What the media isn't saying about Haiti, meet Rommel Ojeda and the woes of being a street vendor

By S. Mitra Kalita and Sara Lomax-Reese


This week,

We continue our focus on Haiti, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the island and the United States' border. While the U.S. government was hoping for new elections in Haiti, its people are migrating as a result of the Aug. 14 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation, and the sense of uneasiness associated with the Haitian president's assassination in July --still remains palpable.

Meantime, the situation with new immigrants in this country continues to go sideways, particularly after Biden took office; many asylum seekers hoped that the U.S. would accept more people. Instead, in the last week or so 14,000 Haitian migrants are being assaulted, forcibly removed and deported. Our partner, The Haitian Times, recognizes this could be due to many factors, including anti-blackness in U.S. immigration policies. 

We asked Macollvie Neel, managing editor of The Haitian Times, what are the stories from the border that are not being told. While the mainstream media focuses on the thousands being detained, she told us many Haitians are being granted asylum and joining families spread out across the U.S. 

“I feel unseen and unheard and left out…feel invisible, to be honest, it seems like they should have named it differently. I don’t know how they expect undocumented people to have all of these things that they’re looking for.”
— William, about the complicated Excluded Workers Fund application process

Photo by Rommel Ojeda

Hispanic Heritage Month

In this week's newsletter, you'll see the most recent writing and photography work of Rommel H. Ojeda, a bilingual journalist and documentarian based in Queens, New York. He is an engagement reporter for our partner Documented, where he works directly with the WhatsApp community to answer questions, and share actionable information that the subscribers can use right away. 

By talking to more than 1,500 subscribers on a daily basis, Rommel uses their feedback and comments to create resources for them, and also investigate and report on stories that are relevant to the community.

Some of Ojeda's previous work includes a deep-dive about the immigration system which Documented published in early June. In early July, Ojeda profiled private schools in Massachusetts and New York and their efforts to diversify the student body. These schools feature unique payment agreements such as the "Pay What You Can" model to help create opportunity for students who couldn't normally afford a private education.

Other reads from Ojeda:
Latin American Immigrants Can’t Reach Their Consulates
ITIN Delays Are Keeping Undocumented Workers From Relief Funds

Photo by Southern Solidarity

Taking on the Pandemic
While bars, restaurants and sports venues are opening back up, the pandemic is far from over. Epicenter spoke with a doctor about the effects of the vaccine on the immunocompromised

On this week's "Reality Check," WURD spoke with two infectious disease experts on emerging COVID-19 antibodies and other therapeutic treatments available.
The Haitian Times reports the Delta and Mu variants are popping up in Haiti, prompting a renewed push to get more of its residents vaccinated. 

Finally, Scalawag's special series "Breaking Through COVID" continues with a story that looks at the intersection between the pandemic and homelessness and how groups like Southern Solidarity (pictured above) are tackling the issue. A second report focuses on how efforts to combat the opioid epidemic have been pushed to the side because of a hyper-focus on COVID safety and vaccinations. 

Photo by Rommel Ojeda

Making Ends Meet
The pandemic continues to take an economic toll on certain segments of the population. Our partner Documented is sharing the stories of the unemployed. For instance, as more and more people turned to street vending, NYC law enforcement is cracking down and are fining more vendors, more often. Documented is outlining the story from the side of both the street vendors and those who are not happy with their increased numbers. 

Documented is continuing its coverage on the Excluded Workers Fund. Another problem has popped up: most of the workers are paid in cash. This makes the application process difficult. 
Finally, home health workers in Chinatown are protesting poor working conditions. They're being forced to work without adequate breaks and aren't being fully paid for their work. 

What we're loving this week from our partners
+ WURD is helping its listeners (and readers!) by discussing ways to improve credit scores. 
Shirley Hawkins for Palabra is covering  how one area of Los Angeles is poised to be gentrified and the groups on the ground trying to stop it. 
While the big news is that New Jersey is no longer contracted with ICE, Documented is following some of the nuances of the story, including the problems current detainees will face as they are moved out of facilities and separated from their families and attorneys
+ Elvis Costello is re-releasing his album "This Year's Model" in Spanish by collaborating with 19 different artists. Palabra has the details on how this creative work came together.

Join URL Media Events

Once a month, you can catch URL Media on The Laura Flanders Show on select PBS stations for a conversation that centers the stories, issues and concerns that our BIPOC media partners are following. 

Join co-founders Sara Lomax-Reese and Mitra Kalita this Sunday, September 26 for the debut of this episode. It will air at 11:30 EDT on the Laura Flanders Show Youtube page, followed by a live talkback at 12:00 EDT

In this month's episode we’re talking about a powerful story that we published recently called “A Racial Reckoning in the Big Banks: Black Business Still Waiting for the Payout.”  It's part of our Lively-HOOD initiative exploring work and wealth in BIPOC communities. In this is the first piece in a series we looked at the billions of dollars big banks have pledged to Black and Brown organizations in the aftermath of the racial justice protests last year.  The question we explore is: are the banks actually delivering on their promises and is the money reaching those most in need?

The conversation features three extraordinary guests who help us unpack all of this: Madhu Bora, the reporter who researched and wrote this article. Dr. Wayne Williams, an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. And Nicole Ndumele, the Vice President for Racial Equity and Justice, Center for American Progress. Both Dr. Willians and Ms. Ndumele was interviewed for the article.

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