Migrants get cool reception in Mexican border town
By JULIE WATSON
Sunday, November 18
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Many of the nearly 3,000 Central American migrants who have reached the Mexican border with California via caravan said Saturday they do not feel welcome in the city of Tijuana, where hundreds more migrants are headed after more than a month on the road.
The vast majority were camped at an outdoor sports complex, sleeping on a dirt baseball field and under bleachers with a view of the steel walls topped by barbed wire at the newly reinforced U.S.-Mexico border. The city opened the complex after other shelters were filled to capacity. Church groups provided portable showers, bathrooms and sinks. The federal government estimates the migrant crowd in Tijuana could soon swell to 10,000.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants’ arrival an “avalanche” that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. U.S. border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego. Asylum seekers register their names in a tattered notebook managed by migrants themselves that had more than 3,000 names even before the caravan arrived.
While many in Tijuana are sympathetic to the migrants’ plight and trying to assist, some locals have shouted insults, hurled rocks and even thrown punches at the migrants.
It’s a stark contrast to the many Mexican communities that welcomed the caravan with signs, music and donations of clothing after it entered Mexico nearly a month ago. Countless residents of rural areas pressed fruit and bags of water into the migrants’ hands as they passed through southern Mexico, wishing them safe journeys.
Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador in Mexico, visited the outdoor sports complex Saturday. Rivera expects the migrants will need to be sheltered for eight months or more, and said he is working with Mexico to get more funds to feed and care for them. He expects the migrant numbers in Tijuana to reach 3,400 over the weekend, with another 1,200 migrants having made it to Mexicali, another border city a few hours to the east of Tijuana. An additional 1,500 migrants plan to reach the U.S. border region next week.
Rivera said 1,800 Hondurans have returned to their country since the caravan first set out on Oct. 13, and that he hopes more will make that decision.
“We want them to return to Honduras,” Rivera said, adding that each migrant must weigh whether to go home, appeal for asylum in Mexico or wait in line to apply for asylum in the U.S.
The Mexican Interior Ministry said Friday that 2,697 Central American migrants have requested asylum in Mexico under a program that the country launched on Oct. 26 to more quickly get them credentials needed to live, work and study in southern Mexico.
Ivis Muñoz, 26, has considered returning to Honduras. The coffee farmer called his father in Atima, Honduras, on Saturday to consult on his next move a few days after being attacked on a beach by locals in Tijuana. His father told him to stick it out.
Munoz has a bullet in his leg. A gang member shot him a year ago in Honduras and threatened to kill him if he sees him again. Munoz said he found out later his girlfriend had been cheating on him with the gang member.
He’s afraid to go home, but he feels unwelcome in Tijuana.
Munoz was asleep on a beach in Tijuana with about two dozen other migrants when rocks came raining down on them around 2 a.m. Wednesday. He heard a man shout in the darkness: “We don’t want you here! Go back to your country!” Munoz and the others got up and ran for cover, heading toward the residential streets nearby. As the sun rose, they hitched a ride on a passing truck to Tijuana’s downtown. Now he is staying at the sports complex.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Munoz. He fears the U.S. won’t grant him asylum, and that he’ll get deported if he tries to cross into the country without authorization.
Carlos Padilla, 57, a migrant from Progreso, Honduras, said a Tijuana resident shouted “migrants are pigs” as he passed on the street recently. He did not respond. “We didn’t come here to cause problems, we came here with love and with the intention to ask for asylum,” Padilla said. “But they treat us like animals here.”
Padilla said he will likely return to Honduras if the U.S. rejects his asylum request.
The migrants’ expected long stay in Tijuana has raised concerns about the ability of the border city of more than 1.6 million to handle the influx.
Tijuana officials said they converted the municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city’s privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000; as of Friday night there were 2,397 migrants there.
Some business owners near the shelter complained on Saturday of migrants panhandling and stealing.
Francisco Lopez, 50, owns a furniture store nearby. He said a group of migrants took food from a small grocery a few doors down, and he worries that crime in the area will rise the longer the migrants stay at the shelter.
Other neighbors expressed empathy.
“These poor people have left their country and they’re in an unfamiliar place,” said Maria de Jesus Izarraga, 68, who lives two blocks from complex.
As Izarraga spoke from her home’s front door, a man interrupted to ask for money to buy a plate of beans. He said he came with the caravan and had blisters on his feet. She gave him some pesos, and continued speaking: “I hope this all works out in the best possible way.”
