The Trump administration has issued another blow to the immigrant community in the United States. According to an announcement by the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Nicaraguans with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will have until January 5, 2019 to either seek permanent residency in the U.S. or plan their return or Nicaragua. Hondurans currently on this immigration program were granted an extension on their expiration date to July 5, 2018. The Washington Post reports that 50,000 Haitians and 200,000 Salvadorans are also currently protected under TPS with expiration dates early next year. However, the announcement about Nicaragua and Honduras makes no mention of those two countries.
Temporary Protected Status is a designation assigned to refugees from countries that have been devastated by natural disasters, wars, or other situations that make it unsafe for people to return to their countries. In total, there are 10 countries that are covered under TPS policies including El Salvador, Haiti, South Sudan, Syria, and others.
“The decision to terminate TPS for Nicaragua was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original 1999 designation were based and whether those substantial but temporary conditions prevented Nicaragua from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute,” reads the announcement. “There was also no request made by the Nicaraguan government to extend the current TPS status. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those substantial but temporary conditions caused in Nicaragua by Hurricane Mitch no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”
Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting delegate to the House of Representative, represents Washington D.C. with a sizable Salvadoran contingency and immediately spoke out against the announcement.
Nicaraguans and Hondurans were first granted TPS after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998. The decision by the Trump administration will impact 2,500 Nicaraguans and 57,000 Hondurans. Both Presidents Bush and Obama regularly renewed the protected status allowing for immigrants from the two countries to stay in the U.S.
In the most recent installment of Blumhouse’s “Into the Dark” Hulu TV movie anthology series, “Culture Shock”, a story about a Mexican woman who finds herself trapped in a warped American utopia after attempting to cross the border, Blumhouse explores the horrors of the migrant crisis, adding a dose of supernatural to the already chilling situation many migrants are face when striving for a better life.
“Culture Shock” follows Marisol, played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda, a poor young pregnant woman living in Mexico who dreams of a better life for her and her unborn child.
“Culture Shock” immediately establishes the harrowing conditions that many immigrants face in their home countries before deciding to emigrate. Indeed, one of “Culture Shock”‘s first scenes shows Marisol being raped by Oscar, a man we had previously been led to believe was her loving boyfriend. Shortly after, we also discover that Oscar stole money she had given him to secure her passage across the border to the U.S. This leaves Martha stranded and alone in her home country of Mexico, and also now carrying the child of the man who assaulted her, which adds even more urgency to her situation.
Marisol bravely decides to attempt the crossing one more time to secure a future for her and her baby, paying a “coyote” hundreds of dollars to help smuggle her into the U.S. The journey isn’t an easy one–at nearly every stop on the way to America, Marisol is strong-armed into giving every new handler additional money–money that she wasn’t told about before. If nothing, “Culture Shock” gives a realistic, if infuriating, portrayal of all of the injustice desperate migrants are subjected to while trying to cross the border. And the danger is steeper than ever for Marisol, a single woman who is also pregnant. The threat of sexual violence on Marisol’s body is constant, and what’s more disturbing is how habituated to sexual and other forms of violence she seems to be. It’s just another subtle nod towards her complicated and traumatic history.
After being caught at the U.S. border, Marisol wakes up in a pastel-colored paradise that embodies the American dream in every aspect: the residents are beaming, the food is delicious and abundant, and the pervading sense of peace and harmony of the so-called town of “Cape Joy” easily lulls Marisol into an immediate sense of security. It’s here that the director, Latina auteur Gigi Saul Guerrero, begins to flex her artistic muscles. The cinematography is disorienting, with off-center and odd-angled close-ups, quick cutaways that mimic Marisol’s constant confusion, and a visual stark contrast between Marisol’s old, dreary life in Mexico and her new, vibrant life in Cape Joy, USA.
But something isn’t right in Cape Joy.
