Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: A New Look for Immigration Detention Center; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Comes to Aid of Student Borrowers; Rise of Arab-Muslim Comedy

Compiled by Wally McElwain, a Spring 2012 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Detention for Immigrants That Looks Less Like Prison
Kirk Semple and Tim Eaton
New York Times

The Obama administration announced a comprehensive immigration reform strategy in August 2009, which prompted the building of the Karnes County Civil Detention Center in Texas. Previously constructed immigration holding centers were built like prisons. In contrast, the Karnes County Civil Detention Center is modeled after a school and allows greater freedom for detainees who present minimal safety concerns. Human Rights First, according to the Times, said the standards are “an important step forward” for the agency, but added that the guidelines did not meet the higher standard of  providing “conditions appropriate for the majority of detained asylum seekers or other immigration detainees.”

Help for Student Borrowers
New York Times

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to begin regulating the private student lending industry. Even students who are eligible for safer and more affordable federal loans have taken out the inferior private student loans. Federal loans are typically capped at a 6.8 percent interest rate and allow students to defer or reduce their payments, while private loans sometimes exceed 15 percent and offer no such safety nets. This new initiative will gather students’ complaints on billing and collection issues, and the CFPB will force financial institutions to resolve complaints within 60 days. In addition, private lenders will be required to contact the student’s college before giving out the loan, and the college will be responsible for determining if the student is eligible for a federal loan.

Arab-Muslim Comedy Finding Voice After 9/11
Associated Press
USA Today

Stand-up comedy has emerged as an outlet for Muslim and Arab communities to release tension about anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States. Following 9/11, many Americans questioned the loyalty of Muslim and Arab citizens, and racial profiling policies increasingly became common practice in law enforcement. Muslim and Arab comedians, such as Dean Obeidallah, Ahmed Ahmed, and Amer Zahr, have seized comedy as an opportunity to express their unique perspective, which shines a light on problems within the global and national community.