AuthorTopic: The Official Refugee Thread  (Read 131975 times)

Offline RE

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🚂 The Wall of No Return
« Reply #855 on: May 13, 2019, 12:03:52 AM »

May 10, 2019
The Wall of No Return
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Wall, central Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Nelson Espinal grew up in a leaky and crowded shack on the violent outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Espinal turned 28 last summer, but still lived at home with his parents, four sisters and 7-year old son, Yojan.

Like many other young men in his decaying neighborhood, Nelson had struggled for years to find steady work, making him especially vulnerable to recruitment into one of the slum’s brutal “maras,” the youth gangs that patrol the streets of Tegucigalpa and control much of the drug trade across Honduras. Few men of Espinal’s age and state of economic deprivation have the fortitude to resist the lure of gang-life. One study of Epsinal’s José Ángel Ulloa neighborhood estimates that as many as 20 percent of the men his age joined the Barrio-18 gang. But that wasn’t the future Nelson wanted for himself or his young son.

Espinal repeatedly rejected the increasingly ominous invitations to join the ranks of the gang, well aware the consequences of saying no could prove lethal, not just for him, but his family as well. Epsinal’s sister, Patricia, told the Guardian that Nelson’s rejection of Barrio-18 made him a target. “When they get their eye on someone, they search them out again and again,” Patricia recalled.

So with no prospects for work and fearing retaliation from the gang, Nelson decided to join a group of other desperate Hondurans he’d heard about who were gathering in the northern Honduran town of San Pedro Sula in preparation for traveling 3000 arduous miles to the US border. Espinal slipped out of Tegucigalpa with two friends. The young men believed, with good reason, that if they were ever going to break out of their wretched conditions, the safest way to escape was in a large group. This assemblage of destitute women, children and young men searching for a better life became the notorious “Migrant Caravan” that Donald Trump used to villainize immigrants in a cynical ploy to sway the 2018 congressional elections.

Espinal told his family that when he arrived at the border was going to ask for asylum. He hoped to get a job in the US, send money back to his family and eventually become reunited with his son. Nelson didn’t know the odds of his winning an asylum claim or even making it to the border. But he knew there was no future for him in Honduras. It was time to walk and not look back.

Nelson Espinal had every legal right to request asylum at the US border. Under normal circumstances, he would have had a good case to make to an immigration judge. But to grant figures like Nelson asylum would require the US government to assume a measure of moral responsibility for conniving in the political repression that has led to Honduras’ current state of violence and destitution.

American interventions in Honduras date back more than a century to the 1911 coup, largely engineered by the American mercenary, General Lee Christmas, which toppled the government of Miguel Dávila, and opened Honduras to predation by American corporations, most notably the United Fruit Company and Dole Food. In a matter of a few years, these two corporations came to acquire more than a million acres of land and a labor force of indigenous workers paid slave wages. Any troublesome eruption of discontent was vigorously suppressed by death squads armed with weapons provided by the US military.

The immediate crisis in Honduras can be traced to the 2009 coup, when the mildly leftist President, Manuel Zelaya, was seized from his bedroom in an after midnight raid by soldiers, shackled and put on a plane to Costa Rica, while still in his pajamas. The plot was orchestrated by General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, who did his post-grad working in coup planning at the School of the Americas. And darkness soon descended on Honduras again, as political killings, murders and gang violence soared and desperate families began to flee the killing fields.

It would be two months before his family would hear from Nelson again, when he called home from inside a detention prison in the US. Epsinal had been arrested shortly after he crossed the border in Arizona. “Tell Mom not to worry, I’m applying for asylum,” he told his sister. “We must pray to God that they give it to me. I told them I can’t go back to Honduras because if I go back, they’re going to kill me.”

What Nelson didn’t know was that Trump administration had already foreclosed any possibility of him being granted asylum under a cruel order crafted in June 2018 by Jeff Sessions and Trump’s homunculus Stephen Miller that instructed immigration judges to deny asylum claims from migrants who allege they are victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.

