Mexico to up security at border after migrants try to cross
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN
Monday, November 26
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Mexico looked set to shore up security near its border with the United States on Monday, and local authorities said that 39 migrants were arrested after a peaceful march devolved into mayhem when U.S. agents fired tear gas into Mexico to stop some migrants who tried to breach the international line.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said it would immediately deport those who tried to “violently” enter the U.S. from Tijuana. Meanwhile, Tijuana’s municipal government said that more than three-dozen migrants were arrested for disturbing the peace and other charges stemming from the march and what followed.
On Sunday, the situation at the border devolved after a large group marched to the U.S. border to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants marooned in Tijuana.
There, some attempted to get through the fencing and wire separating the two countries, leading U.S. agents to fire tear gas.
American authorities also shut down the nation’s busiest border crossing at San Ysidro for several hours at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.
Lurbin Sarmiento, 26, of Copan, Honduras, said she had been with her 4-year-old daughter at a concrete riverbed, which had a trickle of water from the Tijuana River, when U.S. agents fired the gas.
“We ran, but the smoke always reached us and my daughter was choking,” Sarmiento said, visibly shaken.
She said she never would have gotten that close with her daughter if she thought there would be tear gas.
Fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away.
“We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,” said Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.
As the chaos unfolded, shoppers just yards away on the U.S. side streamed in and out of an outlet mall, which eventually closed.
Throughout the day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents on foot watched beyond the wire fence in California.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that U.S. authorities will continue to have a “robust” presence along the Southwest border and that they will prosecute anyone who damages federal property or violates U.S. sovereignty.
“DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” she said.
More than 5,000 migrants have been camped in and around a sports complex in Tijuana after making their way through Mexico in recent weeks via caravan. Many hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.
Francisco Vega, the governor of Baja California, said almost 9,000 migrants were in the state and called it “an issue of national security.” Vega issued a public appeal to the federal government to take over responsibility for sheltering the migrants and deport those who were breaking the law.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the crush of migrants.
Irineo Mujica, who has accompanied the migrants for weeks as part of the aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the aim of Sunday’s march toward the U.S. border was to make the migrants’ plight more visible to the governments of Mexico and the U.S.
“We can’t have all these people here,” Mujica said.
On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the caravans in Mexico and to make another pitch for his promised border wall.
“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump tweeted. “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
Trump has repeatedly suggested without evidence that the migrant caravans are full of hardened criminals, but they are mostly poor people with few belongings who are fleeing gang violence. During his presidential campaign, he promised he’d have Mexico pay for a wall.
Mexico’s Interior Ministry said Sunday the country has sent 11,000 Central Americans back to their countries of origin since Oct. 19, when the first caravan entered the country. It said that 1,906 of those who have returned were members of the recent caravans.
Mexico is on track to send a total of around 100,000 Central Americans back home by the end of this year.
Associated Press writer Amy Guthrie contributed to this story from Mexico City.
Opinion: Gangs Are Exacerbating the Fentanyl Epidemic
By Don Bell
The relationship between the United States and Canada of late has been nothing short of tumultuous. However, in the midst of the bitter exchanges and more recent positive developments on trade, a unique opportunity exists to help save lives and protect our respective borders. In short, it’s time that both countries work together to face a new common threat posed by illegally imported fentanyl, a borderless killer. It’s an area of collaboration that will only strengthen the efforts of U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies to address this crisis.
As someone who spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, I know firsthand how the gang-backed trafficking of illicit narcotics from foreign countries, such as China, poses a direct threat to communities in Canada and in the United States. Fentanyl, in particular, is a synthetic opioid used to lace cocaine, heroin, counterfeit opioids and other counterfeit medicines, with devastating effect. Last year alone, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl led to nearly 30,000 overdose deaths in the United States and more than 4,000 in Canada.
Stemming the drug flow has been a difficult task for several reasons. For instance, in a prominent investigation in Canada last year, authorities discovered a pill press in a Calgary narcotics laboratory capable of producing 18,000 fake OxyContin pills per hour. If that was not bad enough, the pills contained no oxycodone; they were filled with fentanyl, almost guaranteeing the overdose of the eventual recipients. The sophistication and scale of these operations are possible because of the backing they enjoy through gangs with connections to China, as well as the notorious Hells Angels, a gang both the United States and Canada have designated as an organized crime syndicate.
Canada does not simply have to worry about infiltration; we need to worry about the long-term threat — an important distinction to keep in mind. In the past, gang violence was sporadic, less systemic. Historically, Canada has successfully tackled organized crime, as exemplified with the Hells Angels enforcement strategy of the early 2000s. We helped stamp out these criminals because of the concerted effort of law enforcement. But now with the proliferation of street gangs and the tremendous profit fentanyl trafficking offers, Canadian gangs have returned in force and are setting up shop to stay. They establish front businesses, launder money, and pose as otherwise law-abiding citizens. They take advantage of our country and try to put down roots to spread their poisonous wares across Canada and the United States.
To address this imminent threat, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies need to work even closer together.
First, we must raise public awareness of the danger of illicit drugs. According to the Canadian Intelligence Service of Canada, these drugs are the top source of income for organized criminals (generally speaking, organized crime costs Canadians $800 million annually).
As Statistics Canada Director General Lynn Barr-Telford recently noted, gang-related homicides have also nearly doubled since 2013. Canadians are, by nature, a trusting, welcoming people. As a society, that is how we should remain. But we cannot, even for a second, pretend that our own spike in gang violence, driven increasingly by the rapid trafficking in opioids, fentanyl and counterfeit drugs, will end without a concerted effort to educate and empower the public.