Outside the complex, lines of migrants snaked along the street to receive donations of clothes and coolers full of bottled water being dropped off by charity groups and others looking to help the migrants.
Felipe Garza, 55, acknowledged that many in his hometown don’t want to help as he and other volunteers from his church handed migrants coffee and rolls at the impromptu municipal shelter. “It’s uncomfortable to receive such a big multitude of people, but it’s a reality that we have to deal with,” he said.
Garza surmised that if the Central Americans behave, Tijuana will embrace them just as it did thousands of Haitians in 2016. Those Haitians have since opened restaurants, hair salons and enrolled in local universities.
Police officer Victor Coronel agrees but wonders how much more the city can take. “The only thing we can do is hope that President (Donald) Trump opens his heart a little,” said Coronel.
Trump, who sought to make the caravan a campaign issue in last week’s elections, took to Twitter on Friday to aim new criticism at the migrants.
“Isn’t it ironic that large Caravans of people are marching to our border wanting U.S.A. asylum because they are fearful of being in their country — yet they are proudly waving … their country’s flag. Can this be possible? Yes, because it is all a BIG CON, and the American taxpayer is paying for it,” Trump said in a pair of tweets.
Associated Press writer Amy Guthrie in Mexico City contributed to this story.
Migrants won’t see armed US soldiers on border
By JULIE WATSON
Saturday, November 17
SAN DIEGO (AP) — As thousands of migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers converge on the doorstep of the United States, what they won’t find are armed American soldiers standing guard.
Instead they will see cranes installing towering panels of metal bars and troops wrapping concertina wire around barriers while military helicopters fly overhead, carrying border patrol agents to and from locations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
That’s because U.S. military troops are prohibited from carrying out law enforcement duties.
What’s more, the bulk of the troops are in Texas — hundreds of miles away from the caravan that started arriving this week in Tijuana on Mexico’s border with California after walking and hitching rides for the past month.
Still, for many migrants the barriers and barbed wire were an imposing show of force.
Angel Ulloa stood on Tijuana’s beach where a wall of metal bars more than 20 feet high cut across the sand and plunged into the Pacific. He watched as crews on the U.S. side placed coils of barbed wire on top.
A border patrol agent wearing camouflage and armed with an assault rifle — part of a tactical unit deployed when there is a heightened threat — walked in the sand below where the men worked. A small border patrol boat hovered offshore.
“It’s too much security to confront humble people who just want to work,” said Ulloa, a 23-year-old electrician from Choloma, Honduras, who joined the caravan to try to make his first trip to the U.S.
Now, he and his two friends were rethinking their plans. They tried to apply for a job at a Wal-Mart in Tijuana but were told they need a Mexican work permit. So they were considering seeking asylum in Mexico but were unsure of giving up their dream of earning dollars.
“We’re still checking things out,” he said.
On Friday, people walking through one of the world’s busiest border crossings into Mexico passed by a pair of Marines on a 20-foot lift installing razor wire above a turnstile.
Nearby Army Sgt. Eric Zeigler stood guard with another soldier. Both were military police officers assigned to protecting the Marines as they work.
The 24-year-old soldier from Pittsburgh spent nine months in Afghanistan. “”It’s very different over there, obviously. It’s a lot more dangerous,” Zeigler said.
He said he was surprised when got his deployment orders sending him to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“But I’m happy to go where I’m needed” he added as a man walked by carrying shopping bags headed to Tijuana.
The U.S. military has deployed 5,800 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
So far, more are not expected, despite President Donald Trump’s initial assessment that 10,000 to 15,000 were needed to secure the border against what he has called an “invasion” of migrants. Most in the caravan of several thousand are families, including hundreds of children.
Another 2,100 National Guard troops are have also been deployed since April as part of a separate mission. Like the military troops, they are not allowed to detain illegal crossers. Instead, they have been monitoring cameras and helping to erect barriers.
Of the 5,800 soldiers and Marines, more than 2,800 are in Texas, while about 1,500 are in Arizona and another 1,300 are in California. All U.S. military branches, except the Coast Guard, are barred from performing law enforcement duties.
That means there will be no visible show of armed troops, said Army Maj. Scott McCullough, adding that the mission is to provide support to Customs and Border Protection.
“Soldiers putting up wire on the border and barriers at the ports of entry will be the most visible,” he said.
Marines and soldiers share the same duties in California and Arizona. These include erecting tents, setting up showers and arranging meals for troops working on the border, and assigning military police to protect them.
