Things That Matter

CBP Officials Are Blaming The Two Deaths Of Undocumented Migrants In One Week On Health Issues

While the news may have shifted toward President Donald Trump’s impeachment and the wildfires in California, the immigration crisis is still very much a prevalent issue here in the U.S. and in Mexico. As the U.S. continues to enforce its “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to go back to Mexico after they have filed their asylum application and await their hearing, Mexico insists they are protecting those undocumented people in their country. However, undocumented people who are living around the border as they wait for their asylum hearing say conditions in Mexico are not good and unsafe. The situation in the U.S. isn’t all that better. 

In just one week, two undocumented people have died while in border patrol custody. They were both being detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Tuscon, Arizona.

Credit: @SonjaHHarris / Twitter

The first unfortunate story comes out of Arizona where a 49-year-old Mexican national died on Oct. 21of an alleged pre-existing heart condition, CBP said in a Tuesday statement, according to The Hill. As of this publishing, the man has yet to be named and no press release statement appears on the CBP website. 

Just a couple of days later, on Oct. 26, a 33-year-old Mexican woman died while also being detained by the CBP in Tuscon. According to the Tucson Sentinel, the woman “was found unconscious at an intersection near Tubac, Ariz., two weeks ago.” She succumbed to her condition at a Tucson hospital on Saturday morning. 

Both deaths appear to be unrelated to their treatment within CBP custody but instead alleged health causes as officials stated. 

Credit: dannowicki / Twitter

In the case of the 33-year-old woman, according to the Tucson Sentinel, “the deputy was responding to a 911 call reported that a woman was passed out at an intersection,” Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for CBP told the newspaper. “She was taken to a Tucson hospital where she was found to have injuries consistent with severe dehydration.”

There’s not much more information regarding the 49-year-old Mexican national who died of a heart condition. CBP officials said in a statement, according to The Hill, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is saddened to report a 49-year-old man from Mexico was pronounced deceased Monday morning in a Southern Arizona hospital. Our condolences are with his family.”

These two deaths in one week are just the latest in a string of recent deaths of undocumented people in CBP and ICE custody.

Credit: @RepTimRyan / Twitter

On Oct. 16, Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, a 43-year-old man from Cuba died after he allegedly committed suicide at the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana.  Then on Oct. 2, Nebane Abienwi, a 37-year-old Cameroon male national died under ICE custody at the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center where “he was undergoing treatment for a brain hemorrhage since Sept. 26,” ICE said in a statement. According to ICE, Abienwi began “experiencing a hypertensive event in the middle of the night” and “began immediate treatment upon arrival.”

It’s unclear how many people have died in CBP or ICE custody because each death is tracked differently in every fiscal year.

Credit: @ACLU / Twitter

Each department handles its own numbers, along with separating by gender and age group (children or adults). It’s also challenging to get an exact number because they track them under their fiscal year which begins in October. Some news outlets report that 24 undocumented people died within the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The Tuscon Sentinial reports that 12 undocumented people died in 2019 alone.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is also keeping track of deaths that occur while undocumented people are being detained. 

When someone dies in government custody, they typically give out the same statement, which is: “ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody. While any death in ICE custody is unfortunate, fatalities in ICE custody are exceedingly rare. Statistically, fatalities in ICE custody occur at a small fraction of the national average for detained populations in federal or state custody.”

Immigration advocates stress that undocumented people are being detained inhumanely and are living in dire conditions.

Credit: @ACLUofColorado / Twitter

Medical personnel and legal teams have expressed that they have witnessed terrible conditions that undocumented people live in each day.

Earlier this year, Victoria López, a Senior Staff Attorney, with the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project said that they are keeping track of their reports about how undocumented people are being treated by these government agencies. “Immigration detention poses life-threatening health and safety risks for the tens of thousands of people who are locked up across the country,” she stated. “These abuses are not only a problem with ICE. The Border Patrol operates a system of jails where migrants are detained, typically in the nation’s border regions. These jails are notoriously known as ‘hieleras,’ or iceboxes, because of the frigid temperatures inside of the cells. The conditions in these cells are so unsafe that a lawsuit was filed in 2015 to force the agency to meet basic constitutional standards.”

