When Getting Deported Is Good for Your Health

I recently talked to a worker in a Washington, DC pharmacy about how hard it is for many Americans to get health care. She told me a story that sums up our nation's misdirection.

She has an adult stepson with schizophrenia. Over the years he has landed in jail many times for nonviolent offenses. Usually he's been picked up for sleeping in public places when struggling with his illness.

At one point, this woman hadn't heard from her stepson for two years, and she had no idea where he was or how to reach him. Then he called from an Arizona jail. He'd made his way across the country, and yet again he'd landed behind bars because of his illness.

This man was not a US citizen. He'd lived in the US for most of his life, but he was born in Great Britain. Because he'd had so much trouble with the law, he was deported.

Within 2-3 months of arriving in Britain, the National Health Service was providing him with psychiatric care, a support system, and even an apartment. He was living a healthy life for the first time in many years. His stepmother said getting deported was the best thing that could have happened to him.

If that isn't a good argument for health care reform, I don't know what is.

66 Nonprofits That Have Made My Life Better

Below, in no particular order, are nonprofits that have been important to me, whether personally or professionally. Some have given me wonderful opportunities through a job or volunteering, or they taught me professional skills. Some have provided inspiration through the arts. And some very special ones have helped me and people I care about through illnesses or hard times.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Ballet San Jose (formerly Cleveland Ballet)
Greater Cleveland YMCA
Brethren Volunteer Service
John Carroll University
Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE)
American Heart Association
American Cancer Society
9to5: The National Association of Working Women
International Peace Bureau
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Dawn Center
Project: Learn
Girl Scouts USA
Friends of the Earth Belgium
Women's Action for New Directions
Peace Action
Planned Parenthood
Georgetown University Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership
Foundation Center
Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Grandmothers for Peace International
World YWCA
Community of Hope
DC Law Students in Court
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Quaker United Nations Office
American Visionary Art Museum
NGO Working Group on the Security Council
Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Cleveland Clinic
University Hospitals - Cleveland
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
Brethren Volunteer Service
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Cleveland Museum of Art
Social Action Leadership School for Activists
Cleveland Peace Action
Mennonite Central Committee
Ellis Island Foundation
Université Ouvrière de Genève
My Sister's Place
Cleveland Public Theater
Amnesty International USA
Women's Information Network (WIN)
West Creek Preservation Committee
Asia Society
Cleveland Orchestra
Arena Stage
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
International Fellowship of Reconciliation
Unity Health Care
Housing Counseling Services
NGO Committee on the Status of Women-Economic Commission for Europe
Nihon Hidankyo
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation
American Red Cross
National Organization for Women

There are many others. How about you? Which nonprofits have been important in your life?

Beyond Sports Mascots & Columbus Day: Urgent Issues for Native Americans

When many non-Native people talk about Native Americans and political issues, the topics are usually pretty limited. We often hear wry comments about Columbus Day or debates on the use of Indian images as sports mascots. But while cultural issues are important to many Native people, they aren't the ones that impact well-being and survival on a daily basis. Those of us who aren't Native don't hear about the more urgent needs. With key bills before Congress, now's the time to get informed and take action.

American Indians and Alaska Natives have the poorest rate of cancer survival of all ethnic groups. Diabetes-related deaths, infant mortality and SIDS deaths are at higher rates than for other Americans. Ten percent of Indian homes lack access to safe and adequate water supplies. The bill that seeks to address these problems, a newly expanded Indian Health Care Improvement Act, has passed both houses of Congress as part of the health care reform legislation. Advocates will closely watch what happens to the bills in the coming weeks. For more information, check with the National Indian Health Board.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse
While these forms of abuse are found in all US communities, they are being reported at epidemic levels in Indian Country. The Tribal Law and Order Act would address these and other urgent safety issues, such as unsafe detention centers. Both the House and Senate versions need cosponsors. Please write your Representatives and Senatorsto ask for their support.

Cobell lawsuit
This case should be all over the news, but isn't. The Friends Committee on National Legislation summarizes it best: “In the 1996 class action suit the plaintiff, Elouise Cobell, charged that the government mismanaged more than $100 billion in oil, timber, grazing and other royalties on land owned by some 500,000 individual Indian beneficiaries. These properties were held in trust by the US government, with all royalties to go to Native American individuals and tribes. The royalties were never transferred to the Native American trustors, though many if not all of the rightful recipients continued to live in poverty for generations.”

In December 2009, the case was settled for what was thought to be the best possible outcome under lousy circumstances. That, however, amounts to only $1,000 per plaintiff.

Here's where you can help. Congress has until February 28 to approve funds for the settlement. Please ask your members of Congress to specify that these payments will not be taxed or offset against benefits that Native Americans may be receiving from federal programs. Any improvements to the settlement will be valuable to recipients.

I plan to bring you other updates on Native issues in the future. From tribal sovereignty to lack of phone service, there's a lot that many of us don't hear about. I welcome your feedback and suggestions.