Why the Coronavirus More Often Strikes Children of Color

Mainly linked to lower socio-economic status:

One of the notable features of the new coronavirus, evident early in the pandemic, was that it largely spared children. Some become severely ill, but deaths have been few, compared to adults.

But people of color have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and recent studies have renewed concern about the susceptibility of children in these communities.

They are infected at higher rates than white children, and hospitalized at rates five to eight times that of white children. Children of color make up the overwhelming majority of those who develop a life-threatening complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

Of more than 180,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19, fewer than 100 are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But children of color comprise the majority of those who have died of Covid-19.

The deaths include 41 Hispanic children, 24 Black children, 19 white children, three Asian-American children, three American Indian/Alaska Native children, and two multiracial children.

The unique vulnerabilities of these youngsters are coming to light even as the number of infections in children is rising and schools and parents around the country are grappling with nettlesome decisions about reopening safely.

The susceptibility of minority children to the disease is not unique to the United States. Black children hospitalized in the United Kingdom were more likely than whites to be transferred to critical care and to develop MIS-C, according to a study published last week in the journal BMJ.

“Children don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Dr. Monika K. Goyal, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington.

Among 1,000 children tested for Covid-19 at a site in Washington in March and April, nearly half of the Hispanic children and nearly one-third of the Black children were positive for the coronavirus, Dr. Goyal found in a recent study.

Children Can Get Severe COVID-19, CDC Says — Especially Black And Hispanic Children

Another example of racial disparities. While the study did not include socioeconomic factors, these likely explain part of the differences:

While most children who catch the coronavirus have either no symptoms or mild ones, they are still at risk of developing “severe” symptoms requiring admission to an intensive care unit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report released Friday.

Hispanic and Black children in particular were much more likely to require hospitalization for COVID-19, with Hispanic children about eight times as likely as white children to be hospitalized, while Black children were five times as likely.

Despite persistent rumors that children are “almost immune” from the virus, the analysis of 576 children hospitalized for the virus across 14 states found that one out of three was admitted to the ICU — similar to the rate among adults. Almost 1 in 5 of those were infants younger than 3 months. The most common symptoms included fever and chills, inability to eat, nausea and vomiting.

The findings come as school districts across the country are figuring out how to educate the nation’s children while still protecting kids, teachers and family members from the ravages of the virus. The American Federation of Teachers has said it considers in-person schooling to be safe only when fewer than 5% of coronavirus tests in an area are positive.

Researchers don’t fully understand why some racial groups are hospitalized at higher rates than others. But the CDC’s findings are consistent with other studies, the authors of the report said, citing a recent analysis from the Baltimore-District of Columbia region that found that Hispanics had more COVID-19 infections than other groups.

“It has been hypothesized that Hispanic adults might be at increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection because they are overrepresented in frontline (e.g., essential and direct-service) occupations with decreased opportunities for social distancing, which might also affect children living in those households,” the CDC researchers wrote.

Underlying medical conditions might have contributed to the children’s hospitalization, researchers wrote, noting that Hispanic and Black children are more likely to suffer from conditions like obesity.

If there’s any good news, it’s that even among children hospitalized with severe COVID-19 complications, the fatality rate remains low, researchers said.

A separate study in the journal Pediatrics also found racial and socioeconomic disparities in children and young adults tested for COVID-19 in Washington, D.C. Hispanic children were more than six times as likely as white children to test positive for the virus; Black children were over four times as likely.

Ultimately, the CDC concluded, it’s crucial to continue prevention efforts wherever children gather, specifically citing schools and child care centers.

Source: Children Can Get Severe COVID-19, CDC Says — Especially Black And Hispanic Children

ICYMI: Black Children Are More Likely to Die After Surgery Than White Peers, Study Shows

Yet another study showing racial disparities in healthcare:

Black children are more than three times as likely to die within a month of surgery as white children, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

Disparities in surgical outcomes between Black and white patients have been well established, with researchers attributing some of the difference to higher rates of chronic conditions among Black people. But this study, which looked at data on 172,549 children, highlights the racial disparities in health outcomes even when comparing healthy children.

