AMERICA/UNITED STATES – It is not a crime to seek asylum: the caravan of migrants arrives at the border


Austin – “It is not a crime to seek asylum: we urge the Administration to look for other solutions that reinforce the integrity of the immigration system existing in the United States”. This is what Mgr. Joe Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, President of the Commission for Migrations in the United States Episcopal Conference, Sr. Donna Markham, OP, President of the “Catholic Charities USA” , Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the “Catholic Legal Immigration Network” and Sean Callahan, President of “Catholic Relief Services” say in a joint statement sent to Agenzia Fides.
On November 9, President Trump issued a provision prohibiting people arriving at the southern border with Mexico from receiving asylum in the United States. This represents a direct contradiction with the existing asylum law, underlines the text sent to Fides.
In the statement shared by Catholic bodies we read: “While we recognize the right of every nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply disturbing. It will limit and delay access regarding the protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing the violence in Central America, which could leave them in conditions of insecurity in Mexico or in situations of indefinite detention on the border between the United States and Mexico. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and that this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and values. We urge the Administration to look for other solutions that reinforce the integrity of the existing immigration system, while ensuring access to the protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those fleeing persecution, regardless of where they seek that protection and where they come from”.
In the meantime 400 Hondurans arrived at the border and others will arrive, perhaps more than 3 thousand. The tension is registered on both sides of the border because the group of migrants wants to enter US territory with legal permission. The applicants must therefore wait to be received by the migration office, present at the same border, with undeclared times and, in the meantime, the place where to stop for the wait cannot manage the flow of the people that have arrived. “Tijuana is not ready to receive a caravan of that size”, said the mayor of the border town to the press, saying that the city is now saturated and today, Friday 16 November, another 2 thousand migrants are expected to arrive, with social difficulties and need for assistance.

Pancho Villa (Wrongfully) Used to Justify Military at Border

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

Although it’s been more than 100 years since Pancho Villa set foot in the US, the old revolutionary general was used this week as justification for militarizing our border with Mexico.

During the last few weeks before the midterm elections, Donald Trump couldn’t stop talking about the migrant caravan heading north from Honduras and labeled it as an imminent invasion of the US to gin up votes among Republicans. He claimed, without any evidence, that ISIS fighters and unknown Middle Easterners were imbedded among the people mostly walking the 2,000 mile trip through Mexico.

Those migrants, it’s assumed, are working their way toward the US in hopes of seeking asylum and refuge from the many dangers they face back home.

Just before the election, Trump ordered active US military troops to the border as a show of force against the migrants that were still at least 1,000 miles away. The “threat”, though, consists mainly of women and children fleeing horrific conditions in Central America.

In the election, voters turned against Trump and his divisive approach to politics, and instead voted for Democrats in overwhelming numbers, resulting in a flip of 35 districts from Republicans, and handing Trump an embarrassing defeat with Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives.

But, since last week’s elections, Trump has been relatively muted about the caravan. This week he sent his Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis, to tour the troops at the border this week along with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Most people now believe that the troop order was nothing more than a political stunt from a president desperate to shore up his voter base. In the end, though, it didn’t work and now the deployment seems like just another blunder for Trump.

So, when General Mattis was asked during his visit at the border about the rationale for having troops there, he scrambled to come up with a comparison to justify that this is not the first time troops have amassed along the frontier.

General Mattis claimed that this deployment is similar to when the US Army mobilized at the border in 1916 in response to threats from Pancho Villa.

Yup, that’s right, he had to reach back 102 years to find anything close to what Trump is trying to do today, and even that comparison, is wholly different.

The irony of the argument is that the 1916 Army deployment was called the Punitive Expedition because it was organized solely as a retaliatory move, not a defensive one as the current one claims to be.

Mattis is referring to the order by then-President Woodrow Wilson to send Army Lt. General John Pershing into Mexico to hunt down Pancho Villa after the Mexican revolutionary general and his men attacked the city of Columbus, New Mexico, and its Army post, on March 9, 1916.

During the attack, Villa’s men killed eight American soldiers and ten civilians, and stole guns, ammunition, horses, and supplies before escaping back into Mexico.

In retaliation, Pershing led 6,600 soldiers into Mexico in what he expected would be a simple mission. The expedition included the first use of motorized vehicles in a US military operation, as well as a relatively new weapon; airplanes.

