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City of Second Chances

July 6, 2010

Los Angeles: “City of Second
Chances” for Torture Survivors

On June 25, 2010, Los Angeles’ Program for Torture Survivors was officially honored by the city for its 30-year record of work on behalf of torture survivors. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa noted that “Los Angeles has always opened its arms to those in need, and it is in that spirit that the Program for Torture Victims carries on its noble work.” According to Villaraigosa, L.A. is home to the largest number of refugees, asylum seekers, and torture survivors in the country.
          In a Los Angeles Times commentary of the day before, Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large of the American Prospect, called the city “the port of entry — and more than that, the new home, the city of second chances — for refugees from regimes that would have tortured and killed them for their beliefs, their ethnicity, their sexuality, their faith or their lack of faith.”  
          “Torture survivors are often among the Angelenos least able to afford treatment,” Meyerson continues. “Fully 85% of the program’s patients have no medical insurance, and 62% are unemployed…
          “Founded in 1980 by two asylum-seekers…the Program for Torture Victims has helped thousands of torture survivors piece together their shattered lives…Even when the nation has lost its way, Los Angeles has continued — and must continue — not just to house but to heal the survivors who have come here, as they have always come here, for the haven it offers from unhappy lands.”
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