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Administration Wrongfully Separated Over 900 Migrant Children, ACLU Says

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  • A new court filing from the ACLU revealed that that the Trump administration is still separating migrant families, despite officially ending the separation policy in June 2018.
  • According to the ACLU, data given to them by the government shows that more than 900 migrant children were separated from their parents in the last year.
  • The ACLU said that many of the separations were based on “minor criminal history” such as traffic violations, decades-old infractions, and “allegations or arrests without convictions.”
  • They also said that many of the separations were based on “highly dubious allegations of unfitness” like being HIV positive or eating at a restaurant that gang members also ate at.

ACLU Court Filing

Court documents filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed that the Trump administration has separated more than 900 migrant children from their parents in the year since the administration officially ended the separation policy.

The ACLU filing asks that the court come up with more specifically outlined standards for separating families to ensure compliance with a federal ruling from June 2018, which required the Trump administration to stop separating migrant children from their families.

The same month, Donald Trump himself issued an executive order to end family separations except in cases where parents may pose a risk to their child.

However, the Trump administration is still separating families according to government data given to the ACLU as part of the court order. 

“The government is systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships,” the court filing said.

The ACLU also said that the original court ruling from June 2018 specified that children could be separated from parents who had criminal histories.

However, that did not include immigration offenses, and as the document says “The Court made clear, however, that it was not blessing separations based on any criminal history, regardless of gravity.”

“Rather, the Court’s decision relied on traditional due process and child custody standards, which permit the drastic step of separating a child and parent only where the criminal history is so significant that it bears on whether the parent is a danger to the child or is an unfit parent,” it continued.

The ACLU filing goes on to say that the government is “separating young children based on such offenses as traffic violations, misdemeanor property damage, and disorderly conduct violations. Some of the separations are for offenses that took place many years ago. And some are for mere allegations or arrests without convictions.”

They also added that families have been separated based on the governments “assertion that the parent does not appear to be doing a proper job parenting” or “that the parent has not sufficiently proven his or her relationship to the child.”

The ACLU additionally noted that the children being separated from their families were increasingly younger than before. According to the filing, 481 children, which is more than half of those separated, were under the age of 10.

Around 20 percent of separated children were under five-years-old, which is a huge increase from last year when only four percent of children separated were under five.

Examples of Criminal Histories

The ACLU filing provided numerous examples of children being separated from their parents for reasons they believe violate the court’s previous ruling.

Of the 911 separations, 678 were because alleged criminal history. 

According to the ACLU, the data on family separations the administration gave them consisted of lists with the name of the parent who was separated from their child, and “a cryptic, summarized reason for the separation—often just a few words or a line of text—that states the allegations against the parent.”

“Sometimes the entry will simply be ‘due to parent’s criminal history,’ with no further explanation,” the document added.

The ACLU went on to describe the lists, saying they provided minimal information and did not include key data, like how old the convictions are, and noting that only 179 cases provided “reliable date information,” adding “the most recent dated charge was on average 10 years old.”

They gave specific examples, like one child who was separated from their parent because of a “‘false police report / hit and run’ conviction from 26 years ago.” Another parent was separated from their child “based on a 3-day jail sentence for misdemeanor assault from 20 years ago.”

Additionally, despite the fact that the court had explicitly decided that parents could not be separated from their children because of immigration offenses, “[the] list of separations reports hundreds of cases that include such convictions as part of the reasons for separation, including cases where the unlawful entry or reentry conviction was combined with other minor offenses, such as DUIs or traffic offenses.”

Examples of “Unfit” Parents

The ACLU also gave multiple examples where parents who had no criminal records were separated from their children because they were deemed “unfit.”

In one example, a dad was separated from his three young children because he had HIV, and despite requests, the government still never explained why being HIV positive made the dad a threat to his children. 

Another example said that a 5-year-old was separated from their mother who broke her leg at the border “and was briefly hospitalized for emergency surgery.”

In another case, a father in a detention center was separated from his one-year-old daughter because he did not want to wake up her to change her wet diaper. 

Other parents were separated from their children because Border Patrol agents did not believe they were actually their parents.

In one case, Border Patrol separated a father from his three-year-old daughter because his name was not on her birth certificate, despite the fact he had other proof he was her dad. The agents took away his daughter and refused to give him a paternity test.

Lawyers eventually intervened and were able to confirm he was the father, but during the time they were separated his three-year-old was sexually abused in government care.

The court documents also said that 44 parents were separated from their children because of alleged connections to gangs.

However, these included examples like a mother who was separated from her two children because she “ate at a restaurant frequented by gang members.” Another mother was separated from her child because she was seen leaving a store “while a group of gang members were being arrested nearby.”

One mother had her child taken from her because she had been abused by a gang member. Those are just some examples from the 218-page filing.

Trump Administration

The ACLU’s filing comes just a few weeks after acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in testimony before a House committee that family separations were “rare” and made only “in the interest of the child.”

“This is carefully governed, it’s overseen by a supervisor when those decisions are made,” the acting secretary said.

However, the ACLU disagrees. Their filing says that the court must come up with more specific standards because the current ruling seems to give too much power to Border Patrol agents to decide who should be separated.

“They’re taking what was supposed to be a narrow exception for cases where the parent was genuinely a danger to the child and using it as a loophole to continue family separation” Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney in the family separation lawsuit and deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in an interview.

“What everyone understands intuitively and what the medical evidence shows, this will have a devastating effect on the children and possibly cause permanent damage to these children, not to mention the toll on the parents,” he added.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Washington Post) (Fox News)

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Woman Who Live-Streamed Her Sister’s Death Arrested Again, Weeks After Early Prison Release

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  • Obdulia Sanchez made national headlines in 2017 when she live-streamed a drunken car crash that resulted in the graphic death of her 14-year-old sister.
  • She was sentenced to six years in prison but was released late last month after serving a little over two years.
  • But just weeks after her release, Sanchez was arrested again after a short police chase and car crash.

Obdulia Sanchez Arrested Again 

The California woman who served time in prison for killing her sister in a drunken car crash on Instagram live was arrested again, just weeks after her early release. 

Obdulia Sanchez, now 20-years-old, was arrested in Stockton on Thursday after a short police pursuit. Local authorities said she refused to stop when officers attempted to pull her over at around 1:30 am. 

Sanchez eventually crashed her vehicle near a highway on-ramp where another male passenger in the car was able to run out. The male suspect managed to escape police, but Sanchez was arrested. She now faces traffic and weapons charges. 

Authorities said she was on parole and driving on a revoked license. Officers also say they found a loaded gun in the car. 

Stockton Police Department

Recent Release and Previous Crimes 

Sanchez was released on parole late last month after she served more than two years in prison for a previous crash.

In July 2017, Sanchez was drunk driving and live streaming on Instagram when she crashed her car, killing her 14-year-old sister Jacqueline Sanchez Estrada. and injuring another passenger. 

The graphic incident made national headlines. On the stream, Sanchez’s hands could be seen leaving the wheel before she swerved and then overcorrected. Her sister, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle.

“I fucking killed my sister, okay? I know I’m going to jail for life, all right?” Sanchez can be heard saying to her sister, who appeared to be already dead. “Ima hold it down. I love you, rest in peace, sweetie.”

Later reports explained that Sanchez had tested positive for alcohol and cocaine. Sanchez was heavily criticized online for continuing to stream after the crash, showing her sister’s dead body. 

In a public letter written from behind bars, she wrote, “I made that video because I knew I had more than 5,000 followers. It was the only way my sister would get a decent burial. I would never expose my sister like that. I anticipated the public donating money because my family isn’t rich.”

Sanchez was ultimately convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI and child endangerment. She was sentenced to six years and four months in prison with the possibility of parole after three years.

The state corrections office said Sanchez was approved for early release after earning credit for good behavior, for attending rehabilitation programs, and for time served in jail before she was sentenced. 

See what others are saying: (Sacramento Bee) (NBC News) (The Washington Post) (The Los Angeles Times

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Chicago Teachers Strike Over Pay, Class Sizes, and More

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  • Around 25,000 teachers and educational staff members in Chicago began striking Thursday, leaving 300,000 kids out of class.
  • The Chicago Teachers Union is demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes, as well as more nurses, social workers, counselors, and librarians. 
  • The city’s mayor and Chicago Public Schools have announced plans that include these demands, but the Union says the contract language does not hold CPS accountable enough for these terms.
  • While the strike continues, schools will be open even though classes are canceled. Principals and associate principals will still on campuses, and breakfast and lunch will sill be served.

Chicago Public School’s Plan

Around 25,000 teachers and educational employees in Chicago began striking Thursday morning, demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes, and more efficient staffing.

The strike was announced Wednesday night when Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers’ Union failed to reach a deal. Chicago is home to the third-largest school district in the country, which means close to 300,000 students have been left without classes to attend.

CPS’s announced a plan that would, among other things, raise teachers’ salaries by 16% over the course of five years. According to Fox Business, the starting salary for Chicago teachers is already the highest in the state of Illinois, coming close to $53,000 a year. By the end of this five-year time period, that salary would increase to $72,000. CPS Says that the average salary would be close to $100,000.

Their plan also included adding a nurse to every school by 2024 and doubling the number of social workers. 

