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“My parents were deported.” An Op-Ed by Orange is the New Black Actress Diane Guerrero

In “Orange Is the New Black,” I play Maritza Ramos, a tough Latina from the ‘hood. In “Jane the Virgin,” I play Lina, Jane’s best friend and a funny know-it-all who is quick to offer advice.

I love both parts, but they’re fiction. My real story is this: I am the citizen daughter of immigrant parents who were deported when I was 14. My older brother was also deported.

My parents came here from Colombia during a time of great instability there. Escaping a dire economic situation at home, they moved to New Jersey, where they had friends and family, seeking a better life, and then moved to Boston after I was born.

Throughout my childhood I watched my parents try to become legal but to no avail. They lost their money to people they believed to be attorneys, but who ultimately never helped. That meant my childhood was haunted by the fear that they would be deported. If I didn’t see anyone when I walked in the door after school, I panicked.

And then one day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

While awaiting deportation proceedings, my parents remained in detention near Boston, so I could visit them. They would have liked to fight deportation, but without a lawyer and an immigration system that rarely gives judges the discretion to allow families to stay together, they never had a chance. Finally, they agreed for me to continue my education at Boston Arts Academy, a performing arts high school, and the parents of friends graciously took me in.

I was lucky to have good friends, but I had a rocky existence. I was always insecure about being a nuisance and losing my invitation to stay. I worked a variety of jobs in retail and at coffee shops all through high school. And, though I was surrounded by people who cared about me, part of me ached with every accomplishment, because my parents weren’t there to share my joy.

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PLEASE SHARE SHARE SHARE All “sanctuary” cities in CA should be in the alert! From IDEAS UCLA:

(spanish translation at the end)

‘In particular, remind the community that they have rights:

Do NOT open doors to any officials unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. If ICE says that they have one, do not open the door to see it, have them pass it under the door.
If you are confronted with an ICE agent – remain SILENT. You have the right to remain silent and ICE can use anything that you say against you in your immigration case. Also, do NOT SIGN anything that ICE gives you.
If you hear about ICE agents coming to anyone’s door – tell your neighbors. Text and call people to let them know that ICE is in the neighborhood. Tell them not to open their doors and to remain silent.
Have a plan of action if a loved one is detained. Have the name of a trusted immigration attorney on hand. Have a plan for who could take care of minor children. Remember that if detained, you may be able to fight your case and get bail.
Be especially careful in the morning. In our experience, raids happen more frequently in the morning, e.g. around the time that people go to work. ’

SPANISH:

‘Hemos oído rumores de que el ICE se puede participar en las redadas de la próxima semana en ciertas ciudades “santuario” a través de California, incluyendo San Francisco. No sabemos a ciencia cierta si esto va a suceder, pero para estar seguro, queremos decirle a las comunidades para ser precauciones adicionales la próxima semana.
En particular, recordar a la comunidad que tienen derechos:
1. Realice las puertas no se abren a los funcionarios a menos que tengan una orden firmada por un juez. Si ICE dice que tiene uno, no abrir la puerta a verlo, haga que pasan debajo de la puerta.
2. Si usted se enfrenta con un agente de ICE - permanecer en silencio. Usted tiene el derecho a permanecer en silencio y ICE puede usar cualquier cosa que usted dice en su contra en su caso de inmigración. Además, no firme nada que el ICE le da.
3. Si se enteran que los agentes de ICE llegan a la puerta de nadie - dile a tus vecinos. Llamadas y texto a personas para hacerles saber que el ICE está en el barrio. Diles que no abran sus puertas y permanecer en silencio.
4. Tenga un plan de acción si un ser querido se encuentra detenido. Tener el nombre de un abogado de inmigración de confianza en la mano. Tenga un plan para que pudiera cuidar de los hijos menores. Recuerde que si ser detenido, usted puede ser capaz de pelear su caso y obtener la libertad bajo fianza.
5. Tenga especial cuidado en la mañana. En nuestra experiencia, las incursiones ocurren con mayor frecuencia en la mañana, por ejemplo, en la época en que la gente vaya a trabajar.'’

be safe yall

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“Orange is the New Black” star, Diane Guerrero speaks about having undocumented parents who were deported. (via CNN)

It’s heartbreaking to hear her story and to know that other children of immigrants aren’t so lucky as her and have to go into foster care. To think that your parents may be taken from you any day is frightening. 

