Things That Matter

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

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

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

Things That Matter

Rite Aid Refused To Give Undocumented Residents The COVID-19 Vaccine Even Though They’re Eligible

As the United States ramps up its vaccination program (with more than two million people getting vaccinated each day), many Americans are eager to get that jab in the arm. But who is eligible varies from state to state and sometimes even county to county.

Despite the different eligibility thresholds in each state (depending on age group or risk factors), there is no immigration requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level. However, not all places are following that guideline and some undocumented residents are being incorrectly turned away.

The pharmacy chain Rite Aid is apologizing after two undocumented residents were denied vaccines.

The giant pharmacy chain Rite Aid has apologized to two undocumented immigrants who the company said were “mistakenly” denied COVID-19 vaccinations at Southern California stores. However, since then, the two women have been invited back by Rite Aid to get their vaccinations and the chain has issued an apology.

Rite Aid spokesperson Christopher Savarese described both cases as “isolated” incidents resulting from workers at the stores not following established protocols for vaccine eligibility. The employees will be re-educated on the protocols to make sure everyone is on the same page.

In a statement later sent to ABC News, Rite Aid officials said, “In such an unprecedented rollout, there are going to be mistakes and there will be always areas for providers to improve — we’re seeking out those opportunities every day.”

Savarese added, “This is very important to us that this is corrected. Both of the situations that we’re talking about have been resolved, and both of those people will be getting their vaccine at Rite Aid.”

To clarify, just who is eligible for the vaccine at this moment?

Although vaccine eligibility does vary from state to state, even county to county, there is nothing requiring that someone prove their immigration status to receive a vaccine. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who represents Los Angeles, told ABC News that the legal immigration status of a person is not supposed to interfere with them getting vaccinated.

“That is not a requirement whatsoever at the federal, state or local level, and that organization (Rite Aid) has been told very clearly that that was wrong, and they immediately apologized for doing so, but it left the woman very distraught,” Cárdenas told KABC of Rager’s employee.

On Feb. 1, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that the agency and its “federal government partners fully support equal access to the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine distribution sites for undocumented immigrants.”

“It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine. DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines,” the DHS statement reads.

However, the confusion over whether undocumented immigrants qualify to receive vaccine has continued to occur not only in Southern California, but elsewhere in the country. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley issued an apology to at least 14 people who were rejected Feb. 20 at its vaccination site because they could not provide proof of U.S. residency.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Things That Matter

This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Lawyers are working hard to get a deportation order removed against a woman who just left a church sanctuary after three years in the refuge. Although she was previously denied asylum in the U.S., advocates are hoping that under new direction from the Biden administration, her case will be reviewed and she’ll be able to stay with her family in Ohio – where she’s lived for more than twenty years.

A mother of three is back with her family after living three years inside a church.

A mother of three who sought refugee inside an Ohio church from immigration authorities has finally been able to leave three years later. Edith Espinal, who herself is an immigrant rights advocate, had been living at the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 to avoid being deported to Mexico. She’s now out of the church and back with her family following a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have agreed that she’s not an immediate priority for deportation.

“Finally, I can go home,” Espinal told reporters after meeting with the officials. With tears of relief, she celebrated the small victory in the presence of dozens of supporters who accompanied her to the ICE building.

“But it is not the end of her case. We’re still going to have to fight,” her attorney Lizbeth Mateo said.

ICE has agreed to hold off on her deportation proceedings pending her asylum request.

Espinal was released under an order of supervision, meaning that while she’s not considered an immediate priority for deportation, she must periodically check in with ICE officials to inform them about her whereabouts.

She has lived in Columbus for more than two decades and had previously applied for asylum, citing rising violence in her home state of Michoacán. But she eventually was ordered to leave the country, which is when she sought refuge inside the Columbus, Ohio church.

“We’re going to continue pressing the Biden administration to do the right thing, and try to get rid of that order of deportation against Edith, so she can walk freely like everyone else does without fear,” Mateo said during the press conference.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com