Migrant caravan pushes on toward Mexico’s capital
By SONIA PEREZ D. and MARK STEVENSON
Monday, November 5
CORDOBA, Mexico (AP) — A big group of Central Americans pushed on toward Mexico City from a coastal state Monday, planning to exit a part of the country that has long been treacherous for migrants seeking to get to the United States.
In a thundering voice vote Sunday night at a gymnasium in Cordoba, about 1,000 members of a migrant caravan that has been moving northward through Mexico voted to try to get to the capital Monday by walking and hitching rides. Cordoba is 178 miles (286 kilometers) from the capital by the shortest route, which would be the group’s longest single-day journey yet since they began more than three weeks ago.
A few hundred others had already arrived at a large outdoor sports area in the capital, where they lounged on bleachers and watched locals play soccer. City employees piled hot food onto Styrofoam plates for the migrants, some of whom had hopped freight trucks to speed their arrival to the capital.
The new day’s march to Mexico City didn’t start easily. Migrants briefly blocked traffic on the busy highway to beseech passing truckers for a ride, but none offered one.
The weary caravan participants made it to Cordoba after a 124-mile (200-kilometer) trek through Veracruz, a state where hundreds of migrants have disappeared in recent years, falling prey to kidnappers looking for ransom payments. The estimated 4,000 migrants in Veracruz are still hundreds of miles from the nearest U.S. border point.
They hope to regroup in the Mexican capital, seeking medical care and rest while awaiting stragglers. The caravan has found strength in numbers as it meanders north, with townspeople coming out to offer food, water, fresh clothes and replacement footwear.
Other migrants who had moved out ahead of the main body rested at a church in Puebla, a city roughly midway between Cordoba and Mexico City.
It is unclear what part of the U.S. border the caravan will aim for eventually, or how many may splinter off on their own.
Most of the migrants said they remain convinced that traveling as a large mass is their best hope for reaching the U.S. The migrants generally say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
“We think that it is better to continue together with the caravan. We are going to stay with it and respect the organizers,” said Luis Euseda, a 32-year-old from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, traveling with his wife, Jessica Fugon. “Others went ahead, maybe they have no goal, but we do have a goal and it is to arrive.”
Yuri Juarez, 42, said he knows there’s a “very low” chance he will get asylum in the United States. But he said he had no way to work back home in Villanueva, Guatemala, where he had to close his internet cafe after gang members extorted him, then robbed his customers and finally stole his computers.
Mexicans along the way have often given a helping hand to the migrants even if their government has clearly tried to discourage them. Catalina Munoz said she bought tortillas on credit to assemble tacos of beans, cheese and rice when she heard the migrant caravan would pass through her tiny town of 3,000 inhabitants. She gathered 15 others to help make the tacos, fill water bottles and carry fruit to exhausted migrants passing down the road.
Mexico faces the unprecedented situation of having three migrant caravans stretched over 300 miles (500 kilometers) of highway in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The largest group was the first to enter Mexico, and it has been followed by a group of about 1,000 that crossed over from Guatemala last week and a second of about the same size that waded over the Suchiate River on Friday.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry estimated over the weekend that there are more than 5,000 migrants in total currently moving through southern Mexico via the caravans or in smaller groups. The ministry said 2,793 migrants have applied for refugee status in Mexico in recent weeks and around 500 have asked for assistance to return to their home countries.
President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans, with more than 7,000 active duty troops earmarked to deploy to Texas, Arizona and California. Trump plans to sign an order that could lead to the large-scale detention of migrants crossing the southern border and bar anyone caught crossing illegally from claiming asylum.
Associated Press writer Amy Guthrie in Mexico City contributed to this report.
Republican ads feature MS-13, hoping fear will motivate voters
November 2, 2018
Anthony W. Fontes
Assistant Professor of Human Security, American University School of International Service
Anthony W. Fontes is author of Mortal Doubt: Transnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City.
American University School of International Service provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Campaign advertisements appearing for this year’s midterm elections include a stream of Republican campaign ads linking immigration to crime.
One-quarter of Republican ads running nationwide this election season denounce immigrant violence, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, and advocate for President Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies, which include separating immigrant children from their parents and slashing the number of refugee admissions.
The GOP ads echo the rhetoric of Trump, who on Wednesday tweeted an inflammatory anti-immigration ad that attacks Democrats as soft on crime.
Republican Geoff Diehl, who is hoping to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, has run ads attacking his opponent’s liberal stance on immigration. They make the unsubstantiated claim that undocumented immigrants “kill over 7,000 people a year.”
