Things That Matter

Despite Promises, President Biden Looks To Reopen A Child Migrant Center Facing Sexual Assault Allegations

Since taking office in January, President Biden has been hard at work addressing everything from the nation’s COVID vaccine program and economic response to comprehensive immigration reform. However, several of his planned changes have hit major roadblocks as federal judges (many appointed by Trump) strike down his new policies.

But despite much of his administration’s progress on issues that affect the Latino and immigration communities, the administration is seriously considering reopening one of the country’s largest child migrant detention centers.

The Biden administration looks to reopen the Homestead facility for children.

The Biden administration is facing a sharp increase of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border and they’re considering reopening one of the nation’s most controversial detention centers.

The Miami Herald reported that the feds might reopen the Homestead site under the name Biscayne Influx Care Facility, an announcement that has caused outrage among advocates working towards ending the detention of children altogether.

“That place has a history of all kinds of abuse and profiting off the lock-up of children,” said Lis-Marie Alvarado, program director of the Miami-based organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which led the call for Homestead’s closure in 2019. A move to reopen the facility is “appalling and a slap to our faces,” she said.

The center has a troubling history of sexual assault allegations.

The facility was in the news in 2019 following shocking allegations of sexual abuse and prison-like conditions, which drew the condemnation of several Democratic candidates for president, including current Vice President Kamala Harris.

Detaining children, particularly in such dire conditions, “is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government,” she told a small crowd. Harris later described seeing “children lined up like prisoners” as heartbreaking. 

Homestead first opened as a temporary shelter in 2016 under President Barack Obama, closed the following year, and was reactivated in 2018. Between March 2018 and August 2019, it housed more than 14,300 unaccompanied minors ranging from 13 to 17 years old, including dozens who had been torn from their parents under Trump’s policy of separating families. The average length of stay in the facility was 52 days by March 2019, with some minors spending almost four times as long.

The hypocrisy of the administration is truly frustrating.

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In June 2019, then-Senator Kamala Harris (and candidate for president) visited the Homestead facility demanding that it be shut down. She, along with several other Democratic lawmakers, joined a series of rallies at the center to denounce Trump’s cruel immigration policies. The facility was subsequently shut down just a month later after mounting public pressure.

But now, a year and half later, the facility might be reopened under the Biden-Harris administration.

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Pete Buttigieg Highlights Job Opportunities And Economic Benefit Of Infrastructure Plan For Minority Communities

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Pete Buttigieg Highlights Job Opportunities And Economic Benefit Of Infrastructure Plan For Minority Communities

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The U.S. is in need of major infrastructure investment and the Biden administration is ready to do it. The $2 trillion plan includes targeting water systems, transportation infrastructure, and broadband among other aspects of America’s infrastructure. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke with mitú about the ambitious plan.

The Biden administration is poised to deliver one of the most ambitious infrastructure investments.

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President Biden and his team want to give a post-pandemic economy a chance to recover. The way the administration plans to do this is by investing like never before into the infrastructure. The infrastructure plan unveiled by the Biden administration is focusing on more than the physical infrastructure in the U.S.

“The first thing I would say [is different] is the scale of it. We’ve built up about a trillion-dollar backlog just in terms of fixing things up like roads and bridges in this country,” Secretary Pete Buttigieg says. “Of course, it’s not enough to fix up what we have. We have to be ready for the future. This is a bill that understands that digital infrastructure is part of the infrastructure. There are a lot of Americans without broadband in rural areas, but a lot of Black and brown Americans in our cities lack internet access and that cuts you off from opportunity the same as if you don’t have a road where you live. We’re thinking about the future.”

The plan will invest money into the nation’s infrastructure in multiple ways.

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The plan will give $621 billion toward the traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, public transit, as well as the latest need in electric vehicle developments. Around $400 billion will be delivered to help care for elderly and disabled Americans. The administration’s plan includes $300 billion to focus on water systems, expanding broadband access, and upgrading electrical grids. Another $300 billion will be used for retrofitting affordable housing and upgrading schools. The last $580 billion will be going towards manufacturing and job training efforts.

