Seeking asylum is no longer safe

Say it with me: It is not illegal to seek asylum. This is a fact. The literal definition of asylum is, “the protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.” The United States recognizes the right of individuals from other countries to seek asylum. This is specified by not only a federal law but also international law.

Another fact people like to overlook is that most individuals that are being called “illegals” are asylum seekers. Once again, it is legal to seek asylum. However, it is not being treated as such.

According to CNN, the daily average number of people being held in ICE detention centers during the fiscal year of 2017 was 40,500. On top of this, 16 immigrants held in custody have died while in ICE’s custody between Dec. 2015 and April 2017.

And these numbers will only continue to grow. While most deaths seem to be from little or no medical care while being detained, the most recent case is different. A transgender woman by the name of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez died in May while in ICE’s custody.

A recent autopsy revealed that she was beaten then denied medical treatment. She died from dehydration.

She was fleeing Honduras and seeking asylum in the United States so that she could create a better life for her family.

Recently, President Trump and his administration sent the military to the Mexico-U.S. border to await the caravan made up of migrants seeking asylum.

Trump called this a “grave security threat.” Due to the attitudes towards migrants, a small portion of those seeking asylum began throwing rocks. The United States military then fired tear gas and pepper ball rounds, which seems like a drastic measure in comparison to rocks.

No matter what, all of this could have been avoided if asylum seekers were not treated as criminals or as a “security threat.”

The fact this has become a left vs. right issue is devastating. This should not be a political argument. This should not even be considered an issue if there are migrants coming to the United States and legally seeking asylum.

There should be no reason for the detainment, the deaths or the military at our southern border.


Doing your share of work

    “I’m sorry, I haven’t finished my part of the project yet. Is that bad?” “Well, the project is due today so yeah, that’s pretty bad.” We’ve all heard some version of this. You’re in a group from your class and you’ve all been assigned to work together on a project that counts for most of your grade but there is that one person you’re skeptical about because you know that they will most likely not do their part.

    You schedule meetups throughout the semester, at least twice a week and everyone shows up except that one person. They always have an excuse. Their car broke down on the way. They have a family thing they can’t get out of. They overslept and figured they could catch up later on.

     It’s always something, but you continued to keep the faith and you hoped that when presentation day came, that person would be ready. Well, you thought wrong.

    Group projects seem to be a big thing in some college courses and I honestly thought I was done with the stress and anxiety that came along with those projects. Some people seem to be a good fit for group projects because they are natural born leaders: they tend to take control, make sure everything is done and everyone has a job.

     Whether people like to listen to them or not, they still listen because that person is holding the group together. But once you get assigned to a group with a slacker, someone who doesn’t care about their grades and will bring everyone else down with them, your faith in group projects goes down the toilet, along with your failing grade.

     I don’t see how there are some students in college who honestly don’t care about their own grade. There are actual students who will attend class every time the class meets, gets the assignment and still will not do what they are supposed to do.

   Every now and then, that type of student will be assigned to do something that will affect other people in the class; and yet, they still will not do their work.

     It’s selfish in my opinion. If you know that whatever you do and whatever you turn in will ultimately affect another student’s grade and you still don’t do your own work, you need to change your tactic.

   When you’re put into a group, whether it’s a group for the one week, one month or the rest of the semester, part of that group’s reliance will be on you. You can’t expect that everyone in the group will do their part and yours.

     You’ve been put in a position where you have to play your part and help others out as well. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be a slacker. Just do your job and move on.


Disenfranchisement in modern politics

Everyone’s vote counts, right? Of course, but not every vote has to be counted. This approach to voting is one the Kemp campaign, and a few other Republican politicians decided to take. As the midterm elections took place, many people, predominantly people of color had issues casting their ballot.

Many who voted Democratic had issues regarding their names and signatures. If their signatures did not identically matchup, they would not be allowed to vote. If their names did not always include a hyphen, they would not be allowed to vote even though they did not always control whether or not the hyphen was included in all government documents. Even if there were no technical issues with someone’s vote, if they turned in an absentee ballot, there might have been a chance it was not counted. (The Democrats are currently filing suit against Kemp over delayed votes.)

  Along with these types of issues dealing with the voters themselves, entire polling places have had difficulties as well. Reports have been coming in regarding polling locations being closed off to the public, even having to call the fire department to break into the polling stations to allow voters to cast their ballots.

Certain polling locations were found to be in abandoned buildings. Multiple polling places reported having too few voting machines, broken machines or machines sent to them with no plugs. Machines were also found to be changing people’s votes from Abrams to Kemp.

With such a mess from this past election, one wonders who was in charge of it. The answer is Brian Kemp, the very same man who is running in the election he was in charge of. This is a clear conflict of interest, with many including the former president Jimmy Carter, calling for Kemps resignation as soon as his gubernatorial campaign began.

