Things That Matter

These Harrowing Letters Written By Children In Detention Centers Are Surfacing With Accounts Of Sexual Assault And Hunger

Reports of sexual and physical abuse in detention centers aren’t new, but a series of handwritten letters by migrant youth in detention centers offer a closer look at the violence and neglect children experience during their journeys to the US and while locked up in immigration holding centers.

Spanish-language network Univision obtained a dozen letters from children, between the ages of 13 and 17, who denounced the inhumane conditions, which one described as “torment,” at the “hieleras” or “perreras,” Spanish for holding cells. Each of the youths spoke under the condition of anonymity.

One migrant teen said she was “treated badly” and “starved” under US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also noting that agents spoke to her “with demeaning and discriminatory words.” Another child added that youth who became ill weren’t treated; instead, they were placed in confinement

Univision Noticias /YouTube

One teenage girl, who said she spent five days in a cell sick, confirmed the allegation.

“I was sick, I asked for help and they did not offer it to me,” she wrote. “There were babies crying, sick children. We only bathed one time since we arrived. I had a very bad time, they treated us badly, they woke us up all the time.”

One of the unaccompanied minors said the young migrants “didn’t have anything to sleep on” and that they “couldn’t bathe themselves.”

Outside a shelter in Mexico, where one boy stopped during his journey to the US, he said he was sexually abused while begging for food. The child left the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Baja to ask strangers for donations so he could pay for food. That’s when one man stopped and coerced him into a sexual exchange.

Univision Noticias /YouTube

“He told me, ‘I want you to do something to me that I want with you,’” the boy noted in his letter. “Well, he took me to a hotel room. He told me, ‘bathe.’ I bathed and then he forced me to have sex with him because I was hungry, well, the necessity. He forced me because I was very hungry. And I had to do it not because I wanted to, but because he forced me. Well, everything happened and he gave me money. For me it was very dirty, but the necessity [to eat] led me to do it.”

As a result of the violence they experienced during their trek north and while in US detention centers, some teens expressed an interest in doing work in their new country to help unaccompanied minors like themselves.

“My dream is to study to be a lawyer so that I can help migrants from other countries to achieve their dream as I am fulfilling my dream,” one undocumented teen wrote. 

Univision Noticias /YouTube

She added: “My dream is to be a lawyer because I know it’s hard to leave our country.”

According to United States guidelines, unaccompanied youth must be released from Border Patrol facilities within 72 hours, where they are then required to be transferred to the United States Department of Health & Human Services, which places the children with a sponsor. Currently, there are tens of thousands of youth at CBP facilities along the border.

Read:  In Mexican Shelters, African And Haitian Migrants Are Uprising Against Inhumane Treatment

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Jada Pinkett Smith’s Mom Tells Her She Had Non-Consensual Sex with Star’s Dad

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Jada Pinkett Smith’s Mom Tells Her She Had Non-Consensual Sex with Star’s Dad

Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty

*Trigger Warning: this piece discusses domestic violence and rape and may be upsetting for some.*

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at1-800-656-4673. Or do an online chat.

Rape by a spouse or a partner is an act of physical violence that is often overlooked and under talked about. While there’s been a growth in international attention regarding marital rape it is often widely considered a “gray area” subject even in the many countries where it is illegal. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith learned a hard truth about marital rape affected her parents’ marriage this week in an exclusive clip on the Red Table Talk. Speaking with her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her daughter Willow Smith, the actress spoke about non-consensual sex with partners.

In the latest episode of “The Red Table Talk,” Adrienne Banfield-Norris revealed that she had been raped in her marriage to Pinkett Smith’s father.

“So, Gam, you feel like nowhere in your history in regards to sexual intimacy have you felt like you had a sexual experience that was not necessarily consensual,” Pinkett Smith noted.

Banfield-Norris admitted “I have, I have, but it was also with my husband. Your dad, actually… So that’s really gray.”