Secretary Buttigieg says that the plan is looking towards the future.

It’s about more than creating an infrastructure for today, it is about future-proofing our society. This means investing in broadband so rural and minority communities have reliable access to the internet. It also means addressing infrastructure for the changing climate.

“It also means dealing with the fact that the future means a different climate. We are going to fight climate change,” Secretary Buttigieg says. “We also have to deal with the realities we have right now. If a road gets washed out because the sea level rose, putting it right back so it can get washed out again is probably not the right answer. We have to think about what it looks like in the future.”

The plan will also provide good-paying jobs.

The plan would require employing people to help build the bridges and roads and the broadband infrastructure. Jobs that come with good compensation, unions, and don’t require college degrees to get. The jobs would spread across the country as the U.S. modernizes the outdated infrastructure. However, there are more jobs that will be unlocked for people who have been disadvantaged by the current infrastructure system.

“Your commute is going to be better because we’re going to have better transit. Right now, when you have to commute two-hours both ways because you don’t have a car and the transit system is not very good, that’s really hurting economic opportunities for individuals, worker, families, often lower income workers,” Secretary Buttigieg says.

He adds: “Part of how we create more of an opportunity economically in the future is to just make it easier to get to where you need to be. So, yes, there are jobs working on the projects, but there are also just the projects that we are going to unlock by making it easier to get around.”

The Biden administration proposes an increase to 28 percent. The current corporate tax rate is 21 percent. Secretary Buttigieg says that the proposed corporate tax rate might seem like an increase but it was only recently dropped to 21 percent from its usual 35 percent. The reason for the increase is to pay for the plan without it falling on the shoulders of people making less than $400,000 a year.

“Somebody has got to pay for this and if it isn’t these giant corporations on their billions of dollars in profits, then it might be ordinary Americans,” Secretary Buttigieg explains. “We think that ordinary Americans are paying enough.”

READ: Joe Biden Has Outlined a Robust Plan to Rebuild the Economy Devastated By COVID-19

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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10-Year-Old Boy Found Crying Alone Near Border Had Been Deported And Kidnapped With His Mom

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Anyone who has watched this video of a 10-year-old boy asking a Border Patrol officer for help through tears, can admit just how heartbreaking it is. The boy says he was left alone while traveling with a group across the border when they abandoned him.

But now his family is speaking out and sharing the backstory to the emotional video that further highlights just how urgently the crisis at the border needs to be addressed.

Video of a 10-year-old boy wandering near the border quickly went viral for how heartbreaking it was.

A heartbreaking video shared last week by Customs and Border Protection of an unnamed 10-year-old boy found wandering alone in Texas underscored how desperate the situation is on the southern border. The video showed a young Nicaraguan boy found on the side of a dirt road by an off-duty Border Patrol agent after wandering alone for four hours in the desert.

People reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage of the incident, which happened on April 1 by a Rio Grande border patrol agent. The boy explains to the officer that he woke up and discovered that his group had left him behind. “I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the officer. 

In a statement to the publication, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agent “transported the child to a Border Patrol facility where he was fed and medically screened.”

But now we’re getting a better understanding of what led to this heartbreaking video.

Now, the boy’s family have described his plight to the Washington Post. Little 10-year-old Wilton Obregon and his mom crossed the border into Texas last month but were expelled under Title 42, a policy that releases migrants back to Mexico without letting them seek asylum.

Hours after they were sent back, they were kidnapped, according to Wilton’s Miami-based uncle, Misael Obregon. The kidnappers called him and demanded a $10,000 ransom but Misael could only pay $5,000 so the kidnappers only released Wilton. They dumped Wilton back at the border. Obregon said his sister is still in custody of the kidnappers. “Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” he said.

In fact, the boys mom called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her son crying at the border.

The family’s plight highlights the need for reforms to Title 42.

During the campaign, President Biden complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many were forced to wait in dangerous refugee camps along the border that subjected them to human trafficking, violence, and sexual assault.

Under Title 42, though, which began under President Donald Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

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