Advocates Seek to Make Courthouses Off Limits for Immigration Officials

Rosario Socope, a Guatemalan immigrant in the country illegally, had an unwelcome surprise waiting for her when she attended a pretrial hearing on a felony charge at a courthouse in Brooklyn this month. As she stepped out of the courtroom into a public hallway, she was approached by immigration agents seeking to deport her.

As her husband, her social worker and one of her lawyers looked on aghast, the agents hauled her away.

The encounter was only the most recent in a long series of such cases across the country that immigrant advocates and politicians say have spread fear of courthouses among immigrants and eroded their willingness to participate in the judicial system, with profound civil rights implications.

Treatment vs. jail time: New bill aimed at helping sex trafficking victims break free

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — It’s one of Milwaukee’s darkest secrets: Women and children being trafficked for sex. Experts say it’s a lucrative business — and Milwaukee is a major hub. A tough new bill would make it easier for human trafficking victims to break free.

Last year, ten human trafficking victims between the ages of 13 and 17 were recovered in Milwaukee.

That’s believed to be only a fraction of the kids being sold for sex.

A new bill would make sure sex trafficking victims get treatment — instead of jail time.

“It is a huge issue in this city. We’re hearing that if you want to be a pimp, this is where they train them, if you will,” Debbie Zwicky said.

Will backlogs in other states affect Milwaukee VA’s ability to serve its own veterans?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Americans are observing Memorial Day against the backdrop of a growing scandal over long wait times and secret records at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. But how will the backlogs in other states affect Wisconsin’s ability to serve its own veterans? It’s a question being asked by every member of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation.

The VA facility in Milwaukee is a sort of home away from home for Marine Corps veteran Kenneth Mueller.

“In my opinion, they don’t deny any veteran any coverage,” Mueller said.

Wisconsin Vets Caught Up in Huge VA Claims Backlog

One Milwaukee man waited more than a year after filing a disability claim to begin receiving compensation for injuries sustained in Iraq.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is under growing scrutiny following reports that dozens of vets died while waiting for care at the VA hospital in Phoenix. The facility is accused of creating a secret patient list in order to cover up long wait times for appointments. Last week, a U.S. House committee voted to subpoena VA Secretary Eric Shinseki for an inquiry.

Criticism over long wait times for health care and disability compensation exploded in recent years as thousands of vets returned from wars in the Middle East.

Milwaukeean Dale Maupin, a former Marine, got caught up in the claims backlog.

Congress must help communities deal with invisible infrastructure

The 50 water main breaks on Milwaukee’s northwest side over the weekend served as a stark reminder of the importance of what Mayor Tom Barrett calls the “invisible infrastructure” — all those often-aging pipes underground that can leak or break and cause a host of problems.

Congress needs to help make sure that communities with aging systems and fiscal issues get the help they need to deal with that unseen infrastructure, whether through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative or other funding.

Last fall, Barrett said he described pipes as “the invisible infrastructure, because most people don’t think about the sewers at all until something goes wrong. Throughout Milwaukee, throughout southeastern Wisconsin, we have to constantly update these sewers.” He used the phrase again in describing the weekend’s water breaks, and he was right do so.

Baby boomer, Gen X women fear not having enough retirement savings

Most female baby boomers and Generation Xers fear they will not have sufficient money for retirement, a situation that’s creating an opportunity for financial advisers, according to a report released Wednesday by the Insured Retirement Institute.
More than two thirds — 70% — of female baby boomers and 88% of Gen Xers have “weak or no confidence” that they will have enough money to “live comfortably throughout [their] retirement years,” the IRI study shows. Roughly the same number — 66% of baby boomers and 88% of Gen Xers — have “weak or no confidence” that they’ve done a good job preparing financially for retirement.

One reason for their bleak outlook about retirement is that nearly 20% of baby boomer women and 35% of Generation X women do not have any retirement savings, according to the report. Of the Gen X women who have saved for retirement, 44% have accumulated less than $50,000.

The study also found that women are not seeking financial advice. More than half of baby boomer women and 75% of Gen X women have not consulted a financial adviser.

Congressional Black Caucus plots path forward

For members of the Congressional Black Caucus, these are tough days.

The Supreme Court upended two major civil rights laws in recent years, striking down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act and upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action.

The CBC’s agenda is gaining little traction on Capitol Hill, where Republican leaders in the House have shown little interest in legislation that would restore provisions of the landmark civil rights law or protect affirmative action.
It’s enough to leave CBC members downbeat about the court’s role in civil rights work – and ready to draft their next steps.

Gwen Moore cautiously optimistic about meeting with Paul Ryan

Afer sparking a flurry of controversy in March with remarks that suggested that poverty in America’s inner-cities was due in part to people who lacked an appreciation for work, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, has made a point of conveying interest and compassion for the country’s poor, particularly in minority communities.

As part of that effort, Ryan met recently with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss possible areas of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats on addressing poverty.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, a member of the CBC, whose members are currently all Democrats, said the meeting yielded some constructive dialogue and highlighted a number of sharp ideological disagreements between the two sides.
“There were no expectations that there was going to be some great agreement,” she told the Cap Times Friday. “That wasn’t the purpose of the meeting.”

‘…A Life and Death Struggle for Voting Rights’

Anita Johnson, a community organizer with Citizen Action of Wisconsin, spends her days beating the streets—knocking on doors, visiting senior citizen homes, addressing congregations and other groups about changes in election laws.In previous months, her days were spent in Madison at the state capitol, testifying, agitating, shaming the General Assembly about the slew of new restrictive voting laws lawmakers were ramming down the electorate’s throat. But, to no avail.
When Wisconsin voters go to the ballot box in August and November they will have to surmount new barriers to voting.“The climate of voting has changed all over the U.S.—not only in Wisconsin…it’s pretty depressing,” said Johnson, a longtime community activist.

Rep. Gwen Moore, a Wisconsin Democrat, agreed with that assessment.

“This is a life and death struggle for voting rights,” she said.“There have been so many efforts to block the vote here. It is a totally un-American and retrograde situation,” she added. “We hold ourselves up as a beacon of democracy around the world. It’s very embarrassing for people to see these efforts to restrict the vote.”

Democrats Warm Up for a "War on Poverty" With Republicans on Capitol Hill

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) thinks that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who chairs the House Budget Committee and is in line to become the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, is “a nice guy.” The budget he proposed earlier this month is not, Moore and other Democratic lawmakers say.

Facing a tough midterm election cycle, they’re hoping that the budget’s proposed cuts, which they argue help the rich by hurting the poor, will be an issue for Americans as they head to the polls in November.
“Budgets reflect our priorities. They show what we care about and they show what we care less about,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) told reporters on a conference call Tuesday.

The Republican budget proposal, he added, protects the nation’s wealthiest and powerful special interest groups and knocks down ladders of opportunity for middle income and struggling working class families. Communities of color, he said, are hit hardest.

According to Moore, who sits on the Budget Committee, middle-income families will face higher taxes and minorities who are disproportionately poorer will lose health, education and other benefits that will have a chilling impact.Raising the minimum wage, which congressional Republicans oppose, would lift 6 million workers out of poverty, Moore said, 60 percent of whom would be people of color. It also would raise wages for African-Americans by $5.2 billion.

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