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Dig Investigative nuggets from the staff of Reveal

Judge approves plan to reunite 366 children with deported parents, but questions linger

A federal judge approved the government’s plan on Friday to reunite 366 children with parents who were deported in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

But there is one lingering issue brought up by the ACLU that U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw would like lawyers to discuss: Should deported parents be reunified with their children in the United States?

In court filings on Thursday, the ACLU argued that many removed parents may not have understood their rights and were “misled or coerced into believing that asserting their asylum claim would delay or preclude reunification.”

A related family lawsuit filed on behalf of the children argues that parents should be returned to the U.S. as their children seek asylum. In this case on Thursday, Sabraw put a halt to deportations of reunited families.

If that case is successful, the ACLU points out, “reunification in the United States may be required.”

On Friday, Sabraw offered lawyers some “tentative thoughts” on the issue: Parents with removal orders should remain in the U.S. if their child passed a credible fear interview. For deported parents, Sabraw added, the focus should be on reunification, which “from a practical standpoint,” should happen in their home country.

“This will not be a perfect process. This is an enormous undertaking involving a situation of the government’s own making,” he said. “We’ll never be able to come up with a process that is perfect. … All we... Read More >

The Hate Report: Infowars is the gateway drug for white supremacists

In this week’s roundup: how Alex Jones’ conspiracy hub and the online message board 4chan breed white supremacists.

Andrew Anglin’s website, The Daily Stormer, is one of the most powerful forces in the online hate ecosystem. But Anglin wasn’t always a neo-Nazi. He used to be hippie vegan who would wear a hoodie with a “Fuck racism” patch on the back.

What changed?

In a 2015 interview on the white supremacist radio show “Stormfront,” Anglin laid out his own radicalization process. It all started at an unexpected gateway: Alex Jones’ conspiracy hub, Infowars.

“I grew up with a pretty serious sense of personal alienation in the modern Jewified society,” Anglin told “Stormfront” host Don Black. “I went and looked for answers of why this was happening. Nothing really felt right about the way the world worked. It was a process. The first thing I came across was Alex Jones.”

Jones and Infowars have been all over the news recently. In the last few weeks, tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Vimeo and YouPorn (really) have either banned or significantly restricted the circulation of Infowars’ content on their platforms due to violations of the companies’ hate speech policies.

Anglin’s 2015 interview shows that Jones’ brand of conspiracy peddling also helps usher new recruits into the white supremacist movement. Seeing the whole world as a massive conspiracy is a foundational part of the white nationalist mindset.

“This was when I was 17 or 18,” Anglin told Black. “Back in that period …... Read More >

Government still searching for parents of 26 migrant children

The government is in contact with the deported parents of 299 children who were separated from their families in the midst of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

During a hearing today, Department of Justice officials told U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw they were working on contacting the parents of 26 other children, whom the government hadn’t been able to reach as of yesterday.

“The government has put in an enormous amount of work in the last seven days,” Sabraw said. “That is a very, very encouraging number.”

Among the latest reunification numbers for children ages 5 to 17: Nearly 1,600 are now with their parents. Another 559 whose parents aren’t eligible for reunification, because they waived reunification or have a red flag on a background check, remain in Office of Refugee Resettlement custody.

Last week, after the government proposed that the ACLU should take the lead on reunifications, Sabraw disagreed and said the burden should lie on the Trump administration. He ordered the government to come up with a reunification plan for parents who have been deported or released in the U.S. and that the ACLU create a steering committee to help with the process.

The government submitted its proposal yesterday, and Sabraw is giving the ACLU until Monday morning to file any objections.

Help inform our immigration coverage. Send tips to border@revealnews.org.

Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@revealnews.org. Follow her on Twitter: @lauracmorel.

The Hate Report: The big names in racism aren’t attending Charlottesville 2

In this week’s roundup: What’s going on with the year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally, Gab faces a shutdown and a great documentary on hate.  

The one-year anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was always going to be a significant date.

Apart from being by far the largest overt white supremacist rally in at least a decade, Charlottesville symbolized much more. Seemingly overnight, the nation’s attention focused on a new breed of clean-cut American racists, with their khakis, polo shirts and Nazi slogans. Countless media hours were committed to understanding how, and why, the racist right felt so empowered in 2017.

