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Displaying items by tag: President Donald Trump

Friday, 04 January 2019 05:01

US issues fresh travel warning to China

The US state department has urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” when travelling to China after a spate of high-profile detentions.
 
Its updated advice warns that US citizens have been arbitrarily prevented from leaving the country.
 
The warning comes as two Canadian citizens remain in detention in China.
 
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested last month as relations between the two countries worsened.
 
The pair face accusations of harming national security and, on Thursday, China’s top prosecutor said they had “without a doubt” violated the law.
 
Separately, three US citizens were accused of committing “economic crimes”and barred from leaving China in November.
 
Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reportedly been detained since June.
 
“US citizens may be detained without access to… consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the advisory reads.
 
“Individuals not involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also been subjected to lengthy exit bans in order to compel their family members or colleagues to co-operate with Chinese courts,” the state department said in a separate warning issued last January.
 
The latest advice also warns of “special restrictions” on those who hold dual US-Chinese citizenship.
 
Dual-citizenship is not allowed under Chinese law, and the state department has warned that US-Chinese nationals can be detained and denied US assistance in China.
 
It advises travelling on a US passport with a valid Chinese visa and asking officials to notify the US embassy immediately if you are detained or arrested.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in World

China has opened the door to imports of rice from the United States for the first time ever in what analysts took to signal a warming of relations between the world's two biggest economies after a frosty year marked by tensions and tit-for-tat tariffs.

The green light from Chinese customs, indicated in a statement posted on the customs authority's website on Friday, comes in the run-up to talks between the countries in January after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a moratorium on higher tariffs that would affect trade worth hundred of billions of dollars.

It was not immediately clear how much rice China, which sources rice imports from within Asia, might seek to buy from the United States. But the move, which comes after years of talks on the matter, follows pledges from China's commerce ministry of further U.S. trade openings earlier this week.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see importers trying to move rice into China from California but I don't know if it will be in breathtaking quantities right away," said Stuart Hoetger, an analyst and physical rice trader based in California.

As of Dec. 27, imports of brown rice, polished rice and crushed rice from the United States are now permitted, as long as cargoes meet China's inspection standards and are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA on Dec. 11 forecast U.S. rice production at 6.93 million tonnes while Chinese rice imports were estimated at 5 million tonnes. Rice makes up only a small portion of U.S. agricultural exports, which are dominated by shipments of soybeans, grain, tree nuts and meat.

U.S. rice futures had little reaction to the announcement, declining by 7 cents to $10.06 per cwt.

"The permission for U.S. rice suggests an improving U.S. and China relationship," said Cherry Zhang, an agriculture analyst with consultancy JCI. Zhang said she expected any imports would likely be ordered by state-owned companies.

Officials at a government-affiliated think tank in Beijing said the price of U.S. rice was not competitive, compared with imports from South Asia, and said the move to formally permit imports from the United States should be interpreted as a goodwill gesture. China opened its rice market when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but a lack of phytosanitary protocol between China and the United States effectively banned imports, according to trade group USA Rice.

Nonetheless, in July China formally imposed additional tariffs of 25 percent on U.S. rice, even though imports were not permitted at the time.

 

Published in Agriculture
Thursday, 27 December 2018 05:11

Trump, wife visits US troops in Iraq

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq.
 
They travelled there “late on Christmas night” to thank troops for “their service, their success and their sacrifice”, the White House said.
 
Mr Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq.
 
News reports that the trip came days after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over divisions about strategy in the region.
 
The US still has some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the Islamic State (IS) group.
 
rump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled. Mr Mahdi’s office said it was because of disagreements on how to conduct the meeting. A phone call between the two leaders was held instead, officials added.
 
Mr Trump, his wife and National Security Adviser John Bolton travelled on Air Force One to al-Asad airbase, west of the capital Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant.
 
He spent about three hours at the base in what is his first visit to the region.
 
During the visit he got a standing ovation from troops as he entered a dining hall and walked around greeting them, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
 
He said the reason for the visit was to personally thank them for helping to defeat IS, adding: “Two years ago when I became president they were a very dominant group, today they’re not so dominant any more. Great job.”
 
 
Source: The Routers
Published in World
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 05:48

Trump’s Charity Foundation to close down

US President Donald Trump’s troubled charity foundation has agreed to close down amid allegations that he and others illegally misused its funds.
 
