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Caribbean Immigrant Children May be Placed on Fast Track to be Deported

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Obama Administration speeds up deportation proceedings

By Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

If Caribbean nations and their consular representatives in New York and Miami see a surge in the number of families being deported by the U.S. especially children they shouldn’t be surprised. That’s because the Obama Administration is moving swiftly to place entire families, including toddlers onto a fast track for deportation to their respective homelands.

It’s a change in strategy, charge immigration advocates and attorneys, which is being fueled by the steady influx of unaccompanied Central American children, some of whom are being taken to remote parts of the country, including Texas and New Mexico where their cases are being heard by immigration judges.

In Texas, for instance, the Administration is adding new beds in a center in Karnes City to house more than 532 adults and children. It is doing a similar thing in Pennsylvania, albeit for much smaller numbers of immigrants. “Our borders are not open to illegal immigrants,” warn Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, as he sought to explain the reasons for the fast track approach.

Before the new approach was launched recently, immigrant families were released while their deportation cases were moving slowly through the system. But Washington has changed gears expanding facilities so that centers can house more families.

In New York where immigration judges are hearing hundreds of cases involving families from the English, French and Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries as well as Central America, attorneys say entire families were being moved to the top of the deportation list so their cases can be resolved expeditiously.

“It seems as if the Administration has made a determination that families, not simply adults must be deported if they are in the country illegally,” said a Caribbean consular representative who has attended hearings involving nationals of his country.

“The perception is that people come there to get deported,” insisted Laura Lichter, a former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association who has helped to assembly a group of lawyers to work on immigrant cases in Artesia, Texas where as many as more than 600 women and children, most of them from Central America were awaiting a hearing while being held in a center.

The strategy is in line with President Barack Obama’s vow to fast-track deportations to Central American countries.

More than 50,000 youths from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have come across the U.S. borders in Texas, Arizona and California, fleeing gang violence at home. The policy has stirred the anger of Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a prominent voice in the immigration movement who has strongly criticized the fast track policy. “We should not take short-cuts and circumvent due process at this critical time when children are fleeing violence and asking for our help,” the lawmaker said. Although Vice President Joseph Biden has stopped far short of urging the Administration to soften its fast track deportation policy, he did say “there’s an awful lot of kids who need help.”

Jesse Jackson Calls Michael Brown Shooting 'Crime of Injustice'

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By Chris King
The St. Louis American

ST. LOUIS — Jesse Jackson told The American he hopes that the U.S. Department of Justice sees the Ferguson Police shooting of Michael Brown on Saturday and resulting community violence as “systematic of a national crisis.”

Jackson said, “It was a crime of injustice.” Jackson said.

The injustice, he said, was two-fold: a police shooting of an unarmed black teen followed by black youth from high-unemployment neighborhoods erupting in rage.

“Black men should not be the objects of target practice,” Jackson said of the shooting. “It’s not a unique situation. It’s a prototypical American situation. Police departments do not reflect the population. It’s awful, but it’s not unique.”

The resulting community violence on Sunday, following a non-violent candlelight vigil to commemorate Brown, should be seen in the context of a chronic urban crisis, he said.

“Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction,” Jackson said. “Poverty is in the community, guns are in, drugs are in, jobs are out. Banks are bailed out without meaningful community reinvestment. Too many people have no stake in the culture.”

Jackson said that chronic urban problems remain to be addressed after the shooting of Michael Brown and the community’s outrage are resolved.

“These kids need educations, skills, job training, jobs, scholarships to college,” Jackson said. “We need a national forum on urban policy, justice and repression. This is a national crisis that has manifested in Ferguson.”

Asked for advice to organizers on the ground, Jackson said, “That’s tough. I saw a sign that said we need quietness. Quietness is not the answer. Quietness is the absence of noise. We need the presence of justice.”

Africa: Obama Ignores African Journalists at Summit in U.S.

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By Genevieve Quinta
Special to the NNPA from The Michigan Citizen

The closing press conference of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with United States President Barack Obama was dominated by questions about local policy issues, sparking indignation from African journalists last Wednesday.

