Tag Archives: La-migra

‘Mexamérica’, Identidad que Deja Atrás los Estereotipos

Por Alexandra Mendoza

Con “Mexamérica: Una Cultura Naciendo”, la autora e investigadora Fey Berman busca describir a una diáspora mexicana que va más allá de los estereotipos.

Recientemente, la escritora mexicana visitó la región San Diego-Tijuana para presentar su libro que es una compilación de ensayos, reseñas, crónicas y perfiles elaborados en la última década.

Berman, quien nació en la Ciudad de México y ha radicado en Nueva York desde hace más de 30 años, acuña el término “mexamericano” para referirse precisamente a los millones de inmigrantes mexicanos que se han adaptado a la vida estadounidense. De ahí, el deseo de indagar más a fondo.

La cónsul general de México en San Diego, Marcela Celorio, reiteró esta idea.

“Fey Berman no es mexicana ni es americana, es mexamericana”, señaló al introducir a la escritora frente a quienes acudieron a la presentación del libro en la Universidad de California San Diego (UCSD).

Dicho término explora aquel concepto del “ni de aquí, ni de allá”. Ni son 100 por ciento “americanos”, ni son 100 por ciento “mexicanos”, explica Berman.

“Creo que la percepción en México de que somos mexicanos del otro lado, en territorio gringo, que somos idénticos a nuestros familiares en Pátzcuaro nada más que hablamos spanglish es una ilusión”, enfatizó.

Los mexamericanos llegaron a Estados Unidos para quedarse. Para el 2050, se anticipa que habrá unos 80 millones de ellos y si “Mexamérica” fuera un país, ocuparía lugar 38 entre los más poblados.

Su estatus migratorio varía, pues Berman afirma que sólo el 16 por ciento de los mexamericanos están en el país sin documentos. La diáspora está en todos los campos: ciencias, artes, negocios y académico, por mencionar algunos.

Por ende, la imagen trasciende de solamente los tacos, mariachis y remesas, considera la autora. “Eso describe una parte importante, sin embargo, no es la totalidad”, afirmó Berman.

El cómo se preservará esta identidad en las siguientes generaciones está por verse.

“Creo que el contexto político y social que estamos viviendo ahora te hace sentir que no quieres ser parte de esa identidad”, comentó Berman. “Tiene mucha importancia que tan versado es uno en la cultura mexicana y norteamericana para saber destruir esos estereotipos”, agregó.

“Creo que depende mucho cómo se está transmitiendo de una generación a otra, dentro de las familias, de las universidades y cómo nos perciben el resto de los pobladores de este país”.

Este libro se encontraba próximo a publicarse cuando el entonces candidato -hoy presidente- Donald Trump emergió en la escena política con aquel discurso que ofendió a muchos mexicanos.

Berman, al igual que muchos, no pensó que Trump obtendría la candidatura de su partido y mucho menos que llegaría a la Casa Blanca, pero aun así, quiso apurarse a publicar el libro y la presencia del ahora mandatario sólo derivó en el cambio de “tres o cuatro frases” en la introducción.

La tarea pendiente para Berman es una adaptación del libro dirigida al público no hispano mostrar las contribuciones hechas por los mexamericanos.

“Somos embajadores y que podemos hacer realmente más importante ese rol que puede ser benéfico no solamente para nosotros sino para el resto de Estados Unidos en su conexión con el resto del mundo en donde hablan español”.

‘Community Patrols’ Help Protect Immigrants from ICE

By Alexandra Mendoza

Dawn has not yet come to the Linda Vista community, but a group of advocates is already up and working to protect the rights of local immigrants.

These self-appointed “community patrols” have been reinstated in response to the enhanced threat of immigration raids brought about by current hardline policies. They are private citizens who patrol in their own vehicles marked with signs indicating that they are out “protecting the community”, and “NO to ICE and Police Terror” on their car doors.

Unión del Barrio volunteers said that the patrols were originally started in the nineties by this San Diego-based political organization, as a response to police departments collaborating with federal agencies.

The community patrols were reinstated mid-July of this year after an operation that led to the detention of over 100 people in San Diego and Imperial counties.

The activists chose Linda Vista, a community with a large Mexican and Vietnamese immigrant population, because they feel it is “one of the hardest-hit by ICE in recent months.” Some of the neighbors corroborated having seen the detentions happen.

The community patrols start doing their rounds of the neighborhood since very early in the morning and try to do this at least twice a week. If they spot a vehicle they suspect could be ICE, they inform people on social media and document the incident.

These “community self-defense” activists are well aware of the fact that they cannot interfere with ICE operations. If an officer goes after someone, all they can do is make sure that their rights are not violated, record the incident, and advise families as to what their next steps are, said Unión del Barrio representative Benjamin Prado.

