August 16, 2019
A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the PBS program Frontline documents patterns of abuse of children placed in foster care after being separated from family members at the border. AP published a story about the investigation today, including details from lawsuits that could total close to $200 million - with many more potentially coming.
Children who cross the border alone, or who become “unaccompanied” as the result of family separation, are generally placed through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The children end up in community shelters,with foster families, or detained in larger camps until they can be placed with a family member or a community sponsor.
Patterns of abuse against immigrant children have been well documented. From being given psychotropic drugs, or denied adequate medical care, to being sexually assaulted, often at the hands of other children in custody, children suffer enormously in this system. These conditions have existed for years. Indeed, the potentially precedent setting case for some of the lawsuits pending was a $125,000 settlement concerning treatment of a child and mother from Honduras threatened with separation during Obama’s presidency. However, under the current administration, the scale of abuse, given the increase in incarceration generally, and the policy of separating children from family members in large numbers, leaves the government open to potentially billions in lawsuits.
Public charge rule would impact millions of working class families
In an interesting blog post yesterday, the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Shawn Fremstad looks at the “arcane ‘public charge’ immigration rule which is currently in the headlines because of a complicated and frightening expansion of the rule by the Trump administration.” He notes:
Under the longstanding law and policy that existed before the new regulations, US citizens who marry foreign nationals had to show that their spouse was not likely to be institutionalized or end up wholly dependent on income-tested cash assistance (like SSI or TANF) in the future. Under the new rule, they will not be able to obtain visas, known as green cards, for their spouses if a front-line immigration official decides that their spouse is “likely at any time in the future” to receive even small amounts of Medicaid, SNAP, and certain other benefits.
Fremstad pulls out data on Medicaid access as an example of how many people could potentially fall under a public charge designation under the new rule (nearly 1 in 6) - and makes clear that they do not meet the profile of a “public charge” by any measure. As access to such programs is widespread, the impact on immigrant spouses and partners is enormous, if they fall under a public charge designation and are denied permanent residency.
Related: Protecting Immigrant Families has an excellent fact sheet available on the changing public charge rule. You can view here, and share it.
Activists attacked at Rhode Island Protest
From the Washington Post:
The protesters were sitting on the pavement to block staff from parking at a Rhode Island prison that works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement when a black pickup truck swerved toward them. The protesters shouted as the driver laid on the horn, and the truck briefly stopped.
And then, the driver hit the gas.
In a viral video captured by bystanders, the protesters screamed and jumped out of the way. Several were struck, according to organizers of the Wednesday night demonstration at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I. Some were treated at a hospital, though none were severely injured.
“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action, a Jewish activist group that planned the protest, told The Washington Post. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.”
The driver of the truck worked at the ICE facility. Rhode Island’s attorney general will be investigating events.