Lawyer Arrested For Allegedly Telling Rape Victim She’d Be Deported If She Testified

A Baltimore attorney was indicted Tuesday for allegedly pressuring a rape victim not to testify against his client, in part by threatening her with deportation.

Christos Vasiliades, 39, is accused of telling the woman and her husband that they would likely be deported if they showed up in court and offering them $3,000 from the defendant in exchange for not testifying.

The Maryland state indictment, first published by the Baltimore Sun, charges Vasiliades and Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, who acted as a Spanish-language interpreter for the woman and her husband, with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation by threat and corrupt means. (The couple’s names are blacked out in the public version of the indictment.)

Vasiliades was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty and prosecutors “agreed to release him under pretrial supervision,” said Raquel Guillory Coombs, public information officer at the Maryland Attorney General’s office.

The lawyer represents Mario Aguilar-Delossantos, who is facing felony rape charges. According to the indictment, Vasiliades contacted the woman and her husband on April 11 to meet and talk because he said his client’s case had become “more complicated.” 

During the meeting, Vasiliades allegedly pointed to the Trump administration’s ramped-up immigration efforts and warned the couple that they would risk deportation if they testified in court. In a follow-up meeting on May 18, the woman allegedly wore a device that recorded Vasiliades and Rodriguez claiming that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was “looking at this case.” 

“You know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away,” Rodriguez said, according to the court documents. 

Vasiliades and Rodriguez allegedly offered the woman and her husband $3,000 in exchange for their silence. If the couple failed to show up in court, Vasiliades said he could get the case thrown out. Once that happened, the indictment said, the lawyer would alert Rodriguez, who would be waiting outside the courthouse to hand over the money. 

Afterward, the woman and her husband could seek out Aguilar-Delossantos and “kick his ass” themselves, Vasiliades allegedly suggested.

“If we were back home where I’m from, from Greece … we would go f*ck him up, that’s it, if you want to do that, that’s fine,” the lawyer said, according to the indictment.

HuffPost reached out to Vasiliades for comment, but had not heard back from him at the time of publication. 

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Mic.com that Vasiliades and Rodriguez had tried to capitalize on the “climate of fear” created by the Trump administration’s immigration policies and an uptick in ICE raids across the country.

“This case, I think, illustrates the folly of that kind of policy,” Frosh said. “It takes an enormous amount of courage for a rape victim to step forward and report a rape, and it takes even more courage for somebody who might be deported to step forward and report a crime.” 

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Lawyer Arrested For Allegedly Telling Rape Victim She’d Be Deported If She Testified

A Baltimore attorney was indicted Tuesday for allegedly pressuring a rape victim not to testify against his client, in part by threatening her with deportation.

Christos Vasiliades, 39, is accused of telling the woman and her husband that they would likely be deported if they showed up in court and offering them $3,000 from the defendant in exchange for not testifying.

The Maryland state indictment, first published by the Baltimore Sun, charges Vasiliades and Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, who acted as a Spanish-language interpreter for the woman and her husband, with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation by threat and corrupt means. (The couple’s names are blacked out in the public version of the indictment.)

Vasiliades was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty and prosecutors “agreed to release him under pretrial supervision,” said Raquel Guillory Coombs, public information officer at the Maryland Attorney General’s office.

The lawyer represents Mario Aguilar-Delossantos, who is facing felony rape charges. According to the indictment, Vasiliades contacted the woman and her husband on April 11 to meet and talk because he said his client’s case had become “more complicated.” 

During the meeting, Vasiliades allegedly pointed to the Trump administration’s ramped-up immigration efforts and warned the couple that they would risk deportation if they testified in court. In a follow-up meeting on May 18, the woman allegedly wore a device that recorded Vasiliades and Rodriguez claiming that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was “looking at this case.” 

“You know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away,” Rodriguez said, according to the court documents. 

Vasiliades and Rodriguez allegedly offered the woman and her husband $3,000 in exchange for their silence. If the couple failed to show up in court, Vasiliades said he could get the case thrown out. Once that happened, the indictment said, the lawyer would alert Rodriguez, who would be waiting outside the courthouse to hand over the money. 

Afterward, the woman and her husband could seek out Aguilar-Delossantos and “kick his ass” themselves, Vasiliades allegedly suggested.

“If we were back home where I’m from, from Greece … we would go f*ck him up, that’s it, if you want to do that, that’s fine,” the lawyer said, according to the indictment.

HuffPost reached out to Vasiliades for comment, but had not heard back from him at the time of publication. 

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Mic.com that Vasiliades and Rodriguez had tried to capitalize on the “climate of fear” created by the Trump administration’s immigration policies and an uptick in ICE raids across the country.

“This case, I think, illustrates the folly of that kind of policy,” Frosh said. “It takes an enormous amount of courage for a rape victim to step forward and report a rape, and it takes even more courage for somebody who might be deported to step forward and report a crime.” 

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We Pay Low Prices For Chinese Food Because Of Racial Biases About ‘Cheap’ Labor

You may not think it, but there’s a direct relationship between plunging your chopsticks into that white, quart-sized box of cheaply priced Chinese food — and a laborer diligently driving a spike to lay the railroad tracks that became the gateway to the American West. 

