The Lingering Effects of Trump’s Family-Separation Policy

(Source) “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands,” one Border Patrol agent told The Washington Post. The man, Marco Antonio Muñoz, was initially placed in a chain-link detention cell, but, so agitated over the separation of his family, was later taken to a local jail. “He yelled and kicked at the windows on the ride,” the agent said. The next morning, Muñoz was found dead in his cell, “a small pool of blood by his nose” and “a piece of clothing twisted around his neck.” This was May 13, 2018. Muñoz’s tragic death is not a standalone incident, but rather part of a long history of complex and escalating policies surrounding immigration. The genesis of family separation can be traced as far back as 9/11, with the Bush administration’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), tasked with, amongst its overarching missions, “ensuring the safety and security of our borders while managing a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.” The genesis of family separation as a way to deter migration to the United States can be traced to Tom Homan, who Caitlin Dickerson describes, in The Secret History of Family Separation, as [read more]

Decades-long waits for green card if you were born in the “wrong” country

                                                                                                                  (Source) The Immigration and Nationality Act (“the Act”) (8 U.S.C. §1152) promulgated that no country could receive more than 7% of the total number of green cards under each employment-based preference visa categories in a fiscal year, in addition to providing for an annual numerical worldwide limitation on permanent residency issuance. The original intent of the provision was to ensure a diverse immigrant pool. However, the per-country cap generated decades-long backlogs for immigrants born in countries like China and India. Legislation aiming to eliminate the per-country cap has been repeatedly introduced to Congress. The 116th Congress passed Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act in both chambers but could not reconcile the two chambers’ bills before the expiration of the 116th Congress. A similar EAGLE Act has now been introduced to the 117th Congress and cleared the House Judiciary committee. In this article, I will only explore [read more]

Turning Americans’ True Crime Fascination into Action

                                                                                                              (Source) The true crime industry has been significantly on the rise over the past decade.  However, the genre has been criticized for causing prolonged harm to victims’ families, reinforcing the carceral state, and increasing fear of crime without analyzing the shortcomings of the criminal justice system or providing ongoing support for victims.  Instead of simply consuming true crime stories to become amateur detectives or to escape the monotony of everyday life, Americans interested in this genre should redirect their focus to advocacy. An interest in reading about violent crimes can be traced back as early as the 16th century in Great Britain when morally ambiguous leaflets were consumed by the literate artisan class and above.  However, the advent of the tabloid magazine in the Roaring 20s packaged true crime stories into “cheap, handheld entertainment,” making the genre more accessible to the masses.  Today, true crime [read more]

The Insanity Plea Problem

                                                                                                             Source To some, the expression “not guilty by reason of insanity” evokes ideas of a Get Out of Jail Free card. Many Americans perceive the insanity defense as a way to commit crimes and evade any punishment. However, a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity can yield a punishment even greater than a guilty verdict. Researchers have described those found not guilty by reason of insanity as “cursed twice as mad and bad,” as they must grapple with both the stigma of mental illness and the societal vitriol directed towards criminals. The pitfalls of the not guilty by reason of insanity verdict, though severe, are not given sufficient scrutiny. With the exception of strict liability crimes, for a finding of guilt, the American criminal system requires both an unlawful act, actus reus, and unlawful intent, mens rea. The insanity defense is rooted in the [read more]

Job Retraining and the Future of Work

                                                                                                            (Source) In recent years, the face of work in the United States has been rapidly changing. As the nation begins to adopt new technologies and automation in the workplace, the demand for unskilled labor is simultaneously declining. With the expansion of alternative energy sources, the American tech sector, electric vehicles, etc., the need for technical workplace skills and advanced training is becoming more prevalent. While this new industrial revolution offers convenience and utility to consumers, it presents the national labor force with an interesting predicament. Absent some sort of intervention, one would imagine that this change could drastically increase unemployment, particularly in those who lack the skills or educational backgrounds required to perform the skilled labor high-tech firms will demand. To adequately address this evolving issue, the federal government may be forced to explore various solutions including job retraining programs or perhaps, universal basic income. The [read more]

Marking the End of Forced Arbitration in Sexual Misconduct Cases

                                                                                                             (Source)            On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.” This bipartisan bill seeks to amend the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) to make it easier for victims of sexual misconduct to litigate their legal claims in court instead of being forced to arbitrate. The bill invalidates and renders unenforceable pre-dispute arbitration agreements in cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment. It fixes the ‘broken system’ by barring businesses and employers from using forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts to silence the victims of workplace sexual misconduct. The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) applies to employment contracts except those involving employees working in interstate transportation. Section 2 of the FAA states that written agreements to arbitrate “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or [read more]

Why is tuition rising and what can we do about it?

