Image Credits: Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands 

James Campbell, a ’20-’21 Justice Catalyst Fellow at the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands, worked on a new report documenting the staggering costs to Virgin Islanders of unequal treatment for Medicaid and social security benefits, and in federal voting rights. Through his fellowship, Campbell supports local advocates seeking to challenge federal disenfranchisement and discrimination in U.S. territories. DRCVI’s press release is reproduced below: 

CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—A new report, Shadow Citizens: Confronting Federal Discrimination in the U.S. Virgin Islands, from the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands (DRCVI) reveals drastic disparities resulting from federal programs that discriminate against the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The new report, available at www.drcvi.org, adds to mounting public scrutiny surrounding racial inequity, voting rights, and healthcare disparities. The document is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive look at the financial and human impacts of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ exclusion from federal programs.  

Using the Freedom of Information Act, DRCVI obtained never-before-seen tax collections from the IRS showing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax collections from the U.S. Virgin Islands in recent decades, with approximately $180 million in 2019 alone. The IRS figures are likely to raise new questions about arguments used to justify the exclusion of Virgin Islanders.  

Shadow Citizens seeks to bring local and national attention to both the breadth of federal program discrimination affecting the U.S. Virgin Islands and the magnitude of its impact on the Territory. Amid ongoing efforts to rebuild the territory in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and COVID-19, the report renews focus on longstanding problems of federal discrimination that had been affecting the territory for decades before the arrival of the storms or the pandemic.  

About the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands 

The Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands (DRCVI) is the federally-mandated and funded protection and advocacy corporation for the U.S. Virgin Islands. DRCVI’s mission is to advance the legal rights of people with disabilities, support and empower families and provide training and information that promotes the overall health and educational development of children and youth.