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Twitter’s Latest Hashtag Fights Back Against The Normalization Of Death And Violence Against Migrant Youth

Migrant children deserve childhoods, but increasingly under the Trump administration’s stridency on immigration, their prepubescence is being robbed from them.

In the past month, two child migrants have died under the custody of U.S. border officials. On December 8, 7-year-old Jakelin Call Maquin died of Septic shock, fever and dehydration in a hospital just two days after the young Guatemalan girl was taken to a Border Patrol station. More recently, on Christmas Eve, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 8, past away, only six days after the Guatemalan boy and his father were apprehended at the border in El Paso, Texas.

Officials have referred to both deaths as “tragedies” but have absolved themselves of responsibility, placing blame instead on parents who journey north in an attempt to escape violence and poverty in their home countries as well as Congress for under-funding the agency.

“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country? No,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley after Maquin’s death.

While authorities place guilt on the victims of the country’s violent and stringent immigration laws for their own deaths, activists believe that media also induce harm by predominantly reporting tragic stories of migrant youth that rob them of their humanity.

“There is a saturation of photos depicting migrant and refugee children in anguish and terror, and that is one of the problems. There is a high urgency to illustrate the harsh conditions and mistreatment that is happening at the border and in detention centers because the larger society should know what is happening. However, when there is only those depictions plus the monstrosity of hate by this administration, then we are doing an injustice,” Sonia Guinansaca, the managing director of CultureStrike, a network of cultural workers who fight anti-migrant hate with art, writing, music and films about immigrants and migrants, told FIERCE. “ … The impact that these images and stories have on migrant communities are long-lasting. It leaves no room to show the complexity of migrant folks, and many times, it robs these children of their childhood.”

Guinansaca, who migrated to the U.S. from Ecuador when they were a kid, believes that by only focusing on tragic stories, media are helping to normalize death and violence against migrant youth. Hoping to instead center these children’s innocence, Guinansaca started #MigrantChildrenAreChildren, a hashtag that attempts to shift the way migrant children are being imagined and archived by allowing those who immigrated to the U.S. in their youth to share images and stories of themselves in their own words.

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#MigrantChildrenAreChildren…. migrant children deserve childhoods… migrant children are children… migrant children deserve childhoods…. sending love to all of us who were children when we migrated and sending love and prayers to all the children crossing now / in detention centers/left behind…Because we be children, we were children… and we deserve childhoods… we deserve to exist! Justice for Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin! ????????????[I’m asking migrant folks/artists to share childhood photo with the above caption for us to take back our childhood and be in solidarity with migrant children every where] #qtpoc #latinx #migrant #queer #papifemme #gendernonconforming #femmesofcolorvisibility

A post shared by Sonia Guiñansaca (@thesoniag) on

“This country continues to murder indigenous, brown and Black children, so here was a gentle reminder, a gentle calling for our tiny selves and the many tiny migrant children everywhere dealing with this border-immigration nightmare, that we deserve and have a right to a childhood, that we be children, too, and that being a ‘child’ is not reserved for white American children, that being a child is not dependent on some ‘papers.’ Migrant children are children even when this country tries to rob them of that, even when the government tries to label them ‘undocumented,’ ‘illegal,’ a ‘casualty’ or just ‘data.’ These migrant children never stopped being children,” Guinansaca said.

Since starting #MigrantChildrenAreChildren on December 15, more than 140 people from across the nation have participated, flooding the hashtag with beautiful Black and brown faces and stories that the creator says both affirms the participants’ shared experiences and their own humanity.

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#MigrantChildrenAreChildren I came to this country when I was 7 years old. I was a kid, doing what my parents thought was best. I was also a kid who had things like Hepatitis in Nicaragua, as well as Varicella, and probably had head lice at least once a week because I attended a public school (plus a shit ton of other shit) and still I deserved to be here and I deserved humane treatment by anyone and everyone who came into contact with me. I dunno how we are forgetting that and I dunno why we are conveniently overlooking the basic principle of saving and protecting our next generations. shout out to @thesoniag for making this hashtag so those of us who were children when we migrated can help highlight what’s happening at the border rn. en solidaridad.

A post shared by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez (@priscadorcas) on

“It’s been 20-plus years since I migrated to this country and, upon arrival, these borders robbed me of my childhood. So much trauma happened because of this immigration system. To see these childhood photos coming into our timeline was a way of getting an affirmation that I was not alone, that many of us were going through the same experience,” Guinansaca said.

