Things That Matter

This Immigrant Teacher Gets Emotional On ‘The Ellen Show’ After Finding Out What Surprise Was In Store For Her And Her Students

“I make sure that they value their culture as much as I do mine.”

Recently on “The Ellen Show,” Ellen DeGeneres surprised audience member Emily Francis by inviting her onto the stage during the show. DeGeneres introduced Francis to the audience as someone who came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 15 years old with only a 6th grade education. Francis now teaches English as a second language at Irvin Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina.

Francis told the audience about her journey to the U.S. as an immigrant prior to becoming an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. When Francis was 13 years old, her mother immigrated to the U.S. leaving Francis behind in Guatemala to care for her four younger siblings. It wasn’t until Francis was 15 years old, in 1994, that her mother raised enough money to reunite with her children. Despite the obstacles Francis and her siblings faced as immigrants arriving to the U.S., her grandmother, who was a U.S. citizen, was able to help them.

Ever since then, Francis has worked towards becoming an English teacher. She makes it her goal not only to help children learn English, but to embrace and acknowledge every student’s culture.

After speaking to Francis, DeGeneres brought another guest onto the stage and that was Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and Founder of “Chobani,” a popular Greek yogurt company.

Similar to Francis’ story, Ulukaya also immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 from a small village in Turkey where he grew up. Ulukaya admits that when we first moved to New York City, he was overwhelmed by the city. However, he took a risk and decided to buy a factory that was being sold for junk in 2005. “Everybody said I was crazy,” Ulukaya recalled.

With only five factory workers, Ulukaya and his employees began to produce the yogurt that his mother used to make. Now The Chobani Foundation has a total of 2,000 employees.

As a result of this success, The Chobani Foundation decided they wanted to support the elementary school Francis teaches at and surprised her with a check of $100,000. In the video above, you see that Francis was left in utter shock when they brought out the large check. She broke down in tears and thanked Ulukaya again and again.


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This Deported Veteran Has Returned To The US And Is Now An American Citizen

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This Deported Veteran Has Returned To The US And Is Now An American Citizen

SCREENSHOT / Green Card Veterans / FACEBOOK

Last year, Army veteran Miguel Perez was deported to Mexico, now he has finally become a United States citizen. While Perez served in the military with deployments in Afghanistan, a prior nonviolent drug conviction is why officials say the veteran was deported without warning. Perez was granted clemency by Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and with the support of Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran herself, he was finally granted citizenship. 

Perez’s nightmare makes national news.

Perez arrived in the U.S. from Mexico legally when he was 8 years old. His parents and children are citizens, and Perez lived here with a Greencard for much of his life. In 2002 and 2004, Perez served in Afghanistan, when he returned, like many soldiers, he had PTSD. 

Pritzker said Perez should have had an “expedited path to citizenship” by way of an executive order by President George W. Bush, “but due to oversight, he was not afforded that opportunity.”

Perez says the experience at war overseas caused him to have PTSD and become addicted to drugs. It was this untreated addiction that would cause him to receive a felony drug conviction. He was convicted of delivering over two pounds of cocaine to an undercover cop in 2008 where he pleaded guilty. 

After serving his time for 7.5 years, in 2016 he was turned over to immigration officials where his Greencard was revoked. Last year, Perez was deported to Mexico. He says he was given no warning and no chance to speak to his family. 

Illinois Gov. J. N. Pritzker pardons Perez.

After a national public outcry, officials believed Perez was wrongfully deported. Pritzker granted him clemency in hopes of paving the way for the naturalization process with a clean record. “Now we believe that Miguel is eligible for naturalization because criminal conviction doesn’t render him ineligible through ‘bad moral character.’ That’s the term they use,” his lawyer, Chris Bergin told journalists in Laredo, Texas. “That’s what we’re going to argue, and I think it’s a good argument.” 
Bergin was sympathetic to Perez’s situation, suggesting it was a failure of the system to provide adequate support for veterans. 
“He served and saw serious action in Afghanistan,” Bergin said. “If we do support the troops, then we gotta support them all.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth fights on behalf of Perez and immigrants.

Senator Duckworth heard Perez’s case and went through many efforts to spare him from deportation by writing several letters of support including one directly asking U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to personally review his case. 

“Miguel Perez was willing to protect our nation in uniform and his experiences after coming home—including the great lengths he went to reform his life—show us why we should never give up on our combat Veterans. While he shouldn’t have been deported in the first place, I’m glad he’s received this parole after Governor Pritzker granted him clemency to attend his citizenship hearing, and I wish Miguel the best of luck. It will be a proud day for our country when we can call Miguel a fellow American,” Senator Duckworth said in a statement. 

On the one-year anniversary of Perez’s deportation, she re-introduced three bills to support veterans and service members from deportation. The Veterans Visa and Protection Act, HOPE Act and I-VETS Act, “would prohibit the deportation of Veterans who are not violent offenders, give legal permanent residents a path to citizenship through military service and strengthen VA healthcare services for Veterans.” 

