Things That Matter

Trump Administration Will Stop Treating Sick Migrants Deporting Them Back To Their Home Countries

Last year, the Trump administration stunned the world by announcing an unprecedented “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Prior to this, families entering the United States without documentation were held together while awaiting their hearing. The new and inhumane policy forcefully separated children from their parents with no exception and led to overcrowding at detention centers.

The Trump administration has a documented record of not caring for migrants’ health and wellbeing.

Credit: @NBCInvestigates / Twitter

Slowly and surely, the Trump administration is finding ways to dismantle and remove protections for the undocumented community. This week, another unprecedented and inhumane restriction was announced. The federal government is now ending the “medical deferred action” policy, which allowed immigrants – who have a serious medical condition, such as cancer – to remain protected in the United States without risk of deportation.

Under the policy, the patient and immediate caregiver/parent were able to apply for medical stay with proof that treatment was unavailable in the country of origin. Stay was then granted for two-years at a time, which included a work permit for the family member that accompanied the patient.

Now, the Trump administration is reversing a policy that offered migrants a stay from deportation for medical issues.

Credit: @stephmsolis / Twitter

Earlier this month, without warning, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office (a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security) began sending out rejection letters to families protected under this program who had sent in their renewal applications, notifying them they have 33 days to leave the country or face deportation. In addition, the USCIS claims they will no longer be accepting new applications either.

The only exceptions to the new policy change are for those in the military and those protected under DACA.

Credit: @HispanicCaucus / Twitter

This could be the difference between life and death for many. Like the case of 16-year Jonathan Sanchez, who is receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis. He and his family are from Honduras, where his parents lost a daughter to the same illness. When Jonathan was a baby, his parents sent in blood samples to the United States in hopes of receiving medical treatment and saving his life. In 2016 they were able to apply and were granted permission to enter the United States under the medical deferral program. Jonathan has now been receiving treatment over the last three years. He is waiting to hear news of his renewal.

WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR affiliate was the first to break the story a few days ago when the Irish International Immigrant Center began receiving the rejection letters.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the USCIS department has announced that all applications will now be rerouted and processed through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whose mission is to deport immigrants. 

Now attorneys are unsure of which way to advise clients because an attempt to fight this change in order to save the life of your child, will now put you and your child in direct risk of possible deportation.

The current acting director of USCIS is Ken Cuccinelli, who was quoted as wanting to alter the words on the Statue of Liberty to instead read “Give me your tired and your poor… who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” Cuccinelli is dedicated to “keeping Trump’s promises” and is currently hard at work finding ways to make life more difficult by denying green cards and visas to immigrants that, currently have or will need, public assistance including food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid. Which implies that only wealthy immigrants would be “welcome.”

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, is standing by Trump’s policies.

Credit: @USCISCuccinelli / Twitter

“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them,” Cuccinelli has stated.

So I guess he’s just going to ignore that whole “give me your tired, you POOR…” part of the Statue of Liberty and American history.

But applications are now being routed to ICE and the man behind that department is, Matthew Albence, the newly appointed Acting Director.

Albence has made controversial statements, like doubling down on his comments during his testimony in 2018, where he stated that the experience in the detention centers – that children are being held in – was comparable to summer camp.

One year later, we now know the truth of the horrific and inhumane conditions the camps are actually in.

But what is most concerning about the man behind ICE, is that in 2017, when he was part of Homeland Security and reported to Secretary John Kelly, Albence actually went a step further than the new Trump administration had instructed. At the time, the directive was to pretty much the same as the original purpose of the organization to “focus on apprehending illegal immigrants that had committed crimes or posed a security risk.”

Except Albenece decided to send out his own memo to agents: “Effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.” This gave the green light for agents to hunt down anyone they “think” is undocumented, regardless of having committed a crime or not. 

The head of ACLU Massachusetts has already vowed to that they will fight the medical deferred policy change in court.

