For-Profit Schools Scoop Up Vets’ G.I. Bill Benefits

For-Profit Schools Scoop Up Vets' G.I. Bill Benefits

Major publicly-traded for-profit college corporations are profiting off veterans’ post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits—to the tune of $1.7 billion in the 2012-2013 year alone. What’s more, seven of the top eight for-profit colleges receiving these funds are currently under state or federal investigation for deceptive and potentially illegal recruiting practices. The findings were released in a new report (PDF) out today from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Veterans are a lucrative market for for-profit schools. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill allows those who’ve served a minimum of 90 days in the military since Sept. 11, 2001 access to $19,200 of student grants annually for four years. And the industry has taken advantage of it—for-profit schools that enroll just 13 percent of the nation’s college students, scooped up 25 percent of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds last year alone. Between 2009 and 2013, veteran enrollment in for-profit schools grew from 23 to 31 percent. 

One of the largest recipients of taxpayers’ veterans’ support was Corinthian Colleges, the disgraced for-profit giant which was recently forced by the federal government to offload or sell its 102 campuses nationwide. Corinthian Colleges received $186 million in Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds.

Student advocates have long been concerned that for-profit schools entice vulnerable students and saddle them with serious debt and degrees that are not valued in the marketplace—or sometimes no degree at all. Indeed, students from for-profit schools accounted for nearly half of those who defaulted on their student loans last year. 

In recent years, scandal-ridden for-profit schools have become the target of Senate investigations, lawsuits, and federal pressure for these very practices. The findings come two years after Sen. Harkin released a multi-year Senate investigation into the for-profit industry. The study found admissions officers preying on poor students in order to win access to their federal student aid and loans.

For-profit schools grew enormously in the last decade by aggressively enrolling veterans, as well as a disproportionately high number of black, Latino and poor students.

“While the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was designed to expand educational opportunities for our veterans and servicemembers, I am concerned that it is primarily expanding the coffers of the big corporations running these schools,” Sen. Harkin said in a statement.

Report: Most Child Migrants With Attorneys Show Up for Immigration Court

Report: Most Child Migrants With Attorneys Show Up for Immigration Court

In recent weeks, conservative lawmakers and anti-immigrant hawks have repeated a common refrain over the current unaccompanied minors crisis: that 90 percent of children who are released to family while they await immigration processing never show up for their immigration hearings. Children are being let loose into the country and fading into the shadows of the nation’s undocumented population, so the story goes.

In fact, for children who have attorneys, the opposite is true. Indeed, 92.5 percent of children with attorneys are present at immigration hearings, according to numbers released this month by the Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Just 27.5 percent of children without an attorney succeed in showing up.

In immigration court, adults and children alike do not have the right to an attorney. What that means is children who’ve arrived in the country by themselves and who do not speak English are being asked to navigate the notoriously labyrinthine immigration system on their own. An attorney makes a difference and can ensure that a child is able to properly make his or her case in front of an immigration judge. It is a key reason why in early June the Obama administration announced a $200 million Americorps effort to provide children with attorneys. Still, in early July civil rights groups in Washington and California filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of children with upcoming deportation hearings, AP reported. In the lawsuit, advocates demanded that those children be equipped with attorneys before they head in to see an immigration judge who could decide their life’s fate

Comedian Aamer Rahman Doesn’t Want to ‘Pander to White Audiences’

Aamer Rahman has sold out consecutive nights at London’s famed Soho Theatre and had a performance on so-called reverse racism go viral last year. But he says he’s tired of the expectation that comedians of color will make white folks feel comfortable in order to be successful. In an interview with CeaseFire, Rahman railed against the “expectation for non-white comedians to pander to white audiences. I think it is just unusual for people to see a brown person who makes comedy for black and brown people.”

TAGS: comedy video

Israel Strikes UN School, Landslide in India and Big Decision on McDonald’s Workers

Israel Strikes UN School, Landslide in India and Big Decision on McDonald's Workers

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Mother Sues U.S. Border Patrol in Slain Son’s Death

Mother Sues U.S. Border Patrol in Slain Son's Death

In October 2012 U.S. Border Patrol officers shot and killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez with 10 bullets as he walked down a street in the border city of Nogales, Mexico. Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on his mother Araceli Rodriguez’s behalf against the agency which it says operates with impunity.

“The U.S. Border Patrol agents who killed my son in a senseless act of violence are still out there and they need to be brought to justice,” said Araceli Rodriguez in a statement. “The U.S. government has not held the agents who shot my son accountable and that is why I am bringing this lawsuit.”