Researchers found that Black children were 3.4 times as likely to die within a month after surgery and were 1.2 times as likely to develop postoperative complications. The authors performed a retrospective study based on data on children who underwent surgery from 2012 through 2017.

Olubukola Nafiu, the lead author of the study and a pediatric anesthesiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the authors were not surprised to find that healthy children, across the board, had extremely low rates of mortality and rates of complications after surgery. But what surprised them was the magnitude of the difference in mortality and complication rates by race.

“The hypothesis we had when we started was that if you studied a relatively healthy cohort of patients, there shouldn’t be any difference in outcomes,” Dr. Nafiu said.

The authors, in their paper, acknowledged limitations of the study: They did not explore the site of care where patients received their treatments or the insurance status of patients, which can be used as a proxy for socioeconomic status. This meant they could not account for differences in the quality of care that patients received or the economic backgrounds of the patients.

Another limitation was that because mortality and postoperative complications are so uncommon among healthy children, it is possible that most of the cases came from a few hospitals, Dr. Nafiu said.

But while Black people are more likely to receive care in low-performing hospitals, that may not be the main factor driving the gap this study found, Dr. Nafiu said. The hospitals examined in the study were all part of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, a voluntary program, meaning they had the resources to be part of the program and the belief that quality improvement is important.

Adil Haider, dean of the medical college at Aga Khan University, who was not involved with the study, said that it told a key piece of the story about racial disparities in surgical outcomes, but that there were still many questions about what drives disparities.

The Impact of Disparities on Children’s Health

Significant:

You might not have noticed it (there’s a lot going on) but there was some good news last week in a study in JAMA that suggested that racial disparities in extremely premature infants were shrinking. The study looked at more than 20,000 extremely preterm infants (22 to 27 weeks gestation) born from 2002 to 2016. Mortality rates dropped over the course of the study, and though serious infections were more frequent in black and Hispanic infants early on, the rates converged with those of white infants as time went on.

This is striking because the racial disparities around maternal mortality, premature birth and infant mortality have been so persistent. Black women and American Indian and Alaskan Native women are two to three times more likely than white women to die of pregnancy-related causes — about a third of these deaths take place during pregnancy, a third are specifically related to delivery, and a third happen in the year after delivery, but from causes related to pregnancy.

This came up last week, when I wrote about late preterm infants, and Dr. Wanda Barfield, the director of the division of reproductive health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed to rising rates of premature birth, which disproportionately affect black and Hispanic women.

These stark disparities at the very beginning of life have received a fair amount of public health attention, as have the racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality: In the United States in 2017, 5.8 of every 1,000 infants born alive died before reaching their first birthday. Black infants died at more than twice the rate of white infants (11.9 versus 4.9 per 1,000). And this in turn is tied closely to those issues of maternal health and length of gestation; two of the leading causes of deaths before the first birthday are prematurity and the complications of pregnancy.

Often the public discussion of health disparities then jumps to adult health, where we track inequities in chronic diseases, in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and, of course, in life expectancy.

But the disparities in how children grow, how they get sick and how they get taken care of may all play into those chronic diseases, and are essential to understand.

“We focus on these chronic diseases of older age as results of racism, continuing discrimination,” said Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, a pediatrician and researcher at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Minority Health, Equity and Inclusion.

“We do see the impact of racism on health in childhood, though it’s harder to see physical health changes immediately.”

Eating habits and behavioral patterns, which contribute to the health disparities in adults, have roots in childhood, Dr. Heard-Garris said, as does distrust of the health care system that can lead to gaps in care.

USA: Why The Census Bureau Is Turning To Children To Reach Asian Immigrants

Despite Trump, officials are doing their job to increase participation:

In the last week, the United States Census Bureau has rolled out six ads in different Asian languages with pretty much the same storyline: cute little girl tells her dad all she knows about the census.

