Families Belong Together –a Rant against this administration’s inhumane detention policies

Imagine that you arrive at the immigration or customs checkpoint for let’s say –Aruba.  You are traveling with your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or any other small human you care about and an agent comes up to you, under the guise of giving them refreshment after a long journey –and the child is NEVER given back to you. What would you do?  If your answer is “Well that’s just how it is?  It’s the law or policy.” I am calling you a liar (probably with a few expletives in front of the word liar). I do not know any parent, grandparent, or person entrusted with the care of a child that wouldn’t be devastated, infuriated, angered, desperate, panicked, traumatized, among many other numerous policies.   If you can say this and mean it –then unfriend me right now, I don’t want to or need to know you.

Over the last few days, I’ve read and listened to every imaginable ‘rationalization’ that the White House, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security has given for separating 2000 children from their parents when they arrived at the US/Mexico Border over the past six weeks.  Let’s be clear, this is racist policy that is being enacted by the Trump Administration. If 2000 white children had been separated from their parents at the arrival of a border ANYWHERE in this world in a period of 6 weeks, we would be threatening military action.  Perhaps in another post, I will go into great detail highlight every LIE this administration has used to justify their heinous acts –but know that if you do just a little bit of research you will find that there is absolutely no policy or law on the books that upholds the claim that “This is the law.[1]

Choosing to separate families, regardless of their immigrant status, is inhumane, callous, and cruel.  I don’t expect everyone to share my politics regarding immigration –but I do believe that regardless of your political affiliation you should be offended that this administration thinks that it is ok to not only separate these families, but to also ‘house’ them in subpar and inhumane conditions. Children sleeping in cages and on the floors of old warehouses is not right[2]!   Keep in mind private corporations are PROFITTING off this pain and suffering of others.  They are paid by the ‘bed’ and by the number of people they house[3]

What can we do:

  1. Write or call your representatives –we need to continue to put pressure on all of our elected to ensure that this policy does not continue. https://whoismyrepresentative.com/
  2. Donate, volunteer, write the media and make sure that this issue doesn’t just disappear. https://www.thecut.com/2018/06/how-to-help-fight-family-separation-policy-immigration-trump.html
  3. Participate in local and/or virtual protests: http://map.familiesbelong.org/search.php
  4. Stay outraged and stay engaged!!

 

[1] See: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-us-policy-separating-migrant-families-law/story?id=55943925 or

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/06/18/how-to-mislead-with-statistics-dhs-secretary-nielsen-edition/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.076f7812c723

[2] See https://www.apnews.com/9794de32d39d4c6f89fbefaea3780769

[3] See: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565318778/big-money-as-private-immigrant-jails-boom

Or  https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/profiting-enforcement-role-private-prisons-us-immigration-detention

 

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Resources for those working with undocumented /DACA / mixed status immigrant families.

favianna-welcome-dreamers3.jpgOk -most of you know I haven’t published on my blog in a couple years –but what better reason to revive my blog than to provide useful and important information

As we prepared for our Los Rios College Federation of Teachers workshops in support of undocumented students, we came across a number of useful documents and toolkits.   I am putting them here so that others can easily access the information. I will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.

Hope you find this useful

EDUCATOR RESOURCES

American Federation of Teachers toolkit provides educators with information on how they can help students and their families in the event of an ICE Raid.  AFT’s Toolkit: Immigrant & Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators & School Support Staff

United We Dream’s website has an EXTENSIVE library of resources and information.   It includes research on DACA / Dreamers students, toolkits, know your rights, Political Education Information, etc.  I highly recommend taking a look at the resources that they have compiled on this webpage.   To access the information, click here

The National Immigration Law Center provides a lot of useful information for the purposes of Community Education.  This includes Know Your Rights, Eligibility for Disaster Relief for Immigrants, Affidavits for immigrants applying for their green cards, and more.  To access their resources, click here

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

ACLU’s Know Your Rights: Discrimination Against Immigrants and Muslims This link provides Know Your Rights information for individuals who may be stopped by police or other state agents ( in multiple languages):  Click here

ILRC’s Know Your Rights & What Immigrant Families Should Know.  This link provides general information on both rights and how families can prepare.

Click here for English  |  Click here for Spanish   |  Click here for Chinese

FAMILY PREPAREDNESS PLAN

Advocates are encouraging undocumented and mixed status families to be prepared in the event of an ICE raid.  Here are links to the resource guide put together by the ILRC.

Click here for English version   |   Click here for the Spanish Version

LEGAL RESOURCES

It is important to know that whether an individual should apply or renew DACA is done on a case-by-case basis.   The one thing that advocates all seem to agree upon is that individuals who are out of status, or individuals who need to renew or apply for DACA should all consult an attorney.