What is hopeful is that we are not in this fight alone. The ACLU and MALDEF (and many other organizations) are leading the fight against this administration. What we can do, for those of us that can, is to go out there and vote, stay engaged and follow local and state elections as well. Those that we elect on the local and state level are the people that will ultimately fight or support the current laws and restrictions sent down from the federal government, so choose wisely.

READ: Experts Are Warning The U.S. Supreme Court About The Economic Impacts Of Rescinding DACA Protections

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

Things That Matter

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

We’ve come to the point in American history where deaths due to gun violence have become what many would call a crisis. According to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, guns were responsible for more deaths than car accidents were. So it comes to no surprise when certain activists take it upon themselves to bring attention to what many label an epidemic. On Wednesday, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of “protecting children from gun violence with programs that work”, did just that. The NPO released a short video, titled “Back-To-School-Essentials” that made waves through the internet.

The video begins exactly the way so many back-to-school commercials start: discussing the coolest new gadgets to buy for your kids this Fall.

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

A smiling boy pulls a backpack out of a locker, bragging that his mom got him the “perfect bag for back to school”. A young girl shows off the colorful binders that are “just what she needs to help her stay organized” for the school year. But things take an odd turn with the third student. As the student describes his headphones as “just what [he] needs for studying”, we can see that not all is quite right in the background. As the boy listens to his music, oblivious, we see students running in the behind him, appearing to be panicked.

As the commercial wears on, it becomes even eerier when students are speaking carefree to the camera while scenes of carnage unfold around them. The commercial wears on with each scenario becoming eerier: a girl uses her sweater to bar a door shut, keeping an active shooter out of the gymnasium. A different student uses her new socks as a tourniquet to keep a bleeding student alive. The video ends on a chilling note: a young girl hides in a bathroom stall, tears running down her face. The camera closes up on her as we hear an active shooter enter the bathroom. “I love you, Mom,” she types into her phone.

The video ends with a simple title-card over a black screen: “School shooting is preventable when you know the signs.”

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

The PSA then directs the viewer to find out more about the organization at sandyhookpromise.org. According to Sandy Hook Promise’s About page, the “above-the-politics” organization is made up of “several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012”. Their mission is to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation”. Their main action-items are to target mental health programs to individuals who are “at-risk” at engaging in gun violence and by advocating for policy changes in order to prevent school shootings. 

As of now, the video has racked up over 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.

The virality of the PSA is likely due to its execution: we’re all used to seeing vacuous back-to-school commercials whose sole intentions are to sell us something. “Back-To-School Essentials” lulls us into a sense of comfort with its upbeat music before jerking us into the current violent reality of school-aged students’ lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country, the US has had 283 mass shootings since September 1st of 2019. 

The video isn’t without controversy–some Twitter users are disturbed by how close to home the video’s scenarios are.

In fact, many viewers are finding the PSA hard to watch. On Twitter, users are complaining of tearing up after watching the video. Some even claim to “feeling sick” by the video’s contents. 

In response, some Twitter users are glad of the reality-check the PSA is providing:

It’s evident that making their audience uncomfortable from watching the video was one of the organization’s goals. That way, it makes it harder to ignore the reality of school shootings and their impact on children’s lives.

This woman explained how the video hit a little too close to home:

It seems we’ve come to the point in our culture where we feel we need to buy phones for our children in the event that they experience a school shooting. 

This Twitter user applauded the Sandy Hook Promise Organization’s bravery in committing to their message:

Sometimes the only way to get your point across is to explain, in the starkest terms possible, how dire the situation is. This video managed to convey that in a powerful way.

This Latina was effected by the PSA on a visceral level:

Reactions like this prove that public service announcements, when done right, can achieve exactly what they set out to achieve.

Simply from the Twitter reaction, it’s clear that this video has touched a lot of people.

To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and its mission to prevent gun violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.

