Category Archives: Election

Immigration and Family Separation: Hoochie’s Hoot

By Daniela Tellechea, Annie Jonas and Anto Rondón

I’m sure you’ve already heard about it. Families have been discriminated against, detached, and detained because of their immigrant status. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “more than 2,300 children have been forcibly taken from their parents.”

The vast majority of these children were brought to the U.S. by their parents in search of protection from the peril of their native countries. “Eighty-eight percent of detained families have demonstrated to a DHS asylum officer that they have a credible fear of persecution if deported,” reports the ACLU.

President Trump has never been a fan of immigrants — he has consistently shown apathy, disapproval and repudiation of people of color. He has attacked Latinos, Muslims, Black women and men, and other POCs. We cannot forget that a large part of his campaign to “Make America Great Again” included building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Then, it is not surprising to see stricter measures being taken at the border. When Attorney General Sessions announced the “zero-tolerance policy” — which presumed that every person coming into the border would be seen first as a criminal, and second as an asylum seeker/refugee — this led to the separation of children from their parents, and the administration gained immediate rejection worldwide, as well as immense national backlash.

At the time, President Trump blamed the Democrats’ unwillingness to approve the wall for the separation of families. On June 15th, 2018 he tweeted, “The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda.” He continued, “Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!” These tweets foreshadowed the changes that would alter the course of many lives and change the face of American enactments.

After being pressed and criticized for days, President Trump issued an Executive Order on June 20th, stating he no longer mandated the separation of families; however, he is still pushing for stricter immigration laws and continues to make references to his beloved wall. Additionally, he has not addressed family reunification issues.

The order reads, “It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws. Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at an appropriate time. When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment…”

He has posted various tweets since then, condemning Democrats for interfering with his plan. His plan being to “cut the number of legal immigrants [entering] to the U.S. by 50% over the next 10 years” based on the proposals he’s backed, according to an article on BBC News posted on June 21st. Recently he jabbed at Democrats saying, “It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

Measures have already been taken to make room for even more detention camps for immigrants, now on military bases. A report by BBC News published on June 23rd presents that the U.S. military “had been asked by the government to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children.” These efforts actually add to the expenses that relate to immigration. The report stated, “The Navy memo estimates the force would spend $233 million (£175m) to run a facility for 25,000 people for six-months.”

However, the most difficult cost is the psychological cost children are paying. NBC News reported on June 28th, 2018 that even after the Executive Order to no longer separate families, “immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings.” This seems inconceivable, but it “is not a new practice.”

More than 2,000 children will most likely be shuffled through court proceedings, despite the deep psychological trauma they have faced. This is especially dangerous because “the parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves.”

The trauma that these children faced in their home country, followed by a most-likely difficult journey to the U.S., then a gruesome detainment and separation from their families, and now the burden of representing themselves in court make for a situation that Dr. Bernard Dreyer of the NYU School of Medicine deems “unconscionable.”

The NBC report explains a case of an attempt at policies of unification: “A federal judge Tuesday night commanded the White House to reunify families within 14 days if the child is under 5 and 30 days if the child is older. The Justice Department has not indicated whether it will appeal. Attorneys who are involved in the cases said it’s unclear how the judge’s order will work in practice, and when and how it could take effect.”

While there is certainly efforts being made by attorneys and judges to reunify children with their families, there is nothing being done by the President.

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that they are trying to unify a child with their parent or a sponsor, but did not specify how long this would take. “More than 2,000 children who were separated from their parents at the border have been dispatched to the far corners of the nation and to care facilities and foster homes,” the NBC report explains.

Moreover, becoming a sponsor for these children is an increasingly difficult feat, which leaves children abandoned and still separated. Rachel Prandini, an attorney apart of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, explains that “finding a sponsor is more difficult now given recent fears that stepping forward to accept a child could trigger a sponsors deportation.” In April, the Department of Health and Human Services required that sponsors submit fingerprints and go through a criminal background check in order to “protect the child.”

The New York Times wrote a piece about José, a 5-year-old child whose “father had been arrested and taken away after they arrived at the United States border in El Paso.” José now stays with a foster family/sponsor.

José was “handed over” to a foster family, carrying “two small pieces of paper– one a stick-figure of his family from Honduras, the other a sketch of his father.” At the point of reunification between the child and his foster mother, Janice, “he refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride ‘home.’” Janice explains that “the first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into ‘just moaning and moaning.’”

His foster family explains that “a day has not gone by when the boy has failed to ask in Spanish, ‘When will I see my papa?’” The family “tell[s] him the truth. They do not know. No one knows.”