MS-13 in the spotlight
The street gang MS-13 plays a starring role in many of the GOP’s ads.
“Gangs like MS-13 exploit our broken immigration system and commit terrible crimes, horrific crimes,” says an attack ad against Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen, adding that the Democrat voted against “getting tough” on immigration.
I’ve spent the last seven years researching MS-13, and my 2018 book about this Salvadoran street gang examines the way conservative politicians leverage its brutal image to serve their electoral and policy agendas.
Because its membership is primarily Latino, MS-13 helps Republicans make a crucial link between immigration and violence in voters’ minds, my research shows.
That association is factually unfounded.
Numerous studies show that immigrants actually commit crime at a lower rate than native-born Americans. Large cities with substantial immigrant populations have lower crime rates, on average, than those with minimal immigrant populations.
Inflammatory anti-immigration ads
Nonetheless, the current GOP ads paint Democrats as soft on crime, allies of the Latino street gang MS-13 and “complicit” with murderers.
Republican John Rose, who hopes to represent Tennessee’s 6th district, opens a TV ad with the question: “Mexican Drug lords, MS-13 gang members, sex-traffickers … Do they run our border? Or do we?”
After a series of garish images – a knife cutting open a bag of heroin, threatening silhouettes, another knife – viewers see Rose and Trump, smiling shoulder to shoulder as the narrator commends White House policies from “build the wall” to “zero tolerance.”
MS-13 began in Los Angeles in the 1990s and later expanded into Central American cities, where it has undermined governance and terrorized local populations.
In the United States, however, it is not the largest of the 33,000 criminal organizations operating in the the country. Its membership – an estimated 3,000 to 10,000 people nationwide – is five times lower than the 18th Street, Gangster Disciples and other American gangs.
MS-13 has committed brutal, high-profile murders in Boston, Long Island, Virginia and beyond. While it has been highly, sensationally violent in those communities, the gang is not the most dangerous criminal group in the United States. Evidence suggests there is very little coordination, if any, among MS-13 cells nationwide. Its violence is also typically, though not solely, directed against other gang members.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a right-wing organization known for its anti-immigrant ideology, alleges that MS-13 commits about 35 murders a year – a fraction of murders attributed to other U.S. gangs. The U.S. had 17,284 homicides in 2017.
But MS-13 has a penchant for gruesome, headline-grabbing killings and elaborate tattoos, which earn it outsized media attention. It also recruits heavily among vulnerable undocumented immigrant youth, tapping into Americans’ anxiety about rising crime and shifting demographics in the United States.
Record low crime
Republicans know this. As they battle to retain control of the House and possibly the Senate, they see electoral advantage in inflaming those fears.
Trump, who during his 2016 presidential campaign repeatedly blamed the “open border policies of the Obama administration” for crimes committed by immigrant gang members, has focused intensively on MS-13 as president.
After vicious incidents of MS-13 violence – the 2017 double murder of two teenage girls in Suffolk County, New York, for instance, and the stabbing of a man in Montgomery County, Maryland – Trump responded with hyperbolic, sweeping statements about immigrants and crime, warning that U.S. cities have become “blood-stained killing fields.”
Violent crime in the U.S. is actually the lowest it has been in 30 years, including in most large cities where gangs operate – Chicago being one notable exception.
But Trump’s hyperfocus on MS-13 has helped to drive Republican voter fear over immigration to an all-time high.
That has empowered GOP candidates to leverage Americans’ anti-immigration concerns to try to win elections.
Conservative pundits have also echoed the president’s anti-immigrant language, suggesting that that MS-13 has infiltrated the migrant caravan and that Central Americans are “attacking the United States’ sovereignty.”
Election Day will show whether fear-mongering with MS-13 will help Republicans keep control of the House and Senate.
Felons barred from jury duty: An unjustified punishment
November 5, 2018
Assistant Professor of Law, Criminology, and Criminal Justice, California State University, Long Beach
James Binnall receives funding from National Science Foundation and the American Bar Association
Florida residents will vote on Nov. 6 on an amendment that would restore voting rights to 1 million people in Florida who are currently barred from voting because of a felony conviction.
What many people do not know is that in Florida, those same people are also excluded from ever serving as jurors.
While that’s not on the ballot in Florida, I believe allowing felons to serve on juries has just as much to do with ensuring the democratic ideals of shared governance and active liberty that voting provides. To date, the issue of excluding felons from juries has remained an almost entirely invisible punishment.
