politics

Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

The Infiltrators / Baked Studios

For more than a year, anti-Trump activists have speculated that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were targeting them because of their outspoken views and protests against the president. Initially, the fact that undocumented activists were getting detained by ICE soon after a rally or protest seemed like a coincidence.

An NBC News report shows that immigration officials had a “secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports.” All of this goes to show that ICE is watching closely, and this next story is, unfortunately, another casualty of what it means to fight for justice and against the government.

An undocumented immigrant from Argentina was detained by ICE last week after the release of a documentary that exposes controversial truths about the immigration system and ICE.

@ForkFilms / Twitter

Claudio Rojas, 53, was initially detained in 2012 because he overstayed his visa. During this period of his detainment, according to the Associated Press, activists purposefully got arrested and detained in order to expose what was taking place inside the Broward Transitional Center, in Florida. More importantly, the activists wanted to help Rojas and others detained like him who also staged a hunger strike. The more information these activists had from the inside about Rojas, the better case they could build for him to be released.

The documentar is titled “The Infiltrators” and it won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

@sundanceorg / Twitter

Filmmakers Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra told the AP that Rojas was the main focus of the film, and also say that he had always been an organizer of justice. As a result of the advocacy for Rojas, ICE released him and others. Now years later, and after the release of the movie, ICE has detained him once again.

Sandy Pineda, Rojas’s attorney alleges that ICE has apprehended him once again simply because of what the film exposed.

“I definitely think it’s retaliation,” Sandy Pineda told The Washington Post. “For them to take this stance and to just arrest him so suddenly for no apparent reason, it’s very unusual.”

Rojas was supposed to attend a celebratory screening in Miami with the filmmakers but now that has been canceled.

According to the Miami Herald, organizers of the Miami Film Festival canceled the screening of “The Infiltrators” because it became too controversial since the detainment of the leading character in the documentary.

The festival didn’t want to “appear to be taking a side” on the immigration matter or “to take a political stance,” the film’s producer told the Miami Herald.

The film festival has since apologized for their action against the film.

READ: Advocacy Groups Suing ICE For Mass Raid In Tennessee, Claiming They Violated Workers’ Constitutional Rights

This Company Is Making $750 A Day For Every Child It Keeps In Prison-Like Conditions And Enough Is Enough

Things That Matter

This Company Is Making $750 A Day For Every Child It Keeps In Prison-Like Conditions And Enough Is Enough

ewarren / Twitter

One of the most shocking parts of the American justice system is our reliance on for-profit prisons. Companies that own private prisons make money off the number of people they house, so they push for more people to be incarcerated.

This encourages the prison industry to give money to politicians who claim to be tough on crime or anti-immigration. So, essentially, what we consider to be a crime is now often influenced by the prisons and jails who stand to profit.

Along the way, the prison industrial complex ruins lives and takes away people’s basic freedoms, all to make a dollar. 

For example, one US company is making $750 each day for every kid it has imprisoned in its detention center.

Credit: @dee4peace / Twitter

One company that appears to be making a killing off of the Trump Administration’s inhumane immigration policies is Caliburn International Corp. Caliburn charges $750 per child, per day to house immigrant children at a temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida.

At $750 per day, the children could literally be staying at the Four Seasons hotel in Miami.

The children who find their way to this facility are unaccompanied minors who arrived at the U.S. border seeking asylum. Most of them are Central American. 

Unfortunately, the shocking levels of connection between the government and for-profit prisons aren’t really shocking anyone.

Credit: @CREWcrew / Twitter

Former Trump chief of staff John Kelly recently joined its board of directors. He previously had been on the board of an investment firm that now owns the company.

This same company owns the now infamous Homestead facility which many people described as being like an actual prison than a detention center for child migrants.

Credit: @ewarren / Twitter

The Homestead facility caught the public’s attention for its prison-like conditions in which children are not allowed to touch one another and walk single-file to 15-minute meals. They may not use the restroom without permission and are only allowed two ten-minute phone calls with a family member per week.

“These children are battling a sense of deep helplessness and sheer frustration and confusion on why they don’t know anything or on why they are still detained,” attorney Neha Desai told the Miami Herald. “It’s profoundly distressing for them and something needs to be done.”

The facility sits on federal property, and unlike established children’s shelters, such as smaller group or foster homes that hold migrant children across the country, is not governed by state child welfare regulations designed to protect kids from harm.

