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Doctors Are Calling On Immigration Officials To Respect Sensitive Sites And Allow Undocumented Immigrants To Get Medical Attention

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Physicians and health care providers at the LAC + USC Medical Center in East Los Angeles gathered on Tuesday to show solidarity with the undocumented community. These medical providers are calling for sensitive spaces to be respected by immigration officials.

Doctors in East L.A. are taking a stand for their undocumented patients and those with Temporary Protective Status (TPS).

“Many of our patients are undocumented and many are living in fear so we kind of see how that’s affected their health over the long term,” says Dr. Mohamad Raad, a physician taking part in the protest. “For us, it’s important to express solidarity with the community, to express our outrage, so people know that even the physicians and the providers here have the same feelings of anger that many of us have.”

Part of the fight for undocumented and TPS patients is getting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respect sensitive sites, which include hospitals, schools and churches.

ICE claims to respect these sites, but recent activity by immigration officials has many politicians, attorneys, educators, faith leaders and health care providers calling for more restraint.

Undocumented immigrants have recently been detained while leaving courthouses when reporting domestic violence, as they made their way to a hospital for emergency procedures and while dropping their children off at school. Even law abiding DACA recipients have been detained.

In the case of Rosa Maria Hernandez, the 10-year-old who was being transported by ambulance from Laredo, Texas, to a children’s hospital in Corpus Christi for an emergency surgery. On the way, the ambulance had to pass through a border checkpoint. Border agents followed the ambulance to wait for the child to recover from surgery so she could be detained. Her parents had to agree to be detained in order to pass and be with their daughter. Hernandez is the second case this year of a family seeking emergency medical attention for a child and being caught in the same border checkpoint on the way to Corpus Christi.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) joined LAC + USC Medical Center to declare clinics, ambulances and hospitals safe zones for undocumented immigrants.

“It’s very clear how fear and anxiety affect human health in general. They have long lasting negative health outcomes,” says Dr. Raad. “Not just in the acute moment. If there is an acute trauma, like a deportation or a detention or a disruption of a family, that isn’t just a singular event. Those things have far reaching consequences and not just for the lifetime of the person or the people who are effected but for generations. Those things are passed down through genetic memory. Through narratives of a community. Those things have devastating consequences and you can’t recover from them. Yes, we are being reactionary in terms of our outrage, but when those things happen to people of certain segments of the community, it’s very difficult to get true justice and for them to recover from them. It’s very important for us to be proactive.”

Dr. Raad says that immigration officials have already proven they won’t respect their self-imposed restrictions on sensitive sites.

“We have to rethink our approach to a more ground approach,” he adds. “What can we as providers do? What can we as community do? What have community leaders been doing and how can we use their guidance to help us create different strategies?”

Physicians at the medical center want patients, especially undocumented and TPS patients, to know they are safe there.

Dr. Raad assures that physicians at LAC + USC consider the center a place where undocumented immigrants should feel safe, and are willing to fight for their undocumented patients’ right to access health care without fear of deportation.

“I think we have to use whatever power we have on the day-to-day to prevent the risks of detentions and deportation at our facilities,” he says.

According to Dr. Raad, Tuesday’s protest is a good first step in speaking truth to power and showing that medical professionals are willing to stand up for their patients.


READ: Childcare Providers Are Fighting For Their Livelihoods And A Seat At The Table

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ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

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ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is reportedly planning a raid in the early morning hours on Sunday in 10 cities.

It is being reported that the raids will target more than 2,000 families in cities with large migrant populations including Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston, according to officials who remain anonymous.

Trump tweeted on Monday that ICE would begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants throughout the U.S.

More than “1 million” undocumented immigrants “have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country” and called enforcing those judicial orders a “top priority” for ICE, a senior administration official told CNN.

They are allegedly planning to use hotel rooms to house everyone until the family can be deported together and say they might even arrest individuals that can’t be deported immediately. They will most likely be released with ankle monitors, in cases such as parents whose children are U.S. citizens.

Miami is reportedly one of the first cities that’ll be raided, according to the Miami Herald, and the other cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco.

