Advice Violence

Words Matter: Cheers to the FBI for Recognizing How Much

Heather Corinna

The FBI finally changed its defintion of rape, and while that may seem small, it has the capacity to change things for the better by quite a lot for a majority of rape victims and survivors.

Published in partnership with Scarleteen.

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains candid discussion of rape and sexual violence.

I experienced two different sexual assaults when I wasn’t yet in my teens within just one year of one another. The second time I was assaulted, my experience ticked all of the boxes there currently are in our culture for what is so often — now, anyway, easily considered a “real” or “bonafide” sexual assault, or what Whoopi Goldberg, to my great disappointment, would call “rape-rape.”

I was a girl, and one with body parts universally recognized as “girl parts.” My attackers were guys. Even worse when it comes to the rape cliché all too often (misre)presented as universal truth, I was a white girl raped by guys of color. I did not know any of the perpetrators: they were all strangers. It was violent. It was forceful. I said no, I yelled, I tried to run, and I fought, but I lost. I was conscious until I was knocked unconscious. I hadn’t been drinking or doing recreational drugs, nor had I ever even tried either. I sustained physical injuries. I wasn’t a sex worker. I didn’t have mental illness or a developmental disability. I wasn’t dressed “provocatively,” (despite a police officer’s notion that any length shorts were provocative), I wasn’t wearing lipstick or high heels, I wasn’t on a date or at a bar, and beyond some very rudimentary, fully-clothed juvenile fumbling, I hadn’t been sexually active.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

The first time around was different: I was much more confused about what had happened. I knew the person who assaulted me: he was the “sweet old man” who cut our hair. I froze in fear and shock: I wasn’t able to move or utter a sound, including “no,” despite feeling no loudly in my skin. I was wearing, that day, an outfit I thought was a “pretty” outfit. My attacker told me I liked what he was doing, and he said “nice” things to me, rather than calling me names. He told me how pretty I was. I didn’t get any injuries. It wasn’t violent. I threw up several times when I walked home: I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know it was wrong, or why. Nor did I know it was sexual violence. I didn’t even try to tell anyone.

But shortly after the second assault, it was clear what had happened, both times. I still didn’t have and wasn’t provided any sound words (nor help) for it at the time, but I knew that first incident was just as wrong as the second; knew they were the same at their core. Once I tried again to tell someone about the second assault a couple years later, I got the information and words I needed to better start to understand I had been raped, and all that could mean. I then realized what should have been obvious: I was raped that first time too, not just the second.

If that second rape had been more like most rapes, and if I had been anyone but someone with a vagina, given so much of the messaging out there then, and, though to a lesser degree, still out there now, I might not have figured out what happened to me until many, many years had passed, something which would have set me back immeasurably, and to my great detriment, in my healing process. I meet survivors like that, any of us who work in support for survivors do: it is so, so much harder for them to heal than it could be, than it should be.

This should all be so far past obvious to anyone by now. Even though some folks still lazily, callously, dangerously and sometimes even maliciously cling to and broadcast myths about sexual violence — plenty will likely do so in reaction to the terminology change I’m going to talk about — this should all be clear by now, especially from federal justice agencies who are supposed to support victims, not render them invisible.

There’s a lot that’s changed for the better around sexual violence and victim advocacy since I was assaulted in the early 80s, and plenty that’s changed since I started actively working with survivors over the last ten years. The mere fact that what happened with my second assault would now so readily be classified as assault, and most likely treated so differently than it was by police and everyone else around me speaks volumes. But one thing that really hasn’t changed, especially in lowest-common-denominator attitudes, attitudes which were very unfortunately still reflected in the longstanding definition of rape from the FBI, is the notion that only assaults like the second one I experienced were or are “real” rape; that only victims like I was then are “real” victims. That’s a strange and hurtful notion for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that that kind of assault is the LEAST common way rape occurs, not the most common. And that’s not late-breaking news: data and information has been gathered which makes that clear for decades: millions of survivors have bravely told their stories over the years which illustrates this clearly. And yet.