The ads’ backdrops vary — a Chinese bakery, a Korean grocery, a Filipino family’s home office — but in each one the daughter sweetly nudges dad into filling out census forms.

“We definitely wanted to hone in on that family connection and filial piety,” said Tim Wang, whose agency TDW+Co made the ads in and around Los Angeles.

The Census Bureau says that language barriers make Asian immigrants some of the hardest people to count, and it’s spending millions more on culturally-relevant advertising to reach them than it did 10 years ago.

Still, community advocates in Los Angeles, home to some of the world’s largest Asian diasporas, worry that large swaths of people could be missed in a national headcount that decides political representation and how government resources are distributed.

One concern: Census officials have dropped eight of 14 languages spoken by Asians that it used for advertising in its 2010 campaign, including those for Cambodians, Thai, Pakistanis and Laotians.

“(Asians’) numbers might increase, but we’re not going to know because they’re not responding,” said An Le of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, who is coordinating census outreach to Asian Californians with other non-profit groups.

A Census Bureau official cited cost as the reason it cut back on the number of languages the bureau is using in TV, radio and digital ads.

But program manager Kendall Johnson said the Census Bureau values reaching people in their native languages and has more than doubled the number of outreach workers it’s hired in 2020 to 1,500-plus, many of them bilingual. More than 100 languages are spoken among these “partnership specialists,” who go to community events and exhibit at conferences, Johnson said.

Johnson added that the Census Bureau sees community-based groups as important partners and has placed all of its English language materials online for them to translate should they want.

“We’re just one of many voices out there,” Johnson said. “We may have the largest campaign. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other campaigns out there.”

Le said that Asian American organizations in California and beyond have indeed been busy compiling translated resources in as many languages as possible.

Still, Le fears that many Asians with limited English will fall through the cracks — and not just because the public awareness campaign is in fewer languages.

The Census Bureau is making a push for respondents to fill out the questionnaire online which Le said will be a problem for Asian immigrants who lack internet literacy or access.

Those who can navigate the web will be able to answer questions in a limited number of Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Korean and Vietnamese.

Paper forms which will only be offered in English and Spanish.

The language barriers posed by the census is just one of the challenges of getting Asian immigrants counted. The White House also had planned to ask 2020 Census respondents whether they were U.S. citizens until the Supreme Court blocked the question.

“We were just terrified that the citizenship question was going to be on, right?” Le said. “There were like many fights that we were trying to be prepared for.”

Asians are the fastest growing racial demographic in the country, but the Census Bureau is still devoting roughly the same proportion of its budget to that audience: 9% or $20.4 million.

But Johnson predicted the bureau’s media campaign to do better than in 2010, in large part due to increased use of digital ads on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

“The ability to much more precisely target the media is what is allowing us to get the most bang for our buck,” Johnson said.

The Census Bureau projects that its media outreach will reach 99% of the 18-plus population of all races and ethnicities.

TDW+Co principal Wang saw from focus groups and survey findings that reaching Asians in particular would be challenging.

“Asian American audiences had the lowest level of familiarity on what the census is, and why it’s important,” Wang said.

That’s why, Wang said, the messaging they developed is “very educational, motivational, and very uplifting in tone and nature.”

TDW+Co will keep introducing ads through June, including those that remind people to respond to the census, and also to “humanize” the census takers who may come knocking on their doors if they don’t, Wang said.

Source: Why The Census Bureau Is Turning To Children To Reach Asian Immigrants

UK: Government faces high court challenge over ‘utterly shameful’ £1000 child citizenship fee

As it should. Cost recovery is justifiable (administrative cost), making of government service a money-making enterprise is not:

The Home Office is set to face a High Court challenge over the £1,012 fee it charges to register a child as a British citizen, after a judicial review of the charge was brought by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens.

Amnesty International UK has been supporting the litigation to challenge the profit-making element of the fee, calling for an immediate end to the Government’s “shameless profiteering” off children’s rights. Mishcon de Reya are providing pro bono support to the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens on the case.