There are no tents or camps being set up to house migrants, McCullough said. Medics are on hand to treat troops and border patrol agents — not migrants — for cuts, bruises and any other problems.
Combat engineers — whose duties on the battlefield include setting up tactical obstacles to prevent the enemy from moving freely — are using their expertise to string wire on border walls and erect temporary fencing, McCullough said.
Construction engineers have been assigned to weld together barriers and move shipping containers to act as walls.
In Laredo, Texas, about 100 soldiers have been installing three layers of razor wire along the Rio Grande, working on the banks during the day and on the bridges at night to minimize the disruption to cross-border traffic.
The current mission is scheduled to end Dec. 15 for now. It’s unclear how much it will cost and military leaders have refused to provide an estimate.
Critics have questioned the wisdom of using the military on the border where there is no discernible security threat. Since the Nov. 6 elections, Trump has said little about the matter and no border threat has materialized.
Some border communities fear the barricades will scare off Mexican shoppers. The city council in Nogales, Arizona, slashed a proposed bonus for all employees in half over concerns about how the military’s presence would affect its sales tax revenue after the military closed off two lanes at its border crossing.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the deployment during a visit to the Texas border this week, asserting that in some ways it provides good training for war.
Suyapa Reyes, 35, said she was puzzled as to why she would be seen as a threat. Reyes, her mother, 12-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son left Honduras with the caravan on Oct. 13, fleeing violence and poverty in her hometown of Olanchito de Oro.
She does not want to return after coming such a long way but if she cannot get asylum and the border looks too dangerous to cross, she said she’ll have no other choice.
“I’m not going to risk my life or safety nor that of my children,” she said.
Associated Press writer Astrid Galvan in Phoenix contributed to this report.
This story corrects the spelling of Army Sgt. Eric Zeigler’s last name. It is Zeigler, not Ziegler.
Martins Ferry Used Car Seller Accused of Failing to Deliver Vehicle Titles to Consumers
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
November 16, 2018
(ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a consumer protection lawsuit against a Martins Ferry used car seller accused of failing to deliver vehicle titles to consumers.
The lawsuit accuses Liberty Automotive Group LLC and its owners, Jeff Wojcik and Sheree L. Thompson-Wojcik, of violating Ohio consumer protection laws.
More than 40 consumer complaints have been filed against Liberty Automotive Group, which last operated at 109 Hanover Street in Martins Ferry. In most cases, consumers complained that after they bought a vehicle from the dealership, they did not receive the title to the vehicle.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office worked to assist consumers, in some cases making payments from the Title Defect Recision Fund, which helps resolve certain title problems. Payments from the fund have totaled over $24,000 so far in the case.
“Our goal is to protect consumers,” Attorney General DeWine said. “When consumers buy a car, they expect to receive the vehicle title. When they don’t, we do what we can to help them, including taking enforcement action when necessary.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Belmont County Court of Common Pleas, seeks reimbursement for consumers, reimbursement for the Title Defect Recision Fund, and an order to prohibit the dealership’s owners from being granted an auto dealer license in Ohio.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
Flying with emotional support animals: The ups and downs of life in coach
November 19, 2018
Assistant Clinical Professor of Behavior, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University
Christine Calder 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.
Mississippi State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The Department of Transportation has been considering new guidelines for flying with emotional support animals since spring 2018, but it doesn’t look like those guidelines will be ready in time for the holiday travel season.
No one knows whether the new guidelines could have helped recent Delta Air Lines passenger Matthew Meehan, who claimed that he had to sit in doggie poop from an emotional support animal on a Nov. 1, 2018 flight from Atlanta to Miami. The dog became sick on a previous flight, the airline reported, leaving the mess for Meehan.
And that was after Delta tightened its rules for flying with emotional support animals.
In recent years, the number of animals flying in the cabin on airplanes has increased exponentially, due to an increase of these emotional support animals. United Airlines reported a 77 percent rise in just one year of emotional support animals. These animals fly for free, and sometimes they and their human are upgraded to first class to avoid a kerfuffle in coach.
As an assistant clinical professor of veterinary medicine and veterinary behaviorist, I have experience in small animal care and animal behavior, and I am concerned about the welfare of animals on planes as well as the humans. The issues are more complicated than many imagine.
Stressed out by flying? Aren’t we all
Emotional support animals differ from trained service animals, who have been trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of a person with a disability. Most emotional support animals are not officially trained to offer support, but their owners consider them a comfort nonetheless.
