Fighting the Degrading and Dangerous Treatment of Menstruating Migrant Girls

It was only a matter of time before President Donald Trump made headlines again over periods.

Just four years ago, in August 2015, he accused then–Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly after the first presidential debate of having “blood coming out of her wherever.” The charge landed the once-taboo topic of menstruation smack in the middle of election coverage—and on the front page of nearly every major national and small-town newspaper in between. It even generated its own viral hashtag, #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult.

Now, 19 states filed a lawsuit in California this week against the Trump administration for the indefinite detention of and conditions endured by migrant children and their families. Among the charges of hygiene deprivation for children detained at the border—including the alleged lack of basics like toothpaste and bars of soap—is insufficient access to menstrual products and care. Testimony in the lawsuit included that: “Girl(s) at the facility…were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants.”

Read more at Ms. Magazine. 

Girl Describes Conditions Inside Immigrant Detention Center

On the heels of reports regarding the conditions inside migrant detention facilities, Time posted a video interview with an anonymous 12-year-old girl who opened up about the nearly two weeks she spent in a center in Texas.

“They gave us little food,” the little girl sys of her time at the facility. “They didn’t bathe [the children]. They treated us badly where we were. They were mean to us.”

She goes on to say that many of the children fell ill and didn’t receive proper medical care. “They said they’d take them to hospitals, but they wouldn’t take them,” she explained.

Learn more at ColorLines

Muslim American girls need to see their role models reflected in the spotlight, too

Muslim American children have always had a scarcity of role models, but this fact didn’t really make an impression on me until recently. Back from a recent author trip to Chicago, where I’d visited the lovely Anderson’s Bookstore, I handed my daughter her gift. It was an illustrated biography collection with 27 famous women — one for each letter of the alphabet. She squealed and quickly rifled through the pages, flipping to M for Malala and B for Benazir Bhutto. “Those are the only Muslim ones,” she told me, smiling a little with sad eyes.

“We’ll read this together at bedtime,” I promised her. It’s been a tradition in my house since the first such book was published around the 2016 election, when we discovered the original “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.” That book signaled the start of a trend geared mostly toward girls: collected biographies with popping art, catering to a younger audience. It’s been followed by a plethora of similar books based on race, field of study and even immigrant status. My personal favorite remains “First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great.”

Read more at The Washington Post

High suicide rate among young Latinas may be exacerbated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, experts say

It started in sixth grade.

Sara Martinez said she had no reason to be sad, and yet she was.

In seventh grade, she cut herself for the first time, finding her own blood frightening. She eventually tried to kill herself seven times before her 18th birthday.

“I just wanted the pain to end … self-harm only helped me in that moment,” Martinez said in an interview with ABC News. “Afterwards, I would see the scars and that wouldn’t make me happy, and I would self-harm again.”

Martinez is part of a startling statistic: 1 out of every 10 Latinas has attempted suicide in the past year, 2 out of 10 have made a suicide plan and half of all Latina teens said they’ve felt hopeless, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to people ages 10 to 24.

Read more at Good Morning America.

The girl who died in Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, father says

The 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody was healthy before she arrived, and her family is now calling for an “objective and thorough” investigation into her death, a representative for the family said Saturday.

In a statement, the family’s attorneys disputed reports that the girl, Jakelin Caal, went several days without food and water before crossing the border, which contradicts statements by the Department of Homeland Security. Ruben Garcia, founder and executive director of Annunciation House — an El Paso-based nonprofit that aids migrants — said that the girl’s father, 29-year-old Nery Caal, said she was healthy and had no preexisting conditions.

“He’s been very clear, very consistent that his daughter was healthy, and his daughter very much wanted to come with him,” Garcia said during the news conference.

Read more at The Washington Post

14 and Alone: The Girls Risking Everything to Get to America

Singing happily into the wind, 14-year-old Karla Vazquez looks like a carefree teenager embarking on a day trip. It is an exciting moment after all – it’s the first time the youngster has ever left home and the first time she has traveled alone.

But the reality is chilling – she may not know it, but Karla is embarking on a path that for many young women ends in rape, abuse and forced prostitution. She is no longer free – she is now “human cargo” under the control of a people smuggler who is guiding her group on a truck from Guatemala to Mexico, with the US border their ultimate destination.

But she does not appear to be perturbed as she braves the perilous mountain paths in the naive hope of securing a better future for her family.

Read more at SkyNews. 

They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend’s mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

“I only asked him why he was doing this,” she recalled. “Why me? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days.”

Read more at The New York Times 

Separated by Trump, All a Little Girl Remembers About America: ‘They Took My Dad and Locked Him Up’

With an impish smile, 5-year old Filomena draws up her right hand and fashions herself into a cattle driver. She designates her three-year old cousin the unenviable role of bull. “The bull that’s going to the United States,” Filomena proclaims in Spanish, directing her cousin-turned-bull through the family’s one-room, floorless wooden hut.

It’s unclear whether she thinks the U.S. is a promised land or something more sinister.

To Filomena’s family, it’s both: The country where one person can earn twice as much in one hour on minimum wage as the entire family makes in a day selling potatoes. The country where four Border Patrol officers forcibly separated Filomena from her father and then sent her to live for nearly three months in a shelter in New York City before deporting her. The country Filomena’s father would like to return to even after being wrenched from his daughter, because despite everything that happened, and even though he would like to remain with his family intact in Guatemala, he sees no hope.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Read more at The New Yorker. 

Justice Dept., in DC Circuit, Denies ‘Undue Burden’ on Immigrant Girls Seeking Abortions

An earlier ruling from Brett Kavanaugh against a pregnant immigrant teenager became a flashpoint for his views on the lawfulness of the right to an abortion.

A U.S. Justice Department lawyer, arguing Wednesday for the Trump administration, rejected claims that the government has imposed any “undue burden” on the ability of pregnant, undocumented minors from having access to abortions while in government custody.

Read more at The National Law Journal.