Nelson didn’t linger for long in one of ICE’s suffocating desert detention camps. He was booted back to Honduras. Two weeks after he arrived home, he was dead, shot down in the street by members of the gang he refused to join. The fifteen bullets that killed Nelson Espinal may have fired by another wretched kid in the Barrio-18 gang, but the policy that aimed the gun was written by a remorseless political syndicate in Washington.
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The idea here being in Trumpofsky's bovine spongiform encephalopathy addled brain, if they dump1000s of poor refugees on the streets of Dem strongholds, people will get tired of having so many beggars around and start voting Repugnant.  Somehow, I don't think this strategy is gonna work.


Trump admin planning to fly immigrants to U.S. cities away from the border
Beyond South Florida, Homeland Security officials are considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, officials told NBC News.

Asylum seekers from Honduras recently released from detention sit at a bus depot in McAllen, Texas, on May 17, 2019.Loren Elliott / Reuters
May 17, 2019, 11:06 AM AKDT
By Julia Ainsley

The Department of Homeland Security is laying the groundwork for a plan to transport recent border crossers by plane to cities around the U.S. and release them after processing, according to two DHS officials familiar with the plan.

Florida officials expressed anger on Thursday after learning that the Trump administration was planning to release hundreds of migrants in Broward and Palm Beach counties each month.

Beyond South Florida, DHS is considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, the two officials told NBC News. A Customs and Border Protection official, who held a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, said the agency is primarily interested in communities along the northern border and on the coast, where there is already a border patrol presence.
Homeland security lays groundwork to possibly transport migrants by plane to various U.S. cities
May 17, 201901:23

A DHS official said previously the agency was looking at places with the capacity to process large numbers of immigrants, but declined to give further specifics on cities or regions under consideration.

Central American migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border must be processed before they can be released. Many make a claim for asylum, seeking the right to stay in the country to avoid persecution back home.

Customs and Border Protection would be responsible for identifying which migrants to put on planes bound for the interior of the country, and the agency would rely primarily on Immigration and Customs Enforcement airplanes. The CBP official said on Friday that ICE would contract the planes and not look for additional federal assistance.

There are no plans to detain migrants in the cities where they are released, the officials said. Officials in Broward County, Florida have expressed concern about migrants being released without “designated shelters or funding to house them, feed them, and keep them safe,” according to a statement released Thursday.
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A similar program is in place in Del Rio, Texas where immigrants have been airlifted from the Rio Grande Valley. CBP has said that the hundreds of immigrants released there are non-criminal families.

The CBP official said the plan to fly immigrants to cities across the country is a contingency "if the flow [of immigrants] continues to increase."

In both March and April, more than 100,000 undocumented immigrants crossed the border over the span of a month, numbers not seen in over 12 years.
DHS: Dumping migrants in sanctuary cities 'floated and rejected'
April 12, 201912:09

Following news reports last month, President Donald Trump said he would consider sending immigrants specifically to so-called "sanctuary cities" — often led by Democrats — where officials have limited cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE. The officials said the decisions being made now on where to transport migrants are not political and would not specifically target sanctuary cities.

Spokespeople for the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the plan to send immigrants to South Florida. They did not respond to a request for comment about a broader plan to fly immigrants to cities across the country.
Julia Ainsley

Julia Ainsley is a national security reporter for NBC News.
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South Florida immigration controversy underscores chaos of Trump’s border policy

By David Smiley and

Monique O. Madan
May 17, 2019 04:31 PM, Updated 44 minutes ago

Duration 1:00
DeSantis: Florida can’t handle an influx of immigrants from the border
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on May 17, 2019 that the state isn’t prepared to handle Trump administration plans to send some 1,000 undocumented immigrants a month from the southern border to South Florida. By Ron DeSantis via Facebook

As South Florida’s sheriffs and mayors prepared Friday for a looming immigration crisis manufactured by the federal government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection moved to downplay the possibility that planes filled with border-crossing families will begin touching down soon in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

There are currently no imminent plans to send thousands of undocumented immigrants to South Florida from the inundated southwest border, CBP officials now say. Rather, they say, efforts to explain “contingency” plans to local sheriffs this week caused a misunderstanding that mushroomed into a statewide political crisis and underscored the haphazardness of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“That’s news to me,” Broward Mayor Mark Bogen said Friday, a full 24 hours after he went public saying that CBP had informed South Florida law enforcement that as many as 1,000 immigrants could be flown each month from the Mexican border. “No one informed us of that. I hope it’s true.”
inRead invented by Teads

The belated clarity from the Trump administration could at least temporarily quell a tempest that began Thursday after the chief of CBP’s Miami office briefed police in Palm Beach and Martin counties on plans to possibly fly families of undocumented immigrants from the southwest border to South Florida. But it’s too late to avoid a controversy that had Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — one of Trump’s most visible allies — criticizing the idea as out of step with actions taken in the state by the president’s own party.
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“We cannot accommodate in Florida the dumping of unlawful migrants into our state. It will tax our resources, our schools, the healthcare, law enforcement, state agencies,” DeSantis said Friday, noting that the Legislature just passed a law banning so-called sanctuary cities.