At the very least, our justice departments should be clear and inclusive about what rape and other kinds of sexual abuse are, and at the very least, those definitions should include and privilege the most common ways and contexts per how rape occurs, not just the least common to the exclusion of all else.

And now, we’ve finally got some of that important, needed clarity. The FBI finally dumped a definition of rape which had over eight decades of dust on it, and adopted a new, far sounder definition. To say I’m elated and deeply grateful is a pretty serious understatement.

Before you look at the new definition, take a look at the old one: The previous definition was “The carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” “Carnal knowledge” is a term that expressly and exclusively means penis-in-vagina intercourse.

Who didn’t that include? Often, people assaulted by those known to them, even closest to them, which accounts for the majority of sexual assaults of all people and most commonly doesn’t involve physical force, but coercion and other kinds of manipulation. Men and boys. Women who were not assigned female sex at birth. Women sexually assaulted by other women. People whose assaults did not involve vaginal intercourse. People who were assaulted sexually in such a way that did not involve a penis. People who were not conscious or fully conscious when assaulted. People who did not give their consent, or whose nonconsent was ignored. All of these victims and survivors and more were not included in the previous definition. That old definition didn’t include the majority of people who have been raped.

As someone who educates, counsels and supports a wide range of rape survivors every week, I all too often hear from survivors who can’t even get started healing because they feel they have “no right” to call their assault what it was, mostly either because they fear they’ll invalidate the experiences of “real” survivors and victims, because they do not want to hold someone else responsible for something they are not responsible for, and/or because one or both of those concerns dovetail all too nicely with victim-blaming, rape-enabling mentalities the world is plastered with. I’ll sometimes pull out my own experiences and say that I believe them, that I don’t feel invalidated because we did not have the same experiences with rape, and as someone who has experienced rape in different ways, I know all too well rape is rape is rape. But I shouldn’t have to do that, and no one should need me to, especially when I’m saying what I am to counter not just what they hear from uneducated people, but from justice agencies, who know all of this better than anyone.

Now it seems I just might need to have discussions like that a lot less, or have them only when backing up what our federal justice bureau says themselves.

Here’s the new definition:

The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

As the FBI explains (bolding mine):

The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with state statute. Physical resistance from the victim is not required to demonstrate lack of consent.

“The revised definition of rape sends an important message to the broad range of rape victims that they are supported and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable,” said Justice Department Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Susan B. Carbon. “We are grateful for the dedicated work of all those involved in making and implementing the changes that reflect more accurately the devastating crime of rape.”

The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape.

“These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” Attorney General Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

Police departments submit data on reported crimes and arrests to the UCR. The UCR data are reported nationally and used to measure and understand crime trends. In addition, the UCR program will also collect data based on the historical definition of rape, enabling law enforcement to track consistent trend data until the statistical differences between the old and new definitions are more fully understood. The revised definition of rape is within FBI’s UCR Summary Reporting System Program. The new definition is supported by leading law enforcement agencies and advocates and reflects the work of the FBI’s CJIS Advisory Policy Board.

It’s still not perfect, but it is so, so, very much closer then we have ever had before, and fine-tuning it from here should be a lot easier than it was getting from the old definition to this new one.

Not knowing something has happened to you when it has is often awful, especially with something like rape where feelings of confusion on the part of a victim are so often used to dismiss or deny assault. Feeling like you can’t even voice what happened to you or express what you’re feeling because your assault, compared to the rarest kind of assault so often seen as the only “real” kind is a horrible way to feel. Healing from abuse and assault is often a long, demanding and challenging process, but you can’t even really get started until you have some basic words for and sense of what was done to you, a clarity that what someone chose to do to you was a serious crime, a crime where you were a victim.

