Things That Matter

A Honduran Teens Says An Officer Groped Her Breast And Touched Her Between Her Legs In Front Of Officers

Migrant children held in Yuma, Arizona are accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, according to dozens of accounts by children collected by government case managers reports NBC News

The accounts obtained by NBC News detail a 15-year-old girl from Honduras who describes an officer putting his hands inside her bra, pulling down her underwear and groping her as part of what was supposed to be a routine pat-down. 

She recounts that it was done in front of other immigrants and officers. The young girl said “she felt embarrassed as the officer was speaking in English to other officers and laughing” during the entire process. 

The latest details to surface about the inhumane and despicable mistreatment of migrant children in detention facilities aren’t –– unfortunately –– anything out of the ordinary. 

For example, last month nearly 300 migrant children were removed from a border facility in Texas after reports of lawyers describing “appalling” and potentially dangerous conditions surfaced, according to NBC News. In El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, horrific conditions were detailed where children and other migrants were being held in overcrowded border stations where they were not given showers, the appropriate space to sleep or a clean change of clothes. 

Now, with the recent sexual assault allegations made against U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Arizona –– the abuse and barbaric treatment of migrant children has extended beyond Texas. About 30 of the statements collected from the children, and obtained by NBC News, “include allegations of sexual assault and retaliation for protests.” 

A 17-year-old boy from Honduras said that CBP agents would reprimand other detained children when they would get too close to a window. He said they would sometimes call them “puto” –– and other derogatory terms in Spanish –– while giving orders. 

Another 16-year-old Guatemalan boy held in Yuma, Arizona said he and others in his cell raised concerns about the taste of the water and food they were being fed. As a form of retaliation, CBP agents took the mats out of their cell and forced them to sleep on the hard concrete floor. 

And still, the Trump administration, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are attempting to deny the allegations made by migrant children. 

For example, President Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media, in particular, the failing @nytimes is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers. First of all, people should not be entering our Country illegally, only for us to then have to care for them. We should be allowed to focus on United States citizen first.”

In a series of tweets, he went on to defend U.S. Customs and Border Protection saying they “have been doing a great job” and that “the Fake News & the Dems” are manufacturing this crisis of inhumane treatment at immigration detention facilities along the U.S. border. 

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct,” a CBP spokesperson told NBC News in response to the Yuma allegations. “The allegations do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated. It’s important to note that the allegation of sexual assault is already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.” 

The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said July 10 that the allegations are currently under investigation, “this isn’t just one review, it will be multiple reviews.” 

On MSNBC, he also said, “anyone involved in sexual assault or physical harassment like that I would, of course, expect to be fired, not merely disciplined.” 

These allegations (first reported by NBC News) against CBP from young migrant children in Yuma, Arizona, include documents that case managers for the Department of Health and Human Services (the department responsible for migrant children after they leave CBP custody) prepared sometime between April 10 and June 12. 

Further, according to accounts obtained by NBC, migrant children reported going to bed hungry “because dinner was usually served sometime after 9 p.m. and by that time she was already asleep.” 

The children who gave the accounts to case managers about the mistreatment and also sexual assault allegations that happened in Yuma, Arizona had been held that the border station longer than the 72 hours permitted by law. 

“Other children described being scared of the officers and said the officers would get angry if they asked for anything. One child wore soiled underwear for the 10 days he was in the border station because he was afraid to ask the officers for a clean pair, according to one of the reports. Another, a 15-year-old girl from Guatemala, described the food as ‘gross and cold most of the time,'” reports Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley from NBC News

According to the reports, nearly every child that was interviewed by a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) caseworker after leaving Yuma detention center reported poor sleeping conditions. The children said they weren’t given a mattress, a pillow, or a blanket to sleep with. Most were simply given a Mylar blanket instead.

Advocacy attorney for the organization Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Laura Belous, which provides legal services to migrant children, told NBC News that she was “horrified and sickened by the allegations of abuse… but unfortunately, we are not surprised.” 

