Immigration and guts


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In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)

In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)


Erlin Troches, a 43-year-old Honduran migrant from the city of Santa Barbara, carries an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that was given to him by a priest in southern Mexico, as he walks along with a thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans hoping to reach the U.S. border moves, outside Juchitan, Oaxaca state, Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Troches plans to carry the religious icon with him on the entire journey, saying she symbolizes "trust, faith, and hope" that he will make it to the U.S. border. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)


Joel Eduardo Espinar reaches for his son, Eduardo, 2, from his wife, Yamilet, while arriving in Arriaga, Mexico, after a ride on a truck. His plan is to request asylum rather than cross the border illegally. "I'm kind of fearful of what will happen once we get to the U.S. border," he said. Regardless, he says, they will not go back to Honduras. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)


Trump pledges asylum crackdown and tent cities. Is it legal?

By JILL COLVIN and COLLEEN LONG

Associated Press

Friday, November 2

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he plans to sign an order next week that could lead to the large-scale detention of migrants crossing the southern border and bar anyone caught crossing illegally from claiming asylum — two legally dubious proposals that mark his latest election season barrage against illegal immigration.

Trump also said he had told the U.S. military mobilizing at the southwest border that if U.S. troops face rock-throwing migrants, they should react as though the rocks were “rifles.”

“This is an invasion,” Trump declared, as he has previously on a subject that has been shown to resonate strongly with his base of Republican supporters. He made his comments Thursday at the White House in a rambling, campaign-style speech that was billed as a response to caravans of migrants traveling slowly by foot toward the U.S. border. But Trump offered few details on how exactly he planned to overhaul an asylum system he claimed was plagued by “endemic abuse” that he said “makes a mockery of our immigration system.”

U.S. immigration laws make clear that migrants seeking asylum may do so either at or between border crossings. But Trump said he would limit that to official crossing points. The U.S. also doesn’t have space at the border to manage the large-scale detention of migrants, with most facilities at capacity. Trump said the government would erect “massive tents” instead.

His announcement marked Trump’s latest attempt to keep the issue of immigration front-and-center in the final stretch before next Tuesday’s elections . Trump has spent the waning days of the campaign hammering the issue at every occasion as he tries to energize Republican voters using the same playbook that helped him win in 2016. In addition to deploying the military to the southern border to stave off the caravan, Trump announced plans to try to end the constitutionally-protected right of birthright citizenship for all children born in the U.S.

He brought up immigration issues several times during a political rally Thursday night in Columbia, Missouri. He railed against “birth tourism,” where mothers from abroad travel to America to have babies so they will automatically be U.S. citizens. And he denounced “chain migration,” where these new citizens then bring in their extended families into the country.

“You come into the country — you’re like two months old … and you’re gonna bring ‘em all — your aunts and uncles and grandfathers and lots of people,” he said.

The president announced Wednesday that he was considering deploying up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexican border in response to the caravans — roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission that has been criticized as unnecessary, considering the caravans remain hundreds of miles away.

Trump said Thursday he was “not going to put up with” any sort of violence directed at those U.S. forces, warning the military would fight back. “When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle,” he said.

The exact rules for the use of force by military police and other soldiers who will be operating near the border have not been disclosed, but in all cases troops have the right of self-defense.

Still, Mark Hertling, a retired Army general, wrote on Twitter after Trump’s speech that no military officer would allow a soldier to shoot an individual throwing a rock. “It would be an unlawful order,” he wrote, citing the Law of Land Warfare.

Trump said Thursday that, under his order, any migrants who do enter the country would be housed in “massive tent cities” he plans to build while their cases are processed.

“We’re going to catch, we’re not going to release,” he said.

Under current protocol, many asylum seekers are released while their cases make their way through backlogged courts — a process that can take years.

Critics said the speech seemed mostly designed to scare, with no specifics on what mechanisms Trump intended to use to push through his desired changes. Administration officials have told The Associated Press that Trump intends to invoke the same authority he used to push through his travel ban, but it’s not clear if that’s what he was doing with Thursday’s speech.

“He’s really trying to scare the American public into thinking these are thousands of dangerous thugs,” said Greg Chen, of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “It’s a classic strategy that goes back to 19th century nativist thinking.”

Trump and other administration officials have long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown increasingly clogged. Immigration officials have turned away asylum-seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return at a later date. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with people generally waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing and sleeping out in the open for days at a time.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is currently a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Administration officials have railed against what they say are loopholes designed to encourage people, especially from Central America, to come to the U.S. and claim asylum. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

The U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims in 2017, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

But it remains unclear how many people currently en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border.

