Things That Matter

RAÍCES Installed ‘Kids In Cages’ Across Iowa To Make A Point About What The Candidates Aren’t Talking About

Yesterday, voters across Iowa took to the polls to cast their ballot in the Democratic caucuses. And yes, voters also turned out for the less than fair Republican caucuses, in which Trump is basically all but guaranteed to win thanks to a largely rigged primary system that benefits the incumbent.

The results have been, well, chaotic to say the least. It’s the day after and, at least on the Democratic side, we still don’t have a clear answer on who actually walked away the winner. But what we do have is increased attention on Trump’s disastrous and inhumane immigration policies, thanks to an installation by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) Texas, an immigrant rights group.

#DontLookAway: is an exhibit installed by RAICES to call attention to the on-going humanitarian crisis caused by Trump’s immigration policies.

On Monday, just as the caucuses were beginning to start, and voters started making their way to choose their Democratic candidate for president, RAICES installed powerful images across Iowa. Chain-link cages were erected in Des Moines, outside caucus sites, media offices, and other prominent places like city hall. The cages contain fake children inside covered in Mylar blankets, symbolizing the children detained along the border and in detention centers across the country.

Perhaps most powerful: each cage also includes a recording from an actual child who has been kept in detention.

In a press release, Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES said, “The horrors at our border and throughout our immigration system are too often ignored by the public and politicians. We’re asking people in Iowa and across the country: Don’t look away from the terrors enacted in your name. Don’t look away from the kids in cages, the asylum-seekers turned back at our border, the deportation raids destroying communities across the country. This anti-immigrant crackdown has to end.”

RAICES also held a press conference to talk about the actions they were taking on behalf of detained children.

The group is hoping its installation can refocus attention on immigration, given the lack of consideration the issue has received in the presidential race recently.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Andiola said, “One of the things that has been really troubling for us is seeing that immigration has not even been an issue in the last two [Democratic] debates.”

In an email to Mitú, Andiola said: “We’re doing this as the administration has broken records in immigration detention by keeping up to 55,000 people jailed at once, and has sent back more than 60,000 people to Mexico to await their asylum hearings in conditions that are utterly depraved, as we have been documenting for months. We’re doing this as the Trump administration has quadrupled workplace raids that target people holding a job and paying taxes in this country.”

They’re asking for the American public to support a moratorium on deportations in conjunction with Migrant Justice Platform, a collection of policies developed by dozens of grassroots organizations. Additional policies include an end to immigrant detention, citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people in the country, demilitarization of the border, the dismantling of ICE and CBP, and the formation of truth/reconciliation committees examining the human rights abuses committed against immigrants by previous administrations.

The Iowa caucus is significant as the winner of the Iowa caucuses on the Democratic side has often gone on to become the Democratic nominee.

Credit: RAICES

Yes, the population of Iowa is not representative of all of the Unites States. Its population is 90%, yes 90%, white. But it holds an outsized influence over the US nomination process for president as it holds the very first primary/caucus in the nation.

Candidates who do well in Iowa often build the momentum they need to carry themselves through the primary process and emerge as the candidate for the general election come November.

Their exhibition in Iowa isn’t the first to call attention to the cages – and likely won’t be the last.

These cages are similar to the ones we helped install in New York City over the summer, which went viral as thousands of people took photos of the cages and posted them online, even as police eventually dismantled the cages and hauled them off. We’re replicating the action in Des Moines at the height of the most anticipated caucus in modern history.

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RAÍCES Just Used $2 Million In Donations To Free More Than 200 Migrants From Detention And Here’s Why

Things That Matter

RAÍCES Just Used $2 Million In Donations To Free More Than 200 Migrants From Detention And Here’s Why

RAÍCES Texas

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based nonprofit that advocates for immigrants, says it will pay $2.1 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release 200 immigrants detained across 20 states. The effort was made in conjunction with the National Bond Network. Using a network of organizations and volunteers, RAICES began making bond payments all over the country on Wednesday. 

The goal is, of course, to get immigrants out of the detention centers which have been criticized for their inhumane conditions but also to bring attention to the number of detained migrants. 

Some migrants must pay bonds for they can be released from custody.

“It’s ridiculous that people are coming to this country to seek safety, and they’re having to pay these outrageous amounts of money,” said Blake Vera, interim director of RAICES bond fund told CNN. “We’re stepping in to eliminate that financial obstacle.”

Over 47,000 migrants are currently sitting in ICE custody according to the agency. RAICES will make payments to facilities in San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Boston, Hartford and Newark which will see the release of 200 migrants from 44 centers in 20 states. 

According to About Bail, migrants who get arrested and detained must pay a bond in order to be released from custody while they await their court appearance. While ICE does have the power to release the person without forcing them to pay, this often happens subjectively. 

