Was the 2016 election legitimate? It's now definitely worth asking the question

 President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16 Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint press conference after their summit on July 16 Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

From the LA Times. Written by Virginia Heffernon:  

"We need to talk about a forbidden subject: the legitimacy of the current president.

There’s been a code of silence around President Donald Trump’s shady victory in 2016. It’s one of those tiptoe-around-it things that the American family just doesn’t talk about. And with good reason. Whatever your politics, it’s perilous to question the soundness of an American election. 

aising the question of Trump’s legitimacy risks detonating a full-blown crisis of faith — kindling distrust not just in Trump, but also in the system that installed him.

But fear of facing the legitimacy question has not stopped Americans from harboring profound doubts, if only “deep down in places you don't talk about at parties,” in Aaron Sorkin’s phrasing from “A Few Good Men.”

As more and more facts about Trump’s incongruous victory emerge, the doubts gnaw harder — and grow harder to ignore.

A nation devoted to majority rule has a minority president. Who squeaked into office on an electoral college technicality. Against most data projections. Using dark money. Using voter suppression. Using Russian disinformation.

As more and more facts about Trump’s incongruous victory emerges, the doubts gnaw harder — and grow harder to ignore."  Continue reading


Immigration Crises: View From The Borderlands

From an essay written by Kathy Staudt, an Social Justice team member and recently retired retired professor of Political Science at UTEP.

We are all living in a time of renewed attention to the US-Mexico border, but especially to “border security.” The border security narrative operates during politicians’ campaigns for elective office, around budget times, and/or after the latest Hollywood films about organized crime in Mexico. After all, who can disagree with “security”? Until recently, too many people in the US always seemed willing to believe the worst about people of Mexican heritage or of people from the Global South, but images of children made a difference in the summer of 2018.

Writing here from the US-Mexico borderlands and sitting in what was formerly northern Mexico until 1848, my lived experience consists of everyday insights about migration, refugees, and children in detention camps and tent cities. The borderlands, at the frontlines of so much recent political rhetoric, consists of cities and towns, which like San Diego, rest at the top among safest cities in the US, unlike many cities in the heartlands of the country. Borderlanders live in interdependent communities with people in counterpart cities and towns of Mexico.

Here in the borderlands, our vantage points offer frontline vision for how Washington DC policy hits practice, particularly the demagogic policies and cruel practices. We have had our share of marches, protests, and emergency outreach to vulnerable people exposed to the illegality of border guards refusing to accept asylum-seekers. Family separation and a "zero tolerance policy" in 2018 have roused the conscience of people nationwide. I am elated, even relieved when I see pictures of both borderland and heartland people and their evocative signs: “no family separation,” “this is not America,” and so on.  Continue reading

Facing Mexico’s violence in one of its most violent cities, López Obrador stubbornly offers hope

 Relatives of violence victims speak with Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during the forum "For Peace and National Reconciliation" in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, on August 7, 2018.    (HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Relatives of violence victims speak with Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during the forum "For Peace and National Reconciliation" in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, on August 7, 2018.  


By the Dallas News, an online arm of The Dallas Morning News.  By Alfredo Corchada.

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — Facing a restless city awash in renewed violence, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he's ready to start a new approach and urged locals to forgive, but never forget. 

"There is thirst for justice," he said Tuesday during remarks in which at times he had to go off script to address a tense crowd. Many in the audience had lost family members to the seemingly endless wave of murders in Juárez. They urged punishment for those who victimized them.

"I will take Mexico's security problems as a personal matter," López Obrador said. "We will attend to your needs. We will find justice for Juárez and for other parts of the country."  Continue reading

More Ex-Prisoners Can Vote--They Just Don't Know It

 Pastor Kenneth Glasgow helps Spencer Trawick, an inmate at the Dothan City Jail in Dothan, Ala., fill out a voter registration form in June 2017. CONNOR SHEETS/AL.COM

Pastor Kenneth Glasgow helps Spencer Trawick, an inmate at the Dothan City Jail in Dothan, Ala., fill out a voter registration form in June 2017. CONNOR SHEETS/AL.COM

This article was published in The Marshall Project. It is part of a partnership with The Daily Beast.  Written by Eli Hager.


The last few years have been good for former prisoners hoping to regain the ability to vote. In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued pardons in May to nearly 25,000 parolees in order to restore their voting rights. In Virginia, in an ongoing effort to get more people to the polling booth, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, have used executive powers to reinstate the rights of approximately 200,000 people with felony records.

