By Doug Porter
At some time over next few days, President Obama will issue of executive orders pertaining to immigration. Likely options include reordering the priority list of deportation cases to dramatically expanding the 2012 “deferred action” program.
Those orders could mean allowing millions of family members to get work permits, or even allowing work permits for even broader groups, such as undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or virtually everyone who’s not considered a high priority to deport.
You can take it to the bank that the nativist wing of the GOP will be outraged. I expect to see more reporting disparaging refugees and undocumented residents. I am doubtful we’ll see a boost in reporting pointing towards the historical roots of the current crisis. So today I’ll call out a couple of stories going beyond the usual pap served up in the media.
If you haven’t read (or heard) Jill Replogle’s KPBS story entitled “Why Nicaraguan Kids Aren’t Fleeing To U.S.,” you should.
While Rep. Darrell Issa and his cohorts stand before TV cameras and issue press releases saying the waves of refugees coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are mostly coming for economic reasons, Replogle’s reporting sheds light on parts the current crisis that have been overlooked and under-reported.
Read the whole story, please. It’s most excellent. Here’s a taste:
Nicaragua is striking in its absence from the pool of child immigrants and from America’s national conversation about them.
It is the second poorest country in Latin America, behind Haiti. It is sandwiched between Honduras on the north and Costa Rica on the south.
It shares a history of revolutionary upheaval in the latter half of the 20th century with its northern Central American neighbors Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In modern times, it shares an open borders policy and economic regime with those countries.
But unlike its neighbors, Nicaragua has a relatively low crime rate, an absence of transnational gangs and a generally trusted police force that focuses on crime prevention, according to a KPBS examination of historical documents, economic information, and interviews with U.S. and Central American academics, journalists and residents.
At The Nation there is an article talking about origins of the crisis in Central American countries driving refugees to our borders.
On Friday, June 11, David de la O disappeared. He was walking home from school in rural Santa Cruz Michapa, a small city in El Salvador about an hour’s drive from San Salvador, the nation’s capital. David’s family searched for him all night, without success. The next morning, his remains were found buried in an abandoned field outside town. He had been stabbed four times in the torso; his head, arms and legs had been severed. David was only 11 years old. In fourth grade, he had been learning long division and multiplication and practicing verb tenses. With no leads to go on, the police speculated that David was killed and dismembered by gang members because he refused to join their ranks. (He went to school in an area controlled by one gang and lived in a neighborhood dominated by another.)…
…In 2013, the United Nations identified neighboring Honduras, which had ninety murders per 100,000 people in 2012, as the most violent country in the world. El Salvador was the fourth most violent; Guatemala, with forty murders per 100,000 people in 2012, the fifth.
Let’s put those numbers in perspective. The United Nations considers a rate of ten murders per 100,000 people an epidemic. If we were to apply the Honduran murder rate to New York City, where the yearly homicide rate is five per 100,000, more than 7,000 New Yorkers would be murdered per year. The rate of violence in Honduras is nearly twice that of America’s most violent city, Detroit, which has a homicide rate of fifty-five per 100,000.
More Bad News for the University of Phoenix
For-profit private universities are in the news again this week.
The Center for Investigative Reporting has obtained a copy of a state inspectors report through the California Public Records Act.
California regulators have barred the University of Phoenix from enrolling veterans in seven popular programs at its San Diego campus.
The action came after auditors found the for-profit college had violated a decades-old rule to prevent the improper targeting of veterans. The state order covers four undergraduate programs and three master’s programs, including those in management, Web development and criminology…
…The document is the result of a May 2 inspection of the campus that CIR witnessed during its investigation into for-profit colleges’ use of the GI Bill. CIR revealed that the University of Phoenix’s San Diego campus has received $95 million from the post-9/11 GI Bill since 2009 – more than any other brick-and-mortar campus in America. The school’s overall graduation rate is under 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students there default on loans within three years of leaving school.
The schools says the data used in the state report is erroneous. From KPBS:
Mark Brenner, chief of staff for the University of Phoenix’s parent company, Apollo Education Group Inc., said in a statement that only one of the campus programs — its bachelor’s degree in security and management — is out of compliance with the rule and that it received high marks in every other review category.
A recent investigation by Center for Investigative Reporting asked whether for-profit institutions with poor track records should be eligible for taxpayer dollars through the G.I. Bill. It found the University of Phoenix’s San Diego campus has an overall graduation rate of just 15 percent.
A congressional report out Tuesday shows the amount of taxpayer dollars being spent to send veterans to for-profit institutions skyrocketed between 2010 and 2013. Last year, for example, what taxpayers spent in the for-profit sector was nearly as much was spent for the entire G.I. Bill two years earlier. For-profit colleges received $1.7 billion of the $4.17 billion spent on the G.I. Bill program during the 2012-2013 school year.
The congressional report referenced above comes by way of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, a critic of the for-profit education industry who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
Here’s a snippet from the Associated Press story:
…Including Corinthian, the report finds that seven of the eight companies face investigations by states attorneys general or federal agencies for “deceptive and misleading recruiting” or other possible federal violations. Even as overall enrollment decreased at the eight schools since 2009, it says the number of veterans enrolled at these schools increased.