Note that this is not an endorsement of the services, but a link to a resource that other organizations have referred to.  Immigration Law Help: Locating Immigration Law Help for Low Income Immigrants

CRLAF Information:  These links provide general advice and information from the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.  Click Here

 

Thanksgiving Reflections

If I had to chose one word to characterize the last six months it would be ‘change.’  Last August I moved to Sacramento after living in Southern California for 18 years –13 in Los Angeles and 5 in San Diego.  Living in Southern California had become so second nature that about 6 weeks ago, I was on the Southwest Airlines website and started booking a plane ticket to go back to San Francisco for Thanksgiving.  It wasn’t until I started entering my credit card information that I realized I didn’t need to fly home.

It’s during times of transition that you realize what you’re most grateful for.  This year, I’m thankful for the friends who helped me navigate the crazy job market from February to May.  I am lucky enough to be surrounded with people who talked me through cover letters, CV changes, and diversity statements.  They helped me develop a 10 minute (yeah I said 10 minute) teaching demo.  When I screwed up an interview, they gave me the constructive criticism that was integral to helping me land the job I have now.  I had letter writers who re-tooled multiple letters so that they would work for the community college system. I also feel lucky to have landed in an extremely supportive department and institution. There are certainly a ton of challenges to face –some I knew coming through the door and others that are just now revealing themselves, but I know facing them make me a stronger teacher and better person.

On a more personal note –I’m grateful for the friends who checked in and made sure I was ok.  I’m thankful for friends who forgave my disappearing acts and lack of communication during the most inopportune moments. When you move, you also realize that you took for granted the comfort of having friends you call family and the ease of those relationships. Thank you for being my family by choice –I miss you all more than I could ever put into words.

As I sit on the train, heading home to San Francisco to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family –I realize that I’m so grateful to be closer to home.  Over the last two decades –I didn’t really hold out much hope that I’d be able to move closer to home.   I’m so happy that I can renew my NorCal friendships.  We live in tumultuous times, and it’s not lost on me that  the ability to put down roots and grow is a privilege others do not have.

Please enjoy your Thanksgiving and know that I’m grateful that you are part of my life.

Much love,

Belinda

 

 

 

 

Christmas reflections

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I haven’t posted to my blog in awhile –but if you know me, it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say.  There’s something about the end of the year that makes me pause and take inventory of the many blessings in my life.  While all of us have faced our own share of personal and professional challenges –it’s the moments of trial and challenge that also teach us the important lessons in life.   These moments have a way of shining light on our support networks (the ones that we knew were there and a few that we didn’t). It reminds us that we are not alone.  For me, the holiday season reminds me to try and see the best in people and presents a moment of renewed hope.  We live in challenging times and in light of the daunting issues that face us as a society, I think it is important for us to find new ways to connect with one another –to learn to promote love, peace, and friendship even in the face of vast differences.   No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, I hope it is filled with love, laughter and fun.  Thank you for being a blessing in my life.  Here’s to wonderful adventures in the New Year.

Always,

Belinda

How Do We Truly Honor Veterans on Veteran’s Day?

For those of you who know me,  you might be surprised that after a year away from blogging, I decided to jump back in with a post about Veteran’s Day.   Politics aside –don’t mistake my anti-war beliefs as an anti-veteran stance.

I am the proud daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who continues to advocate for the needs of all veterans through his ‘volunteer’ work as the Chairman of the American Legion War Memorial Commission and Vice Commander of Cathay Post.   He has worked with the Commission to preserve the San Francisco War Memorial so that it continues to provide services to US veterans of all wars. Just as importantly, his work with Cathay post advocates for the recognition and acknowledgement of the work and sacrifice of Asian and Pacific Islander soldiers in all wars.

As we take the day to acknowledge veterans, I find myself a bit perplexed.  For the past year and a half, I have worked on a number of projects that taught me a lot about the post-war experiences of veterans  –particularly around the issues of homelessness and mental health.  I look at the statistics and I ask myself –how do we truly honor veterans? Ignoring the needs of military men ,women, and their families, who voluntarily sacrifice their lives in support of our country is a violent act –one that each of us should be committed to improving if we truly want to support Veterans.

Here are just a few facts and statistics that trouble me:

DEMOGRAPHICS OF HOMELESS VETERANS (usich.gov)

  • 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans
  • 20% of the male homeless population are veterans
  • 68% reside in principal cities (e.g. Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC)
  • 32% reside in suburban/rural areas
  • 51% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities
  • 50% have serious mental illness
  • 70% have substance abuse problems
  • 50% are age 51 or older, compared to 19% non-veterans
  • According to the Housing and Urban Development Department’s 2011 Homeless Assessment Report 67,495 Veterans experienced homelessness on the night of the annual homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) count for January 2011[i] (This count may be low because it only reflects the one-night when the survey occurred.)
  • The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day!  This is a conservative estimate –the data used excludes California, Texas and Illinois who are the first, second, and fifth largest states with veteran populations. The numbers are most likely higher.  That is almost 1 death per hour!
  • According to a 2008 RAND study, nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans screen positive for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression.[ii]
  • The same study found that about 19 percent of troops surveyed report a probable Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) during deployment.  It is unclear what the long term effects of TBI are on veterans because the symptoms are often hard to distinguish from PTSD.

