Category: Social Issues

Undocumented parents for trying to get medical help for their son

Oscar and Irma Sanchez, both of whom are undocumented immigrants living in Texas, were arrested while awaiting a serious surgery for their two-month-old son, highlighting the excruciating human cost of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade.

A heart-wrenching story published by NPR on Wednesday evening detailed how the couple came into contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials back in May while seeking treatment for their son Isaac’s pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes vomiting and weight loss in infants. There was no hospital that could perform the surgery in the Rio Grande Valley area where the couple lives, so they would have to drive to a children’s hospital in Corpus Christi, TX—and past a Border Patrol checkpoint.

But as they were sitting in another hospital trying to figure out how to proceed, the choice was made for them, as a Border Patrol agent turned up in the waiting room. (Oscar Sanchez told NPR he suspects a nurse called the authorities on them.) The agent said they officers could escort the couple to the Corpus Christi hospital for their son to get his surgery, but that they would be arrested the moment they arrived and face deportation proceedings. As any parent would, the couple agreed.

What followed were two straight days of constant surveillance by Border Patrol agents, who Sanchez said never left their sides, asking Irma to keep the door open while she breast-fed and following him to the hospital cafeteria. They were arrested and separately taken to the local Border Patrol station to be booked before being allowed to return to their baby’s side. Sanchez asked the doctor to delay the operation until both he and his wife could be at the hospital.

“We didn’t know if they were going to let us stay with our son or not,” Sanchez told NPR in Spanish. “You feel vulnerable.”

Advocacy groups said the treatment the Sanchez family was subjected to is usually reserved for high-value targets like violent gang members or drug traffickers. Neither Oscar nor Irma have a criminal record.

It’s the latest terrifying incident in a series of arrests where immigration authorities are encroaching on spaces once thought safe for undocumented people. Immigration police have turned up to arrest people at hospitals, homeless shelters, and courthouses since the Trump administration rolled back Obama era protections to avoid making arrests in sensitive locations.

ICE has also dramatically escalated the number of immigrants it has arrested even though they have no criminal record, and Thomas Homan, the acting head of ICE, has warned all undocumented people that they are targets for potential deportation.

Thousands die while Waiting for social security benefits

More than 1 million Americans await a hearing to see whether they qualify for disability benefits from Social Security, with the average wait nearly two years — longer than some of them will live.

All have been denied benefits at least once, as most applications are initially rejected. But in a system where the outcome of a case often depends on who decides it, most people who complete the appeals process will eventually win benefits. The numbers come from data compiled by the Social Security administration.

The national average wait time is just 17 days shy of 600 days, an all-time high for claimants waiting in the immense Social Security disability hearing backlog, according to Allsup, which has released its latest state ranking of the hearing backlog. Allsup is the nation’s premier disability representation company and has helped more than 275,000 people to receive their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Nationwide, more than 1.1 million people are waiting an average 583 days for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), according to Social Security Administration (SSA) quarterly data.

We’re almost halfway through the year, which means most of these individuals waiting are certainly not going to receive their hearing in 2017, and probably not in 2018,” said Mike Stein, Allsup assistant vice president. “We are representing many individuals who still haven’t received a hearing date since filing their appeal in the fall of 2015.”

About 10.5 million people get disability benefits from Social Security. An additional 8 million get disability benefits from Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for poor people who don’t qualify for Social Security. The disability programs are much smaller than Social Security’s giant retirement program. Still, the agency paid out $197 billion in disability payments last year.

Recipients won’t get rich as the average benefit is $1,037 a month — too small to lift a family of two out of poverty.

For some, the benefits come too late. Chris Hoffman worked as a mason, laying bricks and tile and pouring concrete. He had terrible back pain for much of his life, but he kept working until a series of heart attacks. He applied for Social Security disability benefits in 2014 but was denied. He appealed to an administrative law judge. In November, Hoffman died at 58, following his fourth heart attack. Ten months later, the judge ruled that he was entitled to benefits.

“It wasn’t that he was limited, it was that he wasn’t able to do anything,” said Hoffman’s son, Dustin.

Last year there were 7,400 people on waitlists who were dead, according to a report by Social Security’s inspector general.

For someone to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, a doctor must determine that the disability is severe enough to prevent an applicant from working. The disability must last at least a year or could result in death.

If applicants can’t perform their old jobs, officials see if they can adapt to new ones.