The foster family explains that of the 12 children they have fostered in the last two years, “José is the first child who crossed the border with a parent, rather than alone, then was forcibly separated and left with no ability to contact them.”

The article reports that earlier in the week of it’s publishing, “José spoke with his parents for the first time since their lives diverged. The phone calls were separate: His father remains in detention, and his mother is in Honduras.”

Janice explains that although the calls were much needed, “they changed everything. Somehow, it had sunk in that there was no way of knowing when he would see his family. ‘It triggered all the separation trauma again’… [when] he erupted in anger, screaming and crying at the kitchen table for almost an hour.” Janice says that after he calmed down, “the boy collapsed on the kitchen floor, still sobbing ‘Mamá, Papá’ over and over.”

The pictures he drew of his family are below.

julio

julio 2

While the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims “there was no separation policy,” there clearly is a huge separation/reunification problem for immigrants and immigrant children right now. Even after the Executive Order to end family separation, there has been “‘no evidence of any system that has been put in place by the government,’ according to Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that provides legal assistance to unaccompanied migrant children,” reports USA Today.

Moreover, there is no real system to register the children or their families in order, which makes connecting children to their families almost impossible.

The USA Today report explains, “it wasn’t until last week that the federal government began issuing identification numbers to families being separated at the Border…” Before this process of assigning identification numbers, attorneys acted as “private investigators… look[ing] for clues, such as a child’s date of birth, or their alien-registration number, and start[ed] pulling those threads to find the parents,” Wendy Young explains.


 

As feminists, it is absolutely integral to uplift and empower not only women, but people. We bleed the same blood, speak the same languages, and have the same hopes and dreams. No human being is illegal. Period.

Hoochie stands with immigrant mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We disapprove of President Trump’s severe take on immigration and the racism, xenophobia and bigotry that fuel it.

We believe in unity, inclusivity, and human rights. We hope that you will join us in taking a stand against President Trump’s prejudiced agenda.

 

Ways you can help:

  1. Organize

Grab your friends, your family, your friends of your family, anyone. Get together to talk about the issues. A more informed, communicative society is a better society.

  1. Call

Call your local senator to defund the Department of Homeland Security which supports the detainment of families and ICE. Click below to go to a site that shows you how to do that step by step: How to Call My Senator to Defund DHS

  1. Vote

You CAN make change! Do it! Vote in any and all elections. It is our civic duty! Not registered?

Click Here to Register to Vote

  1. Donate

A great organization to donate to right now is the RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) Family Reunification and Bond Fund. Their efforts are helping and contributing to the reunification of families.

Click Here for More Information and to Donate

  1. Share

Share your thoughts and share the factual information you find (after verifying it), to spread the word to those around you.

 

Images:

John Moore

 

 

John Moore’s photo of a young girl crying as her mother was detained was edited and selected for the July 2nd, 2018 cover of Time Magazine. The photo includes the blurb “Welcome to America.”

 

 

 

 

Tom Kiefer, who worked as a Customs and Border Protection janitor for close to four years, began taking pictures of everyday objects thrown away or taken from detained immigrants. The photographs are part of an ongoing project “El Sueño Americano” (“The American Dream”), as reported by the New Yorker.

discarded during intake

 

 

“This stuffed toy, slightly soiled in the midsection, may have been used by its owner as a makeshift pillow while crossing the desert. All personal property considered non-essential is discarded during intake” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

spare shoes

 

“Migrants often carry spare shoes. As with extra clothing, most personal property is considered non-essential and discarded” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

 

potentially lethal

 

“The CBP considers rosaries to be potentially lethal, non-essential personal property, and agents dispose of them during intake” (The New Yorker).

 

 

 

 

 

sometimes essential items

 

“After being apprehended, a detainee’s belongings are either placed in a property bag or remain in the backpack that he or she travelled with. Sometimes, essential items such as wallets and personal identification are discarded” (The New Yorker”).

 

Appearance Does Not Define a Woman

By Kelsie Merrick

There is a universal theory amongst our society that the reason for fewer women running for political office is family concerns and responsibilities. In 2011, a study was conducted that surveyed a national random sample of men and women who were deemed “equally credentialed” in the four fields where political candidates commonly emerge. These are law, business, education, and politics. 62 percent of the men questioned admitted to having considered running for office whereas, only 45 percent of women had considered running for office. Jennifer Lawless, a director for the Women and Politics Institute at American University, analyzed this data and realized that family structure or family roles did not account for the 17 percent gap. She believes that “women are less likely to be encouraged to run and less likely to be considered as a potential candidate when a position opens up.” The negative self-perception and self-doubt among women is also a factor behind why they are not as involved in office races because of the scrutiny women are under once they enter the political field.