The World Can’t Get Enough Of J Balvin, He Is YouTube’s Most Streamed Artist Worldwide

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The World Can’t Get Enough Of J Balvin, He Is YouTube’s Most Streamed Artist Worldwide

Roger Kisby / Fotógrafo autónomo / Getty Images

¡Mi gente! Your faves could never. Latin music domination continues around the world with the top spots of global streaming platforms being stacked with Latinx artists. What a time to be alive. Remember when we all had to pretend Drake was Dominican to get some kind of representation out here? But when you think about the sheer number of people on the planet that speak Spanish, it totally makes sense that Latinx artists would have such a massive reach. 

And let’s be real, while fluency helps, you really don’t have to be proficient to enjoy reggaeton. The energetic, pulsating beats can compel anyone to move. Do you really think everyone in the United States knew the English translation of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” in order to enjoy it? Music transcends language and so does Colombian trap artist J Balvin apparently. Do you think anyone even noticed that the lyrics in “Harlem Shake” are largely in Spanish? Nope. 

J Balvin is here to stay.

For six consecutive weeks, J Balvin has chopped the global charts on YouTube. That’s a total of 1.26 billion views on the platform. 

“Artista más visto en YouTube Global,” Balvin wrote in an Instagram caption.

This comes as no surprise to Balvin fans. In 2018, Balvin ousted drake as the most-streamed artist worldwide on Spotify. The singer surpassed 48 million monthly listeners last summer thanks to his single “X” with Nicky Jam which streamed over 327 million times. Balvin is in great company on the global charts with Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, and Ozuna all in the top 10. The trio’s single “China” with Anuel AA and Karol G is currently number 1 on the YouTube global charts and number 2 in the United States chart. However, we’re pleased to note that “Señorita” by Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes is topping the charts in the states. 

Balvin shouts out his Latinx fans. 

“Artista más escuchado en el mundo en @spotify posición #1 que celebro con todos mis latinos y los soñadores. Gracias Gracias Gracias,” Balvin wrote in the caption. 

Our boy is famous basically everywhere?

The top countries streaming Balvin’s music are Mexico with 240 million views, Argentina with 121 million views, and Colombia with 121 million views. The United States is in fourth place with 112 million views, followed by Spain, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela. But fear not, Balvin has fans in at least 100 different countries according to YouTube. 

We stan a humble king of the masses!

Like, literally could you imagine how this level of adoration and attention would completely warp your mind? I would be a monster. I would build a house out of fan mail and then set it ablaze just to laugh at my stupid fans. I’d have so many, who cares! Meanwhile, the artist, who typically regales his followers with personal messages on Instagram every morning at 5 a.m., knows how to connect with his fans. Balvin even served ordinary people from a coffee cart in New York City the other day. 

“Buenos días , buenos días , buenos días !!!!! ARCOÍRIS TOUR empieza 30 de Agosto en Puerto Rico !! Choliseo,” he wrote on Instagram. 

 We stan a humble king of the masses!

This isn’t the first Latin wave (and it won’t be the last).

In the 1990s, the late and great Selena catapulted Tejano and Cumbia music into the mainstream American consciousness. This ushered in the era of the “Latin Explosion” where legends were born. Ricky Martin, Thalía, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and Jennifer Lopez made their marks. Hell, even Frank Sinatra personally invited Luis Miguel to record a duet of “Come Fly With Me” on his 1994 album Duets II. 

In the 2000s, there was the “Latin Pop Boom” that saw the likes of Shakira, Paulina Rubio, and Christina Aguilera topping the charts. You may even remember non-Latinx artists trying to ride the wave with Beyoncé collaborating with Shakira on the duet, “Beautiful Liar,” and releasing a Spanish language version of the single “Irreplaceable.” It almost feels odd to call these decades different waves or eras when it is pretty clear Latinxs have been consistently rocking the charts since Gloria Estefan in the 1980s. Since then, in the United States, we have been blessed with many more Latinx acts including the likes of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello, Becky G, and Cardi B. And of course, there are all the amazing imports from Latinx countries around the world. If we want to continue this Latinx chart domination, I only have one piece of advice: stream “China” by J. Balvin on YouTube and Spotify!

