You won’t have missed the news about the planned–and cancelled–deportation raids, nor the children kept in egregious conditions on the border, nor the planned–and cancelled–attack on Iran. Still, we’re covering these issues because we think they are the tip of the iceberg. We try to provide a glimpse of the rest, along with some strategies to keep us from careening into it. (Titanic metaphor deliberate.)
1. Children caring for children in detention
The special mix of cruelty and surreality that underlies federal treatment of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum was on full display recently before a 9th Circuit Court panel on June 18, when a Justice Department representative argued that a legal settlement requiring “safe and sanitary” facilities for such detainees does not require provision of soap and toothbrushes nor does it require any sleeping accommodations beyond cement floors and foil blankets.
The “safe and sanitary” requirement came out of the 1985 Flores Agreement that established guidelines for the humane detention, treatment, and release of minors taken into federal custody. The Department of Justice Representative pointed out that the [Flores] agreement did not specifically enumerate things like soap and bedding and that, therefore, those conditions were “left to agencies to determine.” U.S. Circuit Judge William Fletcher responded, “or it was relatively obvious. And at least obvious enough so that if you’re putting people in a crowded room to sleep on a cement floor with an aluminum foil blanket on top of them that it doesn’t comply with the agreement.”
Meanwhile the Associated Press (AP) has released an article describing conditions for detained children at a Customs and Border Patrol facility outside El Paso, Texas. The article is based on interviews conducted by a legal team with sixty of those children. On June 19 there were three infants in the station, all with their teen mothers, along with a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and a 3-year-old. There are dozens more under 12. Fifteen have the flu, and 10 more are quarantined. Older children look after younger children: an eight-year-old has been looking after a four-year-old; a group of girls ages ten to fifteen have been caring for a two-year-old who needs constant holding. The daily menu is monotonous: oatmeal, a cookie, and a sweetened drink for breakfast; instant noodles for lunch; a burrito and a cookie for dinner. Meals do not include fruits and vegetables. Children have gone for weeks without bathing or a change of clothes. The AP quotes Holly Cooper, a member of the interview team and co-direct of UC Davis’ Immigrant Law Clinic, saying “In twenty-two years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.” S-HP
To speak up about the conditions of children in detention, write to those on this list.
2. Protests and responses to incarcerated kids
The news coverage of the children in this detention center has been widespread. PBS has an interview with Warren Binford, the professor who was on site A Marketwatch piece last year suggested that the best way to help parents separated from their children is to post their bail.
In response to the circumstances of children in detention, various actions have launched. Three Texas educators and parents, Nathanael O’Reilly, Tricia Jenkins and Jeremy Bennett, raised $3000 in 12 hours to buy basic toiletries and provisions for the children in the Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas. If they are not permitted to deliver them, they will take the supplies to Annunciation House in El Paso, which provides services to immigrants. The fundraiser is closed; the organizers recommend that people contribute to Annunciation House, RAICES Texas, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio, or Angry Tias and Abuelas, who take food and a backpack with daily hygiene supplies to immigrants leaving detention and provide transportation to respite houses. See the CBS story about them. Outside of Texas, the Florence Project provides legal and social services to men, women and children threatened with deportation in Arizona, where 5000 refugees per day are detained.
Lights for Liberty is organizing vigils in many cities for July 12. Amy Siskind (Americans of Conscience Checklist) has a public post on Facebook where various people are posting places to donate and actions to take. RLS
3. Raids delayed for two weeks
On June 17, Trump announced that “millions” of people in the country illegally would be arrested and deported in a coordinated series of raids. The raids were designed to apprehend parents with children. The logistics for families were harrowing, as parents could be deported while children were in school or day care. ICE officials had said that the raids were not imminent and that they had not known that Trump intended to announce them, according to the Washington Post.
Then, on Saturday, Trump announced by tweet that he would delay the raids for two weeks, unless Democrats agree to changes in asylum law. Nancy Pelosi had phoned Trump to ask him to call off the raids and publicly urged Trump to cancel the raids. Insiders in Homeland Security themselves were debating the viability of Sunday’s proposed raids, partially because detention facilities are overcrowded and because they believe sustained, unannounced raids over a period of time are more effective. The New York Times quoted thirteen-year-old Candi has saying, “I am kind of happy. But if it happens in two weeks I am still scared. I don’t want to lose my mom.” RLS
Various organizations have resources to help individuals and groups respond to immigration raids.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has “Know Your Rights” flyers in multiple languages.