The Social Security Administration says it is working to reduce the backlog by hiring 500 new administrative law judges and more than 600 support staff. The judges, who now number about 1,600, hear appeals from people who were initially denied benefits. The agency is also expanding a program that quickly awards benefits to people with serious illnesses and conditions, including certain cancers, said Bea Disman, the agency’s acting chief of staff.

But advocates say budget cuts over the past five years have frustrated efforts to reduce the disability backlog.

Last year, the agency’s budget was $12.6 billion, roughly the same as it was in 2011, even though an additional 6 million people receive either retirement or disability benefits from Social Security.

“No search for efficiencies, reprioritization of tasks or technological improvements can substitute for adequate resources,” said Lisa Ekman of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.

To get benefits, applicants first apply to state agencies that work with the Social Security Administration. These agencies approve, on average, about one-third of the applications they receive, Disman said. In most states, applicants who are denied benefits can ask the same state agency to reconsider, though very few of these applications get approved.

The next step is to file an appeal with an administrative law judge. This is where the backlog swells, with 1.1 million applicants waiting for a hearing before a judge. That’s slightly down from last year, but a 31 percent increase from 2012.

The average wait for a hearing is 602 days. Five years ago, it was less than a year.

The delay is an “unfair hardship for people already living with disabilities,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of Allsup, a firm that represents applicants.

Chris Shuler couldn’t attend his hearing.

Shuler was working as an airplane mechanic in Oklahoma when he was exposed to some chemicals and developed severe respiratory problems, said his wife, Elizabeth Shuler. The medicine he took for his lungs affected his bones and he eventually had two hip replacements, she said.

Chris Shuler applied for Social Security disability payments in 2012 and was denied almost immediately, his wife said. He died in July 2015 from an infection that started in his hip, just before his 40th birthday.

Four months later Elizabeth Shuler attended her husband’s hearing on his behalf.

“I wanted to make sure I at least saw a judge,” she said. “The judge said it was a no-brainer.”

Woman Delivers Baby Early After Boyfriend Allegedly Sets Her on Fire in Capitol Heights

A pregnant woman’s boyfriend set her on fire in Capitol Heights, Maryland, critically injuring her and forcing her to deliver her baby, police said.

Prince George’s County police officers and firefighters found Andrea Grinage with critical burns on a large part of her body while responding to a fire about 11:45 a.m. Friday at 1405 Elkwood Lane, police said.

Grinage told police her boyfriend doused her with a flammable liquid inside her apartment and set her on fire. She also told police he may be on his way to D.C. to possibly harm one of her relatives, Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

“She was very brave. We want her family to know how brave she was, suffering as badly as she was — critically burned, worried about her unborn child, dealing with those injuries and was able to share that information with us so that we could get moving with our investigation and locate this person,” Donelan said.

Man Sets Pregnant Woman on Fire in Capitol Heights

[DC] Man Sets Pregnant Woman on Fire in Capitol Heights

A man set a pregnant woman on fire inside the woman’s apartment in Capitol Heights, Maryland, police say. News4’s Shomari Stone reports.

(Published Friday, Sept. 8, 2017)

Medics took Grinage to a hospital, where she delivered the baby. Police said she and the baby are alive.

“These are not the circumstances under which this baby was to be born,” Donelan said.

Grinage’s father, Arthur Grinage, said the baby, a girl, was born seven weeks premature and is doing OK.

“She’s hanging in there. She’s doing fine. She’s beautiful,” he said.

Police said the suspect turned himself in to police in Washington, D.C., and is in custody. Charges are pending against the suspect.

Relatives and neighbors said the suspect is the woman’s boyfriend. Neighbors said they heard the two arguing Thursday night.

“He’s a coward. He’s less than a man. Walk away if you don’t want the responsibility. Walk away,” the victim’s father said.

Source: Woman Delivers Baby Early After Boyfriend Allegedly Sets Her on Fire in Capitol Heights – NBC4 Washington
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Detroit man shoots transgender woman.

DETROIT – A 27-year-old Detroit man pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting a transgender woman after paying her to perform a sexual act in the back seat of his car.

Jason L. Hogan pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit murder and a felony firearms charge during the commission of a felony.

Hogan met the woman Jan. 13 and arranged to pay for sexual activity in the back of his car, police said. After performing a sex act, Hogan shot her in the face with a handgun.