READ: In Another Dangerous Attack On Migrants, ICE Is Denying Women Lifesaving Medical Care At This Texas Facility

Today’s Google Doodle Is All About Lotería And You Can Play A Few Rounds With Your Friends

Culture

Today’s Google Doodle Is All About Lotería And You Can Play A Few Rounds With Your Friends

Google

Google is pulling on my Mexican heartstrings! The most popular search engine, which from time-to-time uses its homepage logo as an interactive gateway to educate the public about historical figures and cultural traditions, has over the years celebrated Mexican heritage in beautiful and innovative ways. From honoring Mexican-American icon, Selena Quintanilla in 2017 to Frida Kahlo’s 103rd birthday in 2010, Google is doing a remarkable job of paying tribute to the people and traditions close to our Mexican heart. And today’s honor is just as touching. 

Google is celebrating the most beloved game in Mexican communities, the Lotería!

Credit: Google

Perla Campos, Google Doodle’s Global Marketing Lead, is one of the people responsible for pushing Google’s innovation team to celebrate Mexican culture. She’s the one responsible for pushing the Selena Google Doodle for two years before its premiere. She did the same for the Lotería. 

A smile instantly comes to my face every time I think of Lotería,” Campos wrote on the Google page. “I think of being with my extended family in Mexico for the holidays, scattering around my Tia Cruz’s house, anxiously waiting for a round to start. I think of us tossing beans at each other in attempts to distract the other from our boards. Most importantly, I think of the laughter, the excitement, and how all the worries of the world melted away as this game brought us together, even if just for a few hours.”

The Lotería Google Doodle isn’t just a visual that shares the story of its history but also an interactive game that people can play with friends or strangers.

Credit: Google

Google states that this game is their second-ever multiplayer experience. Campos said that Google was looking to incorporate an interactive game and, of course, she told them about the Lotería. 

“Upon being prompted to think of possible interactive Doodles to create for the following year, Lotería almost instantly came to mind,” Campos said. “I wondered: If this simple game was so magical and powerful in its original state, how might that be amplified in the digital space? And so the Lotería Doodle was born.”

Playing the Lotería that we have played all of our lives and playing the Lotería Doodle is two different things. Here’s why. 

Credit: Google

As I launched into a round of Lotería on the Google page, I surely thought I was going to win until I realized the Lotería playing card didn’t have all of the recognizable characters and icons. In other words, Google reimagined the Lotería card — as other artists have also done with the Lotería card — to fit their brand. So, people will see an “emoji” icon or “la concha.” 

What makes this card and game extra special is that the Lotería Doodle was illustrated and created by Mexican artists.

The guest visual artists that worked on the Lotería Doodle include Mexico-based Chabaski, Mexico-born Cecilia, Hermosillo-born Luis Pinto, Los Angeles-based Loris Lora, and Mexico City-based Vals.

It was exciting to collaborate with five Mexican and Mexican-American illustrators to reimagine many of the classic Lotería game art for the Doodle—along with some new cards for a fun sorpresa!” Campos stated on the Googe page. “We also partnered with popular Mexican YouTuber Luisito Comunica, who serves in the iconic role of game card announcer for the Doodle.” 

Each artist also shared their favorite memories of playing Lotería. 

“I remember when I was around 6 years old, my mom and aunts would gather around a table and play for hours until we had to go home,” Chabaski said. “We would bet a couple of pesos, which made it more fun.”

The Lotería Doodle still honors the traditional game and educates a new generation of people about its origins. 

Credit: Google

“Although it has changed a great deal since being officially copyrighted in Mexico on this day 106 years ago, Lotería is still wildly popular today across Mexico and Latino communities, whether as a Spanish language teaching tool or for family game night,” Campos said. 

Okay, so you’re ready to play?!

Credit: Google

Click here and play with friends or strangers. And, if you want to make the game extra exciting play at home with your laptops and include some money for each round. Nothing wrong with making a buck and having fun. 

