Sanctuary Cities, Citations, and Surveillance

June 5, 2017

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Here’s our pick of news, writing, and research this week that investigates political questions at the intersections of gender, race, and region.

1. Study: Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world
“Lawmakers in Texas largely failed to take any significant action to address the state’s skyrocketing rate of pregnancy-related deaths just months after researchers found it to be the highest in not only the U.S., but the developed world. Legislators introduced proposals to address the issue after a University of Maryland-led study found that the state’s maternal mortality rate doubled between 2010 and 2012. But several key measures didn’t even make it to a vote, falling victim to Republican infighting over other issues. […] Because this year’s session has ended, lawmakers will have to wait until they reconvene in 2019 to address the issue. […] State Rep. Shawn Thierry sought to look into one particularly disturbing trend that the Texas task force had found: Black women make up 11 percent of births, but 28 percent of death.”

2. Curiosity and the End of Discrimination
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: “But ultimately in a world where people who are professional data gatherers and interpreters seem to reject an overwhelming amount of evidence that women (and others) experience systemic and individualized gender discrimination (Tsang 2013; Brinkworth et al. 2016), there is a lot of value in a study that asks the simple question: how do women-lead paper’s citation numbers in astronomy compare with those of men-lead papers? The question is not insignificant, given the way that citation number is used in hiring. The next question is: does this represent a systemic bias against women? If the answer is yes, then it becomes clear that while the non-human objects that we study in astrophysics may be doing their operational calculations objectively, we scientists have some way to go before human structures do the same.”

3. Texas’s SB 4 Is the Most Dramatic State Crackdown Yet on Sanctuary Cities
Julianne Hing in The Nation: “Like SB 1070, SB 4 authorizes law enforcement officers to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest for any other reason. But it goes further. It requires that law enforcement officers become extensions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and adds criminal penalties to any local official who speaks out against this or directs their staff toward a different policy. And since Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has called on ICE to pursue any undocumented immigrant for removal, regardless of their criminal background, undocumented immigrants who come into contact with ICE in this way are likely to be deported, whether or not they have ever committed a crime.”

4. Georgia Democrat aims to be nation’s first female African American governor
Vanessa Williams in the Washington Post: “The 43-year-old Democratic leader of the Georgia State House, who enters as the front-runner for her party’s nomination, is aiming to become the first African American woman to be elected governor in U.S. history. Abrams is widely considered to be one of the most skilled and savvy political leaders in the state legislature and hopes to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal (R), who has served since 2011. But it won’t be easy: No Democrat has won statewide office in Georgia since 2006, and just 11 black women have ever been elected to statewide positions nationwide.”

5. Paramilitary security tracked and targeted DAPL opponents as “jihadists,” docs show
Antonia Juhasz in Grist: “TigerSwan’s Oct. 3 report describes trying to delegitimize the protests by exploiting ‘ongoing native versus non-native rifts, and tribal rifts between peaceful and violent elements.’ Several situation reports also refer to ‘source reporting’ and ‘informant collection,’ suggesting the use of infiltrators to gather information from within the Standing Rock camps and protest groups. The documents often portray protesters in what their targets say are exaggerated terms, apparently to inflate the potential danger they posed. For example, the Nov. 9 report ominously warns: ‘An element of the Black Panther Party from Chicago is active within the camps in ND. A member of that delegation led 30–40 activists in hand-to-hand combat training in Camp 2.’ ‘That’s definitely talking about me,’ Kelly Hayes said when read the report over the phone. ‘But that’s definitely a misrepresentation.’ Hayes is a member of the Menominee Tribe; she’s not a Black Panther, she told me, identifying herself as part of a collective of indigenous and black organizers from Chicago ‘aimed at the defense of communities of color.’ She taught what she describes as several ‘small pockets of women and fem folks’ very basic self-defense classes, adding that she has never engaged in violent action.”