The Unfulfilled Promise of the U-Visa

Wendy Sarai Palacios, an immigrant from El Salvador, made a deal with the U.S. Border Patrol. She agreed to testified fearfully testify against the predatory smuggler who brought her into the country illegally in 2014 then tried to rape her. In exchange, she’d get a pathway to citizenship —a so-called U-visa for crime victims who cooperate in criminal investigations— and a new life in America with a newborn daughter.

But Palacios, who is living with family in Memphis, says federal officials reneged on their promise. She now faces deportation.

“I want the person who promised to help me to open his heart and think about his children. I know he wants the best for his children the same way I want the best for my daughter. I helped them to get that man,” the 22-year-old single mother said. “I wouldn’t want to end up with a deportation order when I helped the government catch (prosecute) a criminal.”

Daniel Hetlage, spokesman for U.S. Border Patrol, declined to answer questions about Palacios’ case.

A cousin in Memphis agreed to pay $7,000 to smuggle her into the country. Palacios’ journey crossing two borders and hundreds of miles took her 22 days.

Palacios left her home after she became pregnant. She said she couldn’t raise a child as a single mother in one of the countries with the highest murder rates in the world. Just in 2014, more than 3,912 people, including dozens of police officers and soldiers, were killed in the nation that’s roughly the size of Massachusetts.

Palacios said she was four months pregnant at the time of that journey but overcame the physical demands, and the fear, for her baby. But that hopefulness was fleeting, Palacios said, when she was nearly raped at a safe house 18 miles over the border in Texas, then arrested in a raid by federal agents.

She said she was housed in what other immigrants called “la hielera” or the ice house, sleeping on the floor under Mylar blankets.

It was there she decided to help immigration officials to prosecute a smuggler who almost raped her.

Palacios was afraid to face the alleged smuggler, Jose Manuel Flores-Patiño, in court but she did it hoping it would be her ticket to staying in the country legally. He pleaded guilty to two charges including, bringing and harboring illegal immigrants. He is serving a six-year sentence in federal prison.

Following her testimony, the young woman was released from custody and moved to Memphis to be near family. But the promised help to get the visa never came.

U.S. Border Patrol and other agencies involved with the case have not signed the required certification form for Palacios’ U-visa application. Without it, her application will be rejected.

Featured Image: Gary Williams/Getty Images

Inside Woman: Undocumented on Wall Street

Julissa Arce is no stranger to working sun up to sundown. She traveled on a Greyhound bus for 80 miles every weekend to sell funnel cakes to pay for college, studied in her down time, just to wake up and do it all over again. All of that hard work landed at the top of her class at the University of Texas at Austin, and eventually an analyst job at Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest investment banks in the world.

She grew up in Taxco, Mexico, and stayed with her extended family while her parents traveled back and forth from Taxco to Texas, importing silver. She moved to the U.S. to be with her parents when she was 11, and her tourist visa expired when she turned 14. Since that moment, all of her actions hinged on this secret. To stay in the U.S. and keep her high-powered job she worked so hard for, she had to hide the fact that she was undocumented, but she stayed strong-willed and pushed through the barrier—just like her parents. The three of them ran a funnel cake cart in Texas for income. But one day as her mother was operating the roasted corn machine, it exploded, throwing her into the air, causing her to hit her head on the sidewalk. She sustained brain injuries and landed in a coma. Julissa’s parents eventually returned home to Mexico so that their family could tend to her mother, leaving Julissa, at this point a senior in high school, alone in the U.S.

Being on her own meant she had to work harder than ever before. By age 27, she became a VP at Goldman Sachs, earning over $340,000 annually. Having all that money in the bank sounds like the life, but it came at a price. She had to endure working long hours, foregoing lunch and bathroom breaks, and work under a workaholic boss, all while keeping her undocumented status a secret, which led to debilitating migraines and back pains that left her laying on the floor for hours. One night in the summer of 2015, the weight of her secret grew so heavy that the stress drove her to the hospital.

But she kept pushing, and sent the money she earned from her job on Wall Street to her parents in Taxco. While she sent money across the border, she had to stay in the U.S. out of fear of getting caught and deported—even when she got the call the her father was dying in Mexico.

As a high-powered go-getter, she felt powerless living in the U.S. undocumented. But in 2009, she married a U.S. citizen, secured a green card and became a naturalized citizen. From that moment forward she vowed to leave Wall Street and use her voice to fight for immigrant rights and education equality. Her memoir is called My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive.