“We’ve been very cooperative and to have this then put into certain communities here. I think it’s just something that we don’t ...” he said, pivoting quickly to a new point without finishing the thought.

DeSantis, who blamed the controversy on federal immigration policy coming from Congress, said he’d “investigated” the issue but had not spoken with the president.

Like most everyone in Florida, though, the governor seemed to be getting his information from Palm Beach County politicians and police officials, who’d been briefed this week by Customs and Border Protection about plans to send as many as 1,000 immigrants to South Florida each month. The plan, they said, was necessitated by a surge of border crossings in the southwest U.S., where more than half a million people have sought to enter the country since October.

But details were scarce, and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said he was told that immigrants were going to be flown into Palm Beach International Airport, processed at the port and then released into the community without food or shelter and with only a date to return for a hearing in immigration court. As many as 500 people could be coming each month in Broward, he said, and also in Palm Beach — where Trump has his Mar-a-Lago winter retreat.

In Martin County, Sheriff William Snyder said he was also informed by CBP’s chief in Miami that some of these immigrants would likely make their way to the small and predominantly Hispanic village of Indiantown, where some immigrants may have family.

“I don’t have enough information to be calm and I don’t have enough information to be apprehensive,” Snyder told the Miami Herald. “We’re out in Indiantown today talking with churches and food banks and NGOs, trying to see what are our resources.”

After learning of the Trump administration’s plans, South Florida officials worried about their ability to house, feed and prepare for what Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police President Sean Brammer warned Thursday in a letter to the governor could be as many as 14,000 families dropped each year into South Florida. Bradshaw said Palm Beach County was already grappling with the measles and Hepatitis A, and was not prepared to safely accommodate an influx of immigrants with unknown backgrounds.

“We think it’s a dangerous plan,” said Bradshaw.

Bogen, the mayor of Broward County, accused Trump of making good on plans reported last month to move immigrants from the border and dump them in Democratic strongholds. Broward is the most Democratic county in Florida, a crucial swing state that could decide whether Trump remains president next year.

But, after saying nothing for more than 24 hours, CBP officials explained during a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon that, in fact, there were no scheduled flights to South Florida. A CBP official — who spoke to reporters on the condition that he not be named — said the agency is looking at possibly sending “non-criminal” immigrant families to South Florida as well as other parts of the country where CBP offices have the computer capacity to process immigration cases.

What flights and transfers are occurring, the official said, involve moving families back and forth from high-volume locations like Yuma, Arizona, El Paso, Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley to CBP sub stations. Since October, CBP has made about 530,000 apprehensions at the southwest border, and on March 19 the agency began releasing families that aren’t dealing with criminal charges.

Those families, mostly from the violent Northern Triangle in Central America, are being moved by bus to Laredo or by plane to Del Rio, Texas. On Tuesday, there will be another plane from the Rio Grande Valley to San Diego. South Florida is not receiving any families.

But the area does remain a possible destination should a rush of desperate immigrants continue to pour from Central America, through Mexico and into the U.S. An average of 4,500 people have been apprehended each day over the last week, according to CBP, and old and outdated facilities are too strained to hold everyone. About 180,000 people have been released on notices to appear since March 19, according to CBP.

There are no plans for federal assistance for those immigrants released into random communities, nor is there any expectation that those immigrants know anyone in the communities where they are sent, according to CBP.

Even after CBP moved to downplay the chances of ever flying immigrants to South Florida, confusion lingered. Two hours after reporters were briefed, a Palm Beach County spokesman sent out a press release saying that CBP “has plans to transport 270 immigrants, presumed to be undocumented, into Palm Beach County each week for an undetermined time period.”

