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Trump makes seeking asylum harder

Efforts to #FreeAlejandra continue

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Alejandra Barrera (Photo courtesy [email protected] Coalition)

President Donald Trump is doubling down on his anti-immigrant “America First” message, claiming “Our country is full.”

Not true. In fact, the shrinking labor force has become an existential crisis in cities and towns across the nation. “I believe our biggest threat is our declining labor force,” Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said in his annual budget address, according to the New York Times. “It’s the root of every problem we face.”

And yet, on April 29, Trump issued a new memo ordering major changes to

U.S. asylum policies in 90 days, including charging application fees to those seeking humanitarian refuge and prohibiting work permits to anyone who crosses the border illegally. Additionally, Trump ordered a 180-day limit for immigration courts to adjudicate the claims of asylum seekers, despite a backlog of over 850,000 immigration cases that are being handled by roughly 400 judges.

The changes seem intent on essentially punishing asylum seekers, those fleeing violence with little money for the fees, or to hire lawyers, or gather evidence to support their claims, or find work as their claims are adjudicated.  Recently, Attorney General Barr announced that asylum seekers would no longer be granted bond to get out of ICE detention while their claim is being processed.

Lost in the political grand-standing are individual asylum seekers such as Alejandra Barrera, a transgender activist who has been held in ICE detention in Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico since 2017 and faces deportation back to El Salvador where she faces certain death.

“Alejandra has survived repeated extortion, threats and sexual assault in El Salvador, only to be denied her freedom while seeking safety in the United States. All Alejandra has done is exercise her fundamental rights to seek asylum. Her deportation must be stopped immediately and she must be released to be with friends and family awaiting her liberation. But faced with imminent deportation, Alejandra’s life is at great risk if she is deported to El Salvador,” said Rebekah Wolf, Alejandra’s lawyer, in a recent Amnesty International USA press release.

Bamby Salcedo and the [email protected] Coalition, Amnesty International and the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center have been working hard to draw attention to Alejandra’s plight, including a petition of support from nearly 100 organizations and the revelation that ICE falsified some documents, thus denying her of a fair hearing.

“ICE is now delaying Alejandra’s deportation and we have a chance to really bring attention to her case and get her free,” Salcedo said. “We have captured the attention of several Congress members but we need to continue this momentum.”


 

 

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California

Newsom launches nation’s largest college savings program

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Governor Gavin Newsom launches CalKIDS at the State Controller's Office (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Starting today, all Californian families of low-income public school students – 3.4 million across the state – can now access college savings accounts created in their children’s names, with seed investments of between $500 and $1,500.

The CalKIDS program, launched by Governor Gavin Newsom, invests $1.9 billion into accounts for low-income school-age children in grades 1-12 and for newborn children born on or after July 1, 2022. 

“California is telling our students that we believe they’re college material – not only do we believe it, we’ll invest in them directly,” said Newsom. “With up to $1,500, we’re transforming lives, generating college-going mindsets, and creating generational wealth for millions of Californians.”

“I am proud and excited to finally see CalKIDS in action,” said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “My goal with this program was to bridge the gap between wealth inequality and the high cost of education. CalKIDS will expand access to college through savings by providing each child born in the state of California a seed deposit in a ScholarShare 529 college savings account. Furthermore, thanks to Governor Newsom’s investment and expansion of the Program to make college more accessible to low-income California kids, additional deposits will be made for low-income first graders across the state, with supplemental deposits for foster and homeless youth. Our shared vision ensures each child across the state will have an opportunity at higher education.”

FIND OUT IF YOU’RE RECEIVING MONEY BY CLICKING HERE.

Up to $1,500 for 3.4 Million School-Age Children:

  • $500 Automatic Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12.
  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as foster youth.
  • $500 Additional Deposit: Eligible low-income public school students in grades 1-12 identified as homeless.

Up to $100 for Newborn Children:

  • $25 Automatic Deposit: Every eligible child born on or after July 1, 2022.
  • $25 Additional Deposit: Those who register on the program’s online portal.
  • $50 Additional Deposit: Those who link a new or existing ScholarShare 529 account to the CalKIDS account.

Californians can begin accessing their accounts via the online portal now. In the coming months, CalKIDS will send notification letters to qualifying children and families with more information. 

To learn more, visit the CalKIDS website and FAQ.