This story was published in partnership with The Daily Beast.

And in Florida, where 1.7 million people are banned from voting because of criminal histories, an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot this November would give back the vote to every formerly incarcerated person not convicted of murder or a major sex offense.

But it’s one thing to make it legal for people to vote again, and another to ensure they know about it. Voters and even local officials may not realize what’s changed.

“Implementation is everything when it comes to voting rights,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a national advocacy group.  Continue reading

Next Forum: Our Broken Immigration System. When Will It Be Fixed?

 Photo thanks to Luis Hernández, Photojournalist

Photo thanks to Luis Hernández, Photojournalist

Sunday, August 26, 2018, 2:30 pm - 4 pm

El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon, El Paso 79901

Free street parking on Sundays: Best bet is to park somewhere east of the library and away from the ballpark.


Dr. Josiah Heyman, Director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at UTEP and past president of the Border Network for Human Rights.  A distinguished scholar, he has written extensively about the border and immigration issues.

Dr. Mark Lusk, Professor of Social Work at UTEP and past holder of various administrative posts at UTEP and other universities in the United States.  He is well known for his publications in international migration and his staunch advocacy for the rights of immigrants.

A third speaker TBA.

From National Geographic: Scenes from a migration crisis--on both sides of the border

 Luis German Ruiz and his son, Luis Fernando Ruiz, sit on their bed at the Casa del Migrante Frontera Digna. They left Honduras to escape the violence that had already taken three family.  PHOTOGRAPH BY TAMARA MERINO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Luis German Ruiz and his son, Luis Fernando Ruiz, sit on their bed at the Casa del Migrante Frontera Digna. They left Honduras to escape the violence that had already taken three family.  PHOTOGRAPH BY TAMARA MERINO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Separation of children continues to be huge issue for all health and mental health professionals

The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote the Homeland Security Secretary a letter in March on the  Separation of Migrant Children from their Parent(s). The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics recently spoke on camera on the issue with CNN.  Here is that conversation:

The mentioned letter succinctly make the key points in opposition to a cruel and brutal policy that is still affecting children weeks after its rollback. Many children have yet to be reunited and some have been separated from parents who have been deported.  The policy was field tested by DHS in the El Paso region, the current home to the Tornillo Tent City of Child Refugees. To read AAP statement opposing the separation of immigrant children and parents, click here.

All of the major professional associations have made statements opposing the policy and its toxic effects on children, including the AMA, NASW and APA.

Mexico's Bargaining Position in the NAFTA Negotiations Will Likely Improve Now That Mexicans have Elected Manuel Lopez Obrador President of Mexico--in a Landslide.

 Photo thanks to NPR

Photo thanks to NPR

From Keith Laing in The Detroit News

Washington — The election of a new leftist president in Mexico has scrambled already-fraught negotiations with the United States about potential changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

After a campaign in which he frequently used President Donald Trump as a foil, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico on Sunday by a 52.9 percent to 22.5 percent margin. He will take office Dec. 1. 

The election of a populist who has been critical of Trump’s NAFTA demands has added another complication to talks that have already taken longer than expected and been roiled by tariff threats from the Trump administration. Auto industry observers and trade experts say it will be difficult for Mexico’s new president to strike a quick deal with Trump after waging a heated campaign. 

Trump and López Obrador spoke by telephone for a half-hour following the election in a call that the U.S. president said was “a great conversation.” 

“We talked about border security,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Monday. “We talked about trade. We talked about NAFTA. We talked about a separate deal, just Mexico and the United States. We had a lot of good conversation. I think the relationship will be a very good one. We’ll see what happens, but I really do believe it’s going to be a very good one.”  Continue reading

5 facts behind America's high incarceration rate from CNN

From Drew Kann with CNN

(CNN)Year after year, the United States beats out much larger countries -- India, China -- and more totalitarian ones --Russia and the Philippines -- for the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America's prisons and jails at the end of 2016. That means for every 100,000 people residing in the United States, approximately 655 of them were behind bars.