I really cannot express how grateful I am for this change: grateful to FBI Director Robert Mueller and to the many individuals and initiatives (like The Feminist Majority Foundation, Ms. Magazine and Change.org) who pushed and kept pushing tirelessly for more than ten years for this positive, important change.

Thank you. Thank you.

By all means, how the FBI defines sexual violence can’t control how everyone does, nor magically erase myths and misrepresentation of perpetrators and victims. We’re still going to all have to keep doing a lot of work to turn around the dangerous and damaging mythology about sexual violence, its perpetrators and its victims. We’re still going to have to do a lot of work to keep holding the line when it comes to consent and the necessity of real consent, and for everyone, not just certain individuals or groups: for everyone. We still have a lot to do to address and change bystanding and victim-blaming and a whole bunch of other stuff that’s going to take time and the efforts of everyone, not just one big agency or advocacy organizations, but absolutely everyone, to rid our world of rape culture.

However, I think having a standard set like this is going to make all of that much easier. This change is powerful for those who will report and seek justice. It’s powerful even for those who do not, but can know that if they choose not to report or press charges, it’s not because a crime wasn’t committed, but because they are making a choice not to pursue justice for that crime. Powerful because survivors can see, in clear language from a major justice organization, what what has happened to them as exactly what it is, not what those who want to deny it would call it. They can have a sense of what rape is which is current and based on all we know now, not an archaic relic from an era decades before the civil rights movement, and a time when women had only had the right to vote for less than ten years (and when raping a woman you were married to — including violently — was legal in every state of the union and not acknowledged as “real” rape at all, because wives were very much considered, legally and socially, the sexual property of their husbands). It’s powerful when it comes to doing a better job collecting data on sexual assault so that everyone can begin to have a very real sense of how big a problem rape is and what we need to do to most effectively keep working to end sexual violence. Powerful for anyone, as well, who needs to know how very important and integral consent is, and how very much harm it can do to suggest it’s irrelevant, or say nothing about it at all.

And having these words from an authority as powerful as the FBI? That has serious power. The power to answer statements like, “But I didn’t say no,” “But I didn’t fight,” “But I was drinking,” “But she didn’t have a weapon,” “But it was my boyfriend/coach/teacher/parent,” “But I’m a guy,” “But I was wearing a short skirt,” “But I froze and didn’t do or say anything,” and other common statements reflective of a wide range of victims and survivors with a so-about-time definition that makes perfectly clear how none of those things mean that someone who was raped was not.

Analysis Human Rights

From Protected Class to High-Priority Target: How the ‘System Is Rigged’ Against Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Tina Vasquez

Vulnerable, undocumented youth who pose no real threat are being stripped of their right to an education and instead sit in detention awaiting deportation.

This is the first article in Rewire’s two-part series about the U.S. immigration system’s effects on unaccompanied children.

Earlier this month, three North Carolina high school students were released from a Lumpkin, Georgia, detention center after spending more than six months awaiting what seemed like their inevitable fate: deportation back to conditions in Central America that threatened their lives.

Wildin David Guillen Acosta, Josue Alexander Soriano Cortez, and Yefri Sorto-Hernandez were released on bail in the span of one week, thanks to an overwhelming community effort involving pro bono attorneys and bond money. However, not everyone targeted under the same government operation has been reprieved. For example, by the time reports emerged that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had detained Acosta on his way to school in Durham, North Carolina, the government agency had already quietly deported four other young people from the state, including a teenage girl from Guatemala who attended the same school.

Activated in January, that program—Operation Border Guardian—continues to affect the lives of hundreds of Central American migrants over the age of 18 who came to the United States as unaccompanied children after January 2014. Advocates believe many of those arrested under the operation are still in ICE custody.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson has said that the goal of Operation Border Guardian is to send a message to those in Central America considering seeking asylum in the United States. But it’s not working, as Border Patrol statistics have shown. Furthermore, vulnerable, undocumented youth who pose no real threat are being stripped of their right to an education and instead sit in detention awaiting deportation. These youth arrived at the border in hopes of qualifying for asylum, but were unable to succeed in an immigration system that seems rigged against them.