Trump Visits California And Border Wall, His Infamous Sharpie Makes Another Appearance

Things That Matter

Trump Visits California And Border Wall, His Infamous Sharpie Makes Another Appearance

President Donald Trump Tours the Progress on the Border Wall in San Diego, CA / Youtube

Just like his democratic counterparts, Trump is making his way across the country trying to raise money for his 2020 reelection campaign. 

After leaving New Mexico (where he made an extremely awkward appeal to Hispanic voters), Trump headed for California to raise money at extremely secretive fundraisers. Now, deep blue California isn’t typically on Trump’s radar (unless it’s targeting state policies meant to aid migrants or clean up the environment) but he had no problem visiting the state to collect some coins and tour his vanity project — the border wall. So after visiting Silicone Valley and LA, Trump headed to San Diego. 

Trump was in San Diego to raise money and to visit the border wall for a photo op.

A presidential visit to San Diego would not be complete without a stop along the US-Mexico border and Trump did not disappoint as he traveled to Otay Mesa to view border fencing between the two countries.

Trump toured the border area of Otay Mesa after a fundraiser in San Diego and met with officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Defense. He referred to the barrier, which replaced much shorter panels originally installed in the 1990s, as nearly impenetrable.

“This wall can’t be climbed,” he said. “It’s designed to absorb heat…. You can fry an egg on that wall. It’s very, very hot. If you want to climb it, you’re going to have to bring hoses and water.”

Trump visited Otay Mesa last year to tour prototypes of his proposed border wall, and supporters and protesters turned out to greet him.

“This is top of the line,” Trump said of a fence being constructed to replace an older barrier along the border. 

According to Trump, San Diego was begging for the wall. “San Diego was, they were just thanking me for the wall we built in San Diego. It’s like, they said it’s a difference of day and night. They actually said it’s 100 percent. The only thing is, we have to now expand it out,” he said.

And if Trump’s visit to the border couldn’t get more ridiculous, he actually signed the wall. 

People, this is not a drill. The President of the United States is literally taking sharpies to government property. Once a classless reality TV show host…always a classless reality TV show host. 

But let’s not forget, Trump’s claim that the border wall is new is a complete lie. 

Trump is using this San Diego border wall visit purely as a photo op. He knows that the border wall is one of his signature campaign issues and one that his core supporters want to see completed. 

So even though, according to his own government, zero miles of new border wall has actually been built, Trump is trying to hard to spin the truth. In fact, an NBC News report fact-checked Trump’s claim, reporting that while “the U.S. has replaced or reinforced 66 miles of fencing, including 9 miles of new secondary fencing,” the Trump administration “has yet to extend the border wall,” as suggested by Fox.

Additional reporting from The Washington Post on September 6 also fact-checked a September 4 claim by Trump that “the wall is being built. It’s going up rapidly. … We’re building very large sections of wall.” According to the Post, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of ‘replacement’ barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure.” 

Of course where Trump goes, protesters follow. 

And it was no different in San Diego. From the moment he arrives, protesters were ready to go with the now ubiquitous Trump Baby balloon. 

Protesters with the Backbone campaign gathered at Horton Plaza Park ahead of the president’s expected appearance at a campaign fundraiser at the US Grant hotel, located a short distance away from the park.

San Diegans weren’t having any of Trump’s visit.

Can’t say I disagree. I felt the same when he was in LA.

While some on Twitter called him out for the continued lie about San Diego’s border wall. 

Much like the NBC and Post reports, this San Diegan seems to confirm that Trump is indeed lying about progress on the border wall. 

His visit to the wall comes a day after he was in LA and San Francisco to raise money for his 2020 re-election campaign. 

Trump headlined a Beverly Hills fundraiser Tuesday night that was also shrouded in secrecy. The dinner was the second stop of a two-day swing through California that is expected to raise more than $15 million for the president’s reelection campaign.

He also used his trip to criticize the homelessness problem in Los Angeles and San Francisco, two strongly Democratic cities. But has offered up little in policy ideas or suggestions on how to address the situation.

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” he told reporters on Air Force One on Tuesday, suggesting that the issue had dented those cities’ reputations.