With the current administrative processing cost at only £372 per application, a profit of £640 is made by the Home Office for the registration of each child.

The landmark case is being brought by two children, known as A and O, and will be heard in the High Court at a three-day hearing on 26-28 November. If successful, the final ruling could have implications for an estimated 120,000 people in the UK.

In a statement submitted as part of the proceedings, O, aged 12, says:

“I was born in England in 2007. I have never travelled to another country. I don’t want to tell my friends that I am not British like them because I’m scared. I worry that if my friends find out, they won’t understand that I really am British like them.

“I enjoy playing netball for my school team. My team have been abroad twice for netball tournaments, but I could not travel because I do not have my British passport.

“I was born here and feel all of me is British. This is my home. I’ve got nowhere else but here.”

Solange Valdez-Symonds, Director at the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, said:

“Tens of thousands of children who were born in this country are being charged exorbitant fees to register their citizenship rights. The futures of these children are slowly and silently being chipped away. Such barefaced profiteering from children by the Home Office is utterly shameful.

“Children’s rights are not for sale. We hope the High Court challenge will rightly bring an end to this injustice.”

Campaigners call on UK Government to stop blocking children’s rights

Ahead of tomorrow’s hearing, campaigners from Amnesty UK’s Children Human Rights Network will hand in 30,000-strong petition to Home Office calling for immediate end to the fee.

The campaigners will be building a wall outside the Home Office with messages of support from activists across the UK [pictures available].

They will be joined by some of the children affected by the profiteering fee, including 16-year-old Daniel, who came to this country with his mother when he was three years-old and was granted his British citizenship last year, he said:

“My mother saved what she could but sometimes she didn’t eat properly so she could do this. At the time we had some support from the council but my mother was not then permitted to work except unpaid as a volunteer with a charity. It has been really difficult for my mother.”

Judicial review

The judicial review claim asks the Home Office to:

i) Set the registration fee at no more than the administrative cost;

ii) introduce a fee waiver for children who cannot afford the fee; and

iii) provide a fee exemption for children in local authority care.

Source: UK: Government faces high court challenge over ‘utterly shameful’ £1000 child citizenship fee

The Trump Administration’s Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children

Good critique:

In 1985, two Salvadoran children, ages twelve and fifteen, were held in a squalid, overcrowded room in a rundown motel in Pasadena, California. For weeks, the government denied them food and kept them from seeing doctors or family members. The circumstances, one of the girls later told the Times, were “too painful to remember, to discuss.” A team of lawyers who went on to represent them and two other girls sued the government, in a case that dragged on for more than a decade, well after the initial plaintiffs were released. By 1997, two Presidential Administrations later, the government decided to settle. Doris Meissner, who was then the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said, “If there are real issues surrounding the detention of minors, and the government is being held responsible for poor conditions, why are we litigating in favor of what we are doing wrong?”

For the past twenty-two years, the terms of this legal settlement, known as the Flores Agreement, have been a central tenet of U.S. immigration policy. When dealing with children, the most vulnerable immigrants to enter federal custody, the government must provide certain, baseline protections, including access to food and medical care; it must also promise to detain them for the shortest possible amount of time, in the “least restrictive” settings.

On Wednesday, the Trump Administration announced a sweeping new set of regulations to gut the Flores Agreement. “It is a wholesale attack on kids in custody,” Jennifer Podkul, the policy director of Kids in Need of Defense (kind), told me. The Administration’s immediate target is an outgrowth of the agreement, shored up by a judge a few years ago, which prevents children from being held in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security for more than twenty days. The agreement applies not just to children who came to the U.S. alone but also to those who crossed the border with their parents. This has meant, in effect, that thousands of asylum-seeking families have been released from detention while their cases have moved through the immigration courts. Now, according to Kevin McAleenan, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the government will detain families together for as long as it takes to resolve their immigration claims. For tens of thousands of families, that could easily amount to months in custody—an especially alarming prospect considering that another critical component of Flores, a requirement that the government keep children in licensed facilities overseen by independent monitors, would also fall away under the Administration’s plan.

