Things That Matter

Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

Among the dilapidated buildings in Downtown Juárez lies Little Habana, a new restaurant emblazoned with Cuban flags, classic car art, and blasting reggaeton music providing the local growing community of Cuban asylum seekers a reminder of home. 

NPR recently reported about the new eatery that owner Cristina Ibarra opened four months ago once she noticed the burgeoning Cuban community that’s developing in the area.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzidNrpg164/

She ran a taco business for 20 years before opening up a place that’s meant to evoke home for the refugees. 

“The Cubans leave their hotels and come to eat at the restaurant as if it were their own home,” Ibarra told NPR. “They stretch out, relax and talk. They share their experiences, their fears, their accomplishments … and that gives me tremendous satisfaction right now.”

The dishes are not interpretations but authentic recipes since all of her 14 employees are from the Caribbean island and advise her on menu items.

View this post on Instagram

Vamos a probar #ComidaCubana

A post shared by Francisco Nevarez (@nevarezpaco) on

The menu includes traditional fare like ropa vieja, pork chunks in a tomato stew, and three different types of rice. Her efforts extend to the decor and interior as well with bright orange and yellow walls, art depicting a street scene in Cuba, and, naturally, the lone star amid the red, white, and blue of the Cuban flag hanging on the wall. 

The restaurant opening occurred around the time of a new policy introduced by the Trump administration nicknamed  “remain in Mexico” since it requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Before the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, those seeking asylum could reside in the U.S. while they waited. 

The number of Cubans at U.S. entry ports and categorized as “inadmissibles” by Customs and Border Protection continues to increase with more than 20,000 expected to seek entry this year.

In 2016 during the Obama administration,  the U.S. deported 64 Cubans but in 2018, the Trump administration deported 463 and this year that number will increase to 560, the LA Times added. 

So far this fiscal year, 6,312 Cubans have arrived in El Paso seeking asylum, whereas the previous fiscal year had 394, according to Custom and Border Protection figures 

“This is a terrible moment for Cuban migrants. There’s desperation and alarm because of the latest measures,” Yaimí González, a 41-year-old who fled Cuba three months ago, said to The Wall Street Journal.

“I just don’t see a solution to our situation,” González added. She now sells french fries at a stand in Ciudad Juárez making $10 a day, which barely pays for the guesthouse room that she shares with four Cuban male migrants, WSJ reports. 

Though MPP affects all asylum seekers, Cubans have historically received better treatment as they were viewed as political refugees.

For decades, Cubans caught at sea would be forced to return but if they stepped foot on U.S. soil they could stay and seek permanent residence after a year and a day. Obama ended the policy, known as “wet foot, dry foot” – in January 2017 and Trump has not reinstated it. 

Now the Trump administrations has banned U.S.-based cruise ships from traveling to Cuba, economically affected groups catering to tourists on the island, and he also imposed restrictions on sending money to the island. 

While they wait for a decision on their case, economics continue to plague Cuban migrants who find work where they can in order to pay for whatever housing they can find in what’s considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. 

NPR spoke with Melba, 32, a waitress at Little Habana who arrived in April and told them that she’s found meaning in her work as she tends to fellow Cubans who, like her, eagerly await to find out if they’ll ever make it to the U.S. 

She and her husband rent a hotel room for about $12 a day and she earns about $20 per day plus tips at the restaurant, NPR reports. This is in stark contrast to her life in Brazil, where she worked as a doctor for nearly a decade as part of a Cuban government exchange program, the LA Times reports. When she was asked what she’d say to Trump if she could, she told the publication, “In Cuba, there is no freedom like you live.”

As the Trump administration continues to make it harder for Cubans and fellow asylum seekers to gain admission to the U.S. and the economy on their island deteriorates, places like Little Habana provide not only a taste of home but a respite from the inhospitable treatment they otherwise receive outside the restaurant walls. 