May, which is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, marks the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. It was largely built by Chinese immigrants from 1864 to 1869, working at a grueling pace for less money than white workers. And these labor practices have an impact today on how much we’re willing to pay for Chinese food ― rooted in a perception that Chinese labor is inherently “cheap,” historians say.

The earliest Chinese restaurants in America were created for Chinese railroad laborers, who were under contract and lacked negotiating power as they laid tracks from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California ― cutting through the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. With Chinese laborers earning an estimated two-thirds of what white workers made, owners had to keep restaurant prices low, Beatrice Chen, programming vice president at the Museum of Chinese in America, explained to HuffPost. 

The mainstream American consumer mindset is that there is a ceiling to how much we’re willing to pay for Chinese food.

“This perception of Chinese restaurants has stuck, even though high-end Chinese restaurants in Asia are common and popular,” Chen said. “The mainstream American consumer mindset is that there is a ceiling to how much we’re willing to pay for Chinese food, even if they are made with the same fresh ingredients and intricate cooking techniques as say, French or Japanese cuisine.”

‘Cheap Labor’ And ‘Job Stealers’

The railroad also laid the foundation for perceptions of Chinese people themselves. White workers at the time were unionizing, and were less willing to work for lower wages. Railroad executives had been skeptical of the aptitude of Chinese workers, but the laborers set out to prove them wrong, Chen explained.

“This led to the general perception that Chinese were willing to work for lower wages and were job stealers,” she said. 

But what was perceived as a robotic work ethic might have just been survival, Beth Lew-Williams, an assistant professor at Princeton specializing in Asian American history, told HuffPost in an interview in December. She pointed out a discriminatory labor system within the railroad. 

Chinese were paid less, given the worst strenuous jobs. People against the Chinese saw this as revealing of their innate nature.

“It was a race-based dual wage system at the time,” Lew-Williams said. “Chinese were paid less, given the worst strenuous jobs. People against the Chinese saw this as revealing of their innate nature. That Chinese were fundamentally ‘cheap’ labor and designed to do this back-breaking labor.”

On top of negative perceptions, Chinese contributions were largely erased through history. Chen said that of the 17,000 railroad workers, 15,000 were Chinese, though estimates vary. A photo below of the final stake being driven into the track at Promontory Summit, Utah, would have people believe they didn’t contribute at all.

“I hope that telling and disseminating American history told from Asian American perspectives will illuminate that Asian Americans are not necessarily quiet (per the stereotype), but rather, Asian American history/stories and perspectives tend to be silenced in the mainstream,” Chen said. 

Building A Railroad, And Then Banned

Following completion of the tracks, the U.S. implemented the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, stemming further immigration of Chinese laborers. It was the first major law that banned a group’s immigration to the U.S. based on ethnicity.

“The Chinese were originally seen as racially unassimilable,” Lew-Williams said. “They could not become Americanized. They were simultaneously racially inferior, backwards, savage heathen ― and in some dangerous ways ― superior.”

The act was technically repealed on Dec. 17, 1943, allowing 105 Chinese visas per year. The measure was largely seen as an attempt to maintain U.S.-China relationships against Japan during World War II.

In 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act fully reversed exclusionary practices, which some historians say was meant to prop up Asians as the “model minority” during the Civil Rights movement ― sending a message to other minority groups. 

An Immigrant Story For Today 

Much has been written about the dangers in grouping together Asian Americans as a model minority monolith and erasing the experiences of immigrants. Peter Kwong, a former Asian American studies professor at Hunter College, pointed out that the struggles of the original Chinese Americans have persisted.

“Because some Chinese people succeeded doesn’t mean working-class Chinese have the same capability and upward mobility. It’s a class issue,” Kwong told HuffPost in an interview before he died in March.  

It may be that food is the easiest lens through which to view such thorny topics as class, race, social mobility and how much value we place on a given culture. 

If you take price as a surrogate for prestige … there are some cuisines we are willing to pay for and some we are not willing to pay for, and that is related partly, I think, to how we evaluate those national cultures and their people.

Krishnendu Ray, a professor of food studies at New York University, has written about the topic, and said that we might simply hold less veneration for food from certain countries that we see as less well-off. 

“If you take price as a surrogate for prestige … there are some cuisines we are willing to pay for and some we are not willing to pay for, and that is related partly, I think, to how we evaluate those national cultures and their people,” Ray said in Voice of America. 

Eddie Huang, owner of Baohaus and a host on Vice, often talks about how mainstream appreciation of food and culture remain a barometer for how conditional your status is as a foreigner, and of your stock value in America. 

Huang has expressed dismay that immigrants like his parents feel they have to work harder just to achieve the same pay as non-immigrants. And thumbing his nose to any such established expectation, Huang has said in the past

“I sell Taiwanese gua bao for a full f**king price in America.”  

Read more from HuffPost on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. 

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San Francisco Begins Providing Attorneys For Immigrants Who Can’t Afford Them

SAN FRANCISCO — City officials this week began providing public defenders to immigrants unable to afford an attorney to help fight deportation attempts in court. 