In his announcement on Wednesday, McAleenan claimed that “all children in U.S. government custody” would be “treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability.” But his reassurances sound especially hollow at the present moment. In the past year and a half, seven children have died in immigration custody, and there have been widespread complaints about the conditions in which children are being held. Earlier this summer, at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, two hundred and fifty infants, children, and teen-agers spent weeks without adequate food and water, and were denied soap and toothbrushes; despite lice and flu outbreaks, authorities skimped on providing medical care. “The Flores monitors are the reason we knew about what was happening at Clint,” Podkul said.

On Monday, a lawyer known as a “special master,” who was appointed last year to investigate potential violations of Flores in facilities run by D.H.S. and the Department of Health and Human Services, filed a report with further details. In Customs and Border Protection facilities, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, “allegations of severe overcrowding and excessive length of custody, lack of appropriate food for minors, inability of detainees to sleep, ambient temperatures outside a reasonably comfortable range, and lack of access to medical treatment remain unresolved,” the special master wrote. At H.H.S. shelters across the country, the average time that children spent in government custody, between January of 2018 and May of 2019, was sixty-seven days. Nearly three thousand children who turned eighteen while in detention were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement because they “aged out” and were no longer treated as minors.

The Trump Administration has, from the start, attacked Flores as a “loophole” that immigrant families have continually sought to exploit; closing it was part of a broader mission to deter other families from coming to the U.S. to seek asylum in the first place. In August, 2017, a group of Administration officials met at D.H.S. headquarters, in Washington, to devise a series of policies to restrict the number of asylum seekers entering the country. Among the proposals was separating families at the border and a move to end the Flores agreement. Attendees were also tasked with writing ten separate memos with blueprints for how the Administration could implement each policy goal. “I recall being stumped about what we could do by decree or executive action to get around Flores,” one former official, who was present at the meeting, told me. “It was one of the memos that floundered,” the former official added, because of its “questionable legality.”

The White House decided to work around Flores instead. When the Trump Administration began separating families at the border, in the summer of 2017, part of its rationalization was that, by criminally charging parents for entering the country illegally, the government could detain the adults, and their children would be treated as unaccompanied minors and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services. The government could thus hold the parents indefinitely and penalize the entire family, as the children were kept in conditions that were notionally consistent with the terms of Flores. By late June, 2018, amid a national outcry, Trump promised to stop separating families at the border. But, in the same breath, he announced that the Administration would hold families together instead. Almost immediately, a federal judge in California named Dolly Gee, who is in charge of supervising the government’s compliance with Flores, blocked the Administration. There was a clear precedent for her decision, which the Trump Administration willfully ignored: in 2015, when President Obama responded to a sudden spike in Central American families seeking asylum by trying to detain families in ice facilities, Gee blocked him, too.

In September, 2018, the Trump Administration released a two-hundred-page document outlining proposed regulations that would end Flores altogether. Immigration advocates immediately appealed to Gee, in California, who took the challenge under advisement but withheld final judgment until after the Administration’s regulations were entered in the federal register, which is slated for Friday. “The President is telling [D.H.S.] they must terminate the settlement,” Peter Schey, one of the lead attorneys in the initial Flores class-action suit, told the Washington Post at the time. “They tried it in court, and now they’re trying it through regulations. But they’re in a bind, because the only way the regulations will be valid is if they’re consistent with the settlement, and if they’re consistent with the settlement then they won’t achieve the changes the President has demanded.” Now the Flores plaintiffs will have a week to amend their suit. Jennifer Nagda, an attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told me, “We’ll have to do a line-by-line comparison between the new regulations and the proposed version from last September to decide how to direct our energy in the next seven days.”

