The US government just warned companies that even indirect ties to forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province risks breaking the law

Security guards stand at the gates of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Huocheng County
Security guards stand at the gates of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Huocheng County.

  • The US warned that companies with investment or supply-chain ties to Xinjiang can face legal risks.
  • China has been accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.
  • Major US companies have been accused of sourcing cotton and product components in the region.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US on Tuesday cautioned that companies that invest, provide venture capital, or have supply-chain ties to the Xinjiang region of China “run a high risk of violating U.S. law,” due to widespread reports of forced labor and other human rights violations against ethnic minorities in the region.

The US has accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, citing the arbitrary mass detention of mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the region in what the Chinese government calls “re-education camps.” The government has also forcibly sterilized, tortured, and sexually abused ethnic minority prisoners in these camps, according to former detainees.

Companies who don’t pull out of the region could violate statutes that criminalize benefitting from or importing goods that are the result of forced labor. The advisory also warned US companies against assisting in the development of surveillance tools for Xinjiang or supplying US-made goods to entities that use forced labor.

In 2020, activist groups accused some of the world’s biggest fashion brands – including Nike and H&M – of sourcing cotton from factories that exploit the forced labor of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Over a million ethnic minorities have been detained in Xinjiang, a region that produces a fifth of world’s cotton, and activist groups have called for companies to exit the region to avoid profiting from human rights violations in the area.

Nike stated that it doesn’t source products, textiles and yarn from Xinjiang, and H&M stated that it was concerned about the accusations of forced labor involved in Xinjiang cotton production.

In May, Apple suppliers were linked to forced labor in the Xinjiang region, with reports that thousands of detained Uyghurs were used to manufacture components for Apple devices. Apple previously denied exploiting forced labor in Xinjiang.

In 2020, Apple and Nike, among other companies, also lobbied to weaken the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that would ban US companies from importing goods made in Xinjiang unless they could prove they weren’t made with forced labor.

According to Reuters, the US may impose additional sanctions on China and may extend a similar business advisory to Hong Kong.

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We are lawmakers from 5 states that finally put an end to child marriage. It’s past time for the other 45 US states to follow our lead.

A woman in a white dress is shown from the neck down with a red stop sign-shaped sign reading "Stop child marriage in the US!" She is holding flowers and has a chain wrapped around her wrist.
A demonstrator wearing a bridal gown takes part in a protest urging legislators to end Massachusetts child marriage at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on March 27, 2019.

  • Bipartisan legislators who ended child marriage in five states call on their colleagues in the other US states to follow their lead.
  • Child marriage creates a legal trap for minors, who often cannot file for divorce.
  • Don’t cave to loopholes or compromises; there is no reason for marriage before age 18.
  • State Representative Kim Williams has served in the Delaware General Assembly since 2012.
  • Senator Sandy Pappas has served in the Minnesota Senate since 1990.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the authors.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

We ended a human rights abuse in our five states. And now we, a bipartisan group of state legislators, call on lawmakers in the remaining 45 states to do the same. End child marriage – an archaic, sexist practice that destroys girls’ lives – even if you get the pushback we got at first.

Unless you live in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, or Rhode Island, child marriage is legal in your state. In our states, we partnered with the nonprofit organization Unchained At Last to close the dangerous legal loopholes that allowed it.

Child marriage is a nightmare of a legal trap

Nearly 300,000 children were married legally in the United States between 2000 and 2018, Unchained found. Most were girls wed to adult men with an average age difference of four years. Nearly all were age 16 or 17, though a few were as young as 10.

Even for the most mature 17-year-olds, marriage creates a nightmarish legal trap. They can be entered into marriage by a parent and/or a judge, with little or no input from them, before they even have the basic legal rights to navigate a contract as serious as marriage.

Minors typically cannot leave home to escape from parents planning an unwanted wedding or leave an abusive spouse until they are 18. They also usually cannot enter a domestic violence shelter, since these shelters usually turn away unaccompanied minors.

Children cannot easily retain an attorney, since contracts with children, including retainer agreements, typically are voidable. They usually cannot even file for divorce independently. Minors typically are not allowed to bring a legal action in their own name.

