The top issues we’ll be listening for during Thursday’s debate

The democratic candidates for president will face off this week in the second round of debates. With the field of major contenders having narrowed to 11 presidential hopefuls, each one now has more pressure to be bold about the issues we care about.

Source: ABC News Twitter

According to a poll that was conducted earlier this summer by UnidosUS and Latino Decisions, which surveyed close to 2,000 Latinx eligible voters, these are the issues the ideal candidate would address:

Jobs and the economy, health care and immigration are at the top of the list for us. When we break these issues down even further, here’s what the poll says we want our next president to support:

Increasing the minimum wage, ensuring insurance companies can’t refuse those with pre-existing conditions and more federal funding for K-12 education are specific policy priorities for us.

And while driving real progress on our issues is important, we’re also watching to see how this candidate will get things done. 

This poll shows that, as a community, what we most want from our ideal candidate is someone who values diversity, is willing to compromise to achieve results, and has realistic, achievable policy ideas and goals. 

How does our next President feel about immigration?

The third Democratic Presidential debate on September 12 will help us choose our favorite of the 11 candidates. 

And, let’s face it, it’s hard to be Latinx today without having to defend ourselves. We’ve been criminalized by Trump, harassed for speaking Spanish in public, unjustly jailed and even massacred for being Latinxs. 

The next POTUS needs to show us respect and support. Where they stand on immigration informs how they’ll deal with DREAMers, immigrant children caged at the border, a path towards citizenship, and cleaning up our toxic political climate. 

Here’s what candidates say: 

“We need to decriminalize our immigration system and go back to treating it as a civil violation.” Julián Castro,

 “We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, period.” Kamala Harris

“We can affirm our values as a country and have immigration systems that support our economy, that grow our country, and that make sure that we stay secure and strong.” Cory Booker 

“I think the biggest problem we’ve got right now starts down in Central America.” Elizabeth Warren

“The biggest crisis around immigration today is the inhumanity of this administration’s policies.” Pete Buttigieg

“Undocumented immigration is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to rewrite our laws that are in accord with our values.” Beto O’Rourke

“The key here is to have a system where we have order at the border, but we also have comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship.” Amy Klobuchar

“It is certainly not the kind of problem that Donald Trump makes it out to be.” Bernie Sanders 

“We have over 12 million undocumented immigrants here in America and that is a major problem.” Andrew Yang

“We have to find a pathway to citizenship, earned citizenship, for the 11 million undocumented [immigrants].” Joseph R. Biden Jr. 

Tune in to see if candidates expand on these important issues that directly impact our lives everyday. 

Spanish-speaking candidates: valuable or pandering?

Spanish-speaking Democratic presidential candidates are using their language skills to connect with Latinx voters, but it’s been met with some controversy. While some Latinxs see it as evidence that the candidates genuinely care about our community, others see it as political pandering. 

Astrid Silva discusses immigration./Zimbio.com

When you can share your story without a translator, “you can connect” with your audience in a deeper way, explained DREAMer activist Astrid Silva. The Nevada millennial, who migrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of 4, believes whole-heartedly that conveying political messages in Spanish is more effective with Latinx immigrant communities. She delivered the Democratic Party’s Spanish-language response in 2017 on how President Trump’s comments about unauthorized immigrants could negatively impact law-abiding Latinx families. 

During the debates on September 12, candidates Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker will likely speak Spanish at some point, since they’ve addressed potential voters in Spanish before. Beto, who uses a Spanish nickname, became fluent in Spanish as he grew up in El Paso, while Cory speaks conversational Spanish. Meanwhile Julian Castro, the only Latinx candidate, has been criticized for his rudimentary Spanish even though he grew up with a family that did not speak the language for fear of discrimination and retaliation. 

Interestingly, the latest Pew Research Study finds that younger Latinxs, the majority of voters within our Latinx community, see the use of Spanish by politicians as “extreme pandering.” Naturalized citizens, however, feel Spanish-speaking politicians represent them better. 

Latinxs want a candidate who takes climate change seriously

Rosa Trent with her children, Angel Hernandez and Marissa Trent in Camden, New Jersey, one of the most polluted areas in the country. Fred R Conrad/The Guardian

At first glance, Rosa Trent and her children Angel Hernandez and Marissa Trent look like any other mother, son and daughter trio. But there’s more than meets the eye. The family lives in Camden, New Jersey, one of the most polluted areas in the country, where Angel contracted asthma. Their neighbors, mostly people of color, are also vulnerable to environmental toxins. 

An image depicting the impact of climate change./climate.nasa.gov

Politicians need to address climate change, especially because of the dire consequences that impact our communities. If Democratic presidential candidates want our vote, they need to address this issue.

