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Detained immigrants file civil rights complaint over unsafe conditions amid pandemic

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Other allegations regarding conditions at Clay County Justice Center in Indiana mirror claims made in several legal actions previously launched against the federal immigration agency over its despicable handling of the pandemic. Michelle said that Clay County failed to separate detainees who had tested positive for the virus or were showing symptoms from the general population, with no way for anyone to social distance. In one lawsuit last year for example, a detainee called social distancing “impossible.”

“They did not give us masks to wear around each other, not even the person who is positive for COVID is given a mask to wear,” Michelle said in the complaint. “And there is no way for us to social distance from each other. Some of the jail staff wear masks but some do not. And sometimes when the jail staff wear masks, they don’t cover their nose and mouth. It just hangs over their chin.” Detainees said that were provided with little in terms of hygienic items to try to protect themselves while in custody. 

“The jail did not provide us with enough soap to wash our hands regularly,” “Maria” said in the complaint. She’s the mother of two U.S. citizens. Like in Michelle’s case, they’re also in foster care since her detention by ICE. “They just gave us little bars that you see in hotels or motels that only last a few days. So we had to buy our own soap from the commissary. They don’t let us have hand sanitizer because it has alcohol so soap is the only way we can keep our hands clean.” The jail, “which detains people for ICE under a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, is one of 200 facilities ICE uses to detain people around the country,” NIJC said in a statement.

“In a report released in January 2021, researchers with the Physicians for Human Rights found that immigrants in ICE custody were denied access to even ‘the most basic COVID-19 prevention measures, such as soap for hand washing, and were retaliated against for raising safety concerns’ while the pandemic spread through numerous detention facilities,” NIJC continued in the complaint. “The report concluded that ICE created ‘unacceptable health risks and violated constitutional and human rights during the pandemic,’ which is ongoing.” As cases are again rising in ICE detention, ICE still has no national plan to vaccinate detainees.

Lisa Chun, a senior attorney with NIJC, said in the statement that the allegations made by the two women should be “a wake-up call for the administration to urgently release people to their communities, and dramatically scale down the abusive immigration detention system.” While DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has ordered the termination of two private contracts with two immigration detention sites that are currently under federal investigation, the Biden administration has requested funds for the next budget year to detain 30,000 immigrants, which is thousands more than the current population size. “These are not safe conditions, especially for people who have medical conditions,” Maria said in the complaint.

“The Biden administration continues to subject people to punitive ICE detention, where deadly conditions and medical neglect are rampant,” Chun said in the statement. “There is no good reason for Michelle or Maria to be detained in life-threatening conditions and separated from their children while their immigration cases proceed.”


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News Roundup: Giuliani suspended; infrastructure deal; pro-Trump network floats mass executions

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From hoax-peddling to violent insurrection to talk of mass executions, fascism in America is now a major political force

In the news today: Trump fixer Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law in New York is suspended after a pattern of flagrant lying about supposed election “fraud” in and outside courtrooms. The White House and a group of 10 senators announced an agreement on “bipartisan” infrastructure funding—but both the details and the supposed bipartisanship that will allow it to pass remain sketchy. A prominent conservative “news” site responsible for pushing election hoaxes that helped lead to insurrection is now speculating on a need to execute “tens of thousands” of Americans who, they falsely contend, helped unfairly deny Donald Trump an election win.

Here’s some of what you may have missed:


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‘Unforgivable and un-American’: U.S. Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick’s longtime partner calls out GOP

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In a CNN op-ed, Garza, a clinical social worker who was with Sicknick for 11 years, wrote that she couldn’t watch the Jan. 6 footage for a month after the attack, but eventually gutted it out and took a look.

But before his memorial a month later, something came over me: I wanted to see everything I could and understand what happened that day. As I watched the videos, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw officers being brutalized and beaten, and protesters defying orders to stay back from entering the Capitol. All the while, I kept thinking, “Where is the President? Why is it taking so long for the National Guard to arrive? Where is the cavalry!?”
 

As the months passed, my deep sadness turned to outright rage as I watched Republican members of Congress lie on TV and in remarks to reporters and constituents about what happened that day. Over and over they denied the monstrous acts committed by violent protesters.