After about two months, though, Pershing’s expedition ultimately ended in frustration after being run in circles by Villa and his forces. In the end, the emerging Mexican military threatened to fight the Americans if they didn’t retreat.

Pershing wrote that he was “outwitted and out-bluffed at every turn” by Villa, and that “having dashed into Mexico with the intention of eating the Mexicans raw, we turned back at the first repulse and are now sneaking home under cover, like a whipped [dog] with its tail between its legs”.

Pershing’s expedition has now become known as the Mexican Expedition because it sounds more like a treasure hunt than the revengeful incursion that it truly was.

To many, it symbolizes the negative attitude that the US has had against Mexico in the past, and has again under President Trump.

The caravan of migrants currently in Mexico is not an imminent national security threat as Trump proclaimed. We have over 16,000 Border Patrol agents deployed along the Mexican border who have primary jurisdiction for immigration-related arrests and detainments. For nearly 100 years, the Border Patrol has maintained peace at the border without the use of military troops to fight immigrants.

In fact, under federal law, the military cannot directly apprehend suspected undocumented immigrants. During the deployment of both National Guard units, as well as the current military troops, soldiers can only perform support roles like drivers, mechanics, and building fences and erecting barb wire. The image of troops with rifles standing watch at the border is a political myth.

This week, the first wave of migrants reached the Tijuana border, but, it wasn’t thousands of people, it was a few hundred, and they didn’t storm the border fence as Trump suggested they would. More migrants are expected to arrive in Tijuana this weekend and into next week in what is expected to total about 3,000.

When they arrived at the border this week, many migrants were surprised by the size of the border fence and the heavy Border Patrol presence. One woman said it looked like a scene from a movie.

But, it wasn’t the military that kept them from crossing. The caravan migrants are hoping to present themselves legally at the border and apply for asylum, as allowed under US and international laws. No one is storming the fence or causing a riot.

The movement of displaced people is happening all over the world, not just along our border. For many years, countries have been dealing with migrants seeking refuge from war, poverty, and violence, and taking people in through their own legal process.

The US in capable of handling this current migrant crisis as it has many before; with dignity and fairness. We shouldn’t resort to scare tactics and fear-mongering, we shouldn’t resort to allowing military troops to enforce civilian laws, and we shouldn’t resort to turning away people in need because of their race or ethnicity.

There is not a revolution at our border. Pancho Villa is not riding his horse across the border to raid our cities. We are not at war with Mexico.

We are better than this.

We should act like to world’s richest superpower that we are, not like a backward protectionist country led by a military strong man. That’s exactly what the caravan migrants are fleeing.

‘No Morals’: Advertisers React to Facebook Report – The New York Times

The revelations may be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s biggest ad companies. “Now we know Facebook will do whatever it takes to make money. They have absolutely no morals.” Marketers have grumbled about Facebook in the past, concerned that advertisements could appear next to misinformation and hate speech on the platform. They have complained about how the company handles consumer data and how it measures ads and its user base. But those issues were not enough to outweigh the lure of Facebook’s vast audience and the company’s insistence that it was trying to address its flaws.

How the Senate’s Structure Upholds White Male Dominance

true this

In last week’s midterm elections, Democratic and progressive political candidates flipped red House districts, key state legislative bodies, governors’ offices, and even Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona. We’ve elected one of the most diverse Congressional classes in history, with historic numbers of women and LGBTQ representatives, including the first Muslim and Native American women representatives.

Yet, despite many positive returns from the midterms, we were also forced to see how our government remains fundamentally structured around protecting and maintaining white patriarchy — particularly through the U.S. Senate.

Democratic candidates won seats in the House, but lost Senate seats in North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and possibly Florida for a net loss of one or two seats. In order for Democrats and progressive candidates to gain even a narrow Senate majority in the years to come, this would require them to win seats in every single traditionally blue or purple state, with zero margin of error.

That’s because the Senate’s structure fundamentally disadvantages progressive candidates by granting disproportionate power to conservative, majority-white, rural states that are vastly less populous. During the Constitutional convention back in 1787, equal political representation of the states in the Senate was demanded by small states and, along with the formation of the electoral college and the three-fifths compromise, helped to protect the interests of slave-owning regions of the country. And today, the Senate’s skewed representation gives voters in regions that are sorely lacking in immigrant communities or people of color decisive power to maintain a status quo of intolerance and misogyny, regardless of how broadly unpopular these ideologies and policies are to the rest of the country—and how much they harm people and women of color, immigrants, and marginalized people across the country.