“We are just monitoring,” Benjamin said. “We also want to encourage the community to publicly report ICE activities, precisely because they do it undercover sometimes. We obviously cannot interfere if they already have someone, the goal is to do preventive work,” he added.

According to Prado, they have confronted ICE twice since July. The first time, they witnessed a raid outside of a fast-food restaurant, and some days later, they encountered a vehicle they suspected was being driven by ICE officers.

To strengthen their preventive work, the organization puts up posters with their contact information on utility poles around the neighborhood. While they are putting them up, some people are curious and approach them to ask about what they are doing or even to share their own experiences.

The end goal is to create neighborhood groups so that, eventually, they can be the ones protecting the immigrant families that reside in their community, said Armando Abundis, another member of Unión del Barrio.

They hope to be able to expand these patrols soon to other places around the county where they could be needed. “We would like to grow into other communities, but this is the community that needs us the most,” added Abundis.

La Lucha por DACA Continúa un Año Después de que Trump Intentó Ponerle Fin

Por Marielena Castellanos

Mario A. Cortez | La Prensa San Diego

En este momento, el año pasado, Francisco Peralta Vargas recuerda que no sabía qué pasaría con su vida.

“Olvídalo, cuando te dicen de la noche a día que te despidas de todo lo que tienes planeado, di adiós a tu permiso de trabajo, adiós a tu trabajo, ya no puedes tener un trabajo estable, no puedes pagar tu renta , no puedes pagar tus cuentas ” dijo Vargas.

Vargas, un beneficiario del programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, por sus siglas en inglés), acababa de regresar a San Diego después de celebrar la boda de un amigo en Perris, California, cuando se enteró que el presidente Trump tenía la intención de rescindir el programa DACA.

Vargas, un estudiante a tiempo completo, decidió abandonar todas sus clases.

“No estaba seguro de lo que sucedería, si iba a terminar deportado, sin trabajo, con esta administración antiinmigrante tenía que prepararme para lo peor”, dijo Vargas.

Recuerda a docenas que se reunieron en la noche del año pasado en el Centro de Gobierno del Condado de San Diego, el mismo lugar donde muchos se reunieron de nuevo este año, después de que la administración de Trump haya continuado sus esfuerzos para terminar el programa.

Vargas describió el año pasado como algo dulce pero amargo.

“Fue demasiado rápido y cruel porque se lo hicieron a unas 800 mil personas en el país, y la mayoría de las personas con el permiso de DACA es gente que va a la escuela, gente que trabaja, gente que tiene un record limpio, gente que ha estado aquí desde pequeños, mucha gente no conoce su propio país de origen”.

Esa reunión, que incluyó varios destinatarios de DACA, condujo a la formación de los Soñadores de la Frontera de San Diego y también cambió su vida.

“No estoy contento con lo que paso, pero hizo que muchísima gente despertara”.

Vargas agregó que desde ese momento el grupo ha estado ocupado presionando a los representantes del Congreso, miembros del concejo municipal, participando en diferentes marchas, incluso viajando a Washington D.C. para reunirse directamente con docenas de senadores estadounidenses.

Esta semana, el grupo continuó con sus esfuerzos y organizó una protesta en el mismo lugar y el mismo día en que lo hicieron hace un año, renovando el compromiso de seguir presionando para la protección permanente de los inmigrantes indocumentados.

“Queremos utilizar este día para impulsar este movimiento para que la gente de la Casa Blanca y el resto del Congreso lo sepa, no tenemos miedo, estamos aquí, vamos a continuar aquí”, Dulce García, abogada de inmigración y una de los directores del grupo pro DACA San Diego Border Dreamers, dijo durante la protesta.

Sigue habiendo incertidumbre para el programa DACA y los miles de jóvenes protegidos bajo esta política, incluso después de que un juez federal dictaminó que podría continuar.

El juez de distrito de los Estados Unidos Andrew Hanen negó una solicitud de un mandato preliminar sobre el programa, dando a los beneficiarios de daca una victoria, pero también dijo que eventualmente podría ser considerado ilegal.

“Aquí, el huevo ha sido revuelto”, escribió Hanen. “Tratar de ponerlo de nuevo en el caparazón con solo un registro preliminar de medidas cautelares, y tal vez con un gran riesgo para muchos, no tiene sentido ni sirve a los mejores intereses de este país”.

El fallo se produjo días antes de la marca de un año, cuando el presidente Donald Trump rescindió el programa hace un año, esta semana.

El juez también dijo que la responsabilidad de mantener a DACA pertenece al Congreso, “DACA es un programa popular y uno que el Congreso debería considerar ahorrar”, continuó Hanen. “Si la nación realmente quiere tener un programa DACA, le corresponde al Congreso decirlo”.