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The US Keeps 34,000 Immigrants in Detention Each Day Simply to Meet a Quota | The Nation

On any given day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement keeps at least 34,000 immigrants locked up while they wait for their cases to be heard in immigration court. Many of these detainees are incarcerated not because they are dangerous or likely to skip their court dates, but because ICE must meet an arbitrary quota set by Congress. This quota, which is often referred to as the “detention-bed mandate,” is a disgrace and should be eliminated.

The quota is written into the federal law that appropriates funding for ICE. Congress requires the agency to “maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds” at any given time. The quota was first enacted in 2007, and it appears yet again in the 2015 appropriations bill currently pending in the House of Representatives.

The quota is unprecedented. No other federal or state agency is required by law to detain a specific number of people without any regard to whether the quota makes sense from a law-enforcement perspective. Indeed, the quota is so excessive that it has been criticized by the very immigration authorities charged with enforcing it. At a congressional hearing in April 2013, then–Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano argued that ICE should be detaining people “according to public-safety threats, level of offense…not an arbitrary bed number.”

For the 2015 fiscal year, the Department of Homeland Security has asked Congress to lower the quota to 30,539 beds. But even that number is too high: immigration detainees have not been convicted of any crime, and many are eventually released and allowed to stay in this country. 

(Read Full Text) (Photo Credit: #1-3 Family of Rosendo Juarez-Hernandez, scheduled to be deported that day, wait to see him before he is sent back to Mexico. Saverio Truglia for Al Jazeera America | #4 AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Rick Loomis, Pool | #5 Maer Torrescano, 6, rests with his father Havacuc, 24, from the state of Morelos, Mexico, at the U.S. Border Patrol detention center in Nogales, Arizona, May 31, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Topping)

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The Dominican Republic may deport 250,000 black Dominicans of Haitian descent

Last year, the Dominican Republic wiped out the citizenship rights of any Dominicans born to Haitian undocumented immigrants since 1929, regardless of whether they held a Dominican birth certificate. In doing so, they made up to 250,000 stateless persons. Officials say there will be no mass deportations but their actions speak differently.

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Mexican teen turns to YouTube in desperate bid to stay in Canada

Armando Lazcano Gonsenheim has turned to YouTube in a desperate bid to prevent his family from being deported to Mexico.

The 18-year-old Markham student is hoping Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will see the four-minute clip, “Waiting for a Miracle,” and reverse the department’s decision to force them to leave.

“People don’t want to share these stories because they are so afraid and they don’t know what to do. I want to help my parents. I don’t want to put all the weight on them,” said Gonsenheim, who is graduating from Milliken Mills High School this month.

“I want to show I can help, too … I want to tell people, ‘This is me. Put yourself in my shoes and help.’ ”

Gonsenheim’s father Alejandro Lazcano Gutierrez fled to Canada in 2008 after threats he said he received at the hands of Mexican authorities following a car accident, according to his asylum claim, filed in 2011, when his wife Karen and two sons joined him here.

The claim was rejected in 2013 because the refugee judge ruled the father was not credible and that Mexico, a democratic country, was capable of protecting the family, the decision said. The family has since twice applied for permanent residency in Canada on humanitarian grounds, but were rejected both times, they said.

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Obama heckler has a name, Jennicet Gutiérrez, and she’s a trans woman

By Wendy Carrillo

While making remarks honoring LGBT Pride Month at the White House on Wednesday, President Obama was interrupted by a guest from the back of the room.

The President was thanking those in attendance when Jannicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans woman and invited guest, began interrupting the president stating loudly,

President Obama, stop the torture and abuse of trans women in detention centers. I am a trans woman, I am tired of the abuse

While the president and other politicians are used to being heckled by immigrant rights groups, in a very out of character response, the president lost his cool, shook his finger and replied back, “Okay, you know what? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Listen, you’re in my house.”  

The crowd, who were alleged LGBT advocates and allies, ignored Gutierrez’ remarks, cheered the president and began to chant, “Obama! Obama! Obama!”

Gutierrez was then escorted out as she continued a bilingual chant of her own, “Not one more deportation! Ni una mas deportacion!”