Even when it is not forced, marriage before 18 is a human rights abuse, according to the US State Department. It destroys nearly every aspect of American girls’ lives, from their education and economic opportunities to their health. It also triples a girl’s risk of experiencing domestic violence.

Child marriage also undermines statutory rape laws. Some 60,000 marriages since 2000 occurred at an age or with a spousal age difference that should have been considered a sex crime, according to Unchained.

Don’t cave to compromise. End child marriage.

You probably will get opposition when you introduce the simple, commonsense legislation we introduced in our states, which eliminated the dangerous loopholes that allowed marriage before age 18.

Do not compromise. Do not replace one loophole with another; insist on a marriage age of 18 – or higher if the age of adulthood is higher in your state – without exceptions. There is no room for negotiation when you are ending a human rights abuse.

You will hear, as we did, from legislators and others whose grandmothers married at 14. Remind them that the world has changed since grandma was a kid.

You will hear arguments about young love. Respond by asking what harm comes to a young couple if they wait a matter of months to marry. Minors must wait until 18 to enter almost any other contract, regardless of how passionately they feel about it.

But what if a girl is pregnant, some will ask you. If the girl is too young to consent to sex, we should investigate a rape, not plan a wedding. Either way, we would be harming, not helping, if we married off pregnant girls. Studies show teen mothers in the US who marry are more likely to suffer economic deprivation and instability than teen mothers who stay single.

A teen mother who wants to co-parent with the father of the baby can easily do so outside of marriage. He can simply establish paternity, and his insurance and other benefits would cover the baby. We no longer have illegitimacy laws that punish babies born “out of wedlock.”

Do not be swayed by the religious argument. We do not know of any religion that requires child marriage; actually, several major religions have supported legislation to end child marriage. Besides, the US Supreme Court has upheld laws that incidentally forbid an act required by religion, if the laws do not target religious practice.

Ending child marriage does not impact reproductive rights. The US Supreme Court has established that states should treat minors’ abortions differently from minors’ marriage, because the former is time sensitive while the latter is not.

Do not agree to a loophole that allows emancipated minors to be subjected to a human rights abuse. Emancipation is for teens who cannot be reunited with their parents; it gives them some rights of adulthood so they can fend for themselves. Teens do not need marriage to fend for themselves.

Teens do not need marriage, period. If they are in an abusive home or cannot get health insurance from their parents, they deserve resources that do not require them to enter a contractual sexual relationship.

Under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, the US joined 192 other countries in promising to end child marriage by 2030. We have achieved that goal in five states so far, despite initial resistance from our colleagues.

Now we urge our fellow lawmakers in the 45 other states: Please join us. Every child in the US is relying on us to keep our promise to the world and end all marriage before 18. No exceptions. No compromises.

Delaware Rep. Kim Williams

Delaware Former Sen. Anthony Delcollo

New Jersey Sen. Nellie Pou

New Jersey Asm. Nancy Munoz

Pennsylvania Rep. Perry Warren

Pennsylvania Rep. Jesse Topper

Pennsylvania Sen. John Sabatina

Minnesota Sen. Sandra Pappas

Minnesota Rep. Kaohly Her

Rhode Island Rep. Julie Casimiro

Rhode Island Sen. John Burke

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Biden promised a foreign policy centered on human rights, but is continuing Trump-era policies and practices

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • Biden is upholding Trump-era policies on issues like refugee admissions and arms sales.
  • Progressives and advocacy groups say Biden is violating his pledge to prioritize human rights.
  • AOC called Biden’s decision to uphold Trump’s refugee cap “completely and utterly unacceptable.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden promised that his foreign policy would mark a major departure from former President Donald Trump, pledging to put human rights and democracy at the center of his approach to global affairs. But on issues ranging from US relations with Gulf states to refugees, Biden is continuing many of Trump’s most divisive and controversial policies and practices – and both progressives in Congress and advocacy groups are not happy.

Trump repeatedly demonized refugees, painting them as a threat to the US, and his administration set the lowest ever cap on refugee admissions for the 2021 fiscal year. On the campaign trail and in the early weeks of his presidency, Biden vowed to reverse that trend and lambasted Trump over his xenophobic refugee policy.