There Outta Be a Law…
Yeah, well, it ain’t happening any time soon. Again, from the Center for Investigative Reporting:
Legislation designed to prevent for-profit colleges from gaming the federal aid system and exploiting veterans died within 15 minutes of being introduced earlier this month.
U.S. Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, quashed the bill by ruling it nongermane to the topic of financial aid being discussed at his July 10 hearing.
Kline receives more campaign funds than any other member of Congress from the parent company of the University of Phoenix, a for-profit education giant. In an email, Kline’s spokesman, Brian Newell, said the $48,100 in contributions from the Apollo Education Group since 2011 did not influence the congressman’s decision.
God Loves Coal
Alabama State officials are claiming that God is on their side when it comes to opposing the Environmental Protection Agency on coal plant regulations.
AL.com reports on a press conference delivered by officials from the Alabama Public Service Commission and the Republican National Committee yesterday at which they argued against new EPA coal plant regulations by claiming that “coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.”
“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” asked commissioner-elect Chip Beeker.
The press conference, by the way, was held at the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.
The Pope Needs a New Lobbyist
GOP obstructionism isn’t just aimed at President Obama, according to an article in The Hill. As the congressional recess draws near, a resolution written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulating Pope Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizing “his inspirational statements and actions” apparently won’t be considered in the near future.
Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.
The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”
Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.
New Math, Fox Style
A Trail of Tears at Juvenile Hall
A City Beat story by Dave Maass dating back to 2012 is behind a probe by the San Francisco-based legal-advocacy nonprofit Youth Law Center and numerous other civil-rights groups to ask the Justice Department to take action on cases involving abuses of pepper spray by the San Diego County Probation Department at its East Mesa and Kearny Mesa juvenile facilities.
This week Maass and City Beat editor Kelly Davis reported on the latest developments in this story, which includes the release of documents they were denied access to for the original account.
What they report on amounts to cruel and unusual punishment directed at juveniles carried out by people being paid with our tax dollars.
The documents released to YLC, which the Probation Department previously denied toCityBeat, revealed that probation staff were using pepper spray routinely and indiscriminately as a first resort to gain compliance rather than only as a last resort for stopping fights.
YLC identified dozens upon dozens of cases of improper use of pepper spray. Probation staff sprayed youth at risk of suicide; youth who simply were disobedient; youth with respiratory, cardiovascular and skin problems; and youth being treated with psychotropic medication.
They used it to gas-out detainees who refused to leave their cells. They sprayed detainees as young as 12 years old. They sprayed multiple girls who refused to strip at the request of male staff.
A City Beat editorial this week calls for the dismissal of the man in charge.
Maybe now that other media are finally picking up on the story, the county Board of Supervisors will begin to give a damn. At least two members— Dave Roberts and Dianne Jacob—now say they welcome a federal investigation. Obviously, we do, too. And we appreciate state Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez immediately expressing interest in addressing the problem through statewide legislation.
But we’ve seen enough to call for supervisors to act now, by relieving Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins of his job as head of the department. There are indications that the use of pepper spray against minors in custody has continued to decline in 2014, but only after it was obvious the heat was coming down—nearly all of the incidents detailed in the Youth Law Center’s complaint occurred after our story ran in 2012. And civil-rights advocates were less than confident during their meetings with department officials that they understand their mission.
County to Citizens: You WILL Have Fun
UT-San Diego reporter Joel Hoffman tells us today that security for the County’s playground/water fountain complex down by the waterfront is costing $2.3 million annually.
It’s the only county-run recreation facility with round-the-clock security — and its own detail of armed deputy sheriffs, reassigned from other duties to patrol the park full time. Their patrols come on top of law enforcement presence in the vicinity from the San Diego Police Department and the port’s Harbor Police.
Jeff Hammett has visited the park with his wife and toddler son nearly 10 times since it opened in May. Each time, the security has been “a little excessive,” he said.
“I counted nine private security guards and two sheriffs in a two-hour period,” Hammett recalled from a recent Sunday visit. “The sheriffs were just kind of minding their own business. But the private security guards — every time I’ve been at the park, they’re harassing people.”
Personally I think this security arrangement is an example of misplaced priorities with County of San Diego.
But not everybody sees it that way:
Thank you County of SD for doing what is needed to keep this iconic park from being overrun by panhandling addicts. http://t.co/6VYC8VZB8l
— Darren Pudgil (@Pudgil) July 31, 2014
On This Day: 1961 – The first tie in All-Star Game major league baseball history was recorded when it was stopped in the 9th inning due to rain at Boston’s Fenway Park. 1969 – A Moscow police chief reported that thousands of Moscow telephone booths had been made inoperable by thieves who had stolen phone parts in order to convert their acoustic guitars to electric. 1970- Members of the National Football League Players Association begin what is to be a 2-day strike, their first. The issues: pay, pensions, the right to arbitration and the right to have agents
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