Tag Archives: Children

40 Mothers Launch Hunger Strike As They Await Immigration Hearings

Forty mothers who came to the United States from Central America, seeking asylum, launched a hunger strike on Monday to protest their detainment. The mothers and their children are being held at an immigration detention center in Karnes City, Texas, while they await their immigration hearings.

McClatchy DC reported that while more than 80 women had initially signed a petition to take part in the strike, several dropped out after two women were placed in isolation.

Johana De Leon, a legal assistant with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, told McClatchy DC that some of the mothers were warned they could “lose custody of their children” if they participated in the strike.

Part of the letter, which was obtained and translated by Colorlines, says:

During this time, no mother will work in the detention center, nor will we send our children to school, nor will we use any services here, until we are heard and approved: we want our FREEDOM.”

Colorlines reported that the mothers who signed the letter have all been interviewed by immigration officials, and have established a “credible fear of persecution or torture if they were to be deported.”  While some have not been given the opportunity to post bond for release, others have a bond set too high for them to pay.

Colorlines’ Aura Bogado reported that when she contacted the facility, she spoke with an anonymous immigration officer who laughed at the strike, calling it something the women’s attorneys had convinced them to do.

Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old mother who came from Honduras with her 2-year-old son, told McClatchy DC that instead of finding the shelter they were seeking when they came to the US, she and the other mothers are being treated like prisoners. She said that while she has been held at the center for five months, some of the other mothers have been there for 10 months.

Galeano said that the mothers participating in the strike have not been influenced by any outside sources, and that they will not eat, work, or send their children to the center’s school until the detainees are released.

Colorlines noted that the Karnes facility, which is run the private GEO group, has a mostly-male staff of guards who have access to the women and children’s rooms at all times, and as a result, the Karnes facility has been the site of repeated allegations of sexual abuse.

According to Colorlines, while illegal immigrants are not authorized to work in the United States, undocumented detainees at Karnes help run the facility, and receive a paycheck of $3 a day. Their work includes cleaning and running the laundry facility for the 532-bed detention center.

Karnes City, Texas, has a population of about 3,500, and is home to several major fracking operations. These operations have led to complaints about contaminated water, which means that the city’s residents rely on bottled water. For residents at the Karnes facility, $3 is both a day’s salary and the price of a bottle of water, according to Colorlines.

Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), released a statement saying that the agency is carefully monitoring the situation for potential health and safety risks.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so,” Pruneda said.

McClatchy DC reported that the Karnes center is one of three immigration detention facilities set up specifically for women and children in the US. More than 2,500 illegal immigrants have been detained at these centers since July.

New study finds more non-Mexicans are caught entering US

The Pew Research Center released a report which has found, for the first time in over 60 years, the Border Patrol has captured more non-Mexican immigrants crossing the Mexican-American border than Mexican immigrants.

The number of non-Mexican immigrants who were captured totaled 257,000 while the number of Mexican immigrants captured was slightly less, at 229,000.

This is a huge shift in numbers compared to the year 2007 when close to 809,000 Mexican immigrants were captured while attempting to cross the border, as compared to the 68,000 non-Mexican immigrants who were captured.

Jens Manuel Krogstad, co-author of the Pew report, told VICE News, “It is a pretty striking milestone… It’s the first time on record this has happened.”

What the research also found was the number of Mexican immigrants coming to America illegally seemed to drop drastically around the 2008 recession.

That’s been for a variety of reasons,” said Krogstad. “Some of them are economic, there are fewer jobs in the US, and economic conditions in Mexico also contributed. Also, there’s increased border enforcement.”

Another reason for the increase in non-Mexican immigrants is attributed to the number of children from other Central and South American countries who have made the trek to America. Some experts are claiming the violence in these countries is driving some immigrants out of their homelands.

Wendy Feliz, a spokeswoman for the American Immigration Council, said, “It’s no surprise given how violent it’s gotten in Central America that those numbers are up… It used to be all economic reasons, now it’s gotten to the point where people are actually seeking safety.”

The number of child immigrants coming to America has sparked a lot of debate in DC and across the country about what to do with the children.

In November, President Obama passed an executive action which relieves about 4 million of the 11 million immigrants in America from the threat of deportation.

Sheriff’s Deputies Force Children to Strip, Squat and Cough at Philadelphia Court

Deputies with the Philadelphia Police Department reportedly strip-searched minors who were making appearances for hearings at the Philadelphia Family Courthouse

CBS Philadelphia reports that multiple sources state sheriff’s deputies ordered juveniles in county custody to “remove all their clothes, to squat, and to cough.” The searches happened individuals and in small groups.

KYW Newsradio said multiple sources told them the searches were cancelled after the children complained and court authorities were notified. The incidents took place on Monday November 17 and possibly Tuesday the 18th. The courthouse officially  opened on the 17th.

A statement from the Family Court stated:

On Tuesday morning of this week, in response to concerns raised by child advocates over allegations of strip searches of juveniles, the leadership of Philadelphia Family Court directed the Sheriff’s Office to cease and desist all strip searches pending further notice. Today, Family Court issued new rules governing the screening and detention of juveniles that the Court developed in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office.”

As CBS notes, “not all of the young people searched were in custody on a criminal matter” and some had been the victims of  physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this procedure is appropriate? Leave your comments below.


Family’s First App Makes Apple’s List of Best New Apps for Kids

On Thursday, the idea that came from a drawing done by 4-year-old Kalley Alexander in the spring of 2012 was launched into an App for iOS devices, which is currently featured on Apple’s list of Best New Apps.

