17 and (Not) Pregnant

Back in 2011, Gaby Rodriguez Corona, then 17 years old and a senior in high school, decided to do a social experiment that lasted almost seven months. It shocked her family, school, and eventually the nation.

Growing up, Gaby was always told that she was destined to become a teen parent. Her mother, Juana, had her first child when she was 15. Six out of seven of Gaby’s siblings became teen parents. On top of that, she grew up in the town of Toppenish, Washington, in Yakima County, which has among the state’s highest teen pregnancy rates.

She saw the lack of support and mistreatment of teen parents in her community, and she also wondered to herself how people would start treating her if she actually fulfilled their expectations of becoming a teen mom. So for her senior year project–required of all seniors to graduate–she decided to fake her own pregnancy.

After convincing the principal and her mother to get on board, Gaby started dropping hints at school that she was pregnant by skipping meals and saying her period was late. Gaby went from being a well-liked student, known for being in the top 5% of her class, to a social pariah whom everybody gossiped about. Students and teachers started ostracizing her and talking badly about her. One teacher even called her a “waste of life.”

As the year came to a close, the project ended–and Gaby decided to reveal the truth in front of the entire school.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Gaby Rodriguez Corona

280 Days of Severe Morning Sickness

If there’s anything Paola Pasley wanted more in life, it was to be a mother.

In 2015, she was pregnant with her first child, but found herself making regular trips to the emergency room to treat the dehydration caused by morning sickness. Or at least, that’s what she thought it was.

The doctor diagnosed her with Hyperemesis Gravidarum. HG causes severe nausea and vomiting and unlike morning sickness, it can last the entire pregnancy. Poala lost 15 pounds in her first trimester and was forced to quit her job. Her friends and family brushed it off as morning sickness, but the vomiting and nausea didn’t stop until she gave birth.

Even after a traumatic first pregnancy, Paola still wants the family she’s always dreamed of and wants the world to know that HG is way, way more than a little morning sickness.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Paola Pasley

How to Make a Baby in 17 Years

Picture this: you decided you’re ready to be a mom. You have everything planned. You ditch the birth control and you download an app. Then somewhere down the line, you realize that there’s a problem.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 7.5 million women across the United States suffer from infertility or the inability to carry a baby to term. Many suffer in silence. The stigma or taboo behind infertility leads many women on a downward spiral of negativity.

Helen Adrienne is a licensed clinical social worker in New York City, and she was a charter member of a 1979 Local Chapter of RESOLVE– a non-profit that provides resources for women struggling with infertility. She is the author of On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility, which talks about the ups and downs of infertility and how to cope. Organizations like RESOLVE have been instrumental in providing facts and support groups for all types of people to help them deal with the taboo of infertility.

Yet where does this taboo come from? When it comes to Latinas, several things are at play. For one, Hispanics are second in pregnancy rates behind African Americans. And then there’s the cultural tropes: in many Latino households, building a family is what’s expected of adults. So when Latinas are hit with infertility, how do they deal with the pressure to become pregnant when it’s harder than what you’ve been told? The answer for many is secrecy.

Annette Prieto-Llopis is all too familiar with that scenario. Through her journey, she found the best way to cope was to share her story. She knew many women who were not able to tell even their own families. So she broke with the stigma and even started an infertility support group through her church–and has since passed on the baton. Why? Because in 2015, Annette gave birth to a baby girl.


Though she had a difficult pregnancy, she says she’s happy it happened when it did instead of seventeen years ago.

Featured image: Designed by Jeanne Montalvo

Trump Calls Immigration Actions ‘Military Operation,’ While DHS Sec Says ‘No Use of Military Force’

Hours after President Trump said at a Thursday morning White House listening session that the current wave of immigration enforcement actions is “a military operation,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly insisted to reporters at a joint U.S.-Mexico conference in Mexico City that there will be “no use of military force in immigration operations.”

