TIME Immigration

Migrant Girls Share Haunting Stories About Why They Fled

Central American Female Immigrants
Central American immigrants await transportation to a U.S. Border Patrol processing center on July 24, 2014 near Mission, Texas. John Moore—Getty Images

A recent UN report gives haunting accounts from some of the girls who fled

The number of young girls captured at the US-Mexico border has increased by 77 percent this year, according to Pew Research Center analysis released Friday.

The number of girls under the age of 18 apprehended at the border this fiscal year was 13,008 compared to last year’s 7,339, according to Pew. The number of boys under 18 apprehended is still much higher at 33,924, but that represents only an 8% increase from 2013.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a report earlier this year that included haunting accounts from some of the young girls apprehended, in an analysis of 404 children from Mexico and Central America who had been detained at the border.

“The head of the gang that controlled her neighborhood wanted Josefina to be his girlfriend and threatened to kidnap her or to kill one of her family members if she didn’t comply,” the report writes, of one 16-year-old from El Salvador. “Josefina knew another girl from her community who had become the girlfriend of a gang member and had been forced to have sex with all the gang members.”

Two-thirds of the children from El Salvador, both male and female, reported threats of violence from organized crime as one reason for fleeing. “One of [the gang members] ‘liked’ me. Another gang member told my uncle that he should get me out of there because the guy who liked me was going to do me harm,” said 15-year-old Maritza. “In El Salvador they take young girls, rape them and throw them in plastic bags. My uncle told me it wasn’t safe for me to stay there.”

Other girls reported domestic violence as a reason for leaving. Lucia, a 16-year-old from Guatemala, escaped her abusive grandmother’s home only to move in with an abusive boyfriend. “He beat me almost every day,” Lucia said. “I stayed with him for four months. I left because he tried to kill me by strangling me. I left that same day.”

The increasing numbers of children from Mexico and Central America seeking refuge in the United States has prompted a legislative battle in Washington. It remains unresolved.

TIME Washington

Last Body Found in Washington Mudslide

(EVERETT, Wash.) — Search and rescue personnel believe they have found the last body from the March 22 mudslide that killed 43 people in Oso, Washington.

Although the search for victims ended in April, workers have been screening debris and watching for the body of 44-year-old Molly Kristine “Kris” Regelbrugge (reg-el-BREW’-gee).

Her husband, Navy Cmdr. John Regelbrugge III, also was killed in the slide that hit their home. His body was one of the 42 recovered earlier.

The Snohomish County sheriff’s office was expected to release details at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Everett.

TIME Washington

Better Weather Aiding Washington Wildfire Fight

Western Wildfires
A plane drops water from Fishtrap Lake on a stubborn fire burning near the lake in Lincoln County, Wash., on July 20, 2014 Jesse Tinsley—AP

But the fire was just 2% contained on Monday.

(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Calmer winds and cooler temperatures helped firefighters go on the offensive Monday against a destructive wildfire that has charred hundreds of square miles in Washington state and is the largest in state history.

The Carlton Complex of fires in north-central Washington had burned about 379 square miles, fire spokesman Andrew Sanbri said Monday. That would make it the largest wildfire in the state since record-keeping started.

“There is optimism in the air, but we don’t want to give the impression that all is good,” Sanbri said. “Things are improving.”

The fire was just 2 percent contained Monday.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers was also encouraged.

“Right now there’s honestly no wind,” Rogers said Monday night, noting that rising evening winds complicated earlier firefighting efforts. “I’m hoping this is helping.”

Fire crews quickly attacked a new fire east of Tonasket on Monday, Rogers said. A half-dozen homes were briefly evacuated, but the fire burned past them with no destruction.

Residents of a couple of dozen additional rural homes were told to leave Monday, but Rogers said that was just a precaution.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity continue to be in the forecast, but the area is also on “lightning watch” Tuesday through Thursday. “We don’t need any more lightning,” Rogers said.

At 243,000 acres, the Carlton Complex was larger than the Yacolt Burn, which consumed 238,920 acres in southwestern Washington in 1902 and was the largest recorded forest fire in state history, according to HistoryLink.org, an online resource of Washington state history. The Yacolt Burn killed 38 people.

