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This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, D.C., June 30, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Biden v. Texas affirms that the Biden Administration can end the ill-advised Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program (formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols). This decision, which does not automatically end the failed program, paves the way for the Biden Administration to uphold the right of asylum seekers to seek safe haven at our border—and in doing so, allows the United States to once again welcome people with dignity and due process rather than cruelty and confinement.

The continued efforts to block asylum at our border are based on misguided and racist ideals that have ultimately left asylum seekers stranded and desperate. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers—including infants, children, and families who are predominantly people of color—have been trapped in dangerous conditions in Mexico since the program was first implemented in 2019. They face rape, kidnapping, murder, and other atrocities as they wait. While we applaud this court decision, we also mourn the hundreds of human lives lost due to this and other policies like the needless expulsion of immigrants (Title 42 policy)—including the more than 50 lives lost in the San Antonio tragedy this past week.

We are grateful to all who have fought to make this critical decision possible, including those who continue to serve and protect asylum seekers along the border. We are committed to working alongside our partners to build a more humane and fair immigration system that benefits all our families and communities.

We urge the Biden Administration to swiftly complete the dismantling of the “Remain in Mexico” program as well as all other policies that jeopardize the safety and well-being of asylum seekers and undermine their legal rights under U.S. and international laws. Our country has the resources and our people have the compassion to welcome—with decency, support, and respect—those who have been waiting for years to plead their asylum case in the United States.

 

 

By Nia West-Bey

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned…everywhere is war.”
-Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, as sung by Bob Marley


“War” by Bob Marley is always one of my picks for a social justice playlist. Based on a speech delivered by Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia to the United Nations in 1963, the song brings together my Caribbean heritage, Pan-Africanism, and a searing indictment of racism and white supremacy. It reminds us that the struggle for social and racial justice is a global struggle. In moments of frustration, I play it on repeat to center myself and my place in the struggle for Black liberation. 

June is Caribbean Heritage Month, and I have been reflecting a lot on the role of people of West Indian heritage in movements for social justice and Black liberation in the United States. The Caribbean carries the legacy of both slavery and colonization—a brutal combination. The aftermath of these institutions contributed to high levels of poverty and limited economic opportunity that propelled mass migration to the United States. 

Although we rarely learn about it in school, more than 32,000 West Indians immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century. Among them were my maternal great grandparents who arrived from the tiny Island of Nevis in the British West Indies.  

Changes in U.S. immigration policy in the 1960s brought another wave of West Indian Immigrants, including my father and grandmother who arrived from Jamaica in 1964. 

To celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month, I wanted to (re)introduce you to five giants of movements for social justice and Black liberation that you may not have realized had Caribbean roots: 

Me and “Aunt Consie,” aka Constance Baker Motley, in 2000
Me and “Aunt Consie,” aka Constance Baker Motley, in 2000

These movement ancestors’ leadership and sacrifice in the struggle for Black American liberation remind me that we must disrupt the white supremacist narrative that seeks to divide our communities and our struggle. Any narrative that pits Black immigrants against Black Americans erases the rich texture of our history and the transformative possibilities of solidarity. Racial justice is a collaborative project, and none of us are free until all of us are free.

“We Africans will fight, we find it necessary…and we are confident in the victory”

-Bob Marley, War

By Juan Gomez, Christian Collins, and J Geiman

CLASP recognizes the important ways in which climate change impacts the people and policies we advocate for. This blog is the sixth in a series exploring the intersection of environmental justice and economic security for people living with low incomes. Explore the series here.

Immigrant workers have been overrepresented among our essential workers, and particularly those who keep our nation fed. More than 50 percent of meat packing workers and 75 percent of farmworkers are immigrants. Yet, despite being essential, they continuously are subjected to fewer worker protections and unsafe working environments, which are only worsening with our warming climate. These threats call for new federal policies and investments to protect all workers across the food supply industry, support immigration rights, and transform our agricultural system. 

Extreme heat environments are known to place physical risk on workers by increasing workplace injuries. These environments also lead to greater risk of developing health conditions such as asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Heat-related illnesses are the leading cause of death for farmworkers, who are 20 percent more likely to die from them than are other workers. The continued record-breaking heat has also contributed to an increase in natural disasters, such as wildfires, during which farmworkers are expected to continue to work despite the increased risk of harm and exposure to wildfire smoke. 