“The laws are really complicated and [young people] don’t have the community support to navigate this really hostile, complex system. That infrastructure isn’t there and unless we support asylum seekers and other immigrants in this part of the country, we’ll continue to see asylum seekers and former unaccompanied minors receive their deportation orders,” said Julie Mao, the enforcement fellow at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

“A Grossly Misnamed” Operation

In January, ICE conducted a series of raids that spanned three southern states—Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas—targeting Central American asylum seekers. The raids occurred under the orders of Johnson, who has taken a hardline stance against the more than 100,000 families who have sought asylum in the United States. These families fled deadly gang violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in recent years. In El Salvador, in particular, over 400 children were murdered by gang members and police officers during the first three months of 2016, doubling the country’s homicide rate, which was already among the highest in the world.

ICE picked up some 121 people in the early January raids, primarily women and their young children. Advocates argue many of those arrested were detained unlawfully, because as people who experienced severe trauma and exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety, and depression, they were disabled as defined under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and ICE did not provide reasonable accommodations to ensure disabled people were not denied meaningful access to benefits or services.

Just a few weeks later, on January 23, ICE expanded the raids’ focus to include teenagers under Operation Border Guardian, which advocates said represented a “new low.”

The media, too, has also criticized DHS for its seemingly senseless targeting of a population that normally would be considered refugees. The New York Times called Operation Border Guardian “a grossly misnamed immigration-enforcement surge that went after people this country did not need to guard against.”

In response to questions about its prioritization of former unaccompanied minors, an ICE spokesperson told Rewire in an emailed statement: “As the secretary has stated repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration. If someone was apprehended at the border, has been ordered removed by an immigration court, has no pending appeal, and does not qualify for asylum or other relief from removal under our laws, he or she must be sent home. We must and we will enforce the law in accordance with our enforcement priorities.”

DHS reports that 336 undocumented Central American youth have been detained in the operation. It’s not clear how many of these youth have already been deported or remain in ICE custody, as the spokesperson did not respond to that question by press time.

Acosta, Cortez, Sorto-Hernandez, and three other North Carolina teenagersSantos Geovany Padilla-Guzman, Bilmer Araeli Pujoy Juarez, Pedro Arturo Salmeron—have become known as the NC6 and the face of Operation Border Guardian, a designation they likely would have not signed up for.

Advocates estimate that thousands of deportations of low-priority migrants—those without a criminal history—occur each week. What newly arrived Central American asylum seekers like Acosta could not have known was that the federal government had been laying the groundwork for their deportations for years.

Asylum Seekers Become “High-Priority Cases”

In August 2011, the Obama administration announced it would begin reviewing immigration cases individually, allowing ICE to focus its resources on “high-priority cases.” The assumption was that those who pose a threat to public safety, for example, would constitute the administration’s highest priority, not asylum-seeking high school students.

But there was an indication from DHS that asylum-seeking students would eventually be targeted and considered high-priority. After Obama’s announcement, ICE released a statement outlining who would constitute its “highest priorities,” saying, “Specifically individuals who pose a threat to public safety such as criminal aliens and national security threats, as well as repeat immigration law violators and recent border entrants.”

In the years since, President Obama has repeatedly said “recent border crossers” are among the nation’s “highest priorities” for removal—on par with national security threats. Those targeted would be migrants with final orders of removal who, according to the administration, had received their day in court and had no more legal avenues left to seek protection. But, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported, “recent border entrant” is a murky topic, and it doesn’t appear as if all cases are being reviewed individually as President Obama said they would.

“Recent border entrant” can apply to someone who has been living in the United States for three years, and a border removal applies “whenever ICE deports an individual within three years of entry—regardless of whether the initial entry was authorized—or whenever an individual is apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP),” explained Thomas Homan, the head of ICE’s removal operations in a 2013 hearing with Congress, the ACLU reported.

