All posts by shirinali2020

Female politicians are struggling, but could succeed with more faith from voters

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

In 2020, more women hold positions in U.S. political office than ever before. Survey data reveals that 69% of adults believe female political leaders would improve the quality of life for most Americans. The public sees benefit to female leadership, but struggles to convey that faith in the voting booth.

Despite positive statistics in favor of women, the U.S. political landscape suggests a much bleaker reality of female leadership. Despite voters having more comfort electing females to legislative positions, when it comes to the Oval Office, women time and time again face significant obstacles.

“There’s a comfort level with women as legislators, whether it’s at the federal level or state level. They work well up the aisle, but to be the chief executive to be the place where the buck stops, that’s the next, big hurdle,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Though year-over-year data produced by CAWP shows a steady increase in the number of women choosing to run for office, they still face more struggles in winning votes than their male counterparts. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 48% of Americans say men will continue to hold more high political offices in the future, even as more women run for office.

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Special deployment of border patrol agents are targeting sanctuary cities

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

After thwarted efforts by the Trump administration to assert federal authority over the country’s multiple sanctuary cities, President Donald Trump successfully began deploying special border patrol agents across the country in a targeted effort meant to supplement local Immigration and Customs Enforcement field teams.

According to The New York Times’ exclusive announcement of the deployment, Chicago along with the other sanctuary cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark are all expected to receive special agents. This comes as a response to local ICE leadership requesting help in sanctuary jurisdictions where agents indicated a struggle to track down undocumented immigrants without the help of police and other state and local agencies.

Under city law, the Chicago Police Department and other city agencies are not allowed to assist ICE except in specific cases where targeted undocumented immigrants have an outstanding criminal warrant, have been charged or convicted of a felony or have been identified as a gang member by CPD. Continue reading

Immigrants using public benefits could jeopardize visas, green cards under new immigration policy

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

It’s been almost four weeks since the Trump administration enacted the immigration policy that penalizes immigrants who have used or are deemed likely to use public benefits such as Social Security, public housing and food stamps.

As the new Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds policy takes effect, immigrant communities are grappling with fear, frustration and confusion.

Immigrants applying for a green card, visa or legal admission into the U.S. could be denied entry for their past or potential use of public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, certain forms of Medicaid and certain housing programs. Any applicant who has received public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period would be considered a pubic charge. Continue reading

Kim Foxx maintains her ‘tough on crime’ message, avoiding more controversy

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

As she navigates a highly politicized reelection campaign, Kim Foxx appeared at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics Seminar in February ready to discuss her office’s work thus far and why she’s equipped to take on four more years as Cook County’s State’s Attorney.

“As a proud Chicago resident, a girl from Cabrini, who has seen more people who come from neighborhoods that look like mine not getting tangled in the system, it makes me feel like I can look them in the eye and tell them that it’s been an honor to serve them,” Foxx said.

Foxx’s reelection campaign has been plagued with scandal stemming from her office’s controversial decision to drop 16 felony counts against 36-year-old “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in March 2019. Chicago police found Smollett paid two men $3,500 to stage a hate crime and assault against him and filed a false police report. In a highly criticized deal, Foxx’s office dropped all charges against Smollett with the agreement that Smollett would complete community service and forfeit his bond payment with no admittance of guilt. Continue reading

Pete Buttigieg’s attempt to win over South Carolina’s African American Voters may not be enough

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Coming off a hot streak of wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign attempted to push its momentum to South Carolina earlier this month by hosting The Douglass Plan Culture, Arts & Hip Hop Celebration, a crossover event of arts and politics.

The event was structured to be an open forum for sharing black art and culture, while also advocating for Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan, which the candidate defined as a comprehensive investment in the empowerment of black America.

“I think we as Americans have done a very poor job telling the story of black people in the United States,” said Tiffany James, Pete for America’s black engagement director.

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Haymarket Center fights against NuMed West Loop dispensary proposal

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Community groups hit NuMed Chicago with fierce opposition to its recreational marijuana dispensary proposal for Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The proposed dispensary would open at 935 W. Randolph St., on the same block as the city’s longest standing addiction treatment facility, Haymarket Center.