Featured Image: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for INGENUITY

The Unsolved Case of 43 Missing Students: How Ayotzinapa Changed Mexico

Two years ago, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in Mexico disappeared.

They were riding buses to the country’s capital when they were taken by a group of armed men –including police officers– at gunpoint. They haven’t been seen since and their bodies haven’t been found.

The public cries for answers have not stopped and the parents have kept the protests alive continuing to put pressure on the Mexican government.

The students’ disappearance at the hands of the government shook Mexico to its core. It made this human rights violation a crime that couldn’t be ignored, even by sectors of Mexican society that have not been engaged in activism before.

What has been the aftermath of Ayotzinapa? What, if anything, has changed in Mexico?

Image: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Featured Image: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Mexican American Winery Owner and Daughter Discuss “One Heritage, Two Generations”

During Hispanic Heritage Month, NBC Latino is presenting a video series that interviews parents and children about how culture is one of the threads that unites them.

The latest video focuses on one Mexican American family and their business, Ceja Vineyards, which became the first California winery with a Mexican American woman president.

“No one ever thinks I own the company,” Ceja Vineyars president Amelia Morán Ceja said. “Why? Because I am an immigrant, Latina woman.”

Morán Ceja, and her daughter Dalia Ceja, the company’s brand marketing manager, talk about how their Mexican American roots have influenced their family and their work.

The Ultimate Quince Playlist

Inspired by the modern celebration of quinceañeras, we’ve whipped up a playlist that ranges from Rihanna to Elvis Crespo. Almost all of the songs were played at Hailey’s quinceañera (the one we followed in our latest episode), and a few were added by some of our staff. What do you think we’re missing from The Ultimate Quince Playlist? Let us know in the comments!

The Ultimate Quince Playlist

And if you missed the show, here it is:

Two New Polls Show Donald Trump Is Sill Having Problems With Latino Voters

With less than 50 days until the presidential election, more polls focusing on Latino voters are beginning to emerge. Besides a Univision poll of Latinos in swing states and a recent tracking poll both showing Hillary Clinton with big leads over Donald Trump, two new polls released Thursday conclude that Trump’s Latino support has yet to see any significant increases.

NBC News reported that Clinton has a 71-18% lead over Trump among likely Latino voters in a head-to-head matchup. Among registered Latino voters, Clinton has a 69%-18% advantage.

When the question includes Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Clinton is at 65% to Trump’s 17% with likely voters and 63%-16% with registered voters.

In addition, NBC News reported that 80% of Latinos polled view Trump unfavorably. This latest poll, which ran from September 15–20, was conducted by NBC News, Telemundo and The Wall Street Journal. It sampled 300 registered Latinos in both English and in Spanish. It has a +/- 5.66% margin of error for registered voters and a +/- 6% for registered voters. Here are the full results of the poll:

Another Swing State Poll

A poll of Latinos in five swing states from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) provides additional insights about voter preferences. According to the poll, Clinton leads Trump by wide margins in both Latino-rich swing states (Colorado, Florida and Nevada) and swing states with smaller Latino populations (North Carolina and Ohio).

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According to the poll, Clinton has leads over Trump in all age groups for the five swing states, except in Ohio, where Trump holds a 1% lead with Latinos 35-54 and in Florida, where Trump leads Clinton 49%-43% with Latinos 55–74.

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Trump also has high unfavorables with Latinos in this poll. In Colorado, 80% of respondents view him unfavorably. In Florida, however, his unfavorables are just at 58%. Clinton’s highest favorable is at 65% with Colorado voters. Her highest unfavorables are at 42% in Florida and 44% in Ohio.

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The FAU BEPI poll was conducted between September 15 and September 19. It sampled 400 registered Latino voters per swing state. The margin of error is at +/-4.9. You can read the full results below:

11 Latinos Nail the Beauty and Pride of Hispanic Heritage

The Latino community is incredibly diverse, especially when considering it’s made up of a variety of races and nationalities. But celebrating our differences doesn’t mean we can’t also celebrate what binds us together.

With that in mind we asked HuffPost Latino Voices readers on Instagram to tell us what makes them proud to be Hispanic or Latinx, and they responded with beautiful and thoughtful messages of pride and love for their culture.

Here are just 11 Latinos on what makes them proud of their Hispanic heritage.

Meet the other 10 Latinos at HuffPost Latino Voices.