The new program is the third immigration unit in the U.S. run by a public defender’s office. Supporters say it’s an indispensable service for San Francisco, where immigrants make up one-third of the population, as President Donald Trump’s administration rolls out its aggressive border enforcement and deportation agenda. 

Immigrants without attorneys are more likely to lose deportation cases than people defended by a lawyer, according to studies. Yet, in nearly 40 percent of cases, people take their chances without representation, according to Department of Justice figures. 

Without legal guidance, immigrants are pressured into making decisions that affect their ability to stay in the country before understanding all of their options, according to critics.

Miguel,” a man in his 20s from Central America, stood in front of a camera and video screen at a California detention center early last year. He’s a legal resident, and had lived in the Bay Area for almost nine years. But for months, he’d been held in a detention center, targeted for deportation because of a criminal conviction. 

The video in front of him connected to a courtroom in San Francisco, showing a federal judge and a prosecutor who argued for Miguel’s removal.

Miguel, a Spanish speaker, could not afford a lawyer. He struggled with the judge’s repeated questions about his asylum application, according to transcripts of his case. 

“Okay. Sir, I asked you if you have that application filled out today. Did I not?” the judge said. 

Miguel, speaking through an interpreter, appeared overwhelmed by the proceedings. 

‘Yes, but I wasn’t able to get any help. I tried to get an attorney, but there was no answer, and I couldn’t fill it out because I didn’t have any help. And that’s why I didn’t do it,” Miguel said. 

It had been a month since Miguel’s previous appearance before the judge, who had given him additional time to fill out the forms to fight his removal from the U.S. At that earlier hearing, Miguel told the judge he found no attorney who would take his case from the list of free and reduced-fee immigration lawyers provided by the court, according to a transcript. 

Frustration crept into the judge’s comments.

“Sir, you and I had a conversation. You were supposed to fill out that application today. So I can find today that you’ve given up your application and find you removed,” the judge said. “Sir, you can be removed right now from the United States. Because I don’t appreciate people not following the court’s orders. And you made a promise that that application was going to be filled out and sent today. And now you come with nothing.”

“What can I do? I don’t know how to read. I don’t know how to write. I couldn’t fill it out,” Miguel said. 

The scene is Kafkaesque. A legal resident is threatened with immediate deportation by a judge impatient with his inability to fill out documents thrust in front of him. The judge ultimately relented and allowed the man additional time to complete the forms.

Details about Miguel’s identity have been withheld by his current attorney, who worried that criticizing immigration procedures could negatively affect his chances of remaining in the U.S. on appeal.

The case shows typical challenges non-citizens face in immigration courts, where there is no right to a court-appointed lawyer. Immigration cases are classified as civil matters. People who can’t afford to hire a lawyer are only entitled to a public defender in criminal court.  

“To a person undergoing them, they feel like a criminal process. The government brings up everything it can,” said Raha Jorjani, an Alameda County public defender in nearby Oakland who now represents Miguel. “It’s an absolutely bewildering process. We’re talking about some of the most complicated laws in the nation.” 

Only New York City and Alameda County public defenders’ offices established immigration units before San Francisco. Other localities are devoting resources to hire lawyers for immigrants. Los Angeles announced a $10-million fund for local immigrants facing deportation in December. Chicago put together $1.3 million for a defense fund around the same time. Austin, Texas, put up emergency funds in February. Nonprofits and some law firms have offered pro bono legal aid for years. 

Access to an attorney could have immense benefits for detainees. Studies have shown that in immigration court, having a lawyer makes a defendant six times more likely to prevail than counterparts defending themselves, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s office. Yet, more than 73,000 immigrants — almost 40 percent of all cases — ventured into immigration court without a lawyer in 2016, according to Department of Justice figures. 

“Having a lawyer evens the playing field,” said UCLA professor Hiroshi Motomura, an expert in immigration law. “Procedurally, it becomes a much more fair fight.”

It’s a critical time for immigrants. Arrests by immigration officials have risen 38 percent this year under Trump’s administration, and the White House budget proposal seeks $2.7 billion in additional funding for border security and immigration enforcement. Trump also has threatened to slash funds to so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration policy. 

The Trump administration’s hostile attitude toward immigrants, ironically, made it easier for San Francisco city officials to reach agreement on spending $200,000 on three lawyers and a paralegal for the rest of the year, according to Francisco Ugarte, head of the public defender’s immigration unit. 

“Our goal is to create some semblance of due process in the immigration court,” Ugarte said. “There’s one thing that we can bank on. He [Trump] wants to deport more people and be aggressive. He’s put a ton of fear into immigrant communities.”

Ugarte’s team of three lawyers each will balance about 50 cases at a time. That’s not enough to provide every detainee with a lawyer, as about 1,500 detained immigrants have court dates in San Francisco each year, but it’s a start, the public defender’s office said. 

Critics say the program is a waste of government resources. “I don’t believe there is an appetite among the citizens in California to use their taxpayer dollars to defend undocumented immigrants who may have committed crimes,” Sue Caro, a state Republican Party official, told The Mercury News.