The woman escaped from Hogan and was treated at Grace Hospital.

Detroit police investigated the case and arrested Hogan.

“This case highlights the mortal danger faced by transgender individuals in Michigan,” Fair Michigan’s Transgender Outreach Coordinator Julisa Abad said. “Since Michigan law permits employment discrimination against LGBTQ residents, trans people sometimes must resort to sex work in order to survive, which puts them at extreme risk of criminal violence. It is incredibly encouraging to know that the Fair Michigan Justice Project, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Detroit Police Department have stated, in no uncertain terms, that violence against the transgender community is unacceptable under any circumstances and that these agencies stand ready to aggressively prosecute these brutal crimes.”

Hogan is expected to return to court May 16 for a sentencing hearing.

“This conviction demonstrates both the danger of serious crime faced by the transgender community, and the robust response to such crimes by Wayne County’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems,” Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said. “The Fair Michigan Justice Project has proven to be effective in filling the need for rapid and effective in filling the need for rapid and respectful response to crimes committed against LGBTQ persons.”


A 27-year-old Detroit man charged in the shooting of a transgender prostitute in January has pled guilty, the Fair Michigan Justice Project announced Thursday.

Jason L. Hogan pled guilty on Wednesday to two charges, court records show: assault with intent to commit murder, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He will be sentenced on May 17 before Judge Paul Cusick in Wayne County Circuit Court.

On Jan. 13, Hogan sought the services of a transgender woman prostitute in the area of Palmer Park, on Woodward, confirmed Officer Jennifer Moreno, a Detroit Police Department spokeswoman.

He picked the 31-year-old up in a black Jeep and stopped at an ATM at the Sunoco Gas Station on the 16200 block of Oakland to pull out $60, according to the transcript of a court proceeding in the case. From that money, the woman bought crack and a crack pipe that the two could share.

With the drugs obtained, Hogan drove the pair to the back of Michael’s liquor store, on the 17900 block of Nevada, a spot the victim testified she chose because she’d taken clients there before. The two had to move a baby seat in the car before performing sex acts, according to the transcript.

Then he shot the woman in the face with the handgun, the transcript read.

Three shots were fired. The first shot hit the victim in the left side of her nose. The victim heard the gunshot and saw blood before she felt pain.

According to the victim’s account, Hogan began blaming the shooting on him being drunk, and said he wanted to kill himself. Eventually, he said: “I’m going to give you ’til (the count of) 10 to leave.”

But the victim didn’t want to leave immediately, for fear that she’d be shot in the back of the head as soon as she turned around. It was only when Hogan put the gun down, and the victim was able to hold his arms down, that she was able to make her escape.

“I finally get a hold of the lock without looking, opened the door and then I just jet out the car. My pants is down, my coat is in the car. I left my coat. I left the pipe, the crack pipe with some dope in there, all that stuff. I just left all that,” the victim testified.

The victim ran back onto John R., hoping to flag someone down, but no one stopped to help. She doubled back to the crack house, but was told to leave, because she’d come to the house bleeding.

In the end, “some guy that I decide to beg that left the crack house” finally gave her a ride to Sinai Grace Hospital, but only after the victim “offered to buy him some rocks to drop me off.”

Detroit Police Department followed up and made the arrest. The Fair Michigan Justice Project, a public-private partnership between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Fair Michigan Foundation, handled the prosecution. Since the project was announced in July 2016, it has brought charges in 13 cases, secured eight convictions, and five cases are making their way through the system, said Dana Nessel, president of the Fair Michigan Justice Project.

In an interview with The News, Nessel said it was “very clear” that Hogan “solicited (the victim’s) services because she was a transgender woman.” She continued: “They discussed specific sex acts that could only be performed on a man or a transgender woman.”

Months after the shooting, Nessel said, based on the woman’s ability to appear and testify in court: “She seems as though she’s recovered from her injuries. She had no difficulty speaking, and was lucky the shot didn’t do a great deal more damage.”

Children Deserve To Learn

It is literally a kid’s job to be curious. It’s how they figure out how to grow up. I hate the answer “you’re too young to understand”.

If they are old enough to ask the questions then they are old enough to have them answered. Finding a way to explain things to them to help them understand their world is your job as a parent.

Sometimes that’s really hard. And a lot of the time we get it wrong (cos most of us are learning how to get this parent thing down) but sometimes we get it right.