“Having a dispensary located next door to Chicago’s largest treatment center provides an opportunity for clients who are seeking lifesaving treatment to be triggered by its proximity to a treatment center,” said. Dan Lustig, president and CEO of Haymarket Center.

Lustig spoke up during an open forum after NuMed presented its proposal during the West Loop Community Organization’s meeting on February 5 at Catalyst Ranch in West Loop.

“There is nothing that can be said that will reduce the triggering effect of this establishment being located next door,” Lustig said.

NuMed has been a licensed medical dispensary operator for the past four years, with locations in Chicago, Peoria and Urbana, and is now looking to open its first recreational marijuana facility. Under Illinois state law, medical dispensary owners are given first preference in extending their businesses to include recreational dispensaries by entering in a citywide lottery. NuMed was selected during the city’s November 15 lottery and awarded a permit in the city’s West District.

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Biden flocks to South Carolina after early primary losses

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

As the depth of his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire became clear, Joe Biden arrived in South Carolina on Tuesday night in an effort to salvage his weakening presidential campaign.

Introduced by his wife, Jill Biden, and his campaign co-chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the former vice president enthusiastically greeted a modest crowd gathered for his campaign launch party in the state.

“You have no idea how great it is to be back in South Carolina,” Biden said.

Biden, the longtime front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination, finished a disappointing fourth in Iowa and received only eight percent of the New Hampshire vote. As he stood before South Carolinians on Tuesday, he asked his supporters to focus on the future, not his disappointing performance so far.

“Tonight though, we just heard from the first two of the fifty states. Not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation, not 10%, two,” Biden said.

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Fourth annual Women’s March Chicago rallies thousands of supporters

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Thousands of people gathered in Grant Park on Saturday to march for climate change solutions, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and getting out the vote, issues highlighted at the annual Women’s March since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.

Women’s March Chicago organized the event and estimated that 10,000 people participated this year. Despite rain and snow, marchers rallied with enthusiasm and zeal with their, chanting, hoisting homemade signs and wearing pink hats.

Jill Conrad drove more than 80 miles from Ottawa to attend and many people arrived from out of state. Conrad carried a vibrant blue banner that read “Any Functioning Adult 2020,” a message that garnered lots of thumbs up as people snapped picture. Conrad  described the experience as one filled with “lots of good ideas.”

Summing up the protest, she said “It was a great day” and the best part was seeing the unity among the marchers, she said. “It’s good to see people out here together, men and women, black, white, all of [us]. That was the high point.”

Photo at top: Thousands of supporters attended Women’s March Chicago’s annual march on Saturday, January 18, carrying homemade signs that highlighted a variety of issues. (Shirin Ali/MEDILL)

Illinois hit hard amid nationwide e-cigarette and vaping lung injuries

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Some 2,602 hospitalizations and 57 deaths nationwide are now associated with e-cigarettes and vaping since the outbreak began in summer 2019, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month in a status update.

The CDC also revealed Illinois has some of the highest concentration of e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) hospitalization rates in the country. The Illinois Department of Public Health estimates over 30 counties across Illinois have reported cases of EVALI, with the most recent count at 214 cases and five deaths. Continue reading

Bill Weld positions his GOP presidential run as a moderate alternative to Trump

By Shirin Ali
Medill Reports

Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld, former Massachusetts governor, discussed his run for the presidency at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.

His free-wheeling talk Jan. 27 covered the uphill battle campaigning against an incumbent, his support for impeachment and the bleak future he sees for the Republican Party.

“I would not be doing this if it was 2017 and the president had just been elected. We didn’t know enough then about how he was going to conduct himself in office. I felt, as time wore on, certainly by the beginning of 2019, that we were in extraordinarily dangerous times that I hoped I would never see in the U.S.,” Weld said.

He is one of two Republicans challenging Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Former Illinois congressman and conservative talk show host Joe Walsh is the other contender. A  recent poll from The Economist and YouGov showed Weld polling nationally at 2%, with Walsh at 3% and Trump coming in at 89%.

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