Even with attorneys on hand, immigrants lack many of the other familiar protections against unfairness in criminal courts. There is no right to a speedy trial or statute of limitations, for instance. 

“Having representation is significant, huge and would go a long way,” said Jorjani. “But unfortunately, I don’t think the system is that fair.”

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Ariana Grande Announces Manchester Benefit Concert In Powerful Open Letter

Four days after a deadly terror attack claimed the lives of 22 people and injured scores of others at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, the pop star has announced she’s hosting a benefit concert to raise money for the victims and their families.

In an open letter shared on social media Friday, the “Dangerous Woman” singer expanded upon her original tweet, in which she wrote she was “broken” and “so so sorry.” 

“My heart, prayers and deepest condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loves ones,” Grande wrote. “There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better. However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way.”

“The only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out. I have been thinking of my fans, and of you all, non stop over the past week,” she continued. “The way you have handled all of this has been more inspiring and made me more proud of you than you’ll ever know. The compassion, kindness, love, strength and openness that you’ve shown one another this past week is the exact opposite of the heinous intention it must take to pull of something as evil as what happened Monday.”

Grande revealed she plans to return to the “incredibly brave city” of Manchester for a benefit concert, suggesting that she’ll be joined by other musicians, who have yet to be announced. Details about the concert are limited, but Grande promised to keep her fans updated once everything is confirmed. 

In the wake of the attack, the singer canceled all dates on her Dangerous Woman tour until June 5, while the fate of the rest of the tour remains in limbo. 

“From the day we started putting the Dangerous Woman Tour together, I said that this show, more than anything else, was intended to be a safe space for my fans,” the 23-year-old added. “A place for them to escape, to celebrate, to heal, to feel safe and be themselves. To meet their friends they’ve made online to express themselves. This will not change that.”

For Grande’s full letter, read below. 

pic.twitter.com/c03xrX3iIv

— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 26, 2017

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Frustrated 5-Year-Old’s Speech About ‘Marack Obama’ Is Deeply Relatable

For 5-year-old Taylor, it’s bad enough Barack Obama is no longer the U.S. president ― but did Hillary Clinton have to lose the 2016 election, too?

In a three-part Instagram video that’s gone viral since her mom uploaded the clips on Thursday, the 5-year-old had some questions as to how this electoral system would allow Obama to depart from the White House and allow President Trump to enter.

“Why did [Obama] go?” a genuinely frustrated Taylor asks her mom. “Where did he go? So why do we have the president we have now at the same spot he was and why did he leave it anyway?”

When Taylor’s mom starts to explains that presidents can only sit for two terms, Taylor’s already moved on. 

“But how come Hillary did not get to be the president and why is she the loser?” she asks. 

But the real existentialist kicker in the video came when Taylor asked: “And what are they even winning, anyway?” 

After using pizza to try to further her understanding of America’s voting system, Taylor becomes increasingly frustrated and confused as to why Trump had to occupy the presidency. 

Part 2

A post shared by tabgeezy (@tabgeezy) on May 25, 2017 at 8:22am PDT

Under the belief that Trump is ruling the nation from her native Texas, she becomes annoyed.

“Well, why does he have to live there?” she exclaims throwing her hands up in exasperation. “I want him living somewhere else, I don’t want him living in Texas.”

Taylor still isn’t pleased though when she finds out the White House isn’t actually in Texas. 

“Well I don’t want him being our president, anyway…I wanted Hillary and Marack Obama,” the defeated 5-year-old said. 

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Gina Prince-Bythewood Becomes First Woman Of Color To Direct A Super Hero Movie

Gina Prince-Bythewood is adding a historic achievement to her filmmaking career.

Deadline reported Thursday that Sony Pictures has tapped Prince-Bythewood to direct the forthcoming Spider Man spinoff film, “Silver & Black.” The film, which was originally written by “Thor: The Dark World” writer, Christopher Yost, will find Prince-Bythewood rewriting the script and becoming the first woman of color to direct a superhero movie.

Based on Marvel’s legendary Spider Man characters, Black Cat and Silver Sable, the film will follow Spider Man’s mercenary antagonist and ally (Silver Sable) and an acrobatic cat burglar (Black Cat), who has a romantic history with Spider Man, according to Marvel’s site.

Prince-Bythewood, who just directed the season finale of her Fox drama series, “Shots Fired,” will also direct the pilot for Marvel’s upcoming series “Cloak & Dagger.

Prince-Bythewood is just the latest in the growing list of black filmmakers, including Cheo Hodari Coker (“Luke Cage”), Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), and Mara Brock and Salim Akil (“Black Lightning”), who are also helming Marvel projects.

“Silver & Black” is scheduled to hit theaters in October 2018.

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The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week

The ladies of Twitter never fail to brighten our days with their brilliant ― but succinct ― wisdom. Each week, HuffPost Women rounds up hilarious 140-character musings. For this week’s great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.

