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March for migrant children separated from parents in Tornillo, Texas | Pic: Raphael Ocampo

I Marched For Migrant Children Separated from Parents

March for migrant children separated from parents in Tornillo, Texas | Pic: Raphael Ocampo
March for migrant children separated from parents in Tornillo, Texas | Pic: Raphael Ocampo

Migrant children separated from parents have quietly been detained by the federal government in the sleepy town of Tornillo, Tex. 30 miles east of El Paso. In weeks leading up to Father’s Day, a sprawling compound of tents was built in the border crossing. With nothing around the town but desert, kids can be seen walking single file throughout the camp… at times playing soccer. The children held here come from various Latin American countries. Their parents seeking escape from violence, poverty and corruption. Many times, so desperate for a better life that they trekked thousands of miles for refuge. Sometimes, aslylum. There is no word from the administration on conditions from the tent city, where temperatures typically climb over 100 degrees in the summer.

Zero Tolerance Policy

Just as quickly as the facility was built, Congressmen Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) called for a march. The objective of the gathering was to protest the “zero tolerance” immigration policy from the Trump Administration, enforced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This directive from the administration is widely credited with migrant children separated from parents over the span of almost two months.

Protestors hold homemade signs against "zero tolerance" policy | Pic: Raphael Ocampo
Protestors hold homemade signs against “zero tolerance” policy | Pic: Raphael Ocampo

Among other things, the policy moved the cases of undocumented immigrants from civil courts, where families remained together, to criminal courts. Federal law disallows accused from remaining with family in the criminal system. President Trump stated time and time again that it was not his policy, blaming Democrats instead. His executive order to reverse the policy – after public outcry from both Democrats and Republicans alike – discredited his previous claims.

Migrant Children Separated from Parents Yet to be Reunited

Live from the Tornillo Protest

Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-Tex.) leads a march for migrant children separated from families at the border crossing | Pic: Raphael Ocampo
Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.)

I was in my hometown of El Paso visiting for Father’s Day weekend, which coincided with the Tornillo protest. The timing was a great opportunity to march for the reunification and end of the migrant children separated from parents. I dragged my sister out with me to Tornillo for the gathering, driving 30 minutes from the home where I grew up.

Once there, we joined hundreds of people with homemade signs – both angry and upset at the lack of compassion. All walks of life were there though the make-up of the crowd was mostly Latino and Caucasian people of all ages. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke alongside Beto O’Rourke to the crowd of hundreds. At one point, the crowd erupted in song of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I hope the children in the camp just a few hundred feet away could hear us singing, clapping and supporting them.

You could feel the love in the group. Eye contact with fellow marchers met with smiles, hiding the pain and empathy behind the movement. People were happy to share their signs for photographs. Though Trump was a common target, ICE was not far behind.

Protestors pour through the Tornillo border crossing, close to tent city housing children | Pic: Raphael Ocampo
Protestors pour through the Tornillo border crossing, close to tent city housing children | Pic: Raphael Ocampo

Protests continue around the United States, with many taking place over this last weekend in June. The protests took place in large border cities like El Paso, as well as Los Angeles, New York City, D.C. and more. In total, organizers anticipated more than 700 protests, in all 50 states and even internationally.

"We are better than this" reads a sign at the Tornillo march for the migrant children separated from family
“We are better than this” reads a sign at the Tornillo march for the migrant children separated from family

How to Help

Feelings differ on how to handle immigrants leaving violent, corrupt countries behind in hopes of a better life. The masses gathered for the rallies agreed that family unity is a human right. If you want to help, call your congressman. Make a difference. Donate money to the legal services fighting for human rights at our border. Talk to your children about what is going on. I can’t imagine what those children are going through. I hug my children extra tight each night fortunate that they aren’t separated from us.

March for Children Separated from Family in Tornillo, Texas #migrantchildren #immigrants
March for Children Separated from Family in Tornillo, Texas #migrantchildren #immigrants

If you’d like to help, try one of these organizations. Share your passion or start a blog about what you are passionate about.

Enfoque producers gave me a tour of the Telemundo Studios

Inside “Enfoque,” Telemundo’s Weekly News Program

Enfoque producers gave me a tour of the Telemundo Studios
Enfoque producers Leticia and Grace hosted me for a tour of the Telemundo Studios in Hialeah section of Miami, Fla.

Hispanicize Lunch with Telemundo:

Have you heard of Enfoque?

Well, at Hispanicize 2017 in Miami, I attended a luncheon sponsored by Telemundo thanks to DiMe Media and blogging sensation Candypolooza. I sat next to unfamiliar faces, which is quite common at conferences. I recalled seeing a few gentlemen with chiseled faces, square jaws and game show host teeth sparkling under fluorescent lights.

At first, I thought one of them might be Jorge Ramos, the journalist who sparred Donald Trump a few times during the presidential election campaign. I asked a young woman next to me if she knew who those guys were. She replied that one was Jose Diaz-Balart. Naiveté set in, and I gave her my best-dumbfounded smile as to imply that I had no clue he was.

It turns out that she, Grace, is the producer for his weekly news show called Enfoque, which means Focus in Spanish. Think of it almost like a Meet the Press mixed with 60 minutes, except it’s only 30 minutes (but soon may be 60).

A few things came to mind: this young, Latina is a producer of a show? Awesome! I used to live in LA and my idea of show producers were old(er), white guys so my prejudice was wonderfully shattered. Secondly, what’s Enfoque and who is this guy Jose?