“We used to allow refugees – 125,000 refugees in the United States in a yearly basis,” Biden said during a CNN town hall in February. “It was as high as 250,000. Trump cut it to 5,000. Come with me into Sierra Leone. Come with me into parts of Lebanon. Come with me around the world and see people piled up in camps, kids dying, no way out, refugees fleeing from persecution. We, the United States, used to do our part. We were part of that. We were – and, you know, that’s – you know, ‘send me your huddled masses.’ Come on.”

But the president is now walking back on a promise to open America’s doors to 62,500 refugees this fiscal year, and is keeping Trump’s historically low cap of 15,000 in place, per a directive the president issued on Friday.

Biden is also moving to speed up admissions and change the regional allocation of refugees, ending a Trump policy that effectively disqualified most refugees from African and Muslim-majority countries.

The president’s decision-making on this has seemingly been influenced by Republican criticism over his administration’s handling of a historic number of migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border in recent months. GOP leaders have referred to the surge as a “crisis,” blaming it on by Biden’s more welcoming immigration messaging.

Human rights groups, refugee advocates, and some congressional Democrats ripped into Biden’s decision to retain Trump’s refugee cap.

“Completely and utterly unacceptable,” said Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise. Upholding the xenophobic and racist policies of the Trump admin, [including] the historically low + plummeted refugee cap, is flat out wrong. Keep your promise.”

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said Biden has “broken his promise to restore our humanity.”

“This is incredibly disappointing. The U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world and we can’t do better?” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, tweeted on Friday.

Joanne Lin, the National Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at Amnesty International, in a statement said Biden is “turning his back on tens of thousands of refugees around the world who have been approved to come to the United States.”

“Biden had the opportunity to fulfill his campaign pledge and to deliver on his promises to protect the rights of and well-being of refugees, to place human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy, and to restore U.S. global leadership. He squandered that opportunity today,” Lin added.

Biden’s human rights problem

MBS Biden
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and President Joe Biden (R.)

Beyond the decision on refugees, Biden already had a big week when it comes to foreign policy. The president announced he’s pulling all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, bringing an end to the longest conflict in US history. He slapped new sanctions on Russia and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to deescalate tensions amid a massive troop buildup along Ukraine’s borders. Meanwhile, US officials participated in indirect talks with Iranian officials in Vienna aimed at restoring the Iran nuclear deal.

Less than 100 days into his presidency, Biden has already reversed or moved to roll-back many of Trump’s biggest foreign policy changes. But as evidenced by the decision on refugees, Biden is not pulling a complete 180 when it comes to international relations – and he’s facing growing accusations of talking big on human rights without fully backing it up.

On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But Biden did not sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over Khashoggi’s killing, even after the release of a declassified intelligence report directly implicating the Saudi leader in the brutal murder.

“It is extremely problematic, in my view, if not dangerous, to acknowledge someone’s culpability and then to tell that someone, ‘But we won’t do anything, please proceed as if have we have said nothing’,” Agnes Callamard, the new chief of Amnesty International who spearheaded a UN inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing, said of Biden.

More recently, Biden decided to move forward with a Trump era arms deal with the UAE involving the transfer of roughly $23 billion worth of advanced weaponry – including F-35s and drones. The UAE has played an intricate role in the devastating war in Yemen, where US-made bombs have been used in operations leading to civilian deaths.

In February, Biden announced he’s moving to end to US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Critics say this arms deal doesn’t exactly jive with that move and Biden’s broader promise to prioritize human rights.

Afrah Nasser, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, said that Biden’s advancement of Trump’s arm deal with the UAE means his administration “has backed out of its pledge” on Yemen and warned the US now risks complicity in future human rights violations.

“Trying to understand how a massive arms sale to a repressive authoritarian government that bankrolled regional anti-democratic counterrevolutions, backs a Libyan warlord, and helped rubble Yemen (a partial list) strengthens a rules-based international order,” Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, said in a tweet.

Duss has praised Biden on other foreign policy moves, such as the president’s decision to tap Antony Blinken as Secretary of State. But his criticism of Biden on the UAE sale is emblematic of evolving discontentment among progressives and human rights groups when it comes to the president’s foreign policy.