According to News reports, the move was announced by the Attorney General of New York State, Barbara Underwood, who will supervise the distribution of its remaining monies.
 
She has accused Mr Trump and his three eldest children of using it for private and political gain.
 
The foundation’s lawyer accused her of attempting to politicise the matter.
 
This is just one of several legal cases currently swirling around Mr Trump and his family. Others include a wide-ranging special counsel investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.
 
Ms Underwood said the case against Mr Trump and his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric would continue.
 
In a statement, she said there had been “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful co-ordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more”.
 
She continued: “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”
 
Under the terms of the deal to shut down the foundation, Ms Underwood said, it could only be dissolved under judicial supervision and could only distribute its assets “to reputable organisations approved by my office”.
 
She added: “This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone.
 
“We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”
 
 
Source: America NewsExpress
Published in World
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the U.S. Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.
 
"If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made - which is a very important thing - what's good for national security - I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Trump said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the Oval Office.
 
At the request of U.S. authorities, Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested earlier this month in Vancouver on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arrest came the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a 90-day truce in their trade war during summit talks in Buenos Aires.
 
Trump, who wants China to open up its markets to more American-made products and stop what Washington calls the theft of intellectual property, said he had not yet spoken to Xi about the case against Huawei's executive.
 
Meng, 46, faces U.S. accusations she misled multinational banks about Huawei's control of a company operating in Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said.
 
If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions. A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail Meng while she awaits an extradition hearing.
 
Trump, who has made sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program a signature part of his foreign policy, was asked whether Meng could be released.
 
"Well, it's possible that a lot of different things could happen. It's also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we'll speak to the Justice Department, we'll speak to them, we'll get a lot of people involved," he said.
 
Asked if he would like to see Meng extradited to the United States, Trump said he wanted to first see what the Chinese request. He added, however, that Huawei's alleged practices are troubling.
 
"This has been a big problem that we've had in so many different ways with so many companies from China and from other places," he said.
 
In the wake of his meeting with Xi in Buenos Aires, Trump said during the interview that trade talks with Beijing were underway by telephone, with more meetings likely among U.S. and Chinese officials.
 
He said the Chinese government was once again buying large quantities of U.S. soybeans, a reversal after China in July imposed tariffs on U.S. supplies of the oilseed in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods.
 
"I just heard today that they're buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They are starting, just starting now," Trump said.
 
Commodity traders in Chicago, however, said they have seen no evidence of a resumption of soybean purchases by China, which last year bought about 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports in deals valued at more than $12 billion.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in World

The bitter truth buried in recent headlines about how the political consulting company – Cambridge Analytica – used social media and messaging, primarily Facebook and WhatsApp, to try to sway voters in presidential elections in the US and Kenya is simply this: Facebook is the reason why fake news is here to stay.

Various news outlets, and former Cambridge Analytica executives themselves, confirmed that the company used campaign speeches, surveys, and, of course, social media and social messaging to influence Kenyans in both 2013 and 2017.

The media reports also revealed that, working on behalf of US President Donald Trump’s campaign, Cambridge Analytica had got hold of data from 50 million Facebook users, which they sliced and diced to come up with “psychometric” profiles of American voters.

The political data company’s tactics have drawn scrutiny in the past, so the surprise of these revelations came more from the “how” than the “what.” The real stunner was learning how complicit Facebook and WhatsApp, which is owned by the social media behemoth, had been in aiding Cambridge Analytica in its work.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal appears to be symptomatic of much deeper challenges that Facebook must confront if it’s to become a force for good in the global fight against false narratives.

These hard truths include the fact that Facebook’s business model is built upon an inherent conflict of interest. The others are the company’s refusal to take responsibility for the power it wields and its inability to come up with a coherent strategy to tackle fake news.

Facebook’s biggest challenges

Facebook’s first issue is its business model. It has mushroomed into a multibillion-dollar corporation because its revenue comes from gathering and using the data shared by its audience of 2.2 billion monthly users.

Data shapes the ads that dominate our news feeds. Facebook retrieves information from what we like, comment on and share; the posts we hide and delete; the videos we watch; the ads we click on; the quizzes we take. It was, in fact, data sifted from one of these quizzes that Cambridge Analytica bought in 2014. Facebook executives knew of this massive data breach back then but chose to handle the mess internally. They shared nothing with the public.