Read: 7-Year-Old Guatemalan Migrant Jackeline Caal Dies In Border Patrol Custody

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was separated from her mother for 36 hours after agents at the border accused her of lying about her citizenship.

Like thousands of students in our country, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina’s daily commute requires her to cross the U.S. border.

The fourth-grade student attends Nicoloff Elementary School in San Ysidro, California and was in a carpool to school from her home in Tijuana when she ran into traffic. Medina, was commuting to school in a car driven by her mother’s friend Michelle Cardena, Cardena’s two children and her own older 14-year-old brother, Oscar. When the long line to get into the U.S. seemed to be jampacked upon their 4 a.m arrival, Cardenas instructed the kids in her car to walk to the border. She assured them that when they reached it, she would call them an Uber to get them the rest of the way to their school.

But Medina and her never made it across the border or to school that day.

According to the New York Times who talked to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, two Amparo and her brother arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. last Monday.

Upon their arrival, Amparo and her brother presented their U.S. passports to a CBP officer who soon accused her of being someone else. Note: Amparo’s passport image which was taken years before so she did not look exactly like herself. They also accused her brother of smuggling.

A CBP spokesperson has said that Amparo “provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and CBP officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”

After CBP officers the confirmed that her brother was a U.S. citizen, he was permitted to enter the U.S while his sister stayed behind. It wasn’t until 6:30 pm on Tuesday, that Amparo was confirmed to be a U.S. citizen as well and was released and admitted to the U.S. to her mother.

Speaking to NBC7, Amparo said she was “scared” of her detention and that she was “sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

According to Amparo’s mother Thelma Galaxia, her daughter claims that she was told by an officer that she and her brother would be released if she admitted to being her cousin. Galaxia claims that officers also convinced her son Oscar to sign a document that Amparo was his cousin and not his sister.

When Galaxia was alerted that her children had been detained she contacted the Mexican consulate.

After being notified by the consulate that her daughter would be released at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the family felt relieved to be grateful to be reunited with their daughter, Galaxia says the separation should never have happened.

Over the weekend, Twitter was swift to express their outrage over the incident.

Some even expressed their dismay of having a similar situation happen to them.

Many are using the incident as an example of the racial issues plaguing so many U.S. citizens like Amparo.

So many of the comments included outside opinions from those who have yet to experience the direct targetting of ICE.

Over all, nearly everyone was quick to point out the saddest aspect of Amparo’s experience.

Read: Preschool Students Are Doing Active Shooter Drills And I Guess This Is The New Normal Now

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America Ferrera Brings Actors Across The Border To Visit Migrant Shelters

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America Ferrera Brings Actors Across The Border To Visit Migrant Shelters

America Ferrera has never been a celebrity to stay quiet in the face of injustice, so it’s no surprise that the actress-activist has boldly responded to the Trump administration’s policy requiring migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico.

Last week, the Superstore star led a group of actors, including Gina Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Wilmer Valderrama, Roselyn Sanchez and Kendrick Sampson, across the southern border to a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.

There, the group learned how the policy was impacting migrants while speaking directly with immigration lawyers and shelter managers as well as families and children. They hope through this real-life education that they will become better equipped to challenge the Trump administration in the US.

“It is easy for me to look at these human beings and see myself. … This could very easily have been my reality in this lifetime,” the Honduran-American actress told the Associated Press about the trip.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy limits the amount of asylum requests border patrol can attend to per day. The process, which has also forced refugees, including thousands of Central American families who have filed for sanctuary from violence and poverty in their home countries, to stay in Mexico, has slowed down the process and created case backlogs in the immigration system and overcrowding in shelters in Mexican border towns.

“We were able to bear witness to how the current administration is treating refugee families. We MUST demand better,” Washington said in an Instagram post. “Let me be clear: it is legal to seek asylum. When people cross our borders, their human rights come with them. We must protect those human rights.”

@kerrywashington / Instagram

According to NBC News, the visit was organized by nonprofits Families Belong Together and Harness, an organization started by Ferrera, Valderrama and Ryans Piers.

Jessica Morales Rocketto, who heads Families Belong Together, told the news outlet that one of the women she met at the shelter had been waiting with her toddler since November to apply for asylum.

“People get to the border and think that’s the end of the journey, but it’s only the beginning,” Morales Rocketto said.

Read: 20 Major Immigration Facts the American Public Refuses to Hear

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