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Poverty, Income, & Health Insurance Update: Illinois and Chicago Region (2022)

September 15, 2023

Poverty among children more than doubled from 2021 to 2022 (from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022), according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)1 released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This the largest year-over-year poverty rate increase on record among individuals aged 17 years and younger. Children were hardest hit due, in large part, to the lapse of the Child Tax Credit; however, across all ages gains made from COVID-related assistance in 2021 were lost in 2022. In Illinois, there are over 4 million Illinoisans experiencing poverty, with over 760,000 Illinoisans living in extreme poverty. In 2022 census results, poverty rates for children and communities of color - similar to national trends - remain dramatically higerh than the overall rate. 

Facing an Impossible Choice: Experiences of Asylum Seekers in Matamoros and Reynosa Two Months into the Biden Asylum Ban

July 24, 2023

The National Immigration Project and Together & Free document their observations from trips to Matamoros and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico in June and July 2023, where they conducted interviews with asylum seekers, service providers, and advocates. The report calls on the Biden administration to end and rescind the Asylum Ban and to urgently make changes to the CBP One appointment system.

Trapped: How Male Guardianship Policies Restrict Women’s Travel and Mobility in the Middle East and North Africa

July 18, 2023

Women across the Middle East and North Africa region face varying restrictions preventing them from moving freely in their own country and from traveling abroad without the permission of their male guardians—typically their fathers or brothers, and when married, their husbands. The following report examines 20 countries in the Middle East and North African region and describes the different country requirements imposed on women to get their male guardians' permission for their mobility within their country, to obtain a passport, and to travel abroad. It also examines whether women can travel abroad with their children as guardians on an equal basis with men.This report provides governments, policymakers, and civil society including women's rights activists and organizations a resource outlining the current status 0f women's freedom of movement including male guardianship requirements in each state.

Women as the Way Forward: Lessons from Afghan Women's Empowerment Journey—And What Can Be Done Now

June 29, 2023

Women as the Way Forward attempts to make sense of the mistakes and successes of the last several decades of policymaking, as well as what needs to be done now to prevent further disaster in Afghanistan. This is all examined through a lens of Afghan women's past and future centrality in sustainable and effective policymaking—from security to stability to economics to addressing humanitarian challenges. While the report's historical review aims to prevent the repetition of past mistakes, the core of the paper is its recommendations for the way forward. Clearly, Western governments have made assumptions about points of leverage with the Taliban that have been incorrect and overall failed to develop a coherent Afghanistan policy. Gaining a better understanding of the Taliban's ideology and goals, which I explore in this paper, is key to formulating more effective and grounded policy. Having completed high school in the same kind of extremist Pakistani madrassas that the Taliban were shaped in, I understand firsthand the extent of their radicalism.

Media Ecosystems and Youth Voting: Profiles of County-Level Support for Civic Participation

June 27, 2023

A complex, interconnected web of conditions in a community shape young people's civic development, their access to information about politics and elections, and their ability to meaningfully participate in civic life. One major element of those conditions is the media, which includes not just formal news outlets but an ecosystem of institutions, information pathways, technological access, and online/offline behaviors.A new CIRCLE project examines that relationship by creating profiles of what media ecosystems look like in different communities across the U.S., the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of those profiles, and their connection to youth voter turnout in recent national elections. You can explore this research through a new interactive data visualization and a full report.

The COVID-19 Aftermath: What the Unwinding of Federal Pandemic Emergency Declarations Can Mean for Illinoisans

June 27, 2023

On May 11, 2023, the Biden Administration ended the COVID-19 national emergency, marking a turning point for many extended and newly developed public benefits that occurred during, and in response to, the pandemic. Programs such as Medicaid, health insurance coverage for low-income individuals and families, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), were modified and/or expanded available benefits to meet the growing needs of the nation, particularly individuals living on the verge of poverty.In the midst of the pandemic, Heartland Alliance released a signature report on the domino effect caused by COVID-19, outlining how losing one support can cause others to crumble away for those already living on the edge when disaster strikes. While the pandemic-driven domino effect continues, we examine the additional repercussions caused by changes to public programs that were optimized during the pandemic, and that millions have become reliant upon.This report will explore the pandemic aftermath, with a specific focus on public benefit programs for individuals who are living in poverty or on the verge of poverty. We will examine how communities of color in Illinois have been particularly affected by the pandemic regarding health and economic well-being, and what implications changes to COVID-19 era benefits, specifically as it pertains to healthcare and food assistance, mean for Illinoisans.Findings from this report will expand on an overarching theme. Inequities, as it pertains to people of color, are pervasive, have worsened, and will likely continue to significantly increase post-pandemic.