A few bites into lunch and the host welcomed Jose Diaz-Balart to stand up and speak. Impressive! I’ve never heard a TV host speak bilingually to a group. He started in impeccable English and ended in just-as-perfect Spanish. He’s message wasn’t about his show, per se. It wasn’t even about Telemundo. He spoke of making a difference in the world. He spoke of standing up to injustices in the government – all governments from the US to Latin America. The theme was not political in nature although he alluded to some of the undertones happening in the country today related to families being torn apart by the president’s immigration stance.

Latinas in Charge of Enfoque

During the lunch, I got to know Grace and another talented Latina named Leticia, who is the Executive Producer of Enfoque. I was blown away at how incredibly articulate they were in both languages. English is my first language and since my mother and grandmother were both born in the US, my Spanish skills aren’t up-to-par, especially in a professional setting. I admire and respect professionals proficient in multiple languages – it’s now a goal of mine to improve my Español.

Enfoque at Telemundo Studios, Hialeah section of Miami, Fla.

Leticia graciously invited me – although I kind of invited myself but she green lit the visit – to the taping of Enfoque at the Telemundo studios in Miami. I was overjoyed at the opportunity, even more so once I found out that Bernie Sanders was going to be a guest on the show.

Telemundo Studios in Hialeah, Miami, FL | Photo Credit: R. Ocampo
Telemundo Studios in Hialeah, Miami, FL | Photo Credit: R. Ocampo

Walking into the studio, I felt like a geek walking into CES for the first time. TV monitors surrounded me, airing different programming on each display. The studio was like watching ants running in different directions – controlled chaos.

Using my best New York City crowd control skills, I did my best to stay out of the way until taping. Grace, the producer and master of ceremonies, escorted me to the Mission Control room.

“Jose, can you hear me?” Jose was in New York City due to a speaking event so the coordination was a bit different than the in-person norm. Grace the MC led the orchestra and taping was in full force.

Feel the Bern?

I was a bit disappointed that Bernie Sanders was interviewed remotely from Washington, D.C. I thought he’d be in there next to me chatting over a beer and talking about how to truly make America great again. Oh well.

The show was interesting and had great guests. It was new to me and may be new to you. If you’d like to check it out, it airs on Sundays at 1pm.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Leticia, Grace, Jose and the entire staff at Enfoque for their hospitality and warmth. I walked away truly proud of their professionalism, success and most of all, their wonderful spirit. Gracias a todos!

Looking for other things to do in Miami? Try the Wynwood Walls.

Add LatwinoDad by taking a snap of this image inside of Snapchat

LatwinoDad Snapchat Is a Tecla Awards Finalist

The 3rd Annual Tecla Awards announced their finalists on March 3 via Facebook live for top Latino and multicultural content creators. I’m proud to share that I, LatwinoDad am nominated for the Best Snapchat Storyteller. That’s right, not all Snapchat storytellers are teens and millennials! The winners will be announced at the conclusion of the Hispanicize 2017 conference in Miami, FL in April.

LatwinoDad Nominated for Snapchat Tecla Awards

Tecla is an individual key on a keyboard in Spanish. The Tecla awards, therefor, honor individual US Latino content creators in online video, blogging, media and marketing. 2017 is the 3rd Annual Tecla awards, which reflect the growing state of original programming native to YouTube, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, live broadcasting, blogging and virtually all types of social media platforms.

Add LatwinoDad by taking a snap of this image inside of Snapchat
Add LatwinoDad by taking a snap of this image inside of Snapchat

LatwinoDad is on Snapchat, Are You?

Snapchat, in case you don’t know, is a popular mobile app for sending photos and videos. I’ve been on it for just over a year but – like many – did not know how to use it for a long time since it’s not very intuitive like other social platforms. Upon download, you are faced with an app that comes with no coach marks that guide you through the usability. It had, and continues to have, a reputation for an app used by late teens and young 20-something adults while the demographics are slowly inching up the age ladder. Due to that, I’ve had my share of people tell me, “I’m not on Snapchat, I’m not a teenager.” Zing!

Add me on Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/newyorkrealtor

“While Snapchat remains wildly popular with young social media users—over 60% of U.S. smartphone users are between the ages of 13 and 34 are Snapchatters—what’s more revealing is how Snapchat is now beginning to proliferate quickly among olderdemographics.”

Snapchat demographic infographic with stats and trends | Source: Mediakix
Snapchat demographic infographic with stats and trends | Source: Mediakix

Storytelling on Snapchat

It can be quite addicting, I must admit. Where Twitter is for informational sharing and gathering, and Instagram is about capturing a wonderful image, Snapchat is capturing “snaps” of your life. The snaps aren’t necessarily about taking that perfect image in hopes of landing you in National Geographic. They’re crude, they’re funny, they’re videos – less than 10 secs mind you of the small events in your day. Boarding a plane. Attending a concert. Eating Chipotle with extra guac. It’s the small things that happen to you and they disappear from Snapchat in 24 hours. Poof!

Storytelling on Snapchat can be entertaining for you and for your contacts. I travel a lot. I know that some of my followers my not get to visit China, Malaysia, El Paso in the near future (or ever?). So as a result I’ll snap my travels, for example. I snap the airport. I snap the landscape and the high rises. I snap the food, the music, the culture and share that. Sometimes, I snap myself giving a tip of the location.

LatwinoDad at Hispanicize, See You There?

Hispanicize 2017 Week is the largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in digital content creation, journalism, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship.

Although, I must admit that I only heard about Hispanicize last year. This upcoming 2017 Hispanicize is the eighth year of the event, so it’s safe to say that I may be an early adopter, but quite late to the Hispanicize community.

Tickets range depending on your role and purpose for attending. I paid about $275 although feel strongly that I will get the value from it. Additionally, people who attended in the past highly recommend the show so I’m stoked to attend.

If you plan on going, please let me know! I look forward to seeing you there and sharing what I learn when LatwinoDad goes to its first Hispanicize!