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Child marriage traps girls in an inescapable legal hell. But it is still legal in 46 US states.

child marriage protest Boston
Demonstrators, including the author of this piece, wearing bridal gowns and veils protest at the Massachusetts State House to urge legislators to end Massachusetts child marriage on March 27, 2019.

  • Nearly 300,000 children were married in the US between 2000 and 2018, a new study found.
  • Child marriage often legalizes what would otherwise be considered rape.
  • Minors typically are not allowed to file for divorce or enter a domestic violence shelter, but child marriage is legal in 46 US states.
  • Fraidy Reiss is a forced marriage survivor and the founder/executive director of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit that combats forced and child marriage.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Great news for child rapists: You don’t need to be a congressman or beloved film director to get away with your crimes. You just need a marriage license – and that is not too difficult to obtain.

Nearly 300,000 children, defined as under 18 years of age, were legally married in the United States between 2000 and 2018, according to a new study by Unchained At Last – the nonprofit I founded to end forced and child marriage in the US – and McGill University. A few of the children were as young as 10. Most were girls wed to adult men, typically before the girls were old enough to legally file for divorce.

Some 60,000 marriages since 2000 occurred at an age, or with a spousal age difference, that should have constituted a sex crime under the relevant state’s laws. In about 12% of those cases, the marriage was legal under state law, but sex within the marriage was still a crime. With each of those marriage licenses, the state sent a child home to be raped.

In the other 88% of those cases, state law specifically granted a marriage exception for what would otherwise have been considered statutory rape. In essence, each of those marriage licenses became a “get out of jail free” card for a would-be rapist.

“Why is it legal to rape a 16-year-old if you’re married?” asked Chloe Rockwell, 21.

Rockwell was 16 when the 22-year-old man she had met online convinced her to marry him so he would not be prosecuted as her pregnant belly became obvious. In Idaho, where they lived, sex with a 16-year-old is punishable by up to life in prison if the perpetrator is three or more years older than the minor – unless they are married to each other.

“He literally googled how to get away with statutory rape, and it said you can’t be charged if the underage girl is your wife,” Rockwell said.

The federal criminal code, too, prohibits sex with a child age 12 to 15, but specifically exempts those who first marry the child.

The marriage loophole

Since child marriage remains legal in 46 US states, with some states setting no minimum age for marriage, the legal code essentially creates an open invitation to predators. The four US states that have ended marriage before age 18 – Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota – did so only in the last three years. Bills to end child marriage are pending in another 12 states, but some have stalled.

While most states set 18 as the marriage age, legal loopholes in 46 states still allow minors to marry, typically with nothing more than a parent’s signature on a form (parental “consent” that, in Unchained’s experience, is often actually parental “coercion”) and/or a judge’s rubber stamp. Five states’ laws still include an archaic pregnancy loophole, which seems designed to cover up rape and force girls to marry their rapist.

“This didn’t happen to me in a far-off country,” said Patricia Abatemarco, 55, who was 14 and pregnant when her parents married her off to the 28-year-old Bible study counselor who had been raping her for two years. “I was raised in an upper-middle-class, suburban home in Minnesota.”

Federal law also does not specify a minimum age to petition for a foreign spouse or fiancé, or to be the beneficiary of a spousal or fiancé visa. A kindergartener must wait until she is 21 to petition for her parents to come to the US, but she can legally petition, during naptime, for her 80-year-old husband to get a visa and, in most states, permission to rape her without fear of prosecution.

This is essentially an invitation to traffic girls under the guise of marriage. The US approved 8,868 spousal or fiancé visas involving a minor between 2007 and 2017, according to the US Senate Homeland Security Committee. The younger party was a girl in 95% of the cases.

No legal way out

Most of the children who married recently in the US were girls married to adult men an average of four years older, and sometimes much older, Unchained’s new study found. Nearly all the minors were age 16 or 17, the ages at which they are least likely to get sympathy from legislators, even though their limited legal rights create a nightmarish legal trap and a serious power imbalance between the minor and their adult spouse.