The broader consequences of the Administration’s rollback could extend well beyond detention conditions. When minors travel to the U.S. alone, for instance, they’re categorized as unaccompanied, a designation that affords them additional rights such as the ability to apply for asylum through an asylum officer, as opposed to a judge in the more adversarial setting of an immigration court. “This isn’t just about being detained,” Podkul said. “It’s about the next two to three years an immigrant child spends going through the judicial system.” Earlier this summer, an official at H.H.S.—who at the time suspected that the President’s senior adviser, Stephen Miller, was behind an unprecedented push to reclassify unaccompanied children—told me, “The expectation is that the Administration will change the policy regarding the definition of an unaccompanied child. . . . A child arriving at the border alone will not be declared unaccompanied if they have a parent ‘available’ in the U.S. to care for them. That means the child will be subject to expedited removal.” The idea, the official added, was to skirt Congress by instituting the change in the form of a regulation, while creating yet another pretext for assailing lawmakers for their failure to take some radical action of their own. And that is exactly what has happened: the regulations announced this week will further whittle away the legal rights of immigrant children. “The change will end up in court immediately,” the official had told me. But the Administration wanted to send a message anyway.

Source: The Trump Administration’s Sustained Attack on the Rights of Immigrant Children

Immigration authorities will not vaccinate migrants against flu

Hard to understand the logic, let alone the lack of common human decency:

US Customs and Border Protection will not vaccinate migrants, even though three children who had been in US custody died after contracting the flu.

The cases all occurred since December.

“In general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody,” according to a statement Tuesday from CBP.

Migrants are supposed to held in CBP custody for 72 hours or less, but often remain there for longer.

After leaving CBP custody, children without parents are sent into the care of the US Department of Health and Human Services, where flu vaccines are distributed, according to Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of HHS.

Public health experts had strong reactions to CBP’s statement, saying the department should be able to vaccinate migrants, even if they’re in CBP custody for only a few days.

“I think their answer is completely inappropriate,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University and an adviser the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection. “They ought to be able to do this. They create facilities that encourage the spread of infectious agents, with flu at the top of the list.”

Flu activity in the United States typically begins to increase around October and many US pharmacies already have flu vaccines available.

Children younger than 5, and especially those younger than 2, are at high risk of serious flu-related complications, according to the CDC. Flu seasons vary in severity, but thousands of children are hospitalized each year related to the flu, and some children die. A flu vaccine offers the best defense against getting flu and spreading it to others, the CDC said.

Concern about contagious diseases

On August 5, two members of Congress wrote a letter to the heads of the US Department of Homeland Security and HHS expressing concern about contagious diseases.

“When we visited the Homestead detention facility on July 15, 2019, we left with serious questions about the screening, treatment, isolation, and prevention protocols of infectious diseases, particularly influenza,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California, wrote to Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

DeLauro and Roybal-Allard also sent McAleenan and Azar a letter from physicians at Harvard and Johns Hopkins urging vaccinations.

“During the influenza season, vaccination should be offered to all detainees promptly upon arrival in order to maximize protection for the youngest and most vulnerable detainees,” the physicians wrote.

Source: Immigration authorities will not vaccinate migrants against flu

White House Sought Ways to Block Undocumented Immigrant Children From Attending Public Schools

Sigh…:

Some top aides to President Donald Trump sought for months for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools — all part of the administration’s efforts to stem illegal crossings at the southern U.S. border.

Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller had been a driving force behind the effort as early as 2017, pressing cabinet officials and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council repeatedly to devise a way to limit enrollment, according to several people familiar with the matter. The push was part of a menu of ideas on immigration that could be carried out without congressional approval.

Ultimately, they abandoned the idea after being told repeatedly that any such effort ran afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing access to public schools. But the consideration of denying hundreds of thousands of children access to education illustrates the breadth of the White House’s push to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

The strategy echoed the aim of a new rule the administration announced earlier this week that could block immigrants from becoming legal permanent residents if they’ve used government benefits. Any immigrant who had used Medicaid, public housing assistance or food stamps for more than 12 months over a 36-month period can be denied permanent resident status under the new rule.

