Things That Matter

Meet 8-Year-Old Latina Immigration Activist Sophie Cruz Who Is Changing The Conversation On Immigrant Rights

It’s a scary time right now for immigrants in the U.S., and nobody feels that more profoundly than 8-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of undocumented parents.

You’ve probably already heard of her from when she made international headlines when she handed the Pope a heartbreaking letter entrenched in her fear of ICE. She was just five years old then. Latina girls may just change the world.

Sophie Cruz is an American citizen of Oaxacan heritage.

@JuanSaaa / Twitter

Her parents came to the U.S. without documentation from Oaxaca, Mexico. She has a little sister, who, in the photos, hilariously seems pretty stoic about her hermana’s stage presence.

It all started on September 23, 2015, when she made it past the barricades to get to Pope Francis.

@tkbcinhayward / Twitter

She was desperate to hand him a letter to beg for help for her undocumented parents. He stopped the parade to give her a blessing and a hug.

They are why she was so desperate to make it past what the NYT called “one of the largest mobilizations of security officers in American history.”

@paolamendoza / Twitter

They had all traveled from Los Angeles to see the pope with an immigration activist group called the Catholic Delegation for Reform.

Security eventually stopped her but the Pope saw her run out from the crowd and invited her to come closer.

@yatzirizepeda / Twitter

Her courage and determination didn’t happen on a whim. She truly hoped to meet the Pope to ask for his help.

“Pope Francis, I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents.”

@fforrfeminism / Instagram

The letter she eloquently shared with the Pope goes on to say, “I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing metals. Immigrants like my dad feed this country. They therefore deserve to live with dignity, they deserve to be respected, they deserve immigration reform, because it would be beneficial to my country, and because they have earned it working very hard, picking oranges, onions, watermelons, spinach, lettuce, and many other vegetables.”

Oh and also, she wrote:

“Don’t forget about us the children…”

@latinaspoderosas / Instagram

“Don’t forget about us the children, or about those who suffer because they’re not with their parents because of war, because of violence, because of hunger.”

She even gave the Pope this muy bella drawing.

@ngjennings / Twitter

That super colorful dress and girl with the braids is how Sophie Cruz sees herself. Nos encanta.

The next day, the Pope brought up the issue with Congress.

@votolatino / Twitter

He had a joint meeting scheduled the next day with the United States Congress, and he took the opportunity to encourage more openness for immigrants and refugees. Five-year-old Sophie Cruz changed the Pope’s agenda.

The next year, she was invited to speak at the Washington Women’s March.

@MurielBowser / Twitter

At this point, she was just 6 years old and speaking in front of tens of thousands of people. ????She began with this touching moment, “We are here together, making a chain of love to protect our families. Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”

She gave her speech in both English and Spanish. ????

@Weasal / Twitter

She went on to say, “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love and tender to snuggle in this path of life.”

“Let’s keep together and fight for our rights. God is with us.”

@MurielBowser / Twitter

When she started speaking in Spanish, her mom just straight up started weeping.

Cruz became the face of DAPA, and sat in Supreme Court hearings to consider protections for parents.

@paolamendoza / Twitter

Beforehand, she spoke in front of five thousand immigrants, families and supporters in front of the Supreme Court. That said, her prominence has meant that she’s had to do a lot of this without her parents.

She met with President Obama and Joe Biden.

@LaCasaBlanca44 / Twitter

Her parents couldn’t pass background checks to enter the White House because of their status, so she went with documentary filmmaker Paola Mendoza. When Cruz isn’t speaking into a microphone to advocate for immigrants, she’s subtly wearing mariposas on her meet-POTUS dress in homage to migrants.

In October 2016, she submitted a question for the Presidential debate.

@elisafayemakes / Twitter

The question read, “If you deport my parents, what happens to me? I am 6 years old and an American citizen. I have a 3-year-old sister who is also an American. My heart is very sad, because I’m scared that ICE is going to deport my undocumented mommy and daddy.”

The question was not aired.

Even though she’s more than a decade away from being able to vote, she wants you to get the vote out.

@CalEndow / Twitter

Also, we must comment on her repping Oaxacan indigenous clothing in the cutest possible way, always.

Cruz has become a political icon for immigration activists.

@marimansfield / Instagram

And there is a ton of artwork on the Internet to prove it. She’s the muse for hope for change.

The San Jose Museum of Art recently created a mural in her honor in October 2018.

@sjmusart / Twitter

Caption: “The #SophieCruz mural of hope is already inspiring our community members. Stop by @PurpleMuseum to check its progress.”

Define American named her “Activist of the Year” in 2018.

@DefineAmerican / Twitter

Caption: “Sophie Cruz is our Activist of the Year for her advocacy for undocumented families.” Get it, girl!

The county of Los Angeles has even awarded her for her activism.

@HildaSolis / Twitter

Politician Hilda Solis invited Cruz to share her message in front of the County Board of Supervisors. Cruz deserves all these awards and more.

What Cruz really deserves is to feel like her family is safe.

@DavidCamposSF / Twitter

And while her parents have not been deported, likely due to the public outcry at this point, they could be legally deported at any time. Sophie needs us all to dig deep past the exhaustion and hopelessness and unearth a passion like hers to create a safer future for all our kids.

Thank you, Sophie. You’re our hero.

