Trump’s quiet campaign to bring back preexisting conditions

The administration is waging a quiet regulatory war against Obamacare. Photo thanks to Get Holistic Health. 

The administration is waging a quiet regulatory war against Obamacare. Photo thanks to Get Holistic Health. 

From Vox, written by Sarah Kliff and Dylan Scott:  

"The Trump administration is quietly dismantling the Affordable Care Act, taking a series of regulatory steps that will make it easier for insurance companies to sell plans that exclude patients with preexisting conditions or don’t cover basic services like maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drugs.

Republicans weren’t able to repeal Obamacare in Congress. Now the Trump administration appears to be settling for the second-best thing: weakening Obamacare’s insurance regulations, changes that will hurt Americans who are older and sicker while benefiting the young and the healthy.

The Health and Human Services Department published new rules Tuesday that widen access to “short-term” health plans, a small subset of insurance products that are meant to cover short gaps in insurance coverage. The Obama administration aggressively regulated these plans, allowing insurance companies to sell them only as 90-day options.

The Trump changes allow insurance companies to sell the skimpier plans for a year, encouraging many more people to buy them and use them as a more regular source of coverage. Officials are also considering allowing insurance companies to extend them further."  Continue reading

The only no vote to begin debate on immigration was from a man with immigrant roots, Ted Cruz

From the Houston Chronicle:  WASHINGTON – Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz stood alone Monday in voting against a GOP motion to start debate on a new immigration proposal that could resolve the standoff over "Dreamers."

The 97-1 vote dramatized the Texas Republican's hardline stance against President Donald Trump's proposal to grant a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

"I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally," Cruz said at the Capitol last month shortly after Trump broached the idea of offering a path to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for border wall funding. "Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us."

Cruz, facing a reelection challenge this year from U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, immediately came under fire from Texas Democratic leaders.

"The only no vote to begin debate on immigration was the Cuban that was born in Canada," said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, making a reference to Cruz's birth in Canada to a Cuban immigrant father.

"Sinvergüenza," Hinojosa added, using a Spanish phrase that translates as "shameless."

"This isn't the first time Ted Cruz has betrayed Texans. It won't be the last," Hinojosa said. "Senator, lives are literally at stake. It's time to fix a broken immigration system, not grandstand for the next election."  continue reading

 

Photo thanks to Susan Walsh, STF

Photo thanks to Susan Walsh, STF

Border wall threatens wildlife of the region

Photo thanks to The Week Magazine

Photo thanks to The Week Magazine

From the El Paso Times:  

... "The wall won’t stop determined people from crossing the border, but it will prevent wild creatures from moving across the landscape to find water, food, mates and all the other essentials they and their kind need to survive.

Perhaps surprisingly, the border region is one of the most biologically rich areas of our country, a place with a great diversity of natural habitats, where temperate and tropical species mix. Mexican wolves, jaguars, black bears, mule deer, pronghorn, javelin, ocelots and even low-flying birds like pygmy owls are just some of the hundreds of borderland species for which the wall will be a barrier.

Wild animals don’t read maps. We share space with them on this planet, but they live in their own universes, mostly unnoticed by us, with their own realities. For wild creatures, the border wall is an existential threat. In the culture wars that produced the wall as political symbol, wildlife are collateral damage. Animals will die in the fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promise, and Congress needs to understand this before capitulating to this blackmail."  Continue reading

Up the road in Las Cruces, a Franciscan retreat center that has a new mission

Jorge Taborda, an undocumented immigrant, has been living at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, since his wife was deported last June. (J.D. Long-Garcia) 

Jorge Taborda, an undocumented immigrant, has been living at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, since his wife was deported last June. (J.D. Long-Garcia) 

From "America: The Jesuit Review" by J.D. Long-Garcia:  

"In many ways, it was a typical 15th birthday party for Stephen Taborda. He celebrated with family and friends, ate pizza and cake and opened presents. But Stephen’s mother was not there. She was deported in June.

Stephen’s father, Jorge Taborda, came to the United States from Colombia 19 years ago. That was before Stephen was born. Mr. Taborda, a Spanish professor, was involved in human rights efforts there. As ongoing conflicts between the Colombian government and guerilla groups beset the nation, Mr. Taborda began to receive death threats.

“I told my wife we had to leave,” he said in an interview with America. He and his wife came to the United States with their firstborn son, Jefferson. For a time, they had permission to work in the United States."  Continue reading

Aerial photos of Anarctica reveal devastating toll of climate change

Photo thanks to Weather.com

Photo thanks to Weather.com

From Time Magazine:  

"It’s hard to wreck a continent you can barely get your hands on. Human beings typically do our worst environmental damage in the places we live and work—clear-cutting forests, strip-mining mountains. Antarctica, however, was more or less out of reach. No more.

Climate change has become our species’ great destructive equalizer, leaving no part of the planet safe from the harm we do. In March 2017, the sea ice around both poles reached a record low for that time of year. In July, a 1 trillion–ton iceberg, roughly the size of Delaware, calved off of the Larsen C ice shelf in western Antarctica. The damage to the ice is being done not just from above, as the planet’s air warms, but from below, as its oceans do too."  Continue reading

Let's start the week with a smile.

