things that matter

This Woman Was Sexually Assaulted In An Immigration Detention Center And Now Risks Deportation

The #MeToo movement, a hashtag used on social media to demonstrate a widespread epidemic of sexual assault and harassment, is expected to bring change on how these situations are handled. It is also encouraging women to share their experiences in a show of solidarity. But for some, such as 23-year-old Salvadoran immigrant Laura Monterrosa, going public about her experiences could ultimately lead to her deportation.

Monterrosa has been held at T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas for nine months.

Last fall, Monterrosa wrote a letter to Austin-based immigrant advocacy group Grassroots Leadership detailing the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of two guards, including a woman, beginning in June 2017.

“She looked for or took advantage of every moment she could to touch my breasts or my legs. she knew where and when she did it,” Monterrosa wrote in the letter. “She worked in the recreation area and what she did with me she did with other residents.”

Monterrosa didn’t immediately report the abuse because she was afraid her attackers would take reprisals. But she ultimately did, and, in the process, she inspired two other detainees to also come forward with similar allegations. In December, the FBI took over investigation of her case and interviewed Monterrosa for the first time in February.

Her courageous act has resulted in what she and her supporters say are various forms of retaliation from immigration officials and the immigrant detention center where she is held. For instance, Monterrosa, who has post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, was placed in solitary confinement after allegedly refusing to eat in the cafeteria where one of her abusers worked. She attempted suicide in January.

This week, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund went before a federal court judge in Austin to request medical care for Monterrosa, who is seeking asylum. The judge ruled in their favor and Monterrosa will now receive much-needed mental and medical treatment off-site. MALDEF officials said they won’t hesitate to go back to court if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the detention center fail to fulfill their constitutional obligations.

“We’re excited she will finally be able to access the medical resources she needs,” said MALDEF attorney Fatima Menendez. “We are working on getting her outside providers. They will not be selected and chosen by the detention center or ICE, but, we will provide that information to their attorneys, so they can agree.”

Menendez said the process could happen as quickly as next week. But Monterrosa’s supporters said she needs more than adequate medical treatment.

On Wednesday, Monterrosa said ICE officials tried to force her to sign travel papers for immediate deportation. Within hours, her advocates began camping out at Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-El Paso) Austin office to demand that he immediately meets with Kirstjen M. Nielson, secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“We just talked to his Chief of Staff,” said Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership on Wednesday afternoon. “He called someone at the Department of Homeland Security and is expecting to hear back within the hour.”

A rally, in which participants have vowed not to leave until action is taken, began Thursday morning and is a final effort to put pressure on DHS to grant Monterrosa a release from deportation. The rally and petition come shortly after the court hearing on her medical care.

“We need a champion and are looking to Rep. O’Rourke now to take action on his promise to support Laura by doing everything he can — which is a lot — to get her released from detention, said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership.

Supporters were still camped out as of Thursday night with no developments.

“A lot of the legal avenues are exhausted and we’re staying here until she’s released,” Carson said. “[O’Rourke] has reviewed other cases in the past and we believe in everything he is saying. He cares about folks and has spoken specifically to Laura’s case.”

In the meantime, she said Monterrosa is “extremely scared and hopeless” about her situation.

“We cannot accept that a woman seeking asylum in our country can be sexually assaulted and disappeared with impunity,” Muñoz said.

Monterrosa’s experience put T. Don Hutto Residential Center, which is operated by private prison company CoreCivic, back in the spotlight for its pattern of abuse, including the conviction of a guard for allegedly groping women in his custody on the way to the airport for deportation.

More than 45 congressional representatives, including O’Rourke, signed a letter calling for an investigation into sexual abuse at the detention center. According to Grassroots Leadership, less than 1 percent of sexual allegations made inside immigrant detention centers are investigated.

Read: Latina Activist Alejandra Robles Is The Latest Immigrant Rights Organizer To Be Detained By ICE

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

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If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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