Even “mature” 16- or 17-year-olds are still not legal adults, and therefore can easily be forced to marry or to stay in an unwanted marriage. They can be forced into a marriage with little or no input from them, typically by a parent or a judge, before they are legally allowed to leave home. Those who do try to leave, to escape an impending forced marriage or abusive spouse, often have nowhere to go, since Unchained has found that most domestic violence shelters turn away unaccompanied minors.

Minors typically are not even allowed to file for divorce on their own, since they cannot independently bring a legal action. And Unchained has found that divorce attorneys often are reluctant to take them on as clients, since contracts with minors, including retainer agreements, usually are voidable.

When teens reach out to Unchained to beg for help escaping a forced marriage and learn of their limited options, many end up attempting suicide. Death seems like the only way out for them.

Child marriage is a human rights abuse

Marriage before age 18, including at ages 16 or 17, is a “human rights abuse” according to the US State Department. It devastates American girls’ education, economic opportunities, and health. It puts women at significantly increased risk of experiencing domestic violence. And child marriage almost always ends in divorce.

Both Abatemarco and Rockwell suffered abuse during their marriage, and both are now divorced. Both women saw their education interrupted. Rockwell was thrust into poverty; Abatemarco struggled with alcoholism and still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ending child marriage requires simple, commonsense legislation that Unchained and its allies have been advocating since 2015 that harms no one – except child rapists – and costs nothing. We need to demand that lawmakers in 46 states and at the federal level pass legislation to ban child marriage now.

“I’m relatively intact, but the scars will always be there,” Abatemarco said. “If we can make that not happen for a girl, then let’s do that.”

Fraidy Reiss is a forced marriage survivor and the founder/executive director of Unchained At Last, a nonprofit that combats forced and child marriage in the US through direct services and advocacy.

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Pakistan’s leader blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dress, saying ‘vulgarity’ has ‘consequences’ and men lack ‘willpower’

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, said in April that the country was using a system intended to surveil terrorists to monitor the coronavirus.

  • Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan suggested the way women dress is to blame for rape.
  • “If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences,” Khan said on Monday.
  • Khan’s remarks have sparked widespread criticism, including from his ex-wife.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing allegations of victim-blaming after attributing a rise in rape cases to how women dress.

“Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences,” Khan said during a television interview on Monday, per the New York Times, prompting widespread backlash. The Pakistani leader said women should adhere to “purdah,” referring to a concept involving women wearing modest or concealing clothing and the segregation of the sexes.

Human rights groups and even Khan’s first wife have condemned his remarks.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said Khan’s comments showed “a baffling ignorance of where, why and how rape occurs, but it also lays the blame on rape survivors,” per Reuters.

Jemima Goldsmith, a British heiress and Khan’s ex-wife, took to Twitter to decry his comments.

“I remember years ago being in Saudi Arabia and an elderly woman in an abaya & niqab was lamenting the fact that when she went out she was followed & harassed by young men. The only way to get rid of them was to take her face covering OFF. The problem is not how women dress!” Goldsmith tweeted.

In a separate tweet, Goldsmith said, “I’m hoping this is a misquote/ mistranslation. The Imran I knew used to say, “Put a veil on the man’s eyes not on the woman.”

Khan’s office released a statement that said his comments had been taken out of context and misinterpreted. “The Prime Minister said that our strict anti-rape laws alone will not be able to stem the rise in sex crime. The whole society has to fight it together including lowering exposure to temptation,” the statement said.

In 2020, thousands of Pakistanis flooded the streets after a police official in Lahore said a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly to blame. The Pakistani government responded to the outcry by passing a measure that said men convicted of rape could be sentenced to chemical castration. Still, rape convictions in Pakistan are rare. Fewer than 3% of sexual assault or rape cases in Pakistan result in a conviction, per the Karachi-based non-governmental organization War Against Rape.

Human rights groups have said that rape is an underreported crime in Pakistan largely because women who come forward are ostracized and treated like criminals.

Human Rights Watch says “violence against women and girls-including rape, so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage-remains a serious problem” in Pakistan, adding that “Pakistani activists estimate that there are about 1,000 ‘honor’ killings every year.”

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Human-rights groups are urging the Biden administration to get children out of the makeshift Border Patrol facilities

border patrol migrant children temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas
A temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, seen on March 17, 2021.

