Category Archives: Human Rights

‘Crimes Against Humanity’: Abuses Persist at Immigrant Detention Centers as DHS Hands Out ‘Waivers’ to Contractors

Contractors have been granted waivers to use tear gas on detainees and after failing to report a sexual assault, an inspector general’s report found

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2019

A new report by the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department found persistent abuses at immigration detention facilities that the department has done little to address. (Photo: Customs and Border Protection)

In another sign the Trump administration is violating the rights of immigrants, a poorly regulated system of handing out “waivers” to contractors which run immigrant detention facilities has allowed many abuses at the facilities to persist for years, according to a damning new report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The report found that federal immigration authorities are failing to police both private and public contractors which run detention facilities currently holding more than 45,000 immigrants each day. Instead of revoking contracts, fining the businesses and public entities which are operating the centers, or taking other actions to ensure abuses don’t continue once they’re discovered, DHS is simply granting waivers to the contractors for violations including failure to report sexual assaults in their facilities. Continue reading

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Senators Demand Federal Limits for Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water Amid Reports of ‘Unconscionable’ Inaction by Trump’s EPA

“We now face a serious challenge: aggressively addressing the health and environmental threats connected with PFAS.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-1-2019

Twenty senators are calling for federal limits on a pair of chemicals linked to various cancers and other health issues. (Photo: Peter Werkman/Flickr/cc)

In response to reports this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t plan to impose drinking water limits on two toxic chemicals linked to various forms of cancer and other health issues, 20 senators on Friday sent a letter to acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler imploring him to craft nationwide restrictions.

The chemicals in question are PFOA and PFOS, which belong to a group called PFASPolitico reported Tuesday that Wheeler had signed off on an unreleased plan that would leave the pair off the list of materials regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Continue reading

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Like Military at Gitmo, ICE Reportedly Using Nasal Tubes to Force Feed Migrant Prisoners on Hunger Strike

“By starving themselves, these men are trying to make public the very suffering that ICE is trying to keep hidden from taxpayers.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-31-2019

According to the Associated Press, the detained migrants said they began refusing food to “protest verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards.” Photo: It’s Going Down

Employing what one critic described as “Guantanamo Bay style” abuse, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are reportedly using plastic nasal tubes to force-feed at least six detained migrants who have been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest conditions at an El Paso, Texas prison.

As the Associated Press reported on Thursday, detained migrants and an attorney representing the hunger strikers said “nearly 30 detainees from India and Cuba have been refusing to eat, and some are now so weak they cannot stand up or talk.” Continue reading

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With Trump Seen as ‘Symptom Not a Cause,’ US Rank Plummets on Global Corruption Index

“The U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2019

People gathered in the streets of London to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom in July of 2018. (Photo: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr/cc)

An analysis out Tuesday from Transparency International “reveals the United States as a key country to watch in a global pattern of stagnating anti-corruption efforts and a worldwide crisis of democracy,” according to the group, with the U.S. rank on a global index plummeting by four points in just the past year under President Donald Trump.

The United States earned a score of 71 out of 100 on the watchdog’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), knocking it out of the top 20 countries for the first time since 2011. Continue reading

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People Power: 160,000 European Protesters Demand Action on Climate Crisis

Tens of thousands march in France, Belgium over climate crisis

By Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2019

70,000 protesters ignore the rain in Brussels. Photo: Greenpeace EU/Twitter

At least 80,000 people marched in a cold rain in Brussels Sunday in another massive protest demanding that the European Union take urgent and far-reaching action to address the world’s climate crisis.

Sunday’s march was the fourth climate march in the past three weeks—each one significantly bigger than the last—as students across Belgium and other European countries have skipped their high school and college classes in order to shame those in power who refuse to move urgently. Continue reading

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The Trump administration wants to tighten SNAP work requirements, bypassing Congress

File 20190118 100273 1kfp3fr.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Fewer people getting SNAP benefits can lead to more skipped meals. maradon 333/Shutterstock.com

Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, North Carolina State University

The Trump administration wants to tighten even further longstanding restrictions on who is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The farm bill, which gets updated every five years or so, spells out who can participate in SNAP, the assistance program previously known as food stamps. The most recent version of this legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, left out new limits on the eligibility of adults without children. Those limits were part of the House version, but Congress dropped them prior to the bill’s passage. Continue reading

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Fears of US-Backed ‘Coup’ in Motion as Trump Recognizes Venezuela Opposition Lawmaker as ‘Interim President’

In response to Trump declaration, President Nicolas Maduro gives diplomats from ‘imperialist’ U.S. 72 hours to leave the country

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-23-2019

Protester holding a sign criticizing what the Venezuelan state media tells its citizens.. Photo: FEGO3011 [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela officially cut off dipomatic ties with the U.S. government on Wednesday—and gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country—in response to President Donald Trump declaring formal recognition of an opposition lawmaker as the “Interim President” of Venezuela, despite not being elected by the nation’s people for that position.

“Before the people and nations of the world, and as constitutional president,” declared Maduro to a crowd of red-shirted supporters gathered outside the presidential residence in Caracas, “I’ve decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist U.S. government.” Continue reading

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Leaked Memo Reveals Trump Administration’s “Immoral” Plan to “Traumatize” Migrant Children

“It appears that they wanted to have it both ways—to separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) appeared on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” Thursday night to discuss a leaked document about the Trump administration’s family separation policy. (Photo: MSNBC)

Following reports on Thursday that federal officials forcibly separated thousands more migrant children from their families than previously reported, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) released a document to NBC News revealing the Trump administration intended to “traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border.”

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Watch: Devastating New ‘Land of the Free’ Music Video Decries Violence and Cruelty of Trump’s America

Set to a short film by Spike Lee, The Killers take on Trump’s wall, tear-gassing of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, and gun violence

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-15-2019

Filmmaker Spike Lee spent a few weeks in 2018 documenting migrants’ experiences at the U.S.-Mexico border for The Killers’ “Land of the Free” music video, over which he reportedly was given full creative control. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

In a powerful indictment of cruelty across the United States, The Killers’ new song “Land of the Free”—released Monday with a devastating music video directed by Spike Lee—decries President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, the dehumanization and abuse of asylum-seekers, mass incarceration, institutional racism, and the nation’s refusal to address the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence.

Watch: Continue reading

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Merkley Calls for FBI Perjury Probe into Homeland Secretary Nielsen After Child Detention Memo Leaked

“Merkley deserves a ton of credit for his leadership here. This is good, honest,

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-18-2019

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: DHS/flickr

After releasing a damning draft memo that showed the Trump administration planned to “traumatize” migrant children with family separations and expedite deportation by denying asylum hearings, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday called for an FBI investigation into whether Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen lied when she testified before Congress about the policy.

In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the senator noted that “compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017.” Continue reading

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