The Alexander Family came to a crossroads two years ago, when patriarch Jon Alexander was forced to obtain a conventional job, outside of the comfort of his home office. His daughter Kalley created a drawing of a machine that she wanted her dad to build, which would make food for the family, so that he didn’t have to work anymore.

Jon, who works as a freelancer, was touched by his daughter’s attempt to bring the family together. Although he wasn’t able to build the exact machine Kalley had in mind, he found a way to make something out of the drawing, while spending quality time with his family.

Kalley’s drawing was a wake-up call for both Jon, and his wife Carrie. They found that the way they were living life was leaving their family fragmented, and they wanted to spend more time with their daughters, Kalley, 7, and Corbett, 8.

We questioned a lot of our presuppositions,” Jon tells Benswann.com. “We were re-examining family in general, and realizing that family wasn’t working for us, with the way it was.”

You teach your kids by being with them,” said Jon, who began to ask himself the question, “How do I give the best of myself to my kids?”

Jon was able to use his background in motion graphics and video game development to turn his daughter’s drawing into an interactive App, called Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats, which is targeted at children aged two to eight.

The creation of the App was an experience that brought all four members of the Alexander family closer together, and from illustrations to voice-overs, they each had a part in bringing the idea to life.

A big part of it was trying to bring everybody along,” said Jon, who explained that working with his children was entirely different than working with professionals. “It was fun to make it something we all wanted, we just had to figure out how to make it happen.”

In the process of creating the App, the family launched an App developing company called RocketWagon, which they hope to use for future collaborations.

Mostly, we wanted RocketWagon to bring us together,” said Jon. “I realized that I had great relationships with my freelance clients because we created cool stuff together, fought hard deadlines, and pulled all-nighters together. I wanted that with my wife and kids.”

Throughout the process, Jon and Carrie’s mission was to teach their daughters to “be confident in their ability to create things.” They did this by spending extra time with their girls, “re-working artwork and learning the basics of digital production.

Jon pointed out that the stories children hear shape the way they view the world, due to the fact that, “Storytellers create the lenses through which a culture sees itself.”

The stories you tell your kids are so powerful. We want to write stories that we think matter,” Jon tells Benswann.com. “Kalley’s Machine just happened to be the story our family needed to hear.”

While “Kalley’s Machine” started as a drawing that took on a life of its own, the second part of the App’s name, “Plus Cats,” was the Alexander girls’ signature stamp.

Jon explained that when it came to illustrating, the girls often became bored with drawing machines, and were more interested in drawing things like animals. In fact, one cat drawn by his oldest daughter, Corbett, was so good; it ended up becoming the icon for the App.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.45.38 PM

While Jon is pleased with the fact that he and his family were able to turn a “really time-consuming hobby” into a business, he sees the App as the icing on the cake. He puts more value in the lesson he was able to teach his daughters, and in the quality time he was able to spend with his family in the process.

Now that Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats is currently featured in Apple’s Best New Apps section, the Alexander girls are able to see their cats joining the ranks with popular characters from Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street.

We put it in the App Store and it’s competing against Apps made by huge companies like Disney and Nickelodeon,” said Jon. “It’s exciting to think that our little company at our house was able to compete with those big media conglomerates.”

Watch the video detailing the story behind Kalley’s Machine:


Mayor Steals $60k In Christmas Toy Money Intended For Children


Yesterday, Billy E. Wilson, the mayor of Greenbrier, TN, was arrested after an extensive investigation, which proved he had been stealing money from the local “Toys For Tots” charity. Every year individuals flood the streets and grocery stores in the small Tennessee town asking for donations, which are supposed to be used to purchase Christmas toys for young children who cannot afford them.

Greenbrier residents say they have been suspecting Mayor Wilson of misconduct for years. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Mayor Wilson has been placing the donated money in to his personal account since 2005.

Mayor Wilson has been booked into the local county jail on $5k bond with one count of official misconduct and one count of theft over $60k.

Tennessee was recently ranked as the “most corrupt” state in the country. A title, which Mayor Wilson, has helped to secure. The TBI is currently continuing their investigation.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Twitter: @MichaelLotfi


“It’s for the kids.” Perhaps the greatest line in political propaganda ever marketed to the world will now be featured in Obama’s newest commercials. Joshua Cook with BenSwann.com already reported that the health care law would take an additional $2 billion/yr. of taxpayers’ money to promote the law.

The Oregon advertisement company uses a “hipster” vibe in their production. The below video is one of their commercials promoting the health care law. “We fly with our own wings” is a melody the video repeats. Apparently the tax payer’s wings are now owned by everyone.

“Long Live Oregon” is my favorite. Can’t get this damn song out of my head… Well Played, Cover Oregon.

Premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare in Oregon. (Forbes)
Premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare in Oregon. (Forbes)


Someone forgot to mention to Amy Fauver, marketing director for Cover Oregon, that premiums have skyrocketed in the state. She left that part out of the commercials. Then again, the commercials don’t really talk about the law at all, or any of the effects so far seen.

Not everyone is upset with the ads. Time Magazine awarded Oregon the “Number One State For Government Funded Obamacare Ads” Apparently that’s something to be proud of.

Cover Oregon is rounding up high school marching bands from around the state to be featured in their next commercial.

The commercial will feature young children playing an Obamacare anthem. Each band will have to audition for the slot.

It is not immediately known if students will be allowed to opt-out of the commercial if they are in the school’s marching band.

The company will also soon release ads in Spanish.