Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Senator Hirono Urges EPA to Ban Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

WASHINGTON, DC--Senator Mazie K. Hirono and 13 U.S. Senate colleagues urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to reconsider the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide linked to brain damage in children and known to cause serious harm to human health.

Hirono sent a letter to the EPA to reverse its decision and place a ban on chlorpyrifos immediately in the interest of protecting public health.

“The EPA has repeatedly found that chlorpyrifos harms children’s brains at exposures far lower than what the EPA allows. Nevertheless, it refuses to ban this pesticide supposedly because the agency is currently unable to pinpoint the precise exposures that cause this harm,” the Senators wrote. “Additionally, the EPA’s rejection of the petition to ban chlorpyrifos has been accompanied by a new argument in which the EPA contends that the prohibition on allowing a pesticide to be on our food in the absence of an affirmative EPA safety finding does not apply to its action on public petitions. The EPA apparently now seeks to cast aside public input from its work to protect public health.”

“Additionally, chlorpyrifos threatens agricultural workers who apply the pesticide. Farm workers are exposed to chlorpyrifos from mixing, handling, and applying the pesticide, as well as from entering fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed. Chlorpyrifos is one of the pesticides most often linked to acute pesticide poisonings, and in many States that monitor pesticide poisonings, it is regularly identified among the five pesticides linked to the highest number of pesticide poisoning incidents. This is significant given widespread under-reporting of pesticide poisonings due to such factors as inadequate reporting systems, fear of retaliation from employers, and reluctance to seek medical treatment,” the Senators continued.

US to Deny Citizenship to Immigrants on Welfare

WASHINGTON – The administration of US President Donald Trump announced Monday new rules that aim to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, public health care and other welfare.

The new rules threatened to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of mostly Hispanic migrants who work for low wages and depend in part on public services to get by.

Announcing a new definition of the longstanding “public charge” law, the White House said the 22 million non-citizen residents of the United States who are using public services will not be able to obtain green cards or US citizenship.

In addition, hopeful migrants will not be granted resident visas if they are deemed too poor and likely to need public assistance.

“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” Trump said in a White House statement.

The move expands the Trump administration’s broad assault on immigration.

The government has already tried to crack down on illegal border crossers. It has also stepped up arrests and deportations of the estimated 10.5 million undocumented migrants who live in the country, two-thirds of whom have been present for more than 10 years.

Both groups are largely ethnically Hispanic.

Vows of lawsuits

The newest move seeks to limit the path to citizenship for millions in the United States legally, tying their future hopes to not using public assistance programs.

Pro-migrant activists announced they would file lawsuits to block the rules, and Democrats in Congress said they would fight what some called a “racially motivated policy.”

“This administration scapegoats immigrants, emboldens white supremacists, and tears families apart. This is racist policy. We will continue fighting to #ProtectFamilies,” tweeted Rep. Donna Shalala.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, called the moves “a cruel new step toward weaponizing programs that are intended to help people” and announced plans to sue.

“It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come,” she said.

In justifying the rules, the White House said that “large numbers” of migrants “have taken advantage of our generous public benefits, limited resources that could otherwise go to vulnerable Americans.”

It said that half of all non-citizen households include at least one person using the government-run health program Medicaid, and that 78 percent of households led by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare program.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. (www.philstar.com)