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.

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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.

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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

This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

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This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

One of the biggest misconceptions that the world has about the United States and its approach to migration, particularly during the Trump administration, is that immigrants are facing rejection everywhere. It is important to explain, however, that federal policies for which the White House and State Departments are responsible sometimes run contrary to what states and even city officials do. 

That is the case of immigrant policies: states like California, for example, have often disagreed with federal authorities in issues such as sanctuary cities. In turn, cities like Chicago, for example, boost and celebrate migration and the multicultural prism that it generates, and run programs that attempt to make new arrivals feel welcome and become a part of the wider community. 

A new study has revealed which cities are most welcoming for migrants, fostering their incorporation into the wider community and encouraging diversity and cultural exchange.

Credit: New American Economy

The study was conducted by New American Economy, a bipartisan research group that is doing work on Immigration Reform. This is the second annual city-index. New American Economy was established by very wealthy corporate executives and mayors including Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. The group’s webpage states its aim: “fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans”.

The group conducts high-end research and they have found that migrants are very important to the economy (duh! did you need all that research to find that out?).

In their first report they found out that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children – a key takeaway that has shifted perspectives and laid the foundation for better conversations about the role of immigrants in our economy and society”. Yessir! The study took into account cities that met these criteria: “Total population is more than 200,000 people. Foreign-born population is more than 10,000 people. The share of total population that is foreign-born is more than 3.6 percent”. 

Chicago reigns supreme! The jewel of the Midwest.

Credit: Crain’s Chicago Business

As a region, the Midwest was the most accomodating site for new arrivals. So why was Chicago ranked on top? Because it provides a better environment for social, political and economic integration. The city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot was, of course, superhappy, and said in a statement: “We are tremendously proud Chicago has been named the most welcoming city in America for immigrants and refugees. This ranking reflects the passionate and dedicated work of countless public officials and community members across our city who have come together to stand up and fight for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, no matter the cost”. Preach!

Let’s not forget that Chicago’s history is full of migratory waves from Greece, Poland, Mexico, Italy… basically people from all over the world have contributed to the economic and social fabric of the city. 

Second place, Chula Vista, California… and the state as a whole is pretty well ranked.

Credit: Port Of San Diego

It is interesting how the border state of California has a total of four cities in the top 10. Common sense could dictate that the states closer to the border would face more challenges when it comes to migration, but the study reveals that California is using its history to develop better programs for integration. The state is in a key geopolitical position: bordering Mexico and the conflicted entry point of Tijuana, but also with a shore in the Pacific Ocean which encourages ties with Asia and Oceania.  Chula Vista got perfect scores for Economic Empowerment, Community, and Inclusivity. Well done! 

A very honorable third spot: Jersey City.

Credit: Jersey Digs

Jersey is sometimes seen as secondary to New York City, but it is the third place, a great win in itself. According to the report: “The city earns high marks for Government Leadership, Inclusivity, and Community, among others. Economic Empowerment and Civic Participation are two areas where the city could improve”. 

4th… San Francisco, California, the entryway for many Asian migrants.

Credit: AARP

San Francisco’s history is tightly linked to migration. This city has attracted multiple groups since the Gold Rush, up to the dotcom era when many young professionals arrived in the city looking for that big breakthrough. According to the report, the city scores great in most areas but is expensive: “The city boasts impressive marks across the board in all policy categories. There is room to improve when it comes to Livability, which takes into things such as cost of living and educational attainment levels”.

Yes, the city is very expensive for anyone… one of the most costly in the world. But those views, though!

A Judge Has Barred Scott Warren From Mentioning Trump By Name In His Second Trial About Leaving Water For Migrants

Things That Matter

A Judge Has Barred Scott Warren From Mentioning Trump By Name In His Second Trial About Leaving Water For Migrants

NoMoreDeaths.org

For all the horrible stories we read about immigration policies in the Trump era, which has revealed perhaps the worst of some people, we sometimes get acquainted with the good deeds of unsung heroes who risk their safety and even engage in legal battles to help others. Such is the case of an 37-year-old Arizonan man who is going on trial for the second time due to his volunteer work for an organization that helps migrants in need. Learn his name: Scott Warren. He could be seen as a true hero even if the authorities seem to disagree.

So who is Scott Warren?

This activist works with the organization No More Deaths, which provides basic survival needs to migrants who cross the US-Mexico border with an undocumented status. He hails from the small Arizonan town of Ajo, a mere 40 miles from the border. The group’s activities include dropping water in the desert to prevent severe dehydration (and possible death) among undocumented migrants. They also run a camp to help injured migrants, a building known as “The Barn”.

Warren and the organization basically help in preventing horrible deaths in the desert. Is caring for fellow human beings a crime now? It is important to stress out the gravity of the situation: thousands of migrants have died since the 1990s trying to cross the border into the Arizonan desert, a fierce landscape where even a small injury, let’s say a sprained ankle, can mean imminent death.

The first trial ended in a mistrial last June when the jury was deadlocked.

Credit: TruthOut

So this is the second time that Warren will face a judge and jury. Back in June he was arrested for giving migrants water. He has said that he was just aiding two men who were trying to cross the border. Records show that an anonymous call alerted the authorities about No More Death’s activities. The authorities closed in on the organization and in January 2018 Warren was arrested on two harbouring felony charges. Alongside him, two male Central American migrants were arrested and then deported. Warren insisted that they were in distress and was merely saving their lives.

The prosecutors argue that they were not under an imminent threat to their lives, and therefore Warren was conspiring with the undocumented men. And here his troubles began. Prosecutors also said that the conspiracy was effectuated when Warren allegedly gave the men directions on how to avoid a border patrol checkpoint after they left “The Barn”.

Now the second trial has started and prosecutors are requesting some pretty outlandish things… like not naming Trump!

The prosecutors are well aware of how politicized this trial has become, and are presenting the judge with some pretty over-the-top requests. Chief among them: they want to forbid Warren and the defense from mentioning Donald J. Trump and his administration. The reason behind this: Warren and is group have expressed that, under the Trump government, humanitarian border groups have become increasingly targeted by the authorities. The prosecutor insists that any mention of Trump would trigger prejudice and affect the outcome. The judge ruled Tuesday on the request and said he won’t allow the defense to inject politics (ie. Trump’s name) into the case.

As reported by The Guardian: “Warren’s defense attorneys have said that the government’s request would violate Warren’s rights and that the prosecution has not shown in what way it would suffer if the president were mentioned”.

As ABC 15 Arizona reports: “Greg Kuykendall, Warren’s attorney, said Trump is responsible for the prosecution of his client, and contended the Republican president should be mentioned ‘as frequently and repeatedly as anyone wants.”

So Trump is now a Voldemort case then? He shall not be named…

Do the authorities want to make an example of Scott Warren? This case could set legal and ethical precedents for future trials.

Credit: NoMoreDeaths.org

Warren is not the first member of No More Deaths to be arrested, but he is the only one who has been presented with felony charges. In fact, other members have been accussed of vandalism (allegedly interfering with security cameras even). In the first trial, Defense Attorney Greg Kuyendall presented his counter in the closing arguments: “Everything in this case points to the fact that Scott Warren never committed a crime. Scott’s whole life is about preventing suffering, healing suffering, and providing humanitarian aid”.

This case goes beyond Scott Warren and it is important because it can set a legal precedent in which other cases concerning humanitarian aid could be based. This case presents both ethical and legal issues that are complex and very politically charged in a day and age in which more help is needed than ever, and immigration issues are the cornerstone of political platforms on both sides of the aisle.