Combating Immigration Laws With Quinceañeras In Trump's America

Combating Immigration Laws With Quinceañeras In Trump's America

Using culture as unification.
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The protests against Trump’s America are far from over.

On July 19th, 2017, 15 young women were on the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, each dressed in traditional, colorful quinceañera gowns. Each gown was adorned with a ribbon; rather than being printed with celebratory exclamations, they read “Equality,” “Accountability,” and the like. Their dresses were not worn for birthdays, but to demonstrate against the immigration enforcement law set to go into effect on September 1st.

The law, which is currently Senate Bill 4, permits “Texas law enforcement officers to request proof of legal residency during any routine detention – for example, a traffic stop.” Under what is commonly referred to as the “show-me-your-papers” law, Texas police officers are equated with immigration officers. In gaining this power, they are no longer under the absolute purview of local government. The law also bans sanctuary cities, demanding that state governments follow federal immigration laws.

Furthermore, the law, signed by Governor Greg Abbott is not the only controversial law he’s supported. Abbott has also been associated with the “bathroom bill” intended to crack down on rights for the transgender community. Supported by far-right conservatives, Abbott’s agenda places San Antonio residents at the brink of drastic change.

For the children of immigrants and immigrants themselves, SB4 is horrifying. It nullifies the priority list for deportations that had placed criminals at the top and instead makes any undocumented immigrant a priority. It threatens the possibility of racial profiling amongst police officers, and increasingly strained relationships between officers and their communities.

Jolt Texas is an activist group in Texas, centered around building the political influence of Latinos in government. Their aim is to use Latino culture to unite families and communities and to combat unjust legislation. They co-organized the protest. Founder Cristina Tzintzun commented “we want legislators to know and Trump to know that we won’t sit idly by while legislation of hate is passed.”

The participating young women performed a choreographed dance to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” and “Somos Mas Americanos,” by Los Tigres del Norte. They gave empowering speeches and entered the capitol to speak with legislators.

It is chilling to hear the women declaring: “We are brown and beautiful. And we won’t back down. Because we are Texas.” Seventeen-year-old Magdalena Juarez states, “This is our home, and we will not be disrespected in our own home.” They voice the concerns of immigrants everywhere, undocumented or not, who deserve the equal respect and opportunity of any American citizen. These girls embody an era of resistance that is much-needed, and unlikely to end.

Cover Image Credit: Cristina Tzintzun / Twitter

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Death

A thought on what happens after life.

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It's an infinite loop intertwined with life that all humans have to deal with.

It's a looming shadow that leads to a hole in the ground.

It's a terrifying presence in everyday life, and you never really know when the scaly, slithering snake will strike.

It doesn't discriminate; It loves to take the youngest, it loves to take the oldest, and loves to take everything in between.

It's the silence before the storm and the storm itself.

It prowls, it preys, on the weakest.

It is both the biggest, strongest bear and the deadliest bug bite.

Death, it is the blackened stumps of the wildlife caught in the worst of fires.

Yet, it can be beautiful.

Most wouldn't think so, probably have never put "death" and "beautiful" together in the same sentence, let alone even in the same paragraph.

But death is beautiful.

It can be like the last whisper of a fall breeze before winter sets in.

Or is like the sunset, right when the last of the red from the sinking sun fades from the darkened night sky.

It can be the peace on a late Sunday afternoon, sitting in the shade of a giant tree in the summer.

It's like taking the hand of the partner you've decided to live with, even after fighting with them.

It's the hand you use to stroke the head of kittens, and the hand you use to scratch puppies tummies.

It's the hand that gives, but it is also the hand that takes away.

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