A year and a half ago, people were appalled to know that the guests staying at Motel 6 in Arizona had their information compromised. It wasn’t hackers looking to score credit card information, but immigration officials aiming to track down undocumented immigrants.
When people realized that employees of Motel 6 gave away private information about hotel guests to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a boycott ensued. Furthermore — because that tactic is extremely illegal — immigration advocates sued on behalf of thousands of people.
A year later Motel 6 faced two class action lawsuits, one in Washington and another in Arizona. Both cases have closed in huge settlements.
Motel 6 settled their cases out of court and agreed to pay $20 million to all guests with “Latin-sounding names.”
The guests in Arizona got a whopping $7 million settlement, while in Washington, Motel 6 guests there will get $12 million. Guests with Latino-sounding names faced undue stress from having to answer ICE agents knocking on their room doors unexpectedly. However, there is one problem facing attorneys and those in the class action lawsuits.
Attorneys don’t know how to find the guests impacted by the lawsuits.
Some people stayed at Motel 6 under fake names, others perhaps are not in the country anymore, so lawyers have one year to find patrons of the motel or else all of that money goes to waste.
Each guest — roughly 80,000 people — have to either come forward to get their money or else they will just lose it. However, it’s only natural that people are afraid to come forward because of their immigration status.
“The concern here is that this could be a victory in name only,” Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic told Bloomberg News. “It does create a situation here where the party is penalized, but how will it amount to restitution to compensate these victims if their clients have been deported, and any records of deportation are held by ICE?”
One of the worst things about public school is the arbitrary way that dress codes are enforced. However, this isn’t just a conversation about skirt length or bra straps infractions. Uniform coding has a history of enforcing rules that violate individual civil rights — especially for female students, Black students, and students of color.
Now, a case out of Texas is arguing that this sort of civil liberties violation is what happened to a student in April 2019 at a Houston-area school.
The family of middle school student, Juelz Trice, is suing the Pearland ISD School District for an incident last Spring where administration used permanent marker on the 14-year-old’s scalp.
Twitter / @ajplus
On April 16th, Trice received a new fade but it was cited as a dress code violation the very next day. The middle school student — who is Black — was in the cafeteria for breakfast when he was told by the assistant principal, Tony Barcelona, to go to the office because of his haircut. According to the lawsuit, he and Barcelona were met by discipline clerk, Helen Day, and, later, teacher, Jeanette Peterson. There in the office, Trice was given two options: go to in-school suspension for his violation or use a black Sharpie to color his scalp in. Reportedly, Trice worried that in-school suspension would impact his eligibility for the track team so he chose the marker option.
According to the lawsuit, Day then took the black permanent marker and used it to fill in the design of Trice’s fade. Peterson was then asked to pick up another marker and help fill in the middle school student’s scalp. The lawsuit alleges that “They laughed as they took many minutes to color 13-year-old J.T’s scalp which took many days of scrubbing to come off.” Images taken of the boy’s scalp after the fact reveal that the marker made the design far more noticeable.
According to the family’s attorney, there was no attempt to notify Trice’s parents before his scalp was colored in.
Twitter / @mochamomma
The civil rights lawsuit cites the school district as well Barcelona, Peterson and Day as defendants in the claim. According to Randall Kallinen, attorney for the student’s parents, Dante Trice and Angela Washington, the school district has yet to meet with the family. The only thing that has been done to rectify this problem was to change the existing dress code. In May of 2019, after the incident with Trice, the updated code removed restrictions on hairstyles and carvings.
It should be noted that the administrators and teacher involved in the incident did not receive corrective action. In fact, Barcelona, who was a vice-principal at the time, has now been promoted to principal. All three still work at Berry Miller Junior High where the situation occurred.
“I was mad. I was really mad,” Dante Trice said of his son’s ordeal. “I just imagine three people holding him down with a marker against his will.”
In a new conference about the incident, attorney Kallien cited a 2015 Department of Justice study that found that Black students were 143% more likely to be suspended than white students.
Twitter / @MarcelinoKHOU
“We are here today to right this wrong through the court system because apparently, PISD doesn’t care about African American people,” Kallinen claimed in the televised statements.