You can print or order “red cards” that explain people’s rights from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC).
United We Dream has a whole page of resources for assisting immigrants, in everything from education to mental health.
The Immigrant Defence Project has a toolkit for dealing with ICE raids.
The ACLU has a video in multiple languages that explains what to do if ICE arrives on your doorstep.
Lawyers for Good Government suggests a variety of steps individuals can take to support the legal rights of asylum seekers.
4. Trump not attacking Iran–yet
In response to the shooting down of an American drone, Trump asserted that he cancelled a planned attack on three sites in Iran with 10 minutes to spare after he learned that it would have killed 150 people. However, other sources say that he knew all along what the death toll would be, according to the New York Times. The Times also says that there are two different versions of what happened coming from Iran: one that Iran intended to shoot down the drone and the other that a rogue official ordered it. Complicating these narratives is the statement by an unnamed Trump administration official–buried in the middle of the New York Times article–who said that the drone–or another American aircraft–may indeed have violated Iranian airspace.
Instead of launching missiles, the US launched a cyber-attack instead, according to Vox. It has received comparatively little coverage.
Nicholas Kristof has a valuable column in the June 22 NY Times, in which he demonstrates that Trump’s strategy of applying “maximum pressure” to complex situations invariably backfires, and suggesting a set of principles for interventions. For background on the apparently inexorable drive toward war on Iran, see Conn Hallinan’s book review in Foreign Policy in Focus last fall. RLS
It’s Time to Fight has issued a list of recommended responses including the following. You can get a script for phone calls if you follow Celeste Pewter on Twitter–which is worth doing anyway. She’s a former political staffer who sends out an email action list.
*ask Congressmembers to condemn the Trump administration’s initial decision to go forward with strikes without Congressional approval, particularly in light of the fact that the House had voted to end the 9/11 authorization for use of force the previous day-
*remind White House they cannot revisit issue of strikes without Congressional approval
*declare public support for an independent investigation, as requested by the European Union, into the alleged Iranian attack on a tanker, rather than unilateral action
*request an investigation by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to consider the following: why was the order to stand down issued after the strikes were initiated, planes were in the air, and ships were in place? What decision-making process is the White House using to decide whether to initiate strikes? S-HP
5. Foreign aid ending to three Central American countries
The State Department has announced its intention to end all foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador until these countries take “concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the U.S. border,” Axios reports. Currently, World Bank data place the poverty rate in these countries as follows: Honduras, 66% (2016, most recent year available); Guatemala, 59.3% (2014, most recent year available); and El Salvador, 31% (2016, most recent year available). While cross-national comparisons are difficult, we can note that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the U.S. poverty rate at 12.3% in 2017 (most recent year available). CIA data on Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador note significant numbers of “internally displaced persons” (those forced to relocate involuntarily within a country, but not immigrating outside of that country) due to violence, extortion, forced gang recruitment, ongoing drug cartel violence, and ongoing gang violence. Given these data, it’s hard to see how foreign aid cuts will reduce migration—except, perhaps, through extreme militarization of borders, which will do nothing to address the challenges of violence and poverty faced by these countries’ residents. As California Senator Kamala Harris put it in a recent posting, “Refugees are fleeing violence in Central America and these [foreign aid] investments are crucial to addressing the root of these problems. Gutting resources isn’t the answer.” S-HP
If you have things to say about this policy, here’s whom to write.
6. Happy Pride. Good news/bad news
Popular Information has raised questions about the accuracy of the Human Rights Campaign Fund’s (HRCF) “Corporate Equity Index,” which it uses to identify the best workplaces for LGBTQ employees. Companies hoping to win this recognition must respond to a detailed questionnaire produced by the HRCF. Components of the index include policies regarding LGBTQ employees and advocacy on LGBTQ issues.