Durante la protesta, García también habló sobre la demanda.

Mario A. Cortez | La Prensa San Diego

“Nosotros demandamos al Presidente y gracias a nuestros esfuerzos, nosotros pudimos ganar una orden en corte, donde podemos renovar nuestro permiso de DACA. No fue porque los políticos, no fue porque algún político se compadeció de nosotros, no fue porque esta administración tuviera corazón, sucedió porque los demandamos. Pero no es suficiente. Todavía necesitamos protecciones permanentes”, dijo García.

El fiscal general de Texas, Ken Paxton, quien encabezó varios estados en la demanda contra DACA, se mostró satisfecho con el fallo y dijo en un comunicado: “Nuestra demanda es vital para restablecer el estado de derecho en el sistema de inmigración de nuestra nación”.

En septiembre pasado, en una declaración que explicaba la decisión de rescindir DACA, el presidente Trump dijo: “No estoy a favor de castigar a los niños”.

Pero también dijo: “Antes de preguntar qué es justo para los inmigrantes ilegales, también debemos preguntar qué es justo para las familias, los estudiantes, los contribuyentes y los solicitantes de empleo estadounidenses”.

Trump agregó: “El fracaso de décadas de Washington, D.C. para hacer cumplir la ley federal de inmigración ha tenido consecuencias predecibles y trágicas: salarios más bajos y un mayor desempleo para los trabajadores estadounidenses”.

El fiscal general de EE.UU. Jeff Sessions llamó a DACA “amnistía ejecutiva unilateral”. También dijo que DACA “negó empleos a cientos de miles de estadounidenses al permitir que esos mismos extranjeros ilegales tomen esos trabajos”.

En respuesta al anuncio de Trump el año pasado, el ex presidente Barack Obama respondió con una declaración en Facebook y calificó la decisión de Trump de poner fin al programa como “cruel” y “autodestructivo”.

En 2012, el presidente Obama utilizó sus poderes ejecutivos para permitir que unos 800 mil jóvenes inmigrantes no autorizados trabajen legalmente y permanezcan en el país sin temor a la deportación. Para la mayoría de estos jóvenes, Estados Unidos es el único hogar que han conocido.

Durante la protesta, García recordó al grupo que había personas como ellos que empujaron a Obama a la acción.

“Lo ganamos porque hubo jóvenes arrestados, arriesgando todo, sus medios de subsistencia, sus vidas, sus familias, todo para ganar DACA”, dijo García.

Tres jueces federales también han impedido que la administración ponga fin a DACA.

Alex Montoya, originario de Colombia, también habló en la protesta. “Soy un inmigrante orgulloso”, dijo.

Montoya habló sobre la necesidad de la unidad.

“Necesitamos continuar uniéndonos para luchar contra la tiranía que estamos viendo en la Casa Blanca hoy y asegurarnos de que sepan que no es tierra de ellos, no es tierra de el, es nuestra tierra, y la reclamaremos”.

Aquellos en la protesta también dio la bienvenida a Dream Riders, un grupo encabezado por jóvenes organizadores del Consorcio Nacional de Servicio y Educación de Corea del Norte (NAKASEC) y sus afiliados, quienes completaron una campaña en bicicleta desde Seattle a San Diego para abogar por un camino hacia la ciudadanía para todos los indocumentados inmigrantes.

Se espera que el Procurador General de Texas Paxton apelará el fallo. Si se aprueba su apelación, el Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. Podría finalmente determinar el caso.

Mientras tanto, Vargas regresó a la escuela, se graduó de un colegio comunitario con un título de asociado y fue aceptado en la Universidad de California San Diego el año pasado para obtener un título en negocios internacionales y estudios Internacionales.

Un año después, resuelto, y sin miedo Vargas también habla con esperanza en su voz.

“Puedo decir felizmente que somos fuertes y seguimos adelante para encontrar una solución permanente”.

Stunning Victory for Indigenous Nations as Canada Halts Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

A Canadian court “quashed” approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Thursday, a major setback for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government agreed to purchase the controversial project from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion Canadian dollars (U.S. $3.5 billion) in May. It’s a stunning victory for Indigenous groups and environmentalists opposed to the project, […]

The Hispanic Tsunami Entering California Colleges

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Hispanics are surging into California public colleges setting enrollment records every semester attracted by affordable quality higher education.

Concurrently, California public colleges are being flooded by applicants from all over the world despite the U.S. college-eligible population shrinking.

When the deadline for September 2018 applications for admission to San Diego State University (SDSU) closed, 96,000 applications were submitted, a record.

Unfortunately, SDSU could only accept 10,000 new students because there is no more room at the campus. The challenge is made greater by the record 3.73 grade point average of entering freshmen that limits entry of students with otherwise solid grades.