“Details regarding this immigrant placement strategy from the federal government have not been provided to the county,” the statement said, “nor is there any evidence of a federal plan to address the basic needs of food, shelter and security for the arriving families and the impact on our community. Until we have official notice or order, we are closely monitoring the situation.”

The fact that no one knew or trusted information about what was happening for more than a day was largely blamed Friday on Trump’s scatter-shot immigration policies. Snyder, who attended Trump’s inauguration in 2017, said the fact reporters were calling him to explain the details of federal immigration policy was “sublimely disconcerting at best.”

“This directly can be related to the federal government’s utterly incoherent immigration policy,” he said. “That’s why we’re having this conversation. This does not make sense. If I ran my sheriff’s office like the federal government handles its immigration policy, the governor would remove me from office today.”

El Nuevo reporter Nora Gámez Torres, McClatchy DC reporter Franco Ordoñez, and Bradenton Herald reporter Sara Nealeigh contributed to this report.
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I never even HEARD of "Pickleball" before this!  ::)  Can Cripples play this sport?  ???  :icon_scratch:  I already speak decent Spanish too!  lol.


The little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border: It’s Americans heading south

A man folds a pickleball net in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. American retirees gather at the municipal sports center several days a week to play the sport favored by seniors in the United States. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

By Mary Beth Sheridan
May 18 at 1:51 PM

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico —  Spanish friars brought the faith to this colonial city in Mexico’s central highlands.

The silver barons of the 18th century built its mansions.

Now comes the pickleball invasion.

It started with just a few American retirees. These days, two dozen players fill the courts at the municipal sports center most mornings, swinging paddles at plastic balls. There are so many clubs in Mexico dedicated to the U.S. sport that a tournament was held here last year.

“It was a madhouse,” said Victor Guzmán, a 67-year-old entrepreneur from Charlotte who helped pull the event together.

President Trump regularly assails the flow of migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Less noticed has been the surge of people heading in the opposite direction.

Mexico’s statistics institute estimated this month that the U.S.-born population in this country has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990. And that is probably an undercount. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates the real number at 1.5 million or more.

They’re a mixed group. They’re digital natives who can work just as easily from Puerto Vallarta as Palo Alto. They’re U.S.-born kids — nearly 600,000 of them — who’ve returned with their Mexican-born parents. And they’re retirees like Guzmán, who settled in this city five years ago and is now basically the pickleball king of San Miguel.

[Despite Trump’s tariff and border threats, Mexico is now the largest U.S. trading partner]

Victor Guzmán visits a house that is listed for sale in San Miguel. He and his wife moved to the city from Charlotte in 2014. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

If the thousands of Mexicans moving home are taken into account, the flow of migrants from the United States to Mexico is probably larger than the flow of Mexicans to the United States.

The American immigrants are pouring money into local economies, renovating historic homes and changing the dynamics of Mexican classrooms.

“It’s beginning to become a very important cultural phenomenon,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said in an interview. “Like the Mexican community in the United States.”

And yet, he said, Mexican authorities know little about the size or needs of their largest immigrant group. He has been tasked by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with changing that.

While the United States is deeply divided over immigration, American immigrants here have largely been welcomed. In San Miguel — where about 10 percent of the city’s 100,000 residents are U.S. citizens — Mayor Luis Alberto Villareal delivers his annual State of the Municipality address in English and Spanish.

Thanksgiving is celebrated a few weeks after Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Restaurants have adopted “American timing” — serving dinner at the ungodly hour of 6 p.m. — the mayor reports.

“Despite the fact that Donald Trump insults my country every day, here we receive the entire international community, beginning with Americans, with open arms and hearts,” Villareal said.

Mexican authorities say that many of the Americans are probably undocumented — typically, they’ve overstayed their six-month visas. But the government has shown little concern.

“We have never pressured them to have their documents in order,” Ebrard said.

Typically, violators pay a small fine.

Villereal shrugged.

“We like people who come to work and help the economy of the city — like Mexicans do in the United States.”

[Their ancestors fled U.S. slavery for Mexico. Now they’re looking north again.]

Americans Emily and Myles Standish stroll in San Miguel. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

San Miguel de Allende is about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City on a mile-high plateau where the sunshine coaxes bougainvillea to erupt in blazing colors and spill over walls. U.S. veterans began moving here after World War II to study at the local art institute on the GI Bill. Over the past 30 years, expatriates flooded in, enchanted by the city’s hilly cobblestone streets, soaring Gothic church, and houses painted in sunset colors: dusky rose, peach, yellow, orange.

