This Thanksgiving, No Place for Refugees at the American Table
Posted on Nov 18, 2015 By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, there has been a crushing backlash against refugees from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. As Americans prepare for one of the most popular national holidays, Thanksgiving, which commemorates the support and nourishment provided by the indigenous people to English refugees seeking a better life free from religious persecution, a wave of xenophobia is sweeping the country.
In the U.S. Congress, no less than six separate bills have been put forward to block any federal funding to resettle refugees from Syria or Iraq and to empower states to deny entry into their “territory.”
Imagine if all of a sudden we had 50 “statelets” creating their own border checkpoints, stopping all travelers, looking for anyone suspicious, i.e., any and all Syrians.
So far, 31 state governors have essentially demanded this.
Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order forbidding any agency of state government from cooperating in any way with Syrian refugee support efforts. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have called for a pause in the Syrian refugee program, with the support of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.
(all so called Chrstians)
It has been almost 400 years since that first, fateful Thanksgiving feast in Massachusetts.
Xenophobic policies like those threatening to shut out refugees from these wars, if allowed to stand, should serve as a shameful centerpiece at every Thanksgiving table this year.
13 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CRISIS IN PUERTO RICO
Any Latino on social media knows one thing:
There’s a crisis in Puerto Rico.
Headlines about the island’s almost decade-long recession, credit rating cuts and its residents’ mass migration into the U.S. mainland, fill Facebook newsfeeds, Tumblr dashboards and Twitter timelines alike.
It can be difficult to keep up, especially when this news involves complicated issues like taxes and investments. To help keep you in the loop, here’s 13 things on the critical matters happening right now on that tropical island just 1,150 miles from Florida’s waters.
1. Puerto Rico is struggling to emerge from its recession. While the rest of the U.S. is experiencing economic growth, La Isla del Encanto has not been able to draw itself out of a 9-year recession. The U.S. territory has a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, with per capita income around $15,200 (that’s half of Mississippi’s, the poorest state in the U.S.).
2. This harsh economy is pushing thousands off of the island every year. Puerto Rico is experiencing the largest migration wave since the 1950’s. Rampant crime and a dwindling economy have pushed so many people out of the island that, for the first time in history, there are more Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. mainland than there are on the island.
3. Economists fear that this mass migration leaves little hope for the island’s economic recovery. Orlando Sotomayor, an economist at the University of Puerto Rico, told the New York Times that “the phenomenon is highly uncommon and underscores the lack of hope that the ship can or will be righted.”
4. The Caribbean island is more than $72 billion in debt. To put that in perspective, this is the U.S.’ third-largest municipal debtor, behind California’s and New York’s, though the island is both significantly smaller and poorer than both states.
5. Another major difference: Puerto Rico, unlike U.S. cities, cannot file for bankruptcy. To restructure debts, Puerto Rico must negotiate with investors.
6. Standard & Poor’s, a U.S. financial services company, slashed Puerto Rico’s rating to B, a non-investment grade. This has essentially frozen Puerto Rico out of the bond market. Over the last few years, investment companies like AllianceBernstein have sold their Puerto Rico holdings, with others hesitant to invest without a signpost of increased revenue.
7. The recent passing of a sales-tax bill can be that sign. Unfortunately, while the 4.5 percent hike in sales tax is expected to bring in $1.2 billion in new revenue, and generate more investments for the island, it’s bad news for the people of Puerto Rico, especially the poor, who will now have to pay a whopping 11.5 percent sales tax.
8. In an effort to pay the island’s utility investors, Puerto Rico is negotiating a restructuring of its public power company. The plan, which is likely to be approved by the end of the month, would definitely increase the electric rate for the island’s residents. Critics of the overhaul, like Puerto Rico’s delegate to Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, believe the increase “will not benefit anyone.”
9. Puerto Rico’s Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla also planned to implement a $166 million cut to public university budgets, but the decision was later reversed after thousands of Puerto Rican students protested the proposal. Go, millennials!
10. However, there still remains a healthcare crisis on the island. The Center for Medicaid and Medicare services will soon execute an 11 percent cut in Medicare Advantage reimbursements, which will cost Puerto Rico’s health-care system nearly $500 million. About 60 percent of the island’s population relies on Medicare, Medicare Advantage or Medicaid to pay for their health care. Last month, the Washington Post reported that doctors practicing in Puerto Rico are forced to get by with much smaller Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates than those received by others on the continental U.S.
11. Puerto Rico’s recession has also injured the island’s housing market. According to Fox News Latino, call for sales are expected to be just 15 percent of what they were a decade ago. President of the Puerto Rico Home Builders Association (ACH), Roberto Trapaga, said “when the time comes to buy a house, people don’t have the money,” adding that banks, which have also been hit by the crisis, have tightened the requirement to obtain a mortgage loan.
12. Whether Puerto Ricans own a home or not, water-rationing measures in San Juan have left thousands of islanders without water. The measures, imposed because of an ongoing drought that has lowered Puerto Rico’s main reservoirs, have limited access to water to just every other day for more than 160,000 people living in and near the capital.
13. Good news (kinda): Puerto Rico’s tax hikes and budget cuts are expected to assuage the island’s economic woes. Writing for NPR, economic reporter Greg Allen reminds us that both New York City and Washington, D.C. saw similar fiscal problems and eventually found stability. Unfortunately, fiscal recovery for both cities also brought along with it the process of gentrification, which has displaced much of the areas’ impoverished communities of color, a fate we are already seeing in Puerto Rican barrios like Santurce.
“As it appears in …. full and total credit of information and main graphic”
No intention to offend anyone with the description: “stupid party”. It came with the graph.
John Ellis “Jeb” Bush (born February 11, 1953) served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. He is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, and is the younger brother of former President George W. Bush. Jeb Bush is the only Republican, and the third person of any party, to serve two full four-year terms as Governor of Florida.
The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.
But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department with about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “
That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”
This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.