Senate bill would increase ICE beds in Louisiana

Senate bill would increase ICE beds in Louisiana

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are proposing to significantly reduce the number of people detained by the federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency. The Advocate’s Davide Mamone looks at how that might affect Louisiana, home to several private prisons that have filled their beds with immigrant detainees in recent years and where immigration officials deny a notoriously high percentage of asylum claims.

“Almost every time a detention facility was shut down or scaled back over the past 18 months since the Biden administration was sworn in, well, ICE didn’t release the asylum-seekers. They just sent them down here, in Louisiana or Mississippi,” said Homero Lopez, managing attorney of Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy in New Orleans. … Asylum-seekers were often not represented in Louisiana, especially when their hearings took place in courts in remote areas of the state far from New Orleans. Between 2016 and 2021, the 15 immigration judges in New Orleans, Oakdale and Jena denied 4,119 of the 4,632 claims they heard, marking an 88.36% denial rate statewide, according to an Acadiana Advocate analysis of data from Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse.

‘Baby steps’ on early childhood
The efforts to boost public investments in Louisiana’s youngest children have been a rare point of bipartisan agreement in the state Legislature, which this year pumped more than $100 million into programs serving children aged 0 to 3. But an Advocate editorial notes that Louisiana still only serves a fraction of the kids whose parents need access to quality, affordable care. 

The victory laps are being taken for programs that can now serve about 1 in 5 of the children in low-income families who need state support for child care, (Libbie) Sonnier (of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children) said. Around 100,000 children are not being served, even with all the new money. … Sonnier and other experts recognize that workers in the industry make too little to live. Under a bill by state Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, a state advisory commission on early childhood care will investigate financing and pay in the field before the 2023 session of the Legislature.

The costs of continuing segregation
For people growing up in poor communities, friendships with people who are not poor seem to increase their upward mobility, according to a new study from the academic journal Nature. As the authors note, children in lower-income communities where social contacts mostly come from the lower half of the socioeconomic ladder make significantly less as adults than children who grow up in a community where social contacts mostly come from the upper half. While the study signaled ways for increasing upward mobility, America’s disinvestment in racially and economically integrated public goods has made our country more economically and racially segregated. The New York Times’s David Leonhardt explains:

What might increase cross-class interactions elsewhere? Among the promising possibilities, the researchers say: more housing, including subsidized housing, in well-off areas; more diverse K-12 schools and colleges; and specific efforts — like public parks that draw a diverse mix of families — to encourage interactions among richer and poorer people. … A successful effort to increase interactions would probably need to address the particular roles of race, too. More racially diverse places tend to have fewer cross-class friendships, the study found. “Our society is structured in ways that discourage these kinds of cross-class friendships from happening, and many parents, often white, are making choices about where to live and what extracurriculars to put their kids into that make those connections less likely to happen,” Jessica Calarco, a sociologist at Indiana University said.

Guaranteed income pilot program 
The policy of guaranteed income – providing people with monthly payments of no-strings-attached cash – can have life-changing benefits for people with low incomes. Earlier this year, dozens of cities, including New Orleans and Shreveport, received grants from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income to participate in a guaranteed income pilot. Because they are paid less and more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts, Black women are more likely to be eligible to participate in the pilot. WWNO’s Aubri Juhasz and Stephan Bisaha examine how this pilot is affecting three Black women who received the grants. 

[G]etting subsidized housing can take years. Other programs told Nia she was earning too much money to qualify. She makes $13 an hour working with children with autism. When asked how she was feeling, Nia described her thoughts as chaotic. “I have so much on my mind,” she said. “But if I had more money… I probably wouldn’t be thinking about all that at once.” It’s why Nia said she’s grateful for New Orleans’ guaranteed income program. The city’s giving the money to 125 young adults who aren’t in school or working – Nia started her job after applying and the program doesn’t boot people off once they start earning a paycheck. She’s set to receive $350 a month for ten months. Most of the first check went to her grandmother for rent. She also got something for the baby. The rest went to gas.

Number of the Day
$8 million – Monthly cost to U.S. taxpayers of a funding mechanism that compels the federal government to pay private prison companies operating ICE facilities in Louisiana a guaranteed minimum amount for beds that may not be filled. (Source: The Advocate)