The scenery isn’t the only draw. Given the dollar’s strength against the Mexican peso, even an American getting by on Social Security and a modest pension can rent a high-ceilinged apartment, hire a maid and eat out most nights.

“You can live here on $2,000 or $3,000 a month — and live well,” Guzmán said.

Technology has shrunk the distance between the countries. In the 1980s, expat author Tony Cohan would contact his daughter in New York by trekking to the “larga distancia” office, where an operator would put a call through, as he recounted in his popular memoir  “On Mexican Time.”

These days, Bill Slusser, 66, from Los Angeles, does part-time marketing work for American clients without leaving his home here: “The Internet allows that to happen.”

Since NAFTA took effect, Mexico has gotten big-box outlets such as Walmart and Office Depot.

“For the things you can’t find,” Slusser said, “you just buy them off Amazon.”

So many Americans live here that it’s not necessary to speak Spanish. There’s a dazzling array of activities for English-speakers: the Rotary Club, the quilters’ circle, dancing clubs, Alcoholics Anonymous. Expats run dozens of charitable groups, mentoring Mexican students, helping provide clean drinking water, serving meals to poor abuelitas.

[U.S. reaches deal with Mexico, Canada to lift steel, aluminum tariffs]

Bill Slusser, center, sings with friends Fil Formicola, left, and Dilia Suriel at a bar in San Miguel. Slusser has built a community of friends with whom he sings karaoke on the weekends. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

Pamela Gould and Stan Allen dance at a soup kitchen organized by U.S. citizens on the grounds of the parish church of St. Michael the Archangel in San Miguel. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

“Because it’s a relatively small town, it’s very easy to meet people and do whatever you want to do,” Slusser said one recent Friday at a tiny cafe. It was karaoke night.

“Por favor, tortilla chips!” a New York lawyer yelled.

The U.S. population in Mexico is still much smaller than the Mexican immigrant population north of the border, which is estimated at around 11 million. But quietly, Americans are putting their imprint on Mexican towns.

About 35,000 Americans live in the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta (the destination for the Love Boat in the old television series). About 20,000 Americans reside near Lake Chapala, in central Mexico, according to the U.S. Embassy.

Americans are renovating homes in the historic center of Merida, the Yucatecan capital. They’re savoring Pacific Ocean views from homes on Gringo Hill in Sayulita. There are so many Americans in Mexico City’s trendy Condesa neighborhood that the guitarists who stroll outside the cafes ask for tips in English.

For all the images of worn-down Central Americans crossing Mexico in caravans, the vast majority of immigrants to this country — around 75 percent — are from the United States.

Driving around San Miguel, you can see the foreigners’ influence: million-dollar homes with chefs’ kitchens and sunken tubs not far from local dwellings of battered, unpainted brick.

[Threatened by Trump, exhausted by caravans, Mexico struggles with migrant surge]

A traditional puppet figure known as Mojiganga dances beside the Allende Garden in San Miguel. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

But there seems to be little resentment of the Americans.

On the annual Day of the Construction Worker this month, about 20 laborers crowded around folding tables set up on the patio of a half-finished house in a gated community in San Miguel. Following Mexican tradition, the owners of the house treated them to a party, complete with a lunch of pork, chicken tinga, beans, tortillas and beer, and a Norteno band.

“Eighty percent of our clients are foreign,” said Luis Camarena, a Mexican architect working on the house. “Of that 80 percent, 90 percent are American.

“For them” — Camerena gestured at the laborers — “it means work.”


Trump isn’t wrong about the rising numbers of migrants reaching the southern U.S. border. But they’re more likely to be Central American than Mexican.

Since 2015, census data shows, more Mexicans have returned home each year than moved to the United States. Data from 2017, the most recent year for which numbers are available, showed a net decrease of 300,000 Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Some of the Mexicans heading south were deported or felt increasingly unwelcome in the United States. Others were drawn back home by improved opportunities. Mexico’s population growth has slowed as education levels have risen, reducing the local competition for jobs.

Many of the returning Mexicans brought little Americans with them.

