Things That Matter

Congress Members Camp Out With Asylum Seekers Including Honduran Mother And Children In Viral Tear Gas Photo

The Honduran family in the iconic photo from the U.S.-Mexico border are currently in the U.S. seeking asylum. According to Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), who spent the night at a port of entry with a group of asylum seekers, Maria Meza and her five children are currently being processed for asylum. The photograph of Meza and her twin daughters running away from tear gas provoked outrage on social media and quickly became a snapshot of the chaos at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Almost two dozen asylum seekers, many of whom were children, waited in the cold for eight hours at the U.S. port of entry.

Gomez and Barragan attempted to gain access to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on Monday with a group of 15 asylum seekers, including Meza and her children. Officials told them they only had the room to process eight unaccompanied children and the rest would have to go to another port of entry. After eight hours of waiting in the cold, Meza and her five children and the unaccompanied minors were taken in for processing, Gomez said on Twitter.

“After 7hrs, I can now confirm: Maria Meza & her kids — featured in this @Reuters image fleeing tear gas at the border last month — just filed for asylum,” Gomez tweeted. “They’re on American soil. @RepBarragan & I are still here observing conditions on the ground.”

Meza and her children have been allowed into the U.S to make their asylum claims. It’s still unknown whether they have passed their “credible fear” interview. The interview is an initial screening in which asylum seekers must show proof that they would face persecution back in their home countries.

The members of Congress documented the long waits and conditions on Twitter for everyone to see how dire the situation is.

Barragan tweeted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent officers in “full riot gear” to surround the group. Images show the group seated peacefully with the members of Congress. Members of her staff were also detained, she said. Shortly after, CBP tweeted that families “without proper documentation and crossing US borders illegally” caused them to “hit capacity.” Barragan said their requests to see the facility at “capacity” were denied as they waited with the group. After 15 hours of waiting with the group, Gomez tweeted that he and Barragán left the border entry and that “most” of the group had been taken in for asylum interviews.

The legal aid group Al Otro Lado, organized the group of 15 asylum seekers, selected for how vulnerable they were waiting in Tijuana for asylum.

Nicole Ramos, a legal attorney for Al Otro Lado, has assisted asylum seekers to present themselves at various ports of entry in Tijuana for years and has noticed for some recent years that U.S. border officials have begun turning them away. She questioned many of the government’s methods in handling the growing backlog of asylum seekers. “It’s not representative of what the government has the financial capacity to do,” Ramos told the San Diego Tribune.

A system called “metering” has limited the number of asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry each day.

The CBP says its ports of entry have capacity limits and aren’t prepared to process large numbers of migrant families requesting help. Gomez says that “metering” has nothing to do with the number of resources but a way to deter people from seeking asylum. Rising violence throughout Central America has caused thousands to flee to the U.S., many traveling by caravan across Mexico.

This has led to a backlog in asylum seekers that the CBP says has caused “a 121 percent increase in the number of asylum seekers.” Almost 93,000 claims of “credible fear,” the first step in seeking asylum, were processed this past fiscal year, a 67 percent jump from 2017, according to the CBP.

“What we’re seeing is that, basically, they’re making these migrants wait hour after hour and they’re saying that it’s capacity that’s the issue, but we’re seeing that’s not really the issue,” Gomez told Newsweek. “We’re seeing that they’re just deciding to limit the number of people they let in.”


READ: Trump Is Promising A Government Shutdown If He Doesn’t Get His Border Wall Funding

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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A Group Of TPS Beneficiaries Are Touring The Country In A Bus To Save The Crucial Immigration Program

Things That Matter

A Group Of TPS Beneficiaries Are Touring The Country In A Bus To Save The Crucial Immigration Program

tps_alliance / Instagram

Updated September 23, 2020

A coalition of people is coming together to stand up for Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries. Federal judges recently gave the Trump administration the approval to end the status for 300,000 people in the U.S.

A group of Temporary Protect Status holders is on a road trip to save the program for 300,000 people.

The National TPS Alliance is driving across the country to engage voters about the need to protect the program. The “Road to Justice” road tour started in Los Angeles and will be stopping in 54 cities in 32 states. The tour ends in Washington, D.C. where the TPS holders will petition Congress directly to save the program.

The program was started in 1990 and offers safe refuge for people who’s countries have experienced disaster, civil unrest, or other extraordinary circumstances. Some people who have been granted TPS in the U.S. include Central Americans after Hurricane Mitch, the second-largest hurricane in the Atlantic, devastated large swaths of the region in 1998. Haitians were also given TPS after the earthquake that devastated Port Au Prince in 2010.

The organization is hoping to engage voters and get them to care about the immigration crisis facing the nation. Activists have already praised the group and pledged to support their cause at the ballot box.

“We are going to vote for justice, for the TPS community,” Angélica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told NBC News. “President (Trump) and his administration are racist and do not care about the damage they are causing to our community.”

Original: A federal court just handed a huge ‘victory’ to the Trump administration, which has been eager to restart mass deportations. Despite a global health pandemic, the administration has been pressing forward with plans to deport hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Until now, many of these migrants were safe from deportation thanks to Temporary Protected Status, which shields some immigrants from deportation under humanitarian claims. However, the recent court decision – in San Francisco’s 9th Circuit – gives Trump exactly what he wants right before the elections.

But how will it affect immigrant communities across the country? Here’s everything you need to know about this major decision.

The 9th Circuit Court just ended TPS for more than 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

A California appeals court on Monday gave the Trump Administration permission to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, clearing the way for officials to force more than 300,000 immigrants out of the country.

The decision affects people from all walks of life, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and have been considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week’s ruling from the circuit court comes after a district court (also in California) temporarily halted Trump’s plan to end TPS in late 2018 after a group of lawyers sued, arguing that Trump was motivated by racial discrimination.

“The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus,”Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California, wrote in a statement. “The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

But today’s 2-1 decision reversed the district court’s temporary order and allowed the federal government to take away TPS protections while the court case continues.

ICE and DHS has promised to wait several months before taking away TPS status if the agency won in court. As a result, the ACLU told NPR that it expects the protections to start ending no sooner than March, meaning that Joe Biden could reverse the administration’s decision if he wins in November, though the organization plans to fight back in the meantime.

Temporary Protected Status was created to protect people in the U.S. from being sent back to dangerous places – and it’s saved lives.

Credit: Daniel Ortega / Getty Images

The TPS program was first introduced in 1990, and it has protected immigrants from more than 20 countries at various points since then. More than 300,000 people from 10 different nations currently use the program, some of whom have lived and worked in the United States for decades.

Trump has sharply criticized the program, sometimes along racial lines, and in one infamous and widely criticized incident two years ago, the president reportedly referred to the program’s beneficiaries as “people from shithole countries.”

TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.” 

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families. Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

The ruling will have a major impact on migrant families and communities across the U.S.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities. In a statement, Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.” 

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s front-line workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress. 

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

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