Tag Archives: children

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)

 

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)

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)


 

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

Guinea Research | Women & Girls

Female Genital Mutilation in Guinea

Despite political and social efforts to eliminate the practice, female genital mutilation (FGM) has continued unabated in Guinea. The West African country has actually seen support for the ritual increase in the last couple of decades, and the trans-ethnic prevalence of the procedure has made FGM rates in the country one of the highest in the world. The UN recently released a report on the current state of FGM in Guinea and the cultural difficulties in ending the practice, including anti-Western sentiment, social norms, and religious traditions.

96% (2005) vs. 97% (2012)

Percentage of Guinean women aged 15-49 subjected to FGM

96.8% (urban) vs. 97% (rural)

Percentage of women subjected to FGM by area of residence

92% (low-income) vs. 68% (higher-income)

Percentage of women subjected to FGM by socioeconomic status

69% (currently aged 20-24) vs. 61% (currently aged 45-49)

Percentage of women cut prior to the age of 10 (2012)

65% (1999) vs. 76% (2012)

Percentage of Guinean women who support FGM

Read:
Rapport sur les droits humains et la pratique des mutilations génitales féminines/excision en Guinée (UN Human Rights report, in French)
UN report reveals increasing incidents of female genital mutilation in Guinea, including on infants” (UN News Service)

Additional:
Fact sheet: Female genital mutilation (World Health Organization)

Cameroon Feature | Women & Children

The Weaponized Girls of Boko Haram

As Boko Haram’s successes in northeastern Nigeria have been rolled back, the extremist group’s attentions have turned elsewhere in the region, including neighboring Cameroon. Rare in other global terrorist activity, female suicide bombers between 14 and 24 years of age have formed the lion’s share of suicide attacks in Cameroon, comprising some 80% of incidents. Female suicide bombers have also been deployed in Nigeria, most recently in Maiduguri. Reuters investigates the pipeline from abduction to sexual slavery to suicide attacks that women captured by Boko Haram have found themselves caught up in.

Read:
Weakened Boko Haram sends girl bombers against Cameroon civilians” (Reuters)

Additional:
Video: The war against Boko Haram’s suicide bombers in Cameroon” (France24)
Nigeria mosque hit by Maiduguri suicide bombers” (BBC)

(Image Credit: Joe Penney/Reuters)

U.S. Research | Black & Children with Disabilities

Disproportionate Suspension Rates in U.S. Charter Schools

A new study has found that black students and students with disabilities are suspended at considerably higher rates than their peers in charter schools at both the elementary and secondary level. At the secondary level, Latino and Native American students join them in disproportionate suspension. The report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project spells particular trouble for black students with disabilities and has troubling implications in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline.

4.1% (all students) vs. 9.7% (with disabilities) vs. 3.7% (without disabilities)

Suspension rates at the elementary level by ability

4.1% (all students) vs. 8.7% (black) vs. 2.1% (white) vs. 2.4% (Latino) vs. 3% (Native American)

Suspension rates at the elementary level by race/ethnicity

11.6% (all students) vs. 20.8% (with disabilities) vs. 10.6% (without disabilities)

Suspension rates at the secondary level by ability

11.6% (all students) vs. 22% (black) vs. 5.6% (white) vs. 9.1% (Latino) vs. 10.9% (Native American)

Suspension rates at the secondary level by race/ethnicity

7.8% (charters) vs. 6.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates at the K-12 level

15.5% (charters) vs. 13.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates of students with disabilities (K-12)

7% (charters) vs. 5.7% (non-charters)

Suspension rates of students without disabilities (K-12)

50+%

Suspension rate of students with disabilities at 235 charter schools

Years studied: 2011-12

Read more:
Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review (The Center for Civil Rights Remedies)
Students With Disabilities Suspended More Often At Charters” (Disability Scoop)

Brazil News | Children

Brazil sheds 43% of child workers over last decade
  • Brazil’s number of child workers decreased to 2.8 million in 2014 from 5 million in 2004.
  • The demographics of child workers also shifted from predominantly uneducated children from low-income families to teenagers from economically stable families.
  • The Brazilian constitution bans children under the age of 13 from working, while youth aged 14 and 15 can work under apprenticeship programs and those aged 16 and older can have formal day jobs.

Read more:
Brazil reduces child labor by 43 percent in decade” (Xinhua)
2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor: Brazil (U.S. Department of Labor)
Brazil halves the percentage of children working” (The Guardian, 2010)

Australia News | Refugee Children

Australian court ruling clears way for deportation of refugee infants born in the country
  • Australia’s High Court upheld the legality of the deportation of newborns born to asylum-seekers in the country, which currently include dozens of infants, as well as more than 50 children brought to Australia for medical treatment and their families.
  • The case was brought by the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) on behalf of a Bangladeshi woman who was transported from offshore detention to Australia in 2014 for prenatal medical treatment and has remained there since.
  • Australian citizenship laws withhold citizenship from children born in Australia to foreign nationals until their 10th birthday, at which time they must have lived in Australia for a significant period.

Read more:
Australian asylum ruling paves way for deportation of infants” (Reuters)
High court upholds Australia’s right to detain asylum seekers offshore” (The Guardian)
Asylum seeker mother voices fears about being returned Nauru immigration detention centre” (ABC)

(Image Credit: Human Rights Law Centre Handout, via Reuters)

Israel & Palestine News | Palestinian Children

Israeli army arrests five Palestinian children in latest controversial detention of minors
  • The children were detained for allegedly throwing stones at soldiers, punishable by up to 20 years, before being released.
  • Rights groups estimate around 700 Palestinian minors are prosecuted each year in military courts.
  • Video of a small Palestinian boy with a broken arm being violently handled by Israeli officers went viral last month as the army’s aggressive police tactics drew international condemnation.

View the Al Jazeera America video on YouTube.