I think I got something right today, and wanted to share it, cos maybe it can be of some use to the next parent who gets asked a hard question.

Context: passing our local planned parenthood and the small human sees some of the more disturbing images on the protesters’ signage
Conversation: (M-me, D-small human)

D. “What is that picture mom?” (Picture of dismembered doll covered in fake blood)

M. “It’s not real”

D. “Then why do the have it”

M. “To scare people”

D. “Why?”

M. “Ooohhh that’s complicated”

D. “Can you explain it to me?”

M. “I can try, what questions do you have?”

D. “What is that place?”

M. “It’s a doctor’s clinic that helps people who want to have babies or sometimes helps people who don’t want to have babies”

D. “Why wouldn’t you want to have babies?”

M. “Lots of reasons, sometime people can’t afford it, or aren’t ready to be mommies and daddies, or some times people just don’t ever want to. Everyone has their own reasons”

D. “So why do those people have that picture?”

M. “Sometimes when people don’t want to have babies they go to that kind of doctor to stop them from having babies. And the people who have that picture think that God thinks that’s wrong”

D. “But not everyone believes in God.”

M. “No not everyone does”

*quiet for a few minutes*

D. “How do you stop from having a baby?”

M. “Lots of ways. Sometimes you can take medicine to make it so you can’t have a baby. And sometimes you start making cells that will turn into a baby but don’t want a baby. If that happens a doctor can give you medicine to stop those cells from turning into a baby. Or if the group of cells is too big for that medicine to work the doctor can give you surgery to take that ball of cells out of your body before it turns into a baby. Those people outside with the picture believe that God wants those cells to always turn into a baby once they start growing.”

D. “That doesn’t seem fair if the person doesn’t want it to”

Black students find bananas on nooses at college campus

Washington D.C.- American University is investigating after bananas scrawled with racist messages were found hanging from fixtures around the Washington D.C. campus Monday morning.

The bananas, strung up in black noose-like rope, were marked with the words “Harambe bait” — a reference to the lowland gorilla who was shot at the Cincinnati zoo to — and “AKA free” in reference to Alpha Kappa Alpha, a predominantly Black sorority, and were found in three different places on campus.

The university president spoke out against the incident on Monday, calling it a “crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry.”

“Racially charged acts of bigotry are done to instill fear and inflict pain in our community—especially at stressful times, such as at the end of the term,” university President Dr. Neil Kerwin said in a statement on Monday night. “I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is.”

The campus president continued to state that despite the “targeted” nature of the incident, “our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act.”

This is not the first time there has been a racial incident involving bananas reported at American University. Last September, a banana was thrown at a black student who was among a group from the Black Student Alliance preparing for a demonstration. There was also a report of a banana being placed near another black female student’s door.

The university’s Department of Public Safety is investigating, and surveillance video from around campus is being reviewed.

White male Student makes Craigslist ad to sell black classmates as plantation slaves

A high school student in Florida photographed two black female classmates and uploaded the photo to the Craigslist. The ad was titled “Two slaves for sale” with a price $470. The ad was geographically tagged to “Fleming Island Plantation,” which is an actual place in Clay County, Florida.

Skye Fefee, one of the girls in the photo, said she first saw the image when a friend sent it to her on Snapchat. By then, it had been shared and passed around by several students at the school.

“I feel disturbed by it,” Skye, a senior, told CNN. “It shows me that there is still a lot of racism in this school.”

Autumn Olsen is friends with the girls in this Craigslist ad. Olsen said, “I was mind blown about it, I’m surprised that this type of thing is still happening in 2017.”

The ad titled: Two Slaves for Sale 470 dollars. The description: Two healthy slave gals for sale. Good condition hard work ethic. If you need another pair of hands in the farm or house you are in luck.

The ad has since been taken down but it still lives on social media through comments like this: “It’s sad. Parents send kids to school to get an education and kids have to deal with stuff like this. This is wrong on so many levels.”

The student who posted it – a senior at Fleming Island High School – has since been suspended and is facing possible expulsion.

These girls’ classmates stand by them and hope everyone learns a valuable lesson from this.

The Clay County school district said in a statement: “We do not tolerate this type of behavior and we are disheartened that any of our students would be subject to discrimination. Fleming island high school administration and district leadership are working together to create a school-wide plan of action to strengthen the climate and culture while celebrating the school’s diversity.”You