Rogers has estimated that 150 homes have been destroyed already, but he suspected that number could rise. The fire is being blamed for one death.

Firefighters on Monday had planned to burn fuel on the north side of the fire to help build a fire line, but that operation was canceled, fire spokesman Don Carpenter said.

Firefighters were hampered by the loss of electricity in the area due to downed power lines and poles, which hurt communications. There was no estimate on when utilities would be restored.

The forecast for Monday and Tuesday called for lighter winds and lower temperatures, said Spokane-based National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Koch.

Then on Wednesday a vigorous front is expected to cover Washington, bringing rain to much of the state. But it will also bring lightning, Koch added.

“We may get some rain where we need it, but we may also experience some lightning that could cause some new ignitions,” he said.

The fire has created smoky conditions and reduced air quality in much of eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

One man died of an apparent heart attack while fighting the fire near his home, Rogers said.

Rob Koczewski, 67, was stricken on Saturday while he and his wife were hauling water and digging fire lines near their home. Koczewski was a retired Washington State Patrol trooper and U.S. Marine, Rogers said.

There are more than 1,600 firefighters battling the flames, assisted by more than 100 fire engines, helicopters dropping buckets of water and planes spreading flame retardant, Sanbri said.

Many towns in the scenic Methow Valley remain without power and have limited landline and cellphone service. Fully restoring power to the area could take weeks, Okanogan County Public Utility District officials told KREM.

More than 100 Washington National Guard soldiers are supporting state Department of Natural Resources firefighters, state spokesman Mark Clemens said Monday. National Guard helicopters have dropped more than 500,000 gallons of water on the fires.

TIME space

See What the Raging Pacific Northwest Fires Look Like From Space

NASA

In a photo taken from the International Space Station, smoke blankets a large swath of the western United States

Wildfires across the Pacific Northwest have been blazing since Monday and have scorched large areas of forest as a result of hot, dry weather in Oregon and Washington. A total of 25 large, uncontained wildfires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, with the single largest affected region in eastern Oregon’s Malheur County where about 369,000 acres of land has been burned. Incredibly, you can see smoke rising above the region from outer space. Reid Wiseman, an astronaut on the International Space Station, posted this photo on his Twitter feed.

TIME Washington

Winds Fan Washington Wildfire, Threaten Homes

A large cloud rises over wildfires in Eastern Washington as seen from University District at sunset on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Seattle, Wash.
A large cloud rises over wildfires in Eastern Washington as seen from University District at sunset on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, in Seattle, Wash. Jordan Stead—AP

Fire officials said a handful of new wildfires, some started by lightning, were growing in central Washington

(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Driven by scorching hot temperatures and strong winds, a new central Washington wildfire threatened hundreds of homes Wednesday and sent up a towering column of smoke.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire about 10 miles north of Leavenworth raced across nearly 2 square miles by evening and prompted the closure of a 15-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 2.

As many as 400 people have been told to leave their homes or cabins and another 800 homes were threatened, said Eileen Ervin, a Chelan County emergency management spokeswoman.

Worsening wildfire activity has prompted the governor’s offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare a state of emergency, a move that enables state officials to call up the National Guard. In Washington, that declaration covers 30 eastern Washington counties.

Wildfires were also burning in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and California.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire, first detected Tuesday, was believed caused by lightning. It sent a smoke plume 25,000 feet into the air as it burned through heavy timber.

While the fire’s smoke and rapid growth made assessment difficult, a fire spokesman, Mike Mueller, said there was no confirmed loss of any homes by Wednesday evening.

Leavenworth, where the Red Cross set up a shelter, reached 104 degrees Wednesday and winds gusted to 18 mph.

In southern Oregon, a Klamath County wildfire turned out to be more destructive than authorities initially believed.

After the fire burned in the rural Moccasin Hill subdivision near Sprague River earlier this week, officials reported that six houses were destroyed, along with 14 outbuildings. But fire managers toured the burn area Tuesday and spokeswoman Ashley Lertora said they found 17 residences and 16 outbuildings destroyed.

Oregon fire officials said Wednesday that the Bailey Butte fire — part of the Waterman Complex — had burned more than 3 square miles west of Mitchell and was moving south into the Ochoco National Forest. Two other fires near Service Creek and Kimberly brought the Waterman Complex to more than 6 square miles, or 4,000 acres. The fires are in timber, grass and brush.