Rising temperatures also create economic risks for weather-exposed workers. County-level wages drop across all industries, but workers in highly exposed industries experience the greatest drop. As noted by the Environmental Protection Agency, workers in weather-exposed industries tend to have lower incomes and thus are more reliant on their incomes to meet basic needs. For them, the climate crisis is simultaneously an economic crisis. About 30 percent of farmworkers and over 12 percent of meat packing workers live below the poverty line.

Additionally, immigrant workers face systemic barriers to addressing the harms of those environmental inequities. Workers whose homes may have been impacted by wildfires or flooding may be ineligible for economic or housing assistance due to their immigration status. Immigrants who develop health conditions from exposure to toxic chemicals at work are often not eligible for health care coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic helped bring attention to the poor working conditions in America’s food supply sectors. However, exploitation has long been the norm in these industries, and immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to labor abuses. Both the meatpacking and farming industries aggressively recruit undocumented workers precisely because their status can be used against them. Companies pay them lower wages, provide fewer benefits, and cut costs through subpar working conditions. Immigration raids have been used by employers to retaliate against employees that strike or unionize, further discouraging undocumented workers from advocating for their rights.

Furthermore, farmworkers are excluded from many federal labor standards that protect the rights of workers in other sectors, including collective bargaining rights. Although farm work is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other limited federal policies, employers frequently violate these standards with no repercussions. Even within FLSA standards, farm work is exempt from certain rules, including those concerning child labor. This means child farmworkers have no hour limits and are subject to hazardous conditions such as exposure to pesticides, which can compromise child development.

This lack of legal protections means that immigrant food supply workers are particularly vulnerable to worsening labor conditions as a result of climate change. With minimal action from the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce workers’ rights, and no protection for workers’ self-advocacy, employers will only continue to disregard immigrant workers’ rights and safety.  

These complex issues require comprehensive solutions from the White House and Congress. Food supply workers must be granted full legal rights, including the right to organize and protection from retaliation; benefits and livable wages; and safe working conditions including shade, water, ventilation, and rest periods. The Colorado Farmworkers Bill of Rights provides a strong model for a potential national policy.  

Additionally, the Biden Administration should communicate with workers in these industries to ensure they know their rights. The administration committed to ending workplace immigration raids. However, officials must build trust with immigrant communities to ensure workers know about these changes and feel safe to organize or report dangerous workplace conditions without fear of deportation.  

In tandem with increased labor protections for food supply workers, Congress must implement a pathway to citizenship so the disproportionate numbers of undocumented and temporary workers employed in these fields are covered by these policies. No worker in any industry should be subject to labor abuses. It is particularly egregious that the essential workers who feed our nation are often most at risk. 

On a broader scale, we must address the urgent climate crisis and the unsustainability of our food supply industries. Agriculture accounts for more than a third of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Modern farming and livestock practices can cause erosion, waterway pollution, and other harms on local ecosystems. The administration and Congress should make it a priority to invest in transformative agricultural practices through the upcoming Farm Bill and other legislation. Funding can be used to support research; incentivize farmers to implement sustainable practices like using cover crops, rotational grazing, and integrated pest management to improve soil health and carbon sequestration; and provide stricter regulation of companies’ environmental impact. Through a comprehensive approach, we can put an end to the harm our food systems are causing to the immigrant workers these industries depend on and to our global climate.

The following statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2022—Today’s signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will bring needed investments to address the youth mental health crisis, which disproportionately impacts young people of color who lack access to appropriate care.  

We applaud the bill’s substantial investments in making school-based mental health services more accessible for young people. We also appreciate the bill’s expansion of mental health services, including telehealth covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and we urge administrators to consider young people’s preference for text/app-based therapies. Finally, we continue to stress how the new nationwide 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline can benefit young people with culturally and linguistically responsive services and providers.  

Despite the bill’s significant positive investments, many communities will be harmed by increased funding to significantly bolster local police forces—including in schools—and measures that contribute to school hardening. Heightened police presence will inevitably criminalize and place blame on students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, and students with disabilities. The bill also increases surveillance methods that fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. Rather than perpetuating negative school environments, investments should focus on the health and wellbeing of young people of color. 

Young people who have been directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence need access to mental health services. Exposure to gun violence traumatizes our youth and undermines their educational attainment. However, reflexively attributing gun violence to mental health challenges furthers a counterproductive narrative that stigmatizes young people who seek mental health care. Linking mental health to gun violence in this way will disproportionately hurt Black and brown youth.  