If the US prison population were a city, it would be among the country's 10 largest. More people are behind bars in America than there are living in major cities such as Philadelphia or Dallas. Continue reading


Noted Journalist Kent Paterson Explains the Landslide Presidential Victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and His Party Morena. Important Changes are Coming in Mexico.

lopez Obrador.jpg

At the end of the day, all the campaign artillery shells fired at Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) proved to be duds. Charges by his opponents that AMLO was a Russian dupe, a Venezuelan fifth columnist, a secret tycoon with corrupt dealings, a throwback to a bygone nationalist era, and a reckless dunce incapable of steering the globalized Mexican economy evaporated into thin electoral air.

Barrages of anti-AMLO robocalls, television spots, obscure website postings, Facebook fantasies, and attempted October surprises in May and June likewise wildly missed the target.

Late on the evening of election day July 1, Mexico eagerly awaited official news from National Electoral Institute (INE) chief Lorenzo Cordova, who finally appeared on television praising the nation for a heavy voter turnout (an estimated 63 percent) and informing Mexicans that early results showed López Obrador was leading the four-way presidential contest with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Even before Cordova’s televised appearance, AMLO’s three opponents had gracefully bowed out, rendering conciliatory concession speeches based on exist polls that were showing a landslide for the leader of the Morena party.  Continue reading

Dr. Mark Lusk, EPSJ team member, explains the emotional and psychological damage done to immigrant children when separated from their parents.

mark diario.jpg

By Mar Aveytia in El Diario de El Paso

El Paso— Mientras la Casa Blanca relaja la política de inmigración de ‘cero tolerancia’ que ha llevado a la separación forzada de las familias, los expertos médicos lanzan una alarma sobre el daño psicológico potencialmente irreparable que afectará de por vida a los niños que han sido encarcelados y separados de sus padres. 

"Entre los eventos más taumáticos que le pueden pasar a un niño se encuentran el abuso físico, sexual, y la separación de sus padres,” afirma el catedrático de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso, Mark Lusk.

Afectará vida de adultos el trauma de la separación

Esos efectos nocivos pueden provocar muchos cambios, desde depresión futura, ansiedad y trastorno de estrés postraumático (TEPT) hasta tendencias violentas, abuso de sustancias y dificultad para establecer relaciones más adelante.

“Cuando un menor no tiene ni idea de dónde están sus padres y ha sido alejado de su cariño y protección se genera un estrés tóxico, el más dañino que puede haber,” afirmó.

Agrega que cuando el estrés se convierte en algo dañino para la integridad de las personas se le llama “estrés tóxico” porque mina la habilidad de una persona (en este caso de los menores), de funcionar adecuadamente.

“Esto es particularmente nocivo para los niños porque aún no están desarrollados física y mentalmente, y no tienen capacidad intelectual desarrollada para entender o interpretar el trauma que les han infringido”, señaló.

Lusk dijo además que la separación de los menores de sus padres tendrá un efecto adverso en su vida de adultos. “El niño puede volverse resistente y pasa a ser una persona con miedo crónico, una ansiedad crónica, una depresión crónica y una inseguridad crónica de sí mismo y de la seguridad de su entorno”, afirmó.  Continue reading


Ruben Garcia, Founder and Director of Annunciation House in El Paso, Has Provided Shelter and Other Assistance to Desperate Migrants and Refugees for the Last Forty Years.

 Border Patrol agents drop off immigrant parents at the shelter at Annunciation House, as the director, Ruben Garcia, left, watches.

Border Patrol agents drop off immigrant parents at the shelter at Annunciation House, as the director, Ruben Garcia, left, watches.

From Angela Kocherga in the Albuquerque Journal

EL PASO – As the national outcry over the policy of separating parents and children at the border reached a fever pitch, Ruben Garcia sat in a tiny, cluttered office at Annunciation House and quietly reassured a distraught mother from Guatemala that he would find her little girl.

“I promise you, we will get her back,” Garcia, director of Annunciation House, told her.

The woman said the last time she saw her 4-year-old was June 15, and she had no idea how to find her.

Garcia apologized on behalf of a nation that had taken her child.

When she burst into tears, he reached into his back pocket and handed the mother a paper towel from a stash he started carrying in recent days as he comforts dozens of tearful parents desperate to find their children. He tried tissue paper, but it was too fragile and shredded easily as Garcia is constantly on the move and keeps a grueling schedule working to reunite families.

“I just think that that’s what God wants me to do,” Garcia said.

At a time of uncertainty, confusion and grief, he has emerged as a beacon of light for many families whose lives have been affected by the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, which separated more than 2,300 children from their parents, beginning in May.