In a press release, Gutierrez, who is a founding member of FAMILIA TQLM (Trans Queer Liberation Movement) which was established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrant rights said: “The White House gets to make the decision whether it keeps us safe. There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country. If the President wants to celebrate with us, he should release the LGBTQ immigrants locked up in detention centers immediately.”

When asked about what she thought of the LGBT allies in the room who sided with the president, Gutierrez told reported.ly, “The majority of them were disappointed that I interrupted the president. It’s unfortunate that they don’t want to listen to what’s happening to LGBTQ people in detention centers.”

Her remarks come a day after 35 members of Congress signed a letter that was sent to Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson requesting the released of LGBTQ individuals from detention centers and placing them under alternative supervision pending their immigration cases. The letter cites the Bureau of Justice Statistics which found that while transgendered women make 1% of detainees, they account for 20% of sexual abuse assaults while under custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

With 18 months left in a two-term presidency, Obama’s promise of comprehensive immigration reform seems dismal. The president’s deportation record has reached well over 2 million since he took office earning him the title of “deporter in chief” by national Latino civil rights groups.

Perhaps the biggest fear for trans women, whether undocumented or not, is to be placed in jail or a detention facility for men simply because of their biological, physical gender and not their gender identity. Reports demonstrate that out of every 500 ICE detainees, one is transgendered, and one out of five confirmed sexual assault cases while in ICE detention, is from a transgendered victim.

This, after all, was the point that Jennicet Gutierrez was trying to make as she was escorted and boo’d out of the room that was honoring LGBT Pride Month.

Full families challenge US-Mexico border with mass reentry
March 11, 2014

Any day now, President Obama, whom immigrant groups call the “deporter in chief,” will make history by surpassing the two million mark — separating two million families through deportation during the course of his administration’s five-year reign.

In response, migrant families are making history of their own.

On March 10, 250 migrants, who have lived in the United States most of their lives, attempted to reenter the country after being deported. Many entire families are returning, while others are coming to rejoin family members still living in the United States. The group is chanting “undocumented and unafraid” as they cross through the U.S. portal that separates Tijuana from San Diego. This action, part of the #not1more campaign, marks the third mass border crossing organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. The action comes as immigrant justice groups are increasingly moving beyond advocating for legislative reform and are instead turning to direct action to protest the record deportations. The group says that these actions are calling attention to the immigration crisis and the way millions of families are separated by an arbitrary boarder.

Last year, 150,000 U.S.- born children were separated from at least one parent. The majority were under the age of 10. One of these stories is that of Manuel, who spent 10 years living in Ohio with his U.S.-born children and wife. According to the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Facebook page, “Manuel was placed in deportation proceedings after he hired an immigration attorney who he later found out was a fraud.”

All 250 families participating in yesterday’s action have lived in the United States for a large portion of their lives, creating homes and community in this country.

Source

And then one day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

—  Orange is the New Black actress Diane Guerrero wrote a powerful person essay about her parents’ deportation.  

(Artist: Micah Bazant):

New art! Just finished! Portrait of the fabulous Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez with text reading: “No Pride for Some of Us Without Liberation For All of Us. In June 2015, Jennicet Gutiérrez interrupted a White House gay pride event, with a call to end detainment & deportation of LGBTQ immigrants. For 500+ years, gender violence has been a key strategy of European Christian conquest + genocide in the Americas. Today, trans women fleeing violence are denied US asylum, held with men and assaulted, and tortured in solitary. Trans + queer freedom means an end to torture & deportation.”


You can pre-order a poster here: http://micahbazant.bigcartel.com/product/jennicet-gutierrez-end-detainment-and-deportation. All $$ goes to Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement!

[so many sparkly thank yous to my ad-hoc late nite advisory committee: Patricia Berne,Kiyaan Abadani, Yesenia Valdez, Julio Salgado, and Marcia Ochoa!]


Latinxs livelihood and worth is not/should not be tied to their labour. To reduce the deportation of Latinxs to “who is going to clean your toilet” is insensitive and clearly coming from a perspective of privilege.

Latinxs do not deserve to be deported because they deserve stability, opportunities to survive (which are not granted to them in their respective countries because of previous/current US, Canadian, European, etc interference), and because they are human fucking beings.

There is no such thing as an illegal human being, especially when we’re all settlers on lands that were originally occupied by Indigenous peoples.