“And again, listen to this,” Kelly said near the end of the conference, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke, as well as Mexico Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Secretary of Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. “No, repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations. None. Yes, we’ll approach this operation systematically in an organized way, in a results-oriented way, in an operational way, in a human dignity way. This is the way great militaries do business. The United States, Mexico and many others. It’s also the way great legal organizations… police, the federal police… do business. So again, I repeat, there will be no use of military forces in immigration. At least half of you try to get that right because it continually comes up in the reporting.”

Without mentioning specifics, Kelly was likely referring to a leaked DHS immigration draft memo from last Friday that had called for the use of National Guard troops in immigration enforcement actions, an idea both the White House and DHS quickly denied. The immigration implementation memos Kelly made public on Tuesday did not mention use of National Guard troops.

Despite Kelly’s assurances about not using military action, earlier on Thursday, President Trump described his administration’s current immigration enforcement actions as “a military operation.”

“You’ve seen what’s happening at the border. For the first time, we’re getting gang members out, we’re getting drug lords out.” Trump said. “We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country. And at rate that nobody’s ever seen before. And they’re the bad ones. And it’s a military operation because of what has been allowed to come into our country. When you see gang violence that you’ve read about like never before and all of the things, much of that is people that are here illegally. And they’re rough and they’re tough but they’re not tough like our people. So we’re getting them out.”

The latest immigration enforcement actions by the Trump administration have led to a growing sense of fear among immigrant communities, especially since many highly-publicized deportation cases of the last two weeks have not involved “gang members” or “drug lords.” Trump also did not address that these types of immigration actions have been ongoing for years. In the same Mexico City conference, however, Kelly also said that the United States is not conducting “mass deportations.”

“Now this is something I would really like you all to pay attention to because it is frequently misrepresented or misreported in the press,” Kelly said near the end of the joint conference. “Let me be very, very clear: there will be no, repeat, no mass deportations. Everything we do in DHS will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the United States. All deportations will be according to our legal justice system, which is extensive and includes multiple appeals. The focus of deportations would be on the criminal element that have made it into the United States. All of this will be done as it always is, in close coordination with the government of Mexico.”

On Wednesday, the day before the Mexico joint conference, Kelly repeated a similar point on a trip to Guatemala. As The Washington Post reported: “The executive orders issued by President Donald Trump on border security and immigration enforcement will result in people trying to enter the U.S. illegally being caught at the border, where they will be ‘treated fairly and humanely and returned to their home countries,’ Kelly said. ‘There will be no mass roundups,’ he said. But those caught ‘will be returned to their country much quicker than has been the case for the last decade or so.'”

The complete Mexico conference streamed online via NBC News’ Facebook page:

Kelly, Tillerson, Videgaray and Osorio Chong all made a point in the Mexico City joint conference to create a united front between U.S and Mexico to stop migration coming from Central America. They also acknowledged their differences (without any specific mention of a border wall), but made sure to highlight a spirit of collaboration and cooperation when it came to trade, security and immigration enforcement. The issues of human trafficking from the south and illegal gun sales from the north were also discussed.

“In our meetings, we jointly acknowledged that in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries from time to time will have differences,” Tillerson said.

“In a moment where we have notorious differences, the best way to solve them is through dialogue,” Videgaray said.

UPDATE, 5:15pmET: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Trump’s comments and Kelly’s comments.

“The President was using that as an adjective,” Spicer said. “It’s happening with precision. And in a manner in which it’s being done very, very clearly. I think we made it clear in the past and Secretary Kelly reiterated it, what kind of operation this was. But the President was clearly describing the manner in which this was being done. And so, just to be clear on his use of that phrase. And I think the way it’s being done by all accounts is being done with very much.. high degree of precision and in a flawless manner, in terms of making sure that the orders are carried out and it’s done in a streamlined and efficient manner.”

Maria Hinojosa on LATINA: ‘Making the Invisible Visible Is Really Powerful’

On Wednesday, Maria Hinojosa joined Latina Editorial Director Robyn Moreno for a chat on Facebook Live. The Latino USA host answered questions that ranged from her entrepreneurial spirit to her workout routine (re: her arms – “Move over, Michelle Obama!”).

As president of the Futuro Media Group, Hinojosa also mentioned that working in a Latino space is important to her and that “making the invisible visible is really powerful.”

