Things That Matter

Immigration Detainees Joined Prisoners Nationwide To Strike Against Living Conditions And Very Low Wages In Prisons

@IGD_News / Twitter

The U.S. has just experienced on of the largest prison strikes in U.S. history. People who are incarcerated in at least 17 prisons across the U.S. are protested their living and working conditions. From privatized prisons stacking humans in cells to prison systems replacing the U.S. Postal Service with companies that charge impossibly high fees to send an email, this strike matters.

Latinos are incarcerated 200 percent more often than non-Latino white folks and are often sentenced to more time than white offenders for the same crime. While that is an entirely separate issue based in racism and classism. However, the fact remains that there are Latinos in prison who likely wouldn’t be there for as long or at all if they were white.

The strike began on August 21, the 47th anniversary of Black Panther activist George Jackson’s death.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

The strike was announced a week after the April 15 prison riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina. Seven inmates were killed and another 22 people were injured. The Lee riots were ignited as the result of substantiated correctional officer (CO) brutality. The brutality is well-documented in several lawsuits against the very same prison.

The strike ended on Sept. 12, but it is unclear is the strikes did anything to better conditions in the prisons.

CREDIT: @AmericanIndian8 / Twitter

The people incarcerated participated in work strikes, hunger strikes, peaceful sit-ins and spending boycotts. The protests were supposed to end on Sept. 9, the same day as the Attica prison riots. If you haven’t seen “Thirteen” yet, do yourself a favor and learn about the history of black slavery in the U.S. and how the latest systemization of subjugating minorities is all in the prison system.

The inmates are protesting what they’re calling “modern-day slavery.”

CREDIT: @MaxHPF / Twitter

It’s no coincidence that you’re only seeing brown faces on these promotional materials. People of color have long been arrested and policed at disproportional levels in comparison to their white counterparts.

Many states can legally force prisoners to work without any compensation.

CREDIT: @armedtosketch / Twitter

Most states require prisoners to work dangerous jobs, and when they are paid, the wages are very low. Just a couple weeks ago, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) bragged via Twitter about it’s 2,000 “volunteer” inmate firefighters, including 58 youth offenders. The inmates were fighting dangerous wildfires for $1 an hour.

The program saves the state $90-$100 million a year. Despite their experience, the prisoners can’t get jobs as firefighters when they are released. That’s because California requires firefighter to be licenses emergency medical technicians (EMTs) but those with criminal records are often denied EMT licenses.

Detainees in immigration center joined in on the protest to call attention to ICE treatment and conditions.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

Caption: “Up to 200 detained immigrants at Northwest Detention Center in Washington are on a work and hunger strike to protest forced labor. They join striking inmates in up to 17 prisons across the U.S. who are protesting sentencing laws, poor treatment and ‘prison slavery.'”

No. 1 on their list of demands: recognize humanity.

CREDIT: @WSWS_Updates / Twitter

“Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.”

Second, they want “an immediate end to prison slavery.”

CREDIT: @mmbilal / Twitter

They want to immediately be paid the “prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.” What that means is most likely minimum wage, which would be a 5,300 percent increase in wages.

They also want the Prison Litigation Reform Act rescinded immediately.

CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

The PLRA was enacted in 1996 as a means to prevent prisoners from litigating within prison. It also prevents prisoners from taking legal action “with respect to prison conditions” until “administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” It basically lets correctional officers and prison administration to regulate themselves.

Prisoners need our help in making sure their demands are heard.

CREDIT: @abqdsa / Twitter

Included in their demands are more funding for rehabilitation services.

“No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.”

Caption: “Putting in work for the workers on the inside. #PrisonStrike #PrisonStrike2018”

Top Democrats stayed quiet on the prison strike.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

It’s shocking but it’s true. Democrats who claim to be all for prison reform, like California Senator Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker or Bernie Sanders have stayed silent.

Folks on the outside have rallied in support of the inmates, hoping to garner political attention.

CREDIT: @TheFinalCall / Twitter

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for the Congress, is one of the only Democrats to say something substantive.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez shared an article along with this statement, “Today begins a nationwide prison strike demanding humane conditions & end to prison slavery. The U.S. incarcerates more than any other nation in the world. To change, we must acknowledge the direct lineage that mass incarceration has to slavery & Jim Crow.”

Inmates are demanding that their voting rights never be taken from them as an American right.

CREDIT: @MI_Abolition / Twitter

It’s nauseating to find out that the reason convicted felons have their voting rights stripped is a living breathing Jim Crow law. This is how you continue to keep American politics white and how to keep brown and black people out of politics.

Even anarchists have made themselves known in favor of inmates rights.

CREDIT: @TheBaseBK / Twitter

Caption: “Anarchists represented for the #PrisonStrike last night in Brooklyn. Revolutionaries must keep up the pressure for the #PrisonRebels as the fight inside escalates!”

We don’t know how big the prison strike really is.

CREDIT: @SawariMi / Twitter

That’s largely because the administration is trying to silence the prisoners. As of August 28, the highlighted states have confirmed prison action thus far, ranging from North Carolina labor strikes to several prisons going on lockdown after initiating strikes.

