Things That Matter

President Trump’s One-Day Visit To Puerto Rico Was Packed With Tone Deaf Moves

Mandel Ngan / Getty

After being roundly criticized for his administration’s delayed response in helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria, President Trump finally arrived on the island to survey the damage and meet with Puerto Rican officials. According to The Washington Post, Trump said his administration was doing a “great job” with relief efforts in Puerto Rico: “And in Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus. And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared, communications is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks.”

Just days earlier, Trump shot back at Mayor Yulín Cruz, who said the Trump administration wasn’t doing enough to help Puerto Rico. “Such poor leadership by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

Although the president painted a picture of rapid recovery, millions of people are still without running water. USA Today reported that getting food, water, or gas can take some Puerto Ricans several hours or even a whole day.

During his roundtable for the press, Trump zeroed in on the death toll and appeared to imply that Hurricane Katrina was a “real catastrophe” because more people died.

Trump: “Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

After turning to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló to ask “What is your death count as of this moment, 17?” Trump added, “16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands.”

Although the death toll is currently at 16 people, the number is expected to rise. According to Vox, it has remained at 16 because deaths aren’t being officially recorded. Journalist Omaya Sosa Pascual told Vox that the process for declaring deaths is currently broken: “Some of the people who work in the government lost their homes themselves and aren’t at work. So they can’t do death certificates. The dead can’t be documented because of all the logistics and legal aspects of declaring someone dead.”

Trump also made a crack about the amount of money that would be spent on disaster relief.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer took to Twitter and asked Trump to stop blaming Puerto Rico for the situation it finds itself in.

And Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) called out Trump for his repeated trips to Mar-A-Lago.

Later, Trump handed out supplies to Puerto Ricans. Here he is tossing paper towels like he’s shooting basketballs.

Also, after speaking to a hurricane victim, Trump ended the conversation by saying, “Have a good time.”

Trump’s focus on the death toll, his budget remarks, and the praise he’s given his administration for doing an “A+ job” all point to someone who is both tone deaf and out of touch with the severity of Puerto Rico’s situation. Trump is only in Puerto Rico for one day. On Wednesday, he heads to Las Vegas, where 59 people died on Sunday in the largest mass shooting in modern American history.

Click here for a list of charities and crowdfunding campaigns that are helping people in Puerto Rico.

Two Weeks After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico Still Needs Lots Of Help

Recommend this story to a friend by clicking on the share button below. 

ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Things That Matter

ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Sandy Huffaker / Sandy Huffaker

Last summer, images of undocumented immigrant children went viral. These images didn’t show them crying, or being taken away from their parents. These children were pictured alone in court. The nameless children had no one by their side, no one to represent them, and had no clue what was going on, despite the fact that they were there trying to seek asylum. In some cases, these children wore headphones as a means to translate what the judge was saying. However, given that they were just children, the translation was almost useless. Reports are now servicing that immigration officials are using the language barrier as a means to keep them out of the U.S. 

An op-ed, written by a volunteer at the border, states that asylum-seeking immigrants cannot read or write in English or in their native tongue and immigration officials are taking advantage of that.

Emily Reed, a recent grad student from Barnard University, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that stated she witnessed this manipulation from immigration officials against illiterate undocumented people. Reed was at the border in Texas volunteering with classmates at the South Texas Family Residential Center volunteering with the Dilley Pro Bono Project when she witnessed this manipulation. 

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection often conveniently exploit asylum seekers who cannot read. Along with an unfamiliarity with our deliberately complex immigration system, the illiteracy of Central American migrants, especially women, facilitates the deportation of parents and separation of families,” Reed wrote. She added, “By manipulating illiterate refugees who often unwittingly sign away their rights, the U.S. government is violating the basic tenets of the internationally recognized and protected right to seek asylum.” 

Reed added that her volunteer program with the legal center provided Spanish documents to the migrant families, but they couldn’t under that either.

“Simple translation is not enough,” she wrote. “The Dilley Pro Bono Project provides documents in Spanish, but even this paperwork was difficult for many migrant women to understand. Many women I helped to fill out paperwork struggled simply to write their children’s birth dates.”

The migrant families are being rushed within the court and legal process, which in turn, is causing deportation to happen a lot faster.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that the haste paperwork at the border made it possible for immigration officials to rush and deport undocumented immigrants. The ACLU stated this process should not be rushed because people need to take their time and understand what is going on and what it is that they’re signing. 

“This waiting period is crucial to ensure that parents have an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to fight their own removal cases, leave their children (who may have their own asylum claims) behind in the United States, or make some other decision,” the ACLU stated lasted year. “In short, families will be making life-altering decisions after months of traumatic separation — and the fact that the government is trying to shortchange them a matter of days to do so is galling.”

A New York Times report showed that 58,000 asylum seekers are currently stuck in Mexico under Trump’s policy because they’re awaiting asylum hearings.

