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Author: William-Jose Velez

Facebook treating US territories as not part of the United States

According to Facebook, the nearly 4 million Americans living in the United States territories do not live in the “United States.” Instead, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are each treated as being a separate foreign country. As a result, on #GivingTuesday residents of US territories will be unable to use Facebook’s charitable donation tools to support their favorite charities. For Equally American, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to end the second class treatment of Americans living in US territories, Facebook’s discriminatory practices both perpetuate misconceptions about US territories and restrict...

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Equally American reacts to SCOTUS review denial, US defense of disenfranchisement

The United State Supreme Court denied review in Segovia v United States, a lawsuit seeking to expand voting rights in US territories. The lawsuit was brought by Equally American on behalf of a group of veterans and others living in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands who would be able to vote for President and have voting representation in Congress if they lived in any other US territory or even a foreign country but cannot based on discriminatory federal and state overseas voting laws. Almost concurrently, federal officials defended the continued disenfranchisement of millions of US citizens living in the territories in a...

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US Supreme Court and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hear US territories disenfranchisement cases

Just weeks after the one year anniversary of Hurricanes Maria and Irma hitting Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, the issue of disenfranchisement in US territories will be considered by both the US Supreme Court and the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the same day. “The opportunity to have either the Supreme Court or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights take up the issue of voting rights in U.S. territories is momentous in its own right. But to have both do it on the same day is something truly special,” said Neil Weare, President...

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US House approves Velázquez’ death toll bill

The United States House of Representatives approved legislation that would establish federal guidelines for death tolls following disasters.  The “Count Act”, introduced in the House by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D) of New York, has been incorporated into the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, HR 302, which passes the House Wednesday with bipartisan support and is expected to receive Senate approval shortly thereafter. “For months, after Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the local government claimed the death toll was only 64, while anecdotal evidence suggested it was tragically higher,” Velázquez noted. “We also watched as Donald Trump pointed to the artificially...

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