Those who will allegedly be targeted include minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and failed to respond to letters from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Additionally, families on the “rocket docket,” a set of deportation cases fast-tracked for by the DOJ.

There are around 52,000 single adults in ICE custody overall, mostly those who came from the border, according to CNN.

Many are saying Trump’s push for deportations, including essentially outing the raid, are part of his reelection bid due to his poor record.

The inhumane treatment of immigrants in detention centers has been well documented, with a spread of illness leading to many unnecessary deaths, including those of children.

Recently the American Civil Liberties Union  ACLU shared on Instagram what people can do if ICE comes knocking on their door.

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What to do if ICE agents are at your door. #KnowYourRights

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They advise not to open the door unless they have a warrant signed by a judge since ICE administrative warrant does not give them permission to enter a home.

The ACLU website also has an entire section dedicated to immigrants’ rights with several resources for dealing with ICE, border patrol, and the police.

In response to raid that occurred in Ohio a little more than a year ago, HOLA Ohio founder Veronica Isabel Dahlberg wrote in a blog on the ACLU site:

“Regardless of citizenship status, for workers — including teenagers, mothers, fathers, and those with medical issues — to be treated like enemy insurgents is beyond disturbing. It is terrible, barbaric, and inhumane.”

READ: Daughter Sues ICE After They Denied Father Cirrhosis And Diabetes Medication While In Detention Resulting In His Death

Here’s The Little Known History Of How Cuba Took In And Treated Thousands Of Children After The Chernobyl Disaster

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Here’s The Little Known History Of How Cuba Took In And Treated Thousands Of Children After The Chernobyl Disaster

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Everyone is talking about “Chernobyl,” the HBO miniseries that retells the apocalyptic nuclear accident in Ukraine and its chilling, bleak aftermath. The TV show is meticulous in its reconstruction of the Soviet Era event, pointing at how the government response tried to keep panic under control. Truth is, the accident was one of the worst the world has ever seen and in the years of the Cold War. It was a catastrophic reminder that even though we might have political and ideological differences, we only have one planet. 

The event happened on April 26, 1985, when the now infamous No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near Pripyat in what is now Ukraine, superheated and caused a steam explosion. Radiation was released and the area became uninhabitable. Casualties estimates vary depending on how they are counted: some only count the immediate aftermath of the accident, while others take into consideration the effects that radiation had on life expectancy. As many as 200,000 died, according to Greenpeace. At the time, more than 600,000 civilians and military personnel were drafted to contain the nuclear fallout. 

At the time, as you know (and if you don’t its time to brush up on your contemporary world history), the world was basically divided in three: countries that aligned with the United States, countries that aligned with the Soviet Union and a few non-aligned countries. Among the Soviet Bloc countries, Cuba stood out for its response to the Chernobyl disaster. How? Well, putting to work its team of world-renowned doctors, who treated young Ukrainians affected by the radiation. 

Cuba created a massive health center for the children of Chernobyl after the deadly disaster.

Credit: b065124cef5ae6971e0fd77ff3665214_XL. Digital image. Periodico 26

About 30 kilometers from Havana lay a holiday village that was converted into an enormous facility in which the Castro regime treated children that were affected by radiation poisoning. Most of these kids came from Ukraine, but up until 1992 the program also cared for little ones from Russia and Belarus. Originally Cuba received 139 children, but the number soon increased exponentially.

The number of treated children is impressive and quite shocking.

Credit: robblekkink / Instagram

As many as 25,000 children (yes, 25,000, a whole small town) were treated between 1990 and 2011, according to Cubadebate. This is a gargantuan effort that needed considerable logistical planning.

The illnesses these kids suffered required medical specialists.

Credit: chevy88uk / Instagram

The kids were mainly treated for cancer, deformations, and muscle atrophy. Among all the things that the revolutionary regime in the island could have done better, its medical training is not one of them. Cuban oncologists and physiotherapists are among the best in the world. Other specialties that were needed: dermatology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.

But why did the Cuban government do this?