This makes sense if the data from that public is what fuels your company’s revenues. It doesn’t make sense, however, if your mission is to make the world a more open and connected place, one built in transparency and trust. A corporation that says it protects privacy while also making billions of dollars from data, sets itself up for scandal.

This brings us to Facebook’s second challenge: its myopic vision of its own power. As repeated scandals and controversies have washed over the social network in the last couple of years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s response generally has been one of studied naivete. He seems to be in denial about his corporation’s singular influence and position.

Case in point: When it became clear in 2016 that fake news had affected American elections, Zuckerberg first dismissed that reality as “a pretty crazy idea.” In this latest scandal, he simply said nothing for days.

Throughout the world, news publishers report that 50% to 80% of their digital traffic comes from Facebook. No wonder Google and Facebook control 53% of the world’s digital and mobile advertising revenue. Yet Zuckerberg still struggles to accept that Facebook’s vast audience and its role as a purveyor of news and information combine to give it extraordinary power over what people consume, and by extension, how they behave.

All of this leads us to Facebook’s other challenge: its inability to articulate, and act on, a cogent strategy to attack fake news.

The fake news phenomenon

When Zuckerberg finally surfaced last month, he said out loud what a lot of people were already were thinking: there may be other Cambridge Analyticas out there.

This is very bad news for anyone worried about truth and democracy. For in America, fake news helped to propel into power a man whose presidential campaign may have been a branding exercise gone awry. But in countries like Kenya, fake news can kill.

Zuckerberg and his Facebook colleagues must face this truth. Fake news may not create tribal or regional mistrust, but inflammatory videos and posts shared on social media certainly feed those tensions.

And false narratives spread deep and wide: In 2016, BuzzFeed News found that in some cases, a fake news story was liked, commented and shared almost 500,000 times. A legitimate political news story might attract 75,000 likes, comments and shares.

After Zuckerberg was flogged for his initial statements about fake news, Facebook reached out to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-checking Network in an effort to attack this scourge. Then in January 2018, the social network said that it was going to be more discriminating about how much news it would allow to find its way into the feeds of its users. In other words, more videos on cats and cooking, less news of any kind.

The policy sowed a lot of confusion and showed that Facebook is still groping for how to respond to fake news. It was also evidence that the social network does not understand that fake news endangers its own existence as well as the safety and security of citizens worldwide –- especially in young democracies such as Kenya.

Angry lawmakers in the US and Europe, along with a burgeoning rebellion among its vast audience, may finally grab Facebook’s attention. But we will only hear platitudes and see superficial change unless Facebook faces hard truths about its reliance on data, accepts its preeminent place in today’s media ecosystem and embraces its role in fighting fake news.

Until then, we should brace ourselves for more Cambridge Analyticas.The Conversation

 

Stephen Buckley, Lecturer, The Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications (GSMC)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Telecoms
Trump is about to embark on a trip that could end the trade battle with China — or send the US into an economic Cold War.
 
The future of the US-China trade war will be decided during a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.
 
President Donald Trump is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and Saturday at the G20 summit in Argentina. At the top of their agenda: the US-China trade war.
 
The US and China have implemented tariffs on $360 billion worth of goods flowing between the two countries.
Prospects for meaningful progress are dim as the two sides remain far apart on major issues.
 
Trump's mood could also determine the outcome. The moment of truth for President Donald Trump's trade war with China is fast approaching.
 
Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday and Saturday.
 
The meeting with Xi could determine whether the US and China can ultimately resolve their differences and lower tariffs affecting more than half of all trade between the two countries. Or, the outcome could be that the two sides will remain locked in a still-burgeoning trade war with no end in sight.
 
And you may ask yourself, how did we get here? The trade fight between the US and China has been brewing for decades, as Beijing's economic and political ascendance has threatened the US' dominance on the world stage. Trump, a longtime proponent of tariffs, seized on China's growing strength during the 2016 campaign.
 
After a year of courting China as an ally in negotiations with North Korea, Trump turned on Beijing in March with the announcement of tariffs on Chinese goods. The administration argued that the tariffs were a necessary measure to punish China for alleged theft of US intellectual property and would force the ruling Communist Party to reform their economic policies.
 
