Category Archives: Age

U.S. Feature | Indigenous Asylum-Seekers

The U.S. Immigration System’s Indigenous Language Problem

The surge of asylum-seekers from Central America in the mid-2010s revealed critical language gaps in the asylum system: namely, the lack of competent Mayan-language interpreters. Language shapes each stage of the immigration process, from Border Patrol interrogations and detention to credible-fear interviews and post-approval integration. Non–Spanish-speaking indigenous children are at particular risk, with five of the six children who have died in Homeland Security custody having been indigenous and others traumatized by separation from their families in an unfamiliar language environment.

With three Guatemalan Mayan languages ranking among the top 25 languages used in immigration courts last year, the demand for interpreters exceeds supply, with the U.S. government relying on an uneven landscape of third-party companies and non-profit volunteers. The New Yorker highlights how skill deficiencies, U.S. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, and a strained asylum system have combined to produce unique vulnerabilities for indigenous asylum-seekers.

“The indigenous population was likely the least able to understand their rights, and may therefore have been more susceptible to losing their children and waiving away their own asylum rights.” 

Read

A Translation Crisis at the Border” (The New Yorker | December 2019)

Previous Coverage

Anyone Speak K’iche’ or Mam? Immigration Courts Overwhelmed by Indigenous Languages” (The New York Times | March 2019)

Indigenous immigrants face unique challenges at the border” (High Country News | June 2018)

Ancient Mayan languages are creating problems for today’s immigration courts” (Los Angeles Times | August 2016)

Connect

Asociación Mayab (English version)

The Mayan League

Malaysia Feature | Refugees

The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia

Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.

Read

‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)

Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)

Study

UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia

U.S. News | Migrants & Asylum-Seekers

Upwards of 4,000 children taken from families as immigration crackdown continues in U.S.
  • The implementation of a “zero-tolerance” policy for migrants and asylum-seekers seeking haven in the U.S. has led to nearly 4,000 children being separated from their families since October 2016, including 2,000 in less than a two-month period.
  • The separations have resulted from the criminal referral and subsequent pretrial detention of all adults crossing the border without authorization, a misdemeanor.
  • Although the Trump administration claims families seeking asylum at ports of entry are not included, several reports (including a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union) have indicated asylum-seekers have been separated or deterred from entering as well.
Read

DHS: 2,000 children separated from parents at border” (CNN | June 2018)

U.S. govt says nearly 2,000 child separations at Mexico border in under two months” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | June 2018)

The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained” (Vox | June 2018)

 

U.S. News | Asylum-Seekers

U.S. government loses nearly 1,500 children as administration directs separation of families at border
  • Under direction from the Trump Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have begun separating children as young as 18 months old from their parents and shipping them to detention facilities at times more than a thousand miles from where their parents are held.
  • The separation of children from their families effectively produces “unaccompanied minors,” who are then referred to the Office of Refugee Settlement (ORS) for placement.
  • The head of the ORS reported to Congress that the office had lost track of some 1,475 children who had been placed in its charge.
Read

Testimony of Steven Wagner on the Care and Placement of Unaccompanied Alien Children” (Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget | April 2018)

Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors” (The New York Times | April 2018)

What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like” (VICE News | May 2018)

Lebanon Feature | Syrian Refugees

The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.

Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.

Read

As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)

Additional

For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)

 

Ireland News | Gay Asian-Irish

Irish governing party elects first out gay, Indian-descendent PM
  • The Fine Gael voted Leo Varadkar its new leader, a gay, half-Indian man set to become the youngest PM in Irish history.
  • Varadkhar, 38, was born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother and has become a polarizing conservative firebrand in Irish politics since his first election in 2007.
  • The election has been lauded as a monumental moment for the predominantly Catholic country that in 2015 became the first in the world to codify marriage equality into law through referendum.
Read

Varadkar becomes Irish PM-in-waiting in social, generational shift” (Reuters | June 2017)

Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland set to install first openly gay Prime Minister” (The Independent | June 2017)

From Enda (66) to Leo (38): Ireland set to replace oldest EU leader with youngest” (The Irish Times | June 2017)

(Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Caribbean News | Marginalized Communities

New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
  • The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
  • The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
  • Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
Read

Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)

New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)

Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)

South Africa Feature | Black Youth

The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education

Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.

