Things That Matter

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

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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Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

Things That Matter

Biden Nominates Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez To Lead ICE And Here’s Why That Matters

For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been enforcing cruel and, in many opinions, illegal immigration policies that have affected the most vulnerable among us. And they’ve been doing it without a permanent leader who can be held accountable.

The Trump administration relied on interim leaders and deputy secretaries to head the sprawling and powerful agency. Now, President Biden has nominated a frequent outspoken Trump critic to lead the agency and many are hopeful there could be real change.

The White House has nominated Texas sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE.

President Joe Biden has nominated a Texas sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, to lead ICE. Gonzalez has been the sheriff of Harris County (parts of Houston, TX) since 2017, leading the state’s largest sheriffs department. He has led a team of 5,000 employees in the position and previously served 18 years with the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to his profile on his office’s website.

Gonzalez has also been a vocal critic of elements of former President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement policies.

Gonzalez is the second such critic to be selected by Biden for a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security, following the nomination two weeks ago of Tucson, AZ., Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Gonzalez has long been a voice of reason within law enforcement leading many to be hopeful for change.

During his first term as sheriff Gonzalez ended a program with ICE that trained 10 Harris County deputies to determine the immigration status of prisoners, and hold for deportation those in the country illegally.

As sheriff he also opposed Texas legislation requiring local law enforcement to determine individuals’ immigration status, according to The Texas Tribune. The legislation was viewed as targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.” Gonzalez, like many in law enforcement, said the approach would destroy trust and make their job protecting communities more difficult.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden’s pick in a statement Tuesday.

“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director,” Mayorkas said. “With a distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Sheriff Gonzalez is well-suited to lead ICE as the agency advances our public safety and homeland security mission. I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

ICE has long been missing a permanent director to lead the agency.

Gonzales would succeed Tae Johnson, who has been serving as acting ICE director since Jan. 13. He previously served as the agency’s deputy director.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. The agency operated with five acting directors under the Trump administration. This comes as the Biden administration has faced challenges at the border, including a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S.

The announcement of Gonzalez’s nomination comes on the heels of another major announcement from DHS. Mayorkas also announced Tuesday that he has directed ICE and Customs and Border Protection to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses.

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

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Ecuadorian Sisters, 3 And 5, Dropped By Smugglers From 14 Ft High Mexico-US Border Wall

A recent video shared by a border patrol agent highlighted a shocking moment of smugglers literally dropping two little girls over a 14-foot high fence in the New Mexico desert. Right in the dead of night.

In the disturbing video, the smugglers can be seen climbing the fence and then dropping the two 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters to the ground.

El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez shared that the incident occurred “miles from the nearest residence.”

The two little girls (Yareli, 3, and Yasmina, 5) were rescued after agents spotted them during a virtual surveillance sweep. The two sisters are from Ecuador and were dumped by human smugglers at the border wall according to an official.

“[US Immigration officials] need to verify the identity of the parents and confirm they are the parents and make sure they are in good condition to receive the girls,” Magdalena Nunez, of the Consulate of Ecuador in Houston, explained to The New York Post on Thursday. “It’s a process … We’re working to make sure it’s an expedited process and the girls spend as minimal time as possible separated from their parents.”

“Hopefully it can happen soon, in a week or two, but  it can take up to six weeks. We are working to make sure sure it happens as quickly as possible,” she explained before noting that the two sisters are “doing very well.”

“We have been in contact with them and confirmed they are in good health,” Nunez shared. “Physically, they are perfect — emotionally, obviously, they went through a hard time, but I guarantee you right now they are in good health and they are conversing. They are very alert, very intelligent.”

In a statement about the incident, the Ecuadorian consulate confirmed that the two girls had been in touch with their parents, who live in New York City.

“The Ecuadorian Consulate in Houston had a dialogue with the minors and found that they are in good health and that they contacted their parents, who currently live in New York City,” explained the consulate.

In a statement from the girls’ parents sent to Telemundo, the girls’ parents had left their daughters behind at their home in Jaboncillo, Ecuador, to travel to the US. The parents of the two girls have been identified as Yolanda Macas Tene and Diego Vacacela Aguilar. According to the New York Post, “The girls’ grandparents have asked President Biden to reunite the children with their parents. Aguilar paid a human smuggler to take his kids to the border — though the grandparents didn’t know how much they paid.”

“[The parents] wanted to be with them, their mother suffered a lot, for that reason they decided to take them,” paternal grandfather Lauro Vacacela explained in an interview with Univision.

It is still uncertain as to whether or not the girls’ parents are in the country legally.

Photos of the girls showed them having snacks with Agent Gloria Chavez.

“When I visited with these little girls, they were so loving and so talkative, some of them were asking the names of all the agents that were there around them, and they even said they were a little hungry,” Chavez told Fox News. “So I helped them peel a banana and open a juice box and just talked to them. You know, children are just so resilient and I’m so grateful that they’re not severely injured or [have] broken limbs or anything like that.”

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