In the United States, during elections there is a tremendous problem with the media and the difference between how they judge female politicians in comparison to male politicians. When it comes to women, “media exposure is often belittling and irrelevant because newspapers and television newscasts focus on appearance and attire, rather than the candidate’s platform or attitudes about central issues.” Female politicians are acknowledged by their gender then by whether they can handle raising a family and being a politician at the same time as well as on their mothering styles. Then after the media is finished analyzing them on these two subjects, politics become the main focus. Men, on the other hand, are never questioned about their masculinity or family roles; they are immediately questioned about politics.

Two well-known female politicians that have had to endure the media’s crude comments are Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. They both ran during the 2008 presidential election and the media had a field day with sexist comments.

For Sarah Palin, there were plenty of topics for the media to critic her on while she was Governor of Alaska such as her defeat with big oil companies. Unfortunately, instead, she was “glorified over her participation in beauty pageants and cheerleading.” For this reason, the media immediately dismissed her as a serious candidate and continued to focus on her appearance, lack of seriousness, or lack of experience. She was also persecuted for her role as a mother. Palin, a mother of five with one child having special needs, “was constantly questioned if she would be able to devote enough time to the Vice-Presidency.” However, if she were to be a dedicated Vice-President, she then would have been labeled as a bad mother. Her credibility of a Vice-Presidential candidate was questioned even more when her seventeen-year-old daughter became pregnant. If a male candidate’s young daughter became pregnant, it is very unlikely that the media would have broadcasted it as much as they did with Palin.

Sarah Palin’s fellow female candidate during the 2008 race was Hillary Clinton. Unlike Palin, Clinton had an “impressive resume and strong qualities” but the media still “labeled her as old, worn down, and significantly less sex appeal than Palin.” Yet again, the media chose to focus on Clinton’s appearance rather than the extensive experience in politics she had. The media created a dynamic between the two women where Palin was the pretty candidate and Clinton was the powerful, manly candidate due to her “pantsuits and stout stature.” Clinton had to deal with comments about her “body, cleavage, choice of pantsuits, and speculation about cosmetic surgery.” Because of the continuous inappropriate attacks on her appearance and mannerisms, the public seldom saw any media coverage that was about her intelligence, experience or policies. Hillary Clinton being a Presidential candidate for the upcoming election has had to endure the same inappropriate critics she experienced in 2008. In April, Chelsea Clinton became a mother and this “set off speculation that being a grandmother would affect Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions” but Joe Biden, a man with five grandchildren, never once was asked about how it would affect his possible Presidential ambitions.

An article in the Huffington Post in 2013, spoke of Johanna Dunaway, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Mass Communication of Louisiana State University, who conducted a research study that proved that the media covers female candidates running for office differently than men running for office. The research team employed in this study collected data from 9,725 newspaper articles from the Senate and gubernatorial races in 2006 and 2008. The team then looked at if the article focused on personality traits or political issues of those running and compared between the two genders. Their findings were that:

When only male candidates were running, stories focused on character traits 6 percent of the time and political issues 55.5 percent of the time. When only female candidates were running, the stories focused on character traits 9.4 percent of the time and issues 51.7 percent of the time. And when a mix of male and female candidates were running, the articles focused on traits 10.8 percent of the time and the issues 53.1 percent of the time.

The research team concluded that when there is a female candidate in a political race, the media tends to focus more on personality traits in general with an extra focus on the female’s personality traits over the male candidate.

The Joke That’s No Laughing Matter

By Sabrina Huston

There’s been a joke going around social media lately. “I have PTSD-President Trump Stress Disorder. Impeachment is the cure.” The joke has become popular enough that there is now a t-shirt for sale on websites from sunfrog to amazon including Prime shipping. Articles about “President Trump Stress Disorder” have appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, the Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, and the International Business Times, often in a mocking light. To use an acronym such as PTSD, which has significant meaning, for this political joke and reality is despicable and inhuman.

Political anxiety is real. Many people are concerned about losing health care or family members and Republicans in Washington continue to ignore the calls of the people. Politically caused anxiety, while it can often be debilitating, is not the same as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and conflating the two is helping no one.

People seeking therapy for anxiety caused by the possibility of their parents or siblings being deported an increasing occurrence should not be mislead into believing they have PTSD. That misbelief can hurt chances of therapy being successful or helpful at all.

But the main problem here is not the serious discussion taking place on some media sites and within the psychological community over how to best assist those who fear family separation through ICE. The problem is that mental illness, especially PTSD, has increasingly become a punchline.