                                                                                                          (Source) Tuition is rising at an extraordinary rate. Over the past 20 years, the average tuition and fees have increased by 144% at private universities, and by over 170% at public universities. Over the same period, inflation has only increased by 54%. This phenomenon is not happening due to a single factor. While many theories try to explain how this phenomenon arose, I will explore some of the predominant ones, and then discuss some ways we can try to solve the issue of rising tuitions. The first theory stems from the Bennett Hypothesis. The idea is that the more money students can borrow, the more colleges are able to charge. Currently, the government can give students federal loans up to the cost of attendance.  Since students can borrow up to whatever the cost of attendance is, there is much less demand elasticity due to the price. Thus, [read more]

We Need an Afghan Adjustment Act

(Source) This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News on Apr 9, 2022. Since the fall of the Afghan government in August 2021, the United States’ treatment of our Afghan allies has fallen short of anything humane. Now, while the world’s attention justifiably turns to the devastation in Ukraine, the recent more favorable treatment of Ukrainian refugees highlights how the United States has unacceptably failed our Afghan allies. During the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the U.S. military evacuated around 123,000 people from Afghanistan. The U.S. military brought 83,000 of these Afghans into the United States. Others were taken to third countries. These evacuated individuals were our allies in Afghanistan. They supported and joined the U.S. military’s work in the country and worked for American NGOs. They stood with us against the Taliban, putting their lives at risk. Before evacuating these allies, the U.S. vetted them and identified them as being at risk of harm from the Taliban. While those evacuated from Afghanistan were lucky to make it out of the country alive, this sudden departure from their homeland was nonetheless a traumatic experience. Many fled without getting to say goodbye to their loved [read more]

Food Deserts and Food Insecurity

(Source) According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 23.5 million Americans reside in food deserts. While the issue has received copious news coverage and widespread recognition in recent years, researchers and policymakers alike have yet to develop an adequate solution. Beyond the obvious issues posed by such a problem, food deserts are incontrovertible evidence of inequality in the richest country in the world. To remediate this issue in a lasting way, solutions must be multifaceted and adequately account for the experiences of members of these communities. Beyond increased funding, public private partnerships and co-op business models may provide just this sort of solution. I. The Issue By definition, a food desert is a geographical area in which residents live below the poverty line and more than one mile away from a supermarket. The residents of such areas typically lack meaningful access to personal transportation. As a result, they must resort to public transportation to reach the grocery store. According to residents of a notorious food desert in southern Memphis, TN, it can often take upwards of an hour to reach the supermarket even if buses are running on time. Yet, like other Americans, residents of these areas also [read more]

I See You, Survivor: A Call to Dismantle the Troubled Teen Industry

(Source) The “Troubled Teen” Industry is composed of various Congregate Care Facilities or Congregate Care Programs (CCFs/CCPs) that claim to provide housing and treatment for teens displaying “troubled” behaviors such as addiction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, general disobedience, and at times even targeting sexual orientation and gender identity. These facilities are often privately run by various companies, nonprofits as well as faith-based organizations. There are anywhere from 120,000–200,000 teens estimated to be currently enrolled in these CCF/CCPs. Despite the deceptively benign intentions behind the programs, the experiences of the youth forced into these programs are often anything but pleasant.  These programs often limit and manipulate communication between parents and their children, inflicting a form of punishment known as “Code Silence.” This punishment isolates the child not only from contacting their loved ones at home but also isolates them from others residing at the program by not allowing them to speak. The Breaking Code Silence movement is meant to counter the indoctrinated command to remain silent and urges victims to speak out. Social media has long been used as a means of political activism, so it was no surprise when victims of the “Troubled Teen” Industry took to the social media [read more]
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