Perez becomes finally becomes a citizen. 

Long overdue swearing-in as a US Citizen!!!

Posted by Green Card Veterans on Friday, October 4, 2019

It wasn’t a call that the 41-year-old anticipated given the circumstances, but it was a welcome one nonetheless: he would be sworn in as a United States citizen. 

“I was like no way. Seriously? He was like, ‘Yeah, it’s official,’ ” Perez told CNN of when his lawyer got the news. 

Perez completed the naturalization oath with Green Card Veterans present. Now that he is back in the U.S. the veteran can spend time with his family and receive treatment for his health; Perez was being treated for an undisclosed issue when he received the call. 

“I get to take care of my health, first and foremost,” he said. “It’s been a long … a long journey, a long battle.”

On his first day back, Perez told CNN all he plans to do is go bowling with his son. Inspired by Perez’s situation Senator Duckworth and bill co-sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Mazie Hirono, and Senator Ron Wyden plan to keep fighting to prevent veterans from being deported.

“Men and women willing to wear our uniform shouldn’t be deported by the same nation they risked their lives to defend,” Duckworth said. 

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Pastor And Stripper Who Have Come Together To Raise Money For Migrant Kids

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Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Pastor And Stripper Who Have Come Together To Raise Money For Migrant Kids

clackamasucc / Instagram

“I started brainstorming with a stripper on how the church could help,” Rev. Adam Ericksen said in an interview with People Magazine last week. This pastor teamed up with a stripper to “raise awareness and support for the children in Mississippi who were torn apart by the ICE raids from their families.”

This honestly sounds like the setup for a joke and we’re waiting for the punchline.

Instagram / @clackamasucc

There is no punchline because what this pastor and stripper are fighting for is no laughing matter. The two were horrified when in early August almost 700 people were arrested in an ICE raid in Mississippi. Countless children were left without parents to care for them, feed them, and be there for them. Struck by the injustice, Rev. Adam Ericksen and Dawn McCall started the “Our Kids Charity Campaign,” which was designed to raise money for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, or MIRA. The group provides advocacy and support for immigrants — and, by extension, assists children who have been affected by ICE raids.

So how did a pastor meet a stripper in the first place?

Instagram / @clackamasucc

Rev. Ericksen first caught McCall’s attention a few months ago, after he posted a sign outside his church in support of trans rights. Inspired, McCall got in touch with the reverend over Facebook, saying, “I love what you are are doing, keep it up.” Once the news about the raids got out, it was only a matter of time before Rev. Ericksen and McCall were discussing how the mass detentions had impacted on the community and how they could mobilize their resources to help. What they came up with was handmade, G-rated t-shirts to raise money for MIRA, and similar groups.

Rev. Ericksen’s had mixed feelings when they found out he was collaborating with a stripper and her girls.

Instagram / @laurenssseeley

One the one hand, everyone at the Clackamas United Church of Christ in Oregon, Mississippi was supportive of the reverend’s efforts to raise money for the cause. On the other hand, they were less supportive of the fact that Rev. Ericksen decided to partner with McCall and “her girls” to generate funds. “This was not the first thing on my mind when I became a pastor, that I’d be working with strippers,” said Ericksen, in the interview with People Magazine. “You would never expect a stripper and a pastor having the same values … but here it is.”

And in all honesty, strange times call for even stranger measures.

Instagram / @laurenssseeley

Who would have thought that the US government would essentially spearhead a campaign to separate children from their parents? Even the mayor of Jackson, the state’s capital, said that the raids were “dehumanizing and inhumane,” and were designed to “further alienate communities from law enforcement.” It seems only right that anyone and everyone who has the means to take a stand against the separation of children and parents should do so. Even if that means that reverends and dancers from the local vegan stripping joint have to form their own superhero squad to tackle the issue. Under the hashtag #ourkids – of course.

But let’s stop and think for a second about why this is happening in the first place.

Instagram / @clackamasucc

Here’s the thing: ICE and whatever associated departments that are conducting these raids and facilitating child-parent separations are, on the most fundamental level, simply following governmental policy. They’re not the ones who are developing and passing the laws that permit these atrocities to happen.

Yes this story makes for strange headlines but let’s not forget what this is really about: helping children.

Instagram / @teamblupdx 

McCall sums it up beautifully in a recent Insta post: “I would like to thank our LOCAL MEDIA and our FB and IG followers for helping us spread the word about the #OURKIDS fundraising campaign. However, I need to raise my hand to remind everybody to STAY ON MESSAGE. The #OURKIDS campaign is NOT about a pastor and a stripper … the immigrant families and #OURKIDS in Mississippi were attacked by Donald Trump’s sh*tty government with support from his sh*tty constituents. THESE ARE NOT OUR PEOPLE but those are #OURKIDS. The ICE raids had an evil financial and political agenda that ripped these “not white” families apart, traumatizing them forever!”

And on that note: for those of you who are interested in getting your hot little hands on one of the #ourkids t-shirts, you can find them here, on Etsy.