Obama rushed onto the stage an hour and 14 minutes late and launched into his closing speech on the summit, Aug. 6, which saw more than 40 heads of states or representatives from African countries converge on the U.S. capital.

After a statement on the success of the summit, Obama took questions from a pre-selected list of journalists, of which only one was from Africa.

White House press members dominated the question and answer session, focusing on local policy issues, such as immigration, and the crisis in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The press core was given front row seats to the conference while African journalists scrabbled for space behind the cameras at the U.S. Department of State.

Some waved their arms hoping to get a chance to ask Obama a question or two about the summit, but the chance never came.

After the short Q&A, Obama left the stage and was whisked out the building, leaving many hot under the collar.

“What did we come all this way for?” a journalist asked.

The three-day summit was the first of its kind, initiated by Obama following is visit to Africa last year.

It focused on issues of trade and investment between the US and Africa, peace and regional stability and good governance.

Blacks in the South and Midwest Hurt Most by Jobless Cuts

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – When cash-strapped states in the South and Midwest slashed unemployment benefits after the Great Recession, claiming it was an effort to save money and boost the economy, they only succeeded in disproportionately hurting Black families already struggling to make ends meet.

In a recent analysis of the impact of state cuts to jobless benefits, the Economic Policy Institute reported that Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina decreased the total number of weeks that the unemployed could receive benefits to below 26 weeks, even though no other state had dipped below that mark in more than decade.

When Congress approved the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program in 2008, the overall employment rate was 5.6 percent and the long-term unemployment rate was 1percent. But when Congress let the program expire in 2013, the jobless rate and the long-term unemployment rate were much higher; 6.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

The unemployment rate for Blacks was nearly 12 percent (11.9 percent) in December 2013, nearly twice the national average.

The eight states, primarily in the South and Midwest, moved ahead of Congress and cut the number of weeks that people could receive unemployment benefits citing the need to “shore up insolvent state accounts in the federal Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF),” according to the report.

Not only were UTFs in 27 other states also insolvent, the states that made the cuts experienced little to no benefits in their economy or labor force rates.

“The fact that you don’t see any significant effects of the cuts, positive or negative, was surprising to me,” said Valerie Wilson, an economist and director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) at the Economic Policy Institute.

Wilson said that states that made the cuts didn’t gain any labor market improvement, aside from what was already happening, and on the budget side, they didn’t save a lot of money either.

“The justification for doing it was really weak,” said Wilson. “It makes a point that those decisions were made not necessarily for economic reasons, as much as they were politically driven.”

Wilson said that, on the other hand, the loss of income from the jobless benefits was disproportionately borne by African American workers, because in those states where those benefit cuts were made, African Americans are a larger share of the workforce than their overall population.

In Georgia, Blacks accounted for roughly 31 percent of the labor force and 58.3 percent of the long-term unemployed, compared to Whites who accounted for about 56 percent of the workforce and 35 percent of the long-term unemployed.

Even Missouri, where Blacks were only 10 percent of the labor force, they were 18.3 percent of the long-term unemployed, compared to Whites who made up more than 83 percent of the labor force and about 73 percent of the long-term unemployed.

In a July 2013 report, the Urban Institute said that Blacks represented 10.5 percent of workers that held jobs and 22.6 percent of the long-term unemployed, nationwide.

Some state lawmakers have argued that extending unemployment insurance (UI) creates a class of citizens who would rather depend on the government than search for gainful employment.

The EPI report offered empirical evidence that proved otherwise, including 2011 research by Jesse Rothstein at the Goldman School of Public Policy and Department of Economics University of California that showed that “most of the effect of UI extensions on unemployment stems not from any barrier to job-finding introduced by these extensions, but from the inducement to workers to remain in active job-search, which means that they will be classified as unemployed rather than out of the labor force. UI extensions that keep workers engaged in active job-search not only do not harm job-finding rates, they may actually increase them by boosting workers’ job search intensity.”