Chris Rickerd, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, added that “[b]ecause CBP refuses to screen the individuals it apprehends for their ties to the U.S., and DHS overuses procedures that bypass deportation hearings before a judge, many ‘border removals’ are never fully assessed to determine whether they have a legal right to stay.”

Over the years, DHS has only ramped up the department’s efforts to deport newly arrived immigrants, mostly from Central America. As the Los Angeles Times reported, these deportations are “an attempt by U.S. immigration officials to send a message of deterrence to Central America and avoid a repeat of the 2014 crisis when tens of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala arrived at the U.S. border.”

This is something Mao takes great issue with.

“These raids that we keep seeing are being done in order to deter another wave of children from seeking asylum—and that is not a permissible reason,” Mao said. “You deport people based on legality, not as a way of scaring others. Our country, in this political moment, is terrorizing young asylum seekers as a way of deterring others from presenting themselves at the border, and it’s pretty egregious.”

There is a direct correlation between surges of violence in the Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—and an uptick in the number of asylum seekers arriving in the United States. El Salvador, known as the murder capital of the word, recently saw an explosion of gang violence. Combine that with the possible re-emergence of so-called death squads and it’s clear why the number of Salvadoran family units apprehended on the southern border increased by 96 percent from 2015 to 2016, as Fusion reported.

Much like Mao, Elisa Benitez, co-founder of the immigrants rights’ organization Alerta Migratoria NC, believes undocumented youth are being targeted needlessly.

“They should be [considered] low-priority just because they’re kids, but immigration is classifying them at a very high level, meaning ICE is operating like this is a population that needs to be arrested ASAP,” Benitez said.

The Plight of Unaccompanied Children

Each member of the NC6 arrived in the United States as an unaccompanied child fleeing violence in their countries of origin. Acosta, for example, was threatened by gangs in his native Honduras and feared for his life. These young people should qualify as refugees based on those circumstances under international law. In the United States, after they present themselves at the border, they have to prove to an immigration judge they have a valid asylum claim—something advocates say is nearly impossible for a child to do with no understanding of the immigration system and, often, with no access to legal counsel—or they face deportation.

Unaccompanied children, if not immediately deported, have certain protections once in the United States. For example, they cannot be placed into expedited removal proceedings. According to the American Immigration Council, “they are placed into standard removal proceedings in immigration court. CBP must transfer custody of these children to Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), within 72 hours.”

While their court proceedings move forward, HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement manages the care of the children until they can ideally be released to their parents already based in the country. Sometimes, however, they are placed with distant relatives or U.S. sponsors. Because HHS has lowered its safety standards regarding placement, children have been subjected to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, and severe physical abuse and neglect, ThinkProgress has reported.

If while in the care of their family or a sponsor they miss a court date, detainment or deportation can be triggered once they turn 18 and no longer qualify for protections afforded to unaccompanied children. 

This is what happened to Acosta, who was placed with his mother in Durham when he arrived in the United States. ICE contends that Acosta was not targeted unfairly; rather, his missed court appearance triggered his order for removal.

Acosta’s mother told local media that after attending his first court date, Acosta “skipped subsequent ones on the advice of an attorney who told him he didn’t stand a chance.”

“That’s not true, but it’s what they were told,” Benitez said. “So, this idea that all of these kids were given their day in court is false. One kid [we work with] was even told not to sign up for school because ‘there was no point,’ it would just get him deported.”

Benitez told Rewire the reasons why these young people are being targeted and given their final orders of removal need to be re-examined.

Sixty percent of youth from Central America do not ever have access to legal representation throughout the course of their case—from the time they arrive in the United States and are designated as unaccompanied children to the time they turn 18 and are classified as asylum seekers. According to the ACLU, 44 percent of the 23,000 unaccompanied children who were required to attend immigration court this year had no lawyer, and 86 percent of those children were deported.

