Things That Matter

Migrants Children Are Getting Sick In Detention Centers But The Trump Administration Doesn’t Want To Give Them Toothbrushes

It’s no secret that the U.S. government isn’t taking care of migrants at the border or detention camps. Undocumented people that are living under U.S. care are getting sick. They’re being exposed to the measles, chicken pox, common colds due to extreme air-conditioned facilities, abuse, and so much more. What makes this situation so much more infuriating is that the government could care less than people are getting sick.

This video of Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian went viral over the weekend because she was telling judges that undocumented people in detention camps don’t need soap, toothpaste or beds to sleep.

Fabian spoke with three Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal judges and said that they shouldn’t be required to give undocumented people hygiene products or beds to sleep in because those things are seen as privileges.

The case is based on a 1997 ruling known as the “Flores Agreement” that “requires, among other things, that the government hold minors in facilities that are “safe and sanitary” and that they are released from confinement without delay whenever possible.”

Here’s a portion of the transcript:

Judge Wallace Tashima: “If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary. Wouldn’t everybody agree with that? Do you agree with that?”

Sarah Fabian: “Well, I think it’ s—I think those are—there is fair reason to find that those things may be part of safe and sanitary.”

Judge Tashima: “Not ‘maybe.’ ‘Are’ a part. What do you say, ‘may be’? You mean there are circumstances when a person doesn’t need to have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap for days?”

Fabian: “Well, I think, in CBP custody, there’ s—it’s frequently intended to be much shorter-term, so it may be that for a shorter-term stay in CBP custody that some of those things may not be required.”

However, we know that the Trump administration is seeking to change that rule to allow for indefinite detention of children and migrants.

The judges were clearly frustrated with her and she could barely answer their questions properly.

Credit: @soledadobrien / Twitter

Vice President Mike Pence tried to get out of answering why undocumented migrants wouldn’t need hygiene products while being detained during a CNN interview and basically didn’t even know what the hearing was all about.

“Aren’t toothbrushes and blankets and medicine basic conditions for kids?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Pence, “Aren’t they a part of how the United States of America—the Trump administration—treats children?”

Pence replied by saying, “Well, of course, they are Jake,” and claimed he couldn’t “speak to what that lawyer was saying.”

Now a team of doctors and attorneys who have seen the migrants up close are releasing their findings and claim that virtually everyone they saw was sick.

Credit: @TexasTribune / Twitter

“The kids had colds and were sick and said they didn’t have access to soap to wash their hands. It was an alcohol-based cleanser,” Clara Long, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch said to CNN. “Some kids who were detained for 2-3 weeks had only one or two opportunities to shower. One said they hadn’t showered in three weeks. Hygiene and living conditions like this creates a risk of spreading infectious disease. It makes me very concerned about the public health emergency.”

Holly Cooper, co-director of the University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth, put it this way, according to the Associated Press, “In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.”

READ: Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

Behind On Rent, Some Undocumented Residents Are Self-Evicting Rather Than Risking The Legal System

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Behind On Rent, Some Undocumented Residents Are Self-Evicting Rather Than Risking The Legal System

Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Eviction is a terrifying prospect. Even more so amid a global pandemic and economic uncertainty. Imagine losing your house – a place you’ve called home with your family for months or even years. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that millions are facing as the Coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the global economy, millions are plunged into unemployment, and millions more struggle to make ends meet – including the most basic necessity of paying the rent.

Several cities and states have enacted temporary rent freezes or holds on evictions but landlords are still threatening their renters with evictions. Some of the most vulnerable communities – such as undocumented residents – are left feeling hopeless and with no where to turn since they may be afraid to seek legal help and have less access to government-funded resources. As a result, many undocumented residents are choosing to self-evict rather than risk going up against a hostile legal system.

A new report details how many undocumented migrants are choosing to self-evict instead of fighting back.

The Texas Tribune published a feature story on a hard-to-track aspect of the coronavirus pandemic: Undocumented immigrants are “self-evicting” from apartments, even while eviction moratoriums are in place, out of fear of retribution. 

“On paper, an undocumented tenant has the same rights as anyone else during the eviction process,” the report says. “But housing attorneys and tenant and immigration advocates say undocumented immigrants are frequently hesitant to exercise those options. Their fear of the legal system and lack of access to government-funded financial help prompt many to self-evict, or prematurely leave the property.”

In some cases, undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for certain government assistance programs that could help them keep up with rent or remain in their homes, the report says. In other cases, some are afraid to seek assistance because they don’t want to attract attention from immigration officials, according to the report.

Because of that, some undocumented immigrants choose to leave their homes even before a formal eviction is filed, turning to family members and community organizations for emergency housing. Immigrants have also lost their jobs at higher rates during the pandemic than other groups.

The legal system is a hostile one towards undocumented residents and help perpetuate fear in the community.

As the Coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects began to be felt across the country, many renters found temporary relief in eviction moratoriums, federal pandemic relief payments, unemployment checks and rental assistance programs. Undocumented migrants, though, either don’t qualify for such aid or are afraid that merely seeking it will alert immigration authorities to their presence in a country whose president has called some immigrants “animals,” makes racist remarks and consistently tries to create barriers for migrants.

Meanwhile, courthouses are intimidating places. And the mere idea that ICE officials are sometimes present in them (and they have indeed arrested undocumented immigrants who have shown up for court hearings that a unrelated to their immigration status) has left many too fearful to even attempt a legal challenge to a potential eviction.