Garza didn’t name those members of Congress, but they’re not hard to identify. There was Sen. Ron Johnson, who said he was never concerned about the insurrection because the rioters were “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement”—and not scary antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters. There was Rep. Andrew Clyde, who compared the insurrectionists to tourists, even though footage from that day showed him fixin’ to drop a chimichanga or two into his Simon Bar Sinister Underoos. And there was Trump himself, who infamously said that the insurrection posed “zero threat” and that his supporters were “hugging and kissing” the Capitol police. 

Eventually, Garza joined Sicknick’s mother, Gladys, in her campaign to convince GOP senators to vote in favor of the commission. But as we all know, their heartfelt pleas were ignored. Garza writes that during her and Gladys’ outreach campaign, “some Republican senators were very pleasant and polite. Others were dismissive, and others could barely hide their disdain.”

Sounds about right. Of course, in the wake of Republicans’ nearly unanimous betrayal of democracy, Garza feels she’s being retraumatized.

By denying or downplaying the viciousness and trauma that occurred on January 6, members of Congress and the people who continue echoing their false narrative are engaging in a specific kind of psychological harm that is familiar to people who work in mental health. It’s known as “secondary wounding.” Secondary wounding, described by psychologist Aphrodite Matsakis, occurs when people “minimize or discount the magnitude of the event, its meaning to the victim, [or] its impact on the victim’s life.”

The kicker? Before the Capitol insurrection, both Garza and Sicknick—who adored blueberry pancakes and wiener dogs alike—were Trump supporters. Not anymore: “To know that some members of Congress—along with the former President, Donald Trump, who Brian and I once supported but who can only now be viewed as the mastermind of that horrible attack—are not acknowledging Brian’s heroism that day is unforgivable and un-American.”

Eventually, anyone who puts their faith in Donald Trump gets burned. Ask … well, pretty much anyone. Most people don’t suffer this much for their obtuseness, but just about everyone who hitches their wagon to his collapsing star gets a rude awakening.

It’s sad that it took the loss of a loved one for Garza to finally wake up, but if she can keep warning others, maybe the day when Trump is truly—and forever—radioactive will come sooner rather than later.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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In blow to California farmworkers, Supreme Court rules against union access to grower property

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“On Wednesday, the court’s conservative supermajority held that California’s law violates the Fifth Amendment, which bars the taking of private property for public use ‘without just compensation,” he wrote. “Remarkably, the majority held that the law constitutes a ‘per se taking’—not a mere regulation, but an ‘appropriation” of property that flouts the owners’ ‘right to exclude.’”

“The court’s 6–3 decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid is thus a crushing blow to organized labor, which often relies on workplace access to safeguard workers’ rights,” he continued. “It also undermines the broader legal framework that permits the government to impose all manner of regulations on private property, including workplace safety laws and nondiscrimination requirements. With Cedar Point, the Supreme Court has handed business owners a loaded gun to aim at every regulation they oppose.”

Per The Times, the 1975 regulation allows unions “to meet with agricultural workers at work sites in the hour before and after work and during lunch breaks for as many as 120 days a year.” The Washington Post reports the regulation had been upheld by the California Supreme Court in 1976, with the U.S. Supreme Court that same year dismissing a continued challenge to the law, Stern said. According to The Post, “provisions have gone unchallenged until now,” when California-based Cedar Point Nursery, and Fowler Packing Co. challenged.

“In my view, the majority’s conclusion threatens to make many ordinary forms of regulation unusually complex or impractical,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent, joined by justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in Cedar Point v. ALRB makes a racist and broken farm labor system even more unequal,” United Farm Workers (UFW) said in a statement. “Farm workers are the hardest working people in America. This decision denies them the right to use their lunch breaks to freely discuss whether they want to have a union. The Supreme Court has failed to balance a farmer’s property rights with a farm worker’s human rights.”

In a tweet, Illinois Rep. Chuy García wrote that “[f]armworkers in California and across the country fought and died for their right to organize. It’s an embarrassment to our democracy that this extremist court is chipping away at that right.”

What’s next is unclear. Sterns writes California could compensate growers. “But how much would that cost? At oral arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett floated $50 per ‘taking’—a charge that would quickly balloon as every California agribusiness demanded payment each time a union organizer stepped on their property,” he wrote. Victoria Hassid, chair of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board, told The Post it will keep looking into “alternative avenues” to make sure farmworkers are not deprived of their rights.


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