After a few months of unsuccessful negotiating, Trump imposed the first round of tariffs against China in July. The resulting back-and-forth has led to the current state of affairs: US tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and Chinese tariffs on $110 billion worth of American goods.
 
Economists have warned that escalation of the trade war or allowing the tariffs to remain in place for an extended period of time would be seriously damaging for the US economy. US companies have warned that the tariffs are harming their businesses, and American farmers are getting whacked by China's retaliatory measures.
 
If Xi and Trump are unable to reach a deal, the two countries would enter what some experts have called an "economic Cold War."
 
The US would also likely move forward with tariffs on the remaining $255 billion worth of Chinese goods not subject to tariffs. That round of tariffs would squeeze many popular consumer products, and retailers like Walmart have warned the move would likely result in higher prices for customers.
 
A dim dealmaking outlook ...
While economic concerns and the summit have brought the two leaders together in Buenos Aires, most experts agree that the Trump-Xi meeting will produce little, if any, results.
 
Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the G20 meeting "offers the prospect of a Band-Aid fix at best."
 
"Given current mistrust, even a truce seems unlikely," Patrick added.
 
At most, experts say, the two sides could agree to delay the implementation of even more tariffs. Ed Mills, a policy analyst at Raymond James, said there could be some upside in the form of a rough outline of a deal.
 
"Officials on both sides have been rhetorically setting the stage over the past week without any indication that either side is willing to back down from the dispute," Mills said. "The two nations remain far apart on a negotiated solution, increasing the chances of deterioration and continuing tariff escalation in 2019."
 
But the sheer size of issues to discuss likely means that any agreement that could come out of the meeting will be preliminary and not take the larger threat — the so-called economic Cold War — off the table.
 
"We caution that fundamental issues relating to intellectual property and subsidization appear intractable at this stage, which suggests that the broader threat of Chinese trade tensions will persist," said Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst at research and trade firm Compass Point.
 
Trump acknowledged in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week that a deal to prevent the tariff rate from increasing in January is "highly unlikely." The president also appeared to express misgivings about a possible deal while talking to reporters on Thursday.
 
"I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes," Trump said.
 
Most of Trump's advisers also seem to be urging caution ahead of the meeting.
 
But the increasing pain from the tariffs could compel Trump to agree to some sort of preliminary deal, said Matthew Goodman, senior adviser for Asian economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
"My personal guess — and I'm sticking my neck out here — is that there will be some kind of ceasefire agreed to largely because I think President Trump and President Xi both have an incentive to put this dispute on hold," he said in a recent press call.
 
Goodman argued that the recent US-stock-market woes and China's slowing economy have put enough pressure on the two sides to make some progress.
 
… but Trump is a wild card.
But knowing exactly what will happen when the presidents are face-to-face is impossible because of Trump's infamous unpredictability.
 
For one thing, Trump's international trips — the G7 summit, the recent trip to Paris, and more — have been anything but predictable.
 
These trips were marred by fights with other world leaders, Twitter tirades, and refusals to sign on to ceremonial communiqués with other nations.
 
"This binary catalyst will be hugely influenced by Trump's mood after a long flight to a foreign country at a multilateral summit that will be filled with world leaders whose voters tend to have an extremely negative view of Trump," Chris Krueger, a strategist at Cowen Washington Research Group, said.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business
President Donald Trump seemed ready to escalate the trade war with China in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
 
Trump said it was "highly unlikely" that a planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit would yield a deal to prevent an increase in tariffs.
 
Trump also said he was prepared to hit another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs — which would include duties on consumer goods like iPhones.
 
President Donald Trump seems ready to escalate the trade war with China even further as a crucial meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping nears.
 
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the president said it was "highly unlikely" that the US and China would reach a deal to prevent the 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from increasing to 25% on January 1.
 
In addition, Trump told The Journal that if planned weekend talks with Xi at the G20 summit in Argentina did not go well, more tariffs could be on the way.
 
"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the $267 billion additional on," Trump said.
 
Trump first announced tariffs on Chinese goods in March, ostensibly to punish the country for the theft of US intellectual property.
 
After failed negotiations on a trade deal with China, the first round of tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods went into effect in July.
 