However, Kemp did not step down until after the election and all its voter suppression ended. Conservatives are doing everything they can to keep a hold on their districts, even if it means they have to fight dirty.

President Trump went to Twitter, to congratulate Kemp’s great race in Georgia and called for the Democrats to move on. However, there was nothing great about this race. The voter suppression directly affected people of color and calls back to the days of disenfranchisement and Jim Crow.


Blood is not thicker than water

  Blood relation is the deepest connection possible in humanity, but the most important relationships to you and your mental health should instill happiness. If a family bond is toxic to your own health, then you need to drop it and surround yourself with others, even if they are not blood relatives. The infamous phrase, “Blood is thicker than water,” stated by family members cause a feeling of guilt and an obligation to feed into it.

    It is expected that you serve your family regardless of your own emotions and mental health, and I have had my fill on it. I am finished with the family who cannot recognize my value, especially since I have finally found my self-worth. I refuse to strain myself because of high expectations, and I refuse to obey and succumb to every little thing asked of me and undergo manipulation. Justifying immoral behavior only because we are blood is no longer an acceptable excuse.

    When chosen for mutual gain, friendships are even more supportive and healthy than kinship. Certain toxic family members choose to chastise another member for their differing religious, political or romantic beliefs. The pressure to be the greatest in athletics, academics or social popularity also affects those with negative family ties. Personally, I faced pressure in the academic region.

    A significant blood relative of mine caused me to believe that I needed to be my graduating class’ Valedictorian, or the lesser recognized Salutatorian, so he could afford the beach house he desired. If I earned a spot as one of the top two academically outstanding students in my graduating high school class, I would receive enough scholarships and grants to pay for my own college tuition.

    He brought a child into this world and consented to the inevitable financial hit, yet he chose to push me to the edge of the academic cliff to avoid spending money on me for his own benefit.

   At the time, I did not consider this behavior as toxic and brushed it off my shoulders. I worked my hardest and eventually earned the spot for Salutatorian, yet I still felt empty and unaccomplished. I realized that I never truly needed the title and that I did not work towards it for my own benefit.      

The only thing I ever wanted was the approval and affection from my father, but I never received that. In turn, I gained a way of cutting the financial ties to him.

The gateway to splitting the toxic emotional barrier stood in front of me, and I took advantage of it. I made an extremely difficult choice and ceased all contact with him. I stopped answering his phone calls, I started ignoring his texts, and I blocked his number.

    It may have been a rash decision, and most people may think I handled the situation in the wrong way, but I no longer care about what others think. I know the best choices for me, and my sensitive personality could no longer take the stress he brought upon me. I never felt good enough for him or anyone else, and it affected all relationships I partook in.

    Cutting my father out of my life has been the best choice for me, and those who struggle with similar situations must know that you do not stand alone in this fight.

Dropping toxic people, especially family, helps you in an immense way. There are people in this world who care for you, and those individuals wait eagerly for you to join their loving community.


It’s important to believe victims

Believe victims. That phrase gets thrown around a lot and has been even more so with the recent nomination and subsequent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, there is a lot of confusion about that phrase too, as evidenced by the rise in the use of the hashtag “HimToo” online after people began to say that men are afraid of being falsely accused.

Believing victims doesn’t mean that a victim is believed over the person they are accusing, or that it is now “guilty until proven innocent.” Rather, it means that the victim’s word isn’t automatically disbelieved because there is something to vote on, or because the accusation could “ruin his life.” It means taking claims of sexual assault as seriously as one would take claims of some other crime being committed. It means treating victims with dignity and respect rather than putting the victim on trial and making a mockery of them.

With our president saying that “It’s a scary time for young men in America,” it has led to a widespread belief that false reports of sexual assault are a serious problem for the country. However, statistics show that these fears are unfounded. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, less than ten percent of all reported rape cases are false, and the statistic is more than likely less than five percent, as many studies of false reporting fail to differentiate between actual false reports, unsubstantiated reports (insufficient evidence to prove crime occurred) and baseless reports (report of an actual event that does not meet criteria for crime reported). Women’s chances of being assaulted are far higher than a man’s chance of being falsely accused.

If the fear is that a youthful error will ruin the rest of a young person’s life, then the solution is to start by teaching young people that there are consequences for their actions, and making sure that from a young age, people are taught about consent. Understanding the reasons a victim may wait years to “ruin” someone’s life matters too. Many victims are afraid that they will be hurt again, others fear not being believed and others convince themselves that nothing happened. Waiting to report a crime does not mean that a victim is lying.

The use of #HimToo (a spin on the #MeToo movement) is hijacking a movement that helped women have the courage to come forward with their stories of sexual assault, and turning it into something about men, something that is all too familiar for women. Instead of worrying so much about being falsely accused, it’s time for men to start worrying about what they can do to be an ally and help prevent sexual assault and to start being mindful of their own behaviors. Start listening to women and believing victims.