Sunday, February 18, 2018

Immigration 101: What is Family Migration (or so-called ‘Chain Migration’)?

Chain migration is not anywhere close to the level that Trump makes it out to be. Nor is it so easy.  Most importantly,
Family migration is sometimes referred to as “chain migration” by opponents who want to cast it in a threatening light. This is a misleadinginaccurate, and derogatory term used by Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant extremists to slander immigrants who want to reunite with their families.
This is yet another manifestation of hyperbole and racist fear-mongering.  Another consideration is that liberal family-friendly policies attract immigrants with great talent and stellar qualifications.

Read on.


by Anna Núñez on January 17, 2018

The family migration program has  been around since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring in their immediate relatives to the U.S. This law did away with the racially discriminatory national origins quota system from the 1920s.
Through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. permanent residents (or “green card” holders) can sponsor their spouses and unmarried children for permanent residence. U.S. citizens can petition for residence for their parents, siblings, and married adult children. There are 480,000 family migration visas available every year.
Donald Trump wants to restrict family migration, but it’s already hard enough: at the current rate of visa distribution, families are forced to wait years or decades before being able to reunite with family members.
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Donald Trump and family migration
Family migration is sometimes referred to as “chain migration” by opponents who want to cast it in a threatening light. This is a misleadinginaccurate, and derogatory term used by Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant extremists to slander immigrants who want to reunite with their families.
Trump has called family migration an instrument for terrorism, which is completely false. He and other right-wing Republicans have also referred to family migration as a backdoor method for legalizing the undocumented, which is also false. For example, a U.S. citizen who marries a Mexican national who entered without inspection likely would not be able to sponsor him through family  migration channels, because those who enter the U.S. without documents are required to return to their home countries and wait 10 years before they can obtain a visa.
Furthermore, because there are only a certain number of family migration visas available every year, the waiting process to obtain one can be very long. According to the New York Times, more than 3.9 million people from around the world are currently waiting in line for immigrant visas, and many have been waiting for decades.
Donald Trump said he wants to replace the current family migration policy with a so-called merit-based system.  The idea is to have potential immigrants judged on a point scale, with points doled out for education, existing knowledge of the English language, a firm job offer, and other criteria.  Put simply, “merit-based immigration” in Trump-speak is code for “English-speaking, educated, affluent, and white.”  
The goal of this policy is twofold.  Not only do proponents hope to slow-down the “browning” of America, but they also want to reduce the overall number of immigrants coming to the U.S.  This is in line with the far-right immigration playbook and immigration restrictionists’ long-time goals of decreasing legal as well as undocumented immigration.
Trump currently backs the RAISE Act, a bill sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) which would limit visa sponsorship to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens while implementing a point-based merit system to prioritize skilled workers. The number of family migration visas would be cut in half, and immigrant family reunifications would be made much more difficult.
Trump’s opposition to family migration is interesting, considering how much his own family has benefitted from the policy he is attempting to modify. His Scottish-born mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, and grandfather, Friedrich Trump, followed their siblings to America. Trump’s German-born grandmother, Elizabeth Christ, also arrived in America using family ties. And, Trump’s own foreign-born wife, Melania, helped her Slovenia-born parents live in the United States. As Columbia University historian Mae M. Ngai noted, “Donald Trump is a product of ‘chain migration.’”

The economics of family migration
“The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are manifold. They account for a significant portion of domestic economic growth, contribute to the well-being of the current and future labor force, play a key role in business development and community improvement, and are among the most upwardly mobile segments of the labor force”, reports the American Immigration Council.
According to the Council, relatives sponsored through family migration help their family members with child care and provide other household assistance, facilitating greater workforce participation for those who hired them. Their family members provide them with resources and information not provided to other new immigrants, allowing them to quickly adjust to American life. And they often have high employment rates and high earnings growth, allowing them to contribute to the U.S. economy and their communities.
A prime example of the successful achievement of the “American Dream” by an immigrant entrepreneur is John Tu (ranked No. 87 on the Forbes 400 list) who came to the US via family migration. Tu successfully created billions in wealth with his company Kingston Technology, and – in a rare move generating worldwide attention – after selling his company, distributed $100 million in profits in bonuses to his American employees. Ranging from $100,000 to $300,000, Tu’s generosity proved life-changing for funding the “American Dreams” of his employees and their children.
Trump’s move to create a less family-friendly admissions policy would have serious negative implications to our nation’s economy, as noted by economist Harriet Duleep:
Family visas are…an important complement to high-skilled visas; skilled immigrants have families too. In considering which country to move to, will an emigrating scientist be more likely to move to a country where his family members, including siblings, parents, and adult children, can also live, or to a country where only certain family members are welcome? Would Einstein have continued to live in the U.S. had he not been able to bring over his sister Maja? A family-friendly policy may be one reason the U.S. has been able to attract immigrants with stellar qualifications.