In Washington, fire officials said a handful of new wildfires, some started by lightning, were growing in central Washington.

“The National Weather Service posted red flag warnings and fire weather watches … for much of Eastern Washington from Wednesday afternoon through Friday,” said the state’s emergency declaration, signed by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.

The state’s largest wildfire, the Mills Canyon blaze near the town of Entiat, was 40 percent contained and holding steady at about 35 square miles.

State fire assistance was ordered for the Carlton Complex of fires burning in north-central Washington’s Methow Valley, where residents of about a dozen homes have been told to leave. Spokesman Jacob McCann said Wednesday evening that complex has burned across 7 square miles with zero containment.

The Washington National Guard sent two helicopters and 14 people to help battle the blaze.

In Utah, a wildfire encroaching on homes in the Tooele County town of Stockton had burned about 400 to 500 acres. Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesman Jason Curry said the fire burned part of a water tower but it’s believed no homes have been destroyed.

In central Idaho, the lightning-caused Preacher Fire has scorched nearly 50 square miles in two days, burning quickly through grass and brush. But fire managers said Wednesday they had made good progress and estimated the blaze would be contained by late Thursday.

In Nevada, fire crews have the upper hand on a lightning-sparked wildfire near Reno. But the forecast calls for thunderstorms that could bring new fire threats.

About 120 firefighters remained on the lines Wednesday evening at the blaze that has burned just over a square mile of brush and grass on U.S. Forest Service land near U.S. 395 northwest of Reno. No injuries have been reported and no structures were threatened.

The fire was estimated to be 20 percent contained Wednesday evening with help from four air tankers and three helicopters.

In rural Northern California, cooler temperatures and higher humidity helped firefighters battling the Bully Fire, which has burned through more than 13 square miles. The fire, which authorities blame on marijuana-growing activity, was 35 percent contained Wednesday.

Eight homes have been destroyed since Friday and 55 homes around one community are threatened.

TIME Civil Rights

New Guidelines Could Help Many Pregnant Workers

Jacqueline Berrien
Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Jacqueline Berrien speaks at a Middle Class Task Force event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across from the White House in Washington, in this Tuesday, July 20, 2010 file photo. Charles Dharapak—AP

Any form of workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant workers by employers is now a form of illegal sex discrimination

(WASHINGTON) — New federal guidelines on job discrimination against pregnant workers could have a big impact on the workplace and in the courtroom.

The expanded rules adopted by the bipartisan Equal Employment Opportunity Commission make clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment against pregnant workers by employers is a form of sex discrimination — and illegal.

Updating its pregnancy discrimination guidelines for the first time in more than 30 years, the agency cited a “persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.”

The guidelines spell out for the first time how the Americans With Disabilities Act applies to pregnant workers. And they emphasize that any discrimination against female workers based on past or prospective future pregnancies is also illegal.

Joan C. Williams, a law professor at the University of California’s Hastings School of Law in San Francisco, said the new guidelines issued this week can have two major impacts: steering EEOC investigators to be more sensitive to the sometimes special needs of pregnant workers and giving employment lawyers more ammunition in defending clients who were victims of such discrimination.

Williams, an expert in the field whose work is cited three times in the EEOC’s new 60-page “enforcement guidance” on pregnancy discrimination, called the toughened stance of the EEOC “a significant victory.”

Williams, who co-authored a 2011 study called “Pregnant, Poor and Fired,” said the main impact may by erecting “very, very, simple and very, very commonsense” guideposts for EEOC investigators, as well as providing strong ammunition for employment lawyers whose clients are victims of such discrimination.

“I think it will make a really big difference,” she said in an interview. “This is also the direction the courts have begun to go in, and that’s why the EEOC said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”

The guidelines were last updated in 1983. EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline A. Berrien suggested the update was needed and timely. “Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices,” she said in a statement.

The new guidelines prohibit employers from forcing pregnant workers to take leave and acknowledge that “employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers.” After childbirth, lactation is now covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition.

It’s not just women who will benefit.

The guidelines say that when it comes to parental leave, “similarly situated” men and women must be treated on the same terms.

The update comes two weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a case involving the EEOC’s duty to try to settle charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers.

