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Author: WisContext

Resettlement process in Wisconsin can limit educational dreams for refugees

Refugees who make a new home in Wisconsin carry with them hopes and dreams as diverse as their backgrounds. But many find upon arrival that their education and career goals do not necessarily align with the government’s refugee resettlement program. The paramount and singular goal of refugee resettlement in the United States is for refugees to secure rapid economic “self-sufficiency,” as measured by employment and transition off support services. The way the federal government defines this goal significantly limits how refugee resettlement providers are able to support higher education opportunities for refugees in Wisconsin. College education for refugees, as...

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Stealth Depression: A lack of mobility compounds economic disadvantage for 53206 residents

While Wisconsin’s unemployment rate hovers near historic lows, one Milwaukee neighborhood’s chronic economic misery continues to weigh heavily on the prospects of thousands of its residents. The 53206 zip code on Milwaukee’s north side embodies the kinds of longstanding problems that can plague disadvantaged urban communities: acute poverty, high unemployment, mass incarceration, a dearth of local jobs and little room for economic mobility. The neighborhood’s troubles have drawn increasing attention in recent years, and a 2016 documentary explored how high incarceration rates in the zip code affect the lives of its residents. One important issue contributing to and compounding...

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Public Health: Wisconsin’s scientific role in H5N1 flu research remains contentious

A University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory is set to resume experiments that could build the foundation of an early warning system for flu pandemics. The research is based on altering a deadly type of the influenza virus in a way that could make it more dangerous, though, and critics say its approval lacked transparency and creates unnecessary risks. Yoshihiro Kawaoka is a virologist and professor at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Tokyo who has figured prominently in Wisconsin’s long-term central role in flu research. Kawaoka’s work has been the focus of fierce debate among epidemiologists...

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Effects of work rules for state’s FoodShare program would be complicated and costly to measure

As work-related eligibility rules for Wisconsin’s food stamp program expand, it remains unclear to what extent the requirements already in place are having their intended effect: namely, to nudge able-bodied adults into employment that could replace their need for food assistance. Wisconsin’s program, named FoodShare, is funded through the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. Since 1996, the federal government has required states to attach work requirements to SNAP benefits for some able-bodied adults, though many states have secured waivers for this provision over the years. Wisconsin held a waiver from 2002 until 2015, when then-Governor Scott Walker...

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The legacy of Milwaukee’s Redlining continues to shape racial segregation

Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States, and one of segregation’s most meaningful engines was the historical practice of redlining. Policies limiting the options of prospective homeowners who were people of color shaped the city for nearly a century. Redlining is a term that describes the discriminatory practices of denying minority populations access to equal loan and housing opportunities. Emerging in the 1930s, redlining was embraced in the real estate industry for decades and shaped the social landscape of numerous American cities, large and small. Indeed, the racial segregation patterns of many of...

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The long legal path from tribal sovereignty to Native American casinos in Wisconsin

Dotted across Wisconsin’s landscape, Native American casinos are a relatively recent addition to the state’s economic and social fabric. In 2017, roughly two dozen casinos brought in $1.23 billion in net revenue for Wisconsin’s 11 federally-recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities and paid more than $53 million in fees to the state. But these pillars of tribal economies did not begin operating until the early 1990s, following a long and sometimes contentious legal history involving both the state and federal governments. It is a history that dates back to the 19th century, well before Wisconsin’s statehood. At the...

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