Beyond the Bricks: Week of April 20


Illustration by Victoria Savka

<a>Capsized Libyan Ship Emphasizes Issues of Illegal Immigration to Europe

 Fleeing war and poverty, migrants from the Middle East, northern Africa and Asia flee to Europe on illegal smuggling ships. They are often subjected to degrading and dangerous situations, like the one that happened on April 19 when a Libyan ship full of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean. Two main factors seem to be involved in the shipwreck, according to prosecutors. The captain attempted to turn too quickly and at the same time most of the passengers in the overloaded boat rushed to one side. Recent estimates by the U.N. state that up to 850 migrants died in this shipwreck alone. This brings the total for April to over 1,000 dead migrants.

This instance is not isolated. The Italian coast guard has been launching many rescue attempts, including a recent one on April 21 that rescued 638 migrants from rubber dinghies. There were six dinghies in total, one of them packed with 112 migrants.There will be an emergency summit by European leaders to discuss the immigration crisis on April 23.

Actors Divided on Issue of Minimum Wage

Actors' Equity, a union for actors across the country, recently imposed a $9.00 minimum wage on 99-seat theaters. In the past, small theaters have not been required to pay minimum wage, only a stipend for the performances and no compensation for rehearsals. The announcement was made after the Actors' Equity's National Council met on April 21. 

Not all actors are pleased with the announcement. A recent advisory vote in Los Angeles resulted in a 2-1 opposition to the proposed rule change. Actors argue that this threatens smaller production companies who may not have the funds to hire actors at minimum wage rates. With the loss of these smaller companies, actors could end up losing smaller jobs which give them the experience they need to move into bigger roles.

For a typical 16-run show, actors would receive approximately $240. Under the new guidelines they could receive more than $1,000 if the show requires a significant rehearsal schedule. Actors who oppose the change say that they are not there for the money, instead, they enjoy the continued learning experience that being on stage brings them. However, those who support the change argue that they deserve a living wage for their work.

Unable to Pay Child Support? Go Directly to Jail. And Repeat.

Poor parents within the United States who cannot afford child support are being sent to jail, often losing their jobs. When they get out of jail, they still owe child support and have no way to pay it. This cycle of incarceration and unemployment can cause ordinary people to lose hope. The family of Walter Scott, a man shot and killed by a police officer in North Carolina in April, believe that his outstanding debt and the time he spent in jail played a role in his thought process when he ran from police and was fatally shot in the back.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that courts should not incarcerate parents with unpaid child support if they cannot find proof of the parent's ability to pay. However, this ruling is ineffective because the parents often cannot afford a lawyer and are not granted one by the court. 

Jail time can be an effective incentive for parents who are able to pay child support but do not. When this method is used for parents without any money to give, it only exacerbates the problem.