Read

Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)

Additional

The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)

(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

U.S. Feature | Children with Disabilities

Failing Students with Disabilities in Texas

An extensive multi-part series by The Houston Chronicle has revealed the devious tactics the Texas Education Agency and school administrators have deployed to reduce the number of students with disabilities their schools serve, masking an alarming decrease in support beneath the glean of “improved pedagogy” and “early intervention.” An arbitrary, unscientific 8.5% benchmark was set across the state for the percentage of students taught in special education classes, which necessitated a dramatic and at times aggressive reduction in the number of students evaluated and identified as in need of special education. From stories of families trapped in bureaucratic labyrinths to data on the disproportionate negative effect on English-language learners, the Chronicle series investigates the broken system responsible for the education of children with disabilities and the political struggle to right the listing ship.

Read:
Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed” (The Houston Chronicle)

(Image Credit: Marie D. De Jesús/The Houston Chronicle)

Singapore Feature | Seniors

The Uncertain Twilight of Singapore’s Pioneer Generation

Singapore’s “Pioneer Generation,” those born early enough to witness the birth of the nation, has begun to advance a so-called “silver tsunami” that has challenged a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state renowned for the relatively high standard of living of its citizens. “Re-employment” policies have pushed seniors to remain in the workforce past retirement age, but their concentration in low-wage work has at times created conflict between health, financial, and labor imperatives. As healthcare costs grow while wages remain low, seniors, less educated relative to younger generations, face difficult options in a society that prides itself on individual responsibility and contributions to the nation’s economic progress. The Guardian examines the plight of Singaporean seniors and the evolving challenges they face upon approaching and surpassing retirement age.

Read more:
Singapore’s ‘silver tsunami’: how the city-state depends on its elderly workforce” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Turkey News | Girls

Outrage erupts over proposed bill in Turkey to clear adults married to minors of sexual abuse charges
  • The bill, approved after an initial reading and set for a second vote, would allow for the indefinite suspension of sentencing for sex “without force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” if the perpetrator marries the victim.
  • Women’s rights, children’s rights, and other advocates were swift to condemn the proposed bill, which they argue effectively condones statutory rape and child marriage.
  • Child marriage is illegal in Turkey, but non-civil religious marriages proliferate, particularly in the southeast of the country.

Read more:
Turkish ruling party sparks uproar with sexual abuse bill” (Reuters)
Turkish bill to clear men of child sex assault if they marry their victims” (AFP via The Guardian)
Turkey: Thousands protest against proposed child sex law” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Sedat Suna/EPA, via The Guardian)

France & U.K. News | Refugees & Migrants

France and U.K. resettle asylum-seekers in preparation for dismantlement of Calais camp
  • The government—with the help of more than 10,000 refugee aid agencies—has begun moving an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 asylum-seekers out of the Calais camp (known as the “Jungle”) and into “reception centers” throughout the country.
  • The UK has committed to accepting unaccompanied children across the border, although local agencies have expressed concern about a lack of planning to facilitate the transfer process.
  • The asylum-seekers are expected to spend an average of two months in the centers under the supervision of social workers before being again relocated while their asylum applications are processed, though some report having languished in limbo for longer.

Read more:
Migrants begin new life outside France’s ‘Jungle’ camp” (Reuters)
Calais migrant camp will be razed soon: French minister” (AFP via The Local)
Children in Calais Jungle to arrive in UK ‘in days’” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Regis Duvignau/Reuters)


 

Iran News | Gay Youth

Iran executes gay teen for alleged rape
  • In the Arak prison, the Iranian government executed Hassan Afshar, who was accused of rape by the parents of Afshar’s sexual partner.
  • Afshar maintained that the sex, which took place when he was 17, was consensual, but Iran’s sodomy laws make it difficult to ascertain consent in same-sex sexual relations.
  • International human rights organizations have expressed outrage at Iran’s practice of capital punishment for juveniles and for rape in opposition to international law.

