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National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild;
Just days after winning election, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he intends to round up and deport up to 3 million immigrants.
Such a plan, if carried out immediately, would require a massive – and costly – expansion of America's prison and detention infrastructure at a time when politicians and policymakers across the ideological spectrum are working to reduce the nation's prison population, the world's largest.
And it would likely be a major boost to the fortunes of private prison companies that profit from incarceration – even though most studies show that privately operated prisons are generally more dangerous, less effective and no less expensive than government-run facilities.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to add 10,000 beds to its immigrant detention system, increasing the capacity to 45,000 immigrants per day. But, as a result of Trump's proposed deportation plan, the DHS could need many thousands more. Unsurprisingly, private prison stocks have soared since Trump's election.
An expansion of the immigrant detention system threatens to greatly exacerbate the mass incarceration crisis in America. And it would violate our nation's basic values and cement our reputation as a country intolerant of immigrants.
The findings of this study demonstrate that the immigrant detention system is already rife with civil rights violations and poor conditions that call into question the DHS's commitment to the due process rights and safety of detainees. Many of these detainees have lived here for years; others recently fled violence in their home countries to seek refuge in the United States.
This report is the result of a seven-month investigation of six detention centers in the South, a region where tens of thousands of people are locked up for months, sometimes even years, as they await hearings or deportation.
The South is a leader in immigration detention, holding one out of every six detainees in the United States. A closer look makes it clear why it holds this distinction.
Detained immigrants in the South are frequently denied the opportunity of a bond hearing that would free them until their cases are adjudicated.
The region's immigration courts, which are often inaccessible to the public, are hostile to immigrants not fortunate enough to have an attorney. And so they wait behind bars in remote Southern facilities virtually indistinguishable from prisons. Many of the facilities are former jails or prisons that were shut down after civil rights investigations and lawsuits revealed poor conditions and abuse.
Now, it's the detainees who face abusive and dangerous conditions at these facilities, which fail to meet basic legal and regulatory standards. And it's the detainees who often find there is little hope for release as their due process rights are denied.
The investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the Adelante Alabama Worker Center focuses on detention centers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Three are operated by private companies and three by county sheriffs. All are paid by the DHS on a per diem basis.
The report is based on tours of each facility and more than 300 in-person interviews with detainees. They represent more than 5 percent of the average daily population of the detention centers studied. From facility to facility, their stories are remarkably similar accounts of abuse, neglect and rights denied – symptoms of an immigrant detention system where the failures of the nation's immigration system intersect with the failures of its prison system.
Center for Family Policy and Practice;
Parents who are behind in child support payments—called "arrears"—may, by federal law, owe a significant portion to the government to reimburse cash assistance that their child's household received from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Because African-American families are much more likely than others to have received TANF cash benefits, black parents who are court-ordered to pay child support are also much more likely to owe child support debt to the government.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
Crossroads Resource Center;
This report lays out strategic recommendations for creating sustainable local food systems, both short and long-term, specific to the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas region. Recommendations range from creating a registry of farmable lands to prioritize land preservation to expanding composting programs and increasing access to capital, on-farm infrastructure, and land for new farmers.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
Why is there so much difference in the health of residents in one county compared to other counties in the same state? In this report, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program explores how wide gaps are throughout Louisiana and what is driving those differences. This information can help Louisiana state leaders as they identify ways for everyone to have a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible. Specifically, this document can help state leaders understand: 1. What health gaps are and why they matter 2. The size and nature of the health gaps among parishes within Louisiana 3. What factors are influencing the health of residents, and 4. What state and local communities can do to address health gaps.
United Way Worldwide;
Through a series of new, standardized measurements, the United Way ALICE Reports present a broad picture of financial insecurity at the county and town level, and the reasons for why. What we found was startling -- the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially is much higher than traditional federal poverty guidelines suggest. The United Way ALICE Project is a grassroots movement stimulating a fresh, nonpartisan national dialogue about how to reverse the trend and improve conditions for this growing population of families living paycheck to paycheck.
Violence Policy Center;
The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.
This study examines the problem of black homicide victimization at the state level by analyzing unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data for black homicide victimization submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The information used for this report is for the year 2012 and is the most recent data available. This is the first analysis of the 2012 data on black homicide victims to offer breakdowns of cases in the 10 states with the highest black homicide victimization rates and the first to rank the states by the rate of black homicide victims.