The issue has gained increasing attention — and vexed business groups — as the Obama administration ratchets up its enforcement of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws.

The latest EEOC data shows a 46 percent increase in pregnancy-related complaints to the EEOC from 1997 to 2011.

In its report, the agency cites specific, real-life examples of what it considers illegal discrimination. It used only first names and did not reveal locations, occupations or employers. Among them:

— Three months after “Maria” told her supervisor that she was pregnant, she was absent a few days due to an illness unrelated to her pregnancy. When she returned to work, “her supervisor said her body was trying to tell her something” and she was let go.

— Shortly after Teresa informed her supervisor of her pregnancy, “he met with her to discuss alleged performance problems.” Even though Teresa had consistently received outstanding performance reviews during her eight years of employment with the company, she was discharged.

— Birah, a woman from Nigeria, claimed that when she was visibly pregnant with her second child, “her supervisors increased her workload and shortened her deadlines so she could not complete her assignments, ostracized her, repeatedly excluded her from meetings to which she should have been invited, reprimanded her for failing to show up for work due to snow when others were not reprimanded, and subjected her to profanity.”

Protections for pregnant women vary widely around the globe — as does enforcement. Sweden bans discrimination because of pregnancy and requires companies employing more than 25 people to help both men and women combine work and parenting. Egyptian laws give pregnant women the right to work fewer hours and three months’ paid leave after birth — requirements women’s rights groups say prompt employers to hire men. And in Mexico, laws prohibit discrimination against pregnant women, but there is little enforcement by the government.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the updated U.S. guidelines, which were approved Monday on a 3-2 partisan-line vote by the Democratic-led commission.

“Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office.

MONEY The Economy

The Capitalist Argument for Renewing the Export-Import Bank

While this bank is a government agency, it levels the global playing field and promotes U.S. jobs.

Having excoriated big-government liberals and tax raisers, the Tea Party has now set its sights on the Export-Import Bank.

To the anti-government Tea Party movement, the bank is just one more government intrusion into things that private parties can do for themselves.

Created in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Export-Import Bank is a U.S. government agency that lends money to foreign buyers to help them purchase our airplanes, computers, and other goods and services. Since 1945, its charter has been subject to periodic renewal by Congress. The latest renewal runs out in a couple of months.

In the vast majority of cases, the loans are paid back in full, with interest. Last year the default rate on loans the bank made was about 0.2%. The bank earned about $1.06 billion for the federal Treasury.

The bank is not supposed to compete with private lenders; therefore, it specializes in higher-risk loans that private institutions are unlikely to make. Over the years it has financed many large projects, including the Pan American Highway that runs from Alaska to Chile. It was involved in the Marshall Plan after World War II, and in the rebuilding of former Soviet countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Who Benefits?

The purpose of the bank is not primarily to help the countries to whom money is lent. It’s to enable them to buy our goods and services, and therefore to create jobs in the U.S.

Between now and September, the reauthorization deadline, the Tea Party will be arguing that the main beneficiaries in the U.S. are big companies that don’t need help.

When you look at the organizations now lobbying for a renewal of the Export-Import Bank, it might appear that the Tea Party has a point there.

Among the organizations that have been speaking up on behalf of the bank are Boeing, General Electric, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

At this moment, the battle is too close to call. In the Senate, sentiment appears to favor renewal of the bank’s charter. In the House, there is a good chance that the majority will vote for its abolition.

Competitive Landscape

My biggest disagreement with the Tea Party here is that it doesn’t make sense to be an ideological purist and think only in terms of the U.S.

Foreign companies such as Airbus receive a variety of subsidies to help them compete internationally. The Export-Import bank provides an indirect subsidy to U.S. manufacturers, helping their customers afford our goods and services.

Why should the Tea Party attack an institution that evens the playing field, helps to create jobs in the U.S., and makes money for the Treasury?

Harry Reid (D., Nev.), the Senate majority leader, is talking about a short-term reauthorization of the bank, tied to a bill that would fund the government past September 30 — again, for the short term.

A more statesmanlike solution, I’d say, would be to extend the bank’s charter for at least another three years, as Congress has done 16 times before. The most common extension period has been five years. That’s what the administration has asked for this time, and that’s what Congress should do.