While I could continue to list off a bunch of statistics I am going to stop here.  If we are truly going to honor veterans on Veteran’s Day —it’s time that we start working to help preserve and improve their quality of life.  We pay billions of dollars to profiteering, multi-national corporations who build weapons –but we fail to provide an adequate budget to care for our veterans.  While I’ve focused on mental health and homelessness, I think it is also important to note that we fail to pay our current enlisted soldiers a living wage so that they can support their families.   How is this right?

So this Veteran’s Day, if you want to honor Veteran’s and thank them for service –get educated on the issues.  Honor our Veterans by helping educate your fellow citizens on the real sacrifices soldiers make when they choose to defend our country.

Voice, Censorship, and Change

November 6, 2012 –Election Day. –a day where we take to the polls to (re) elect a president. We are reminded that not so long ago, minorities and women battled for suffrage, for the right to be heard and counted.  Even today, in states across the country there remain numerous acts of voter suppression and legislation aimed to disenfranchise minority voters in particular.  We are reminded that in order for democracy to succeed we must constantly fight to maintain and sustain the rights that ALL citizens are entitled to –and work against those who would try to strip or pervert the rights guaranteed to all of us in the eyes of the law.

I was compelled to write this short blog post because today my colleagues and former students at the University of San Diego are beginning a protest to combat the university’s violation of the tenets of academic freedom and censorship.  Actions taken by the university to rescind Dr. Tina Beattie’s invitation to serve as a fellow at USD point to the ways in which donor dollars trump democratic education.  Much has been written about this controversy (see links below) that can provide those interested with a much deeper understanding of the issue.

I am a firm believer that education, at it’s best, provides students with a diversity of ideas, understandings and perspectives.  Particularly in the Social Sciences and the Humanities, these ideals should be used by students to inform their positions and beliefs.  For any authority in power –whether that’s the government, university official, or professor to actively prevent the presentation of ideas –whether one agrees or disagrees with them from those willing and wanting to hear them is an act of violence and totalitarianism., and violates the very foundation of education.

So this is a short note to say, I stand in solidarity with my friends and colleagues today. I admire your heart and passion.  Stay Strong.

Highly recommended reading:

Tina Beattie’s blog explaining her position and USD’s rescinded inviteKPBS audio interview with Drs. Beattie, Mannion, and Hinmen

Inside Higher Ed: An invitation rescinded

Foodie Lessons: Difference between Korean and Japanese Sashimi

After a long day that began at 5:15am, I was more than exhausted when I returned home a little over 12 hours later. The idea of cooking dinner was the furthest thing from my mind. After scouring Yelp for a few minutes, I decided I would try this Korean Sashimi place that got good reviews and was three blocks from my house. Perfect –sushi would be easy, and not heavy and I’d be home early enough to chill out, watch a movie, and go to bed early. Let’s just say, I learned a huge lesson in the difference between Korean and Japanese sashimi.

I arrive at this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and the Korean gentleman welcomed me. After I sat down, in broken English, he explained that the ‘small’ size was $30. I said ok. I assumed that this restaurant served everything like Japanese style Omakase –that it was Chef’s choice. $30 seemed reasonable since Omakase is usually $50 or more. I sat back and waited my order. Not unlike other Korean restaurants the first thing to come was the banchan (side dishes). 2 kinds of kimchi, some crunchy salty baked thing, seafood pancakes, steamed egg, seaweed salad, potato salad, and some other jello like thing that is marinated in soy sauce. In truth, I would have been full with just the banchan.

Now the real surprise begins….

Had I not been half asleep, scrolling through my emails, I probably would have noticed that the chef had gone over to a fish tank and pulled out a live fish (I noticed this much later). The waitress comes over to my table and starts moving the banchan plates around to make room. She then leaves, and comes back with a huge plate of sashimi –beautifully displayed in a spiral fashion. There it was –the whole fish, sliced into sashimi slices sitting on the table in front of me. I looked at her and said, “Oh my God… are you kidding me. This is the small?” She smiled politely at me, nodded, and then left. As I was grappling with how much food had just been placed in front of me she came back with an octopus salad. The octopus was really fresh –I swear you could still see the tentacles moving. It had a red sauce on top of it and was delicious.

Needless to say –this was definitely a foodie lesson –Korean sashimi and Japanese sashimi –very very different things. I left that night, more comatose than I had started –this time from the pure amount of food. I don’t think the picture can even begin to display just how much food there was.

I, of course, sent this picture off to one of my Korean friends who called me laughing a day later. Lesson learned. Next time, I bring a friend.

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