We are committed to working with policymakers on implementation of the bill and advancing future legislation that will better protect youth of color.

This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

Washington, D.C., June 24, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will have immediate, grave consequences for the economic security and opportunity of millions—particularly those from communities with low incomes along with people of color and immigrants. By overturning the long-standing constitutional right to abortion care, today’s decision will allow states across the country to ban abortions. This ruling, the state abortion bans already in place, those triggered into effect, and those sure to follow will most harm those with the least resources, undermining their freedom and intensifying existing inequities. 

Comprehensive reproductive care is—first and foremost—fundamental to economic security and opportunity, bodily autonomy, and broader health care access for women and people who may become pregnant. But reproductive justice is important for all of us, as it contributes to child wellbeing, strong families, and an economy that delivers widespread prosperity. 

The right to an abortion has been settled case law for the past 50 years. The erosion of this and other constitutional protections will cause dire and disproportionate harm to communities with low incomes, communities of color, and other groups that have historically been marginalized. Because of its central role in allowing women and birthing people control over their own lives, reproductive justice is essential for economic justice.  

CLASP stands in solidarity with our partners working to protect reproductive freedom and the constitutional rights of everyone. We call on lawmakers at all levels—in state legislatures and in Congress—to codify robust abortion access immediately. 

 

By Juan Gomez and Hannah Liu

CLASP recognizes the important ways in which climate change impacts the people and policies we advocate for. This blog is the fifth in a series exploring the intersection of environmental justice and economic security for people living with low incomes. Explore the series here.

Leading researchers agree that environmental destabilization caused by the climate crisis is one of the driving factors for people migrating to and seeking asylum in the United States. But pollution and poor environmental practices in this country also harm immigrant families by causing serious long-term health problems. Our nation’s exclusionary health care policies leave families with little to no way of addressing this harmful exposure. 

As a result of segregation, economic inequality, and anti-Black land use decisions, many communities of color, which often also have low incomes, reside where they are more vulnerable to the consequences of environmental deterioration. 

Neighborhoods with higher percentages of people with low incomes, people of color, and immigrants are in greater proximity to industrial hazards and waste sites. They experience higher levels of air toxicity and drinking water contamination. Nearly half of kids in immigrant families live in households with low incomes, making them more likely to live in these neighborhoods.

Furthermore, poorer housing quality leaves families more exposed to natural disasters and other impacts caused by the changing climate, such as extreme heat. The combined impacts of these environmental inequities lead to increased risk for long-term health issues, such as asthma, impaired brain development, kidney failure, and cancer.

At the same time, immigrants also face unique barriers to seeking care due to policy restrictions. They are largely barred from a range of health care coverage depending on their immigration status. Under current law, people with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status must wait five years before being able to access health care through critical supports like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Only a limited number of states offer some exceptions for children and pregnant women.

Individuals who are undocumented or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are almost entirely barred from health care coverage through Medicaid, CHIP, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace coverage. Over six million children live in immigrant families that are subject to these barriers.

The vast majority of children in immigrant families are U.S. citizens. But when their parents face barriers to care, children’s health may suffer. U.S. citizen children with an immigrant parent are nearly twice as likely to be uninsured than their peers with U.S. citizen parents. Immigration enforcement actions and policies, including concerns related to the public charge policy, have also created a chilling effect for children in immigrant families accessing care.

The prolonged exposure to environmental inequities combined with health care hurdles has serious long-term impacts for children and their development. Not being able to get care to address chronic conditions means children in immigrant families disproportionately rely on emergency rooms while their health worsens. Those unmet health care needs can also hurt children’s school success. Asthma, for example, is one of the leading causes of absenteeism from school.

Without access to critical programs like Medicaid and CHIP, many immigrants can’t afford the costly health care needed to treat chronic health conditions, which are often created or exacerbated by the environments they live in. These problems are avoidable. It is imperative that policymakers solve this by providing access to health care to address existing systemic barriers. They must also find solutions to the root causes of environmental inequities to protect the health of immigrant families in the future.