John Dorfman is chairman of Thunderstorm Capital LLC, a Boston money-management firm. He can be reached at jdorfman@thunderstormcapital.com.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Mornings Must Reads: July 10

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the news: Israeli air strikes in Gaza; Elusive Ukraine peace talks; Chinese hackers in U.S. computer networks; President Obama's border speech; VA reform; what's prettier in print

  • Israelis in Tel Aviv Remain Defiantly Blase as Barrages From Gaza Bring Conflict Closer [WashPost]
    • “Israeli air strikes killed eight members of a family including five children in a pre-dawn raid on Gaza on Thursday, Palestinian officials said, while Hamas-led fighters launched rockets at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.” [Reuters]
  • Patchwork Makeup of Rebels Fighting Ukraine Makes Peace Talks Elusive [NYT]
  • “Chinese hackers in March broke into the computer networks of the United States government agency that houses the personal information of all federal employees…They appeared to be targeting the files on tens of thousands of employees who have applied for top-secret security clearances.” [NYT]
  • U.S. Military Sends Scouting Party Into the Twitterverse [TIME]
  • “President Barack Obama called on Congress to swiftly approve nearly $4 billion in supplemental funding to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border Wednesday, saying lawmakers need to set aside politics to solve the problem.” [TIME]
    • Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border [NYT]
    • GOP Divided Over $3.7 Billion Bill [Hill]
  • “As Democrats and Republicans start mobilizing efforts to prevent highway projects from stalling next month, they are struggling to keep legislative efforts from running off the road.” [WSJ]
  • Specter of Gilded Age Tarnishes VA Reform [National Journal]
  • Prettier in Print
TIME Drugs

Spirits Even Higher Than Prices on First Day of Legal Weed in Washington State

'The word positive just summarizes the whole experience,' says one shop

+ READ ARTICLE

On the first day of legal pot sales in Washington, only six stores in the state said they would be open. As word of the locations spread, long lines formed. Shoppers brought chairs and played card games, waiting for their turn at the counter. A young man from Kansas, who became the inaugural pot-purchaser at 8:03 a.m., started queuing before sunrise outside a Bellingham, Wash., shop. A group of five guys camped overnight outside a shop in Spokane, waiting 19 hours to buy their legal bud.

“The word positive just summarizes the whole experience,” says Altitude pot shop’s Manel Valenzuela. “We had people waiting outside in line with happy faces.”

Despite crowds, a very limited supply of weed and a media frenzy, the first day of sales in the nation’s second legal recreational-pot market had gone without incident by early evening. Sales and spirits (and in some cases prices) were all high. “Marijuana is on the shelves,” says Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which regulates the new marketplace. “We only expect the system to get better from here.”

That would come as welcome news to the first wave of stores and customers. The board issued retail licenses to 24 retail shops on July 7. All were allowed to open 24 hours later, but some owners were hampered by red tape in local jurisdictions and others couldn’t get their hands on enough supply.

Kelso-based Freedom Market was still waiting for its product to arrive at 4 p.m. Manager Hollie Hillman says media vans swarmed outside, and anxious customers flowed in and out all day. “It’s been like a circus,” she says. “As soon as it gets here, we want to open.”

Altitude, in Prosser, Wash., chose to close its doors by 2:25 p.m. in order to preserve its limited supply. The shop capped purchases at 1 g per person, priced from $20 to $30, and stopped selling after reaching 300 customers. Magic Insane was the first strain to sell out, according to Valenzuela.

Todd Bennatt, a co-owner of the Spokane Green Leaf, says he expects to sell out of the shop’s 5-lb. stock of marijuana after limiting customers to one 2- or 4-g bag early in the day. Weed there is selling for $25 per gram. Bennatt hopes prices will fall as supply increases, yet he says the high costs and sales caps have done little to dampen the mood.

“It’s been joyous,” Bennatt says. “I was just looking for somebody to not be happy with the high prices or not letting them buy more, but everyone’s been understanding and patient.”

TIME Drugs

Photos: This is What the First Day of Legal Weed Looked Like in Washington

Lots of cash, long lines and big smiles marked the launch of the second legal, recreational marijuana market in the U.S. Here are more scenes from opening day of Washington state's experiment with over-the-counter weed.

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