As a scholar on the exclusion of felons from jury service, I have conducted a series of studies that call into question the stated purposes for the practice, while highlighting its negative impacts on former offenders and jury systems.
How widespread is the exclusion?
Today, roughly 19 million Americans, 8 percent of the U.S. population, live with a felony conviction record.
In 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal court system, felons are legally restricted from serving as jurors. In 28 states and in the federal court system, those restrictions are permanent, barring convicted felons from jury service for life. In most remaining states, convicted felons may not serve as jurors until the completion of their sentence, which includes probation and parole.
Moreover, in all but four states, felon-juror exclusion laws prevent all convicted felons from serving on any type of jury – grand, civil or criminal. Such laws have been part of American law since the Founding.
In justifying the exclusion of convicted felons from juries, lawmakers and courts cite two rationales.
The first is that felons lack the requisite character to serve on a jury. This is based on the fear that felon-jurors will flout the law, ignoring instructions when deciding a case.
The second rationale is fear of bias. This reasoning contends that felons would sympathize with criminal defendants and harbor resentment toward the prosecution. If allowed to serve, they believe felon-jurors would acquit in all instances, destroying the impartiality of the jury process.
What does the evidence say?
What’s the problem?
In my 2014 study, I compared felons’ views of criminal defendants with eligible jurors’ and law students’ views of criminal defendants. The results revealed two notable findings.
First, felons’ views of defendants varied wildly, contrary to the bias argument’s assumption that all felons will favor criminal defendants. This suggests that the assumed bias in favor of criminal defendants does not exist among all convicted felons. Second, felons and law students had similar views of criminal defendants, suggesting that if convicted felons pose a threat to the impartiality of jury process, so too do law students.
In another study, data show that law enforcement personnel are, as a group, pro-prosecution. Yet law enforcement personnel are restricted from serving on juries in only 10 jurisdictions, though they are likely biased in favor of the prosecution.
Maine is the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that allows felons to serve on juries without limitation. Evidence from a 2017 study of felon-jurors in Maine suggests that jurors with a felony criminal history strive to live up to their perception of the “ideal juror” – one that acts responsibly and impartially. This study also demonstrates that serving on a jury can help them reintegrate into society by helping build their self-esteem and view themselves as equal to other citizens.
In another study, focused on court personnel in Maine, including convicted felons in the jury process was found to improve attitudes toward former offenders. The research revealed that trial judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys in Maine tend to see felon-jurors as individuals, avoiding the popular categorizing and demonizing of individuals with a criminal history.
In work I published this year, I recreated a criminal trial and then asked a mock jury of 101 participants – both felons and non-felons – to deliberate and render a verdict.
It turns out that felon-jurors actually enhanced, rather than diminished, the quality of jury deliberations. Specifically, they raised more novel case facts and spoke for longer as a proportion of deliberation time than did non-felons. These findings suggest that felon-jurors thoughtfully engaged in jury deliberations, and their presence may lead to more just jury outcomes.
Taken together, my research suggests that excluding convicted felons from jury service – like felon-voter disenfranchisement – is not justified by the facts. No evidence supports the premise that convicted felons lack the character to decide a case or would unfairly favor criminal defendants.
To the contrary, research tends to show that felon-jurors approach jury service responsibly and impartially, likely adding value to the process. In this way, exclusion almost certainly is a bad solution to a nonexistent problem.
logged in via Google
“the issue of excluding felons from juries has remained an almost entirely invisible punishment.”
Er, why is it a punishment? It sounds more of a privilege, to be exempt from having to suspend your daily life and work for an indefinite period to undertake a chore that you’re given no training or support for.
Candidates campaign in final hours before election
Monday, November 5
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Candidates were expected to spend a last full day of campaigning around Ohio before voters select a new governor Tuesday and decide a U.S. Senate race and some closely contested congressional seats.
Voters also will determine whether to reduce sentences for possession of certain drugs, among other measures.
Democrat Richard Cordray is locked in a tight gubernatorial race with Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Cordray is a former Ohio attorney general.
Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is considered the favorite in his U.S. Senate race with Republican Rep. Jim Renacci (ruh-NAY’-see).
A closely contested U.S. House race pits Democrat Danny O’Connor against former GOP state Sen. Troy Balderson in Ohio’s 12th District. Democrat Aftab (AF’-tab) Pureval (PYUR’-vawl) is challenging GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (SHA’-but) in the 1st District.