In 2013, Henry Farber of Princeton University and Robert Valletta of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco “did not find a substantial effect of extended benefits on time to exit to employment” and  “that there may be individuals who remain attached to the labor force, perhaps searching at a low level, because extended benefits are available.”

William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO, scoffed at the idea that cutting UI benefits, somehow creates jobs.

“That would be like saying, if I don’t make you a millionaire, then you’ll become a millionaire, because then you’ll start looking to become a millionaire,” said Spriggs. “Well, all I can do is look.”

The EPI report found “little evidence that extending unemployment aid provides a disincentive to work that is large enough to materially change the trajectory” of key economic indicators. EPI researchers explained a weak demand for workers most likely responsible for the stubbornly low rate of workforce participation in those states.

The report noted that other more effective means existed to shore up resources for state Unemployment Trust Fund (UTF) accounts.

“Compared with a tax hike that would have achieved the same boost to the state UTF account’s balance, the savings per covered worker in the six of these eight states for which data are available ranged from $0.06 to $0.69 per week,” stated the report. “In short, unemployed workers lost an average $252 per week of curtailed benefits just so states could save roughly 37 cents per covered worker per week in [State Unemployment Tax Acts] taxes, holding trust fund account balances equal.”

The report also recommended that states build their trust fund reserves when the economy is good and expand their tax bases.

“The fact that African Americans already have high rates of unemployment, already have high rates of long-term unemployment, makes it especially egregious that a cluster of southern states and a few Midwestern states decided to cut their benefits,” said Wilson.

Wilson said that, long-term unemployment is still very elevated and the level of long-term unemployment didn’t justify cutting the benefits between 2011-2013.

Wilson explained: “It’s just poor timing given that there is still a significant portion of the population who have been out of work for a long time and could really use those benefits to help their families.”

Blacks Suffer Because Shortage of Organ Donors

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By Jazelle Hunt
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – At the start of 2002, Everett Lee, 57 at the time, considered himself “healthier than all get out.” So when he found himself winded with the smallest tasks, he knew something was wrong.

He scheduled a physical with his doctor as soon as possible, including blood work, EKG, and x-ray.

“[My doctor] said, ‘the blood has to go to the lab, I’ll give you a call back Friday.’ Well, he didn’t call Friday,” Lee says. “He called me Saturday morning at 9 a.m. – and you know that’s a bad sign – and said, ‘Everett you need to go to the hospital, right now.’”

Lee received an emergency blood transfusion over the weekend, and by Tuesday, he had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He started chemotherapy the following day.

Blood illnesses such as leukemia and sickle cell anemia can be cured through bone marrow transplants. But African Americans are least likely of all racial groups to find a viable donor, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. The nonprofit runs the world’s largest blood-cell database, known as the Be The Match Registry.

The dearth of donors of color affects all transplants, from blood-related procedures, to tissues such as corneas, to organs such as skin and kidneys. In fact more than 37,000 Black patients are awaiting organ transplants today – that’s 30 percent of the national organ transplant waitlist, according to the federal Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN).

There are only 16,014 still-living and still-registered African Americans who have donated an organ over the last 26 years. Last year, only 17 percent of posthumous donors were Black.

The organ and tissue donor registry is both federal and state based. Every state has its own registry, usually via the motor vehicle department. The OPTN keeps track of all of the donors registered nationally, and helps states coordinate matching, donation, organ transport, and transplant.

Signing up to be an organ-and-tissue, or bone marrow donor are simple, but separate processes. To be a posthumous organ and tissue donor, one must sign up through the state’s department of motor vehicles, or using DonateLife.net. A wallet-sized donor card will be issued through the mail. To become a living organ or tissue donor one must register with the federal United Network for Organ Sharing, and undergo a full physical and psych evaluation. To join the marrow registry as a potential donor, one can request a cheek-swab DNA kit and application from BeTheMatch.org.

Matching donors to patients is a painstaking process dependent on many factors. For organ and tissue transplants, these factors include blood types, body sizes, patient need, distance between patient and donor, and more. For bone marrow—or more accurately, any blood-creating procedure—the main factor is HLA, a DNA marker that immune systems use to tag all cells as part of the body. This makes it easier to identify foreign cells.