“Bond decisions are based on an alien’s flight risk, and the potential threat to public safety,” ICE told CNN. “Each case is reviewed individually, taking into account factors like immigration history, criminal history and community ties.”

Bonds can range from $1,000 to $25,000 or more and unlike in criminal court, most migrants cannot receive bail.

“Today, we’re paying bonds, there’s some that are $30,000, some that are $20,000 or $10,000,” Vera told Newsweek. “It’s really unfortunate because you navigate this system and then a judge says, ‘okay, you have can have your freedom, but you need to pay $30,000 in ransom in order to escape this prison.'”

Once in custody, detainees must request a bail hearing with an immigration judge. Typically, more than half of these requests are denied. According to RAICES, only 30 percent of migrants who receive hearings are granted bail. 

Organizers say a bailout on this scale has never happened before. 

“This is the largest organized effort to pay this many immigration bonds in one day,” Vera told Newsweek. “We’re kind of in this weird state of being excited and anxious.”

Organizers believe what they called “Fall Freedom Day, was the largest effort to pay off migrant bonds in a single day ever. 

“Nothing like this has really happened before,” Vera said. The RAICES Bond Fund received contributions from 25,000 donors to make immigration bailout happen. 

Critics of the bonds believe they are often unnecessary and punitive, and that migrants who aren’t detained are more likely to thwart deportation and win their court cases. These migrants are better able to find lawyers and build a case more effectively outside of a cage. 

“Immigrants who are not detained and have attorneys are five times more likely to pursue relief and are nearly five times more likely [to] win their cases than those without attorneys, according to the AIC study,” the National Immigrant Justice Center said. “Detained immigrants are 11 times more likely to pursue relief when they have legal counsel and are twice as likely to obtain relief than detained immigrants without counsel.”

RAICES received national attention for raising $20 million in a week to reunite families.  

In 2018, RAICES garnered national attention after a California couple tried to raise $1,500 for the organization on Facebook. When the news cycle was still just unraveling the horrors of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, people were eager to pitch in and help any way they could. 

Dave and Charlotte Willner said that within a few days their little campaign was raising $4,000 a minute for RAICES. It even broke Facebook’s record for donations at the time. 

“What started out as a hope to help one person get reunited with their family has turned into a movement that will help countless people,” the Willners said in a statement.

One couple’s campaign raised $20 million for the nonprofit, enabling it to provide even more services to migrants in the U.S. Vera’s attitude echoed their sentiment saying this is everyone’s fight. 

“This is really a team effort to try to stand up to detention,” Vera said. “Otherwise we’re just kind of feeding into this cycle of paying ransom to ICE.”

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Here’s How One Child Spent His Birthday Asking People To Help Him Raise Money To Close The Camps

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Here’s How One Child Spent His Birthday Asking People To Help Him Raise Money To Close The Camps

Courtesy of Raquel Mata

Children are facing inhumane and deadly conditions in detention camps on the southern border being compared to concentration camps. The crisis is becoming a part of daily conversations and a sad legacy of the Trump administration. That’s why people are trying to fight back by giving money to organizations fighting the atrocious conditions created by the administration’s deadly policies.

A 4-year-old child celebrated his birthday by raising money for an organization fighting against Trump’s immigration policies.

Courtesy of Raquel Mata

“We have joined this birthday with an organization that helps the children detained at the border,” reads the invitation. “If you want to get me a gift, then unite with me and give money as my gift.”

The birthday is everything you would expect from a 4-year-old birthday, complete with a mordida.

Courtesy of Raquel Mata

The only real departure from a typical child’s birthday party was the humanitarian call to action. The birthday boy put his money where his mouth is by wearing a mitú Close The Camps t-shirt. The shirts, made in partnership with RAICES, is raising money for the immigration service organization with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting RAICES.

His mother made it a point to share exactly what they were doing for everyone checking out her Instagram story.

Courtesy of Raquel Mata

“We decided to host a party with a purpose for Ian. With his consent,” she wrote on Instagram. “No games, no clothes, no gifts, but let’s give financial donations to the organization RAICES that helps children who are separated from their parents are the border and puts them in cages.”

Honestly, no one could rock this t-shirt better than Ian.

Courtesy of Raquel Mata

Children younger than the birthday boy are spending untold amounts of time in horrendous conditions in camps along the southern border. Some children have died because of the conditions, like being denied medication, toothbrushes, and beds.

Happy birthday, little dude.

Your parents are clearly very proud of you and the stand you are taking to help children just like you.

Buy your own mitú + RAICES #CloseTheCamps shirt now from the mitú shop.

Credit: mitú shop

You can get own for kids clicking this link. Or one for yourself and all the adults in your life by clicking this link.

READ: This Special Shirt Is Helping RAICES And Kids Who Are Locked Up In Migrant Detention Centers

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