A lot changes in a year.

While the Charlottesville event was always touted as a way to bring together the nation’s racists, the fallout from the event, in which one counterprotester died, has been swift and brutal. And a commemorative rally planned for this weekend in Washington, D.C., Unite the Right II, is likely to be a shadow of last year’s historic event.

That’s according to Mark Pitcavage, a historian and leading expert on right-wing groups who works with the Anti-Defamation League.

Pitcavage expects perhaps a few dozen white supremacists to show up at Unite the Right II, slated to take place Sunday afternoon in a park opposite the White House. That would be about standard for the average white supremacist rally, Pitcavage said. It’s also a far cry from the estimated 500-600 racists who showed up in Charlottesville last year.

There are two main reasons... Read More >

Troubled Texas facility still holds 28 immigrant children as deadline nears, attorney says

More than a week after a judge ordered that immigrant children staying at a troubled Texas facility should be moved, 28 children affected by the ruling remain at the Shiloh Treatment Center, Reveal has learned.

The children’s fate is now in the hands of lawyers who must come up with a plan for their evaluations and housing by Friday, the deadline set by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee last week.

“The parties shall meet and confer to determine a reasonable time frame in which such transfers can be effectuated and the procedures ORR shall undertake to ensure that these transfers do not disrupt the continuity of care and the health of each Class Member,” Gee wrote in her order.

Attorney Holly Cooper, the co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis, responded by email to several questions posed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Cooper said 28 children are currently at the center, and that lawyers representing the children are “awaiting finalization of our discussions with the feds” regarding the plan.

“Discussions are happening about the plan,” said Lewis Cohen, a communications director for the National Center for Youth Law, one of the organizations representing the children in the case.

Reveal reported earlier this summer that immigrant children reported being held down and injected with psychiatric drugs with serious side effects, including dizziness and weight gain, according to federal court filings.

Gee’s July 30 order says:

  • The federal government will transfer all immigrant children to less restrictive housing unless a licensed psychologist... Read More >

Shipyard continued to win federal contracts despite probe into worker’s death

A year after Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer pledged to hold dangerous shipbuilders accountable and “make sure we are good stewards of resources,” a Florida shipyard has put that promise to the test.

Early this year, a worker was killed at a facility in Jacksonville owned by North Florida Shipyards, which has repaired ships for the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.

Padmore Atakorah, 34, drowned in January when an air pressure system hit him, sending him into the St. Johns River. While federal workplace safety regulators investigated his death, North Florida Shipyards won contracts totaling more than $863,000 from the Navy and nearly $2 million from the Coast Guard, federal contracting records show.

“It sends a bad message,” Ruth Atakorah, who was separated from Padmore when he died, said in a phone interview. “It was a shock to me. It has caused a lot of pain to the family. There’s no safety.”

According to Atakorah’s obituary, he served in the Navy for nine years and was earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering when he died.

The company faces a proposed fine of $271,061 after federal investigators concluded that parts of the air pressure system that hit Padmore were corroded, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The regulator also cited the shipyard for various safety violations, including exposing workers to electrical, amputation and drowning hazards.

At his confirmation hearing a year ago, Spencer told lawmakers that he believed shipyards that contract with the Navy should protect their workers. Pressed... Read More >

Silicon Valley is leaving women of color behind. A new collaborative hopes to change that

Efforts to increase diversity in technology have largely been focused on race or gender, but not both, overlooking obstacles unique to women of color.

A new report by the Kapor Center and the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology at Arizona State University highlights three of them: Women of color get fewer computer science degrees, end up significantly underrepresented in the tech industry – particularly in leadership roles – and receive less funding from venture capitalists.

Women and people of color are both underrepresented in computing, said Allison Scott, the chief research officer at the Kapor Center.

“And if you look at women of color, there’s a double bind since they’re underrepresented through both segments of their identity,” Scott said.

The university and Kapor Center, in partnership with Melinda Gates’ venture capital firm Pivotal Ventures, have launched a research collaborative to improve representation and retention of women of color in technology.

“It would be an important contribution both to have comprehensive data on women of color and to also understand their variances and obstacles in pursuing computing, both degrees and careers,” Scott said.