Not only does Marisol have no recent memories of what happened to her after being caught by US Border Patrol, but the fellow immigrants she crossed over with have no idea who she is. And while Marisol mysteriously gave birth to her baby while she was presumably unconscious, she’s never allowed to hold her. When Marisol expresses concern to her host mother, Betty (Barbara Crampton) about her missing old belongings, Betty tells her: “Don’t worry about what you’ve lost. Think instead of all that you’ve gained.” It’s lines like this, which are obviously meant to convey more than just the literal meaning of the words, that the movie leans hard into.
Throughout “Into the Dark”, there is an underlying current of not-so-subtle political messaging that makes it obvious that this movie isn’t your typical straight-forward horror film. It’s as much a vehicle for social commentary and critique on the migrant crisis and America’s inhumane treatment of migrants at the border as it is about delivering stomach-churning gore and jump scares. The movie, directed by, confirms the existential fear many migrants have of looked at as sub-human when they try to cross the border. Sometimes, the social commentary comes off as a little too on-the-nose, with Big-Bads saying things such as: “Nobody gives a fuck about these people,” and “We’re not paid to give [them] the American Dream. We’re paid to keep them out of it”.
When the mystery behind the oddness of Cape Joy is finally revealed, the element of sci-fi and horror that’s added to Marisol’s story can almost feel like a relief, purely due to its obvious fictional tropes. The more terrifying parts of the movie–the abusive boyfriends, the violent men, the human traffickers, and the Mexican cartel–are arguably more frightening than the supernatural parts.
And lest, while watching, you trick yourself into thinking the movie isn’t really a horror movie, prepare yourself for a few jarring scenes.
The climax of the movie is an extremely gruesome and violently gory climax that establishes the anthology installment as exactly what it markets itself as: a horror movie. But as we’ve seen in headlines that flood the TV, the newspapers, and our phones, sometimes, reality can be more horrifying than fiction.
There’s no denying the fact that the entertainment industry has vastly become an amalgamation of artists from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. After all, it was largely built, in great part, by migrants who either fled war-torn countries or arrived in the U.S. with nothing to build a better future. Since the early days of Hollywood, when European migrants fled the two world wars and then the Cold War, showbiz has been accommodating to creative minds searching for a conduit to tell their stories through song, words or film. In these days in which many question the value of cultural diversity, it is important to remember how much migrants have contributed to the social, cultural and political foundations of the United States and other Western countries.
Here are 17 individuals who wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we thank them for it!
1. Gloria Estefan
Credit: Instagram. @gloriaestefan
Country origin: Cuba Now lives in: the United States
One of the most influential personalities among the Cuban community in Miami was born in 1957, right in the middle of the Cold War, in Havana. Her father was a soldier and motor escort for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, so the the family moved to Miami when the Revolution struck. Estefan’s dad later fought in Vietnam. Gloria Estefan is a famous opposer to the revolutionary regime in Cuba. Her dad suffered from the effects of Agent Orange after Vietnam, so Gloria’s mom was her source of support. She has said: “My mom was a source of strength. She showed me by example that women, regardless of how difficult life may get, can do it all”.
2. Kumail Nanjiani
Credit: Instagram. @kumailn
Country origin: Pakistan Now lives in: the United States
The star of The Big Sick was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in a religious Muslim family. He moved to the United States when he was just 18-years-old and he completed a major in computer science and philosophy, a combination that later led him to his iconic role in the HBO hit comedy “Silicon Valley.” Being a Muslim in America in this day and age is not easy, and Kumail has found a way to sublimate these struggles through his art.
3. Salma Hayek
Credit: Instagram. @salmahayek
Country origin: Mexico Now lives in: France, previously in the United States
Salma Hayek has generated hundreds of jobs in the United States through her movies and her production house, as well as millions of dollars in revenue. She arrived to the United States and initially overstayed her visa before getting a green card. She is open about this, and she has become a citizen of the United States. She lives in France for most of the year with her husband, billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault.