The emotional benefits of family migration
Of course, family-friendly policies are also important to Americans and to the U.S. independent of economic benefits. As Jen Smyers of Church World Service recently said:
Being able to see your family members, hold your children, and live with your family are the most basic of family values. That is what is being attacked by proposals that would redefine family under U.S. immigration law and keep U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from sponsoring their parents, siblings, and even children….To redefine family and prevent family reunification would not only devastate individuals’ lives, it would turn our backs as a nation to our collective future and invalidate our claim to prioritize family values.
Policy experts have repeatedly defended family migration. The White House’s rhetoric about ending “chain migration” in exchange for a possible DACA deal “is reminiscent of what brought about shameful moments in history like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1992 or Japanese incarceration during World War II,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC).  He further stated the proposed immigration cuts “are completely counter to what our nation values the most – family, which is the cornerstone of the community. Lawmakers who purport to be for family values should value families.”
AAJC recently spearheaded a sign-on letter in Support of Family Immigration, Diversity Visas, and Refugees, in which it reminded congressional leaders that the currently family migration system established by the INA of 1965 was created to end previous racist national origin quotas heavily favoring Northern and Western Europe. Yang also expressed concern that a “merit based system” will reduce the parity of women in the workplace by prioritizing the “immigration of men over women due to gender discrimination in other countries where women do not have equal opportunities.”

In short, our current system of family migration is beneficial to the U.S. economically as well as emotionally. Americans value united families, and Congress should honor that by ignoring Trump’s rhetoric and protecting family migration policies.

Friday, February 16, 2018

An insider explains how rural Christian white America has a dark and terrifying underbelly

An insider explains how rural Christian white America has a dark and terrifying underbelly: In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.

Las Vegas Autopsies Reveal The True Brutality Of Mass Shootings

This is so very true:
Over the past decade, we’ve seen Americans gunned down en masse at concerts, in churches, schools, movie theaters and nightclubs. We’re often called upon to remember the victims who’ve died in those incidents, but rarely are we asked to confront the unsettling circumstances of the deaths themselves.
It all gets sanitized for us and thusly, consumable as news.  I do often wonder about the impact of this savagery to the human body on the doctors and medical practitioners themselves.  I'm sure that they, too, experience trauma in their workplace, as well, that they not only shouldn't be experiencing, but for which they are not actually fully prepared.

Authors Wing and Ferner provide a link to a summary of each of the 58 autopsies in the Las Vegas massacre that I briefly reviewed.

We must get these high-powered, military-style rifles out of circulation completely. 


Las Vegas Autopsies Reveal The True Brutality Of Mass Shootings

Media coverage often serves to sanitize the graphic, uncomfortable reality of these tragedies. Maybe we don’t deserve the privilege of that comfort.