Some prison systems did bow to some pressure from the strikes.

CREDIT: @BRRN_Fed / Twitter

For inmates who have lost all ties to the life, family and world they built before being incarcerated, those 20 cents per minutes add up. Specifically, they add up to $25 saved per two hours of talking with their mami’s, esposos y hijos.

If you’re making $.14 an hour, that is gold.

We’re also seeing supporters get creative on the streets.

CREDIT: @cjdronanron / Twitter

Prisoners of the state are modern day slave laborers. The most important thing we can do to support prisoners is to raise awareness of their plight. “Orange is the New Black” was a great start to getting Americans to see the humanity in inmates and the injustices of the prison system, but it’s time to wake up to make change in real life.

Some of the protests called for violence against the prisons.

CREDIT: @Lefebvre_Sam / Twitter

Caption: “#PrisonStrike comes for the OkCupid billboards in Oakland.”

A report released on August 28 suspects that thousands of prisoners participated in 20 prisons, all the way to Canada.

CREDIT: @Evict_Twit_ter / Twitter

On the first day of the strike, more than 200 immigrants who are currently detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, publicly announced they were joining the strike in solidarity.

The truth is that since the 2016 strike, America cares more about inmates than ever before.

CREDIT: @IGD_News / Twitter

One can only assume that this is the start of a larger prison reform movement. As the strike gets further in the rearview mirror, it will be telling to see how states adapt rules and laws around how prisoners are treated.


READ: A New Study Shows The Financial Incentive For Corporations To Maintain Prisons And Detention Centers

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Jimmy Kimmel Celebrates New American Citizens With An Inspiring (And Hilarious) Ceremony That Will Give You Goosebumps

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Jimmy Kimmel Celebrates New American Citizens With An Inspiring (And Hilarious) Ceremony That Will Give You Goosebumps

ABC / YouTube

Every single late-night host has gone after President Donald Trump in some way shape or form. Making fun of people in the public eye, especially the president is their job after all. While they did poke fun on former President Barack Obama back in the day, they just have a lot more material to go after Trump. The late-night hosts, however, aren’t just making fun of Trump’s idiotic ways and unstable mentality (because that would be too easy), they’re also telling viewers around the world that the majority of people in the United States do not share his views. It’s important for the hosts to show the distinction between what the president does, says, or tweets, and how everyone else feels by firing back in clever and hilarious ways.  

One of the most vocal dissidents in late-night TV has to be Jimmy Kimmel. The comedian and host has attacked Trump in various ways. He’s gone after him on his inaction on gun reform, his slaughtering of healthcare in the U.S., and even the president’s misspelling of his name. Now Kimmel is taking his anti-Trump material to another inspirational level. 

In response to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, a group of immigrants celebrated their new citizenship to the United States with a heartwarming ceremony on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Credit: YouTube

“This is a very strange time in America,” Kimmel said on his show on Aug. 8. “Our President is building walls and telling people to go back where they came from. With all that happening it’s important to remember that many people still dream of becoming Americans. Every week immigrants from all around the world take the oath of citizenship.”

Kimmel then had six immigrants from various parts of the world come on stage to celebrate their U.S. citizenship, including Jose Alberto Sahagun Ruiz from Mexicali, Mexico. 

Credit: YouTube

Each person walked onstage, and national TV, by being introduced like rockstars by Los Angeles Kings announcer Dave Joseph, and they all held up their new citizenship document. It was really beautiful and inspiring to hear each person’s name be called and their home countries, which includes places such as the Philippines, Argentina, Poland, and others. They all walked out to Neil Diamond’s “We’re Coming To America” song played by Kimmel’s house band, Cleto and the Cletones. 

Then country singer Brad Paisley joined in on the fun by singing a little ballad about what life as an American means.

Credit: YouTube

Paisley kept it light by telling these new American citizens that they can pretty much get away with anything in the United States. But he did so through song.

 “Congratulations citizens,” he sang. “We’re happy that you’re here/ Come on in and take a load off/ Grab yourself an ice-cold beer. You can exercise your freedom of speech/ eat a sticka’ butter at a county fair/ Wear your Crocs with a pair of socks/ Go to Target in your underwear.”

He then finished the song by singing “My Country Tis of Thee.”

This isn’t the first time Kimmel has celebrated new Americans. Last year on Flag Day, he did the same beautiful thing. 

“Every week immigrants from all over the world take the oath of citizenship in courthouses, libraries, and auditoriums across the country, without much pomp or circumstance,” Kimmel said last year. “I think becoming an American shouldn’t feel like a visit to the DMV. It’s a big deal and we think it deserves a big deal.” 

Kimmel’s sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez, then came out dressed like the United States bald eagle and had goody bags for all of them. 

Credit: YouTube

Guillermo gave each new American citizen a goody bag filled with American staples including a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer helmet, apple pies, and fireworks. Then someone dressed as Abraham Lincoln arrived to drive them all in a limo to IHOP, because there’s nothing as American as IHOP, right?