Because San Diego State University is so popular and tough to get into, it doesn’t come close to Hispanic student percentages at other California State University (CSU) campuses. For example, Cal-State Los Angeles enrolls 64 percent Hispanic students, Cal-State-San Bernardino has 62.6 percent; Cal-State Dominguez Hills 59 percent, Cal-State Stanislaus 51 percent, Cal State-Fresno 50 percent.

San Diego State with 10,000 Hispanic students has 30 percent Hispanic students, 25 percent fewer than the California State University average.

The entire 23 campus California State University enrolls 40 percent Hispanic students; the numbers are astonishing – 154,000 Mexican Americans and 39,000 other Hispanics for a grand total of 193,000. 51 percent of all California high school graduates were Hispanic in 2016. That year, 71 percent of California Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college compared to 49 percent in 2000.

Of all college degrees awarded in 2016 in California, 50 percent were awarded by the California State University system. It is not an exaggeration that the California State University and its 23 campuses are the keys to educational advancement for the entire California Hispanic population and California itself.

Yet, San Diego State University, the jewel of the CSU system, can’t take any more students. Every square-inch of its 238 acre campus is built out. Only a tiny number of the 400,000 Hispanic San Diego county residents can enroll despite the huge surge in state Hispanic college enrollment. There isn’t room. Even if the 18-year-old is an honor graduate with a 3.6 grade point average, there isn’t room because so many applicant students have a 3.73 grade point average.

Coming years will be worse for local San Diego and California Hispanics looking to enroll in college. While most can’t afford to leave the city for college. They can afford SDSU, they can ride the trolley to school. They don’t need a car to attend SDSU if they live close to the South Bay, East County, Southeast San Diego trolley lines. As it happens, the San Diego Hispanic community mostly surrounds those Trolley lines.

Commuting to SDSU for Hispanics is facile and not expensive. But if there is no room, that and an affordable tuition don’t matter.

There is a solution.

San Diego’s NFL Chargers left for Los Angeles leaving its home Mission Valley stadium and surrounding acres of parking lot empty.

A private out-of-town group stepped up and presented a plan to “lease” the stadium property for 99-years.

The hedge fund investors have few San Diego roots. None attended San Diego State which has over 300,000 alumni.

A proposed alliance with San Diego State ended when it became clear to San Diego State that the proposed “deal” was designed to maximize profit for the group, at the expense of San Diego State.

The out-of-town investors are trying to control hundreds of centrally located real estate acres for a hundred years during which they could make hundreds of millions of dollars with high rise hotels, another shopping mall, a soccer team (maybe) and condominiums that would not create a single new classroom for crowded San Diego State, minutes away by trolley.

On the other hand, locals – many SDSU alumni — called Friends of SDSU have come up with a proposal (SDSU WEST) that would authorize the city to sell the property to SDSU for “fair-market value,” allow San Diego State to construct a new stadium designed and built by the University itself, an expansive river park, housing for staff, faculty and students.

Additionally, using out-of-state university developed research facilities as models, a research-oriented development is being discussed. Similar development over the past 50 years by University of California San Diego (UCSD) staff and faculty has created thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment around the UCSD campus. Qualcomm, anyone?

It could happen again. This time with local input and development. Furthermore, the growing Hispanic college-bound population will have a place to study it doesn’t have now, nor would it have if the out-of-town Soccer City group convinces enough people to vote for its plan.

Lastly, of course, the SDSU expansion would not occur overnight but today’s third grade Hispanic child would have a university seat just a trolley-ride away when he/she enrolls in a 45,000-50,000 student body at San Diego State University.


Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy” (Berkeley Press) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press); he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate; he is a SDSU alumnus – an Aztec for life. Contreras is also a paid consultant for SDSU WEST.

Groups Calls to Boycott Paramount Films for Lack of Latino Hiring

By Marielena Castellanos

Filmmaker and writer Guillermo “Memo” Grajeda has been writing since he was 11 years old.

“I really loved reading old movie scripts that I found at the library and wanted to try it for myself,” Grajeda said.

Now in the Hollywood industry for five years, Grajeda added, “It has been significantly challenging getting opportunities in Hollywood.”

“It gets pretty soul crushing when the ideas and screenplays you’ve been mulling over for months get turned down in an instant. The worst thing from all of that is if you do get a job opportunity, it’s for a racist joke of a show that has Mexicans and immigrants as demonized villains that portray every stereotype in the book,” Grajeda explained.

Just days ago, a number of Latinos leaders and supporters protested in front of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood over the lack of hiring Latinos by the entertainment giant both on and behind the big screen.

The protest was organized by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC).

The groups are asking the public to boycott upcoming Paramount Pictures films, and also to sign a petition on NHMC’s website asking Paramount Pictures’ to hire more for Latinos.

