Things That Matter

A Republican Representative Known To Crack Down On Undocumented Immigrants Stepped In To Stop This Man’s Deportation

A member of the House of Representatives with a history of supporting tough immigration policies recently saved a Guatemalan man from being deported.

Representative Duncan Hunter serves California’s 50th district, which includes San Diego’s East County, parts of Temecula and Escondido. Also included in his district is a town called Fallbrook, Calif., which is between Temecula and Escondido.

Rep. Hunter has been a pretty strong proponent of increasing border security through the Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act, a bill he authored that allows for 350 miles of “additional reinforced fencing” along the southwestern border, according to his website. He also supported appropriation bills from the Department of Homeland Security to fund 34,000 detention beds and 21,186 Customs and Border Patrol agents, and signed a letter to save the funding for the 287g program, which allows for local and state officers to join in partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain undocumented immigrants. Rep. Hunter also supports the deportation of U.S. born children with undocumented immigrant parents.

Yet, in late July, Rep. Hunter’s office intervened in the deportation of Mario Figueroa of Fallbrook, Calif.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Figueroa, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, was scheduled for deportation last week. Figueroa came to the U.S. when he was a child. His family was seeking asylum since they faced severe violence in Guatemala. The San Diego Union-Tribune also reported that Figueroa’s parents had been deported years ago. Figueroa says that he was stopped while riding in a friend’s car and was immediately asked about his immigration status.

“Elijah [the driver] and I believe it was racial profiling. First thing they asked was ‘are you guys citizens.’ Nothing else,” Figueroa tells mitú. “I got randomly stopped and detained by border patrol and as I was at the Murrieta Station [now known as the Theodore L. Newton, Jr. and George F. Azrak Station] they ran my prints and said I was a fugitive of ICE for supposedly skipping out on a judge or court.”

Figueroa, a 22-year-old husband and father of a young child, was in detention for ten days before he was released and spared the fate of deportation with the assistance of Rep. Hunter’s office. It’s unclear how Rep. Hunter became aware of the case, or why he stepped in to help Figueroa specifically.

Before being detained, Figueroa had applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and his application was pending. DACA is a program implemented by President Obama that allows for people brought to the U.S. as young children to receive work permits and are relegated to low-priority deportations.

“Whenever there’s a valid reason and opportunity to intervene or to accelerate a petition on behalf of constituents or families needing help, Rep. Hunter is always willing to do the legwork and make a case to officials,” Joe Kasper, Rep. Hunter’s spokesperson, told The San Diego Union-Tribune about the decision. “And that’s what happened in this instance. There was both reason and opportunity and we’re glad a decision was made.”

Mitú reached out to Rep. Hunter and his spokesperson for clarification about what compelled them to stop Figueroa’s deportation, but they did not respond. As reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, Carlos Paz Martinez, a 25-year-old father of a young child with a pending application for DACA, was deported last month, which is the same situation as Figueroa. Paz Martinez is from El Cajon, which is partially represented by Rep. Hunter. There are no reports of Rep. Hunter attempting to aid Paz Martinez.

Figueroa says that he was unaware of Rep. Hunter’s involvement in getting him released until after he was free. He expressed gratitude for Rep. Hunter’s office stepping in to prevent his deportation.

“It feels good knowing there are people like him willing to help people like me who believed we were alone,” says Figueroa.

He believes that high ranking officials need to work to repair the nation’s immigration system. Figueroa also thinks that other people in his situation should see his story as proof that you can avoid deportation if you speak up.

“To the people who are in my situation or could be in the situation, I just want to say to them that they aren’t alone and they should speak out because you never know who can be listening,” Figueroa says. “I thought I was alone and look what happened. I got help from friends, family and even a congressman.”