Vicente Fernández Just Did a Corrido for Hillary Clinton (VIDEO)

On the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, music legend Vicente Fernández came out of retirement to pen a corrido for Hillary Clinton, Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo reported Tuesday night.

“El corrido de Hillary Clinton” starts with Fernández speaking about Latino unity, before breaking into his support for Clinton. Here is a quick translation of what Chente sings:

I am Latino
Through and through
So proud of that.
And I’ll remind you, my brother,
We need to unite, hand in hand.
Until Hillary Clinton
Is guaranteed a victory.
We are an important family
That always moves forward.
My freedom, my rights
Hillary respects them.
With her as President,
We will always have a bridge.
My people were hurt
By someone who insulted us.
Hillary, we are with you.
You can count on our vote.
You will be our voice
When you become President.

The song’s melody is very similar to “Los Mandados,” a Fernández hit about a migrant crossing the United States-Mexico border and being captured by immigration officials.

After the song, Chente makes a plea to Clinton, asking her to not forget about Mexicans and Latin Americans. He also said he would visit the White House when and if Clinton wins the election.

The video was produced by the Latino Victory Project, founded by Eva Longoria and Henry Muñoz III. As BuzzFeed reports, in 2000 Fernández performed for George W. Bush at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

The Top 10 Takeaways About Latino Voters From Newest NALEO/Telemundo/Latino Decisions Poll

A new tracking poll released Monday from the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Education Fund, Telemundo and Latino Decisions is offering a detailed look into the mood of Latino voters less than 60 days before Election Day.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from the poll:

Clinton has a commanding lead over Trump. Clinton has 71% support and Trump has only 18%.

Passing comprehensive immigration reform is still the top priority for Latino voters. 30% of respondents listed it first. The second priority was job creation at 20%.

Political campaigns are not doing a good job with Latino outreach. 61% of respondents said they have not been contacted by a campaign in this election cycle.

Trump’s comments about immigrants are racist. Seven out of 10 Latinos agreed with that statement.

Clinton has trust issues with Latinos. 50% of respondents said they don’t find Clinton trustworthy.

Trump doesn’t care about the Latino community. 80% said he didn’t care, with only 20% saying he did.

How candidates talk about immigrants and immigration issues is very important. 74% of respondents said so.

Donald Trump’s unfavorables are at 70%, while Hillary Clinton’s favorables are at 65%. Trump’s total favorables are at 25% and Clinton’s unfavorables are at 30%.

43% of respondents say Republicans are being hostile to Latinos. Conversely, 59% of respondents think Democrats are doing a good job.

There is more enthusiasm for the 2016 election than there is for the 2012 election. 48% said they were more enthusiastic to vote in 2016. 31% were more enthusiastic in 2012. 

The full topline results are below:

Editor’s note: Latino Decisions’ co-founders conduct separate polling for the Clinton campaign. They are not associated with this NALEO tracking poll.

Trump’s Numbers Still at Around 11% with Latinos in Newest National Tracking Poll

Donald Trump’s support with Latino voters continues to stay stuck at around the 11 percent mark in the latest release of the New Latino Voice (NLV) online tracking poll, conducted by Florida International University and Hispanic mobile advertising company Adsmovil.

The September 6–12 version of the tracking poll, which has been running since April, puts Trump in third place with 11.2% of Latino support, with Other at 13.6% and Hillary Clinton at 75.2%. (For a summary of the poll’s methodology, click here.)

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The previous version of the poll had Trump at 10.7%.

When this week’s poll focused solely on Florida, the Republican candidate is not faring any better, earning 11.9% Latino support to Clinton’s 74.6% and Other’s 13.4%.

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The Miami-Dade portion of the poll shows Clinton at 72.7%, Trump at 14.1% and Other at 13.2%.

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The NLV results have been consistent with other national Latino polls, including the newest NALEO Educational Fund/Noticias Telemundo/Latino Decisions tracking poll, whose first week was released on Monday. In that poll, 71% of Latino respondents chose Clinton, 18% chose Trump, 5% chose someone else and 6% were undecided. (The co-founders of Latino Decisions work with the Clinton campaign on other polling, and they have gone on record to say that they are not involved with these types of national Latino polls.)

The NALEO/Telemundo/LD poll also said that “60 percent of Latino registered voters reported that they had not been contacted by a campaign, political party or organization.”

The toplines from this week’s NLV poll are below: