The Trump administration is considering an executive action to block migrants traveling in the migrant “caravan” from applying for asylum at the US border, and on Thursday the Defense Department announced that it would send 800 additional troops to the US border. Masha Gessen argues in the New Yorker that the Trump administration has shifted the way the media frames immigration: “A quick survey of mainstream-media coverage shows that, with some exceptions, before 2017 the words “migrants” and “asylum” and “deterrent” appeared primarily in coverage of foreign countries. Denmark was trying to “deter” Syrian refugees from approaching its borders. Australia used the word “deterrence” a lot. Indeed the Australian far right, aided mightily by Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, got about a decade’s head start on its American counterpart in this method of talking about asylum seekers. The word “deterrence” comes from the language of crime prevention, and its use reinforces the view of asylum seekers as criminals… But the people walking through Mexico right now are not an army or a hurricane. They are not even planning to cross the border illegally. International law guarantees their right to seek asylum. The U.S. has an obligation to consider their claims.”
A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research indicates the prevalence of reproductive coercion in abusive relationships, finding that four in 10 women who experienced intimate partner violence reported that their partner interfered with their use of birth control or otherwise attempted to impregnate them against their will, with 84% of these women becoming pregnant. “Reproductive coercion and abuse is meant to limit survivors’ ability to hold a job or pursue an education. It creates a vulnerability that helps make them more dependent on the abuser to provide for their children and can ultimately prevent them from establishing independence,” [report author Alona] Del Rosario said. “More research is needed to better understand the nature of this form of abuse and its impact on survivors’ economic security.” Other findings from the report include a greater understanding of experiences of abuse that “negatively affected their educational and job training opportunities. Eighty-three percent said their partners had disrupted their ability to work. And the majority of respondents reported financial abuse: Nearly three in four survivors had partners who took their money against their will, and three in five had partners who harmed their credit score—a result that left many unable to obtain a loan or housing.”
President Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill to address aspects of the opioid crisis. Vox reports on how activists and experts view the new law: “Dr. Leana Wen, the former health commissioner of Baltimore (and soon-to-be president of Planned Parenthood), said that the legislation “is simply tinkering around the edges,” and that a far more comprehensive, ambitious response is needed to really deal with the crisis. The big issue seems to come down to money. The legislation makes a lot of legal and regulatory tweaks that will attempt to make addiction treatment more accessible, try to make it more difficult for illicit synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil to slip through the border, and boost research on non-opioid pain treatments. But it doesn’t pay for a wide and sustained expansion of addiction treatment, which is the policy approach that many experts argue is necessary. In fact, the law would not provide a significant increase in spending for the opioid crisis at all. Even though it authorizes some relatively small grant programs, the actual funding for those will be decided later on by Congress’s appropriations process. Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University who worked with Senate and House staff on the law, said that “there are many ‘small sanities’ in the Senate and House opioid bills that will make a positive difference.” But the response is far from what America undertook for, say, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when it enacted sweeping programs like the Ryan White Act and PEPFAR that dedicated serious money and resources to fight HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world. “This reflects a fundamental disagreement between the parties over whether the government should appropriate the large sums a massive response would require,” Humphreys said. “Lacking that, Congress did the next best thing — which is to find agreement on as many second-tier issues as they could.”” Other drug-related deaths are also on the rise, including deaths from methamphetamine (10,721 deaths in 2017), cocaine (14,556 deaths in 2017), and benzodiazepines, as well as approximately 80,000 deaths per year due to alcoholism. "I think it's fairly obvious that focusing on one drug at a time is not the best approach and this is not the first time we've done this," said Andrew Kessler, founder of Slingshot Solutions, a consulting firm focused on addiction issues.
According to a memo leaked to the New York Times, the Trump administration is considering rolling back Obama-era changes to Title IX related to sex and gender identity. For the purposes of administering Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings and other federally funded activities, the Obama administration redefined “sex” to encompass “gender identity,” which enabled transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities and enroll in sports based on their gender identity. If the leaked Trump administration memo goes into effect, it would revert to the previous definition of “sex” as sex observed at birth.
Starting November 1, doctors participating in the Médecins francophones du Canada network can now prescribe free-of-charge visits to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – the first program of its kind. “We know that art stimulates neural activity,” MMFA director Nathalie Bondil [said]. “What we see is that the fact that you are in contact with culture, with art, can really help your well-being.”
This article from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission highlights how Bay Area community members and organizations used culturally-sensitive outreach to encourage low-income bike riders to consider a membership with GoBike. GoBike, which launched in 2017 in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Berkeley, offers a discounted “Bike Share for All” membership to low-income residents, and anyone with CalFresh, PG&E Care, or an SFMA Lifeline pass is eligible for the discount.
In the face of a record-high federal deficit, the result – in large part – of Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax cut that primarily benefited corporations and wealthy Americans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now says that the only way to address the deficit is to slash spending on social programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Newsweek reports, ‘"It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem," McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that "it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future." The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.’
Julie Miller of YouthToday makes the case for showing the short- and long-term harms that punitive immigration policies create trauma for entire communities in her recent article covering the Rio Grande Valley. She writes about the severe threats that children face, noting that of the approximately 1,800 U.S.-born children in the Rio Grande Valley who had a parent deported in 2017, 19% exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 40% missed school. The article makes the case that in addition to children and families suffering in the short-term, communities suffer economically in the long-run when anti-immigrant policies are in place. When children are too sick or afraid to go to school, they miss out on educational and, later on, employment opportunities.
This piece by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic highlights a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finding that the stresses of trauma from exposure to violence, malnutrition, and racism can be passed down from one generation to the next. “Because the study authors controlled for other factors that might have influenced the sons’ longevity, like socioeconomic status and the quality of the parents’ marriages, they believe this effect on mortality is working through epigenetics, or the process by which genes are switched on and off. These epigenetic changes are inherited by later generations, setting diseases in motion.”