While Houston has received the title of the most diverse city in America, Pearland — where the middle school is located — is much less diverse. Of its population, nearly 63% is white and only 17% is Black.
While the lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, that isn’t all it is attempting to fix. Filed in the Southern District of Texas, the suit also requests that the court order school district employees receive racial sensitivity training. Considering this incident, it seems the school could definitely benefit from this.
Local activists have come out in support of Trice and his family, but they have received a lot of encouragement from Twitter as well.
Twitter / @DovieWatson
As this Twitter user expressed, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen alleged racism in school dress codes or from school administrators. In the past, school districts have faced lawsuits over dress codes that declare braids, long hair, and other so-called “ethnic” hairstyles “against the rules.” In these instances, it is usually found that the school district has violated the civil liberties of students.
Some pointed out that instances like these are more like policing than educating.
Twitter / @taylorwestc
A lot is asked of teachers and school administrators. We definitely won’t argue that. However, the number one thing required of them is to teach our young people. When we see stories like these, we have to wonder how much time is being spent educating and how much is being spent policing these kids. When it comes to their hairstyle, it’s best to let the parents and kids take this one.
A mural showing the Statue of Liberty being handcuffed by immigration enforcement officers has been unveiled in Las Vegas, amid rancour and anger over Donald Trump’sharsh immigration policies.
The mural, titled “Chained Migration,” was unveiled late last month in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since then, it has caused a lot of dialogue between those who support it and those who don’t.
The mural is a 20×50 art installation that depicts the Statue of Liberty handcuffed and bet over the hood of an ICE patrol car. It was created by Izaac Zevalking, also known as Recycled Propaganda, a political artist that aims to create art influenced by history and current events. Zevalking himself is an immigrant from the UK. Zevalking is using the Statue of Liberty, who is considered a beacon of hope for immigrants, to demonstrate how the harmful rhetoric used against them is harming the American Dream.
In an interview with KTNV Las Vegas, Zevalking explains that the goal of the mural is to create a conversation about immigration in the United States. “I want people just to think about the issue. Wherever that thought leaves you. Wherever that conversation with someone else leaves you. I think it needs to be discussed more in human terms.”
Although some came to the internet to praise Zevalking for his mural, others were quick to disagree with his artwork.
This Twitter user used the infamous MS13 gang as her reasoning for this mural being shameful. Her comment imitates the language that Trump uses in his statements referring to those who migrate into the United States. She plays into the stereotype that all people who are immigrating to the U.S are dangerous gang members.
Some on Twitter were quick to claim they’d happily paint it over.
In the replies, a Twitter user suggested they paint over the mural in protest.
However, Recycled Propaganda clapped back, suggesting that if it gets painted over they keep on bringing it back.
The art piece could not have been more timely given the recent comments made by Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
After being asked in an interview with NPR if the words of Emma Lazarus are part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli replied, adding a line to the poem, “They certainly are – give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
The original reads as, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Recently, the Trump administration decided to make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain a Green Card if they receive government aid, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Cuccinelli is a big defender of this policy, so it is not surprising that these comments about Lazarus’ sonnet were made.
When immigrants are being discussed in politics, it is usually done so in ways that strips them of their humanity.
When folks migrate to the United States, it is often done so out of desperation and necessity. Immigrants come with nothing but a backpack filled with the essentials. They come to work low-paying jobs and because of their status, it is difficult for them to get the assistance they need for issues like healthcare and food assistance. To ask immigrants to come to the United States and to be self-sufficient only treat them with very little dignity is unfair.
When describing this policy, Cuccinelli uses words like a burden when describing immigrants who need public assistance. After his initial remarks about the poem, Cuccinelli said on CNN that the poem was originally referring to Europeans who migrated to the United States.
The artist, who is an immigrant from the UK points out that America is a very different place for white immigrants.
“I personally wasn’t born in America. I was born in the UK and I don’t ever feel attacked as an immigrant and I think that’s cause my skin is white,” Zevalking says.
There is a stark difference between the ways European immigrants and Latin American immigrants are treated in the United States and Zevalking is tapping into that notion with his mural, “Chained Migration.” He is acknowledging his privilege as a European immigrant and using it to shed light on how criminalizing it is for non-white immigrants living in the United States.
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