Border Patrol officers have killed dozens of migrants in recent years, and advocates say that those deaths have highlighted the agency’s lax use of force guidelines. Since 2005, Border Patrol officers have been involved in the deaths of at least 42 people, according to the ACLU. Fifteen of those deaths occurred in between 2011 and 2012. This spring, the agency “tightened” its rules of engagement for its officers, The Arizona Republic reported. 

Still, said ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project attorney Lee Gelernt in a statement, “Jose Antonio’s death is unfortunately not unique. Border Patrol is using excessive and unnecessary force against people on both sides of the border. Agents continue to violate the Constitution with impunity.”

Why Public Housing is Falling Apart in NYC

Why Public Housing is Falling Apart in NYC

A new report looks at how more than a decade of defunding at every level of government has led to the decline of New York City’s public housing, the largest system in North America. The report’s call for affordable housing funding akin to the Marshall Plan comes on the heels of outrage in the city over luxury building “poor doors”—separate entrances, wings and amenities for market-rate and affordable housing residents.

(h/t WNYC Radio)

Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks, High Debt and Va. Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks, High Debt and Va. Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

ICE Detains Pregnant Women Against Its Own Policy

ICE Detains Pregnant Women Against Its Own Policy

According to its own policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, only detains pregnant women if they pose a public safety threat—but new evidence illustrates the practice is quite common.

Over at Fusion, Cristina Costantini found that at 559 pregnant women have been detained by ICE in just six facilities since 2012, and there’s no reason to believe they meet ICE’s own policy for holding expecting mothers. At least 14 women suffered miscarriages while in detention in 2012. According to Fusion’s estimate, up to 57 pregnant immigrant women are being detained per day.

Read more over at Fusion

Fast Food Workers Show Strength in Numbers This Weekend

Fast Food Workers Show Strength in Numbers This Weekend

An estimated 1,200 fast food workers are back home this Monday morning after attending their first-ever national conference this weekend in Addison, Ill., about four miles from McDonald’s headquarters. The gathering dramatizes the resolve of fast food workers to escalate their campaign as well as the growth of the movement, which began with 200 workers in November 2012. Their main demands are a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) largely funded the two-day convention and North Carolina’s Moral Mondays leader Rev. William Barber III was a keynote.

Said one worker, according to The New York Times, “It’s awesome to see all these people here. I’m ready to take the next step.” This national conference comes after a mid-May protest forced McDonald’s to close company headquarters. 

For images from this weekend’s gathering, check Vice News as well as reporter Alice Speri’s Tweets from the convention hall.

Call for Immigrant Rights Advocates to Boycott White House Meetings

Call for Immigrant Rights Advocates to Boycott White House Meetings

President Obama met with three Central American presidents at the White House Friday afternoon to address the influx of unaccompanied child migrants. According to The Hill, Obama claims to have come to agreement with El Salvador’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández, and Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina to “address poverty and violence” in order to stem the immigration tide. Meanwhile, the administration is still attempting to get Congress to approve a nearly $4 billion to increase detention facilities and to hire additional immigration judges to hasten the deportation of children, which seems unlikely to happen before lawmakers take off for vacation at the end of next week.

The White House has hosted several conversations and events about immigration—not just recently about child migrants, but also about the 11 million people who remain undocumented in Obama’s second term. But critics charge that the people most affected by the immigration system, the undocumented themselves, aren’t truly represented in Washington. In a sharp essay over at Latino Rebels, California Immigration Youth Justice Alliance member Hairo Cortes, addresses the issue, and calls for major non-profit immigrant rights advocates to boycott meetings at the White House until Obama discusses the issue with undocumented people. 

With this clear history of unwillingness to lead by taking politically risky positions, and of siding with the political interests over working class immigrant communities, I call on America’s Voice, the National Council of la Raza, the National Immigration Forum, the Center for American Progress, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and all those other advocates who were unwilling to take a stand against deportations when it was most critical for them to do so, to step aside and boycott all further White House meetings until President Obama sits down with and negotiates with the undocumented immigrant day laborers, trans and queer organizers, parents, and youth who brought the proposal of Administrative Relief to the public consciousness when everyone said we should be quiet.

Mainstream advocates have long suggested that grassroots activists should quiet down about the administration’s record-setting deportation numbers and concentrate instead on putting pressure on the Republican Party to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Yet it’s been politically clear that the GOP won’t be moving on such a bill in an election year. In response to partisan blame, Cortes makes clear that his allegiance isn’t with the Democrats, but with his community.