Sign up for our Funniest Tweets Of The Week newsletter here.  

wow I was in a great mood but now im just mad at everyone who didn't tell me fivel goes west is on netflix

— Julia Bush (@jabush) May 22, 2017

If ABC thinks I'm going to suddenly start watching "The Bachelorette" just to see men fighting over a black woman they are absolutely right.

— Ashley Calloway-B. (@ashleycalloway) May 23, 2017

Concept: me perhaps not becoming irritated by every fucking little thing

— Maria (@cakefacedcutie) May 22, 2017

ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH CHEESE? ILU
- me, just checking up on my friends

— Nicole Chung (@nicole_soojung) May 23, 2017

I don't carry pepper spray, but I do carry a list of things that aren't going well in my life that should earn me the pity of any assailants

— Shalyah Evans (@ShalyahEvans) May 23, 2017

When it's New Hair Monday and my coworkers have questions. pic.twitter.com/JH8JRXbFV7

— Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson) May 23, 2017

Finally figured out how to induce panic attacks in women: get them high and put on the Handmaid's Tale.

— alana hope levinson (@alanalevinson) May 23, 2017

hello, so nice to google you for the first time

— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) May 21, 2017

Justin Trudeau looks like The Bachelor and Macron has just stolen him away for a second. pic.twitter.com/tXLdSrD02j

— Hanna Flint (@HannaFlint) May 26, 2017

Chopped shows you can make something out of anything so when I ran out of strawberry jam I melted some gummy bears and made a kitchen fire.

— Abbi Crutchfield (@curlycomedy) May 23, 2017

*invited to a networking event*

Me: Fake my death go to Cuba that's the only option

— Julie Horvath (@nrrrdcore) May 23, 2017

Passport stamps but for every state you have a panic attack in

— Brittani Nichols (@BisHilarious) May 24, 2017

I take work smoke breaks outside a yoga/barre studio called EXHALE bc I'm committed to irony

— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) May 23, 2017

[gets out of bed]
[pours a tall, cold glass of Haterade]
[takes a generous swig]
AHHHHH GOOD MORNING WORLD! READY TO FACE THE DAY

— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) May 24, 2017

You can tell a lot about a girl by who looks better in the photos she posts for your birthday.

— maggie mull (@infinitesimull) May 23, 2017

I can either be on time for things or I can look good, you cannot expect both.

— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) May 24, 2017

Me: If you could only bring one thing with you to a desert island, what would it be?
7yo: Uh. Earth.

— JennyPentland (@JennyPentland) May 24, 2017

RT if you've ever sung "Thank you for being my cat" to your pet to the tune of the Golden Girls theme song.

— Emily McCombs (@msemilymccombs) May 25, 2017

TV Guy: "Here's our subject in her natural environment, foraging for food."

*Camera cuts to me on the couch, finding an almond in my bra*

— Abby Heugel (@AbbyHasIssues) May 23, 2017

"Never trust the children of real estate developers" is the primary lesson of both this administration and the Fyre Festival.

— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) May 24, 2017

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The Green Movement Is Led By The Same People Who Run Everything Else — White Men

Many of the nation’s leading environmental groups remain overwhelmingly white and male, according to a new report released on Thursday.

Advocacy group Green 2.0 compiled the study, titled “Beyond Diversity: A Roadmap to Building an Inclusive Organization,” after analyzing employment data from the 40 biggest U.S. environmental groups as of April, including heavy-hitters the World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy.

Most groups provided at least partial employment data, with notable holdouts including The Pew Charitable Trusts and Oceana.

The researchers found 73 percent of full-time employees at environmental groups are white and an equal proportion are men. That number rose for senior staff, with 86 percent of employees in those positions identifying as white and 76 percent male. The lack of diversity comes as the percentage of people of color with at least a bachelor’s degree has steadily increased and the nation’s demographics are poised to change within the coming decades.

“Finding qualified leaders of color to fill these positions should not be difficult,” wrote study author Maya Beasley, a professor at the University of Connecticut, in the report. “Although otherwise progressive, the environmental advocacy sector is predominantly led by white men.”

The results reflect an ongoing, but well-documented issue concerning diversity within the green movement. Communities of color are often among the hardest hit by climate change and disproportionately on the frontlines in local environmental fights. But in large part, standard-bearing events like Earth Day are mostly a thing for white people.

A 2016 study found people of color are less polarized about the issue of climate change than white people, but they’re also less likely to call themselves environmentalists. In an interview with HuffPost last year, the study’s authors alluded that such beliefs can likely be linked to the lack of diversity within environmental groups, where racial minorities often see “an image of whiteness.”

As Beasley notes, racial demographics in the U.S. are rapidly shifting, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2044, more than half of Americans will belong to a minority group. The future, she writes, will see environmental groups “in a race to adapt … or become obsolete.”

“For nonprofits, this equates to a fundamental shift in the donor base, constituents and policymakers on which they rely,” the report reads. “Successful organizations will need to adapt their workforces to accommodate these changing dynamics.”

The report cited a slew of steps environmental groups can take to rectify the racial disparity, including the hiring of diversity managers, creating plans to attract more diverse applicants and to require accountability within leadership to focus on diversity-related issues.

