Things That Matter

Here’s How Miguel Is Going To Bring Attention To The Treatment Of People In Immigration Detention Centers

@miguel / @ayala_law_group / Instagram

R&B singer Miguel will perform in Adelanto, Calif. today as part of the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour, a series of concerts that aim to bring attention to the treatment of immigrants being held in detention centers across the country. According to Californians for Safety and Justice, the group behind the #SchoolsNotPrisons tour, there have been 22 prisons built since the 1980s in California, as opposed to one university during the same time. Californians for Safety and Justice want Californians to activate for more investment in schools and less investment in for-profit prisons. Adelanto Detention Center, which is owned by private prison corporation GEO Group, has been faced with several lawsuits. They were accused of breaking anti-slavery laws by pushing inmates into forced labor and breaking federal law by donating to the Trump administration as a governmental contractor.

“I was held for a very long time, almost ten years, and I can tell you this: these ‘detention centers,’ as they call them, they’re prisons without a doubt,” said Sylvester Owino, who was incarcerated for more than nine years and is speaking at Friday’s night’s event, says in a press release. “I came to the U.S. from Kenya, where I was afraid for my life. These prisons are profiting off of people like me, holding them for years for no good reason. We have to end it.”

The event is free to attend and will include performances by Los Rakas, Ceci Bastida, and Buyepongo. Comedian and actor Cristela Alonzo will be the emcee for the event. People who were formerly incarcerated at the Adelanto Detention Center will also be in attendance to speak to the audience.

“It’s important now, more than ever, for us to recognize humanity in one another,” Miguel said in a press release. “I’m just hoping to help educate myself on the realities of our immigration policy and also shed whatever light I can on the families dealing with cruel and unjust treatment in Adelanto.”


READ: A Group Of Immigrant Detainees Have Filed A Lawsuit Alleging They Were Victims Of Forced Labor

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Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

Things That Matter

Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

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

Miguel Was Once A Preacher And Then He Discovered The Power Of His Own Music

Entertainment

Miguel Was Once A Preacher And Then He Discovered The Power Of His Own Music

We all know Miguel as the R&B heartthrob shaking up the genre with his indie pop and soul influences. His breakout album, Kaleidoscope dream (2012) put him on the map, right alongside contemporaries. Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and The Weeknd.

Before he made it on the map, he was kind of a shy kid, and deeply religious. If you thought he was born a sex god, you’re wrong. He confesses that he was a “very late bloomer” in life.

Born as Miguel Jontel Pimentel, the singer is just 33 years old.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

He was born and raised in San Pedro, California, a beach town. His mother is African-American and his father is Mexican-American. His parents divorced when he was eight years old, and lived under his mother’s roof.

Miguel has written songs about the struggle of being Afro-Latino.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

In “What’s Normal Anyway?,” he sings Too proper for the black kids / Too black for the Mexicans.”  He told NME that he used to really struggle with that growing up but he’s in acceptance around his identity today.

In 2017, Miguel traveled to Zamora to visit his Mexican side of the family for the first time.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

His own grandmother used to sing at the radio station that they ended up visiting. He sang his cover of “Contigo” by Los Planchos as a tribute to his Nana. “I haven’t felt the kind of nervousness that I did at the radio station. Ever. You want to make your family proud. And I think that’s a different kind of pressure,” he said according to Latino USA.

His mother didn’t let him go to parties.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

“My mother was really into her religion, and I was, too, to be honest with you,” he tells The Guardian. “But at the same time I was torn, because as a kid you want to do things. And my mom was very keen on keeping me away from temptation. “

Miguel didn’t really have any friends in high school.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

“I was not a part of the social scene in high school. I wasn’t going to parties, I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t smoking, I definitely wasn’t smoking weed, I wasn’t having sex,” he tells all to The Guardian. “Late bloomer. Really late bloomer.”

Feeling out of place both ethnically and socially was the inspiration for “What’s Normal Anyway?”

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

When his musician brother Nicholas listened to the song for the first time, he wept. “On top of the normal inadequacies and insecurities that you feel in your adolescence,” he tells The Guardian.

You add the layer of wanting to connect with people and then having to keep a safe distance based on what you’re being taught, your spirituality, and that adds a whole other confusing layer. As much as people knew me, it’s not like I had friends.”

It was his Mexican father who introduced him to music and encouraged him to live a little.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

His father, who is a teacher, would tell him about all the crazy things he did at his age and encouraged him to step out of line. Miguel was too afraid to betray his mother and the religiosity he was so entrenched in.

Miguel would go door to door preaching the bible as a teenager.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

His mother is a preacher as well and always wanted him to grow up to become a preacher. She never expected he would become a famous musician.

When he went to college, he discovered sex, drugs, and music.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

He stopped going to church and bible studies and started forming his own path. “I’m still very much in touch with my spirituality. I never gave up on God,” he told The Guardian. “I just found my own way.”

Today, Miguel is a Grammy award winning artist (and sex symbol, let’s be real.)

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

Since his first album release, “All I Want is You,” he’s released three more albums, all of which have reached mass critical acclaim. Critics love to compare his vocals to Prince, and he ships it.

His most swoon-worthy quality? Dedicating his awards to his Nana.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

Caption: “dedicating this award to my Nana, thank you @almaawards

Miguel also uses his platform for good.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

Caption: “This dude put his is whole career, everything he worked his whole life for on the line to shed light on injustice in this country only to be treated unfairly and black balled and he hasn’t stopped. Cant think of anyone better suited to deliver this message.”

Fun fact: He usually wears a calavera on his ring finger.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

He told The Guardian, “I always wear this ring on this finger, the skull with a sombrero. The skull is a reminder that we don’t live forever.” As for the sombrero? “Well, you know, I’m Latino, so it just felt right.”

He has “Amar hasta la muerte” tattooed on his body.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

“Which means ‘Love me to death’ or ‘Love till death’, depending on how you interpret it,” he told The Guardian.

He’s been with model and actor Nazanin Mandi for over a decade.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

Yeah. We’re swooning. The guy is committed. You might recognize her from his music video for “Coffee.”

The two got married in late 2018.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

If you follow @miguel at all, you also know that he’s obsessed with her butt. Like, every post with her is about her butt. 😂

They both have queen of diamonds tattoos.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

They’ve never revealed the meaning, but we know that they do want to have kids at some point. Making every Mexican dad proud at this point.

While Miguel is definitely in the social scene these days, his spirituality looks different.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram
He’s a big fan of transcendental meditation. “It’s good to take a breath from everything and just center yourself. That is the best way of describing it,” he told Hot 93.7 station.

The goal of his music is to leave fans feeling encouraged.

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

After a tour, he told The Guardian, “I know the fans go away with something greater than just music. Yes, they come and hear the songs they like – I’ve got a great band, all my stuff is great – but the most important thing is, they leave encouraged. They leave believing in themselves.”

“I want to give people as much of myself as possible.”

CREDIT: Credit: @miguel / Instagram

Soak it all up on with his latest drop “Wildheart” released under RCA Records.

READ: Miguel Has Chosen His Side In The Major League Soccer Battle For Los Angeles