You can read the essay, titled “Undocumented People Must Be at Negotiation Table to Achieve Substantive Relief,” in its entirety over at Latino Rebels

‘Hogtying’ of Inmates Raises Alarm About Nevada Juvenile Detention Conditions

'Hogtying' of Inmates Raises Alarm About Nevada Juvenile Detention Conditions

A Las Vegas family court judge said this week that he would like to expand an inquiry into another juvenile detention facility after ordering that inmates at a juvenile detention center in Elko, Nevada be cleared out, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“If a parent did that, it would be child abuse — probably charged criminally,” Judge William Voy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“When you treat a kid like an animal, you’re going to get an animal,” Voy said. “There’s other ways of dealing with it, without resorting to something that would otherwise be child abuse if it wasn’t in an institution.”

Staff at the Elko facility reportedly restrained juvenile inmates at the Nevada Youth Training Center by linking handcuffs and ankle shackles. Reports of the technique, known as “hobbling” or “hogtying,” spurred Judge Voy to recall 12 youth from Las Vegas who’d been held at the facility. In 2002 the Department of Justice investigated the Nevada Youth Training Center staff after receiving complaints of detainee abuse, AP reported. Five employees were eventually fired.

It’s not just Elko. More than one in four youth held in juvenile detention told researchers with the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (PDF) that they’d been restrained in some way before in 2010. Those physical restraints include: “handcuffs, wristlets, a security belt, chains, or a restraint chair.”

h/t The Crime Report

Palestinian Artist’s Show Opens Without Him in New York

Palestinian Artist's Show Opens Without Him in New York

Palestinian Artist Khaled Jarrar was all set to travel to New York for two recent art openings featuring his work—The New Museum’s “Here and Elsewhere,” and a solo show at the Whitebox Art Center. The artist may be best known for his work at the Berlin Biennale, where he offered “State of Palestine” passport stamps.

But there was a problem. As curator Myriam Vanneschi writes in Hyperallergic, Israel wouldn’t allow Jarrar, who lives in the West Bank, to travel to New York:

Israeli soldiers kept him waiting for hours on end before transporting him, together with a group of others who were denied exit, to a spot further away from the Jordanian border crossing. When they were released, they had no other option but to travel back to Ramallah. It was two o’clock in the morning at that point and he had missed his flight. He had tried to reason with them to no avail. “There is no reasoning,” he said to me. “This is retribution on their part, it is revenge and you can’t reason with that.”

In a letter to Vanneschi included in the curator’s post, Jarrar explains how he was the target of racism and humiliation by Israeli border police.

But that didn’t stop Jarrar and Vanneschi from moving forward. “No Exit,” described as new work “that deals with his status as well as the current situation in Gaza,” opened Thursday evening in New York City. The show, hosted by Whitebox and Undercurrent Projects, runs through August 7.  

Palestinian ‘Day of Rage,’ Central American Presidents at White House and Google Acquiring Twitch

Palestinian 'Day of Rage,' Central American Presidents at White House and Google Acquiring Twitch

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Astronomers find that three exoplanets they hoped would hold water are instead dry
TAGS: Morning Rush

Dept. of Ed Probes Complaint That Newark School Closures Racially Discriminate

Dept. of Ed Probes Complaint That Newark School Closures Racially Discriminate

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that it has opened an investigation into whether Newark, New Jersey’s school reform plans violate the civil rights of the city’s black students, Reuters reported. Civil rights groups, including the Journey for Justice Alliance and the Advancement Project, filed a complaint in May with the Department of Education alleging that school closures in Newark, New Orleans and Chicago have a unique and disparate impact on black and Latino students, who are vastly overrepresented among those who attend schools targeted with school closures plans in all three cities. Black students were 52.8 percent of Newark public school enrollment but 73.4 percent of those affected by school closures in the 2011 to 2012 school year. White students, meanwhile, were 7.9 percent of the district but just 1.1 percent of those whose schools were shuttered.

In Newark, the school reform plan One Newark is set to close 13 more public K-12 schools. 

“Closing the doors of public schools is not the way to improve public schools,” Sharon Smith, founder of Parents United for Local School Education said at a Wednesday press conference, the Star-Ledger reported.

The civil rights complaint was filed on the same week as the 60th anniversary of the landmark school desegregation Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Read the civil rights complaint in full (PDF). Catch up on Colorlines’ coverage of the civil rights complaint.

Study: One in 10 Juvenile Detainees Have Contemplated Suicide

Study: One in 10 Juvenile Detainees Have Contemplated Suicide

One in 10 youth locked up in juvenile detention has experienced suicidal thoughts in the last six months, according to sobering new findings published by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (PDF). The article is the latest installment in a series from the Northwestern Juvenile Project examining the mental health of youth at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago.

The findings may shed some light on other troubling trends about young people’s experiences in juvenile detention, where the youth commit suicide at two to four times the national rate of youth in the general population.

