Things That Matter

Dear Mike Huckabee: When Did You Decide To Turn From God’s Light Towards Hateful Darkness?

Dear Former Governor Mike Huckabee:

I know I’m not alone when I say I am deeply disappointed by your racist tweet featuring MS-13 gang members. Before you go on dismissing me for using the “R” word, that big, bad label us liberals give to people we “disagree” with, I need to tell you the basis for my very careful choosing of that word, so that we may both learn something from this experience.

Your tweet depicting a group of gang members as “Nancy Pelosi’s campaign committee to take back the house” was intended to paint her as a gang sympathizer. There’s no doubt about your intentions. You must have known how this would look to your base. You were attempting to paint someone who is a leader of a party advocating for the rights of immigrants who deserve due process and basic human rights as a being soft on crime. Even before the 2016 presidential campaigns, you and other in the Republican party have equated immigrants to criminals. President Trump is included in the class of Republican politicians demonizing hardworking immigrants for minuscule political gains.

What you refuse to acknowledge in doing this is the many Latinx Americans who are painted in a negative light because of your fear mongering. Those of us of Latin American heritage have continuously been flagged by leaders of your party as “rapists,” “criminals” and “animals.” It is no wonder then, that so many Americans are now open to the idea of putting immigrant children in cages. Those are the confines to which (dangerous) animals belong.

I know many of your ilk are quick to distinguish yourselves as not being racist. When you make racist remarks, jokes, or generalizations, you quickly point out that aren’t talking about “us.” You certainly don’t want to ostracize any potential voting block, no matter their skin color. But, you are talking about us.

Governor Huckabee, I’m an American daughter of a Mexican immigrant father and a Mexican-American mother. I was born in Texas and was educated in Ohio. I have lived among upper-class white people my whole life. I am familiar with the defense “Oh, I didn’t mean you” when defending a joke or a controversially demeaning stance on immigrants, especially those of us from Latin American countries. This has been my whole life. As a white looking, American-educated woman of Mexican descent, I have privilege that isn’t afforded many of my Latinx brothers and sisters. It’s always assumed in my presence that people with your philosophy are in safe standing when airing your viewpoints. I can assure you, that this is not the case.

No one you encounter is fine with this casual racism, no matter how well you think you know them. Anyone you work with, share dinner with, or meet at campaign events, who is a member of any marginalized group, is exhausted with being told we are the exception to your unwitting hatred. We are all offended. We’ve just gotten so used to being offended that many of us swallow our true opinions at the risk of being viewed as “uncivil.” We ought not be compared to animals, after all. And of course, you’ll find those rare exceptions, who will gladly go along with the joke, or make themselves a case for how they are different. Perhaps their parent was a refugee in the 1950’s, but that’s ok because it was a different time. They will side with you, making a case that there are those from “el otro lado” who have no place here with real Americans. Those people are the saddest among us. They are so terrified and in need of ensuring their survival, that they will sever any source of empathy, and reject the instinct to identify with their ancestors.

We are living in sad times. I know it hurt your feelings when your daughter was lambasted at the White House Correspondents dinner, and when she was refused service at the Red Hen. I wonder, as a parent, if you are able to feel empathy for your own daughter (and she for her children). How exhausting it must be to reject empathy towards all people different than you. To reject the sights and sounds of caged children, to continuously tell yourself it’s for their own good. How difficult and sad it must be to distance yourself from God himself, by inspiring fear in others. How terrifying and lonely it must feel to have the ability to love but to be suppressing every instinct thus in order to perpetuate hate. As the book of John (2:9) tells us “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”

I want you to know, as a Mexican-American, whose relatives have fought in wars for the United States, and contributed as business owners, mothers and therapists, you are hurting us. When you attempt to make the distinction of “I didn’t mean you” to any one of us, please know that’s not good enough.

Racism is uttered in the very attempt to defend your ignorance. I’m telling you now so that you can see the error of your ways. You were a reverend, isn’t that right? Do you believe that you are following God, even today? Because I’d argue that God’s way isn’t separation, and name-calling, and painting whole swaths of people with one demeaning stroke. You know this to be true in your heart, sir. As a father, I’d have to assume you see the damage you’re doing to God’s children. “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

But, perhaps I’m being too idealistic.