Here’s this year’s new batch of American citizens. Grab some tissue first!

We really hope this celebration of welcoming new Americans into this country becomes a regular segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” It’s important for people all over the world to know that people here in the United States are welcoming to newcomers, and this celebration also shows that becoming a citizen of America is a big deal. 

Thanks, Jimmy for making these people feel special and that becoming a U.S. citizen matters. Whatever you do, just don’t get fined for making jokes about Trump. Keep doing it, of course, just make sure it’s not costing you. 

READ: Last year, Jimmy Kimmel Brought DACA Opponents To Meet A DACA/Military Family And Here’s What Happened

A Breastfeeding Mother Being Held By ICE Says That She Hasn’t Been Allowed To Breastfeed Her Daughter In Days

Things That Matter

A Breastfeeding Mother Being Held By ICE Says That She Hasn’t Been Allowed To Breastfeed Her Daughter In Days

screenshot / clarionledger.com

At this point, we sound like a broken record talking about the Trump administration’s immigration policies and the traumatizing effects such policies have on migrants traveling to the U.S. seeking a better life. Every week brings either gun violence against communities of color (made easier under the influence of Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric against these same communities), more cases of ICE raids throughout the country, and even more cases of families being separated at the border. 

The most inhumane part of all of this continues to be the ways the Trump administration completely disregards children.

Guatemalan mother Maria Domingo-Garcia has been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody for nearly a week. 

She’s the mother of three and has been separated from her 4-month old daughter who she still breastfeeds. Maria Domingo-Garcia ended up in detention since being picked up during an ICE raid at Koch Foods in Morton, Mississippi. She was among the 680 undocumented immigrants that were detained earlier this month. 

According to CNN, Domingo-Garcia is being held at a facility in Jena, Louisiana. The facility is nearly 200 miles from Morton. The Mississippi Clarion Ledger, who first reported the story, followed the 4-month-old baby’s father new journey in having to raise his three young children on his own, after Domingo-Garcia’s detention. However, he’s still facing his own deportation proceedings with his next court date set for 2021.  

Now, the 4-month-old baby girl is left without her breastfeeding mother. According to CNN, when a woman is breastfeeding, the body continues to produce milk and if the milk isn’t “expressed” then it could cause pain and swelling. 

According to an ICE spokesman, all detainees receive a “medical screening upon intake” and if a woman says that she’s breastfeeding or nursing, she may be released. 

However, ICE is reportedly saying that Domingo-Garcia answered “no” when she was asked this question.  

But Domingo-Garcia’s attorney’s (Ray Ybarra Maldonado and Juliana Manzanarez with Justice For Our Neighbors) are saying that “ICE is, once again, lying. She said nobody’s asked her—not even one time—if she’s been breastfeeding.” 

Dalila Reynoso, an advocate with Justice For Our Neighbors and the two attorney’s are working with the family’s immigration case. “They hope the circumstances — the age of the infant, the breastfeeding and the woman’s lack of a criminal history — could convince immigration officials to let her out on bond quickly,” according to the Clarion Ledger.

Many on social media took to condemn ICE and the administration for keeping this mother away from her month-old daughter and other children.

“The Trump administration is keeping a mother from her four-month-old baby, who is still breastfeeding, and two other children after the ICE raids in Mississippi,” one tweet read. 

2020 Democratic Presidential nominee Kamala Harris also tweeted about the abuse of human rights by our own government.

“When will it end?” the California senator tweeted.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Ivanka Trump to share a social post that was severely ill-timed and out-of-touch.

The daughter of the president posted a photo of herself with her kids on the same week the news broke. Editor-in-chief of Rewire News, Jodi Jacobson, was quick to remind her of the mother being detained in ICE custody away from her children. Ivanka’s tweet could have been a coincidence but an ill-timed one at that. 

Twitter user Juan Escalante shared the story, adding that while she’s in her father’s care—her father is fighting his own deportation as he continues to raise the rest of his children without their mother.

According to Domingo-Garcia’s attorney’s, the mother is devastated knowing she can’t properly care for or nurture her daughter. 

Domingo-Garcia, originally from Guatemala, has lived in the U.S. for over 11 years. Aside from her 4-month-old baby girl, she has two songs, ages 3 and 11.

Her lawyers told CNN that the mother is “feeling the effects of having to suddenly stop breastfeeding.” The lawyer’s report, after visiting her in detention, that she’s “really depressed” and in pain from not being able to pump or breastfeed her baby girl.

This abuse of women’s rights in ICE detention facilities isn’t new and it also isn’t the only type. Earlier this year it was reported that nearly 30 women have miscarried while detained by ICE since 2017.

While her 4-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son might not fully grasp what’s happening to their mother right now, her 11-year-old son is a lot more aware and understands that his mother is gone. According to Domingo-Garcia’s lawyer’s, the 11-year-old son has said, “I want my mom back home. I don’t understand why they’re keeping her. She didn’t do anything wrong. We need her here.”

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