According to researchers’ findings, not only had 10 percent of youth had thoughts of suicide, 11 percent had attempted suicide at least once. The average age of kids’ first suicide attempt was 12.7 years. Whites are at a higher risk than youth of color for committing suicide. White males were more than two times more likely as black males and five times more likely than Latino males to tell someone about their suicidal thoughts. But researchers also found that Latino and black males were far more likely than others to have thoughts of “death and dying” in the last six months. 

Write the report authors (PDF):

It is unclear whether and how concern about death among African American and Hispanic males is related to risk for suicide. Some studies suggest that such concern may result from a greater likelihood of having lost siblings and peers to violent death as compared to non-Hispanic white males. These findings also may reflect an awareness of a heightened risk of mortality. Among the Cook County sample, African-American and Hispanic males had a substantially greater risk of an early violent death than non-Hispanic males. 

Video: The War on Drugs and War on Immigrants Are Intertwined

Video: The War on Drugs and War on Immigrants Are Intertwined

Here’s an all too easily forgotten reality: mass incarceration and the U.S. deportation machine are deeply intertwined. And black immigrants get swept up in both systems. A new video from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration spells it out:

The rate of detention and criminal deportation is soaring. Black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America are overrepresented in immigration detention and criminal deportatiton proceedings by five times their presence in the undocumented community. And all Latino undocumented immigrants are disproportionately affected by a wide margin. Ultimately all forms of crimnalization keeps people divided. 

The new video is part of a BAJI campaign called #therealcrime. Find out more at BAJI.

Missing Air Algérie Flight, Israel Attacks U.N. School in Gaza, and #TimeTitles

Missing Air Algérie Flight, Israel Attacks U.N. School in Gaza, and #TimeTitles

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • An Air Algérie flight is missing, and likely crashed in northern Mali with about 116 people on board. 
  • Jobless claims fall again to their lowest level since 2006. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Civil Rights Groups Challenge Texas City’s Attempt to Bar Child Migrants

Civil Rights Groups Challenge Texas City's Attempt to Bar Child Migrants

Civil rights and legal advocacy groups have filed a civil rights complaint over a Texas city’s attempt to block migrant children from being detained in town, reported The Center for Public Integrity.

In early July, League City, Tex., city council members voted 6-2, “to refuse requests or directives by federal agencies to permit or establish any facility for the purposes of processing, housing or detaining any illegal aliens, designated as ‘refugee’ or otherwise.” The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Appleseed, a Texas-based legal advocacy group, filed the federal complaint, charging that League City’s resolution discriminates against the affected children and violates the Fair Housing Act and Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint “is a warning to other municipalities that are considering similar resolutions. Cities can’t accept federal funds, and then use them to discriminate,” MALDEF attorney Marisa Bono told The Center for Public Integrity. 

After several years of steady increases in the numbers of child migrants arriving in the U.S., some 57,000 unaccompanied migrant children fleeing rampant violence and conscription into gangs primarily in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have so far been apprehended this year while attempting to seek refuge in the U.S. Still, overall flows of migrants crossing into the U.S. are still low. In the last year, Border Patrol has apprehended some 420,000 people, AP reported today, after three years of near historic lows of apprehensions. The last time apprehensions at the border were so low was in 1973, when the Border Patrol arrested 500,000 people, AP reported.

U.N. Suggests Israeli War Crimes, Ukrainian Jets Down and Eric Garner’s Funeral

U.N. Suggests Israeli War Crimes, Ukrainian Jets Down and Eric Garner's Funeral

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Did you recently purchase peaches, plums, pluots or nectarines at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Kroger’s or Trader Joe’s? They’re being recalled
TAGS: Morning Rush

NAACP Backs Fast Food Workers’ Fight for $15 Hourly Wage

NAACP Backs Fast Food Workers' Fight for $15 Hourly Wage

At its annual convention happening in Las Vegas, the NAACP unanimously passed a resolution today backing fast food workers’ ongoing campaign for a $15 hourly wage and a union. 

Burger King and Taco Bell employee Terence Wise, a father of three living in Kansas City, addressed the attendees. “Our children watch us go to work each day only to come home to eviction notices, shut-off notices, and bare cupboards,” Wise told the crowd, according to a statement. “The civil rights movement taught us what to do when our nation defaults on a promise. Straighten your back, stand together, and fight for justice.”

The NAACP resolution notes that, the nation’s “four million fast food workers are the largest group of minimum wage workers in the United States, with workers of color disproportionately represented and especially concentrated in the lowest paying jobs; where only ten percent of workers of color hold management positions compared with almost half of the white men who work in fast food industry, further perpetuating the racial wage gap.”

Read the resolution in full after the jump. 

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