It is important to note that the SHR data used in this report comes from law enforcement reporting at the local level. While there are coding guidelines followed by the law enforcement agencies, the amount of information submitted to the SHR system, and the interpretation that results in the information submitted (for example, gang involvement) will vary from agency to agency. While this study utilizes the best and most recent data available, it is limited by the quantity and
degree of detail in the information submitted.
Center for Popular Democracy;
This report echoes a warning from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General. The report draws upon news reports, criminal complaints and more to detail how, in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more. The report also includes recommendations for policymakers on how they can address the problem of rampant fraud, waste and abuse in the charter school industry. Both organizations recommend pausing charter expansion until these problems are addressed.
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.;
This report presents findings from an impact evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Maximizing Enrollment grant program on the enrollment of children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Implemented from early 2009 through early 2013, the program funded eight states seeking to maximize the coverage of uninsured children who were eligible for these two major public insurance programs. The eight states included: Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
American Mental Health Counselors Association;
This comprehensive study shows that 6.7 million uninsured people with a mental illness are currently eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But the majority of these individuals with mental health conditions will be left out in the coverage cold due to their state's antagonism toward the Medicaid Expansion health insurance initiative.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
Since 2009, the eight states (Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin) participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Maximizing Enrollment program have worked to streamline and simplify enrollment systems, policies, and processes for children and those eligible for health coverage in 2014. The participating states aimed to reduce enrollment barriers for consumers and administrative burdens in processing applications and renewals for staff by making improvements and simplifications at every step of the enrollment process. Although the states began their work before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), their efforts positioned them well for implementation in 2014, and offer experiences and lessons that other states may find useful in their efforts to improve efficiency, lower costs, and promote responsible stewardship of limited public resources.
The U.S. Gulf Coast is endowed with exceptional natural beauty and ecological diversity, including wetlands, waters, beaches, forests, and all the wildlife that inhabit them. Wildlife tourism constitutes a major regional "industry." Each year, wildlife watching, recreational fishing, and hunting draw 20 million participants annually in the five states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The wildlife tourism industry consists not only of wildlife guide and outfitter businesses that directly serve wildlife tourists, but also the lodging and dining establishments where they eat and sleep.
Wildlife tourism depends on healthy ecosystems, which are the region's "natural capital." However, the future health and productivity of these ecosystems are in peril, in part due to natural events, such as storms, but also because human activities have altered the natural hydrology and halted natural processes, leading to severe land loss and a decrease in the health of the region's estuaries.
For example, one of the most significant and far-reaching alterations is the channelization of the Mississippi River within its delta. This deltaic system has historically played a key role in the ecologic and economic well-being of the Northern Gulf of Mexico. While the channelization of the river by an extensive levee system has benefitted commerce, ports, and communities, this way of managing the river has all but stopped the natural deltaic processes that once built and maintained the regions wetlands and barrier islands. Dredging and construction of a vast network of canals and pipelines for the oil and gas industry have also caused considerable damage to the wetlands and wildlife. These human alterations, combined with natural processes, such as wetlands subsidence, extreme weather and sea-level rise, have led to a loss of nearly 1,900 square miles of land since 1932. Large-scale land loss and decrease in water quality throughout the Gulf threatens wildlife, habitats and the tourism activities they make possible. Without bold action, the Gulf Coast economy risks losing billions of dollars in revenue.
In 2012, Congress passed the RESTORE Act, legislation mandating that 80% of Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill go to the five Gulf Coast states to restore the ecosystem and economy. Supplementing the RESTORE Act funds, Gulf states are expected to receive significant new revenues from settlement of BP's criminal liability for the oil spill (administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation), and from payments for damages from the spill under NRDA (the federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment process). Combined, these new revenue sources provide an unprecedented opportunity to reverse decades of harm to the Gulf Coast and to begin restoring the environment to a healthy and resilient condition.Because a healthy ecosystem is at the heart of the region's economy, restoring the Gulf ecosystem is the best way to help the region economically. Owners of wildlife tourism businesses who were interviewed for this study clearly indicated what is at stake for their industry; where ecosystems can no longer support wildlife, visitors have no reason to come. This suggests the urgency of restoring ecosystems to avoid losing a key part of the economy. Funds from the RESTORE Act and other legal settlements provide an unprecedented opportunity to protect not only the coastal environment but also one of the region's most important economic drivers.