The HRCF also publishes a Congressional Scorecard, that examines Congressmembers’ votes on confirmation of anti-gay cabinet officials, healthcare for transgendered troops, and similar issues. Here’s where things get interesting. Popular Information has identified nine companies that received perfect Equity Index scores from the HRCF, but that also donated nearly $1 million or more from 2017 to 2018 to campaigns of Congressmembers who had received a zero rating on the HRCF Congressional Scorecard. Those companies are
-AT&T, which gave $2.75+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-UPS, which gave $2.3+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-Comcast, which gave $2.1+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-Home Depot, which gave $1.8+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-General Electric, which gave $1.3+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-FedEx, which gave $1.2+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-UBS, which gave $1+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-Verizon, which gave $1+ million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
-Pfizer, which gave just under $1 million to anti-gay politicians between 2017 and 2018
All of these companies have taken stands supportive of LGBTQ Americans—but they have also contributed substantially to the campaigns of politicians determined to limit the rights or and protections for LGBTQ Americans. S-HP.
If you want to say something about this to the Human Rights Campaign Fund or to these specific companies, here are addresses.
7. Happy Juneteenth! A call for reparations
For thirty years, the proposal to develop a House commission to study possible reparations for slavery and systematic discrimination by federal agencies,—such as the Federal Housing Administration and its policy of preventing Black home ownership through “redlining”—has largely been ignored. Now, the House is considering forming such a commission and has begun hearings on the issue. The last time such hearings were held was over ten years ago. H.R.40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act, has sixty-six cosponsors in the House, all of them Democrats. Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 essay in the Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” has helped fuel the push for reparations study is quoted in the New York Times explaining “This is about more than slavery; this isn’t about litigating things that happened 150 years ago. There are people who are alive today who are impacted by the policies that came out of slavery…. We can’t say that things that happened 150 years ago don’t matter but somehow the American revolution does matter. Either the past matters or it doesn’t.”
If you want to say something about reparations, here is how to find the addresses for your members of Congress.
8. Climate Change: Canada unclear on the concept
On Monday, the Canadian parliament passed a resolution declaring a climate emerency, which said that Canada would have to reduce its fossil fuel emissions to reach the targets established in the Paris accords. The next day, Trudeau’s cabinet approved
Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) , according to Vice. Approval of the pipeline had been stalled because a Federal Court of Appeal had ruled that consultations with First Nations were inadequate. The Court now says that the subsequent consulations are sufficient, but some First Nations groups are preparing to block the pipeline.
A 2015 study from the journal Nature said plainly that for Canada to meet the terms of the agreement it signed to keep global warming under 2 degrees, it would have to leave most of its fossil fuel reserves unextracted. As the CBC put it then, “no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil from the oilsands can be produced by 2050 — a mere 15 per cent of viable reserves and only about one per cent of total bitumen.” In addition,
“Canada would also have to leave some of its conventional oil and natural gas, and almost all of its coal, untouched.” RLS
9. New report reveals Saudi government engineered journalist’s murder
At a time when the Republican administration is selling arms and providing nuclear technology to the Saudis, a newly released U.N. report has concluded that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a legal U.S. resident, as well as a Saudi citizen, was probably orchestrated at the highest levels of the Saudi government, according to the New York Times. The report’s author Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions for the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) Agnes Callamard included the following findings:
1) there was “credible evidence [of] the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically cleaned”; 2) Saudi coverup efforts included scrubbing down of rooms, blocking investigator access, and possible burning of evidence; 3) on the day of the killing, a Saudi autopsy specialist reassured others involved that dismembering Khashoggi’s body would “be easy…. Joint will be separated. It will not be a problem”; 4) both the Saudi Consul General and officials in Riyadh played an active role in the killing and cover-up.
The report has called for further investigation of the Khashoggi assassination by both the United Nations and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, due to his status as a U.S. resident. S-HP
If you want to join the calls to investigate the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, here are people to write.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT
10. Arctic temperatures soar, leading to unprecedented melting
Temperatures in Greenland were 40 degrees higher than normal, spurring massive melting of 2 billion tons of snow and ice, a melt exceeded only in extent by the one in 2012 but occurring earlier in the year, setting the stage for a new record. The Greenland ice sheet is the second largest body of ice on the planet, smaller than only the Antarctic icecap. Should all the ice melt, sea levels would rise 24 feet.