[The scary images of Mexico City’s pollution emergency]

Katerina Barron, daughter Sedona, 3, and son Adero, 6, play hide and seek on the roof of their home in San Miguel. The children’s father, Jesús, was deported in 2017, and the family relocated to San Miguel. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)

They are children like 3-year-old Sedona Barron and her 6-year-old brother, Adero. The siblings came to San Miguel two years ago after their father, Jesús, was deported. He, too, was a stranger to this country; he’d moved to the United States with his family illegally when he was just 5. He had married an American, but a drunken-driving conviction kept him from legalizing his status.

The move from Arizona was especially hard for Adero.

“He started kindergarten in Mexico with no Spanish,” said his mother, Katerina. “He was just terrified of speaking Spanish. He felt very lost at the beginning.”

She, too, barely spoke the language.

In some towns that have traditionally sent migrants to the United States, the American-born children of returnees now make up 10 or 15 percent of the student body, according to Andrew Selee, head of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

“It’s like East L.A.,” he said.

In the past, when waves of Mexicans returned from the United States, they were typically men, like the guest workers known as “braceros” who were employed on American farms from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Now many of those returning are families.

“One of the biggest challenges is that Mexican schools are not ready to receive kids who began their education in the U.S. in English,” said Silvia Giorguli, a demographer and president of the College of Mexico in the capital.

Unlike the United States, Mexico hasn’t traditionally had many immigrants. Less than 1 percent of the population is foreign-born. After a decades-long wave of Mexican migration transformed the United States, she said, it is now Mexico that faces a dilemma.

“How do you integrate Americans?”
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I never even HEARD of "Pickleball" before this!  ::)  Can Cripples play this sport?  ???  :icon_scratch:  I already speak decent Spanish too!  lol.


The little-noticed surge across the U.S.-Mexico border: It’s Americans heading south

A man folds a pickleball net in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. American retirees gather at the municipal sports center several days a week to play the sport favored by seniors in the United States. (Luis Antonio Rojas/For The Washington Post)[/center]

Never heard of it either!

As to Mexico, Morris Berman recommends it.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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As to Mexico, Morris Berman recommends it.

I'd love to face down Mo in a game of Pickleball, if Cripples can play it.  ;D

I'll settle for a nice game of Chess though, I can still play that one pretty well.  Just ask Eddie.  :)

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'Dangerous overcrowding': 900 migrants cram into Border Patrol center designed for 125 people
Alan Gomez, USA TODAY Published 3:21 p.m. ET May 31, 2019 | Updated 4:14 p.m. ET May 31, 2019

The surge of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has led to "dangerous overcrowding" and unsanitary conditions at Border Patrol stations around El Paso, Texas, according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.

Inspectors highlighted the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center, which was designed to hold 125 people but was crammed with 750 migrants on May 7 and 900 migrants the following day, according to the report from the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General.

The report included photos of dozens of migrants squeezed together in holding cells and hundreds of migrants massed in the center's outdoor parking lot as they waited to be processed. Border Patrol agents told inspectors that some migrants were forced to stand "for days or weeks" because there wasn't enough room to sit on the floor. Some migrants even stood on toilets "to make room and gain breathing space." CNN first reported the story Friday.

The situation has become so dire that the inspectors had only one recommendation for Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees Border Patrol: take "immediate steps" to alleviate the overcrowding.

"Although CBP headquarters management has been aware of the situation...for months and detailed staff to assist with custody management, DHS has not identified a process to alleviate issues with overcrowding," the report concluded.
A Border Patrol agents looks through the border fence in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2019.

A Border Patrol agents looks through the border fence in El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2019. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Border Patrol officials have been warning Congress for months that they were facing an unprecedented surge of asylum-seeking migrants. Yet the report shows, according to Thompson, that Border Patrol officials "completely and utterly failed" to prepare for the very surge they warned about, leading to the dangerous conditions inspectors found.

"The findings serve as further evidence that the Trump Administration is not just neglecting to address the crisis — they are, in fact, exacerbating it," Thompson said in a statement.

The revelations come as the Trump administration struggles to prevent Central American migrants from coming to the U.S., and to properly care for them once they arrive.

The administration has tried several maneuvers to cut off or limit asylum requests— some have been blocked by federal courts, some have been allowed to go into effect. On Thursday, President Donald Trump tried a new tact, threatening to impose an escalating series of tariffs on Mexican imports if the Mexican government does not completely stop Central American migrants moving through that country on their way toward the U.S.