Taking a moment to process, Pinkett Smith paused and that asked her mother to clarify “You’re basically saying you had non-consensual sex with my father,” she replied to her mother.

Banfield-Norris has noted how she became pregnant with Pinkett Smith in high school and married the actress’s father, Robsol Pinkett Jr soon after. After several months of marriage, the two divorced. In 2018, Pinkett Smith revealed in another episode of Red Table Talk that her mother had endured domestic violence from Robsol.

“I knew that my mother and my father had a very violent relationship early on,” Pinkett Smith explained. “She has a couple scars on her body that, as a child, I was just curious. I was like, ‘Oh, Mommy, what’s that? What’s that?’ … This will be the first time that Willow’s actually heard these stories about her grandfather who she knew.”

At the time, the three women talked about a scar on Banfield-Norris’s back which she received when Pinkett Smith’s father threw her over a banister.

“Not to make this like an excuse … but he was typically in an altered state when he was abusive like that,” Banfield-Norris said. “He was typically drunk… “I think women stay because they think that they’re in love. That’s what it was for me. I thought that it was love.”

Red Table Talk airs Tuesdays at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Things That Matter

Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Biden For President / Flickr

An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rely on the protection from deportation and work authorization to live with dignity and out of the shadows. Presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to make sure they stay protected.

Dreamers are looking to a Biden administration to finish what an Obama administration started.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

According to the official Biden campaign website, the presidential nominee will work with Congress to reinstate DACA protections and to create a pathway to citizenship. DACA was won by undocumented activists putting fear aside and publicly fought to change the minds of Americans and politicans.

“Undocumented ‘youth’ are no longer youth,” says Moises Serrano, DACA activist and the man profiled in the documentary “Forbidden.” “DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants have been living in fear and instability for decades now. We survived eight years under the Obama administration and four years under the Trump administration. Immigration reform was promised under the Obama-Biden platform; a promise that is still unfulfilled.”

He added: “We hope that President Biden puts an end to the instability in our lives once and for all, or we are ready to hold him accountable in the same way we held Obama accountable in our fight for Administrative Relief.”

Biden’s policy proposes protecting Dreamers and helping them advance in this country.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

Biden promises to reinstate DACA to protect Dreamers and will be looking into ways to protect their families. The policy put forth by a potential Biden administration is pivotal in giving those who are DACA recipients a chance to live without fear and with all of the rights as their fellow citizens.

“After living through a deep loss in 2016 after losing my second mother and only being granted access to be on her deathbed in Mexico through my ability to get advanced parole through DACA I learned that no loss would ever be greater than that,” said Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient, political operative and policy advocate. “However, November rolled around and another loss took place. One that impacted my life, that of my family and my community.”

DACA is a very important issue as hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are on the line.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

People like Nava are hopeful that a Biden administration will bring that dignity back to the immigrant community. It is a community that is vibrant and has contributed vastly to American culture. A BIden administration would be a chance for Nava to see herself reflected in government.

“I am hopeful to see the daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and a woman I can finally feel represented by be sworn in as the first woman VP of this country,” Nava says. “I will look forward to an administration that listens to the communities it intends to represent. An administration that empowers the entire country to work with each other to support, strengthen, respect and uplift each other each and every day. An administration that values and is grateful for the contributions that immigrants bring to the foundation of our country each and every day.”

Nava wants to see an immigration reform that puts immigrant humanity at the forefront. One that understands the needs for people to seek refuge and a better life in a foreign country.

“No immigrant seeks to find a fix on a silver platter. Nor do they believe that this will be an easy task,” Nava says. “The only thing our families ask for is a chance. Una oportunidad para recordarle a este pais that their lucha and determination comes from a deep sense of ganas to create a life filled with more opportunities than they ever had.”

The battle over DACA is far from over but it is clear that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of public opinion. Biden’s plan would strengthen DACA and restore the program to its full functionality.

READ: Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

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