  • Human-rights groups are calling out the Biden administration for crowded Border Patrol facilities.
  • The government is holding migrant children in “inappropriate” detention centers, human-rights groups told Insider.
  • These facilities have not yet been seen by journalists, but government-shared videos show children in crowded spaces and sleeping on mats just inches off the floor.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As shocking videos and images began to emerge showing the inside of various Border Patrol facilities where migrant children are being held in Texas, human-rights groups are calling out the crowded conditions.

These organizations say the holding facilities are inappropriate for children, and they’re urging the Biden administration to find different solutions to temporary migrant housing.

On Monday, Rep. Henry Cuellar shared with Insider photos that gave the public a first look into migrant facilities under the Biden administration.

In these photos, dozens of masked children can be seen lying down on gray mats. Some are crowded into corners, despite the threat of the coronavirus spreading. Others are simply sitting on the floor.

migrant children border patrol facility us mexico border biden administration
A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas, housing migrant children on the weekend of March 20, 2021.

On Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection, under pressure from journalists who have repeatedly requested access into the facilities, posted two videos of the inside of various holding centers that were taken last week. The Biden administration has so far barred journalists from viewing and entering the facilities, citing privacy and coronavirus concerns.

These government-produced and -released videos showed that dozens of children are being held in crowded conditions that lawmakers believe will evolve into a humanitarian crisis. Many children are seen sleeping on mats just inches off the floor. Groups of them sit in plastic-enclosed spaces, clutching foil blankets as they sleep. There are few adults in each space.

It’s these conditions that human-rights organizations are calling inappropriate.

“Border Patrol stations are not an appropriate place to hold children and asylum seekers,” Clara Long, associate director at Human Rights Watch, told Insider.

Former President Donald Trump has been out of office for two months now. But experts say his administration has had a lasting impact on how the Biden administration is navigating immigration policy.

“What we’re seeing is the consequence of dedicated negligence from the previous administration – a lack of planning and resources invested in facilities to welcome children seeking safety, who were already arriving,” said Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights.

“And that is where we must focus: the children who are seeking safety,” Bell added. “The conditions need to be much better and much faster.”

Temporary Processing Facilities cbp migrant children border patrol
A Border Patrol temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, for migrant children and families, pictured March 17, 2021.

During the 2020 presidential election, Biden positioned himself as a pro-immigration candidate focused on bettering the system for incoming migrants.

In January 2019, for example, Biden slammed Trump’s idea to build a wall along the southern border. “We need border security but that’s not the border security we need,” he said.

Now that he’s in office, Biden is working to deliver on promises he made on the campaign trail, enacting measures to reverse controversial Trump-era policies.

These key changes put forth by the Biden administration, however, have led to thousands of migrants – and many unaccompanied children – traveling to the US-Mexico border from Central America as they flee persecution, violence, and poverty in their home countries.

According to senior administration officials, CBP had approximately 4,500 unaccompanied minors in holding as of Thursday, while the Department of Health and Human Services has more than 9,000 children in its care.

In an attempt to mitigate the surge of migrants, the Biden administration has opened up various Border Patrol facilities for temporary housing.

“The Biden administration inherited a broken, diminished system,” Long said. “It’s not surprising that things are taking a while to get in to hand. What we need to see from the Biden administration is consistent progress toward the goals it has articulated: humane and dignified border reception, holistic policy responses to migration and access to protection for those who need it.”

For its part, the Biden administration is taking steps to limit immigration to the border.

The State Department has created more than 17,100 ads since January 21 to discourage people from migrating. These ads have reached about 15 million people, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Monday briefing.

It’s not clear whether this approach to limit immigration to the United States is working.

“This is just part of our effort to send a clear message,” Psaki said. “But there is no question that funding is needed to address the root causes in these countries.”

White House officials and immigration experts have so far refrained from calling the surge a crisis. But the Biden administration recognizes that the facilities are not meant for long-term accommodations.

“These Border Patrol facilities are not places made for children,” Psaki said. “They are not places that we want children to be staying for an extended period of time. Our alternative is to send children back on this treacherous journey – that is not, in our view, the right choice to make.”