Over 2,300 children are currently at the facility and some stay for months, even those who have family members waiting to pick them up.

Many weren’t surprised by the news and pointed out that we probably don’t even know the half of it.

Credit: @CREWcrew / Twitter

In the two and half years of the Trump administration, story after story of government corruption has been uncovered.

The San Antonio Four Were A Set Of Wrongly Convicted Lesbians Who’d Been Accused Of Devil Worship In the 90s

Entertainment

The San Antonio Four Were A Set Of Wrongly Convicted Lesbians Who’d Been Accused Of Devil Worship In the 90s

"Southwest of Salem"

In the ’90s, members of the LBGTQ community were finally starting to find some tolerance in mainstream culture. Most major cities around the world had a gay night scene and many small communities were being formed by lesbians and gay men. Unfortunately, LGBTQ people still encountered bigotry and homophobia regularly. From everyday altercations to murderous attacks, being gay in the ’90s was still dangerous.

That didn’t stop Elizabeth Ramirez from coming out and living her life as a gay woman. Although her hometown of San Antonio Texas was very conservative at the time, Ramirez was happily involved with her girlfriend, Kristie Mayhugh. The two were building a happy life together along with their close friends, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez.

Unfortunately, devastating accusations would rock San Antonio and cost each women years of their freedom.

This is the story of the San Antonio Four and the horrible accusations and homophobia that led to their incarceration.

Twitter / @maurinanoe

The events that led to their imprisonment started innocently enough. The four women were staying together at the time. It was 1994 when they welcomed Ramirez’s young nieces into their home for a weeklong stay. After the visit, the girls’ father went to the police and reported a truly horrific story.

According to the father, Javier Limon, the girls had been sexually abused and tortured by the women. More than that, his accusations claimed they had been gang-raped in a Satanic ritual and “indoctrinated into a lesbian lifestyle.” The nieces were only 7 and 9 years old at the time.

The girls were interviewed several times and gave inconsistent statements with varying details. Physical examination found no major signs of sexual assault. However, prosecutors used child abuse specialist, Dr. Nancy Kellogg, to argue the opposite. In now-defunct testimony, Dr. Kellogg blamed common vaginal wear on abuse by the San Antonio women.

The San Antonio police department claimed that the women’s sexuality was not relevant to the investigation. Yet, their actions argue the opposite.

Twitter / @PopularLonerr

This case was during the Satanic Panic of the 1990s. The public was obsessed with news of Satanic rituals and cults during this time. Homosexuality was often linked to these reports of rituals and sex magic. It was also a common thought at the time that homosexuals were more likely to sexually harm children. Had the four women not been recently-outed lesbians, the police more than likely wouldn’t have pursued the complaints.

Likewise, had the women not been lesbians, the complaints probably never would’ve been made to begin with. Limon, the girls’ father, was romantically interested in Ramirez. The San Antonio man was her brother-in-law but he had expressed desire for her before. Notably, when she was just a teenager. Ramirez had rejected him before coming out. However, her happy relationship with Mayhugh probably encouraged Limon to retaliate against the women.

Sadly, the San Antonio Four were tried and found guilty. They each received between 15 to 37 years in prison for a crime that had no proof.

Twitter / @mercurymiya

It wasn’t until 2012 when any relief seemed likely for the jailed women. That year, one of Ramirez’s nieces recanted the allegations. Furthermore, she explained that her father, Limon, was to blame for the accusations. Her father, she said, threatened her and her sister as girls and continued the emotional abuse all their lives. This is what kept the San Antonio Four’s innocence a secret for so long.

In 2012, Vasquez was the first of the San Antonio Four to be released from prison. However, it was parole that released her, not her own innocence. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that the other three were released on bail while their guilt was reassessed. Later that same year, their sentences would be cut short and they would be declared innocent of all charges. The San Antonio Four were finally free.

Their struggle encouraged the documentary “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.” Now, you can stream the truth for yourself.

Twitter / @DaRealChrisCo

“Southwest of Salem” follows the redemption of the San Antonio Four. The documentary was released in 2016 but is now available to stream on both Hulu and Amazon Prime. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100% Fresh and is scored 7.1/10 on IMDd.com. The documentary also won a Peabody Award and won “Outstanding Documentary” at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards.

“Southwest of Salem” clearly deals with difficult themes. However, it’s an important documentary to see — especially as more cases of police and prosecutor misconduct become uncovered. If we know of the atrocities that have happened in the past, we can stop them from ever happening again.

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