Credit: 160413_abc_archive_chernobyl_kidscuba_16x9_992. Digital image. ABC News

Besides being aligned with the former Soviet Union, Cuba follows a principle of internationalism, which is a political principle which goes beyond nationalism and advocates a greater political or economic cooperation among nations and people. Cuban doctors have not only provided aid to these Ukranian children but have also spearheaded relief efforts in countries like Venezuela and Brazil. According to Foreign Affairs, “Cuban health care workers have given aid to 158 nations, and Cuba has trained 38,000 doctors from 121 countries without charge”. Those are really impressive numbers.

Despite tremendous efforts, this was not easy or cheap for Cuba.

Credit: f4b6dca0e2911082f0eb6e1df1a0e11d_XL. Digital image. ACFS Melbourne

The collapse of the Soviet Union, for which Chernobyl holds partial blame, was also a hard blow to Cuba’s economy. All of a sudden, Cuba’s main export customer was gone. Despite this, the Tarara center continued its operations. One Cuban doctor told TeleSUR in 2017: “Although Cuba went through economically difficult times, our state continued to offer specialized treatment to minors, fulfilling a commitment of solidarity”. Dr. Julio Medina, who was the general coordinator of the program, told the official newspaper, Granma: “Many people who are unaware of our ideals still wonder what Cuba might be after. It is simple: we do not give what we have in excess; we share all that we have”. 

Unfortunately, these efforts have been mostly ignored by Western media.

Credit: 040860_360W. Digital image. The New York Times

Despite being a feel-good story amidst the avalanche of bad news that we listen, read and watch every day, this story has been swept under the heavy rug of history, perhaps due to geopolitical reasons. At the time, outlets like The New York Times published information on the matter. With the success of HBO’s show, this has been pointed out. A reader of The Guardian, one Dr. Doreen Weppler-Grogan, wrote a letter stating: 

“No other country in the world launched such a massive programme. The Cubans responded – as ‘an ethical and moral,’ not a political question, as it was put at the time, and the programme continued despite changing governments in the Ukraine.”

“Today, the aftermath persists. Just a few weeks ago, Cuba announced that it will resume the programme in a new facility for the sons and daughters of the victims, who are now showing ailments similar to those of their parents.”

Tarara was a community, not only a big hospital.

Credit: art305 / Instagram

The facilities were adapted to provide a healthy environment for the victims. Besides the medical areas, it included schools, a cooking center, a theater, parks, and recreation areas. In 2005 one of the kids, a 16-year-old girl named Alina Petrusha, told the Sunday Telegraph: “It helps. We sit under the infrared lamp and they put a lotion on our heads. Then we go to the beach.”

Everyone knows how expensive medical treatments are, but for the patients being treated in Tarara, treatment was free.

Credit: Chernobyl / HBO

As reported by The Guardian in 2009, treatment at Tarara was free. Most children were orphans or came from very poor families who could not afford care. Then, the deputy director of the program, Dr. Maria Teresa Oliva, told The Guardian: ” Ukraine now has a capitalist economy and for most of the families these kinds of treatments are very costly. Here, thanks to the revolution, we can provide everything for free”. In 2009, Natalia Kisilova, mother of Mikhail Kisilov, a 15-year-old boy who was born with one outer ear and auditory canal missing, told Noticias Financieras: ‘In my country, the treatment that my son receives would cost 80,000 euros (105,362 dollars)”. This would have been unaffordable, to say the least.

The program survived due to Ukraine-Cuba collaboration.

Credit: lh91_uk / Instagram

It is estimated that Cuba spent $300 million USD a year in the program. By 2009  Ukraine covered transportation, while room, board, schooling, and medical services were covered by the Cuban government. In 2011 Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovich visited the center alongside then Cuban President Raul Castro. A year earlier the Ukranian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishenko said: “We will never forget what Cuba has done for us.”

You can watch this documentary to get the full story.

Credit: Chernobil en nosotros / Television Cubana

There is a 50-minute documentary that tells the story of the medical program at Tarara. Doctors talk about the effects of radiation in an approachable, if chilling, way. You can watch the documentary with English subtitles here

You can also watch this footage from AP about the program in Cuba for Chernobyl children.

Have you seen HBO’s “Chernobyl”?

READ: Here’s How Cuba’s Tumultuous History Forced A Cuban Diaspora That Changed The World

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