There are currently four caravans. The main group of about 4,000 migrants — down from its estimated peak of more than 7,000 — remains in southern Mexico, hundreds of miles from the border. A second, smaller group of 1,000 or so is more than 200 miles behind the first. A third band of about 500 from El Salvador has made it to Guatemala, and a fourth group of about 700 set out from the Salvadoran capital Wednesday.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. And most have passed largely unnoticed.

Trump has nonetheless mounted an enormous show of force in response to their movement — coinciding with elections that will determine which party controls Congress.

The first 100 active duty troops arrived at the border in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday — part of the “more than 7,000” troops the Pentagon said were being sent to support Customs and Border Protection agents.

“These illegal caravans will not be allowed into the United States and they should turn back now because they’re wasting their time,” Trump said Thursday.

Notably, he said his executive order would come next week, which means it could be after Election Day.

Trump has rejected the idea he has been “fearmongering” and using the issue for political purposes, but on Thursday he blamed Democrats for the “incompetent, very, very stupid laws that we have.” He noted at one point, “Women want security.”

Trump also tweeted a video Wednesday alleging, without evidence, that Democrats were responsible for allowing a homicidal immigrant into the U.S. The video was reminiscent of the infamous “Willie Horton” ad used against Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988 and condemned as racist.

Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego, Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, California, and Zeke Miller and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

The Conversation

Immigration to US Westernizes Asian guts

November 1, 2018

Authors

Pajau Vangay, Research Specialist in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology, University of Minnesota

Dan Knights, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and BioTechnology, University of Minnesota

Disclosure statement: Dan Knights serves as CEO and holds equity in CoreBiome, a company involved in the commercialization of microbiome analysis. The University of Minnesota also has financial interests in CoreBiome under the terms of a license agreement with CoreBiome. These interests have been reviewed and managed by the University of Minnesota in accordance with its Conflict-of-Interest policies. Dan Knights receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Pajau Vangay does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Have you ever lived long enough in another country to see changes in your overall health? Or perhaps, you have noticed that after a friend moved to the U.S. his health seemed to deteriorate.

Many immigrants arrive in the U.S. healthy. But after living in this country for about a decade, they are at a very high risk of developing obesity. This is not just because these immigrants change their diets or increase caloric intake. Something else is going on. We believe that that part of the problem is a change in the trillions of microscopic creatures that live inside us all – the human microbiome.

In our lab at the University of Minnesota, we study the world of microbes that live in the digestive tract, called the gut microbiome, because these invisible creatures are very important for human health. They help us break down foods that we can’t digest ourselves, help train our immune systems and help us fight off infections. Changes in the gut microbiome are now associated with nearly every major chronic human disease. In fact the data suggest that the microbiome, and changes to it, can cause many of these diseases, including obesity.

Our recent research study, the Immigrant Microbiome Project, explores what happens to people’s gut microbiomes and their health when they move from a developing country to the U.S. We also want to know whether any of these changes may cause obesity.

Gut microbiome diversity falls after move to US

We studied two Asian ethnic groups. One was the Hmong, an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The second was the Karen, an ethnic group from Myanmar and Thailand. The participants from both of these groups were born and living in Asia, but then moved to the U.S., becoming first-generation immigrants. We also studied second-generation immigrants, those who were born in the U.S. as children of first-generation immigrants.

Having many different species of microbes in the gut is associated with good health. Just as a rainforest with a diverse range of species is more healthy and resilient, a diverse gut microbiome is equipped with a wide variety of tools – genes – to fight against, and recover from, various threats and disturbances. For example, when antibiotics deplete a microbiome, the gut may be colonized by the pathogenic microbe Clostridium difficile.

In our study, we found that the diversity of the gut microbes declined across generations of Hmong and Karen in the U.S. And individuals who were obese had an even greater decline in diversity.

We know from previous studies that in general, obese individuals have a lower microbe diversity in their guts than their lean counterparts. But obese Asians still had higher diversity than Asians who had immigrated to and were now living in the U.S. We also found that the children of immigrants had even fewer species of gut microbes than their parents. This suggests that the modern lifestyle in the U.S. may be causing each generation to lose more of their ancestral microbes.