Beasley found just 40 percent of environmental groups currently have diversity plans in place, despite 70 percent of groups saying they believed more diverse demographics could help their missions.

“While it is encouraging that key stakeholders see at least some benefits of diversity, it is essential that they recognize diversity is not only the right thing to do, but a business necessity,” the paper said.

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Mother Locked In Family Detention Attempts Suicide To Free Her Kids

AUSTIN, Texas ― A woman locked at a family immigrant detention center tried to take her own life this month in what legal advocates described as a desperate effort to free her two kids.  

Samira Hakimi, an Afghan national, has spent the last six months detained with her two young children despite a federal ruling that dictates they should have been released within three weeks. The case reinforces the longstanding concerns of immigrant rights groups that say asylum-seeking families should not be forced into prolonged detention.

“They told us you will only be a couple of days in there,” Hakimi told HuffPost. “I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time. That I’m detained here because I’m from Afghanistan and that’s all. But I’m human.”

In Afghanistan, the Hakimi family had established a high school and multi-branch private university that used Western curricula, taught in both English and Dari and offered more than half its scholarships to women, according to lawyers representing Hakimi and her husband. 

Since 2013, the Taliban repeatedly threatened the family for its work. To avoid the danger of commuting, the family moved onto the university campus and contracted private security guards that year.

It wasn’t enough for them to feel safe. “We could not go outside,” Hakimi said. “My children could not go to school. We thought they might be kidnapped. This was always in our minds…. They have their lives to live. They should live happy and free from every small thing, going to school and enjoying their lives.”

Last year, they fled Afghanistan with Hakimi’s brother-in-law and his pregnant wife, who were facing similar threats.

In December, the two families crossed into the United States from Mexico through a legal port of entry, where they all asked for asylum. The men were separated and sent to all-male immigrant detention centers, where they remain. Hakimi and her kids, as well as her sister-in-law and her newborn baby, were sent to the South Texas Family Detention Center in the town of Dilley and later transferred to the Karnes County Residential Center outside San Antonio. 

Hakimi passed her “credible fear” interview ― the first step toward applying for asylum. It’s common practice for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to free people who pass these interviews so they can pursue their cases in immigration court, but ICE declined to release her and her children. The agency did not respond to a request for comment explaining why it refuses to release them. Hakimi’s sister-in-law is also still at Karnes with her 10-month-old baby.

Hakimi told HuffPost she had suffered from bouts of clinical depression before being detained. Advocates with RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal services to detained families, say she had attempted suicide in the past and told medical workers at Karnes that her condition had worsened as her case appeared to stall. Neither medicine nor therapy would alleviate the problem, she argued. Her depression stemmed from remaining locked up in the detention center with her children.

As the months dragged on, she lost hope. “Here, no one talks to us,” Hakimi said. “They don’t give us the reason why I’m detained in here. I never thought that I would be detained here for such a long time.”

Her son came to her one day asking her why other families were allowed to leave but not them. “That was really triggering her,” Amy Fisher, RAICES’s policy director, told HuffPost. “She was crying and really depressed. And she went into this thought process, when she was really low, thinking, ‘Well, if I’m no longer here, maybe my children can be free.’” Kids cannot be held without their parents or guardians in family detention. 

After she made an effort to take her own life, she woke up in the medical unit of the detention center and was taken to a nearby hospital, where two members of the detention center staff sat with her continuously.  

“I told them, ‘I’m just crying for my children, please,’” she said in a recording with one of her legal providers. “I’m not sick. But they gave me medicine. And they told me take this every four hours, but I didn’t take it anymore.”

Hakimi told her lawyer she did not know what the medicine was. RAICES is requesting her medical records.  

The suicide attempt at Karnes occurred the same month as an immigrant detainee’s suicide at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Jean Jiménez-Joseph, 27, killed himself after spending nearly three weeks in solitary confinement.

Human rights groups have long criticized mental health services at immigrant detention centers. But Fisher said even adequate therapy wouldn’t resolve the problem Hakimi faces.

“There’s no surprise or coincidence that she attempted suicide within days of a young man committing suicide in another detention center,” Fisher said. “There’s no mental health care that can effectively treat someone who is traumatized in a detained setting.”

The Obama administration had all but abandoned the family detention policy by 2009, but hastily resurrected it in 2014 to dissuade a sudden influx of Central American mothers and children from crossing into the United States. Most of them were seeking refuge from violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled in 2015 that the policy violates a longstanding federal settlement called the Flores Agreement, which requires children to be held in the least restrictive setting possible and to generally be released from detention. To comply with the ruling, most families are released from detention within three weeks.

But Hakimi and her children still have no idea when they’ll be freed. The uncertainty of her case likely played a key role in her deteriorating mental health, according to Luis Zayas, the dean of social work for the University of Texas at Austin. Zayas has interviewed dozens of detainees at Karnes and says clinical depression and high levels of anxiety are common there.

“We see it constantly,” Zayas said. “It’s not necessarily an intrinsic form of depression, based on brain chemicals or a longstanding depression ― it’s what we call ‘reactive.’ It’s related to the environment the person is in, especially over a long period of time.”