Julian Castro addresses his audience./therivardreport.com

Fortunately, the lone Latinx Democratic presidential candidate has taken it upon himself to address this important issue. Julian Castro introduced an ambitious proposal to put the U.S. on an urgent path toward reducing carbon emissions and bring relief to communities of color that are unfairly burdened with the aftermath of climate change. Nearly 25 million Latinxs live in the 15 most dangerous areas for ground-level ozone pollution according to Jolt, a Texas-based Latino mobilization group. And most live in states that are affected by extreme heat, air pollution and flooding. Let’s hope other candidates address climate change during the September 12 debate. 

Candidates need to address the violence against Latinxs

Beto O’Rourke attends a vigil for victims of the August 3 massacre in El Paso/Mario Tama/Getty Images

Octavio Ramirez Lizarde may have physically recovered from a medical surgery, but his emotional recovery is another story. In August he endured severe injuries when a white supremacist killed 22 people and injured about 24 others at an El Paso Walmart. He watched in horror as his 15-year-old nephew Javier Rodriguez was murdered right in front of him. Now, his hope is that he and his family can heal. 

Octavio Ramirez Lizarde had reconstructive surgery after the El Paso shooting. Credit: GoFund Me

With every mass shooting that occurs, violence in the U.S. is becoming normalized. Latinxs and other marginalized communities are feeling especially vulnerable. That’s one motivation to support the next president who will address our concerns. Figuring out who deserves our support starts at the upcoming Democratic presidential candidate debate on September 12.

El Paso native Beto O’Rourke interrupted his campaign trail to return to his hometown amid the tragedy. He condemned President Donald Trump’s remarks that Mexicans are rapists and criminals that may have encouraged the racist acts of the killer. Fellow Texan Julian Castro said Trump needs to step up on universal background checks of people buying guns. 

Bernie Sanders blasted the National Rifle Association over the El Paso shooting, while Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg want a no-compromise approach to a gun law overhaul. Kamala Harris blamed Trump for the shooting and Elizabeth Warren is pushing for “common sense” gun reform. Let’s hope the candidates elaborate on their thoughts on the debate stage. 

New rule will detain migrant kids indefinitely

Yazmin Juarez testifies about the death of her daughter while held in U.S. custody./cbsnews.com

Yazmin Juarez lost her 21-month-old daughter, Mariee, on the day Mother’s Day is celebrated back in her home country of Guatemala. The toddler died after contracting a lung infection while held in immigrant detention. The distraught, but courageous mom sought justice for her daughter by testifying at a congressional hearing, where she pleaded for leaders to closely examine how migrants are treated in detention. 

Instead of responding to her plea, the government unveiled a new rule to indefinitely keep migrant kids and families who cross the border behind bars. This means subjecting countless migrants to horrendous treatment at detention facilities, without hope for release. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan says new rule allowing indefinite detention of migrant families will “improve the integrity of the immigration system.” AP/Andre Harnik

The new regulation was announced by Trump’s administration on August 21st. It replaces the Flores settlement agreement, which set a 20-day limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they should receive while in custody. Homeland security officials justified the new rule claiming that migrants abused the 20-day jail process as a type of “passport” for their children, since they’d be freed from detention after that short time. 

The fate of these families, who are desperate for help and risk their lives in hopes of finding asylum, is more dire than ever. Sadly, without improved conditions other migrant families may suffer the same fate as Yazmin and Mariee the longer they remain locked in these facilities. 

Immigrant advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union continue to call for improvement of the abysmal conditions within these ‘detention’ facilities and  states like California and Massachusetts aren’t going out without a fight. A 19-state lawsuit was filed challenging the indefinite detention of migrant children and their families. California State Attorney General Xavier Bacerra called Trump’s actions “morally reprehensible” and “illegal.” Trump argues he’s taking this draconian step on humanitarian grounds and with “children on my mind.”

How many Latinx US citizens does ICE arrest?

Ramon Torres, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Ramon Torres is an exemplary U.S. citizen with a family, a home and reputation as an honest man. Yet, none of that mattered when he was racially profiled for his brown skin and Latin American name by local cops who arrested him on suspicion of drunk driving in Louisiana. 

Ramon was suspected of being undocumented and was held in immigration custody for four days, even though he’s has been a U.S. citizen for nearly 10 years. Never mind that he had his Social Security card, a US passport, a Louisiana driver’s license and a court order for his release. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sued for his release.

