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In the News: 5-21-2011

May 21, 2011

United States will Renew Temporary Protected
Status for Refugees from Haiti’s Earthquake

As reported by the Boston Globe – and most other major papers – the U.S. has authorized a continuation of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians who fled their country after last year’s devastating earthquake. TPS allows recipients to remain in the United States legally, and in some cases to work, for a fixed amount of time. It can be renewed – or not – at the discretion of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service. Federal officials had resisted granting the special discretionary to earthquake survivors, ostensibly out of concern that it would encourage Haitians to risk their lives trying to reach the U.S. by sea.
            Haitians wishing to establish or renew TPS must file written applications (see the USCIS website) and pay fees that vary depending on the age of the applicant, whether they are requesting the status for the first time or renewing, and whether they wish a work permit or not.
            See our prior post on this issue for more perspective on U.S. reactions to the disaster, and on Temporary Protective Status. (photo above from UNHCR)

Guantánamo’s Sixth Suicide,
Eighth Prisoner Death

Al Jazeera English reports the sixth death by apparent suicide of a prisoner at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay naval base. Known as Inayatullah, the 37-year-old was found dead on Wednesday, May 18. Two other prisoners are reported to have died of natural causes. Inayatullah had been held without charges since September 2007. Spokeswoman Tamsen Reese said that “an investigation is underway.”

New York Times Article Challenges
Belief that Private Prisons Save Money

Challenging the major rationale for our mushrooming private prison system, a new New York Times piece by Richard A. Oppel, Jr., documents growing doubts that the for-profit jails are actually saving money for the more than 30 states which have outsourced incarceration. Data from Arizona, for example, suggest that the bill for holding an inmate in a private prison may be as much as $1,600 more per year than in prisons run by the state itself.
            In addition, according the article, private jails in many states have contracts which allow them to keep their profits high by declining to accept prisoners who will be more expensive to manage – those with physical or mental health problems, or other disabilities. The states are then forced to pick up the substantially higher costs of caring for these more costly inmates. (See our recent post on the death of an immigrant while in detention in Massachusetts.)

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