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

These 9 Arroz Con Frijoles Recipes From Latin America Will Change Your Nightly Dinner

Culture

These 9 Arroz Con Frijoles Recipes From Latin America Will Change Your Nightly Dinner

whitewish / Getty Images

One of the most iconic dishes from Latin America is arroz con frijoles. The mix of rice and beans is a smell and taste that sends every Latino back to their childhood. Mami and abuela always know how to make beans better than we ever can. However, practice makes perfect. Just try these recipes until you finally land on the flavor and texture you remember from childhood.

1. Casamiento Salvadoreño

View this post on Instagram

#casamientosalvadoreño

A post shared by Carina (@tachu_b) on

Casamiento Salvadoreño is a beautiful marriage of rice, red beans, peppers, and onion. The four different components get added at different times slowly building up until you hit the perfect balance in the flavor and consistency. If you like a savory breakfast, pair it up with some eggs and maduros and enjoy a Salvadoran breakfast.

2. Arroz Congri

Arroz Congri is one of the most quintessential dishes of Cuban cuisine. The mix of the rice and black beans is something you can find in any Cuban home or restaurant. The dish relies on the rice, bell peppers, and beans cooking together with spices until the water is absorbed. The method of cooking is how you can plate it in the iconic thick disc shape that we all know and love.

3. Arroz Com Feijão Preto

View this post on Instagram

Sometimes, I cook at home in my kitchen. Here is a comforting and ridicously delicious Brazilian Black Bean recipe These black bean beauties are cooked with onions, garlic, and seasoned perfectly with coriander, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, next garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of cilantro to brighten it all up. They make a great side dish to enchiladas and more. Ingredients: 2 cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed 1/2 Tbls cooking oil 2/3 cups diced, white onion 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced (I use a microplane zester) 2/3 cups chicken stock or broth 1/4 tspn cumin 1/4 tspn coriander 1/4 tspn mexican oregano salt &pepper to taste 1 lime and sprig of cilantro for garnish Instructions: In a small bowl mix together the cumin, coriander, and mexican oregano and set aside. In a saucepan on the stove, heat the olive oil to med-high heat. Saute onions for about 3 minutes or until they just start to become translucent. Add garlic and saute abut 30 seconds more. Add beans and broth, and seasonings then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and simmer for about 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. When they are done cooking, remove from heat and add in a few squeezes of fresh lime juice. Then use the back of a spoon or rubber spatula to lightly mash some of the beans. You don’t want to pulverize all of the beans. The beans will thicken more upon resting. You can add more broth/stock if, they get to thick. Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites I've been making this recipe since 2009. It is my absolute favorite black bean recipe. @utahanaskitchen @ourbestbites #blackbeans #brazilianblackbeans #sidedish #semihomemade #cooking #homecooking

A post shared by Utah's Food Flirt | Laura (@utahsfoodflirt) on

Arroz com Feijão Preto is Brazil’s answer to the regional love of rice and beans. What really sets these beans apart is the use of bacon to add some flavor and substance to the dish. Of course, there are still some veggies included but the true magic of this Brazilian dish comes from the smoky and salty bacon flavor.

4. Tacu-Tacu

Peru is known to be one of the best food destinations in the world. Tacu-Tacu is just another example of Peru’s superior food status in the world. The most unique, and fun, thing about this arroz con frijoles dish is the shape. To achieve the texture for this you have to remember to let the rice sit in the bean mixture for 15 minutes so that the rice absorbs enough liquid to be malleable.

5. Gallopinto

Gallopinto is another version of arroz con frijoles that requires properly layering and add the ingredients. The rice does cook for a brief moment with the onion until it is coated with the hot oil before adding the water. After the rice is done you add the beans and let the delicious dish cook to perfection.

6. Arroz Con Habichuelas

Olives go a long way it making this Dominican dish really stand out. Arroz con habichuelas is a classic Dominican dish that brings together chicken bouillon, olives, rice, and beans together to create something you won’t forget.

7. Arroz Con Queso

Okay, so this isn’t an arroz con frijoles recipe. However, who doesn’t like trying new things. Arroz con queso is a famous Bolivian dish and it is always worth trying something new. Cheese is one of the greatest and most important food groups, tbh so rice with cheese is just…. *chef’s kiss.*

8. Arroz Con Gandules

View this post on Instagram

Order today #Thursday #ArrozConGandules

A post shared by La Empanada Mama (@la_empanada_mama) on

Another rice dish that doesn’t use beans but is still just as delicious. Arroz con gandules is a Puerto Rican dish with pigeon peas that every rice loves needs to try at least once. Just one bite will transport you directly to the Caribbean island and will make you scream “WEPA!”