READ: This Senator Live Tweeted His Desperate Attempt To Save A Mother And Child From A ‘Death Sentence’ Deportation

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Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

Things That Matter

Five Migrant Girls Were Found Left Alone And Abandoned In The Texas Heat

This past March, according to El Pais, migrants crossed the Rio Grande at an all-time high not seen in the past 15 years. US government reports underlined that a total of 171,000 people arrived at the southern border of the United States in March. Eleven percent were minors who made the journey by themselves.

Reports say that this vulnerable group will continue to grow in size with recent shifts in the Biden administration child immigration policies. Five migrants girls recently found by the river recently became part of this group.

An onion farmer in Quemado recently reported that he found five migrant girls on his land.

The girls were each under the age of seven, the youngest was too small to even walk. Three of the girls are thought to be from Honduras, the other two are believed to have come from Guatemala.​ Jimmy Hobbs, the farmer who found the girls, said that he called the Border Patrol gave the children aid by giving them water and food and putting them in the shade.

“I don’t think they would have made it if I hadn’t found them,” Hobbs told US Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) in a New York Post. “Because it got up to 103 yesterday.”

“My thoughts are that it needs to stop right now. There are going to be thousands. This is just five miles of the Rio Grande,” Hobbs’ wife added in their conversation with Gonzalez. “That’s a huge border. This is happening all up and down it. It can’t go on. It’s gonna be too hot. There’ll be a lot of deaths, a lot of suffering.” 

“It is heartbreaking to find such small children fending for themselves in the middle of nowhere,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Austin Skero II explained of the situation in an interview with ABC 7 Eyewitness News. “Unfortunately this happens far too often now. If not for our community and law enforcement partners, these little girls could have faced the more than 100-degree temperatures with no help.”

According to reports, the Customs and Border Protection stated that the five girls​ ​will be processed and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.​

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‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

Entertainment

‘For Rosa’ Unravels The Madrigal Ten’s Fight For Reproductive Justice After Forced Sterilizations In California

It’s 1970. Groans of discomfort permeate a Los Angeles County Hospital hallway as a Mexican-American woman is in labor. This is going to be her first child.

Little does she know that it’ll also be her last.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

“This is an example of erasure,” director Kathryn Boyd-Batstone told mitú.

For Rosa, details a harrowing reality for many women of color in 1970s California. Inspired by the 1978 Madrigal v. Quilligan case, the story follows Eva, a mother faced with the pivotal decision to join the Madrigal Ten after discovering she was unknowingly sterilized.

Wanting to highlight each individual experience, Boyd-Batstone described her heroine as “a fictional composite character” inspired by multiple plaintiffs from the Madrigal Ten.

At first glance, Eva’s story prominently resembles the experience of plaintiff Melvina Hernández.

Hernández, at 23, signed a document that allegedly consented to an emergency C-section. Fearmongering by doctors and nurses highlighted a perceieved risk of mortality, pressuring her to sign a document she couldn’t read.

Four years later, she was informed that she had actually signed for a tubal ligation.

The history of eugenics is an ugly one, acting as a form of silent genocide.

In Eva’s case, medical professionals take advantage of her. Doctors and nurses took advantage of her language barrier and the pain of child labor.

The story, while historical, is relevant in the current context of the Trump era’s immigration policies.

Last year, an ICE nurse whistleblower reported the nonconsensual mass hysterectomies of migrant women detained at the border.

In the U.S. and Canada, Indigenous women have continuously been sterilized despite pro-sterilization policies ending in the 1970s.

“Although the court case happened over fifty years ago, we are still in a time where reproductive rights are not respected,” Boyd-Batstone said. “This is not an issue of the past, and so the fight continues.”

California’s eugenics laws disproportionately targeted Latinas.

California was one of the leading states in eugenics-informed practices.

After passing a law in 1909 that allowed medical practitioners to sterilize patients, the motives of cultural erasure became clear.

Hiding behind “good medicine” were racist and xenophobic incentives aimed to eliminate potential “welfare” cases.

Under this discriminatory pretense, Latinas were 59 percent more likely to be forcibly sterilized.