The so-called public charge rule has sparked outrage among Democrats, who say it’s cruel. They have criticized Trump on a range of immigration policies, including a plan he announced last month to force Central American migrants to file for asylum in Guatemala instead of the U.S., a measure advocacy groups said would put their lives at risk. The debate over immigration is all but certain to play a central role in the 2020 elections.

A senior administration official, who requested anonymity when asked to comment on the story, dismissed accounts of Miller’s initiative as gossip from disgruntled bureaucrats but declined to identify any specific inaccuracy. The official also said undocumented immigrants placed an enormous strain on social services, including school districts.

Public Services

Starting in late 2017, Miller pressed hard to find a way to limit undocumented immigrants’ access to public services, including education, according to the people.

That effort included consideration last year of a guidance memo issued by the Education Department that would tell states they had the option to refuse students with an undocumented status to attend public schools from kindergarten through high school. A memo was never issued.

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said: “The memo wasn’t issued because the secretary would never consider it.”

The White House’s push was dropped because members of the administration determined the plan could violate Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that prohibited states from denying free public education based on their immigration status.

The court, in a 5-4 ruling, said that denying migrant children an education would “foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of our nation” and that punishing them for their parents’ actions “does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.”

‘Punish Little Kids’

Immigration activists said they were alarmed the White House would consider a policy change targeting migrant children.

“Such a radical policy change would be unlawful, unacceptable and un-American,” said Frank Sharry, who runs the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice. “The notion that we should punish little kids who go to school and pledge allegiance to our flag because Trump and Miller want to make America white again is incredibly cruel, dark and sinister.”

The president in May said he was concerned that abuse of the asylum system “strains our public school systems” and used funds that should go to American citizens.

“We’re using the funds that should be going to them,” Trump said. “And that shouldn’t happen. And it’s not going to happen in a very short period of time.”

During the presidency of Barack Obama, immigration rights groups raised concern about that schools systems were making it too hard for children to enroll by imposing rigid documentation requirements. In response, the administration issued guidance to school administrators to be more flexible in the documents they accept.

Residency Documents

The 2014 guidance said schools should accept utility bills or leases as substitute proof of residency after reports that some districts were demanding driver’s licenses or Social Security cards that could be unattainable for those in the country illegally.

“Public school districts have an obligation to enroll students regardless of immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement at the time.

Congress also attempted to pass legislation in 1996 that would have allowed states to block public education benefits to undocumented children or charge tuition, but the effort failed when former President Bill Clinton threatened to veto the bill.

Around 725,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade students in U.S. public and private schools in 2014 were unauthorized to be in the country, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. That amounts to about 1.3% of total school enrollment.

The U.S. Census bureau said earlier this year that the cost spent by per pupil on elementary and secondary education was $12,201 annually, meaning spending on undocumented migrant students could exceed $8 billion annually.

Source: White House Sought Ways to Block Undocumented Immigrant Children From Attending Public Schools

UK accused of profiteering on Syrians’ child citizenship fees

Not quite a weekly event, yet another example of hard to justify UK citizenship and immigration policies and practices (when Canada raised its adult fees in 2014-15, it maintained the low fee for children):

The UK government could profit by more than £5m by charging children who have fled war-torn Syria to apply for British citizenship, according to research.

The revelation, based on the Home Office’s own data, has sparked accusations that the government is profiteering from vulnerable children and making a windfall profit by driving vulnerable families into debt.

Campaigners point out that the government will profit whether the Syrian children’s applications are successful or not: if they are refused, applicants are not refunded. If children reapply for citizenship, the fee must be paid again.

Valerie Peay, the director of the International Observatory of Human Rights, has called on the next prime minister to end the “practice of profiteering from vulnerable children”.

The UK charges 10 times more than any other European country for child citizenship fees, at £1,012 per child, plus £19.20 to provide biometric information. They are charged an extra £80 if they turn 18 during the application process. The cost of processing the application is £372.

The charges have increased 51% in the last five years, during the period when Theresa May’s Home Office instigated a “hostile environment” policy to reduce immigration numbers.

Source: UK accused of profiteering on Syrians’ child citizenship fees