Image from Consequence of Sound

Image from Consequence of Sound

This true nugget is from "The Week: The Best of the US and International Media" magazine, 2/2/17 edition.,,, can anyone identify?

"Bad week for...

David Ige, Hawaii’s governor, 61, who confessed he was unable to correct the state’s erroneous warning of an imminent missile attack for 17 minutes because he’d forgotten his Twitter password."

Copy of Fighting for the Rights of Immigrants: At Risk Dreamers, Refugees, Families

Photos thanks to Luis Hernández, Photojournalist

Sunday, February 4, 1:30-3:30 pm  (We'll get you home in time for the Super Bowl!)

Maud Sullivan Room of the El Paso Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon

Free street parking around the library on Sundays

You will hear from  these well-known experts and activists

who will discuss the critical issues in detail:

  • Fernado Garcia, Executive Dirctor of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights
  • Carlos Spector, a prominent immigration attorney with a long history of representing asylum cases
  • A DACA Dreamer

Over the last year, the Trump administration has enacted harsh measures against immigrants in the United States. Increased deportations are splitting more families than ever before, the DACA program is in limbo, and few refugees are receiving asylum.

The Dream of DACA Dreamers--in Their Own Words

You will hear from a Dreamer at our forum this Sunday, February 4th from 1:30-3:30 at the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Mesa.  Free street parking on Sundays with more slots available between Mesa and Oregon.  We promise to have you home in time for the Super Bowl!

Speakers are seasoned, knowledgeable El Pasoans:

Fernando Garcia, executive Director of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights

Carlos Spector, immigration attorney with long history of representing asylum case 

DACA Dreamer

1918 Texas Ranger Massacre Reveals Extreme Violence Against Mexicans along the U.S.-Mexico Border a Century Ago

A family photo shows Arlinda Valencia’s grandfather, Rosendo Mesa, left, and great-grandfather, Longino Flores, right, in Porvenir, Texas. Longino Flores was among the 15 men and boys killed in the 1918 massacre.

A family photo shows Arlinda Valencia’s grandfather, Rosendo Mesa, left, and great-grandfather, Longino Flores, right, in Porvenir, Texas. Longino Flores was among the 15 men and boys killed in the 1918 massacre.

From the El Paso Times:

AUSTIN — It has been 100 years since 15 unarmed men and boys from a small border town south of Marfa were executed in the middle of night.

“Men were dragged from their beds, and, without having been given time to dress, were led away in their night clothes to the edge of the settlement, where they were shot to death by the posse,” reads an El Paso Morning Times article published on Feb. 8, 1918, almost two weeks after the massacre. “The bodies of the men were found the next day where they had fallen, riddled with bullets.” 

They were killed after a group of Texas Rangers, U.S. Army cavalry soldiers and local ranchers descended on their village, Porvenir, seeking revenge for a deadly attack at a nearby ranch a month earlier — although there was no evidence tying the villagers to it. Continue reading

Review: A Mariachi Opera Addresses Roiling Issues of Immigration

From AnthonyTommasini of the New York Times:

"A pregnant Mexican woman with a small son is determined to reunite her family and join her husband in America. She wants her new child to be born an American, with both parents present. So she hires a smuggler to take her and the boy north. But the arduous journey weakens her. She dies en route in the desert.

This could be a wrenching personal story ripped from today’s news to illustrate the struggles of undocumented immigrants who feel strong bonds to their homeland but want to get ahead in America.

It’s actually a central plotline of what has been called the first mariachi opera, “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna” (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”), with music by José (Pepe) Martínez (who died in 2016) and lyrics by Martínez and the playwright Leonard Foglia, who also wrote the book. In its New York premiere, the reconstituted New York City Opera is presenting the work, which opened on Thursday in the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center."  Continue reading

Border arrests are at a 46-year low, so Trump immigration authorities have a new target: Those with clean records, far inside the country

Manuel, shown with his family, first came to the United States illegally more than two decades ago. He was one of the 143,470 immigrants arrested in the interior of the country last year by immigration authorities. Jed Conklin for NPR

Manuel, shown with his family, first came to the United States illegally more than two decades ago. He was one of the 143,470 immigrants arrested in the interior of the country last year by immigration authorities.

Jed Conklin for NPR

From All Things Considered on NPR

The day was going to be perfect.

Alex figured he would wake up at 6:30 a.m., help get his little brothers up and off to school and catch the bus by 7. After school, the 14-year-old would do something he had been looking forward to for weeks — play in his first football game.

He would get to put on the team jersey — purple, with a camouflage print collar. And most importantly, his dad, Manuel, would be there, cheering from the sidelines.

Instead, Alex woke up to his mom screaming and crying outside his bedroom door.

By the time he got out of bed, it was too late. His dad was already gone — on his way to the county jail and then to immigration detention, where he would spend the next six months waiting to learn his future in the United States.