The United States has an extensive history of nonconsensual medical experimentation on Black and Brown communities.

Studies like the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which lasted over 40 years, in part, shaped the mistrust between the Black community and the medical industry.

A mistrust that remains prevalent in the 21st century.

The Madrigal Ten is a testament to the fight for reproductive rights and women of colors’ autonomy.

In 1975, Dolores Madrigal alongside nine other women filed a class-action lawsuit against L.A. County-USC Medical Center for the nonconsensual tubal ligations that occurred during child labor.

A complicated ordeal that received little funding, 26-year-old Chicana Civil Rights attorney Antonia Hernández impressively took on the case. Boyd-Batstone who read the court documents said, “it became obvious that at the time the hospital did not have adequate steps in place to make sure their patients could give informed consent.”

Dr. Karen Benker, the only physician to testify against the hospital, told the New York Times in 2016 that “voluntary informed consent” didn’t exist in the early 70s.

That is until after the National Research Act of 1974 following public outcry from the Tuskegee study.

Following Roe v. Wade, the Madrigal Ten case sought to end the forced sterilizations of women of color, define informed consent and provide consent forms in Spanish at a reading level individuals could understand.

In 2016 PBS released a documentary on the case called “No Más Bebes,” which greatly inspired Boyd-Batstone to create For Rosa.

“The main feeling that stuck with me after watching the documentary was how much strength it must have taken these women to face someone who tried to take their identity and demand accountability,” she said.

Validating women of color’s experiences was essential for Boyd-Batstone. While the film mirrors the malpractices of the medical industry, brought upon by systematic racism and bias, she also hopes that women who have felt “diminished or uneasy around doctors” find the courage to speak out.

For Rosa, sheds light on traditional themes of womanhood and Chicana feminism.

“Stop Forced Sterilization” poster by Rachael Romero, 1977. // Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Simultaneously, the lawsuit took place during the rise in Chicana activism.

As tensions between mainstream white feminism and women of color peaked; Chicana activists put legislative reform and reproductive justice at the forefront. Furthermore, they brought awareness to discrimination as it intersects race, class, gender, and immigration.

Though on the sidelines, the case also harbored on the cultural question of defining femininity.

Worried for the state of her marriage, the correspondence of fertility with femininity felt dense. Heavily ingrained in machismo culture; the pain and frustration of no longer being able to conceive are palpable.

But the strength and courage to speak out defies all odds.

“As women, especially Latina women, I don’t think many stories show us how to do this,” Boyd-Batstone said. “So it was important to me to, one, honor the Madrigal Ten’s bravery but [to also] show young girls what it looks like to stand up and fight for your rights.” 

Though it has been nearly 50 years since the Madrigal Ten case, the fight for women’s autonomy and reproductive rights is ongoing.

Courtesy of Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

On June 7, 1978, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the USC Medical Center. Judge Jesse Curtis stated that miscommunication and language barriers resulted in unwanted sterilizations.

Nonetheless, the lawsuit’s impact was potent. The California Department of Health revised its sterilization guidelines to include a 72-hour waiting period and issued a booklet on sterilization in Spanish.

In 1979, California abolished its sterilization law after 70 years.

More than 20,000 people of various races and ethnicities were sterilized during this time.

For Rosa ends with archival footage of Dolores Madrigal and Antonia Hernández announcing the lawsuit. Nevertheless, its timely release is indicative of the continual demands for justice today.

Now more than ever we must remember the narratives of the Madrigal Ten, and other Black and Brown activists who continue to pave the way for change.

“My hope is that For Rosa humanizes the women so that whatever culture or race or gender you are, you can empathize with the women as human beings,” Boyd-Batstone said.

“My hope is that every person who watches understands that these Latina women are deserving of respect.” 

Para Rosa (For Rosa) is available to stream on HBO Max.

READ: Joe Biden Says ‘Healthcare is Not a Privilege, It’s a Right,’ Donald Trump and the GOP Disagree

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