Some people who need trained service animals have grown weary of emotional support animals. Many resent their work animals being lumped in with emotional support animals, whom they consider poseurs. Many also claim that their service animals are being turned away from flights in the wake of tighter restrictions imposed by some airlines.
Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, told a business group that the situation aboard has become so ludicrous that his airline was expected to fly a support animal for an emotional support animal.
Last year, United drew a line in the sky when a passenger wanted to fly with an emotional support peacock.
For American Airlines, the last straw was a goat (miniature horses are still allowed). American issued new guidelines in July that also restrict support animals from occupying a seat or nibbling food from a tray table. There’s no mention about whether they can drink on board. Pet owners, however, claim that it is discriminatory to deny them the comfort of emotional support animals.
The DOT and other government agencies have been exploring a revision in the laws. These stricter proposals have received revision requests and support from both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Union.
The American Veterinary Medical Association pushed back on language, however, that would have made its members accountable for verifying that an animal will behave, because there is no way to guarantee the behavior of an animal.
A long history
This all took off when the 1986 federal Air Carrier Access Act allowed people with mental health disabilities to fly on a plane with an animal free of charge, if it alleviates the person’s condition.
Over the years, however, airlines have said that some animal-carrying passengers abuse the rules so they can simply fly with their pets for free. Some want to prevent their pets from flying in cargo, where some pets have died.
Many passengers traveling without animals have said they are stressed by emotional support animals. Animals trigger phobias in some people and allergies in others; about 10 percent of the human population is allergic to animals. Cats bear most of the blame, but proteins in dog dander and even saliva can cause an allergic reaction.
Many airlines now require advance notification. Many also want a diagnosis letter for the human stating that the person is psychologically disabled and can not be without the stability provided by that pet. Writing such a letter can pose risks and ethical dilemmas for psychologists, however, a study suggested. Nonetheless, people seeking a letter can usually obtain one online.
The airline industry also considered asking for documentation from a veterinarian that the animal can behave in public and that it is healthy and has been vaccinated. The American Veterinary Medical Association emphasized to the DOT that veterinarians cannot vouch for animals’ behavior and that expanding the scope of the veterinary form could lead to refusals by veterinarians to fill out these forms. That, in turn, could result in certified service animals being denied air transportation.
The airlines dropped that requirement. Instead, many airlines ask that the animal just be clean and not have an odor.
There’s a lot of scientific evidence that being in close proximity to, and living with, companion animals has many psychological and physiological benefits for humans. In children, animal-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce pain perception and provide better coping skills in the hospital environment. Another study found that in children with autism, social behaviors increased in the presence of animals compared to toys.
Studies also have shown a positive effect of service dogs on war veterans and people with traumatic brain injuries.
But do emotional support animals really help people more than traditional pets?
According to a 2016 literature review by two psychologists and a psychology graduate student, the answer is no. There is little evidence to support that emotional support animals are more effective than traditional pets.
In fact, there are no specific guidelines or standards for evaluating emotional support animals. And, without standards, legal protection is complicated when incidents occur, such as when a pit bull bites a person, as one did on a Delta Air Lines flight, leading the airline to ban that breed.
Is it good for the goose just because it’s good for the human?
There’s also evidence that the animals themselves may not fare so well. Riding on planes, being in closed-in spaces, and being exposed to loud noises and crowds of people can be overstimulating and scary to an animal, especially one not accustomed to that particular environment.
In a 2002 study, researchers looked at air travel in beagles. They found that blood and salivary cortisol was much higher than baseline in dogs during air transport, an indication they were stressed. The authors noted that just because the beagles were mainly inactive during transport did not mean they were not stressed. Rather, their behavior indicated that the beagles adopted a conservative-withdrawal approach in response to their stress, rather than fight-or-flight.
In contrast, service dogs are often genetically selected and extensively trained for the tasks they will perform. They need consistent and predictable behaviors in a wide range of situations and environments in order to safely provide service to their humans, especially if a life depends on that particular service.
Training, training methods, the trainer and training tools used can also have a significant effect on behavior and coping skills in animals.
And, whenever an animal is fearful or anxious, he may be more likely to choose an aggression strategy, such as growling, snapping or biting, especially if he feels cornered or trapped. In the end, airlines and regulators are left to develop ways to avoid the downsides of comfort animals, even as consumers have come to expect this accommodation.