Category Archives: children

Getting the lead out — in Flint, in St. Paul and across the country

Freeway west from Pelham bridge.jpg

Twenty-some years ago, my kids tested with high lead levels. Ron and I were shocked and horrified. Before our oldest was born, we had tested the paint in the house – no lead. Tested the water – no lead. Tested for radon – no radon. Tested for every single thing we could think of, and everything came back safe. And now our children had high lead levels. Continue reading

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Holy Innocents and refugee children

December 28 is the saints’ day of the Holy Innocents, an appropriate day to think about refugees today. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story: wicked King Herod wants to kill the baby Jesus. Herod tries to trick the wise men into leading him to the baby, but these foreigners escape from his surveillance and return to their own country. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream, warning of the danger to Jesus. Joseph and Mary and the baby flee the country by night, going to Egypt and staying there until Herod dies. In a rage, Herod turns to murder, killing all of the male children under the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.

Today, Central American refugee children flee gang violence, every bit as deadly as Herod’s rage. Continue reading

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Central American child refugee numbers rising again

Refugees welcome

Minnesotans demonstrate in support of refugees

“Shelters for migrant children to open” read the headline. The reality is colder: the number of refugee children from Central America is rising again, and the “shelters” are new federal detention camps, built to “shelter” up to 9,800 children at a time. Continue reading

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Overworked and underfunded immigration court system can’t do the job

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Almost half a million immigration cases wait to be heard in immigration courts. The number of pending cases has doubled in six years and keeps growing. Overburdened judges handle about 1,400 cases each year, far more than any other administrative judges. In each case a person, a family, a mother or father or sister or brother, waits for a day in court.  Continue reading

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The relativity of poverty

You’re a new mom. Maybe a single mom, but even if your husband is there, you have trouble making ends meet. Who knew kids were so expensive? And who knew diapers would be the final, unbearable expense? Jessica Aragon told NBC that she “was once so desperate for diapers she considered stealing them.” That was 13 years ago, but Aragon still remembers feeling ashamed when she would have to leave her baby in a wet diaper because she didn’t have enough diapers. Continue reading

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Brendan Behan, Dublin and the Minnesota legislature

IMG_4478Brendan Behan’s poster on a Dublin alley wall has a message you might want to send to the Minnesota legislature, or the U.S. Congress: “I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” Roads, anyone? Food stamps? Heating assistance?  Continue reading

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Foster care: Yes, you could

When I was in my twenties, I hung out with a bad crowd — nuns, priests, social workers, probation officers, lots of left wing activists. Newly graduated from law school, I had a job and a two-bedroom apartment, which made me feel rich for the first time in my life, and also made me easy prey for the plea to become a foster parent. Continue reading

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Kids pay the price: Turning foster care into a billion dollar business

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.19.16 AMThe Facebook post linked to charges of “deaths, sex abuse, and blunders in screening, training, and overseeing foster parents at the nation’s largest for-profit foster care company.” My first reaction was disbelief: a for-profit foster care company? I remember my own days as a foster parent of teenagers, and the financial and emotional challenges of caring for them. How could a company make money on foster care? And why would anyone think it’s a good idea to place kids with a company whose purpose is to make money from them? Continue reading

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