What the Union Wants

CTU was not satisfied with the offer. First, they thought that CPS’s numbers were wrong and that the average salary would only get to $85,000. Raises were also not the only issue at stake for them. 

CTU is asking for a hard cap on class sizes and for teachers to receive a stipend if that cap is ever exceeded. They want support for hiring social workers, counselors, nurses and other positions at recommended ratios, as well as a librarian and restorative justice coordinator in every school.

Another priority for them is to make sure these positions, social workers in particular, have an appropriate workload. Some schools have counselors that only come in a couple of days a week but have around 100 cases to work on. So, when they are unavailable, teachers find that they end up acting as counselors themselves. 

While CPS’s plan did include increases for nurses and social workers, the CTU says it is not enough. They say that CPS is not putting the exact terms in the contract language allowing them to not be held explicitly accountable for these terms. Even when CPS added more to their plan in regards to these demands earlier this month, CTU still criticized the contract language. 

Mayor Lightfoot’s Role

On Thursday morning, Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot held a press conference regarding the strike. She maintained that the union was being offered a good package and that she hoped for a deal to be reached.

We don’t have unlimited resources, but having said that, we put very generous offers on the table both for teachers and support personnel,” she said. “And I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to bring them back to the table and resolve all the open issues.” 

Lightfoot is new to the role. She took office in May, making this one of the first hurdles she has had to face as mayor. 

The CTU is accusing her of not fulfilling campaign promises As far as staffing, they claim she fully supported hiring full-time nurses, social workers, and librarians, but that she has rejected contract language that would hold CPS accountable for this. 

The Union also claimed that she supported additional counselors. Now, however, she and CPS “want to issue tentative assignments for next year by June 15 instead of May 15, creating more uncertainty for educators.”

What Is Being Said at the Strike

Frustrations with Lightfoot were made clear during the strike, with reports saying participants chanted things like “Lightfoot Lightfoot, get on the right foot.” 

A Chicago Sun-Times reporter spoke to a teacher who mentioned Lightfoot. He said he was not looking forward to striking but added, “We’re teachers. Sometimes we’ve got to teach the mayor.”

CTU’s President, Jesse Sharkey, attended a strike outside of an elementary school and defended their demands.

“Our demands are significant, and we have real demands, but that’s because the needs are significant,” he said according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  We ask for a lot because we give a lot. All of our schools here deal with real traumas, and we need support.”

Options for Students

Because of the strike, Chicago has to find something to do for the hundreds of thousands of students who do not have classes to attend. Lightfoot said that while classes are off, the schools will be open during their normal hours. Principals and Associate Principals will be on hand, and breakfast and lunch will still be served. 

Other camps and the YMCA are also offering programs, though unlike the schools, they will not be free. 

But not all students are taking the day off. Some are supporting their teachers and attending the strike. The Chicago Sun-Times spoke to Senior Jude Greneir who went to hand out snacks and beverages.

“My teachers are striking so everyone has equal resources,” she told them. “I hope the city understands. My school is very lucky, but every school needs a nurse and proper resources for their children.”

Another senior, Anthony Jordan, joined his teachers in a picket line.

“I want to support my teachers because they taught me everything I know,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “Our class sizes are too large. We really do need more nurses. It’s worth being out here because it’s for a good cause. It will help us all in the end.”

Right now, it is unclear how long the strike will last. Lightfoot said a deal could be struck as early as today, but members of CTU do not anticipate that soon of an end. Schools will remain closed for class until further notice. 

See what others are saying: (Chicago Tribune) (Chicago Sun-Times) (Fox Business)

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The Forgotten Tribes: Truth About Federally Unrecognized Tribes in The United States…

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California has the most federally non-recognized tribes in the U.S. with over 50 throughout the state. If you’re not familiar with how American Indian tribes function, they’re classified as sovereign nations by the federal government, meaning they have certain rights as a group/nation. But when a tribe is not considered a sovereign nation by the federal government, then they are labeled as federally non-recognized.

Lack of federal recognition for a tribe can have a ton of repercussions for its citizens. One of the most noteworthy is that they are not legally considered American Indians by the federal government, regardless of ancestry, so members of these tribes can’t apply for American Indian scholarships because they’re only intended for federally recognized tribes.

There are also many other struggles federally non-recognized tribes face like not having financial resources to preserve their culture and lacking protection to keep their children in their tribal community under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Now, you’re probably asking yourself “why specifically does California have so many federally non-recognized tribes?”

Well, in this Rogue Rocket mini-documentary, we’ll look at how California’s history played part in it and deep-dive into the challenges tribes lacking federal recognition face. But we’ll be understanding this complex issue through the lens of one non-federally recognized tribe in San Fernando, California called the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

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