Immigration attorneys and advocates say that having a lawyer is absolutely necessary if a migrant is to have any chance of winning an asylum claim.

Mao told Rewire that in the Southeast where Acosta and the other members of the NC6 are from, there is a pipeline of youth who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied children who are simply “giving up” on their valid asylum claims because navigating the immigration system is simply too hard.

“They feel the system is rigged, and it is rigged,” Mao said.

Mao has been providing “technical assistance” for Acosta and other members of the NC6. Her organization doesn’t represent individuals in court, she said, but the services it provides are necessary because immigration is such a unique area of law and there are very few attorneys who know how to represent individuals who are detained and who have been designated unaccompanied minors. Those services include providing support, referrals, and technical assistance to advocates, community organizations, and families on deportation defense and custody issues.

Fighting for Asylum From Detention

Once arrested by ICE, there is no telling if someone will linger in detention for months or swiftly be deported. What is known is that if a migrant is taken by ICE in North Carolina, somewhere along the way, they will be transferred to Lumpkin, Georgia’s Stewart Detention Center. As a local paper reported, Stewart is “the last stop before they send you back to whatever country you came from.”

Stewart is the largest detention center in the country, capable of holding 2,000 migrants at any time—it’s also been the subject of numerous investigations because of reports of abuse and inadequate medical care. The detention center is run by Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest private prison provider and one that has become synonymous with maintaining inhumane conditions inside of its detention centers. According to a report from the National Immigrant Justice Center, Stewart’s remote location—over two hours away from Atlanta—hinders the facility from attracting and retaining adequate medical staff, while also creating barriers to visitation from attorneys and family members.

There’s also the matter of Georgia being notoriously tough on asylum seekers, even being called the “worst” place to be an undocumented immigrant. The Huffington Post reported that “Atlanta immigration judges have been accused of bullying children, badgering domestic violence victims and setting standards for relief and asylum that lawyers say are next to impossible to meet.” Even more disconcerting, according to a project by Migrahack, which pairs immigration reporters and hackers together, having an attorney in Georgia had almost no effect on whether or not a person won their asylum case, with state courts denying up to 98 percent of asylum requests. 

Acosta, Cortez, and Sorto-Hernandez spent over six months in Stewart Detention Center before they were released on baila “miracle” according to some accounts, given the fact that only about 5 percent of those detained in Stewart are released on bond.

In the weeks after ICE transferred Acosta to Stewart, there were multiple times Acosta was on the verge of deportation. ICE repeatedly denied Acosta was in danger, but advocates say they had little reason to believe the agency. Previous cases have made them wary of such claims.

Advocates believe that three of the North Carolina teens who were deported earlier this year before Acosta’s case made headlines were kept in detention for months with the goal of wearing them down so that they would sign their own deportation orders despite having valid asylum claims.

“They were tired. They couldn’t handle being in detention. They broke down and as much as they feared being returned to their home countries, they just couldn’t handle being there [in detention] anymore. They’d already been there for weeks,” Benitez said.

While ICE claims the average stay of a migrant in Stewart Detention Center is 30 days, the detention center is notorious for excessively long detainments. Acosta’s own bunkmate had been there over a year, according to Indy Week reporter David Hudnall.

As Hudnall reported, there is a massive backlog of immigration cases in the system—474,000 nationally and over 5,000 in North Carolina.

Mao told Rewire that the amount of time the remaining members of the NC6 will spend in detention varies because of different legal processes, but that it’s not unusual for young people with very strong asylum cases to sign their rights away because they can’t sustain the conditions inside detention.

Pedro Arturo Salmeron, another NC6 member, is still in detention. He was almost deported, but Mao told Rewire her organization was able to support a pro bono attorney in appealing to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to stop proceedings.

Japeth Matemu, an immigration attorney, recently told Indy Week’s David Hudnall that “the BIA will tell you that it can’t modify the immigration judge’s ruling unless it’s an egregious or obvious miscarriage of justice. You basically have to prove the judge is off his rocker.”