The campaign is part of NHMC’s ongoing efforts to increase positive media portrayals of Latinos and increase Latino employment in media. The protest is said to be the first of a series of demonstrations against film studios that have a poor record of Latino employment.

Upcoming films by Paramount Pictures and release dates include, Nobody’s Fool on Nov. 2, Overlord on Nov. 9, Bumblebee on Dec. 21, and several 2019 titles.

Alex Nogales, the president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, explained the reason for the protest, “Not a day goes by without an attack on our Latino community by the President and his minions. They don’t know us and see little, if anything, of us in film and television, film in particular.”

“We’re absent, invisible, and because Trump talks about Latinos and immigrants in the worst of terms, branding us criminals, rapists, polluters of American culture – his supporters believe him and act on his words,” Nogales added.

“Until Latinos are given the opportunity to tell our own stories, to write, direct, and act in all film, television, and streaming media produced by Hollywood, we will continue to be stereotyped, talked about, and treated in the worst of ways as we are being treated presently,” Nogales also said.

NHMC, with the help and cooperation of UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report and NHMC entertainment advocacy fellow Alejandra Salazar, compiled film studio research from 2012 through 2017, which it said found that Paramount had the worst numbers when it came to hiring Latino actors, writers and directors.

The UCLA report also said Latinos only appeared in 2.7 percent of the speaking roles and writers and directors were practically non-existent.

“There is no question that longstanding exclusion of Latinos from movies has contributed to the current precarious situation for Latino civil rights. Paramount Pictures’ refusal to partner in addressing their deplorable performance on Latino inclusion is utterly inexplicable,” said Thomas A. Saenz, Chair of the National Latino Media Council and President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

NHMC also said it looked at the top 100 grossing films of last year, of which Paramount Pictures produced eight. The non-profit claims none of the eight films featured any Latino writers or a lead actor. One film featured a Spanish director. Only two films out of the eight included Latino actors billed within the top eight acting credits, per IMDbPro data. This totals out to just three actors of the 64 researched, and of these three, 1 is Chilean, 1 is Brazilian, and only 1 is a U.S.-born and/or immigrant Latino.

In a statement to top entertainment website Deadline Hollywood, Paramount Pictures said, “We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”

Grajeda who said his writing style is usually dark comedy with surreal themes also said, “I pride myself on being as original and creative as I possibly can, but studios rarely take risks. Especially with Latinos,” Grajeda said.

In spite of the data and the challenges he’s experienced he hasn’t given up.

“I’m still hoping that a studio more open to original ideas will hear my pitches, like Netflix or Hulu. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing my scripts that are what I love. Funny, weird, and creative.”

Natasha Galano, a Cuban-American Afro-Latina actress originally from Miami, has also found challenges in Hollywood, not in the movies, but in commercials and of all places in the Spanish market.

“I can tell you that from personal experience my heart breaks a little when I see a commercial breakdown for the Spanish market asking for “standard Spanish speaking” Latina from Mexico.

She said for her it means someone, “that has a Caucasian look or that speaks standard Spanish,” she said.

Galano started acting again last year after battling cancer for four years. She believes the Spanish market could itself to more to help open up doors to the mainstream hiring people from all cultures that make up the Latin-American community.

“We all have different looks and accents. All the “Aspirational” Latina women in commercials all look the same,” Galano adds.

“We have to open the American media’s eyes as to what other Latinos look like, too. I am a Cuban-American Afro-Latina, and I want to be represented because that means they’re thinking of me too.”

Winning the Election was the Beginning of Trump’s Nightmare

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

On November 4, 2016, no one was more surprised that Donald Trump had won an upset campaign victory than one man in New York City; Donald J. Trump.

Throughout his Quixotic campaign for President, Trump had defied conventional political wisdom and used combative, divisive, and even insulting language in his quest to defeat a dozen experienced Republican candidates in his quest to be President.

His campaign had started, many suspected, four years earlier when President Barack Obama made fun of Trump at the White House Correspondence dinner.

Obama made a joke that Trump could be President because he was experienced in making tough decisions, like having to choose between hiring actor Gary Busey or singer Meat Loaf during an episode of Celebrity Apprentice.

Trump later launched a public campaign to find proof that Obama had not been born in Hawaii, and, therefore, as Trump claimed, Obama was not eligible to be president. The “birther” movement, as it became known, was a popular conspiracy theory among Republicans, and gave Trump some standing among right-wing voters.

When the State of Hawaii released an official copy of Obama birth certificate, Trump promised to deliver proof that it was a fake. For another year, Trump milked the conspiracy theory that eventually went nowhere.

From that, a campaign for President was born.

Trump launched his campaign by claiming Mexico only sends rapist, murderers, and drug dealers (and some normal people) to the US. He promised to build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it. And he promised to bring coal back to save jobs in an industry that even China is running away from.