Detention is psychologically damaging to children

The children are held in border facilities as they await transfer to other federal agencies. The government is required to transfer migrant children to Health and Human Services custody within 72 hours. But with the influx of unaccompanied minors coming to the US-Mexico border, nearly 3,000 children have been held beyond that limit, CBS News reported.

Temporary Processing Facilities cbp migrant children border patrol
A Border Patrol temporary processing facility in Donna, Texas, for migrant children and families, pictured March 17, 2021.

“Even short stays in detention centers have the potential to be traumatic experiences,” said Kathryn Humphreys, assistant professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University.

“We know from our research on orphanage care that children fare best when they have reduced exposure to group-based care and long-term family-based placements when they form relationships with those that are their parents or parent-figures,” she added.

CPB and HHS custody and detention centers qualify as group-based care. Such environments normally do not allow children to form the type of relationships with adults that help them grow and develop, Humphreys told Insider.

Adults help “co-regulate children, both emotionally and physiologically,” she said. Going without these trusted adults, even for short periods of time, can lead to stress in children and them falling behind developmentally, socially, and academically.

The Biden administration is “obligated to hold children in conditions that meet United States and international standards that support their best interests,” Bell of Amnesty International said. “Children must be held in conditions that meet their best interests and safely reunified with families and sponsors much more quickly.”

“This is a time for transformation – as the administration adapts right now, it must also set in motion the changes needed for a new system where detention is not assumed and children are with their parents and sponsors,” Bell added.

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The EU could throw out its landmark trade deal with China over concerns about Beijing’s human rights record

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping.

  • A leading member of the European Parliament has raised significant concerns about the EU’s landmark investment deal with China over its alleged human rights abuses and fears that it could harm relations with the new Biden administration.
  • The EU-China investment deal aims to liberalize trade between Beijing and Brussels and was struck in the last days of December after last-minute concessions from Chinese premier Xi Jinping.
  • But there is mounting concern in the European Parliament, which still needs to approve the deal, about the deal given China’s human rights record on issues including alleged forced labor camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong which began last year.
  • “To lay such a Christmas present under Xi Jinping’s Christmas tree after the year that we’ve had with China, that is quite a stretch,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation, in an interview with Insider this week.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A leading member of the European Parliament has raised significant concerns about the EU’s landmark investment deal with China over its alleged human rights abuses and fears that it could harm relations with the new Biden administration.

The EU-China investment deal aims to liberalize trade between Beijing and Brussels and was struck in the last days of December after last-minute concessions from Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

But there is mounting concern in the European Parliament, which still needs to approve the deal, about it given China’s human rights record, alleged forced labor camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong, which began last year.

“To lay such a Christmas present under Xi Jinping’s Christmas tree after the year that we’ve had with China, that is quite a stretch,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation, in an interview with Insider this week.

The full text of the so-called Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) is still to be published, but there is already mounting criticism about the content of the deal.

Bütikofer said the European Parliament’s demands for the deal to contain a clause binding China to international agreements on modern slavery given were ignored. Instead, the deal only contains a non-binding commitment by China “to make continues and sustained efforts” to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Conventions on forced labour.

“We demanded practical steps and guarantees and the deal is just full of hot air,” Bütikofer said.

Those concerns were echoed in a letter sent by a group of MEPs to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen this week, which was reported by The Diplomat magazine.

The appeal, which dozens of civil rights groups also signed, said the CAI “sends a signal that the European Union will push for closer cooperation” with China “regardless of the scale and severity of human rights abuses carried out by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Those concerns focus particularly on the Xianjing region of in northwest China, where the UN says the government has detained over one million Uighur Muslims, with some of them used for the purposes of forced labor. China rejects the allegations.

Another concern is about the impact the deal could have on transatlantic relations. The deal was agreed just weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated, leading critics of the deal to suggest it was wrapped up just before the new administration – which has pledged to take a tough line on China – had time to object.

Biden’s national security adviser has already expressed concern about the trade agreement. It remains to be seen just how much pressure Washington will seek to exert on Brussels over the deal.

“Doing this deal just a few days before President-elect Biden comes into office is very unfortunate,” Bütikofer said.

