Over 6,000 migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America are living in overcrowded, unsanitary facilities designed to house one-third as many people in Tijuana as they await the opportunity to apply for asylum at an official US port of entry. Reuters reports that, “ to seek asylum, migrants must first sign onto a waiting list to see US border officials. The list already had a weeks-long backlog before the caravan came. Adding to uncertainty are US-Mexico talks aimed at keeping migrants in Mexico longer… The overcrowding has also helped illness spread. There have been multiple cases of respiratory illnesses, lice and chicken pox…” Vox reports that, “before 2016, and in some cases as recently as six months ago, they would have had no problem and no delay. But for the last several months, the administration has made a practice of limiting the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter the US each day — a policy it calls “metering.” It’s the counterpart of... months-long crackdown on asylum seekers entering the US illegally — telling those who do try to come legally that there’s no room for them, and ordering them to wait. They don’t say how long the wait will be. And there’s no line for asylum seekers to wait in — no official way for them to hold their spot or secure an appointment, no guarantee that they’ll ever be allowed to cross.” A group of women are now on hunger strike, protesting the delays they face as they seek asylum. "There is nothing worse than to live on the run, withstanding hunger," one of the women said in a press conference live streamed by immigrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras. "We are not afraid." On Sunday, US border guards fired tear gas at a group of migrants – including many children – who were attempting to cross the border. A leaked government memo revealed that President Trump authorized the use of “lethal force, where necessary” against migrants attempting to cross the southern border.
A new report from the United Nations finds that 137 women are killed every day by a partner or family member, claiming the lives of approximately 50,000 women and girls in 2017 alone. According to the report, “as this research shows, gender-related killings of women and girls remain a grave problem across regions, in countries rich and poor. While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, killed by strangers, women are far more likely to die at the hands of someone they know. Women killed by intimate partners or family members account for 58 per cent of all female homicide victims reported globally last year, and little progress has been made in preventing such murders.”
The latest installment of the National Climate Assessment, conducted by the US Global Change Research Program and released the day after Thanksgiving, finds that – by the end of the century – “warming on our current trajectory would cost the US economy upward of $500 billion a year through crop damage, lost labor, and extreme weather. This is almost double the economic blow of the Great Recession in the early 2000s,” and observes that “the impacts and costs of climate change are already being felt in the United States, and changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming.” Climate change is expected to worsen air quality, increase heat-related deaths, and widen the range of viruses like West Nile and Zika. A new report from the United Nations finds that countries are failing to meet their commitments made as part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement: Gunnar Luderer, one of the authors of the UN report and senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “There is still a tremendous gap between words and deeds, between the targets agreed by governments and the measures to achieve these goals. Only a rapid turnaround here can help. Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 [to keep warming to no more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels] and for 1.5C emissions would have to be halved.”
A federal judge is expected to rule within the next few weeks on whether or not the US Commerce Department can include a citizenship question on the 2020 US Census. The New York Times reports that, by the end of the trial, “Justice Department lawyers had all but conceded that asking about citizenship would lead to an undercount of noncitizens and minorities. They argued instead that the government could deploy waves of extra census-takers — at additional millions of dollars in federal cost — to track those who do not respond…. The government’s critics say the effects of the decision could be tremendous. No general census has asked respondents to reveal their citizenship status since 1950. The plaintiffs contend that adding that requirement in 2020, amid the administration’s high-profile campaign to block new immigrants and deport undocumented ones, will prompt even legal immigrants and minorities to boycott the census for fear of being targeted.”
This week, Senator Mazie Hirono introduced the Health Equity & Accountability Act: “Minority communities and other traditionally underserved populations have faced health care disparities for decades, and we have a long way to go to ensure that these communities have equal, affordable access to culturally competent health care services,” Senator Hirono said. “HEAA lays out a bold blueprint to deliver on the idea that quality, affordable health care is truly a right for all and not a privilege reserved for some. I thank my Senate and House colleagues, and the hundreds of advocacy groups who support HEAA for their work to ensure that all Americans can access and afford the care that may save their lives.”
The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to legalize sidewalk vending and implement a permit program. This follows a decade-long campaign by street vendors, many of whom are immigrants and/or people of low income. In a press release, the LA Food Policy Council celebrated this victory: “The livelihood and well being of vendors across the city will be protected through the establishment of a permit system” says Isela Gracian, President of East LA Community Corporation, which has played a key role in building a movement of vendors for nearly a decade. A permit system allows for vendors to arrive at their specific locations during specified vending hours instead of having to arrive hours ahead of time in heavy-traffic area. Sidewalk vendors echoed this sentiment. “I will no longer have to arrive at 2am to ensure my spot is saved,” explains Santa Huerta, street vendor in the Fashion District. “A permit system allows me to get there many hours later and doesn’t put me in a potentially dangerous situation.” … Doug Smith, Staff Attorney at Public Counsel and a member of the California Street Vendor Campaign, expressed that “citywide legalization protects low-income immigrants and workers and unlocks new opportunity for entrepreneurship throughout Los Angeles.” Further, he adds, “the permit system provides security for vendors, and creates a legal framework for protecting them in the case of conflict.”