For some, it’s also a language barrier as not all legal systems provide bilingual services.

In the report, Adriana Godines, of Dallas Area Interfaith, says that “When they want to ask for help from a nonprofit, and the staff only speaks English, they feel intimidated and don’t want to go on.” She adds “Even if I tell them that there will be no problem and they won’t ask for your Social Security, they prefer not to [ask for help].”

And even people who go to the justice of the peace courts, where eviction cases are heard, face similar hurdles.

“A lot of JP courts won’t have bilingual speakers,” said Lizbeth Parra-Davila, a housing fellow at the University of Texas School of Law. “Throughout Texas, that has been the case where I’ll call JP courts and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, we don’t have any Spanish speakers. We don’t have any Spanish interpreters.”

However, there are resources out there for undocumented residents facing evictions.

Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Getty Images

States from California to Connecticut have implemented varying degrees of aide to undocumented immigrants within their states. In Connecticut for example, the state has issued a $1 million fund aimed at supporting immigrants with rent payments. In California, the state is working to make unemployment benefits available to undocumented residents, which would go a long way in helping people pay their rent. The state has also launched a fund that provides up to $1,000 in financial assistance to undocumented residents in the state. You can learn more here.

NAKASEC’s Emergency Mutual Aid Fund will provide up to $500 in financial assistance, you can find the application here.

There are many other programs available to the community in states all across the country. Several resources are detailed further at InformedImmigrant.com.

Sex During A Global Pandemic: What Do The Experts Say?

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Sex During A Global Pandemic: What Do The Experts Say?

Mauro Pimental / Getty Images

We’re all social distancing right now. And that begs the question: how do you have sex in the era of COVID-19 self-isolation? Is it even safe to have sex during the pandemic?

According to several public health agencies, the answer really depends.

Let’s start off with the facts about Coronavirus and sex.

Coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, is spread by direct person-to-person contact or by people who are close to (within six feet) each other—as it’s believed that the virus is expelled in respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can also pick it up from contaminated surfaces if you then touch your face without washing your hands properly first and therefore introduce the pathogen into your body.

So, yes, sex can contribute to spreading the coronavirus. You’re clearly close enough to someone when you’re naked on top of each other, and you are also probably kissing, or at least breathing heavily. (

But let’s be clear: Covid-19 is not contracted directly from sex – it’s not an STI. That distinction matters, because safe sex during the pandemic depends on your current relationship situation and, well, why you’re having sex in the first place.

So what are some best practices according to experts? Start with some self-love.

Since the start of the pandemic, online sales of sex toys have skyrocketed. So you can take solace in the fact that you’re definitely not the only one enjoying a bit of self-pleasure.

According to EDC Retail, which calls itself Europe’s market leader in erotic toys, the sales of vibrators, dildos and other sex toys were 162 percent higher than in the same period last year. In fact, sales have been so strong that the supply of toys and accessories from factories in China threatened to dry up – leaving consumers high and dry. EDC Retail even warned of a possible shortage of sex toys in February.

Masturbation also ensures that you’ll be safe from contracting the virus as you’re following social distancing guidelines.

Some public health agencies have even suggested making sex a little more ‘kinky’ to make it safer.

Most public health agencies have released safe sex guidelines for the pandemic. In fact, just this week, “glory holes” was trending in Canada because the BC Centre for Disease Control listed it among the tips for safer sex during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their guidelines say to “choose sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact. Use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes) that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.”

And “glory holes” aren’t only recommended in British Columbia. In New York, health officials suggest to make sex “a little kinky.” The city’s public health agency suggests getting “creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.”

Folks on social media are having a field day tweeting creative ways to use walls and barriers, even suggesting things like plexiglas shields (like those in grocery stores), holes in sheets, mail slots, doggy doors and donuts.

But if glory holes sound a little too raunchy for you, don’t worry, experts also recommend sexual positions that limit face-to-face contact, such as as doggy style.

And if you’re single or dating – you should definitely not be having sex right now.

Because of social distancing and state-mandated shelter-in-place guidelines, it’s not okay to go out on dates right now—unless those dates are over FaceTime or some other video chat app.

The New York City Health Department recently issued guidelines on Covid-19 safe sex practices, recommending against having sex with anyone outside of your household. (In other words, someone you already live with.)

And sorry but having a “quarantine sex buddy,” where you and they only have sex with each other during the pandemic, is not recommended, First of all, the idea goes against social distancing, and you don’t actually know how closely (if at all) they’re staying away from other people.

Or maybe, like so many others, you’re just not having much sex these days – and that’s totally normal.

According to an NBC News poll of roughly 11,000 people, at least 50% said that the coronavirus has negatively impacted their love life. That’s a lot of people not dating, not being intimate with others, and most likely not having sex.

According to Ian Kerner, PhD, a psychotherapist and sex counselor, “A lot of people in quarantine aren’t feeling their best, or feeling as sexy. If you’re home all day and you’re not changing out of your pajamas or applying as much self-care or going to the gym, your sexual self-esteem can start to go down.”

But that’s OK. You’re not the only person feeling this way. Between being stuck in tiny apartments or around family, working longer hours and feeling the mental and financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, on top of anti-racism uprisings, our libidos have had way more lows than highs.

But if you do decide to engage in sexual activity, make sure you follow these expert tips on how to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19 along with following all other safer sex practices.