9. Arroz Con Frijoles Refritos

View this post on Instagram

These Vegetarian Enchiladas @lasmargaritasbc were AMAZING. You can definitely get one of the protein enchiladas (they have a variety) but I really wanted to try this one. It's Two corn tortillas rolled with cheese, green onions, olives, green peppers, tomatoes. Covered with a mild red enchilada sauce, melted cheese and topped with sour cream. Served with refried beans and mexican rice ($14.95). You honestly, don't even miss the meat! You also get complimentary chips and salsa. I love mexican rice and beans and this definitely hit the spot. Would 10/10 recommend. – – – – – #foodgram#instaeat#eatinvancouver#foodie#foodadventures#instafood#instalike#instafollow#followforfollow#foodgram#foodie#foodphotography#foodcoma#eeeeeats#instafoodie#girllikestoeat#604foodie#enchiladas#vegetarian#mexicanfood#mexicanriceandbeans#vegetarianrecipes#healthyfood

A post shared by Amneet Mithie (@girllikestoeat_) on

It’s all about the beans here. They have to be cooked more than once and in more than one way. After all, they are called refried beans so they aren’t just cooked once and done. These are a classic around the world and you have definitely had them whenever you went to a Mexican restaurant.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

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

In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Things That Matter

In Bombshell Report, ICE Agents Are Accused of ‘Torturing’ African Asylum-Seekers to Get Them to Sign Their Own Deportation Documents

Photo: Bryan Cox/Getty Images

A bombshell report published in The Guardian alleges that ICE officers are using torture to force Cameroonian asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders. The report paints an even starker picture of Immigration and Customs Enforcement–an agency that is already widely criticized as corrupt and inhumane.

The deportation documents the immigrants have been forced to sign are called the Stipulated Orders of Removal. The documents waive asylum seekers’ rights to further immigration hearings and mean they consent to being deported.

The asylum seekers allege that the torture in ICE custody consisted of choking, beating, pepper-spraying, breaking fingers, and threats on their lives.

“I refused to sign,” recounted one Cameroonian asylum-seeker to The Guardian. “[The ICE officer] pressed my neck into the floor. I said, ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ I lost my blood circulation. Then they took me inside with my hands at my back where there were no cameras.”

He continued: “They put me on my knees where they were torturing me and they said they were going to kill me. They took my arm and twisted it. They were putting their feet on my neck…They did get my fingerprint on my deportation document and took my picture.” Other witnesses recount similar violent experiences.

Experts believe that the escalation of deportations is directly related to the upcoming election and the possibility that ICE might soon be operated under a different administration. The theory is that ICE is coercively deporting “key witnesses” in order to “silence survivors and absolve ICE of legal liability.”

“In late September, early October of this year, we began to receive calls on our hotline from Cameroonian and Congolese immigrants detained in Ice prisons across the country. And they were being subjected to threats of deportation, often accompanied by physical abuse,” said Christina Fialho, executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, to The Guardian.

Many of the Cameroonians who are in the U.S. to seek asylum have legitimate claims to danger back in their home countries. Many of these Cameroonians come from an English-speaking minority in Cameroon that are violently target by the government there–some have died. The violence has been condemned by The United Nations and Amnesty International.

As with many immigrant stories of people who are seeking asylum, these immigrants’ lives are in danger in their home country. They are coming to the United States for a better life. But instead, they are faced with the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whom they claim brutally mistreat them.

According to report, the U.S. is deporting entire airplanes full of asylum-seekers back to their home countries–deportations that have not been given due process and have been authorized under duress.

An ICE spokesperson contacted by The Guardian called the reports “sensationalist” and “unsubstantiated” while roundly refuting the claims. “Ice is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. Ice provides safe, humane, and appropriate conditions of confinement for individuals detained in its custody,” she said.

Read the entire report here.

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