Resourcing Black Feminist Organizing in Latin America and the Caribbean

June 15, 2023

This resource is one step in a participatory research journey that began in 2019. Led by Jeannette Tineo Durán, a team of Black feminist researchers from Latin America and the Caribbean explored Black women's activism and organizing across their regions – also termed Abya Yala. Between November 2019 and August 2020, they charted activism across 17 countries and five sub-regions they grouped as follows: the Andes, Brazil, the Caribbean, Mesoamerica, and the Southern Cone.To put our commitments to self-determination and community leadership in practice, it was important that the research team reflect the communities we sought to learn from. To that end, Tineo Durán assembled a powerful cadre of 16 Black women academics, artists, and activists from the regions to collectively produce it. Using participatory methodology from decolonial and intersectional perspectives that brought together Black feminist perspectives across borders, the researchers did not approach participants as subjects but rather as collaborators in the production of knowledge. Both the researchers and the participants' knowledge and experience were integral to the analysis. Most work was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with research disrupted by public health responses across the 17 countries. Participants were heavily impacted, not only by the virus but also its economic consequences and state policing of quarantine measures. Some planned in-person research activities such as workshops, forums, and meetings were conducted virtually.The original Spanish-language research – Mapeo de Feminismos Negros en Abya Yala (2021) – is a rich and deep resource, including detailed reports on each of the mapped countries/sub-regions. It is a contribution to the Black feminist call for documentation, translation, and sharing of Black feminist knowledge. As FJS and Wellspring disseminate the research to a philanthropic audience, the researchers are sharing it with a wide audience of activists in the regions and publishing their own book for movements.This microsite draws from translated summaries of the Mapeo developed by consultants Carla Murphy and Chriss Sneed. As we concluded the analysis, we saw an opportunity to include perspectives from a wider range of philanthropic actors so we conducted a small survey of seven private foundations in May and June 2022 and five follow-up interviews in December 2022 and January 2023.

Regulation and Repression of Civil Society through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 8: How a Restrictive Interpretation Limits Civil Society Contributions to Development in Africa

June 6, 2023

The contributions of civil society through development initiatives have been instrumental in addressing various socio-economic challenges societies face. For instance, there is evidence that community-based intervention packages have had a substantial impact on child and new-born mortality in Mozambique. On the political front, in Senegal, civil society initiatives contributed to the 'downfall of former president Abdoulaye Wade, his son and heir apparent, Karim Wade, and a number of formerly powerful members of his government' who were accused of corruption. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have also filled the gaps left by governments' failures to deliver reliable and efficient public services and address some of the challenges faced in communities. Efforts to shrink civic space by policing the work of civil society organisations has primarily been premised on governments' efforts to evade being held accountable.This has taken different forms, the most common being distorting the narrative on the agenda of civil society organisations. CSOs are negatively labelled as being rooted in interfering with politics and enforcing political ideations of Western institutions which make up much of the sources of funding for civil society activities. CSOs have constantly faced backlash and in the most recent past, there has been instrumentalisation of counter-terrorist and anti-money laundering laws and regulations. The framework of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations is often the basis of these broad and vague laws that give governments extensive powers to investigate and prosecute suspects and also infringe on the rights of critics. Although terrorist activities around the world including in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Kenya, Mali and Pakistan to mention a few give cause for concern, there are some governments that have put in place measures where there is no threat or real risk of terrorism. As a result, these measures are a tool used to silence and stifle fundamental freedoms including for journalists and other civil society actors.

The Taliban's War on Women: The crime against humanity of gender persecution in Afghanistan

May 25, 2023

After the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021, the human rights situation of women and girls in Afghanistan deteriorated severely, despite the Taliban's initial promise to respect women's and girls' rights. The Taliban have been increasingly introducing new restrictions with the apparent aim of completely erasing women's and girls' presence from public arenas. Taliban policies have been further oppressing women and girls in almost all aspects of their lives. The widespread and systematic subjugation of girls and women in Afghanistan is a flagrant violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Improving Language Access in the U.S. Asylum System

May 25, 2023

The lack of adequate interpretation and translation services in U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) proceedings can have devastating consequences for asylum-seekers. Yet under U.S. law, asylum-seekers with limited English proficiency (LEP) have a right to an interpreter and to translated materials while they navigate the asylum system. For more than 20 years, the federal government has required all federal agencies—including those that regularly come into contact with migrants and asylum-seekers—to provide meaningful language access to individuals with LEP. But the increasing diversity of languages spoken by migrants and asylum-seekers, a shortage of interpreters, and a lack of translated materials, among other factors, have led to a significant failure of the asylum system to ensure that everyone has access to information in a language they understand.This report is presented in four sections. The first section highlights the diversity of the languages spoken by migrants and asylum-seekers and describes how the arrival of more non-English speakers poses a new set of challenges to language access needs in the asylum system. The second section outlines the major challenges government agencies that regularly come into contact with migrants and asylum-seekers face in ensuring language access. The third section lays out the various ways in which the Biden administration has prioritized language access since taking office. Finally, the fourth section makes agency-specific recommendations that would allow DHS and DOJ to overcome challenges and ensure meaningful language access at every step of the asylum process. These agencies must implement solutions to protect asylum-seekers' right to due process.

How can we ground ourselves in care and dance our revolution?

May 15, 2023

"How Can We Ground Ourselves in Care and Dance Our Revolution?" contains interviews with 141 activists in 63 countries speaking on how they integrate care into their activism and work. The report also calls on funders to provide more resources to fund collective care practices among feminist movements, directly providing recommendations, and next steps from activists on the frontlines. The perspectives shared in our report offer a unique and diverse understanding of collective care, highlighting the experiences of women, trans, and non-binary feminist activists who have been historically marginalized within social justice movements worldwide.

USA: Mandatory Use of CBP One Application Violates the Right to Seek Asylum

May 7, 2023

Title 42 is expected to end on May 11, 2023, in conjunction with the administration of US President Biden ending the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), once Title 42 is terminated, asylum-seekers will be required to use the CBP One application to schedule a time to arrive at participating ports of entry along the southern border in order to present their asylum claims. Amnesty International considers that the mandatory use of CBP One as the exclusive manner of entry into the United States to seek international protection violates international human rights law.