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Southern California

Triple A: Drivers asked stay alert & drive carefully as kids go back to school

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Non-drivers account for nearly 1 in 5 distracted driving deaths

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Photo Credit: Automobile Club of Southern California

LOS ANGELES – This month Southern California students are returning to classes on foot, bicycles, as well as in cars and school buses. To prevent traffic-related injuries and fatalities to students this school year, the Automobile Club of Southern California reminds drivers to slow down and stay alert in school zones and in other areas where children might be present.

Crashes are the leading cause of death for children and adolescents. The problem escalates during the months kids are in school, and the afternoon school hours are particularly dangerous. Nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Kids are particularly vulnerable because they are small and less visible to drivers, are not always able to make sound and safe decisions near streets and can be easily distracted when around other kids. Children are not adults, so it is up to drivers to compensate for these differences. AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully! awareness campaign began in 1946 to help reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Today, this effort is more important than ever due to the prevalence of drivers with smartphones and the increase in distracted driving on our roads.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,138 people died in distracted-related crashes in the U.S. in 2020, accounting for 8.1% of all roadway fatalities. That’s an average of 9 people killed each day in crashes that are totally preventable. Additionally, another 400,000 people are injured each year in distracted-related crashes. However, the true numbers of deaths and injuries are likely much higher because distracted driving is often underreported or difficult to determine as the cause of a crash.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Non-drivers account for nearly one in five distracted driving deaths. Nationally in 2020, there were 480 pedestrians, 83 bicyclists and 14 other non-occupants killed in crashes that involved a driver who was reported to be distracted. It is unknown how many of these pedestrians, cyclists and other non-occupants were also distracted at the time.

“School-aged children will soon be going to and from campuses, so drivers should prepare for them,” said Auto Club Corporate Communications & Programs Manager Doug Shupe. “If you drive distracted you are “intexticated” behind the wheel, and you could cause the same tragedies as a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs. So, make it a habit to put smartphones out of sight and stay alert on the road, especially in school zones, in neighborhoods, around parks, and near bus stops,” said Shupe.

To keep kids safe this school year the Auto Club reminds drivers to:

  1. Eliminate distractions and put down the cell phone. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  2. Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. A difference between 25 mph and 35 mph can save a life.
  3. Talk with teens. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during after-school hours.
  4. Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or on neighborhood streets. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before continuing.
  5. Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes can be inexperienced, unsteady, and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
  6. Watch for school buses. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers MUST stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm withdraws, and the bus begins to move before they can start driving again.

Parents and guardians are also key to keeping children safe during the trip to and from school. Adults should walk with children to familiarize them with the route to school and point out potential traffic hazards.

Students walking to and from school should:

  • Wait until you get to your destination before calling people, texting or gaming.  If you must text or make a call while walking, stop and find a safe location.
  • Avoid using hands-free devices while walking – Hang up and walk!
  • Remove your headphones or turn down the volume of your music so you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Watch out for cars while crossing the street. There are a lot of distracted drivers out there so look all around you while in and around crosswalks.
  • Be a role model – pay attention while you walk and if you see your friends and family distracted while they walk – speak up.

For more information about the Auto Club’s traffic safety initiative, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated,” visit aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted to read real stories of lives impacted by distracted driving, watch PSAs, and view a new distracted driving documentary called “Sidetracked.”

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Los Angeles

LAPD: Body found on fire hanging in tree in Griffith Park likely a suicide

The person’s age, identity and gender have not yet been determined, but they are believed to be a person who frequents the park

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Screenshot/YouTube KABC ABC 7 LA

LOS ANGELES – The body of an unidentified person deceased found hanging from a tree near the Griffith Park’s merry go round was likely a suicide a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday.

The body was discovered at around 12:30 p.m. on fire and hanging from a tree. Los Angeles City firefighters put the flames out and LAPD detectives investigated and found no signs of foul play, determining that most likely the cause of death was suicide.

“It appears to be self-immolation,” said LAPD detective Michael Ventura. “This is going to be somebody who brought some gasoline, brought some lighters. We have had, they are rare, but we do have cases where people will self-immolate. Or they choose to set themselves on fire.”

The person’s age, identity and gender have not yet been determined, but they are believed to be a person who frequents the park on a regular basis Ventura said.

Independent freelance journalist Vishal P. Singh, who was on scene tweeted about the incident:

KABC reported:

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or dial 988

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