Information for voters with disabilities and their loved ones….
Disability Voter Resource Guide 2018
– Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility Communications Director
Washington, D.C., Nov. 5 – As voters head to the polls, many are concerned about various access issues from physical accessibility to voter ID laws. This is a federal election year; additionally, many state legislative seats, state executive offices, local offices and ballot amendments will be voted on. We’ve compiled resources provided by general Election Day voter rights organizations as well as those provided by various disability groups.
See below for apps and information on where to vote, how to vote and who to contact in case there is an issue. Voters with disabilities have every right to vote. If you have a problem voting due to lack of access for disability, contact 866-OUR-VOTE to talk to lawyers on hand to answer Election Day questions and concerns about voting procedures, or other resources listed below, immediately. Please let us know as well by emailing LaurenA@RespectAbility.org. Did we miss an important resource? Share with us and we’ll update this guide.
Election Day Assistance
Rock the Vote has several online tools that simplify and demystify voter registration and elections. Follow the links below for more on how to claim your vote!
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission created a tip sheet to help voters with disabilities vote privately and independently.
Easter Seals, AAPD and the REVUP campaign created a checklist for voters with disabilities. Download their voting resource card to take with you to the polls! The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has compiled an extensive voter resource center to help people register to vote, learn about the issues and organized the disability vote. The REV UP campaign, a project of AAPD, aims to increase the political power of the disability community, while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. One Vote Now, a collaborative project between National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, DREDF, AAPD, RespectAbility and the National Disability Rights Network, is working to enhance the voting bloc of people with disabilities.
The Voting Information Project supports a SMS Tool that provides voters with election information via text message. By texting “VOTE” or “VOTO” to GOVOTE (468-683), voters can find polling places, contact information for local election officials, and registration URLs. The app is available in multiple languages.
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, in partnership with several other disability advocacy organizations, published A Guide to the Voting Rights of People with Mental Disabilities. This newly updated guide lists key legal principles, provides information about state laws and practices that limit the voting rights of people with mental disabilities, and offers tools to help people with disabilities preserve or restore their voting rights. Learn more: www.bazelon.org/our-work/voting.
Need help getting to the polls?
In addition to contacting your local candidates’ office, reach out to Carpool Vote, a service connecting volunteer drivers with anybody who needs a ride to claim their vote. Transportation often is a factor for why people with disabilities do not vote and Carpool Vote is aiming to change that.
Offer to drive or request a ride online: http://carpoolvote.com
For help using Carpool Vote, call or SMS: 804-424-5335
In addition, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is partnering with Lyft, a popular ride-hailing app, to help blind voters get to the polls. Lyft has provided NFB’s national headquarters with a number of promotion codes, worth $15 each, which are being distributed through eleven of their affiliates: Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Contact your affiliate president if you could benefit from one of these codes, contact information is here: complete list of our affiliates and their leaders.
What if I go to the polls and they tell me I am not registered to vote?
First, make sure you are at the right polling place. If you are at the wrong polling place, they will not have your name on list of voters. If you are at the correct location and are not on the list, you still can cast a ballot. Ask the poll worker for a provisional ballot. After the polls close on Election Day, the state will check on the status of your voter registration and if there was a mistake made. The state must notify you as to whether your ballot was counted.
On Election Day, if I think my rights have been violated, what should I do?
If you have any questions at the polls, first ask an election official on site for assistance. If they are unable to assist or if you believe they violated your voting rights, then contact the Election Protection Coalition, a nonpartisan coalition working year-round to advance and defend your right to vote. They have lawyers standing by to answer your call:
866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) – English
888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) – Spanish
844-YALLA-US – Arabic
888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) – Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu or Tagalog
301-818-VOTE – American Sign Language
Text “Our Vote” to 97779
The Arc of the United States’ Voter Support Service for people with disabilities is a site that helps voters report and resolve voting barriers in real time.