He seemed to bask in the spotlight of being considered a serious contender for President. He promised to fund his campaign personally. He promised to “drain the swamp”, alleging that Washington, D.C. was full of unsavory creatures that protected their own power at the expense of hard working taxpayers.

Trump ran the board in the primary elections and secured the Republican nomination against well-established politicians like Bush, Christie, Huckabee, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich.

The unthinkable had happened; a first-time candidate reality star business mogul with a checkered past had become the standard bearer of Ronald Reagan’s party, and was set to take on Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Political polls and experts all predicted that Clinton would run away with the election. Even Clinton herself seemed overly confident; so much so, that she failed to visit key states like Michigan and Wisconsin in the final weeks of the election.

Trump had become an aggressive campaigner, leading raucous rallies where chanting crowds yelled out “Lock her up!”, referring to Clinton for her alleged misuse of classified information. He seemed poised to be the most popular and populous election loser in history. Many thought he would use his new found popularity to launch his own media network to continue fighting the establishment he so often decried.

But late on election night, as results from key states came in, the anointment of Clinton began to look like it was in trouble. Key counties in important states for were coming in for Trump, contrary to the polling that had predicted big leads for Clinton. By midnight, it was clear that Trump would pull off the biggest upset in political of all time.

On the morning of January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States. Not since General Dwight D. Eisenhower had a political notice been elected to the Oval Office. It seemed like a dream come true for Trump. Or so he thought.

Trump the businessman had made his career through a series of real estate, casino, and licensing deals that had fluctuated from a claimed fortune of billions to several bankruptcies and comebacks.

His business has often raised claims of questionable financing and underhanded tactics.

His Trump University real estate program had been sued for millions of dollars in a fraud case. And Trump had often surrounded himself with colorful characters with even more colorful pasts.

Upon his election, Trump decided not to divest himself from his complex web of hundreds of companies, and, instead, left his two sons to run the empire. Many critics charged that his continued business ownership would create conflicts of interest with being President. Never had anyone with such diverse and complex businesses been elected.

Then the fangs came out. Lawsuits were filed claiming Trump had violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution (which prohibits gifts from foreign governments) every time officials from other countries stay at a Trump hotel or golf course.

Last year, a Special Counsel was appointed to investigate possible interference by Russians in the 2016 election. The investigation has been looking into multiple people connected to Trump in connection with foreigners, including Trump’s son, son-in-law, and close advisers.

As we all know, several people close to Trump have already been convicted of various crimes, including this week’s convictions of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Flynn. Gates. Papadopoulos. And those convictions may only be the start of an increasingly tightening noose around Trump.

Federal and state investigators are continuing to investigate and seem to be gaining access to Trump’s business dealings and internal business operations. With each passing day, the once tightly controlled private business empire of Donald Trump is becoming more and more public.

A losing campaign for Trump could have set him up to make millions or billions as a media mogul. Maybe he thought a close losing campaign would make his business empire even more valuable or reap greater financial gains through new relationships.

But, in the end, becoming President could prove to be the worst thing to have happened to Trump, and may expose his family and close associates to legal jeopardy. His past personal relationships, payoffs, and deals are all under the microscope now.

Millions of young Americans dream of becoming President someday. For Donald Trump, that dream may become a nightmare, and an expensive one at that.

Be careful what you wish for. It just may come true.

“Here have been several suicide attempts, many mental breakdowns.”

July 01, 2018

To whom it may concern:

This is a cry out for help from the people (or aliens, as we are called) at Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, WA, spending the dark days of our lives.

The prison is run a la modern slavery. The officers, who mainly are retired military people, are getting overpaid to watch us. All other work is done by the prisoners. We work at the barbershop, we paint, we cook, we do buffing, we clean dishes, we do laundry, and we clean the entire building inside and outside, and we clean our units.

Depending on the job, it is a working day from 1 to 6 hours. For this we get paid $1 a day. The facility is built to house 600 people for 4 weeks. Yet here are over 1,500 people, some are here many months, and even years. It is totally overcrowded. We live about 100 people in each unit. The unit is one big room, around 300 square meters. But the bunks and tables take most of the space.

In this room we eat, sleep, shower, use toilets and waste our lives. In this room we are locked up for 23 hours a day, with far less space per individual than slaughter cattle have in Europe. For 1 hour we are allowed to come out in a rec yard. With one small soccer field, if 4 play on each team it is overcrowded. There is one basketball court and a few iron exercise machines. All this is fenced with a razor sharp curl of wire. After this there is another fence 15–18 feet high, with 7 (seven) razor sharp curls of wire, similar to Auschwitz! Totally overdoing it for a so-called detention center.