“It seems as if the European Union saw more need to demonstrate to the United States that we can be strategically autonomous than we see a need to signal to Beijing that we want to cooperate more actively and more coherently with the United States. I think that’s a highly questionable priority,” he said.

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Huawei reportedly worked with 4 additional companies to build surveillance tools that track people by ethnicity, following recent revelations that it tested a ‘Uighur alarm’

Huawei China
  • Huawei has worked with at least four partner companies to develop surveillance technologies that claim to monitor people by ethnicity, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
  • Last week, The Post reported that Huawei in 2018 had tested a “Uighur alarm” — an AI facial recognition tool that claimed to identify members of the largely Muslim minority group and alert Chinese authorities.
  • Huawei told the The Post that the tool was “simply a test,” but according to Saturday’s report, Huawei has developed multiple such tools.
  • The reports add to growing concern over China’s extensive surveillance and oppression of Uyghurs and other minority groups, as well as increasing use of racially discriminatory surveillance tools and practices by US law enforcement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Huawei tested an AI-powered facial-recognition technology that could trigger a “Uighur alarm” for Chinese authorities when it identified a person from the persecuted minority group in 2018, The Washington Post reported last week.

At the time, Huawei spokesperson Glenn Schloss told The Post that the tool was “simply a test and it has not seen real-world application.”

But a new investigation published by The Post on Saturday found that Huawei has worked with dozens of security firms to build surveillance tools – and that products it developed in partnership with four of those companies claimed to be able to identify and monitor people based on their ethnicity.

Documents publicly available on Huawei’s website detailed the capabilities of those ethnicity-tracking tools as well as more than 2,000 product collaborations, according to The Post. The publication also reported that after it contacted Huawei, the company took the website offline temporarily before restoring the site with only 38 products listed.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei headquarters building is pictured in Reading, Britain July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Huawei headquarters building is pictured in Reading

“Huawei opposes discrimination of all types, including the use of technology to carry out ethnic discrimination,” a Huawei spokesperson told Business Insider. “We provide general-purpose ICT [information and communication technology] products based on recognized industry standards.”

“We do not develop or sell systems that identify people by their ethnic group, and we do not condone the use of our technologies to discriminate against or oppress members of any community,” the spokesperson continued. “We take the allegations in the Washington Post’s article very seriously and are investigating the issues raised within.”

Huawei worked with Beijing Xintiandi Information Technology, DeepGlint, Bresee, and Maiyuesoft on products that made a variety of claims about estimating, tracking, and visualizing people’s ethnicities, as well as other Chinese tech companies on tools to suppress citizens’ complaints about wrongdoing by local government officials and analyze “voiceprint” data, according to The Post.

Beijing Xintiandi Information Technology, DeepGlint, Bresee, and Maiyuesoft could not be reached for comment.

Human rights groups, media reports, and other independent researchers have extensively documented China’s mass surveillance and detainment of as many as one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minority groups in internment camps, where reports allege they are subjected to torturesexual abuse, and forced labor for little or no pay.

To help it build the surveillance apparatus that enables such widespread detainment, the Chinese government has at times turned to the country’s technology firms.

“This is not one isolated company. This is systematic,” John Honovich, the founder of IPVM, a research group that first discovered the 2018 test, told The Post. He added that “a lot of thought went into making sure this ‘Uighur alarm’ works.”

In October 2019, the US Commerce Department blacklisted 28 Chinese government agencies and tech companies including China’s five “AI champions” – Hikvision, Dahua, SenseTime, Megvii, and iFlytek – on its banned “entity list,” thus preventing US firms from exporting certain technologies to them.

Still, some of those blacklisted companies have managed to continue exporting their technologies to Western countries, and BuzzFeed News reported last year that US tech firms, including Amazon, Apple, and Google, have continued selling those companies’ products to US consumers via online marketplaces.

In the US, law enforcement agencies and even schools have also increased their reliance on facial recognition software and other AI-powered surveillance technologies, despite growing evidence that such tools exhibit racial and gender bias.

But recent pushback from activists, tech ethicists, and employees has pushed some tech companies to temporarily stop selling facial recognition tools to law enforcement, and some US cities have issued moratoriums on their use, highlighting some divides between approaches to policing in the US and China.

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