READ: Sophie Cruz’s Mom Wiping Her Tears As She Watched Her 6 Year Old Speak At The Women’s March Is All Of Us

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How Latino Organizers in Arizona Helped Flip the State From Red to Blue

Entertainment

How Latino Organizers in Arizona Helped Flip the State From Red to Blue

Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

When Arizona was officially called for Joe Biden this year, a number of think pieces appeared on the internet that assigned the responsibility of Biden’s win to white Republicans. Headlines ran calling the victory “John McCain’s Revenge”–a reference to the late Arizona senator who had a contentious relationship with Donald Trump. Pundits hypothesized that white Republican voters cast their vote for Biden to spite Donald Trump, who had previously insulted the beloved Arizona Senator’s military record.

Soon after this narrative began to trend, Latinos quickly took to social media to set the record straight. “Hey @CNN,” wrote Julio Ricardo Varela on Twitter. “@CindyMcCain is not the only reason that Biden won Arizona. It wasn’t just that. Can you at least discuss the overwhelming Latino support and the organizing history of young Latinos in the time of SB1070?”

In the noise of election pontificating, the media largely ignored the efforts of Latino grassroots organizers. The efforts that ultimately helped flip Arizona. It is not a coincidence that Latinos now constitute the base of the Democratic party in Arizona.

It was no coincidence that so many Latinos mobilized this year. In fact, the event was a deliberate and organized process spearheaded by activist groups like the MiAZ coalition. The MiAZ coalition is a five activist groups that organized a massive field campaign targeting Latino voters. Altogether, Mi AZ reports that they made nearly 8 million calls and knocked on over 1.15 million doors.

Mi AZ reports Latino voter turnout in Arizona was at an all-time high of 50% this year, up from the record of 44% in 2016. The organization also reported to local news website AZ Central that according to their data analysis, “nearly 73% of Latino voters in key Latino-majority precincts in Arizona chose President-elect Joe Biden” over President Trump.

In an in-depth and touching Twitter thread, Arizona-based educator and organizer Reyna Montoya wrote a briefer on what changed Arizona from blue to red “for folks who may be wondering what is going on.”

In the thread, Montoya described her first-hand account of the trauma that Latinos in Arizona faced through the last few decades. A collective trauma that ended up mobilizing the Latino community for Biden.

Montoya described Arizona’s “English Only” law that passed in 2000. She then described Prop 300 in 2006, a measure that forbid students from receiving state financial aid for college if they couldn’t prove they were legal residents of Arizona. The final event was what most personally affected her: the passage of SB1070, a law that required all immigrants over the age of 18 to carry immigration documentation with them at all times.

“This was personal,” Montoya wrote on Twitter. “I remember my mom being scared. I remember being extreme cautions about driving anywhere.”

It was Arizona’s anti-Latino sentiment and, consequently, the legislation the state government passed to curb the rights of Latinos in the state that ended up backfiring. Instead of suppressing a community, the anti-Latino legislation ended up lighting a fire under many young Latinos, prompting them to organize. To fight back.

“In 2011, we decided to organize, build community and focus on rebuilding Arizona.,” Montoya wrote so brilliantly on Twitter. “Since 2011 until now, we have been educating others on immigration.”

“We have decided to no longer remain in the shadows,” she said. “We decided to let our voices be heard.”

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A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

Things That Matter

A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

Brayan Zavala/Photo: GOFUNDME

A family in Riverdale of Clayton County, Georgia is expressing frustration at the lack of progress the police have made in finding the killer of 13-year-old son Brayan Zavala. “We want justice,” said Brayan’s 16-year-old brother, Jesus. “We want to find whoever killed my brother so he can go to jail and pay for what he did.”

According to the deceased boy’s family, last Thursday, Brayan had been working on the front lawn with his brother and father when a masked gunman approached the property. The gunman didn’t answer when Brayan’s father asked him what he wanted. Instead, unprovoked, the stranger took out his shotgun and shot Brayan at point-blank range in the face. Stunned, the family tried to fight for Brayan’s life as the gunman fled the scene.

“The shooter didn’t even say I want your money, or this is a robbery or I’m assaulting you. He just came, stood there (in) silence and shot my brother.” his 16-year-old brother, Jesus, explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We tried to stop all the blood but by the time the police got here, it didn’t seem like he had life or a chance to live.”

The children of Mexican immigrants, the death is especially tragic. “We decided to live here for a better life, turns out it is worse,” Jesus told local news station Fox 5. “This is just like Mexico. They kill because they wanna kill. That is what just happens.”

According to Jesus, Brayan was a A-student on the honor roll, always trying to stay out of trouble. “Me, my brother, my sister, we study and then do our chores, and study. We’re just focused on doing the things, you know, productivity. And going somewhere,” said Jesus told local news station Fox 5.

“He was a cheerful kid. Always smiling, joking. Like I said, always avoiding problems instead of causing problems. I don’t know why this happened to him.”

The senseless killing has shaken the community who don’t understand what would provoke an inexplicable murder of a child. Law enforcement, as well, can’t make sense of it.

“As a Clayton County police officer for over 38 years very little shocks me. But, this brutal, senseless murder has overwhelmed me,” a Clayton County Police officer named Doug Jewett wrote to the AJC. “I send my prayers to the family.”

As of now, the family is trying to pick up the pieces of their life, setting up a GoFundMe page to finance Brayan’s funeral costs. The Clayton County police department has asked anyone with information to call (770) 477-4479. As of now, no suspects have been reported or arrested, and the family is calling for justice.

“It’s been a week now since my brother died and I haven’t heard anything, no answers from police,” Jesus told Atlanta 11 Alive news. “It makes me feel really frustrated that they don’t think it’s a big deal. I mean, they killed my little brother.”

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