Detained Teenagers’ Artwork, Dubbed ‘Uncaged Art’ On Display In University Of Texas At El Paso

Things That Matter

Detained Teenagers’ Artwork, Dubbed ‘Uncaged Art’ On Display In University Of Texas At El Paso

UTEP

Between June 2018 and January 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detained more than 6,000 teenagers from Central and South America in a tent city 40 miles south of El Paso. It was called the Tornillo Children’s Detention camp and was the largest detention center for children in the United States. While detained there, the teenagers, aged 13-17, were asked to participate in a social studies project to create art that reminded them of their home. Their art was on display around the tent city until a story by The New York Times shined a light on the teens’ paltry living conditions, and the government shut the facility down in January 2019.

As Tornillo Children’s Detention Camp was being shut down, workers trashed nearly all of the 400 pieces of art. However, one priest and several community organizations came together and were able to save 29 of the pieces.

Father Rafael Garcia, a Jesuit Priest, was one of the few outside visitors allowed into the camp.

Credit: Sacred Heart Church, El Paso, TX / Facebook

“It is hard to describe the mood there; some kids were very glum and sad, others had no expression,” Father Garcia told NBC News. “Then there were others interacting like normal kids.” The artwork was on display until January 2019, when the U.S. government decided to close the camp. As officers were tossing the artwork, Garcia asked for permission to redistribute the art to others who may want it.

“If I hadn’t been there, and received permission to keep some of the pieces, it probably would have all been thrown in the dumpster,” Garcia said.

With the artwork in hand, Garcia called Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Ph.D., University of El Paso Texas Professor and co-founder of El Paso’s Museo Urbano.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

Leyva would go to the Tornillo Children’s Detention Center on her days off to visit with the kids. Garcia knew that she co-founded El Paso’s community museum known for preserving borderland history. Garcia wanted the museum and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to protect the artwork. They did one better and put all the art on display at UTEP’s Centennial Museum. 

Father Garcia sees the final outcome–an exhibit featuring their work–as “a ray of light from a grim experience.”

Credit: UTEP

The Museum website describes the exhibit as reflective of “the resiliency, talent, and creativity of young men and women who trekked 2,000 miles from their homes in Central America to reach the United States.” The exhibit, titled ‘Uncaged Art,’ “provides us with a window into the personal world of migrant children whose visions and voices have often been left out of mainstream media accounts,” reads the website.

Still, the art is on display behind a chain-link fence, to remind visitors of the conditions the young artists were in at the time.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

The social studies teachers allowed the students four days to create the art and allowed them to create individually or in groups. There were no other instructions other than to think of their home. Those instructions resulted in an array of mixed media art including dresses, sculptures and hundreds of drawings and sketches. Then, “camp officials” judged the art and selected their perceived best works to display around the camp.

Human rights attorney, Camilo Pérez-Bustillo thinks that the camp released the artwork as a PR stunt to look good.

Credit: UTEP

Pérez-Bustillo had interviewed about 30 children from the camp and believes the artwork was essentially curated by the facility. “I think they released it to look good,” Pérez-Bustillo told The Texas Observer. “They had so much negative publicity at the end from the national media, especially after news reports that their employees did not have to submit to FBI checks, they decided to shut it down and cut their losses.”  

For now, we don’t know the faces behind the artwork.

Credit: UTEP

In June 2018, Beto O’Rourke led hundreds of protesters to the tent city demanding humane conditions for the ever-expanding tent city. Temperatures were over 100 degrees while the children were living in tents. A DHS spokesperson told the public that the tents were air-conditioned. Some of the children told an attorney that the worst part of the facility was never knowing when they’d get out. Some kids would keep track of the days that passed by scribbling numbers on their forearms.

Still, the government’s response to the problem was to loosen the strict requirements for sponsorships. All of the children are now sponsored by people around the country.

Wherever they are, we hope that they see their artwork is cherished by our community.

Credit: “tornillo art” Digital Image. Texas Observer. 23 August 2019.

We know that the symbol of the quetzal bird created in this artwork is a symbol of freedom for Guatemala. In the words of one of the artists, as told by The Texas Observer, “The quetzal cannot be caged or it will die of sadness.”

READ: Texas Detention Officer Charged With Sexual Assault Of An Undocumented Mother’s Child

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