Things That Matter

[VIDEO] Graduate Makes His Family Proud And Finds Out In The Most Emotional Way Possible

Getting through college, earning your degree, and graduating is not an easy process – especially when you’re a first-generation college student. But despite the stress and sleepless nights, reaching the finish line is the best feeling in the world because you know you’ll be able to share in the glory with your friends and family.

Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

For one college student, things didn’t work out that way and his story is now going viral.

In the Twitter video, a young graduate gets emotional after hearing the voice of his recently deported papi in a teddy bear.

The video has already been viewed more than 200,000 times and received hundreds of comments.

According to the video, his parents were recently deported and his sister bought him a teddy bear that had a recording of his father’s voice.

The father goes on to tell his son how proud he is of his son’s accomplishments and omg we can’t handle all the emotion.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

For real though, like we are all crying.

Many on Twitter took this as a chance to remind everyone you never know how much time you have with your family.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

So make sure to treat every moment with them like it could be your last.

And others wanted to give a shout out to the young boy who, despite the trauma and stress of the situation, is still making his dreams come true.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

Like seriously, the boy loses his parents to deportation. Imagine the trauma and sadness he must be experiencing. Yet somehow he’s found the strength to not give up on his dreams.

En serio…this kid is making us all so proud.

Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to make your parents even more proud.

The compassionate sister also got loads of shout outs from a truly awe-inspired Twitter.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

For facing such a traumatic situation herself, props to her for trying to bring some light and joy into her brother’s life on this very special day.

Some Dads on Twitter spoke up and couldn’t imagine having had this happen to them or their children.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

Sure, it’s not the America we’re told about or taught about in class but it’s the America that we are living in and this is happening to thousands of people in our community.

The #KeepFamiliesTogether was invoked dozens of times in comments begging for the recent graduate to be reunited with his family.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

The Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane treatment of children and families has been a rallying cry for activists and community leaders to stand up and demand justice for families who have been separated.

And some on Twitter wanted to make sure that no matter how alone he feels without his parents, he has an entire new set of allies in his corner.

Credit: @_SJPeace_ / Twitter

As a recent graduate, you work so hard and always hope to be able to share that special moment with your closest friends and family – especially your papas who helped make it happen with their love and encouragement.

Some on Twitter pointed out that the video is actually from last year when the boy in the video lost his father in a car accident and his mother gave him the teddy bear. Truly heartbreaking.

VIDEO: Parents Break Down In Tears Over How Their Daughter Is Honoring Them At Her College Graduation

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Things That Matter

Human Smuggling Is Suspected In The Tragic SUV Accident That Killed 13 Migrants

Another tragic story has unfolded at the U.S. – Mexico border, this time involving the deaths of at least 13 people who were allegedly being smuggled into the United States. Although investigators are still working to piece together the tragic chain of events, one thing has become clear: we need serious immigration reform now.

13 people died in a tragic SUV accident near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tragedy unfolded when a Ford Expedition carrying 27 people smashed into a gravel truck near the town of El Centro, about 30 miles from the border. Officials say that the Ford SUV and a Chevrolet Suburban, which was carrying 19 people, were earlier caught on video entering the U.S. as part of a smuggling operation.

The Suburban immediately caught fire after entering the U.S., but all the occupants managed to escape and were taken into custody by Border Patrol officers. It’s still unknown why the first vehicle caught fire.

The Ford SUV continued along its route when it collided with a gravel truck. Ten of the 13 people who died in the accident have now been identified as Mexican nationals, Gregory Bovino, the Border Patrol’s El Centro sector chief told the Associated Press.

“Human smugglers have proven time and again they have little regard for human life,” said Mr. Bovino.

An SUV designed for 7 or 8 people was carrying 27 people.

California Highway Patrol said that the Ford Expedition was designed to hold seven to eight passengers safely. But in this case all of the seats had been removed apart form the driver and front passenger seats in order to pack people in.

“When I pulled up on scene, there were bodies everywhere,” Alex Silva, the Holtville fire chief, told the LA Times. “I’ve been doing this for 29 years and that’s the worst scene I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to calls where we’ve had four or five people dead. I’ve gone to calls where we had a bus accident that had 24 people. But it wasn’t the fatalities that we had in this one.”

“I’ve never seen an SUV with 25 people in it. I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like being cooped up in there.”