On the other side of the second fence officers are patrolling with cars, and walking officers with guns. We do not understand the guns. We come as immigrants to live in America, not to escape.

In the facility there are waiting cells for everything we do. If we go to the dentist, to medical, court, attorney visit, regular visit, or if we talk to our ICE officer. These cells are identical with a prison’s, with a stone bench inside and a toilet. That’s it. This bench is almost impossible to use because it saps all the heat from the body immediately due to the cold temperature in the room.

When people are deported, they are taken out of the unit at 10:30 p.m., then placed in a holding cell to around 10:00 a.m. Before, they are cuffed on both hands and feet, with a chain around the waist, hands placed in front.

We are counted 5 times a day. This means we must go to our 20 inch wide iron beds with a 1–2 inch mattress, depending on its age. The officers take this very seriously, screaming at us to be quiet. It takes about 1 hour to count us, every time.

We are forced to wear uniforms. The clothes we wear and the blankets we use for sleep are washed in the laundry at the facility. In the laundry they use chemicals in our clothes and blankets (to calm us down) so we don’t fight, due to the extreme stress it is being here.

These chemicals result in many getting exams (red marks on several places on the body, and red eyes as well as dizzyness, also problems with the throat and airways.) Just to add a note!! The reason for writing the human rights act back in the late 1940s was with the interest that no one ever again should be exposed to gas or chemical attacks.

Of course we can go to the medical department, and get medicine for the symptoms. Never have so many young people needed so much medicine as people here.

We are given 3 very nutrition poor meals a day. There is never enough for a grown up. On the weekends, we get one small sandwich and one orange for lunch. That is not even a snack for an American. We have the possibility to order from the commissary twice a week, overpriced.

The facility is a for profit business. It gets paid a huge amount daily for each detainee. Because of that, they always keep the detainees for weeks and months after the final court hearing before they are deported to squeeze the last money out of them. The facility also earns on the medicine they give us, on communications, commissary, and money saved for not having employed staff beside the officers. It is truly a dirty business, instead of what it is supposed to be, immigration for humanity. The people who come here are mainly victims of persecution, torture, etc., who all seek protections from harm. What we get is far from America-worthy!

Here have been several suicide attempts, many mental breakdowns. And way too many are traumatized from this horrible way human beings treat non criminal fellow human beings. Many grown ups are crying on a daily basis, not understanding or comprehending the treatment which we are being given, nor the way way our lives are being wasted, for the sake of money!!

We are treated unrespectfully, are humiliated, our human rights are repeatedly violated, and we are living like and feeling like animals in a cage.

The immigration law as it is, is destroying families, marking them for life. Sending them into limbo financially, due to far too long a time in prison, unable to pay bills. Therefore we cry out for help to be set free, and be reunited with our loved ones. To be treated as what we are, human beings (and not aliens or prisoners). To be trusted till otherwise proved. Are we not innocent? We implore and beg for an investigation and a reconsidering of the immigration law.

Kind regards from the prisoners without any crimes,

(names withheld by request)

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“Here have been several suicide attempts, many mental breakdowns.” was originally published in IMM Print on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“We haven’t told our kids he’s in jail.”

Eleven months ago Alexey Kharis went to DHS in San Francisco to receive the verdict on his appeal for political asylum. Then he was arrested and thrown into detention. This is his wife Anna’s story. (Part 2 of 2)

I met my Alexey in 2007 when I was in my home city, Vladivostok, for summer break. It was love at first sight. The next year, when I was studying in London, we hung out on Skype every night. We married in 2009 and had five years of complete happiness. Our son was born and then our daughter.

Alexey Kharis and his children

I was taking care of the kids and opened a small grocery shop. Alexey was a co-owner and CEO of a large construction and real estate development company and worked 10–12 hours a day, which I wasn’t happy about, of course.

But I was at peace with it seeing how passionate he was about his business, how proud he was about the achievements and significant projects of his company. And he was always a loving and sensitive husband and caring father. Quite often, he’d spend the night rocking the cradle and then head off for his business early in the morning. And we always were together on weekends. We had quite a happy family life.

And then came dreadful 2014. Before that Alexey didn’t share his business troubles but was always eager to share his success and achievements. At the beginning of 2014, I got to know that some officials from Moscow were persecuting my husband and his business partner as vengeance for exposing an official’s corruption, and that he ordered a criminal investigation against their company. Alexey was sure that there was no wrong-doing on their side and the investigation would come to a conclusion of no fault. But several months of endless interrogations and raids and searches followed. And a troubling expression was more common than a smile on his face. Then in summer, the storm seemed to subside. I proposed to spend some time abroad because he was exhausted (and I had my reasons too). For several weeks we enjoyed a rest, our kids and each other. But then Alexey’s lawyer informed him that he had been indicted for fraud and arrested in absentia. That meant that if he went back to Russia he would go straight to jail. There are no words to describe the terror of this news. Our lawyer said they needed time to understand the situation and we decided to stay in the U.S. for some time.