Those efforts haven't worked, as the U.S. continues setting new records for the number of families and children crossing the border to request asylum. Border Patrol agents set an all-time record in April by apprehending 58,474 members of family units. And on Thursday, the agency set a different record when a group of more than 1,000 migrants crossed the border together near El Paso, Texas.

That has led to crowded conditions inside and outside of Border Patrol stations, detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and privately-run shelters that are caring for migrants who are released from custody. Six migrant children have died in U.S. government custody in the past year. 

In its response to the Inspector General report, the Department of Homeland Security said it has already built a tent that can hold up to 500 migrants in El Paso, will erect another similar tent there by July 31, and is planning a much larger expansion "within 18 months."
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🚢 Venezuela reopens border with Colombia after four months
« Reply #862 on: June 09, 2019, 12:04:20 AM »
Refugees:  The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction.


Venezuela reopens border with Colombia after four months

Thousands of people enter Colombia to buy food and medicine after President Nicolas Maduro orders reopening of border.
3 hours ago

People queue to cross the Simon Bolivar international bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Cucuta, in Colombia, to buy goods [Schneyder Mendoza/ AFP]

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    Venezuela exodus surpasses 4 million: UN

Thousands of people have crossed into Colombia to buy food and medicine after Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro reopened a border that had been shut down for the past four months.

Long lines of Venezuelans stood at two international bridges near the city of Cucuta on Saturday, waiting to have their documents checked by Colombian officials, with some carrying children on their shoulders.

Venezuelan border guards dressed in green uniforms helped in controlling the crowd.

The South American country's government ordered the borders with Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Brazil and Colombia closed in February as the opposition tried to deliver food and medical supplies into the country.

Most of the aid was provided by the United States, a key ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself to be Venezuela's rightful president in January. But Maduro dismissed the aid as an infringement on Venezuela's sovereignty and prohibited it from entering.

In May, the government reopened borders with Aruba and Brazil, but the Simon Bolivar International Bridge and the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge with Colombia had remained closed.
Venezuela crisis - Border with Colombia reopened (1:48)

Announcing the frontier's reopening on Friday, Maduro said: "We are a people of peace that strongly defends our independence and self-determination."
As more Venezuelans flee, the crisis pushes deeper into Colombia

Al Jazeera's Alessandro Rampietti, reporting from the Colombian capital Bogota, said the reopening of the border came as "a relief for the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who rely on crossing into Colombia for food and medicine they cannot find back home".

The closure had forced many Venezuelans to cross the frontier illegally to get basic necessities that were all but unattainable in Venezuela, he said, adding: "But that has become more difficult during the rainy seasons, and these paths are also controlled by criminal groups."

Maduro's announcement caused worry in Colombia, Rampietti said, with "a number of mayors and governors of Colombian regions on the border called for a national security meeting, fearing an increase in the pace of the exodus of Venezuelans".
People wait to cross the Colombian-Venezuelan border over the partially opened Simon Bolivar international bridge in San Antonio del Tachira
The border closure had caused economic problems for Venezuelans who had increasingly come to rely on Colombian cities for basic goods [Carlos Eduardo Ramirez/Reuters]

More than a million Venezuelan refugees and migrants live in Colombia, where the government and aid agencies have scrambled to provide housing, food and healthcare to their ever-growing influx.


Venezuela's Jorge Arreaza: 'There is no perfect government'

On Friday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said that 4 million Venezuelans, or almost 15 percent of the population, have left the country to escape its economic and political crises.

The UN agency also said the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants rose by a million after November, indicating a rapid escalation as conditions deteriorated and a conflict between the government of Maduro and opposition intensified this year.

Rampietti said Maduro's decision on Friday indicated his government "does not see the situation on the border as much of a threat as they did in the past months". That's because the "the opposition gave up on their plans to try and move US aid inside Venezuela," he said.

The once-wealthy oil nation is now facing severe shortages of basic goods and hyperinflation that is expected to surpass 10 million percent this year, according to a recent International Monetary Fund estimate.