Corey Franklin works in transplant support, guiding donors through the process. Last year, he found himself on the other side of the desk.

He had signed up to be a marrow donor during a drive at his church back in 2002.

“I was already a registered organ donor. I just said, ‘Ok, I’ll sign up.’ I believe in helping people,” Franklin says. “I think like everyone, when you register you never imagine you’ll get called.”

But the call came last year; he was identified as a potential match for a 10-year-old girl in Paris. Such calls begin a four-to-six week process in which potential donors undergo tests to see if they have more matching markers and to verify their overall health. Meanwhile, patients undergo immune system suppression treatments and tests to ensure they can handle the procedure. With as close to 10 matching markers as possible and a clean bill of health for both people, the donation takes place.

“It was a lot of anxiety…waiting for the donation date. I remember being in the pre-op room and my [blood] pressure was through the roof, like what have I gotten myself into,” Franklin recalled.

He was to undergo the bone marrow method, a surgical procedure in which doctors extract liquid marrow from the lower back pelvic bone, under general anesthesia.

“I remember being in pain when I woke up, I was shaking because I was kind of cold. I was happy it was over. I think a few days after my donation, the epiphany hit me that I really did something. Not everyone can say ‘I saved someone’s life,’” says Franklin.

He says he has not been in contact with the recipient because of restrictive French regulations.

“One of the best things I say [to new donors] is that you’re going to suffer some pain as you go through the procedure, but it’s something you’re experiencing for a short amount of time, whereas you’re giving somebody another chance at life,” Franklin says. “It’s something I wear proudly and would definitely be willing to do again.”

The bone marrow method is used in 25 percent of donations. The rest use a process called PBSC, which is similar to donating blood.

Lee received a PBSC donation just five months after his initial diagnosis. His donor was a woman in Rockville, Md. who shares the same name as his youngest daughter. They had a 9.5 out of 10 HLA match.

“The rule is you have to wait a year for contact. After one year, on June 12, 2003, I called her on her job and said, ‘Hello, this is Everett Lee, and I’m the recipient of your blood cells,” Franklin recalls. “That call was great. And I got to meet her – she was 27 or 28 at the time, a single mom, and a great lady. [She] didn’t want any honor or stuff, to her it was not a big deal.”

Ideal marrow donors are healthy people between 18 and 44, but people of color are particularly needed.

Jasmon Augustine, a senior at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, is learning this through her involvement with the campus’ chapter of Be The Match.

“I think if people hear from someone who looks like them, someone who is involved not just saying for them to get involved, and showing the benefits of what they would be doing,” Augustine explains, “then that helps it sink in more. Even if they can’t or don’t want to get involved, they might be willing to pass along the information to friends.”

Dr. Clive Callender, surgeon and founder of the Howard University Hospital Transplant Center, came to similar conclusion. To raise awareness he launched a grassroots effort in Black communities around the

“Communities are completely unaware that African Americans are disproportionately affected, that we have the greatest need for organ and tissue transplants. But we also have to turn that awareness into action,” he said.

With the success of this pilot, Dr. Callender founded the Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) to expand the effort to all people of color. At first, MOTTEP’s mission was simply to build a more diverse donor pool through education on the issue. Over time, he realized that mission wasn’t enough.

“Unfortunately, minorities are winning the race from the cradle to the grave,” he says. “It’s very important to be healthy, because in order to be a donor you have to be compatible, healthy, and willing.”

Kidney failure, for example, is a particular issue for African Americans – 73 percent of transplants performed on Black people last year were for kidneys.

Today, Lee’s leukemia is in remission.

“I’ve been to drives and expos…I’d be talking to Blacks and telling them about [donations] and my experience, and they say, ‘I’ll be back.’ They don’t want to get on the list. But we are the lowest on the registry, which means every time a Black person gets blood cancer or a blood disease, we have a much lower chance of finding a donor than a White person does.”

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