Going to jail in Russia was out of the question. Once Alexey got there, they would extort any confession from him. And we still hoped that the situation could be resolved.

We both knew about the grand abuse of law and justice in Russia but could not believe that a crime could be simply concocted and someone could be prosecuted for something that never happened at all.

Alexey with his wife, Anna, and family in happier times

We chose California as our temporary residence. Our kids went to a public school, I got a student visa and studied digital marketing and then found a job. Alexey attended evening courses at Stanford, preparing himself for its Graduate School of Business (he’d dreamt of an MBA for a long time) and he also spent time with the kids. Meanwhile, Alexey’s business in Russia was ruined (and my grocery shop too) but we still hoped for a new start. We made new friends here and explored beautiful California around us on weekends. And then it got worse and worse and worse. Russia put Alexey on Interpol’s Red Notice list, and my visa was revoked, and though he was admitted to Stanford, he had to withdraw.

Our last hope was to ask for asylum in the U.S. We had the asylum interview in May 2017, after which the case was referred to the court. Alexey was arrested in San Francisco on August16, 2017, the day he was informed of the decision. Many tears and sleepless nights followed. He was denied bond and has been in detention for 11 months now.

We haven’t told our kids he’s in jail. We said he went on a business trip. He calls every night to tell them that everything is ok.

But we are thinking of telling them the truth but do not know how to do it because they wait for him every day and ask when he will be coming back home. All our savings are gone, but the good thing is that I have my job and we support and cheer up each other and try hard not to think about the possibility of deportation. We know that in Russia he will be forced to plead guilty and the judge will be unjust and dependent on his Moscow bosses’ opinion. And there will be a long and undeserved imprisonment, and we may never see each other again. We know all this, but we try hard not to think of it and to keep hope and faith and to do whatever we can.

During these long, eleven months, I’ve met a lot of open-hearted and compassionate people. Total strangers listened to me and offered to help. And Alexey tells me that in detention he has met a lot of good people too, even among the guards. This gives us hope that even if we can’t find justice in the governments of Russia or the U.S., there is still justice and compassion in people’s hearts.

Editor’s note: Please consider a contribution to Alexey’s GoFundMe campaign: www.gofundme.com/free-alexey

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“We haven’t told our kids he’s in jail.” was originally published in IMM Print on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“People were begging to be deported after being there for a month.”

Jorge* crossed the border from Mexico. He arrived in Arizona with a large group that planned to split up and head to different parts of the U.S. A Coyote took them to a house that was soon surrounded by ICE officers. ICE took them all directly to a detention center somewhere in Arizona; Jorge was held there for fifteen days. He didn’t have any idea where he was; he only knew that he was confined inside a big building with no windows, just fans that did little to dispel the hot air. His first week there, he didn’t have any blankets. Meals consisted of a little bread and water rations. There was one bathroom for sixty people. He felt he was being taught a lesson: don’t try to enter the U.S. ICE wants people to beg to be sent back to their home countries.

Then Jorge was moved to another facility — a detention center — in Phoenix. He was held there for four months. After a week, he was allowed to call his family. Then he was told that this facility was going to be used to house women, so he was moved again. He was transferred to a third facility, in Louisiana — a prison, like San Quentin. He stayed there for four months, too.

The inmates were allowed outside once a day, but they still felt as though they were being treated like animals. After a few weeks there, people would beg to be deported.

One man from Guatemala hung himself.

It took Jorge a month to be able to make a phone call. He called his brother to tell him where he was and to give him a phone number where he could be reached. But calls from the inside are extremely expensive. Food is sold in the facility, but his family had to send him money so he could get enough to eat.

Jorge’s family would call and be told by immigration authorities that he was going to be sent back to Peru very soon. Most of those in the jail were from Guatemala or Mexico. Jorge’s family learned that because it’s costly to deport just one person, ICE waits until they have a larger number so they can deport them all together.

Jorge’s detention dragged on for eight months. Finally, his family offered to pay for his ticket back to Peru. Before being deported, he had to sign a document saying he wouldn’t return for five years. The document is in English, and many who sign it don’t know what it says. But they’re forced to sign it anyway.

Three days later the Immigration authorities used the ticket his family paid for to send Jorge back.

* Not his real name.

Submitted by Lisa Bennett of Sausalito, CA (lisabpolitics@gmail.com). Lisa has known Jorge’s brother for 20 years, and personally gathered this story from him. Due to today’s culture of persecution, both men declined to have their names published.

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“People were begging to be deported after being there for a month.” was originally published in IMM Print on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.