Torres spent four days in jail before a lawyer’s involvement finally secured his release. (Bart Everson/Flickr)

The staff at the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office clearly admitted that they have a policy to detain all Latinx people for immigration review! Ramon’s detainment was a violation of his constitutional rights. Unfortunately, this incident isn’t isolated. It begs the question: How often are Latinx citizens detained due to racial profiling or discriminatory policies at agencies around the country?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents prepare to make arrests./ICE

ICE has illegally detained nearly 1,500 US citizens since 2012, despite a policy that requires a legal review take place within 48 hours if an individual claims to be a US citizen, reported the Los Angeles Times. This investigation found that hundreds more had to prove their status in immigration courts and sometimes spent months or even years in detention. Children of immigrants and naturalized citizens are the most vulnerable when it comes to mistaken arrests. In total, ICE makes 100,000-plus arrests annually. 

Local agencies across the country need to stop their unjust and discriminatory policies which unfairly target Latinxs. 

Like Johana, trans immigrants are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and death

Johana Medina. Diversidad Sin Fronteras on Facebook. 

Johana Medina Leon, a 25-year-old transgender asylum seeker from El Salvador, died while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. She’s not the first trans immigrant to die in federal detention and, sadly, may not be the last. 

News of Johana’s death caused immigrant advocates to raise the alarm for trans immigrants who are more vulnerable to injury, abuse and neglect in immigrant detention centers.

Christopher Dolan, center, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over the death of trans woman Johana Medina Leon. Photo: Meg Elison for Bay Area Reporter. 

Johana waited for months in Mexico for a chance to ask for asylum at a U.S. port of entry. Even after becoming sick, she didn’t give up hope and was eventually admitted as an asylum seeker on April 11. She spent seven weeks at an ICE detention center in New Mexico that’s notorious for claims of mistreatment of trans people.

Johana died in a hospital after experiencing chest pains on the same day a medical test confirmed she had a serious illness. A year prior, fellow trans immigrant Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez died in ICE custody. Official autopsies found she’d died of dehydration, but an independent autopsy reports signs of abuse. ICE denies the allegation. 

“I don’t want to die because I’m trans. I also have a family. ” @Simone de Janeiro Dos Santos on Diversidad Sin Fronteras on Facebook. 

These tragic deaths, coupled with the history of sexual harassment and lack of medical care by ICE, reflects the vulnerable, abused and neglected circumstances of LGBTQ+ immigrants.

“ICE Bae” prefers fame as she turns a blind eye to suffering

26-year-old Latina Kiara Cervantes is getting more attention than she bargained for, and for all the wrong reasons. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, nicknamed “ICE Bae” on social media, appeared in a viral photo that showed her providing security for Vice President Mike Pence during a visit to a Texas detention facility at the border. 

 

There are many Border Patrol agents who are Latinx, she’s far from being the only one. But Kiara’s eager acceptance of social media fame for her role shows her siding with the current administration’s hateful and cruel anti-immigrant rhetoric, even when it targets her own gente. She dismissed critics and defended her actions by saying it was an “honor” and that she takes “a lot of pride” in her job. Her critics reminded her Nazis used the same excuses during World War II. 

 

Many of her social media fans mocked the inhumane conditions migrants are subjected to in border facilities, while they complimented and even sexualized Kiara, saying they’d like to be “detained” by her. As if being ripped away from one’s family, going hungry and forced to inhumane conditions is something to joke about.

Kiara created a Twitter profile, where she embraced her “Ice Bae” label. Kiara is a privileged Latina who is immune to the injustices taking place right in front of her, who’s seeking instant fame for the wrong reasons.

Discrimination against Romero family reflects surge in bigotry

The Romero family took another selfie to avoid allowing the man to destroy their memory./Jessica Romero on Facebook

The Romeros are avid fans of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Watching games live at Globe Life Park in Arlington is a fun family affair for them, but mere hours after the news that a domestic terrorist claimed 22 lives in El Paso, this Latinx family became victims of a bigoted man who didn’t want them there. 

Jessica Romero posted a selfie which shows the bigoted man in the background making an obscene gesture./Jessica Romero on Facebook.

Jessica Romero, the wife and mom in the family, says the man sitting in the row above them loudly complained about having “illegals” sitting near him. The man was pictured in the family’s selfie making an obscene gesture. One Latinx boy sitting behind the man apparently pushed the man’s seat, so he threatened to “kick Speedy Gonzalez all the way back to Mexico.”

He then loudly said that Trump “needs to hurry up and build the wall and send all those illegals back.” 

A screenshot of the Instagram post containing another racially obscene photo ./Shot Shot/WMarshallKy/Twitter

In another recent incident, a group of young men wearing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell t-shirts posed for a photo smiling as one of them pretended to strangle a cardboard cut-out of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Discrimination and bigotry is being normalized and justified by many politicians right now. We’ll continue to call it out, because this divisiveness is not welcome in our country.