Perhaps your brand of empathy only extends to your own children, wife, community, or, narrower perhaps, your political party, which you place before God and country. Perhaps you can’t be swayed by “civility,” which many in the Republican party have called for since Americans voiced outrage at the caging of innocent migrant children. Let the broken hearts of the citizens of this nation remind you of how to lead with love.

What I want to tell you, if you read this, is that we are already here, sharing the same country. No matter the language or tactics you use to stir hate and fear in white America with the threat of being “infested” or “invaded”, as your leader says, we are here. We walk among you and with you. We and the refugees from other nations deserve to be seen as human beings. If you cannot do this, I fear your heart will continue to plunge into the darkness you have begun to embrace.

As much as terrorists and gang members from other countries pose a threat to our nation, the seeds of hate you aid in planting do the same. Fear leads to hate, which leads to alienation, and ultimately violence. The same kind of hate and fear that led to the attack on protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. I implore you to turn away from the darkness and lead the way into the light.

Do not shirk the American or Christian tenants of due process, fair treatment, and loving of your neighbor (Galatians 5:14). God, and your Twitter followers, are watching.

Sincerely,

Sara Alvarez Kleinsmith

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

Melania Trump Caught on Tape Discussing Child Border Separation Policy: ‘Give Me a F—–g Break’

Things That Matter

Melania Trump Caught on Tape Discussing Child Border Separation Policy: ‘Give Me a F—–g Break’

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It looks like the Melania Trump isn’t quite as stoic as everyone thinks she is. The First Lady was caught on tape discussing immigration policy, her negative news media coverage and…Christmas decorations.

The audio recording was captured by Mrs. Trump’s former friend and senior advisor, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff in July of 2018. Winston Wolkoff is currently promoting a book about her friendship with Mrs. Trump called, ‘Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady’.

The conversation about Trump’s border policy appears to have been sparked by Mrs. Trump and Winston Wolkoff’s discussion of Melania’s Christmas duties and the media’s reaction.

“I’m working like a – my ass off at Christmas stuff that, you know, who gives a f* about Christmas stuff and decoration?…And I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas,” she says, her tone audibly frustrated.

She then launches into a sarcastic-sounding imitation of her critics: “And they said, ‘Ooh what about the children, that they were separated?’ Give me a f—–g break.”

The recording reveals a radically different portrait of Melania Trump than the public is used to seeing. Contrary to her public persona as unflappable and detached, this Melania appears to resent being called “complicit” and has frustrations over of influence over government policy–specifically over Trump’s controversial policy of child separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him. I support him. I don’t say enough. I don’t do enough,” she laments to her friend.

In the recorded conversation, the First Lady discusses her thoughts about undocumented immigrants and forced child separation at the border at length.

When talking about the refuge women who say they are running from gang violence, Mrs. Trump expressed her skepticism at the veracity of their claims.

“Some of them are using the lines [that they’re running from gang members]. They’re kind of…not ‘professional’, but they’re teached [sic] by other people what to say to come over…” she said. “Because, you know, they could easily stay in Mexico. But they don’t want to stay in Mexico because Mexico doesn’t take care of them same as America does.”

She also explains that she “was trying to get the kid reunited with the Mom” at the border, but she “did not have a chance” because the process “needs to go through the law.”

She also expressed frustration at what she believes is unfair treatment of her by the news media.

Talking about her June 2018 visit to a border detention facility in Texas: “They [mainstream media] will not do the story. We put it out. They would not do the story. You would not believe it,” she tells her friend. “They would not do the story because they are against us because they are liberal media. Yeah, if I go to Fox, they will do the story. I don’t want to go to Fox.”

Some Americans are pointing out the media’s double-standards for Mrs. Trump compared to former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Many are concerned with Melania Trump’s lack of empathy when it comes to the situation of children being separated from their parents at the border.

One thing is for certain–this debacle appears to be the least of the Trumps’ worries right now.

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

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

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