The report cited Reveal’s investigation exposing the lack of diversity in 177 of the largest technology companies headquartered in Silicon Valley. Reveal’s data analysis showed that less than 2 percent of professionals at those firms – including engineers, analysts and lawyers – are black women or Latinas.

The numbers drop even further in leadership, Reveal found: Less than 1 percent of positions are held by Latinas, and 0.5 percent are held by... Read More >

California’s Prime Healthcare to pay $65 million to settle Medicare fraud lawsuit

Prime Healthcare Services will pay $65 million to settle a federal whistleblower lawsuit that accused the fast-growing California hospital chain of engineering a wide-ranging Medicare fraud scheme.

The settlement, announced Friday by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, requires Dr. Prem Reddy, Prime’s founder and the alleged architect of a scheme to pump up its Medicare billings, to pay $3.25 million of the settlement out of his own pocket.

Prime also must abide by a five-year “corporate integrity agreement” that requires the company to hire independent consultants to verify its Medicare billings, records show.

Federal scrutiny of Prime’s billing practices began after a 2011 investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting that highlighted multimillion-dollar anomalies in the chain’s billings to the federal Medicare program.

Prime, headquartered in San Bernardino County, is among the nation’s largest hospital chains. With an affiliated nonprofit foundation, it runs 45 hospitals in 14 states. In agreeing to the settlement, the company did not admit wrongdoing.

“There was no finding of improper conduct or wrongdoing of any kind by Prime Healthcare,” the company said in a statement.

“Prime Healthcare’s exemplary record of clinical quality care was never in question. This matter dealt with the technical classification of the category under which patients were admitted and billed.”

The whistleblower lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Karin Berntsen, a nurse and risk management director at Prime’s Alvarado Hospital in San Diego County. She claimed personal knowledge of the chain’s efforts to boost its bottom line with false billings and improper hospital admissions. In 2016,... Read More >

The Hate Report: How survivors tell the story of hate in America

During the 2016 presidential election, Arjun Singh Sethi became worried about the state of hate in America.

There was a wave of assaults, vandalism and attacks on places of worship. People across the country, he saw, were being targeted on the basis of who they were and what they believed. Something important, and deeply disturbing, was happening, yet he felt the issue wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.

That realization drove Sethi, a professor of human rights law at the Georgetown University Law Center, to spend the subsequent year and a half traveling the country, conducting in-depth interviews with the survivors of hate. Those conversations form the basis of his new book, “American Hate.”

Amid flickers of hope, Sethi paints a bleak, often dispiriting, picture of how hate manifests itself and leaves a path of emotional and physical destruction in its wake. It’s a hard read, but an essential one for anyone looking to understand America in 2018.

In this week’s Hate Report, we talk to Sethi about how the criminal justice system is failing survivors, the invisible victims of hate and the discrimination he personally experienced while researching the book.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell me about some of the people you profiled in your book?

Khalid Jabara was an Arab American who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His now-convicted murderer (Stanley Vernon Majors) for years had been harassing and disparaging the Jabara family, calling them things like, “dirty Arabs” or “ISIS.”

Majors ran over Khalid’s mother... Read More >

Judge orders government to release immigrant kids from troubled shelter

A judge has ordered the federal government to stop drugging immigrant children without proper consent and to remove them from a problem-plagued south Texas shelter.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s ruling Monday orders the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to move immigrant children out of the Shiloh Treatment Center near Manvel, Texas, and into less restrictive housing unless a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determines that a child “poses a risk of harm to self or others.”

The judge’s order, issued in a federal court in California as part of a long-running class-action case, affects about 25 immigrant children held at Shiloh, a collection of small buildings and trailers on rural land south of Houston with a troubled history.

Shiloh has contracted with the federal government to house immigrant children labeled as “special needs minors” since 2013. Last year, the most lucrative yet under its agreement, Shiloh collected $5.6 million.

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting first reported on the allegations of forced drugging at Shiloh last month. Children have described being held down and injected with psychotropic drugs, according to federal court filings.

It’s unclear whether children at Shiloh were part of a larger group separated from their parents at the border because they are not the only children in custody. Thousands of children who were detained after they arrived unaccompanied are also covered by a federal court case known as the Flores lawsuit.

Monday’s ruling... Read More >

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