The Office of Refugee Resettlement is canceling English-language classes, recreational opportunities, and legal assistance for unaccompanied children held in federal migrant shelters, with Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber citing financial pressure and describing these activities as “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation.” Federal court settlements require that education and recreational activities be available to all children held in federal custody. The Washington Post reports that, on average, “12,500 children and youths were held in federal shelters nationwide in April, according to HHS. They stayed an average of 48 days until a case worker could place them with a sponsor, usually a relative. While they wait in the shelters, minors attend school, study math and English and participate in extracurricular activities such as ping-pong, soccer or other sports.”
The New York Times reports on how changing climate conditions are forcing people to migrate from Guatemala and other Central American countries: “The weather has changed, clearly,” said Flori Micaela Jorge Santizo, a 19-year-old woman whose husband has abandoned the fields to find work in Mexico. She noted that drought and unprecedented winds have destroyed successive corn crops, leaving the family destitute, adding, “And because I had no money, my children died.”
Customs and Border Protection is now holding approximately 19,000 people in custody. Mother Jones reports that “overcrowding in detention facilities is putting migrants’ lives at risk. CBP said on Monday that two people had died after being stopped at the border. Six children have died after being taken into custody at the border since September. Prior to those deaths, no children had died in CBP custody in more than a decade.” Colleen Kraft, a pediatrician and former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, writes in the Houston Chronicle that "no child should be subjected to these facilities... no amount of time in detention is safe for a child. Even short amounts of time in detention are harmful. When children are detained, they experience physical and emotional stress, placing them at risk for serious short- and long-term health problems. Congress must immediately reject the proposal to extend the time children and families spend in detention… Children are not just small adults, and their signs of illness are subtle. They need providers who can recognize the differences between a mildly ill child and a seriously ill child. America needs to stop detaining and separating children from their parents and stop threatening the community of family members, caregivers and sponsors by putting their housing, financial security, and immigration status in jeopardy. Most of all, our country needs to ensure that no child ever again dies on our watch."
A government inquiry has found that Canada is complicit in a “race-based genocide” against indigenous women and girls. “The report cited research finding indigenous women were 12 times more likely to be killed or to disappear than other women in Canada…. The inquiry blamed the crisis on deep-rooted colonialism and state inaction… "Despite their different circumstances and backgrounds, all of the missing and murdered are connected by economic, social, and political marginalisation, racism and misogyny woven into the fabric of Canadian society," said Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the inquiry.” In the US, "over 5,700 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing as of 2016, according to the National Crime Information Center, but only 116 of those cases were logged with the Department of Justice. Eighty-four percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice. A 2008 study found that women in some tribal communities are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average." CBS News reports on legislative efforts underway in the US to establish better coordination between federal and tribal agencies, require the Justice Department to standardize guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native women, and require that statistics be reported regularly to Congress: “"Right now it's almost like nobody knows how to deal with this issue, and that's one of the reasons why it's been kicked aside for so long," said Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, one of the first Native American women to be elected to Congress, in a conference call with reporters. "Congress has never had a voice like mine, a Native American woman who sees the blind spots that have existed for far too long."
The Human Rights Measurement Initiative released a new report this week examining three broad categories of human rights around the world: empowerment, safety from the state, and quality of life. Vox reports on their findings: “The empowerment category comprises three political and civil rights: the right to assembly and association; the right to opinion and expression; and the right to participate in government. The US empowerment score was just 4.9 out of 10. This “tells us that many people in the U.S. are not enjoying their civil rights and political freedoms,” the report says… This category is damning for its view on discrimination. Experts unanimously put “people of particular races” at the top of its at-risk assessment, finding that people of color are least likely to have the right to participate in government.” In the category of “safety from the state,” HRMI found the US violating human rights by continuing to execute prisoners in some states, exposure to police violence, and risk of arbitrary detention and deportation for refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants. “The quality of life category includes four economic and social rights: the right to food, education, health, housing, and work… [in the US,] people of color fare extremely poorly on all the human rights measured… “On civil and political rights, the United States is the worst performing high-income democracy in our sample,” the report said.
In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure to restore voting rights to 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions. The Florida legislature, however, passed legislation requiring these re-enfranchised Floridians to pay all outstanding court fines, fees, and judgments (totaling well over $1 billion for 1.5 million people) before they’re allowed to exercise their right to vote. “It’s blatantly unconstitutional as a poll tax,” Democratic Rep. Adam Hattersley told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to Jim Crow-era policies designed to keep black people and people of color out of the voting booth… There are myriad reasons why paying back court fines would be challenging for the formerly incarcerated… the unemployment rate for people with felony convictions is 27 percent, For people of color and women, that number is even higher (black women who were incarcerated are unemployed at a rate of 43.6 percent). Debt also accrues while someone is in prison or in jail; it’s not unusual for people with convictions to reenter society thousands of more dollars in debt.”
Writing for Medium, Laura Choi of the San Francisco Federal Reserve looks at the connections between poverty, race, place, and social exclusion and the need for equitable community development, citing PI’s work on the pillars of wellbeing. “As we look to the future, the field has the opportunity to deepen our understanding of how community development efforts can be designed to strengthen the mental health and well-being of the populations it serves. The Prevention Institute’s “Pillars of Well-being” (Fig. 6) provides a helpful conceptual framework for understanding the key elements needed for people and communities to thrive. These pillars of well-being, such as belonging, dignity, and hope, are absolutely central to achieving the goals of community development and must be lifted up with greater intention. They also bind us together in our shared humanity and can serve as a unifying vision across sectors. As we look to make changes across our systems, we can ask ourselves-how do our policies and the design of our communities uphold these pillars?”