A second round of tariffs on another $200 billion of goods went into effect in late September, and Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose a third round on the remaining imports not subject to tariffs.
 
While Trump said the third round would hit another $267 billion in goods, some reports peg the remaining amount at $257 billion.
 
After mostly avoiding consumer goods in the first two rounds of tariffs, Trump said he was also willing to place tariffs on items such as Apple's iPhone and laptops imported from China. The administration backed off plans to impose tariffs on some Apple products as part of the previous round after the tech giant lobbied the president.
 
Economists warn that tariffs on consumer goods would drive up prices for Americans, curtail consumer spending, and eventually hurt US economic growth. Trump disagreed with that assessment, instead suggesting that a low tariff rate on such goods would go unnoticed by consumers.
 
"I mean, I can make it 10%, and people could stand that very easily," he told The Journal.
 
In addition to the tariffs, the Trump administration is employing a suite of other measures to crack down on China's economic practices. For instance, the Department of Commerce is considering stricter rules on which types of technology can be exported to China, and the Justice Department has charged some Chinese companies and people with economic espionage.
 
While there were hopes a Trump-Xi meeting could deescalate the trade tensions, recent moves by the administration seem to point to a sustained trade war.
 
Perhaps most significant, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week released an update to the investigation into Chinese intellectual-property theft that kicked off the tariff battle. It found China had not changed any of the practices that precipitated Trump's tariff decision.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Business

President Donald Trump is succeeding in making China pay most of the cost of his trade war.

That’s the conclusion of a new paper from EconPol Europe, a network of researchers in the European Union. U.S. companies and consumers will only pay 4.5 percent more after the nation imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and the other 20.5 percent toll will fall on Chinese producers, according to authors Benedikt Zoller-Rydzek and Gabriel Felbermayr.

                                                                         

The trade dispute between the U.S. and China is showing slim hope of abating as the leaders of the two nations prepare to meet in Argentina this month. According to Zoller-Rydzek and Felbermayr, the tariffs will do what Trump has longed for: They will cut American imports of affected Chinese goods by more than a third, and lower the bilateral trade deficit by 17 percent.

The Trump administration selected products with the highest “price elasticity,” or high availability of substitutes, according to Zoller-Rydzek and Felbermayr. The Chinese products hit by Trump’s tariffs can mostly be replaced by other goods, forcing exporters to cut selling prices to keep buyers.

“Through its strategic choice of Chinese products, the U.S. government was not only able to minimize the negative effects on U.S. consumers and firms, but also to create substantial net welfare gains in the U.S.,” the researchers wrote.

The U.S. is due to raise duties on the largest $200 billion tranche of goods to 25 percent from 10 percent on Jan. 1. In retaliation, China has slapped tariffs on $110 billion in imports from the U.S. and effectively shut off its purchase of key American agricultural exports including soybeans.

With the economic costs shifted to China, the U.S. levies will lead to a $18.4 billion net gain for the American government, the researchers wrote.

“As the trade conflict escalates, however, the U.S. administration may not be able to restrict its selection to products with high import elasticities,” they wrote. “And U.S. welfare might decrease as more of the tariff incidence falls on U.S. consumers.”

 

- Bloomberg

Published in World

The Hondurans who banded together last month to travel northward to the United States, fleeing gangs, corruption and poverty, were joined by other Central Americans hoping to find safety in numbers on this perilous journey.

But group travel couldn’t save everyone.

Earlier this month, two trucks from the caravan disappeared in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. One person who escaped told officials that about “65 children and seven women were sold” by the driver to a group of armed men.

Mexican authorities are searching for the migrants, but history shows that people missing for more than 24 hours are rarely found in Mexico – alive or at all.

Mexico’s ambiguous welcome

An average of 12 people disappear each day in Mexico. Most are victims of a raging three-way war among the Mexican armed forces, organized crime and drug cartels.

The military crackdown on criminal activity has actually escalated violence in Mexico since operations began in 2006, my research and other security studies show.

Nearly 22,000 people were murdered in Mexico in the first eight months of this year, a dismal record in one of the world’s deadliest places.

Central Americans fleeing similarly rampant violence back home confront those risks and others on their journey to the United States. Doctors Without Borders found that over two-thirds of migrants surveyed in Mexico in 2014 experienced violence en route. One-third of women had been sexually abused.