It could take another four months in detention to appeal Salmeron’s case because ICE continues to refuse to release him, according to the legal fellow.

“That’s a low estimate. It could be another year in detention before there is any movement in his case. We as an organization feel that is egregious to detain someone while their case is pending,” Mao said. “We have to keep in mind that these are kids, and some of these kids can’t survive the conditions of adult prison.”

Detention centers operate as prisons do, with those detained being placed in handcuffs and shackles, being stripped of their personal belongings, with no ability to move around freely. One of Acosta’s teachers told Rewire he wasn’t even able to receive his homework in detention.

Many of those in detention centers have experienced trauma. Multiple studies confirm that “detention has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being” and in the particular case of asylum seekers, detention may exacerbate their trauma and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

“People are so traumatized by the raids, and then you add detention on top of that. Some of these kids cannot psychologically and physically deal with the conditions in detention, so they waive their rights,” Mao said.

In March, Salmeron and fellow NC6 member Yefri Sorto-Hernandez received stays of deportation, meaning they would not face immediate deportation. ICE says a stay is like a “legal pause.” During the pause, immigration officials decide if evidence in the case will be reconsidered for asylum. Sorto-Hernandez was released five months later.

Benitez said that previously when she organized around detention, a stay of deportation meant the person would get released from detention, but ICE’s decision to detain some of the NC6 indefinitely until their cases are heard illustrates how “weirdly severe” the agency is being toward this particular population. Mao fears this is a tactic being used by ICE to break down young people in detention.

“ICE knows it will take months, and frankly up to a year, for some of these motions to go through the court system, but the agency is still refusing to release individuals. I can’t help but think it’s with the intention that these kids will give up their claims while suffering in detention,” Mao said.

“I think we really have to question that, why keep these young people locked up when they can be with their communities, with their families, going to school? ICE can release these kids now, but for showmanship, ICE is refusing to let them go. Is this who we want to be, is this the message we want to send the world?” she asked.

In the seven months since the announcement of Operation Border Guardian, DHS has remained quiet about whether or not there will be more raids on young Central American asylum seekers. As a new school year approaches, advocates fear that even more students will be receiving their orders for removal, and unlike the NC6, they may not have a community to rally around them, putting them at risk of quietly being deported and not heard from again.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Tim Kaine Outlines Plan to ‘Make Housing Fair’

Ally Boguhn

“A house is more than just a place to sleep. It's part of the foundation on which a family can build a life,” wrote Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). “Where you live determines the jobs you can find, the schools your children can attend, the air you breathe and the opportunities you have. And when you are blocked from living where you want, it cuts to the core of who you are.”

Donald Trump made some controversial changes to his campaign staff this week, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) noted his commitment to better housing policies.

Trump Hires Controversial Conservative Media Figure

Republican presidential nominee Trump made two notable additions to his campaign staff this week, hiring Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon as CEO and GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager.

“I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years. They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win,” said Trump in a Wednesday statement announcing the hires. “I believe we’re adding some of the best talents in politics, with the experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November and continue to share my message and vision to Make America Great Again.”

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Both have been criticized as being divisive figures.

Conway, for example, previously advised then-client Todd Akin to wait out the backlash after his notorious “legitimate rape” comments, comparing the controversy to “the Waco with David Koresh situation where they’re trying to smoke him out with the SWAT teams.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Conway is also “often cited by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim organizations such as the think tank Center for Security Policy and NumbersUSA.”

Under Bannon’s leadership, “mainstream conservative website” Breitbart.com changed “into a cesspool of the alt-right,” suggested the publication’s former editor at large, Ben Shapiro, in a piece for the Washington Post‘s PostEverything. “It’s a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.”

Speaking with ABC News this week, Kurt Bardella, who also previously worked with Bannon at Breitbart, alleged that Bannon had exhibited “nationalism and hatred for immigrants, people coming into this country to try to get a better life for themselves” during editorial calls.