By Fairfax County Times

(Excerpt)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke with staff at Child & Family Network Centers in Alexandria to discuss his child care proposal and the need to invest in pre-kindergarten and other early childhood education programs. Kaine’s proposal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would lower child care costs, raise wages for child care providers, and invest more funding into child care and early childhood education programs. His proposal would provide more funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), expanding access to an estimated 23,256 children in Virginia according to an analysis by the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Read the full article here.

By Alycia Hardy

On March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, which included $6.2 billion in annual discretionary funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The annual appropriations process is an important opportunity for federal policymakers to invest in programs, such as CCDBG, that support children, families, and child care providers nationwide as well as respond to their needs. CCDBG is a critical support for families with low incomes who, without access to assistance, would likely be unable to afford their current child care arrangement. However, due to limited federal funding, the program only served 1 in 7[1] eligible children in 2018.[2]

The $6.2 billion in FY 2022 appropriations included a $254 million increase above FY 2021 funding, a 4 percent increase.[3] However, annual inflation—or the change in prices from year to year—requires federal funding adjustments to ensure that as child care prices increase, due to inflation, federal funding also increases at the same rate to keep up with those increased costs. The pandemic amplified inflation, creating some of the highest increases in more than 30 years.[4] Federal investments in child care that expand access to the types of affordable, quality child care families need can act as a tool to combat inflation. Expanded access to child care can create opportunities to start or advance careers, which helps expand the workforce, increase productivity, and drive down inflation.[5] Unfortunately, the CCDBG appropriations increase for FY 2022 did not keep up with this increased rate, despite an overall increase in federal CCDBG appropriations funding.

The following table provides each state’s actual distribution of FY 2021 annual discretionary funds;[6] the estimated distribution for FY 2022 discretionary funds; and the estimated increase from FY 2021 to FY 2022. The increases for each state range from $368,000 in Wyoming to $34 million in Texas.

State Distribution of GY 2021 Discretionary Funds[7] Estimated Distribution of GY 2022 Discretionary Funds[8] Increase from FY 2021 to GY 2022 Discretionary Funds
Alabama $105,775,324 $111,440,881 $5,665,557
Alaska $10,624,396 $11,193,462 $569,066
Arizona $139,770,178 $147,256,574 $7,486,396
Arkansas $67,043,434 $70,634,427 $3,590,993
California $542,085,585 $571,120,872 $29,035,287
Colorado $67,060,083 $70,651,967 $3,591,884
Connecticut $39,810,895 $41,943,253 $2,132,358
Delaware $15,643,379 $16,481,273 $837,894
District of Columbia $9,336,960 $9,837,068 $500,108
Florida $356,937,029 $376,055,355 $19,118,326
Georgia $226,914,017 $239,068,027 $12,154,010
Hawaii $18,722,408 $19,725,221 $1,002,813
Idaho $32,471,392 $34,210,631 $1,739,239
Illinois $186,604,713 $196,599,669 $9,994,956
Indiana $126,596,889 $133,377,695 $6,780,806
Iowa $53,326,045 $56,182,304 $2,856,259
Kansas $50,126,397 $52,811,276 $2,684,879
Kentucky $110,158,549 $116,058,881 $5,900,332
Louisiana $111,483,487 $117,454,786 $5,971,299
Maine $17,148,747 $18,067,271 $918,524
Maryland $72,431,386 $76,310,969 $3,879,583
Massachusetts $73,674,156 $77,620,305 $3,946,149
Michigan $164,209,586 $173,005,010 $8,795,424
Minnesota $75,975,097 $80,044,489 $4,069,392
Mississippi $74,868,624 $78,878,751 $4,010,127
Missouri $104,083,429 $109,658,365 $5,574,936
Montana $15,953,404 $16,807,903 $854,499
Nebraska $33,533,611 $35,329,744 $1,796,133
Nevada $52,124,864 $54,916,785 $2,791,921
New Hampshire $11,168,333 $11,766,533 $598,200
New Jersey $100,195,065 $105,561,731 $5,366,666
New Mexico $46,184,538 $48,658,283 $2,473,745
New York $263,524,388 $277,639,329 $14,114,941
North Carolina $188,829,869 $198,944,009 $10,114,140
North Dakota $10,932,633 $11,518,209 $585,576
Ohio $187,436,478 $197,475,985 $10,039,507
Oklahoma $85,041,253 $89,596,248 $4,554,995
Oregon $58,331,163 $61,455,507 $3,124,344
Pennsylvania $170,807,685 $179,956,517 $9,148,832
Puerto Rico $44,238,109 $46,607,599 $2,369,490
Rhode Island $13,416,731 $14,135,360 $718,629
South Carolina $102,312,198 $107,792,263 $5,480,065
South Dakota $14,504,242 $15,281,121 $776,879
Tennessee $129,929,828 $136,889,153 $6,959,325
Texas $638,449,971 $672,646,745 $34,196,774
Utah $61,256,057 $64,537,065 $3,281,008
Vermont $6,874,023 $7,242,211 $368,188
Virginia $114,503,619 $120,636,683 $6,133,064
Washington $91,297,829 $96,187,940 $4,890,111
West Virginia $37,583,748 $39,596,816 $2,013,068
Wisconsin $83,663,223 $88,144,408 $4,481,185
Wyoming $6,867,453 $7,235,289 $367,836
United States $5,911,000000[9] $6,165,330,000[10] $254,000,000[11]