Chase Stevens/pool via Getty Images

Family members at the Oct. 20 funeral of Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield, who was among the 58 people killed by a gunman Oct. 1. 
The bullet struck the woman’s right forearm, passing cleanly through the flesh below her wrist and exiting the other side. The round was tumbling now, but still carrying enough force to re-enter her arm, lower down this time, before exiting again and plunging into her chest. The lead projectile then burst through her liver, finally coming to rest in the first lumbar vertebra of her lower back. Her death, described by a medical examiner, was determined to be a homicide.
The unnamed woman was one of 58 victims killed by a lone gunman at a country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
HuffPost obtained autopsies for each of the 58 victims. The reports, released by the Clark County, Nevada, coroner’s office earlier this month, offer a raw account of the power of civilian weaponry and the damage it inflicts on human bodies, even when the gunman appears to have no particular firearms expertise.
They describe catastrophic injuries, most the result of single rounds striking from a range of nearly 500 yards ― details of carnage that we tend to shy away from in media coverage.
After a mass shooting, news stories often reduce victims to parts of a larger body count, the latest casualties of this particularly American form of gun violence. Just look at the headlines for the school shooting in Florida on Wednesday:Mass Casualty Shooting At Florida School.
Other coverage focuses exclusively on honoring slain individuals, a celebration of life that seeks to underscore the tragedy of a mass shooting.
Both types of stories can obscure and desensitize us to the disturbing violence. The autopsies, on the other hand, give an unsanitized truth to those stories.
Among the victims in Las Vegas were 36 women and 22 men; 51 were killed by a single shot, while seven were hit by multiple rounds; 34 suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the body, while 21 were struck in the head or neck and three were struck in their extremities. In addition, 851 people were injured in the attack, including 422 who suffered non-fatal wounds from gunfire.
With bullets exiting the shooter’s weapons at a velocity of about 3,000 feet per second ― about three times as fast as a bullet fired out of a handgun ― and spinning at thousands of revolutions per second, the consequences for anyone hit directly were dire.
“You’ve got a relatively small cross-sectional area with a tremendous amount of kinetic energy lined up behind it, so that just penetrates,” said Arthur Alphin, a ballistics expert and former West Point professor who has testified in a number of multiple shooting cases.
The autopsies describe bullets carving through flesh, leaving massive trauma in their wake. One victim suffered a gunshot wound to the left upper back. The round appeared to be tumbling end over end at the moment of impact, said Alphin, likely a sign that the gunman’s weapon had begun to overheat from firing so rapidly, sending the bullet on an unstable trajectory out of an expanded barrel.
After being struck in the back, the round coursed through the woman’s body, ricocheting off a rib and perforating her left lung before stopping between her eight and ninth vertebrae, where a medical examiner recovered the bullet.
The autopsy for the woman described at the beginning of this article shows she was shot in the forearm. The bullet passed through her arm twice and then entered her body.  
“I’m thinking that this person had their arm up at the shoulder, but bent back at the elbow, as if scratching their ear or trying to shield their eyes or keep a hat from flying off their head,” said Alphin.
It’s also possible she was trying to shield herself.
Another report describes a woman who was struck in the head. As with the other victims who suffered direct shots to the head, the impact caused “instant death,” Alphin said.
“The only good thing is she didn’t suffer. She felt no pain at all,” he said. “Some of those others, even though they died with the chest cavity wounds, they survived on the ground for 60 to 90 seconds, their heart continued to beat, the blood filled up into the pleural cavity and the thoracic cavity, their brain was still functioning, and they knew they were dying and they were in pain. At least this poor woman, it was instant.”
The only good thing is she didn’t suffer. She felt no pain at all. Arthur Alphin, ballistics expert
Wounds from these military-style rifles look much different from those caused by a handgun, said Dr. Brian H. Williams, a trauma surgeon who now serves as medical director of the Parkland Community Health Institute in Dallas.
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Williams said that most of the gunshot wounds he’s treated appeared to be from handguns, but he was on duty during a July 2016 mass shooting in Dallas in which a gunman killed five police officers with a semi-automatic rifle. To get a sense of a handgun shot, Williams compared the impact to what happens when you drop a rock in the water and it makes a small splash and some ripples. Now, take that same rock, bring it up over your head and slam it into the water. That much bigger splash with larger ripples that emanate farther illustrates the difference of a rifle round hitting human flesh.
“That’s similar to what a bullet does when it enters the body,” said Williams. “The projectile from the military weapon that’s going much faster can cause much more damage.”
In just 10 minutes, the Las Vegas shooter was able to fire off more than 1,100 of these rounds from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, each one a potential death sentence. Investigators say he was outfitted with more than a dozen assault-style rifles, many of them equipped with 100-round magazines and bump stocks, after-market accessories that simulate automatic fire.
With this sort of firepower, the gunman didn’t even need to have good marksmanship or anything more than a basic understanding of his weapons. All he needed to do was pick up a loaded gun, point it toward the helpless people in the distance and pull the trigger until it was empty, discard the spent rifle and pick up another one.
At the range he was firing from, the rounds had likely lost enough speed to make them subsonic when they reached their target, meaning they wouldn’t have made the cracking noise a bullet makes when it breaks the sound barrier, said Alphin. As a result, the concertgoers stayed tightly packed for moments before they had any idea they were under fire.
There was no hope of survival for many of those unlucky enough to be hit.
“These are military rounds, and they’re designed to be one shot, one kill,” said Dr. John Fildes, a trauma surgeon at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, who was on duty the night of Oct. 1. “They do more than just bore holes through people. They tumble and they create cavities, and that tears at tissue.”
To get a sense of the extent of the wounds, Fildes recommended looking at what happens when a round of this caliber passes through ballistic gel, which is meant to mimic human flesh. 
It appears that the bullets functioned as intended in many cases. Other patients ended up in the hospital with a variety of gunshot-related injuries, though many appeared not to have been struck cleanly, Fildes said.
“We had patients that had bullet fragments that tore blood vessels, like an artery or a vein,” said Fildes. “We had patients who had fragments that went into their chest and caused bleeding but didn’t kill them, and they had to have a chest tube placed. We had patients who had fragments that went into the abdomen and injured their intestines, so those had to be repaired.”
Fildes added that some of the fragments were traveling fast enough to puncture the chest, abdomen or extremities, and even to fracture bones. And it’s possible that victims were hit by shrapnel from sources other than bullets.
“You could’ve been standing at row 32 at the concert and a guy off to your right at row 35 gets hit in the back. That bullet might exit his body, turn in flight and hit you,” said Alphin. “Or it might be tumbling in the guy’s body, hit his femur or some other major bone, eject a bone fragment and it hits you with a bone fragment. That’s just common.”  
Over the past decade, we’ve seen Americans gunned down en masse at concerts, in churches, schools, movie theaters and nightclubs. We’re often called upon to remember the victims who’ve died in those incidents, but rarely are we asked to confront the unsettling circumstances of the deaths themselves.
In 2015, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a U.S. senator, argued that lawmakers should have been forced to do exactly that before voting on gun legislation after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Spread out the autopsy photographs of those babies and require them to look at those photographs,” Harris said. “And then vote your conscience.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Child Trends: Redlining has left many communities of color exposed to lead