Manuel came to the United States from Mexico illegally two decades ago. He is one of the 143,470 immigrants arrested in the interior of the country last year by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities. These kinds of arrests are up 25 percent compared with in 2016 — part of an effort by the Trump administration to fulfill a campaign promise to deport more immigrants who have come to the U.S. illegally.

Continue reading/listening

They spoke out against immigrants. So she exposed their own immigrant histories.

From ABP Ideas article written by Sarah Feldberg

From ABP Ideas article written by Sarah Feldberg

"Earlier this month, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. tweeted out an enthusiastic call to end “chain migration.”

Also known as family-based migration—or, in the parlance of our immigration system, family reunification—chain migration is the common-sense process by which immigrants to the U.S. gradually bring their families over to join them. It’s as old as the Mayflower and a favorite buzzword of the Trump administration, typically followed by exclamation points and fear mongering over the very bad hombres moving to our fair land.

Scavino had no idea that Jennifer Mendelsohn was watching.

“So Dan,” Mendelsohn wrote on Twitter. “Let’s say Victor Scavino arrives from Canelli, Italy in 1904, then brother Hector in 1905, brother Gildo in 1912, sister Esther in 1913, & sister Clotilde and their father Giuseppe in 1916, and they live together in NY. Do you think that would count as chain migration?”

A Baltimore-based freelance journalist, Mendelsohn is a passionate genealogist and the creator of #resistancegenealogy, viral Twitter burns in which she confronts anti-immigration public figures with their own family histories. The ancestors she finds often have plenty in common with the immigrants they’re now condemning."  Continue reading

Cruelty Against Migrants by Border Patrolman Captured on Film

By Amy Wong in The Washington Post: 

"Last Wednesday, a nonprofit group that provides humanitarian aid to migrants in the Arizona desert released a lengthy report alleging Border Patrol agents were intentionally destroying supplies left for migrants in the desert, the group said, to “condemn border crossers to suffering, death and disappearance.”

What received wider attention, however, was a video that the Tucson-based aid group, No More Deaths, also distributed with its report. The footage, taken between 2010 and 2017, showed Border Patrol agents kicking over water jugs that had been left in the desert. In one clip, a male agent sneers at the person filming him, demanding to know whom the water is for, as he empties a gallon bottle of water onto the ground.  Continue reading

U.S. Tax Law and Continuing Hostility to NAFTA Put Mexico At Risk

The Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a rally in Mexico City. Credit:  Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters

The Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a rally in Mexico City. Credit:  Ginnette Riquelme/Reuters

From the New York Times:  

"MEXICO CITY — Countries don’t disappear, it has been said, but sometimes they do encounter perfect storms. These do not threaten their existence, yet they can represent major challenges to their welfare and integrity. Mexico may be on the verge of such a perfect storm as it enters a new year fraught with multiple perils and few opportunities.

Three dark clouds threaten Mexico’s future in 2018: Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, the possible end of Nafta and a presidential election that may introduce an era of turmoil and uncertainty for the economy and Mexican society at large.

The first threat has little to do with Mexico’s policies or control of its destiny. Whatever one thinks of the new tax regime in the United States, there is little question that it belongs strictly to the American domestic policy realm, unlike immigration policy, which has been the subject of several agreements between the United States and, among others, Mexico and Cuba."  Continue reading

More on the border wall from The Independent

Photo thanks to Reuters. Article by David Usborne

Photo thanks to Reuters. Article by David Usborne

I visited El Paso this week and learned a lot about Donald Trump's border wall. 

Locals put low crime down to excellent policing and growing prosperity, as well as flourishing relations between the civic leaderships of the adjoining cities

My day done, it’s time to seek vittles in Anson 11, a swanky restaurant in the Anson Mills building in downtown El Paso, only the second concrete-framed skyscraper in all the United States when it was built in 1911. Prosperous then, the city has had its ups and downs for sure, but tonight all is buzzing. Filled with diners, the restaurant has just one seat left, a stool at the bar. I take it.

So much for the wild west frontier town we are told to expect. I am but a short walk from the border with Mexico and the much larger city, in population terms, of Ciudad Juarez, yet no one here, even after dark, is afraid for their security. No bandits lurk in the alleyways. Read More

 

Fighting for the Rights of Immigrants: At Risk Dreamers, Refugees, Families

Photos thanks to Luis Hernández, Photojournalist

Sunday, February 4, 1:30-3:30 pm  (We'll get you home in time for the Super Bowl!)

Maud Sullivan Room of the El Paso Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon

Free street parking around the library on Sundays

You will hear from  these well-known experts and activists

who will discuss the critical issues in detail:

  • Fernado Garcia, Executive Dirctor of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights
  • Carlos Spector, a prominent immigration attorney with a long history of representing asylum cases
  • A DACA Dreamer

Over the last year, the Trump administration has enacted harsh measures against immigrants in the United States. Increased deportations are splitting more families than ever before, the DACA program is in limbo, and few refugees are receiving asylum.