Americans today are far less worried about the "threat" posed by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the country than they were two decades ago, according to a new Chicago Council on Global Affairs public opinion survey, which highlights a long-term trend of decreasing public concern over immigration.
For its recent report, the council gauged the public's "threat perception" concerning immigration in both May and October, conducting surveys during and after the national spotlight was on the surge of unaccompanied children from Central American countries crossing the Mexican border into the United States.
Just 39 percent of Americans polled this May said they considered large numbers of immigrants and refugees entering the United States to be a "critical threat," the lowest recorded percentage since 1994, when the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conducted its first survey on the topic. The October poll showed 43 percent of Americans viewed immigration as a critical threat, which is not statistically different than the all-time low in May, according to the council.
Chicago Board of Education members got grilled over the district's questionable bond deals at a raucous school board meeting Wednesday evening.
It was the first school board meeting since the Chicago Tribune published a series of reports on the schools district's controversial borrowing decisions. The newspaper's analysis showed that between 2003 and 2007, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) entered into auction-rate bond and interest-rate swap agreements with financial institutions that could cost at least $100 million more over the life of the contracts than traditional borrowing methods would have.
In light of the Tribune's investigation, mayoral candidate Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who attended the school board meeting, introduced a city council resolution last week with his Progressive Reform Caucus colleagues demanding hearings into the "current borrowing practices of the Chicago Public Schools." The council's education committee is expected to hold a hearing on the matter, though a date has yet to be determined.
"We closed over 50 schools supposedly to help save the budget, but meanwhile we lost more than $100 million gambling on Wall Street," Fioretti said at the school board meeting, held at George Westinghouse College Preparatory High School. "That's $100 million that could have been used to save some of these schools, pay our teachers, provide resources to our struggling schools and more."
Homelessness in Illinois has dropped 8.9 percent since 2010, new figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) show.
There were 13,107 homeless people in Illinois as of this January, down from 14,395 in 2010, according to HUD's annual 'point-in-time' homelessness estimates released late last month. The numbers are based on a one-night count of homeless individuals in shelters and on the street in January.
Over the past year, homelessness in Illinois fell 2.4 percent, HUD's count showed. Notably, homelessness among unaccompanied children and youth in the state decreased by more than 200 between 2013 and 2014.
Nationwide, 578,424 people were homeless during that one-night period in January, representing a 10 percent drop from 2010.
"As a nation, we are successfully reducing homelessness in this country, especially for those who have been living on our streets as a way of life," HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a news release. "There is still a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, but it's clear our strategy is working and we're going to push forward till we end homelessness as we've come to know it."
Activists protested Monday afternoon outside of a Rogers Park nursing home where numerous disabled children and young adults have died in recent years.
Toting signs reading "Kids need love not nursing homes," about 20 disability rights advocates with the group Access Living demanded that the troubled facility now called Alden Village North shut its doors for good. The activists, who staged a similar protest against the facility in September, also stressed the need for more community-based supports for people with disabilities.
"We believe that no child with a disability should be in a nursing home, but if they have to exist, this is not one here that should" remain open, said Gary Arnold, public relations coordinator at Access Living.
Chicago mayoral candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia stressed his support for a graduated state income tax at a Thursday morning University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) panel discussion on race and inequality.
Garcia said property taxes, which are a major source of revenue for public education in the city and state, are "very regressive in terms of how they affect the general population" and are "not the best source to fund schools."
"A fairer system of taxation would be a graduated state income tax, or something that is more progressive tied to an income tax," Garcia said in a follow-up with reporters after the talk, which was sponsored by UIC's Great Cities Institute. "I think that is a much more sustainable funding source for schools, for human services and things of that nature. I think it's one that we really need to look at. States that have that type of progressive taxation tend to have better-funded school systems and less disparities in education."
Sign up to receive the PI extra. This daily email digest includes highlights from our original content, updates on the day's breaking political news, and links to the best of the web.