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Redlining has left many communities of color exposed to lead

By Fadumo M. Abdi and Kristine Andrews

Over several decades, federal homeownership policies concentrated minority and/or poor families in neighborhoods where old, poorly maintained homes dominated the housing stock. One such policy, redlining, has resulted in a disproportionate exposure to environmental health hazards among low-income children and children of color. One of these health hazards is lead, which can result in poor development, including poor cognitive and behavioral outcomesthat can lead to reduced academic success and lower lifetime income.

Redlining refers to federally sanctioned unfair lending practices and social policies that denied home loans to even well-qualified black families by treating them as too risky for federally backed mortgages from the Federal Home Owner’s Loan Corporation, a mortgage refinancing entity. As a result, neighborhoods with residents who were predominately black, or from any other minority group, were deemed unfit for investment and coded as red on city maps.

Families in these redlined areas were denied loans, and developers were denied subsidies and loans to build in these areas; as a result, the housing stock fell into disrepair. People of color were often unable to purchase housesor refinance mortgages, or were barred from taking residence in suburbs, making it difficult for them to move out of redlined areas while white families could more easily transition to suburbs. This, in turn, made it harder for black and other racial and ethnic minority residents to enjoy residential mobility and served to entrench the system of neighborhood segregation. Over time, homes, schools, and small businesses in predominantly black or integrated communities diminished in value due to disinvestment and segregation. Black people were unable to obtain loans to purchase homes—even in redlined neighborhoods—and developer investments were deterred by a lack of funding, leading to neighborhood underdevelopment and deterioration. As a result, residents were unable to attain equity to allow their children and grandchildren to become homeowners.

Redlining resulted in a large disparity in homeownership and an increased wealth gap between whites and various racial and ethnic minority groups. (Cuyahoga County, Ohio provides a salient example.) While redlined residents fell behind, white families were able to move to suburban neighborhoods deemed “desirable” on the Federal Housing Administration’s scores, resulting in increased vacancies and declining property values in predominantly black and integrated neighborhoods.

Although President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, removing racial language from federal housing policy, the effects of redlining still relegate black families to socioeconomically disadvantaged and racially segregated neighborhoods. Today, approximately 60 percent of black Americans live in places that were redlined before 1968 and have subsequently declined in value. Elevated blood lead levels in black and other minority children have been observed in redlined, segregated cities. One study reported that, from 1995 to 2013, black children ages one to five had consistently higher blood lead levels compared to their white counterparts. According to another study, as recently as 2006, 28 percent of African American households faced housing-related lead exposure risks, compared with 20 percent of white families.

Numerous public health efforts have sought to mitigate the effects of lead exposure and poisoning on children, but even more can be done to protect poor and minority children from further exposure. To that end, Child Trends recently contributed to a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which children are exposed to lead, published by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. This report included recommendations for the housing sector to address lead exposure. These recommendations include: 
  • Reduce lead in drinking water in homes built before 1986 and in other places children frequent, such as schools and child care centers.
  • Increase funding (through the Department of Housing and Urban Development) to replace windows coated with lead paint, fix peeling paint, clean up contaminated dust, and treat toxic soil outside the homes of low-income families built before 1960, while ensuring that such homes remain affordable.
  • Increase enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency’s renovation, repair, and painting rule, which would also reduce children’s exposure to lead.
The lasting effects of redlining on the health and well-being of children over many generations compel us as a nation to act now to finish addressing the threat of lead exposure. While much has been accomplished in recent decades to reduce children’s exposure to lead, our progress has not been fully realized among children in predominantly minority, low-income communities.