The US government continues to separate families at the border, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a ruling this week that would make it almost impossible for asylum seekers who cite fears of domestic violence or gang violence to enter or stay in the US, reducing the asylum process to “Saying a few simple words — claiming a fear of return — is now transforming a straightforward arrest for illegal entry and immediate return into a prolonged legal process.” The Washington Monthly reports, “As Pew Research has documented, the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to enter the United States from Mexico has been on the decline in recent years, while the number who are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has been on the rise. Only about one in ten of those immigrants who claim asylum are granted permanent status in the U.S. In yet another attempt to signal “a tough deterrent,” Sessions’ decision yesterday pretty much excluded the possibility of gaining asylum for any migrants from those three countries. Under federal law, asylum applicants must show that either “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion … was or will be at least one central reason” for their persecution. In a landmark case before the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2016, the precedent was set for women fleeing domestic violence to be eligible for asylum. The question was whether domestic violence fit the criteria of “membership in a particular social group” because it took place in the private sphere. The appeals board found that there was a fit because women are often unable to leave violent relationships and their governments have refused to protect them. The attorney general disagreed.” This Department of Justice ruling fits into a broader pattern of immigration enforcement under the Trump administration designed to make it harder for people to claim asylum in the US and deter would-be immigrants from attempting to the enter the country by implementing extreme measures like separating parents and children. On Thursday, Families Belong Together rallies across the country called on the administration to stop separating families.
At the annual meeting of the American Medical Associations, members endorsed a gun safety platform that included measures like raising the minimum age to buy or own guns and ammunition to 21, enacting stricter licensing and safety training requirements for gun owners, requiring registration of all firearms, blocking people with a history of domestic violence from buying or owning guns, instating gun violence restraining orders, and improving physicians’ training to recognize patients at risk of suicide (a CDC report released last week showed that guns were involved in 51% of suicides).
The Supreme Court upheld the state of Ohio’s purge of voter registration rolls when a voter does not vote for two or more years and fails to respond to state election officials. Dale Ho of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “According to a Reuters analysis in 2016, about 144,000 voters in Ohio’s three largest counties were purged. And, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in a pointed dissent, Ohio’s program has “disproportionately affected minority, low-income, disabled and veteran voters.” Indeed, the Reuters analysis found that, in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, voters in predominantly African-American neighborhoods were more than twice as likely to be purged as voters in a more affluent and whiter suburban area…” The process of challenging Ohio’s voter purge also reveals a shift away from protecting civil rights like voting at the Department of Justice: “For more than 20 years, the Department of Justice had consistently argued that purges like Ohio’s were illegal. In 2016, the Justice Department filed a brief in an appellate court supporting the challenge to Ohio’s program. But the Trump administration flipped sides when the case reached the Supreme Court, submitting a brief defending Ohio’s efforts as legal.”
National Public Radio reported on a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics that the suicide rate among women and girls is rising. "Typically there's between three and four times as many suicides among males as among females," says Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a medical epidemiologist at the NCHS and the main author of the new study. In 2016, about 21 boys or men out of 100,000 took their own lives. On the other hand, just six girls or women out of 100,000 died by suicide that year. But when Hedegaard and her colleagues compared the rise in the rates of death by suicide from 2000 to 2016, the increase was significantly larger for females — increasing by 21 percent for boys and men, as compared to 50 percent for girls and women.