Things That Matter

22 Immigrants Have Died In ICE Detention Two Years Into The Trump Administration

At least 22 immigrants have died in the custody of U.S. immigration enforcement in the two years since President Donald Trump took office. According to an investigative report from NBC News, it found that a number of deaths in U.S. detention centers included individuals from places like Vietnam and Mexico. The report comes out less than a month after two high profile deaths of immigrant children died under U.S. custody.

The report shows that some had been longtime legal residents and half were not yet 45 years old.

While issues within U.S. detention centers predate President Trump, he’s expanded U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement priorities that include the arrest of and separation of many children from families. These new measures have put vulnerable immigrants at risk, especially younger groups of people. The 22 deaths in the past two years are among the 188 detainee deaths in ICE custody since 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed shortly after 9/11.

The 22 deaths include at least one transgender woman, Roxana Hernandez, who died within two weeks of being taken into U.S. custody.

Hernandez had traveled from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she sought asylum as part of a migrant caravan. Within two weeks in ICE custody, she was transported to four different immigration centers. She was transported from California to Arizona, then to Texas and lastly to New Mexico, where she was sent to the hospital and died shortly after. The death ws original blamed on lack of medical care for her HIV-positive diagnosis.

This past December, ICE released reports on six people who died in 2018 that included Hernandez. The report showed that Hernandez had been dehydrated, starving and feverish upon her death. An independent autopsy disputes the report and shows she likely died due to dehydration and that her body showed signs of “physical abuse.”

A request for the death reviews of all 22 who have passed away has not been completed by ICE. This has made it hard to completely analyze what’s going on at detention centers.

During testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 20, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that “one death is too many,” and DHS detention centers have “some of the highest standards in the world.” Yet the new report reveals a detention system filled with multiple violations and problems. Just in the last year, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued three reports finding bad treatment and inadequate oversight in ICE detention centers.

One death was that of a legal resident, Huy Chi Tran, 47, who arrived from Vietnam in 1984. After ICE got Tran in May 2018 from an Arizona prison, where he was serving time for disorderly conduct, he died of a heart attack. ICE records revealed that Tran suffered from schizophrenia that may have contributed to his death.

“You’ll see someone who is clearly an asylum seeker who came into custody with a serious medical condition, whether a heart condition or otherwise, and you have to ask, ‘Why is this person in jail?'” said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center told NBC. “There’s no reason for it.”

Under Trump, the population of the immigrant prison network has risen 30 percent over the average under Obama and twice that under George W. Bush.

While the number of 22 remains below the peak of 32 deaths in 2004, the annual number of deaths, 10 in 2017 and 12 in 2018, has jumped under President Trump. During the Obama administration, the numbers rose and fell from 10 in 2008 to five in 2012. But deaths rose up to 12 in President Obama’s last full year in office, as the number of detainees grew. ICE held an average of about 42,000 people a day in it’s more than 200 detention centers, which was 30 percent more than under President Obama and double than President Bush.

The report shows that the rise in the number of detainees had more to do with the increase in ICE arrests across the U.S. than from actual people crossing the border. The shift in arrests and number of those detained has most likely attributed to these deaths.

If the Trump administration wants to continue making immigration one of its main priorities, they’re going to have to improve conditions in detention centers across the country. It’s going to have to start with better medical screenings of children and an increase in mental health checks on those incarcerated.


READ: These Tweets Show The Impact Trump’s Government Shutdown Is Having On American Families

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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

Things That Matter

Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

BILL PUGLIANO / GETTY

After four long years, we finally know why Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns: abominably, he thought his terrible haircuts and adult age children were worthy of write-offs. Oh yeah… and the year he was elected he only paid $750.00.

Long before his 2016 presidential election bid, Trump dodged calls to reveal his tax returns. At the time of his bid, however, he refused to take part in a 40-year tradition carried out by presidential nominees to release tax returns to the public. During his initial run, Trump falsely claimed that he was unable to release his returns publicly while they were under audit, and throughout his presidency, he has avoided sharing them despite grand jury subpoenas. Fortunately, thanks to a piece published by The New York Times, they’re finally getting a chance to see the light of day.

On Sunday, The New York Times published the first of several reports examining Trump’s tax information.

In 2016, Trump became the first president since 1976 to not release his tax records. The decision promptly roused dismay and questions about whether the records carried “undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions.”

According to NYT’s latest exposé, Trump (a man who has long boasted about his wealth and has also claimed a net worth of billions of which he has also declared to be self-acquired) paid a mere total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

While the Times report did not cover 2018 and 2019 tax filings, the newspaper looked into 18 years of Trump’s tax returns. They also looked into his business dealings as far back as 2000 and found that in 10 of those years, the president of the United States failed to pay any income taxes “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”

The Times also revealed that Trump “racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes” despite millions in income and property. In a statement for the piece, Alan Garten an attorney for the Trump Organization claimed to the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts, appear to be inaccurate.” NoteL the Times underlined that Garten appeared to be “conflating income taxes with other federal taxes.”

According to the article, beginning in 2010, Trump had been given a $72.9 million tax refund from the IRS.

The Times article explains in detail how Trump has managed to handle his business and categorize his wealth. The paper found that most often, Trump claimed his expenses as deductions from his tax bill chalking them up to business expenses. These include nearly $70,000 in hairstyling costs for his time on NBC’s “The Apprentice” over $300,000 for landscaping of the Mar-a-Lago Club and $95,000 written off for hair and makeup done for his daughter Ivanka. That’s right, the president wrote off his own adult children.

Addressing the report, the Times noted that they would not include the actual tax documents in its coverage to avoid outing its sources.

“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” Times editor Dean Baquet wrote in an editor’s note. “Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.”

In response to the reports, Trump called the story “fake news” during a White House press conference on Sunday.

Speaking about the piece, Trump bemoaned that the IRS “does not treat me well.” “It’s totally fake news. Made-up, fake,” he continued. “We went through the same stories, people you could’ve asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it. Totally fake news… Actually, I paid tax, and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit,” Trump went onto explain. “They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. … They don’t treat me well; they treat me very badly. You have people in the IRS, they treat me very, very badly…But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you, but that’s just fake news.”

It’s important to note that even an audit could not prevent Trump from releasing his tax records to the public.

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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