The backlog for these asylum hearings is up to six to eight months, and when they’re ready for their hearing the majority of them won’t understand what needs to be done. This is why they need proper representation, and a patient legal system so they comprehend what is being asked of them and what the next steps are. 

What makes this matter even worse is that there’s not enough legal representation for each family unit, or individual, at the border. 

Last year, it was very apparent that there were not enough lawyers or legal help for undocumented immigrants at the border, and this year there’s even more undocumented people awaiting help and attempting to seek asylum. There people like Reed who want to help asylum seekers, but it’s not as easy as they might think. 

“People see the crisis happening, and they want to do something right now, which is great. But when we explain that this is a long-term fight, and we need your long-term commitment. That’s when people sort of back off.” Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Huffington Post last year. 

If, however, you are willing to put in the time, or you’re interested in learning more about how you can provide legal help, or assist legal teams at the border, please reach out to: the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (“ProBAR”); the Immigration Justice Project (“IJP”); the ACLU of Texas; and RAICES.

READ: Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Entertainment

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Qhubo TV / Facebook

On November 2018, Miriam Zelaya became a viral sensation after she criticized the food she was given while waiting for asylum in Mexico. Zelaya was nicknamed Lady Frijoles after making comments about the beans served to her, claiming that it was food for pigs. Embarrassed, she later apologized publicly to the Mexican public for the statements she made. 

The story of Lady Frijoles has taken an interesting turn. 

On March 2019, Zelaya was detained with her sister, Mirna Zelaya, for a violent altercation that occured between them and Alba Escobar, the woman they were living with. The fight took place after Escobar blamed Zelaya and Mirna for the loss of her job. The two sisters were accused of assaulting Escobar with a the butt of a knife and chair; they were detained that same night. 

After being held in jail for almost four months, Zelaya pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in court. As a result, she received four years of probation and was deported to her home country of Honduras. 

While Zelaya was in jail, her daughters were cared for by close friends and family. 

This week, Lady Frijoles was welcomed back in Honduras like a celebrity.

With only three days of being back in Honduras, Zelaya has been greeted by the media with style; she was even invited to appear on television. 

On the Honduran channel, Q’huboTV, Zelaya gives her version of the night she and her sister got arrested. According to most American media outlets, the dispute was only between the Zelaya sisters and Escobar. However, Zelaya tells a very different story that involves Escobar’s husband Mirna’s son. 

In her interview, Zelaya states that the reason the argument became physical was because Escobar pushed Mirna’s son. She affirms that neither she or her sister grabbed a chair to hurt Escobar, as most news publications have reported, saying that “I can lie to you all, but I will never lie to God.” Instead, it was Escobar who threw the chair at Mirna, which bounced back when Mirna lifted her arms to shield herself, causing Escobar to begin to bleed due to the impact. 

Zelaya refutes every word said about her on other sources, saying that there wasn’t a knife involved in the argument. Rather, Escobar gave the police the knife from her cabinet and claimed that she was assaulted with it. Miriam also clarifies that she was not as involved in the physical fight as the media claims she was. The only reason she got wrapped up in the situation was because Escobar was jealous of Miriam.

“I declared myself guilty more so for my daughters. I was scared that the state was going to take them away and I was going to lose them.”

After being able to meet with a judge to discuss her deportation, the judge let Zelaya know that she was able to fight for her stay in the country, if she could provide herself with a lawyer and the money to post bail. Zelaya responded that she did not have the money to cover the costs because of her lack of resources. The judge then offered to waive the cost of bail, but she must still find a lawyer to defend her. In the end, Miriam accepted her deportation because of her insufficient funds. 

During the programming, Q’huboTV opened up the line for calls directed to Lady Frijoles. Miriam received a lot of mixed reactions. For instance, one caller asked why Miriam would put the lives of her daughters at risk during the long journey from Honduras to the United States. Others tried to debunk all the statements Miriam had said about her case against Escobar. However, many welcomed Miriam back to Honduras and wished her good luck on her journey moving forward. 

On Q’huboTV, Miriam received plenty of support from the network.

For example, the opportunity to provide her daughter with glasses at no cost. Moreover, on live television the general manager of QhuboTV, Mario “Chano” Rivera, officially announced Miriam as a new host of show called “Las Doñas.”

To end the show, Miriam expressed how her fame helped her, but also impacted her negatively, “I never expected to have a job or help for my daughter.”

During a later episode, many viewers were upset about the fact that Miriam received a job offer with Q’huboTV due to her lack of experience and education in the field of media and communications. Both Alicia and Alejandra, Q’huboTV announcers, came to the defense of Miriam and stated that people should not be envious of Miriam or try to not tear her down. They invited Miriam because she is a star due to her fame. 

Either way, Miriam is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be part of the QhuboTV family.