The president’s executive order June 20 ended separations created when immigrant parents facing criminal prosecution were locked up and their kids were sent to far-flung shelters across the country.  Continue reading

Additional speaker added to speak at environmental forum this Sunday, June 24

 Photo thanks to KTEP.

Photo thanks to KTEP.

Kevin Bixby will also presenting at the Environmental Forum scheduled for this Sunday, June 24, 2:30 pm, at the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon. Bixby is the founder and director of the Southwest Environmental Center. Its focus is to protect wildlife and their habitats in the Southwest. SWEC works on campaigns to restore the the Rio Grande to a living river, protect wild places like Otero Mesa from destruction by oil and gas development, reform state wildlife governance so that all wildlife species are protected. It's going to be a stimulating afternoon. Join us!

City of Exiles: Northbound migrants, deportees, and asylum seekers overwhelm Tijuana

 Photo found online. Thanks to the Ex Pat in Baja México

Photo found online. Thanks to the Ex Pat in Baja México

From The California Sunday Magazine. Written by Daniel Duane.  Photographs by Yael Martínez

NICOLE RAMOS, a 38-year-old lawyer from suburban New Jersey, sat nervously petting one of her many cats on a red couch next to the Buddha statue in the Tijuana apartment where she lives alone. Then Ramos’s phone buzzed with a text she’d been expecting all morning. More than 100 Central American and African migrants were passing through downtown Tijuana to a shelter already overcrowded with men and women who had just been deported from the United States. 

Ramos and her two partners in a shoestring nonprofit called Al Otro Lado, or To the Other Side, are the only American attorneys based in Tijuana who work pro bono with both asylum-seekers and deportees — people approaching the United States from the south seeking safety and those pushed into Mexico from the north, banished by the U.S. government. Ramos shoved her bulky old laptop into a leather shoulder bag, grabbed her car keys, and stood up to do what she does many days a week for almost no pay.

All over this desert metropolis, in shelters and churches that care for migrants, Ramos provides a service that no Mexican or American government agency or NGO will. She absorbs the worst stories anybody has ever heard, full of rape and severed body parts and murdered children, and then she explains that any migrant who walks up to a U.S. border gate declaring fear of persecution has a legal right to apply for asylum. Ramos cautions that, since Donald Trump was elected president, Customs and Border Protection officers have been systematically denying people that legal right; she encourages everybody who has no prayer of qualifying for asylum to settle in Mexico; she promises the handful who do have a prayer that she will walk to the border gate with them and argue on their behalf; and she makes sure everyone understands that, thanks in large part to one of President Trump’s earliest executive orders, winning that argument with Customs and Border Protection condemns asylum-seekers to months or years in private, for-profit American detention centers. Continue reading

Environmental Forum Scheduled for Sunday, June 24 at 2:30

Jayajit Chakraborty.jpg

We have a very informational program lined up. Dr. Jayajit Chakraborty will speak with us about environmental justice.

Dr Chakraborty's research encompasses a wide range of environmental and social justice issues, as well as their connections with racial and ethnic disparities, public health concerns, and both natural and technological hazards. His research has been funded by multiple awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Association of American Geographers (AAG).

He is a Professor of Geography at UTEP.  He also directs the Socio-Environmental & Geospatial Analysis (SEGA) Lab there. Before coming to UTEP in 2015, Dr. Chakraborty was a Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. He was also a visiting scholar in the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The forum will be held Sunday, June 24 at the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon from 2:30-4 pm.


For Desert Dwellers, a Life in Balance

U of Az urban desert-01.jpg

From the University of Arizona:

Can a place where water is hard to come by and heat is hard to escape sustain a growing population?
Some say it can't, insisting that cities have no place in the desert. Given carefully considered and collaboratively conceived water management, urban planning and architecture, University of Arizona experts Sharon MegdalLadd Keith and Christopher Domin say otherwise.
Unlike the future of desert dwelling, the challenges of it are uncomplicated and uncontroversial. They are, chiefly, water scarcity and heat.
Humans aren't intrinsically well-prepared to handle either one, and yet civilizations have made homes of inhospitable deserts for centuries. In southern Arizona, long before celebrated architect Judith Chafee built her famed 1975 Ramada House and taught at the UA, the Hohokam inhabited the landscape, drawing from the Salt and Gila rivers to sustain themselves.  Continue reading