his government’s limited ability to deliver the vaccine to people within his own country. It also wasn’t clear which migrants in the U.S. would qualify under AMLO’s vaccine rollout.

AMLO announced his intentions after officials in Nebraska said undocumented residents wouldn’t be eligible.

AMLO raised the possible vaccination program after the governor of Nebraska said that undocumented residents of his state likely wouldn’t get vaccinated due to their immigration status.

“You’re supposed to be a legal resident of the country to be able to be working in those plants, so I do not expect that illegal immigrants will be part of that vaccine with that program,” Governor Ricketts said during a coronavirus briefing.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is a member of Trump’s Republican Party but his comments about workers in Nebraska’s meat-packing plants provoked criticism from public health and migrant advocates.

Roberto Velasco, a senior Mexican diplomat for North America, responded to Ricketts on Twitter. “To deprive undocumented essential workers of #covid19 vaccination goes against basic human rights,” he wrote on Twitter, including Ricketts’ Twitter handle and citing text from the U.N.’s declaration of human rights.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of pro-migrant progressives in the Democratic party of President-elect Joe Biden, also spoken out firmly against Ricketts’ statement.

“Imagine being so racist that you go out of your way to ensure that the people who prepare *your* food are unvaccinated,” she wrote on Twitter.

Undocumented residents fill many of the nation’s riskiest “essential” jobs.

Study after study have shown that most of the nation’s “essential workers” are people of color – with a large number being undocumented migrants. The same applies to the country’s meat-packing jobs.

According to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, it estimates 11% of Nebraska’s meat-packing workers – and 10% of the workers nationwide – lack legal immigration status.

Meanwhile, since the pandemic began, there have been sporadic yet severe outbreaks of COVID-19 among meat-packing plants in the U.S., helping spread the virus around rural America where the plants are concentrated.

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Things That Matter

Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Pixabay

Updated: December 23, 2020

Just days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation that would send millions of Americans much-needed stimulus checks – even though they were only $600 – Donald Trump has thrown the entire plan into chaos.

Donald Trump threatens to veto historic spending bill.

Trump is holding a veto threat over recently passed, bipartisan legislation that was aimed at stimulating a suffering economy. Trump says that he wants lawmakers to boost the $600 direct payments to checks for $2,000 but his own party is basically united against increasing the size of checks.

Many point out that Trump is simply holding up the legislation, not for the stimulus checks, but because he objects to other parts of the law. Within the spending package, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved spending for arts and cultural programs as well as aide to developing countries across the world.

Original Story Published: December 18, 2020

So it looks like millions of Americans may end up getting that long overdue second stimulus check after all. So long as Congress doesn’t screw things up again.

As part of the latest round of negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, it looks a like a proposal for $600 direct payments is back on the table. However, $600 is literally half of the amount that was sent out to millions of Americans back in April and May.

A new stimulus package could include direct payments to millions of Americans.

Congressional leaders are considering a new deal to help stimulate the economy which has been battered by the Coronavirus pandemic. And although it appeared, as recently as last week, that a second stimulus check was off the table, that seems to have changed.

The new deal under consideration included new stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, according to reports by Politico. Even President Trump said in a TV interview over the weekend that he wants stimulus checks in the deal, saying he wants to “see checks—for more money than they’re talking about—going to people.”

Millions of workers aren’t getting any help from the largest emergency aid deal in US history.

The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions.

But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

There are an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who are ineligible for emergency federal benefits or state unemployment insurance because they don’t have valid work authorization. 

That’s left an extra layer of anxiety for immigrants without legal status who have lost their jobs or seen work hours reduced amid the statewide shutdown of “nonessential” businesses. Many turned to local organizations for help to put food on the table and pay other expenses. 

Undocumented residents are already at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19 because of inadequate resources and access to health care.

The unauthorized worker population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to inadequate access to health care. Noncitizens are significantly more likely to be uninsured compared to US citizens, which may dissuade them from seeking medical care if they contract the virus.

Compounding matters are the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies — including wide-scale immigration raids and a rule that can penalize green card applicants for using Medicaid — which have made noncitizens afraid to access care. These factors pose a problem for America’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 12,000 in the US as of April 7.

Where the government is failing, advocates and organizations are stepping up to help.

Some immigrant advocates lobby for the undocumented to be included by allowing payments to those who file taxes using individual tax identification numbers, which are often used by workers without legal immigration status. 

“They should include at least the individual taxpayers,” said Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit, an organization that helps immigrants in New Jersey’s Morris County.  “They are paying taxes,” she added in an interview with CNN.

Filers who use ITINs contribute about $11.74 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank.

Aside from millions of undocumented migrants, millions of others are also being left out of the stimulus:

Credit: Department of Treasury

College Students and 17-Year-Olds: If someone else claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get your own check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child, but that’s only for kids under 17.

Most 17-year-olds, some young adults and many of the country’s roughly 20 million college students are claimed by their parents as dependents. They won’t get checks, and their parents won’t get an extra $500.

Disabled People: People who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs are eligible for the payments — but not disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or other relatives on their taxes

Seniors Who Live With Family: Senior citizens who are on Social Security or make less than the income cap are eligible. But the “dependent” rule applies to them, too. Some seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives are claimed by them as dependents on their taxes. Those seniors won’t get checks.

Immigrants are eligible for some free testing.

Credit: Pixabay

Here’s one thing the bill does offer to unauthorized immigrants: free coronavirus testing at government-funded community health centers through a $1 billion federal program. But some community health centers have already reported shortages of tests.

There is also a larger, state-level testing program funded through Medicaid, but that’s only available to Medicaid-eligible immigrants — green card holders who have lived in the US for at least five years, immigrants who come to the US on humanitarian grounds such as asylum, members of the military and their families, and, in certain states, children and pregnant women with lawful immigration status. Those groups, however, make up only a small proportion of immigrants living in the US. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it won’t consider use of free testing services when evaluating whether immigrants will likely end up relying on public benefits under the “public charge” rule, which went into effect in February

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