Read the Oral Arguments for Cross-Border Shooting Supreme Court Case: Hernández v. Mesa

Tuesday at the Supreme Court, there were oral arguments for Hernández v. Mesa , a case centered on a lawsuit that surrounds the death of Mexican teenager Sergio Hernández at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa. In 2010, Hernández was on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence when Mesa, who was on the U.S. side, shot Hernández.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg filed a report about the case and why it was being heard by the Supreme Court in the first place.

In addition, The Huffington Post did a deeper dive into the case here.

The following document is the complete of the oral arguments from Tuesday:

The crux of the case is this (see SCOTUS blog): can the lawsuit from Hernández’s parents considered by U.S. courts? One of the other issues behind the case “centers on whether the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unjustified deadly force applies to a scenario like this one, when the victim of the shooting is outside the United States, and how courts should make that determination,” according to SCOTUS blog.

SCOTUS blog also published a very detailed account of the Tuesday oral arguments. It also closed its account with this:

Normally, if the court deadlocks 4-4, it leaves the lower court’s ruling (here, in favor of Mesa and against the family) in place. But with confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia, now scheduled for mid-March, a 4-4 deadlock could prompt the justices to order new arguments if Gorsuch is confirmed. If so, we could be back here in the fall or winter to hear the newly reconstituted court debate these issues all over again.

Next week, the Court will hear oral arguments for another immigration-related case: Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, “which stems from the government’s effort to remove a lawful permanent resident for a ‘sex crime.'”

NARCOS Star Pedro Pascal: ‘I Am A Refugee’

Just weeks after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring refugees from coming into the United States, “Narcos” star Pedro Pascal is coming forward to tell his refugee story.

Pascal, 41, sat down with Fusion’s “America With Jorge Ramos” recently and opened up about why his family left Chile in the ‘70s.

“I am a refugee, my parents fled Chile under Pinochet in 1976 when I was 9 months old, and my parents were able to start from nothing and make lives for themselves in the United States,” Pascal said in the video interview. “I didn’t choose to come to the United States but being raised here has shaped exactly who I am today, and I can’t imagine that being taken away from me.”

Read more at HuffPost Latino Voices.

The Latino USA Playlist for ‘Women on the Verge’

If you love the music as much as your love our show, then you’re in luck. At the start of each week, we’ll be sharing the songs featured in our latest episode.

This week we feature the music highlighted in Women on the Verge.

Warning: you might become obsessed with an artist or two.

The Playlist

“Callejero” by Jungle Fire

“Danza del Millonario” by Chicha Libre

“Tokuta” by Jungle Fire

“Lamento Momposino” by Jungle Fire

“Las Espigadoras” by Roberto “Chato” Flores

“Every Time” by Natalia Clavier

“La cumparsita” by Xavier Cugat

“Un Lugar” by Elastic Bond (feat. Ephniko)

“Raquel” by Bau

“Madrid – Berlín” by Bernardo Bonezzi

“Happy Hour” by M.A.K.U SoundSystem

“Find a Way” by Elastic Bond

To view the full playlist on Spotify, click here.

DHS Releases Implementation Memos to Address President’s Immigration Executive Orders

In response to the Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States executive orders signed by President Trump on January 25, the Department of Homeland Security published two detailed implementation memos on Tuesday that call for greater enforcement of the country’s immigration laws.

Upon the release of Secretary John Kelly’s two memos, DHS also created a page in an effort “to be transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest and protect the homeland.”

The first DHS memo, “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies,” is 13 pages long. Am embeddable copy is below:

In this memo, DHS said that Trump’s executive order is directing “executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the nation’s southern border with Mexico, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely,” according to a DHS release.

The DHS release also added the following:

“This includes, among other provisions, establishing operational control of the border, establishing and controlling a physical barrier, detaining illegal aliens at or near the border, ending the practice of “catch and release,” and returning aliens to the territory from which they came pending formal proceedings.

This order also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to hire an additional 5,000 border agents and to empower state and local law enforcement to support federal enforcement of immigration law, to the maximum extent permitted by law, and to ensure that prosecution guidelines place a high priority on crimes having a nexus to our southern border.”