The chaos has been further aggravated by US sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and has forced an estimated 5,000 people to leave the country each day, according to the UNHCR.
Children at risk of statelessness

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who is special envoy for the UNHCR, on Saturday urged the international community to provide more support for Colombia, Peru and Ecuador - the three South American countries with most migrants from Venezuela.
Venezuela exodus surpasses 4 million: UN

Speaking in Cartagena following a meeting with Colombia's President Ivan Duque, the actress said more than 20,000 Venezuelan children were at risk of statelessness.

The parents of Venezuelan children born abroad often struggle to register their baby's birth, either because they do not have access to an ever-shrinking number of Venezuelan consulates or because they do not have migration papers.

Duque said he hoped Jolie's visit would alert the world to the seriousness of the migration crisis.

Relations between Venezuela and Colombia, who share a land border stretching 2,220 kilometres, have been broken since February 23 when Duque announced his support for Guaido.

Dozens of countries around the world recognise Guaido as interim president, saying Maduro rigged his 2018 re-election, but their support has not been enough to unseat Maduro, who still has the backing of the top military brass.

Maduro accuses his foes of plotting with Washington to bring about a coup.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

    Latin America

US starts withdrawing Turkey from F-35 programme over Russia deal

Pentagon tells Turkey it's cancelling its purchase of F-35 jets if Ankara continues purchase of Russia S-400 system.
07 Jun 2019 20:23 GMT

If Turkey were removed from the F-35 programme, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two allies, experts say [File: Scott Barbour/Getty Images]
If Turkey were removed from the F-35 programme, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two allies, experts say [File: Scott Barbour/Getty Images]

The US Pentagon has notified Turkey that it is cancelling its purchase of F-35 fighter jets if the Turkish government goes ahead with the purchase of a Russia's S-400 missile defence system.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has sent a letter notifying Turkey that all training of Turkish pilots will also end as of July 31. And all Turkish personnel connected to the F-35 programme must leave the country by the end of that month.

Shanahan's letter explicitly states there will be "no new F-35 training". It says there were 34 students scheduled for F-35 training later this year.

"This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 programme; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems," according to an attachment to the letter that is titled, "Unwinding Turkey's Participation in the F-35 Program."

In his letter, Shanahan also warned Ankara that its deal with Moscow risked undermining its ties to NATO, hurting the Turkish economy and creating over-dependence on Russia.

"You still have the option to change course on the S-400," Shanahan wrote.

The two NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over Turkey's order for Russia's S-400 air defence system, which Washington says poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy.

The United States has said Turkey cannot have both, but had avoided taking steps to curtail or halt planned training of Turkish pilots in the programme, a reprisal that could be seen as an embarrassment in Turkey.
Russia: 'Everything is on track with the Turks'

The announcement came as the head of Russia's state-owned conglomerate Rostec said Moscow would begin delivering the S-400 air defence systems to Turkey.
Erdogan: No step back from S-400 deal with Russia

"Everything is on track with the Turks. I hope that we will begin to deliver in about two months," Sergei Chemezov told NTV channel, according to Russian news agencies on Friday.

"The credit money has been spent, the technology was produced. And we completed training of all the military personnel," he said.

If Turkey were removed from the F-35 programme, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two allies, experts said.

Turkish officials have not immediately commented on the Pentagon's letter.

Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday it was "out of the question" for Turkey to back away from its deal with Moscow.

Erdogan said the US had not "given us an offer as good as the S-400s".

The Turkish lira declined as much as 1.5 percent on Friday before recovering some losses. The currency has shed nearly 10 percent of its value against the dollar this year in part on fraying diplomatic ties and the risk of US sanctions if Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400s.
'Graceful wind-down'

Turkey is one of the core partners in the F-35 programme and expressed an interest in buying 100 of the fighters, which would have a total value of nine billion dollars at current prices.

Turkish companies produce some 937 parts of the F-35, largely for the aircraft's landing gear and centre fuselage, the Pentagon says. The US is now planning to move that production elsewhere, ending Turkey's manufacturing role by early next year.

The Pentagon believes that it can minimise the effects on the broader programme if Turkey abides by the US timeline.

"What we are doing is working to do a very disciplined and graceful wind-down," Ellen Lord, an undersecretary of defence, told reporters at the Pentagon.

But if Turkey were removed from the F-35 programme, the ramifications would be felt far beyond the Turkish air force.

Strains in ties between the US and Ankara already extend beyond the F-35 to include conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of US consular staff in Turkey.
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