Read more:
Iran: Hanging of teenager shows authorities’ brazen disregard for international law” (Amnesty International)
Iran’s First Juvenile Execution of 2016 Was a Gay Teenager” (VICE News)
Iran executes teenage boy for being gay” (PinkNews)

South Africa Research | Youth

Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa

Commissioned by the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Optimus Study is a first-of-its-kind national survey of the annual incidence and lifetime prevalence of child sexual abuse in South Africa, providing both a point-in-time and longitudinal perspective on South African child victimization. In the context of the study, sexual abuse is defined in both its contact and non-contact forms, including exposure (subjection to voyeurism, exhibitionism, and forced pornographic viewing), exploitation (involvement in sexual activities for pornography and/or prostitution), and contact (sexual assault and rape). With more than a third of schoolchildren reporting having experienced some form of sexual violence, the report offers a framework for addressing not only the high levels of abuse incidence, but also the negative outcomes associated with abuse including mental illness and lowered educational outcomes.

35.6%

Percentage of South African schoolchildren reporting having experienced some form of sexual abuse

36.8% (boys) / 33.9% (girls)

Percentage reporting having been sexually abused, by gender

15 (boys) / 14 (girls)

Average age of first incidence of sexual abuse

11.3%

Percentage who reported unwanted sexual touching by an adult

9.4%

Percentage who reported being made to do sexual things by another child or teen

11.7%

Percentage reporting being forced to have sex

12.9%

Percentage reporting exposure abuse

0% (boys) / 31.0% (girls)

Percentage who reported abuse by a familiar adult to police

~20%

Percentage experiencing trouble with schoolwork and/or school attendance in wake of abuse

2x (anxiety and depression) / 3x (PTSD symptoms)

Likelihood of those who experienced abuse to report symptoms of mental illness relative to young South Africans as a whole

Read:
Optimus Study South Africa: Technical Report (The Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention and the University of Cape Town)

Additional:
Perfect Storm of kids at risk: Why a third of SA’s children are sexually abused” (The Daily Maverick)
1 in 3 young South Africans sexually abused” (UBS Optimus Foundation press release, via Parent24)

Commissioning Organization: UBS Optimus Foundation

U.S. Feature | Homeless Seniors

The Changing Face of American Homelessness

A bulge of homeless baby-boomers has been making its way through the nation’s aging pipeline, with more than 300,000 homeless people in the U.S. now over the age of 50. From the recessions and zero-tolerance drug policies of the ’70s and ’80s to contemporary wage stagnation and affordable housing shortages exacerbated by unchecked urban gentrification, many who came of age during the social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s have struggled to maintain their footing in the nation’s rapidly evolving cities. For many, chronic illness and disability have led to homelessness or struck as a result of it, prematurely introducing aging issues into an already vulnerable population. As a result, homeless seniors have found themselves at the center of an epidemic that is increasingly understood to intersect with other national problems, including weak safety nets for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

As national conversations framed through the lens of personal responsibility, urban threat, and moral failings compound the shame many experience in precarious situations, the aging homeless community has found itself not only marginalized on the streets, but within the discourse of homelessness in general, framed as it too often is in terms of workforce reintegration and social re-engagement. With the elderly homeless population expected to more than double by 2050, The New York Times recently examined the structural problems facing the aging homeless population and challenges affecting the development of effective long-term solutions.

Read:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless” (The New York Times)

Additional coverage:
Fast-aging homeless population may lead to public health crisis” (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2016)
Solving The Growing Health Needs Of America’s Elderly Homeless” (ThinkProgress, February 2016)
‘We Shouldn’t Have To Live Like This’” (NPR, March 2013)

Reports:
Aging and Housing Instability: Homelessness among Older and Elderly Adults (National HCH Council, September 2013)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless, September 2009)

Connect:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council

(Image Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)