“If anyone sat there and listened to that call, you’d think that you were attending a white supremacist rally,” said Bardella.

Trump’s new hire drew heated criticism from the Clinton campaign in a Wednesday press call. “The Breitbart organization has been known to defend white supremacists,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. After pointing to an analysis from the SPLC linking Breitbart to the extremist alt-right movement, Mook listed a number of other controversial positions pushed by the site.

“Breitbart has compared the work of Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust. They’ve also repeatedly used anti-LGBT slurs in their coverage. And finally, like Trump himself, Breitbart and Bannon have frequently trafficked in all sorts of deranged conspiracy theories from touting that President Obama was not born in America to claiming that the Obama Administration was ‘importing more hating Muslims.’”

“It’s clear that [Trump’s] divisive, erratic, and dangerous rhetoric simply represents who he really is,” continued Mook.

Kaine Outlines Plan to “Make Housing Fair”

Clinton’s vice presidential nominee Kaine wrote an essay for CNN late last week explaining how the Clinton-Kaine ticket can “make housing fair” in the United States.

“A house is more than just a place to sleep. It’s part of the foundation on which a family can build a life,” wrote Kaine. “Where you live determines the jobs you can find, the schools your children can attend, the air you breathe and the opportunities you have. And when you are blocked from living where you want, it cuts to the core of who you are.”

Kaine shared the story of Lorraine, a young Black woman who had experienced housing discrimination, whom Kaine had represented pro bono just after completing law school.

“This is one issue that shows the essential role government can play in creating a fairer society. Sen. Ed Brooke, an African-American Republican from Massachusetts, and Sen. Walter Mondale, a white Democrat from Minnesota, came together to draft the Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination in the housing market,” noted Kaine, pointing to the 1968 law.

“Today, more action is still needed. That’s why Hillary Clinton and I have a bold, progressive plan to fight housing inequities across Americaespecially in communities that have been left out or left behind,” Kaine continued.

The Virginia senator outlined some of the key related components of Clinton’s “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda,” including an initiative to offer $10,000 in down payment assistance to new homebuyers that earn less than the median income in a given area, and plans to “bolster resources to enforce Fair Housing laws and fight housing discrimination in all its forms.”

The need for fair and affordable housing is a pressing issue for people throughout the country.

“It is estimated that each year more than four million acts of [housing] discrimination occur in the rental market alone,” found a 2015 analysis by the National Fair Housing Alliance.

No county in the United States has enough affordable housing to accommodate the needs of those with low incomes, according to a 2015 report released by the Urban Institute. “Since 2000, rents have risen while the number of renters who need low-priced housing has increased,” explained the report. “Nationwide, only 28 adequate and affordable units are available for every 100 renter households with incomes at or below 30 percent of the area median income.”

What Else We’re Reading

CBS News’ Will Rahn penned a primer explaining Trump campaign CEO Bannon’s relationship to the alt-right.

White supremacists and the alt-right “rejoice[d]” after Trump hired Bannon, reported Betsy Woodruff and Gideon Resnick for the Daily Beast.

Clinton published an essay in Teen Vogue this week encouraging young people to fight for what they care about, learn from those with whom they disagree, and get out the vote.

“In calling for ‘extreme vetting’ of foreigners entering the United States, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested a return to a 1950s-era immigration standard—since abandoned—that barred entry to people based on their political beliefs,” explained USA Today.

Trump wants to cut a visa program “his own companies have used … to bring in hundreds of foreign workers, including fashion models for his modeling agency who need exhibit no special skills,” according to a report by the New York Times.

A Koch-backed group “has unleashed an aggressive campaign to kill a ballot measure in South Dakota that would require Koch-affiliated groups and others like them to reveal their donors’ identities.”

credo_rewire_vote_3

Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!

VOTE!

Thank you for supporting our work!