READ: 25 Times Latinos Have Graced The Google Doodle

Border Patrol Agents Threw Away Meaningful Items Belonging To Migrants, Now There’s An Art Show Displaying Dozens Of Items

Things That Matter

Border Patrol Agents Threw Away Meaningful Items Belonging To Migrants, Now There’s An Art Show Displaying Dozens Of Items

Tomkiefer.photographe / Instagram

Photographer Tom Kiefer worked as a custodian at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Southern Arizona from 2003 to 2014. When migrants and asylum seekers crossed the Southern border officials would throw away their belongings, medications, and nonessentials during processing. Kiefer collected all of those belongs, arranged them systematically, and photographed them.

The photos will be displayed in the exhibition “El Sueño Americano / The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer” at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. 

The result is eye-catching and colorful art that, upon closer inspection, reveals the rich inner lives of migrants. Kiefer’s photographs of the CDs they were listening to, the medications they were on, and even diary entries provide insight into the almost ordinariness of migrants. These were just people carrying things that meant something to them the way anyone else going somewhere would. Then the U.S. government deemed those personal and sentimental items trash. 

What Kiefer provides is a rarely seen snapshot of what migrants cared about when they came to the United States looking for a better shot. 

Kiefer was documenting American history through his lens and labor. 

“It was my way of documenting a piece of our nation’s history,” Kiefer told the Washington Post

In one of his haunting photos, there are 32 CDs lined up. Some CDs are from artists like Trapt but others are mixed CDs with intimate labels like “Brown Pride” or “Super Sappy Songs for Issa 2.” The image reminds the viewer that these migrants were real people — and we don’t know who any of them are and because of the United States’ ever-changing immigration policies, we don’t know if they’re even OK. 

Kiefer began to find the belongings when he asked if he could donate the canned goods that Border Patrol authorities seized to food pantries. He went through the trash bins to look for the nonperishables, but what he found instead was a wealth of humanity. 

“The Bibles, the rosaries, the family photographs. I was shocked,” he said. “And I didn’t know what to do, because it was obviously being condoned.”

Kiefer knew he would get into trouble if he took other items so everything he gathered was by intuition. Altogether in his years working there he collected 100,000 items. 

“I had to do it all very quick, discreet,” he said. “It was just rapid-fire, split-second decisions about what I could keep and what had to go in the trash, stay in the trash.”

Throwing away migrants’ possessions is particularly cruel, Kiefer feels.

 “[It] underscores the cruelty of the tentative punishment that the government feels the need to levy against these people. It’s clear the majority of which are decent, contributing and who want nothing more than a better life for themselves or for their family,” he told the Los Angeles TimesWhen Kiefer first began going through the trash looking for cans, he found mostly toothbrushes. However, when things appeared to be more personal like religious items and diaries, he felt compelled to save them because, he says, “no one would believe me if I had not collected these items.” He purposefully used colorful backgrounds to humanize the items. He didn’t want a cold, white background that would make things look sterile, more like products than personal items. 
“[The photos are] like a knife to the gut, and that’s precisely something that I think gives this work its power — that it draws you in with its beauty and then it has this really profoundly sad backstory,” Laura Mart, Skirball curator, told the Los Angeles Times.

He hopes the legacy of his exhibition is empathy above all else. 

“Dora the Explorer. A personal belonging carried by a migrant or someone seeking asylum. When apprehended by USCBP while crossing the desert most personal belongings considered non-essential or potentially lethal are confiscated and discarded,” Kiefer wrote in a caption of a children’s Dora the Explorer purse. 

Things like children’s toys, backpacks, and clothing items are enough to infuriate and sadden just about anybody.

“Whether it’s an individual object, shoelaces, I present them in a way that I hope the viewer can not just identify, but just kind of be empathetic, or put themselves in the person or persons’ shoes: ‘Wow, a person carried that.’ ‘That’s the same cologne I use, the same toothbrush or toothpaste,” Kiefer said. 

While he was a custodian during the Obama administration, Kiefer says he didn’t witness the abuses of powers reported under the current president. Kiefer personally condemns the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants and hopes his exhibition will change some peoples’ stances. 

“Is this the nation we want to be?” He said. “The way things are now is not sustainable.”