Call the Voting Rights Alliance command center at 202-536-5400
The Department of Justice, Voting Section at www.justice.gov/crt/contacting-voting-section, 800-253-3931 or 202-514-0716 (TTY)
State Protection and Advocacy Voter Assistance Hotlines
The National Council on Independent Living compiled a directory of Protection and Advocacy voter assistance hotlines that address the voting barriers specifically affecting voters with disabilities, listed by state:
Alabama: Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program – (205) 348-4928
Alaska: Disability Law Center of Alaska – (800) 478-1234
American Samoa: Office of Protection & Advocacy – (684) 633-2441
Arizona: Arizona Center for Disability Law – (602) 274-6287
Arkansas: Disability Rights Arkansas – (800) 482-1174
California: Disability Rights California – (888) 569-7955
Colorado: Disability Law Colorado – (303) 722-0300
Connecticut: Disability Rights Connecticut – (860) 297-4300
Delaware: Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. – (302) 575-0660
District of Columbia: Disability Rights DC – (202) 547-0198
Florida: Disability Rights Florida – (800) 342-0823
Georgia: The Georgia Advocacy Office – (404) 885-1234
Guam: Guam Legal Services – (671) 477-9811
Hawaii: Hawaii Disability Rights Center – (800) 882-1057
Idaho: Disability Rights Idaho – (208) 336-5353
Illinois: Equip for Equality – (800) 537-2632
Indiana: Indiana Disability Rights – (800) 622-4845
Iowa: Disability Rights Iowa – (800) 779-2502
Kansas: Disability Rights Center of Kansas – (877) 776-1541
Kentucky: Kentucky Protection & Advocacy – (800) 372-2988
Louisiana: Advocacy Center – (800) 960-7705
Maine: Disability Rights Maine – (800) 452-1948
Maryland: Disability Rights Maryland – (443) 692-2492
Massachusetts: Disability Law Center, Inc. – (800) 872-9992
Michigan: Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services – (800) 288-5923
Minnesota: Minnesota Disability Law Center – (800) 292-4150
Mississippi: Disability Rights Mississippi – (601) 968-0600
Missouri: Missouri Protection & Advocacy – (573) 893-3333
Montana: Disability Rights Montana – (406) 449-2344
Nebraska: Disability Rights Nebraska – (800) 422-6691
Nevada: Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center – (888) 349-3843
New Hampshire: Disability Rights Center New Hampshire – (800) 834-1721
New Jersey: Disability Rights New Jersey – (609) 292-9742
New Mexico: Disability Rights New Mexico – (800) 432-4682
New York: Disability Rights New York – (800) 993-8982
North Carolina: Disability Rights North Carolina – (877) 235-4210
North Dakota: North Dakota Protection & Advocacy – (701) 328-2950
Ohio: Disability Rights Ohio – (800) 282-9181
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. – (800) 880-7755
Oregon: Disability Rights Oregon – (888) 339-VOTE
Pennsylvania: Disability Rights Pennsylvania – (215) 238-8070
Puerto Rico: Office of the Governor/Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities – (787) 725-2333
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Disability Law Center – (401) 831-3150
South Carolina: Protection & Advocacy of South Carolina – (866) 275-7273
South Dakota: Disability Rights South Dakota – (800) 658-4782
Tennessee: Disability Rights Tennessee – (800) 342-1660
Texas: Disability Rights Texas – (888) 796-VOTE
Utah: Disability Law Center – (800) 662-9080
Vermont: Disability Rights Vermont – (800) 834-7890
Virgin Islands: Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands – (340) 772-1200
Virginia: disAbility Law Center of Virginia – (800) 552-3962
Washington: Disability Rights Washington – (800 562-2702
West Virginia: Disability Rights West Virginia – (304) 346-0847
Wisconsin: Disability Rights Wisconsin – (844) DIS-VOTE
Wyoming: Wyoming Protection & Advocacy System – (877) 249-6167
MORE ARTICLES ABOUT VOTING ACCESSIBILITY
Here’s what to do if you’re turned away at the polls
– Christina Maxouris and AJ Willingham, CNN
“With midterm elections around the corner and early voting already underway, it can be a tricky situation for thousands who are just looking to legally exercise their civic right as American citizens. But no matter what unexpected issues you encounter at your polling place, there are ways to make sure your vote gets in safely.”
6 Tips for Voting With a Disability or Illness
– Karin Willison, The Mighty
“People with disabilities often face barriers when we try to exercise our constitutional right to vote. However, there are many laws protecting that cherished right, and many people across the political spectrum who want to help everyone have equal access to the ballot box. Voting is the most important action we can take to advocate for our rights and needs as Americans.”
Disabled veteran calls out MSNBC crew for blocking handicapped-accessible parking spaces
– Kerry Justich, Yahoo
“If I couldn’t park I couldn’t vote…Handicap spots are not loading zones for gear and equipment. Figure something else out. Especially at a public event where people are going to need the spots. This is not ok, and the station needs to be made aware. All of them.”
Disabilities Affect 74 Percent of Likely Voters
According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities.
“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.