Zayas had not interviewed the Afghan woman, but evaluated another woman who attempted suicide at Karnes in 2015. He said he saw parallels in their cases. Both of them had histories of depression and suicidal thoughts prior to entering detention.

Suffering through a period of prolonged confinement can push people back to their worst states of mind, particularly if they have a history of mental illness, according to Zayas. The problem is particularly acute with people in family detention, where the vast majority file claims for asylum or other humanitarian exemptions from deportation. “These families aren’t prepared to be there because they’re not criminals,” Zayas said.

“This is what happens when people get desperate,” Zayas added. “This woman is suffering a mental health crisis. But we know where it’s coming from. We know what we can do to stop it.” 

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the
National

Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the
Crisis Text Line.
Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for
Suicide Prevention
for a database
of resources.

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Graduates Honor Their Immigrant Roots With Inspirational #ImmiGrad Posts

With graduation season in full swing, immigrant graduates and children of immigrants across the country are reflecting on the roads and people who led them to where they are today.

Last week, Define American ― a non-profit media and culture organization― partnered with Undocumedia to put out a call on social media encouraging graduates from immigrant families to share their personal stories using #ImmiGrad. The class of 2017 quickly obliged, posting sweet photos, touching anecdotes and heartwarming messages thanking their parents for their support, dedication and love.

Grab a box of tissues, and check out some of their posts below. 

I am a product of their hard work, of their sacrifices, and endless love. My diploma is just as much mine, as it it theirs. My long nights of studying don't even begin to compare to their endless and tired some work, all so I can go to school and not have to worry about anything other than my education. They've crossed physical borders to give me unimaginable opportunities and have ALWAYS placed my education first as well as my well being. Earning my degree and continuing my educational career towards law school is the least could do. So yea, I am a product of hardworking immigrants and im fucking proud of it. Todo lo que hago lo hago por ustedes. Gracias Mom and Dad #csulb #ImmiGrad #productodeinmigrantes #classof2017

A post shared by Jackie Carbajal✨ (@_geejackiee) on May 21, 2017 at 4:05pm PDT

I came to this country when I was 8 years old with the dream of graduating from an American university. This dream became true last Sunday when I graduated from Pomona College with a degree in International Relations. I am thankful for every person who has been there for me during these four years. I am especially grateful for my mother who has worked so hard to provide me with everything I need. Although I am proud to have graduated college, I can’t help but think of others who unfortunately don’t have access to higher education among other things. The systematic oppression of marginalized communities cannot be ignored and I hope that people in positions of power and privilege, including myself, can actively work to change the various structures that oppress communities across the country and the world. #ImmiGrad #UndocGrad

A post shared by Aldair Arriola-Gomez (@aldiarriola) on May 22, 2017 at 5:58pm PDT

Le quiero dar muchas gracias a mis padres por tomar la decisión de emigrar a nuestra familia a “el norte” en busca de nuevas oportunidades. En este país es donde he tenido la oportunidad de encontrar mi pasión y desenvolverme en mi carrera estudiantil y profesional. Gracias por siempre demostrarme que con mucho trabajo, tenacidad, y ganas de crecer uno puedo lograr cada meta que uno se proponga. Ustedes son el mejor ejemplo y los mejores maestros que he tenido. Igual como las mariposas monarcas migran entre México y los Estados Unidos ustedes me han ensenado a conocer nuevos lugares sin nunca olvidar mis raíces. Apa y Ama los quiero mucho y gracias por todo su apoyo, y como siempre me han recomendado (regañado) al fin me puse las pilas! Y cuando me vean volar recuerden….usted me pintaron las alas! I’d like to thank my parents for taking that life changing decision of immigrating to America in search for better opportunities. In the US I have had the opportunity to find my true passion and develop both my student and professional roles. Thanks for always demonstrating that with hard work, persistence, and aspirations to grow one can achieve any goal one proposes. You are the best role models and teachers I’ve had. And just as the monarch butterflies migrate between Mexico and the US, you have taught me to seek adventure in new places without forgetting where I came from. Apa y Ama I love you guys and thanks for your support, and as you have always advised me (scolded me) finally I got my act together! And when you see me fly high remember….you painted my wings! #immigrad #mexican #master #msg #gerontology #csulb

A post shared by MSG (c) (@insta_gabee) on May 24, 2017 at 9:56am PDT

30 years ago my parents carried their firstborn across El Rio on a lanchita, with the aspiration that one day their children would have a life different than theirs. Graduating from college is insignificant compared to the hardships my parents have endured. I will never be able to repay them for everything they have given my sisters and myself. No hay un día que pasa en que no pienso en todos los sacrificios que mis padres han hecho por mis hermanas y yo. Everything I do, is with them in mind. As an artist, my parents' resilience and spirit is an art form I will never be able to recreate or achieve in my lifetime. I am the fruit of their hard labor and determination, just like the fruit picked with their callused hands. When I say "borders ain't shit," I mean it con todo mi corazón. My existence and that of other immigrant children is a testament to our parents' resistance. The border does not define us. The border did not stop us, because borders ain't shit compared to us. ✊ ✊ ✊ ✊ ✊ . . . . . . #LatinxGradCaps #Latinx #Immigrad #SecondGenerationImmigrant #Graduation #CSUF #Loteria #Chicano #Xicano