Officials are confident the tragedy is connected to a human smuggling operation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they suspected the deadly crash was tied to human smuggling after the Ford Expedition and a red Suburban were caught on surveillance footage coming through a breach in the border fence. Border Patrol agents insist they did not stop or pursue either vehicle, although community activists express skepticism. Either way, the outcome illustrated the high stakes involved in human smuggling.

While it’s unclear what caused the crash, Jacqueline Arellano, 38, who works with the nonprofit Border Angels, said crashes involving vehicles packed with people aren’t unusual in the region. Arellano, who grew up in El Centro, recalled a crash in 2003 in which she witnessed a Border Patrol vehicle chase an SUV packed with people on Highway 8 heading west toward San Diego.

Migrant advocates agree that major changes need to take place in our country’s immigration laws so that deadly tragedies such as this one never happen again.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

Things That Matter

This Inmate Firefighter Was Nearly Killed Battling California Blazes But Now He’s Facing Deportation

Across the United States there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Americans doing their part to protect and better the country. But far too often, our communities and our leaders don’t return the favor.

One man, a former inmate who was injured while battling California’s historic wildfires, was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he was released from prison. Instead of being given a second chance, he faces likely deportation back to his native country of Laos – a place he hasn’t known since he was 4 years old.

A California man is facing deportation after nearly dying on the frontlines of the state’s wildfires.

A formerly incarcerated firefighter who helped battle California’s historic wildfires is now in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, after the state notified the agency he was being released.

Bounchan Keola, 39, left his native Laos at the age of 4. His home is here in the United States – in San Leandro, CA to be exact. But he’s facing the ultimate punishment of being sent back to a place he knows nothing about.

“He made a mistake as a child. He came here impoverished and he was resettled as a refugee when he was 6,” said his San Francisco Asian Law Caucus attorney, Anoop Prasad. “And he literally risked his life. California didn’t have to call ICE to deport him…This case is extremely sad and unfortunate. Society has failed him again and again.” 

Even more shocking is that Keola only had 14 days left on his prison term when he was crushed by a tree while battling the Zogg Fire in early October. He was soon released from prison but then taken into immigration custody by ICE.

While fighting a wildfire, Keyla was severely injured.

Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Although Keola was convicted of attempted second degree murder, not only has he served his term but he also gave back to the community as one of the thousands of inmate firefighters battling the state’s blazes. In fact, he received a shorter prison sentence because of the extra credit he earned for fighting fires. 

Incarcerated firefighters get two days credit off their sentence for every day they’re working and are paid up to $5 a day. It’s estimated they save the state tens of millions of dollars a year. 

But then Keola got injured.

While he was stationed in Redding, CA., a tree fell on him while he was clearing brush to stop the fire from spreading. He is still in excruciating pain, his lawyer said, and he has not received the proper medical attention.

Since his release from prison, Keola has been in ICE detention.

Just seven days after being injured and with seven days left in his prison term, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notified ICE that his release would be coming up. On Oct. 16, the day Keola finished serving his prison sentence in Sacramento, ICE came to pick him up. On Oct. 29, an immigration judge ordered his removal to Laos, records show.

Since being picked up by ICE, Keola has been held at a detention facility in Kern County. Although he faces a deportation order, Laos doesn’t have a repatriation agreement with the U.S., which means he could end up staying in California. But his fate is still unclear. And only a pardon from Newsom, his attorneys said, would expunge his record and allow him to go home freely to his parents and sister. 

I just want to go home and give my mom and dad a hug,” Keola told The Guardian, the first news organization to report the story. “All I know is I’m American. I’ve never thought of myself not being a citizen. I’m just asking for that one, second chance.”

Keola’s fate is in the hands of Gov. Newsom as he awaits a potential pardon for his crime.

Gov. Newsom has painted himself as a champion of those who have been incarcerated and fought on the front lines to save California during the wildfire season. That’s why Keola and his attorney say that his fate is in the hands of the governor. He has asked for a pardon from his prison sentence, showing that he has changed for the better and that his service to the state battling wildfires should count for something.

On Sept. 11,  Newsom signed AB 2147, a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to be able to try to expunge their records and become professional firefighters. Inmates who have stood on the frontlines, battling historic fires should not be denied the right to later become a professional firefighter,” Newsom later said in a tweet after signing the bill. 

Yet Keola, an inmate fighting fire on the frontlines, hasn’t been given that chance. And although California is a sanctuary state, which forbids most cooperation with ICE, Keola was still handed over to the agency.

Newsom’s spokesperson, Jesse Melgar, said in a statement: “We are unable to discuss individual clemency applications, but can assure that each application receives careful and individualized consideration.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com