Mexico’s security crisis may explain why so few caravan members want to stay there.

In response to President Donald Trump’s demands that Mexico “stop this onslaught,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that migrants who applied for asylum at Mexico’s southern border would be given shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs.

About 1,700 of the estimated 5,000 caravan members took him up on the offer.

Meanwhile, everyday Mexicans are greeting the migrants as they pass through their towns, donating food, clothing, lodging and transport.

A recent poll shows that 51 percent of Mexicans support the caravan. Thirty-three percent of respondents, many of them affluent members of Mexico’s urban middle class, want the migrants to go back to Central America.

Two trucks carrying an estimated 80 migrants went missing in Mexico in early November. AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

Asylum overload

Mexican law, which allows eligible asylum seekers to both request and be granted asylum, exceeds international standards on the rights of migrants.

But reality in Mexico often falls short of the law.

The Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission is supposed to process asylum applications in 45 days. But its offices in Mexico City were damaged by last year’s earthquake, forcing the already overstretched and underfunded agency to suspend processing of open asylum claims for months.

Meanwhile, new applications for asylum in Mexico continued to pour in – a record 14,596 were filed last year. The processing backlog is now two years.

During that period of legal limbo, asylum seekers cannot work, attend school or fully access Mexico’s public health system. President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, says he will offer Central American migrants temporary working visas while their claims are processed.

Anti-caravan posts on social media accuse migrants of taking Mexican jobs and violating Mexico’s sovereignty, using nativist language similar to that seen in the United States.

Mexico City, which in 2017 declared itself to be a sanctuary city, nonetheless put thousands of caravan members up in a stadium staffed by medical teams and humanitarian groups.

Militarizing the US-Mexico border

The first Central Americans from the caravan are now arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, where they face a far less warm reception.

Calling the caravan an “invasion,” President Trump has ordered the deployment of over 5,000 troops to the border.

U.S. law prohibits the use of the armed forces to enforce domestic laws without specific congressional authorization. That means the troops can only support border agents in deterring migrants.

But Trump’s decision still has symbolic power. This is the first time in over a century that military troops have been summoned to defend the U.S.-Mexico border.

The last deployment occurred during the Mexican Revolution.

On March 9, 1916, a small band of revolutionaries led by Francisco “Pancho” Villa invaded Columbus, New Mexico.

After Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico, President Woodrow Wilson sent troops to the border – and into Mexican territory. United States Air Force

Officially, the group assaulted the border city in retaliation for then-President Woodrow Wilson’s support of Venustiano Carranza, Villa’s political rival. Villa also had a personal vendetta against Sam Ravel, a local man who had swindled money from him.

President Wilson responded by summoning General John J. Pershing, who assembled a force of 6,000 U.S. troops to chase Villa deep inside Mexico’s northern territory. Pershing’s “punitive expedition” returned in early 1917 after failing to capture the revolutionary leader.

No relief at the border

Central Americans who reach the militarized United States border can still apply for asylum there, despite President Trump’s recent executive order limiting where they may do so. But they face stiff odds.

The Central American caravan includes many women asylum seekers hoping to give their children a safer life in the United States. AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

After an evaluation process that can take months or years, the majority of Central American asylum claims filed in the United States – 75 percent – are denied. Caravan members rejected will be sent back to the same perilous place they fled last month.

With 60 percent of its population living in poverty, Honduras is the poorest country in Latin America. It also has the world’s second-highest homicide rate – 43.6 murders per 100,000 people – trailing only El Salvador.

The U.S. contributed to the instability that created these hardships.

Honduras has been in turmoil since 2009, when the military overthrew leftist President Manuel Zelaya. Rather than join the United Nations and European Union in demanding Zelaya’s reinstatement, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for new elections, effectively endorsing a coup.

The country entered a prolonged political crisis. Honduras’s November 2017 presidential election was contested, with the U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández accused of rigging the vote. Seventeen opposition protesters were killed in the unrest that followed.

The Central American caravan that started in Honduras seeks in the U.S. a life free of such violence. Its steady progress toward the border shows that even kidnappings, Trump’s threats and soldiers cannot deter them.The Conversation

 

Luis Gómez Romero, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights, Constitutional Law and Legal Theory, University of Wollongong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in World
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