DHS also said that this implementation memo “will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States. The guidance makes clear, however, that ICE should prioritize several categories of removable aliens who have committed crimes, beginning with those convicted of a criminal offense.”

There is also a call to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, “as well as 500 Air & Marine agents and officers.” A release about the memo added that “President has directed the heads of all executive departments to identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect federal aid or assistance to the government of Mexico” and that “DHS will identify all sources of aid for each of the last five fiscal years.”

Other details include an “expansion of the 287(g) program in the border region, “commissioning a comprehensive study of border security,” “constructing and funding a border wall” and “expanding expedited removal.”

In the area of expedited removal, DHS said this: “to date, expedited removal has been exercised only for aliens encountered within 100 air miles of the border and 14 days of entry, and aliens who arrived in the United States by sea other than at a port of entry. The Department will publish in the Federal Register a new Notice Designating Aliens Subject to Expedited Removal Under Section 235(b)(1)(a)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that expands the category of aliens subject to expedited removal to the extent the DHS Secretary determines is appropriate, and CBP and ICE are directed to conform the use of expedited removal procedures to the designations made in this notice upon its publication.”

DHS also said that it would enhance asylum referrals and credible fear determinations, and also, in their words, “establish standardized review procedures to confirm that alien children who are initially determined to be unaccompanied alien children continue to fall within the statutory definition when being considered for the legal protections afforded to such children as they go through the removal process.”

Another detail from this DHS memo called for “putting into place accountability measures to protect alien children from exploitation and prevent abuses of immigration laws.”

“The smuggling or trafficking of alien children into the United States puts those children at grave risk of violence and sexual exploitation,” DHS said in a release. “CBP and ICE will ensure the proper enforcement of our immigration laws against those who facilitate such smuggling or trafficking.”

The following video, dated February 20 and created by Tacoma-based immigration law firm Sound Immigration, explained the basics of the DHS memos, which were published in draft form last Saturday by The Washington Post.

The Second DHS Memo

The second DHS memo, “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest,” is six pages long. Here is an embeddable copy:

In a separate release about the second memo, DHS said that it would establish a Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office within ICE that would “create a programmatic liaison between ICE and the known victims of crimes committed by removable aliens. The liaison will facilitate engagement with the victims and their families to ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that they are provided with information about the offender, including the offender’s immigration status and custody status, and that their questions and concerns regarding immigration enforcement efforts are addressed.”

DHS also added that “it will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States. The guidance makes clear, however, that ICE should prioritize several categories of removable aliens who have committed crimes, beginning with those convicted of a criminal offense.”

As for prosecutorial discretion, DHS stated that “unless otherwise directed, Department personnel may initiate enforcement actions against removable aliens encountered during the performance of their official duties. Department personnel should act consistently with the President’s enforcement priorities as identified in his executive order and any further guidance issued by the director of ICE, the commissioner of CBP, and the director of USCIS prioritizing the removal of particularly dangerous aliens, such as convicted felons, gang members, and drug traffickers.”

The memo also called to “hire 10,000 agents and officers, as well as additional mission support and legal staff necessary to support their activities.”

Furthermore, DHS said that “To promote transparency and make the public aware of the nature of the number of criminal aliens in the United States, the Secretary and the Attorney General will collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports on the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the U.S. Marshals Service; and the immigration status of all convicted aliens incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers throughout the United States.”

iLe on Emotional Abuse, Female Sexuality and the Art of the Bolero

Puerto Rican singer Ileana Cabra Joglar, or iLe, got her start singing with her brothers in the hip hop group Calle 13. But now, she’s an established singer in her own right. Her debut album, iLevitable, just won the Grammy for best album in Latin rock, alternative, or urban music.

iLe says it took time to get used to being a solo artist. But she drew inspiration from the women in her family, collaborating on writing songs with her sister and using stories of her grandmother. In particular, she writes about the emotional abuse experienced by her mother and grandmother and presents a feminine perspective on love, sexuality and reinvention.

Featured image of iLe by Raquel Pérez Puig