President Obama has taken a significant step in guaranteeing that the US does its part to ensure that the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons around the world are protected. In a memorandum issued today, Obama directed all federal agencies engaged in actions abroad to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons” and outlined several specific steps to protect especially vulnerable LGBT populations.
The incremental steps taken by the US government to reform the immigration detention system have been outmatched by the furious pace at which people have been forced through it in the last two years. With nearly 34,400 immigrants detained every night, the need for strong, binding regulations and comprehensive oversight has never been greater.
In response to advocacy from groups like Physicians for Human Rights, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano fixed a flaw in current immigration law by creating an exemption to the material support bar for health professionals who have provided medical assistance to wounded combatants as part of their ethical and moral responsibilities.
The recent news that the US government deported nearly 400,000 immigrants in the past year has been met with an outcry by immigrants and advocates around the country who witness the destruction to families and communities caused by these deportations. But one group has been quietly cheering on the push to detain and deport more immigrants than ever before. The private corrections industry, led by Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group, has ramped up its lobbying effort at both the national and local levels to ensure that its detention facilities are used to detain more and more immigrants.
Last Sunday, former military general Otto Perez Molina, was elected to be Guatemala’s next president. Mounting evidence of Perez Molina’s participation in crimes against humanity and genocide during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict raises the question of how the international community will respond to the new head of state.