4. Jim Carrey
Credit: Instagram. @jimcarrey_
Country origin: Canada Now lives in: the United States
If we think of politically engaged actors in Hollywood, we have to think about Jim Carrey. He was born in Ontario, Canada, but has lived in the United States for decades. He is often outspoken when it comes to politics and he became a citizen in 2004 to be able to vote in the presidential elections. He is as funny as he is intelligent: his political stances are humanitarian in nature and fierce in practice. His philosophy is encapsulated by this awesome phrase: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”. Just wow.
5. Natalie Portman
Credit: Instagram. @natalieportman
Country origin: Israel Now lives in: the United States
The Oscar-winning actress holds both an Israeli and an American passport. Besides being an actress, Portman is a consummate scientist and has authored academic papers. She graduated from Harvard, by the way. Todo un cerebrito la Natalia! She also serves some harsh truths: “Smart women love smart men more than smart men love smart women”.
6. Sofia Vergara
Credit: Instagram. @sofiavergara
Country origin: Colombia Now lives in: the United States
The highest-paid actress in television was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and moved to Miami to find fame and fortune. She also found a home in the United States. She is outspoken about Latino rights and bragged happily when she passed her citizenship test with a perfect score. Te queremos, Sofia, te queremos.
7. Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan
Credit: Instagram. @kevins_personalities
Country origin: India Now lives in: the United States
Once touted as the next Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan was born in Puducherry, India, in 1970. His parents migrated to the United States when he was barely six years old and he was raised in Hindu, which made his cultural adaptation harder. He is an honorable member of the American-Indian community and he always shows his ethnicity proudly on his sleeve.
8. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer
Credit: Instagram. @cesarsway
Country origin: Mexico lindo y querido Now lives in: the United States
One of the greatest stars of reality television arrived illegally and with a mere $100 USD in his pocket. He chased his American Dream and he found it thanks to his amazing ability to get into the minds of dogs and into the hearts of celebrities and lay people alike. A true standout among Latino entertainers.
9. Singer Regina Spektor
Credit: Instagram. @reginaspektor
Country origin: Russia (then the Soviet Union) Now lives in: the United States
She was born in Moscow in 1980, in the then Soviet Union. Her parents fled the communist regime when she was nine, seeking a refugee status in the United States with the help of HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). Spektor is a classically trained musician that has experimented with all sorts of genres. Know that amazing opening song in “Orange is the New Black”?Well, that’s her!
10. Music legend Carlos Santana
Credit: Instagram. @carlossantana
Country origin: Mexico Now lives in: the United States
One of the godfathers of Chicano rock was actually born in Jalisco, Mexico. The family moved to the border town of Tijuana when Carlos was a kid, and then the young musician tested his luck in San Francisco. The rest, as they say, is musical history. Santana is a true hijo de la frontera.
11. Novelist Isabel Allende
Credit: Instagram. @allendeisabel
Country origin: Chile Now lives in: the United States
The legendary author of The House of Spirits was born in Chile, and denounced the many atrocities of the Pinochet military regime. She did so in her books, and also in her outspoken political persona. She is a Chilean-American dual citizen and in 2014 then-president Barack Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She often lectures on literature in US colleges. She settled in California in 1989 and was awarded her citizenship in 1992.
12. Hollywood legend Anthony Quinn
Credit: Instagram. @cinema.classic
Country origin: Mexico Lived in: the United States
Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca was born in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. This legendary actor, the epitome of the rugged Hollywood type, was born during the Mexican Revolution to a Mexican mother and an Irish immigrant father. The family later relocated to Los Angeles.
13. Actor Andy Garcia
Credit: Instagram. @lovelikefilm
Country origin: Cuba Now lives in: the United States
One of the most vociferous opponents to the Castro regime and a prominent member of the Cuban-American community. He was born in Havana, but his family relocated to the United States after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.
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