In substantially more populous, Democratic states, diversity has driven a demand for progressive policies. Voters in these states are much more likely to vote for Democratic representatives because of their lived experiences—either their own oppression, or the experience of witnessing the oppression of members of their communities. Lived experience and empathy drive politics, and in states and regions that lack this diversity, which are given equal decision-making power and representation despite having anywhere from less than a quarter to half the populations of blue states, anti-choice, anti-immigration, and anti-LGBTQ representatives are consistently elected.

Los Angeles and New York City, which rank among the most diverse communities in the world, have double or triple the populations of entire states, including the Dakotas, Kansas, and West Virginia. And despite reductive, condescending narratives of these cities and other predominantly liberal coastal or western regions as “elitist,” unsaid numbers of disproportionately people of color in these areas live in poverty. The traditional narrative of the neglected working-class as white, male, and based in the Midwest utterly erases impoverished immigrant families and people of color in coastal areas.

Furthermore, voter suppression tactics that disproportionately occur in traditionally Republican states contribute to the GOP’s absolute hegemony in these states. Many notoriously red states do not lack for people of color, with sizable black constituencies in Southern states. Yet, despite how these constituencies traditionally support Democrats, voter suppression tactics in these regions erase and rob them of representation; voter ID and name match laws specifically and almost exclusively target black and Latinx voters. And despite how Democrats won big in the House, they would have won even bigger were it not for aggressive gerrymandering by the GOP.

Upon being elected, Senators representing states where many constituents have yet to so much as interact with an immigrant or person of color in their lives, proceed to slash key rights and protections of marginalized groups. The Republican-controlled Senate has voted to confirm a string of Trump administration officials who have gone on to weaken civil rights and criminal justice for people of color in the Justice Department and Education Department. The Senate has repeatedly jeopardized immigrants’ rights and ability to remain in this country with their families by sabotaging crucial reform attempts, all while threatening key protections of the Affordable Care Act that disproportionately allowed immigrants and black and Latinx people to access life-saving coverage for the first time. Additionally, the chamber has the power to confirm judges and Supreme Court justices who could gut human rights like abortion, health care access, and more, for marginalized people across the country, for generations to come.

Women of color also disproportionately suffer under the Senate’s disproportionate empowerment of Republicans, despite being more likely than any other bloc to vote for Democratic representation. For example, women of color who have experienced economic success are more likely than white women to attribute their success to access to birth control, and also comprise the majority of American women who seek abortion care. When Senators target funding for Planned Parenthood and reproductive health organizations, attack the Affordable Care Act and its protections of contraception access, and confirm anti-choice judges like Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, they are decisively targeting and punishing women of color.

They are decisively using their inflated electoral power to stall progress—and to prevent women, people of color, and all other marginalized groups from gaining equal status, autonomy, and recognition that white men have always had, through voter suppression tactics and disproportionate political empowerment of states that practice suppression. And the product of this power dynamic is a Senate that maintains white, male dominance as governance.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

kozacy: In the heat of battle, photographer Horace Bristol…



In the heat of battle, photographer Horace Bristol captured one of the most unique and erotic photos of WWII.

Bristol photographed a young crewman of a US Navy “Dumbo” PBY rescue mission, manning his gun after having stripped naked and jumped into the water of Rabaul Harbor to rescue a badly burned Marine pilot. The Marine was shot down while bombing the Japanese-held fortress of Rabaul.

“…we got a call to pick up an airman who was down in the Bay. The Japanese were shooting at him from the island, and when they saw us they started shooting at us. The man who was shot down was temporarily blinded, so one of our crew stripped off his clothes and jumped in to bring him aboard. He couldn’t have swum very well wearing his boots and clothes. As soon as we could, we took off. We weren’t waiting around for anybody to put on formal clothes. We were being shot at and wanted to get the hell out of there. The naked man got back into his position at his gun in the blister of the plane.”

“And well, there was his butt, and I had a camera. I mean I AM a historian.”

Facebook seeks to patent software for figuring out who lives together and profiling the household

Facebook Inc. is applying to patent software that it could use to create profiles of users’ households by making educated guesses about how many people live in the household, what their relationships to each other are, what interests they share and what electronic devices they use.

The system would…