Triggers are a real thing for many people. Some people with depression are triggered by graphic descriptions of violence, as it can remind them of episodes of self-harm. Many veterans with PTSD are triggered by loud explosions, such as fireworks, which can send them into traumatic memories. Memories of my suicide attempts are often triggered by classical music. Not all triggers make sense, but they are all legitimate and should be recognized as such. Despite this, a popular meme has been making fun of people who object to racism or graphic imagery with the phrase “triggered” overlaid on an often blurred picture. The mocking of a serious mental health concern has caused many college classes to stop giving trigger warnings due to a lack of understanding by the administration and professors as to what triggers and trigger warnings are. A trigger warning, or content warning, is a brief blurb of what may cause or trigger someone’s mental illness symptoms. For example, someone with PTSD will often relive a traumatic memory, including emotions, compulsions, and feelings of anxiety or panic. To not give someone a warning and the opportunity to avoid or mentally prepare themselves for whatever is coming is indeed inhuman and uncaring.

Mental health is a serious issue, especially in the US. In 2014 42,826 people committed suicide in the United States, and 383,000 visited emergency rooms from self-inflicted wounds. The number of suicides is still rising, with an estimated 44,193 committing suicide in 2016. Despite this epidemic, we still treat mental health as a joke, on both the right and the left, as can be seen by the “triggered” memes and the “Impeachment is the cure” t-shirt. Mental health is a serious issue that affects people of all races, genders, sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds, and ages. It is not a joke, it is not something that can be used as a scapegoat for gun violence, nor something to be turned into a horror trope. It is a serious issue far too many people are afraid to deal with properly, often for fear of being mocked or harassed. So, the next time you think of reposting a “triggered” meme, or saying you have “President Trump Stress Disorder,” remember this: you’re making it harder for people to take care of themselves.

Silver Linings Playbook: Lessons Learned from the 2016 Presidential Election

By Chloe Hite

Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump are the champions that Americans neither wanted nor asked for, but their campaigns have been just what we need as a nation. While Clinton’s run was expected in the wake of her 2008 loss and subsequent service as Secretary of State to President Barack Obama, her 2016 campaign has been a game changer when one considers how it has been run in comparison and in response to the campaign of Donald Trump. Amazingly, her policy platform has been able to stand both independently of Mr. Trump’s, and in direct response to his assertions and proposed policy.

tieige-donald-trump-hillary-clinton_photo-1-640x427Photo: The Associated Press

Despite the official nominations of both Clinton and Trump, general dissatisfaction remains amongst the majority of the public, and most feel that neither candidate represents the true first choice for either party. In public perception, Clinton is too predictable and not innovative enough, and Trump is woefully ill equipped to appeal to a varied majority of voters. This election, however, has done a sort of service for the American public. The many points on which Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump disagree, and the way in which they do so, say something greater than the sum of their parts about what matters to Americans in 2016. Their statements have mobilized and normalized discussions, whether productive or successful, on issues rarely touched upon in popular public forums.

Mr. Trump’s remarks about minorities, specifically Muslims and Latinos, have highlighted and finally teased out into national discussion questions regarding racial discrimination, xenophobia, and systematic racism. He has incited a riot of anti-immigrant, anti-trade, nationalistic sentiment, pulling the curtain back on a disgruntled demographic of white, predominantly working and upper class males. Seemingly more provocative were Mr. Trump’s comments about women throughout the duration of his campaign. The most recent controversy was catalyzed by the leak of the much-scrutinized 2005 video footage of the candidate and Billy Bush discussing the casual sexual assault of women before an interview with Access Hollywood. The video prompted cavalier reactions from Trump and his supporters, his rejection by several members of the Republican Party, and a staunch attack on the part of Secretary Clinton.

These responses serve as a benchmark for the status of women in the American psyche, and bring the equality of the sexes and gender norms and expectations into the national forum. They confirm that the egalitarian goals of the feminist movement have yet to be achieved and indoctrinated into mainstream American society, despite an increase in female leadership, employment, and representation over the past 20 years. It also demonstrates how we have failed as a society to include most men in the feminist movement, a key step towards the achievement of true equality for all. In this way, the frustrating, hair-pulling election process that seems to have left most Americans feeling empty and decidedly undemocratic has done us a great service.

The service rendered by this campaign is not that of electing a leader in which we will all have complete confidence, but in the naming and preliminary discussion of many keys issues faced by a growing majority of American citizens today. With any luck, this act of naming will encourage further discussion on racial tensions, wealth inequality, xenophobia, policing, and gender dynamics, among others. The results of such discussions will hopefully result in improving relations and quality of life for every American citizen. In this way, an election many thought was a lost cause may leave the American public with a view of a thick silver lining in the gray January sky come Inauguration day.