In Alaska and across northern Canada, permafrost is melting about 70 years faster than scientists had predicted, the result of a string of summers with record high temperatures. Permafrost is underground ice, freezing the soil down to bedrock; it has been for the last 5000 years (at least), frozen throughout the year. The results of permafrost melting are profound, changing the landscape from frozen plains to wavy rises and depressions as the ground buckles, with liquid water ponds fueling plant growth, the Guardian reports. Of great concern is that the permafrost throughout the arctic is a vast C02 and methane sink, so vegetation locked away frozen for centuries is now decomposing and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gas, which will further exacerbate global climate change. JC
11. Huge aquifer found in the Northeast United states under the ocean floor
A survey conducted by Columbia University and published in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, shows that a vast underground reservoir of fresh water lies under the US coast running from at a minimum Massachusetts in the north to southern New Jersey in the south. Estimated to contain 670 cubic miles of water, the aquifer extends out in places 75 miles from shore, varying from 1 part salt in a thousand to 15 parts (terrestrial fresh water is 1 part per thousand). The water closer to shore is less salty. The location of the fresher water is significant because it suggests that the source of the water may not be “fossil” water trapped by glaciation but instead water pulled from the landmass, possibly by tidal action working as a “pump.” While 15 parts per thousand isn’t exactly “fresh,” it’s considerably less salty than the 35 parts per thousand in sea water, which would make it much easier and less costly to desalinize. It’s hoped that similar aquifers exist offshore around the world which might provide a vital source of fresh water for future coastal cities, according to phys.org. JC
12. Sulfoxaflor: Not the bees’ knees
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an “emergency” exception to allow eleven states to use the pesticide sulfoxaflor–thought to be an alternative to the pollinator-harming neonicotinoids–on cotton and sorghum. A study published in Nature last year (and you can’t get much more scientifically credible than Nature) found that sulfoxaflor inhibits bumblebee reproduction. In most of the eleven states, this is the fourth year that the emergency exception has been allowed, according to the Hill.. A 2015 lawsuit by beekeepers led to a temporary ban on sulfoxaflor, but use of the chemical was reinstated in 2016 (which was during the Obama administration), with instructions on how to use the pesticide to minimize its impact on bees. S-HP.
If you want to remind the EPA that sulfoxaflor is dangerous to bees, you can get the address here.
Arts & Culture
Corcoran redeems itself for canceling Mapplethorpe show
The Corcoran School of Art & Design has an exhibition on the cancellation of a retrospective show by Robert Mapplethorpe at the behest of Jesse Helms, the Republican senator from North Carolina who inveighed against its gay themes.
MacArthur “genius” Rhiannon Giddens to compose opera based on slave narrative
Musical polymath Rhiannon Giddens has been commissioned to write an opera based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, a Muslim-African man who was enslaved and transported to Charleston, S.C. (Some 10-20 per cent of slaves were Muslim.)
An interview with filmmaker Tom Kalin on art and LGBTQ politics
Hypoallergenic has an interview with filmmaker Tom Kalin on his 1992 film Swoon, as well as his work with ACT UP and activism in the age of Trump: “When Trump was elected,” he said, “I realized I had incredible body memory for activism.” About the 80s, he says, “All I felt was fear of dying.”
A database of 600 women artists you might have missed
A Space of Their Own is an illustrated online database of over 600 female artists working in the US and Europe between the 15th and 19th centuries, most of whom have been overlooked and under-rated. Many works in the database have been restored in preparation for their online debut.
- The Americas of Conscience Checklist is focusing on voter empowerment for the month of June. See their site for an explanation and easy actions you can take.
- Many of the action items above are from Sarah-Hope’s list; see the google doc for more, include ways to comment on private prisons, fossil fuel, and energy costs.
- Martha’s list has a variety of ways to comment for the record, including on protections for LGBT people, increases in plutonium production, reductions in environmental protections, and much more.
- See also Rogan’s List for summaries of issues and addresses for postcarding.