Gut microbiome Westernized immediately after relocation

In addition to just logging the number of different species, we were also interested in knowing the identity of the different types of bacteria living in the guts of our participants. We were particularly interested in two bacterial groups: Bacteroides, which is commonly found in individuals in Westernized countries, and Prevotella, which is common in individuals in non-Western countries.

These two bacteria are not necessarily good or bad; they’re simply dominant members of the gut microbiomes in different populations around the world. When we examined the gut microbiomes of everyone in our study, we found that, as expected, all of the individuals who were residing in Asia had very high proportions of the non-Western Prevotella. But what we discovered next was surprising.

We discovered that immediately after immigrants moved to the U.S., Bacteroides strains started to replace their native Prevotella strains. After about a decade, first-generation immigrants are no longer dominated by Prevotella, but rather by the U.S.-associated Bacteroides.

Diet explains some changes to the gut microbiome

The obvious explanation for all of these changes is diet, since it is one of the strongest drivers of what species of microbes live in a person’s gut. We found that immigrants who lost Prevotella strains also lost highly specialized enzymes carried by those Prevotella for breaking down certain types of plants. These included palm, coconut, konjac and tamarind, which are commonly eaten in Southeast Asia. It is likely that the immigrants we studied had stopped eating some of these traditional foods after immigration, and the microbes that relied on those plant nutrients failed to grow and multiply and died off.

Although some of the microbes that U.S. immigrants begin to lose seem to be clearly related to changes in diet, we found that many species in the gut microbiome changed much faster and more drastically than their diet changed. We could not explain all of the changes in the gut microbiomes using dietary data alone, suggesting that there are likely other factors that are also affecting the microbiome. These factors could include water sources, antiparasitics or antibiotics, other medications, physical activity, mental health and other environmental exposures.

Although we see that immigration-related microbiome changes are even stronger in obese individuals, we cannot test whether the microbiome is actually causing obesity in our cohort. However, previous studies have shown that having the wrong microbes can cause obesity in mice. It is our hope that we can identify certain dietary interventions that will help U.S. immigrants stay metabolically healthy, or even provide certain microbes that can be used as therapeutics to prevent or treat obesity.

Comment

Terrence Treft: thanks for the interesting article.

many takeaways/questions here.

microbes westernize or americanize?

50% americans are obese and 80% overweight. did generational americans experience gut microbe alterations, too?

or did our diet just explode, causing us to explode?

do obese/overweight americans who immigrate or expatriate to non-western countries become slim/slimmer?

one factor associated with american obesity is economic class. do wealthy non-western immigrants gain weight at the same proportion as low income immigrants?

many factors for obesity, including genetic/epigenetic. do you have an algorithm to define/refine them?

is gut microbe intake/transplantation a possible treatment for obesity? fecal transplants are being studied currently for other factors.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121698241-24ba70dc2bb64f98b0dc10255eb874e0.jpgIn this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)

Erlin Troches, a 43-year-old Honduran migrant from the city of Santa Barbara, carries an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that was given to him by a priest in southern Mexico, as he walks along with a thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans hoping to reach the U.S. border moves, outside Juchitan, Oaxaca state, Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Troches plans to carry the religious icon with him on the entire journey, saying she symbolizes "trust, faith, and hope" that he will make it to the U.S. border. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121698241-a6292709f15c4fdb9be10afe039fa41d.jpgErlin Troches, a 43-year-old Honduran migrant from the city of Santa Barbara, carries an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that was given to him by a priest in southern Mexico, as he walks along with a thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans hoping to reach the U.S. border moves, outside Juchitan, Oaxaca state, Mexico, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Troches plans to carry the religious icon with him on the entire journey, saying she symbolizes "trust, faith, and hope" that he will make it to the U.S. border. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Joel Eduardo Espinar reaches for his son, Eduardo, 2, from his wife, Yamilet, while arriving in Arriaga, Mexico, after a ride on a truck. His plan is to request asylum rather than cross the border illegally. "I’m kind of fearful of what will happen once we get to the U.S. border," he said. Regardless, he says, they will not go back to Honduras. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/11/web1_121698241-126b2d3e4c3e41b3bd496255517afdbe.jpgJoel Eduardo Espinar reaches for his son, Eduardo, 2, from his wife, Yamilet, while arriving in Arriaga, Mexico, after a ride on a truck. His plan is to request asylum rather than cross the border illegally. "I’m kind of fearful of what will happen once we get to the U.S. border," he said. Regardless, he says, they will not go back to Honduras. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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