U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question

Line at the Travis County District Clerk passport acceptance facility office on January 27, 2017.  Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Line at the Travis County District Clerk passport acceptance facility office on January 27, 2017.  Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

BY KEVIN SIEFF, THE WASHINGTON POST; run in The Texas Tribune:  

"PHARR, Tex. — On paper, he’s a devoted U.S. citizen.

His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.

But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen.

As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship."  Continue reading

The trash you can see is just a tiny fraction of the plastic litter all around you — and likely inside of you

Photo taken by Chris Joyce, NPR

Photo taken by Chris Joyce, NPR

 

They’re soil and compost, in oceans and lakes, in drinking water and beer, in fish and shellfish — bits of plastic tinier than one of these letters. They’re making their way into the food chain, turning a huge area in the Pacific into “a soup of confetti,” and transforming chemically as they break down in ways we don’t yet fully grasp.

"This happens all the time," says one researcher Continue reading.

Immigration Forum Attrachs Big Crowd

Probably the largest group we've seen at a social justice forum attended Sunday's presentations on "Our Broken Immigration System: When Will It be Fixed?" Speakers Ouisa Davis, Attorney, Dr. Josiah Heyman, and Dr. Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri spoke eloquently and passionately about their particular fields of interest.

Oscar J Martinez, Ouisa Davis, Josiah Heyman

Oscar J Martinez, Ouisa Davis, Josiah Heyman

Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri

Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri

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.

Speakers:

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. Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Women's and Gender Studie at UTEP. Her work focuses on women and community development in colonias on the U.S.-Mexico border, ethnography, and service learning. She will be speaking on "No Safe Haven here," based on research she has conducted.

Ouisa D. Davis is a local attorney, former executive director of Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc.  and an immigration policy analyst. She will speak on the historical development of immigration law and policy and the status of the current immigration law and process. 

"If we had not been of the middle class, we never could have come here legally"

Join us for a stimulating presentation and discussion on Our Horribly Broken Immigration System: When Will It Be Fixed?  This Sunday (8/26/18), 2:30-4 pm), El Paso Public Library downtown. Sometimes free parking is hard to find--best bet is to park east of the library and away from the ballpark.

Martha Santamaria poses for photos Friday, July 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Martha Santamaria poses for photos Friday, July 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Central Americans seeking path to US have few legal options by Amy Taxin of the AP.  

Maria Santamaria made sure to follow the U.S. immigration rules.
She obtained a green card through her husband, came to the country on an immigrant visa and became an American citizen. When her sister came on a travel visa fleeing violence and civil war in her native El Salvador, she helped her get a green card to stay in the U.S.
That process took 16 years.
"If we had not been of the middle class, we never could have come here legally," Santamaria said. "They would never give a visa to the poor."  Continue reading

Why haven't all the families been reunited? Cruelty, pure and simple

The issue of immigration will be more thoroughly discussed at the next forum, Sunday 8/26 at 2:30 in the downtown library. Panelists: Josiah Heyman, Ouisa Davis and Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri. Free street parking--easier to find east of library.

Shoes and toys left by migrants at the Tornillo Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas. (Brendan Smialowski/ AFP/Getty Images)

Shoes and toys left by migrants at the Tornillo Port of Entry in Tornillo, Texas. (Brendan Smialowski/ AFP/Getty Images)

From the LA Times; written by Brian Schatz.  "The failure of the U.S. government to reverse the kidnapping of thousands of children from their parents has been chalked up to incompetence. People want to believe that this act of extraordinary cruelty — and the Trump administration’s inability to fix it — stems from our leaders’ lack of experience or common sense.

But this too is a failure — of our collective imagination. The separation of children from their parents at the Southwest border is not simply a policy that has resulted in immeasurable harm, but a policy designed to inflict it. The government blew its Thursday deadline to reunite these families because it never intended to do so.

How else can we explain what has happened to these families? Some 14 million checked bags are managed by the Transportation Security Administration — and that’s just during Thanksgiving weekend. Even high school students can manage a coat check for an evening without losing everyone’s coats. They match each coat and owner with corresponding tickets, and do not store the coats outside the building, or even thousands of miles away from the event.  Continue reading

"Increasing Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the United States is Unsettling Many White European Americans"

Photo thanks to Pond5

Photo thanks to Pond5

Read/view this exceptional analysis of what demographic change means politically. Written by Ezra Klein in Vox.

In 2008, Barack Obama held up change as a beacon, attaching to it another word, a word that channeled everything his young and diverse coalition saw in his rise and their newfound political power: hope. An America that would elect a black man president was an America in which a future was being written that would read thrillingly different from our past.
In 2016, Donald Trump wielded that same sense of change as a threat; he was the revanchist voice of those who yearned to make America the way it was before, to make it great again. That was the impulse that connected the wall to keep Mexicans out, the ban to keep Muslims away, the birtherism meant to prove Obama couldn’t possibly be a legitimate president. An America that would elect Donald Trump president was an America in which a future was being written that could read thrillingly similar to our past. Continue reading

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.  

(HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Speakers:

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