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀F-Land (@f_land711) on May 23, 2017 at 1:03am PDT

The cap says it all ft. @hatecopy ‍ Today, my brother and I celebrate our crown givers, our immigrant parents. Today we graduated. We're not living the American Dream, we're living the Immigrant Dream. I never imagined my father would sacrifice his health for me so that I could get an education. During my first semester at Sac State, my father was diagnosed with a diabetic eye disease. I cannot express to you the guilt I felt after finding out. My father did not want to spend a dime on his health because he wanted to put my brother & I through school. My father suffered in silence, he kept his vision troubles to himself until one day he almost crashed his truck into oncoming traffic. My father does not have the most glamorous job. He is a farm worker that loves what he does, but with diabetes it is hard to love a job that is harsh on your body. I feel as if God has a special way of nudging us in life. If God didn't step in when he did then today my father would be blind; meaning my father wouldn't have been able to see my brother and I walk across the stage. I will be honest, I am amazed at how I got here today, but then again I know why I am here today. If my father could push through the pain, as I know he did –then I can easily place a college degree in his hardworking hands. Our parents suffer in silence so we can be blessed with success. On many occasions, I have held my father when his blood sugar was too low. On many occasions, I have been a witness to his pain. On many occasions, I have felt guilty because I wished to be the one suffering instead. When I say that I am proud to be the daughter of immigrants, I do not say this lightly. I am charmed to the moon to say that I will be the first person out of my family to go to grad school this fall. These last 5 years have been a journey, but we made it Ma & Dad! Much love & Light to the class of 2017 P.S @SacState this daughter of immigrants still has more to offer, see you in the fall ______________ #StingersUp #MadeAtSacState #SacState #GradCap #GradSchool #Immigrants #Indian #India #SouthAsian #Sikh #Graduation #Diabetes #Diabetic #SacstateGrad #immigrad

A post shared by Jassi Bassi (@jassi.kbassi) on May 20, 2017 at 7:19pm PDT

Tribute to my familia There are not enough words of gratitude so say to my mamá today….I'm so thankful for all she's done; For all her sacrifices beginning with our migration out of Ecuador, leaving our entire family behind to a place only seen in movies, not knowing the language and living in an unfamiliar environment full of people from different cultures (WNY, NJ). Yes, it is true that I accomplished this higher degree of education , but I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for my Mamita. Her hard work and patience is admirable, raising two kids on her own and both with a M.S. degrees out of #iowastateuniversity. My motivation has always been my mamá and it will continue to be as I continue onto pursuing a PhD. Este logro es para usted mamita linda, Por todos sus sacrificios al inmigrar a este país y por todo lo que usted a hecho por nosotros! La amo con toda mi alma. Seguimos Pa'Lante ! Inspired by @culturestrike 's art Done by my PiC @rcorona93 Migration is Beautiful #latinxgradcaps #migrationisbeautiful #cultureStrike #Familia # ‍ ‍ #EducatedLatina #Latinx #IMMIGRAD #DefineAmerican #latinarebels #Guerrera #AlwaysADreamer

A post shared by ⚽️ ➡️@drogo_the_sheprador (@mabe420) on May 10, 2017 at 7:43am PDT

Today I was able to participate in Chicano commencement with my family and friends. This accomplishment isn't for me, but for my entire family who has sacrificed so much for me to have the opportunities that they didn't. For my Grandpa Cruz who is watching over my family from heaven. Although he's no longer on earth, my dad still embodies his spirit in the sombrero he wears, a sombrero that once belonged to mi Abuelo. For my Grandmas who I love and miss dearly. Strong Mexican women that have raised strong children, and survived battles including poverty, illness, and cancer. For my parents, que dejaron sus vidas en la Tierra de Mexico, para dar nos la opportunidad de un sueno Americano. Who crossed the most dangerous of frontiers so that all of their children could cross the stage. And for all Unapologetic sons and daughters of immigrants across the nation that show Donald Trump that we are some #badhombres and #chingonas that are here to stay. Si se pudo. #politicalscience #2017 #csub #badhombre #heretostay #immigrad #CSUBgradcap @undocumedia

A post shared by Randy Villegas (@randy43841) on May 14, 2017 at 4:46pm PDT

Immigrants make America great! I remember the extra hours after school learning English. I remember all the teachers and classmates who said I was "good.. for a Mexican." I remember the long nights filling out scholarship applications. I remember all those who didnt have the opportunity I did to pursue further education. I also remember all of those who cheered me on. My mom and dad working long nights to keep food on the table. Teachers and peers who double checked my applications to make sure I didn't have silly grammatical errors. I remember it all. For those who can relate. Si se puede. Remember that hard-working, dedicated, and passionate immigrants, make America great. #ImmiGrad #sf #heretostay #mexico #usa #sisepuede #badhombre

A post shared by Uriel Zarate (@zarate_805) on May 17, 2017 at 11:43pm PDT

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.