A pilot program in Chicago, called Grounds for Peace, will employ victims and perpetrators of gun violence to transform 50 vacant city-owned lots in Chicago’s west- and south-side neighborhoods into community gardens. This initiative is modeled on a similar program in Philadelphia that connected greening vacant lots with improvements in public safety. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “We wanted to try to use (Grounds for Peace) as a tool to deal with gun violence in the city… Our thought was to see if we could go into areas that had the highest rates of violence and see if it had an impact.”
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights condemned the United States government for inhumane conditions in migrant detention centers: “In most of these cases, the migrants and refugees have embarked on perilous journeys with their children in search of protection and dignity and away from violence and hunger,” she said. “When they finally believe they have arrived in safety, they may find themselves separated from their loved ones and locked in undignified conditions. This should never happen anywhere… As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions.” The House Oversight Committee continues to examine conditions facing migrants and investigate the administration’s immigration policies, including last year’s zero-tolerance policy that resulted in many families being separated upon crossing the border. This week, the committee heard testimony from the mother of a young girl who died after being denied medical treatment while in detention. The mother and daughter were seeking asylum in the US after fleeing Guatemala. Through a translator, Yasmin Juarez said, “So we came to the United States where I hoped to build a better, safer life for us… Unfortunately that did not happen. Instead I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully just a few months before her second birthday.” A committee report released today found that at least 18 children under the age of two were separated from their families for weeks or months as a result of administration policies. In the cases of some of these young children, the committee was unable to determine whether they had yet been reunited with their families.
President Trump announced on Thursday that the 2020 census will not include a citizenship question. TalkingPointsMemo reports that, at the same time, the president and attorney general “made clear that they were doubling down on a central goal of putting the question on the census: ... ordering the Commerce Department to collect citizenship data from other government agencies" with the intention for states to redraw legislative districts based on the population of US citizens, rather than total population.
A lawsuit brought by 18 state attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Texas v. Azar, was heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this week. In a 2018 ruling, a district court judge found the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional after the penalty associated with the individual mandate to purchase health insurance was removed. In an interview with Vox, Georgetown University health insurance reform expert Katie Keith said that, “Even if [the Fifth Circuit] conclude[s] that the penalty-less mandate is unconstitutional, the case should be reversed on severability.”
As of last week, all five soda-related bills moving through the California Legislature have stalled, thus becoming two-year bills, or been voted down. The bills would have created a statewide 2c-per-ounce soda tax, banned large fountain drinks, banned the sale of sugary drinks in grocery checkout lanes, added a health warning label to sugary drinks, and prohibited certain discounts on these products.
NextCity reports on the attempt to pursue equitable development of public spaces in a Greenville, South Carolina, neighborhood that is beginning to experience gentrification and displacement: “The planned 60-acre Unity Park, scheduled to open in 2021, will not only incorporate the site and history of Mayberry Park into its footprint. The plan also takes into account city-owned land surrounding the park — land that usually would be sold to developers as the park development got underway and real estate values rose. In this case, however, the city is maintaining control of that land and earmarking specifically it for affordable housing, as well as mixed-use commercial and residential buildings.”