[1] Nina Chien, Factsheet: Estimates of Child Care Eligibility & Receipt for Fiscal Year 2018, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/cy-2018-child-care-subsidy-eligibility.pdf.

[2] The most recently available data for this statistic is from the FY 2018 analysis from the Office of the Assistance Secretary for Planning & Evaluation which was released in August 2021.

[3] CLASP calculation based on enacted appropriations amount according to each appropriations bill, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ260/PLAW-116publ260.pdf, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2471/text.

[4] Alberto Cavallo and Oleksiy Kryvtsov, How the pandemic has affected the economy, empty shelves to higher prices, PBS News Hour, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/how-the-pandemic-has-affected-the-economy-from-empty-shelves-to-higher-prices.

[5] Josh Bivens, Child care and elder care investments are a tool for reducing inflationary expectations without pain, Economic Policy Institute, 2022, https://www.epi.org/blog/child-care-and-elder-care-investments-are-a-tool-for-reducing-inflationary-expectations-without-pain/.

[6] CCDBG annual discretionary funds are distributed based on three main factors, the first of two which compare the ratio of the number of children within a state compared to the number of children in the country within the following categories: the number of children under five and the number of children who receive free or reduced priced lunch. The distribution is also based on a comparison of the three-year national per capita income with the three-year average state per capital income.

[7] Fiscal Year (FY) refers to the period from October 1 through September 30, during which states and territories may spend funds awarded in the current and prior years. Grant Year (GY) refers to the year the funds were awarded, although states and territories may liquidate some CCDF funding streams in later fiscal years. Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State and Territory Spending Under The Grant Yar 2019 Award as of 9/30/2019, Office of Child Care https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/data/ccdf-expenditures-overview-gy-2019-9-30-2019.

[8] State estimated discretionary funding distributions are based on the GY 2021 CCDF Allocations Based on Appropriations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2021, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/data/gy-2021-ccdf-allocations-based-appropriations. Actual amounts may differ due to Secretary authority and discretion in set aside funding.

[9] The total includes funds for tribes, territories, and states, as well as funds for research, evaluation, technical assistance, and the CCDF hotline and website. The total does not reflect the $59 million transferred from CCDBG based on the discretion and authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which reduced the total amount of funds allocated to $5.85 billion in FY 2022.

[10] The total includes funds for tribes, territories, and states, as well as funds for research, evaluation, technical assistance, and the CCDF hotline and website.

[11] The estimated increase in funds from FY 2021 to FY 2022 totals $319 million instead of $254 million, due to the $59 million that was transferred out of CCDBG under the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Therefore, the estimated overall increase in funds allotted from FY 2021 to FY 2022 is $319 million due to states receiving fewer dollars than were originally enacted through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ260/PLAW-116publ260.pdf.

>> View the fact sheet and analysis here

By Grace Segers

(Excerpt)

An analysis by the Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, estimated that the $72 billion over six years would benefit roughly one million additional children who do not currently have access to affordable childcare. Stephanie Schmit, the director of childcare and early education at CLASP, told The New Republic that this investment would increase the reach of the existing block grants by 70 percent. Because of the size and scope of this proposal, Schmit said that reconciliation was the best route for addressing the childcare crisis.

Read the full article here.

By Carly Shaffer

(Excerpt)

The core of the proposal — more federal funds flowing to the states — would increase the number of children receiving child care assistance by1 million or more, according to an estimate by the Center for Law and Social Policy, while also expanding the supply of child care. 

Read the full article here