Second, we must continue to enhance our intelligence-sharing efforts and bilateral joint task forces, since they are now more important than ever. Recent efforts highlight our collective effect when we work together. In late 2017, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced charges against nine individuals, including the trafficking of fentanyl. A separate operation by Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau known as Project SILKSTONE seized 11,500 pills containing fentanyl.
Finally, we must reinforce our efforts to crack down on the dark web. As we have seen in recent years, the use of encryption techniques, virtually untraceable screennames, and crypto payment methods such as Bitcoins have created a black market for illegal fentanyl sales that pose a daily threat for law enforcement. We have already experienced this with cocaine, methamphetamines and other illegal substances that have poured over our borders in years past.
The lure of trafficking in illegal fake opioids and fentanyl from online sources will continue to be irresistible for criminals, given the significant financial incentive trafficking imported fentanyl provides. Our two countries should resist any efforts to weaken our existing collaboration through drug importation proposals currently under consideration in the United States, which would widen the loopholes through which these criminals can infiltrate the drug supply.
The good news is that we know how to root out gangs, we have all the right tools at our disposal and, most important, we have the will to undertake the task. It is time to deepen our partnership and face this threat together.
The threat of fentanyl is new, but Canadians do not back down from dangerous, necessary tasks. We share this with our American neighbors. And by working together, we will reduce the threat posed by illegal fentanyl that is ravaging communities north and south of the U.S.-Canada border. Stated simply, we have no choice.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Don Bell served as chief superintendent of the Ontario Provincial Police. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: First Ladies’ Bold Opinions Should Surprise No One
By Natalie Gonnella-Platts
Melania Trump notably waded into personnel matters at the White House recently by way of a succinct public statement on former Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel. Not surprisingly, especially considering the more elusive nature of the current East Wing, the action invited a flood of comparison and critique.
Now, I agree that the public delivery of the East Wing’s sentiments was an unprecedented move. It certainly sent a message. However, it is not the first time the first lady has offered a bold opinion. For example, this past summer, joining the voices of her predecessors, Mrs. Trump cited her strong dislike of the administration’s policy of family separation at the United States-Mexico border. And in direct contrast to the vocal views of her husband, Mrs. Trump praised the work of LeBron James and the I Promise School.
Moreover, though Mrs. Trump has only occasionally spoken out, that doesn’t mean her influence isn’t happening behind the scenes. Unfortunately, as a culture, we regularly overlook the fact that one of the most significant roles of a first spouse is that of partner or teammate — to the president and the people.
As envoys, advisers and independent voices, their influence on the Executive Office is evident throughout history. Of course, the ways this dynamic has played out are as unique as the individual relationships between wives and husbands. But a first lady’s effect on internal politics is by no means a modern phenomenon.
Abigail Adams held opinions on everything and everyone. And she didn’t hold back in airing her views, acknowledging that she expected to be “vilified and abused” for doing so. Mrs. Adams was known for her no-nonsense letters, and editorials at the time even joked that the president would not dare make a political appointment without her consent.
Florence Harding not only made clear her positions on issues like women’s suffrage, racial injustice and the well-being of veterans, she was also heavily involved in her husband’s administration, advising on Cabinet selections, political appointees and other matters. Warren G. Harding’s pet name for her, “The Duchess,” became her moniker at the White House, a reflection of her wide-reaching influence on the presidency. Though she put up with a lot in life and her short tenure as first lady, her influence has been sadly disregarded due to the scandals of the Harding administration.
And across the pond, though history has largely overlooked her incredible contributions, Clementine Churchill proved to be one of the most influential allies and advisers in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s life. In many ways they were opposites — Mrs. Churchill was deliberate in her views, more liberal in her politics and practical when it came to finances — and she wasn’t afraid to speak up to her husband or anyone else. In fact, Churchill’s chief of staff, Gen. “Pug” Ismay, stated that without Mrs. Churchill the “history of Winston Churchill and of the world would have been a very different story.”
Defined by flexibility and opportunity on one hand, and constraints on the others, the construct of a first lady’s role has been continuously molded and remolded by the unique personalities and interests of the women who have stepped up to the position, both with prominence and stealth.
The outcry and intrigue surrounding Mrs. Trump’s authority on personnel matters yet again spotlights the narrow margin of error society expects of first ladies. Overstep or evade an ever moving spectrum of public anticipation and be prepared to hear about it.
But amid a role without a rulebook, and often at a rate of personal sacrifice, first ladies have stepped up to the plate in support of political campaigns, policy decisions, and yes, even matters of office staffing and political appointees. After all, the role of a first lady is whatever she wants it to be.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Natalie Gonnella-Platts is the deputy director of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, the co-author of “A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies,” and host of the podcast Ladies, First. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Road deaths: why matters have only got worse over the past 100 years
November 18, 2018
Author: Lisa Kane, Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town
Disclosure statement: During June-August 2018 Lisa Kane worked with Open Streets Cape Town and Childsafe on a project which brought attention to the issue of child pedestrian road safety in South Africa.
Partners: University of Cape Town provides funding as a partner of The Conversation AFRICA.
In the early days of motoring in the US, transport historian Peter Norton tells us, people were angry. In the four years following the end of the First World War, more Americans were killed on roads than had died on the battlefields in France. Monuments were erected to crash victims in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Detroit tolled bells of mourning and remembrance. In New York a safety march on thousands included bereaved mothers who dedicated a monument there.
Such widespread public anger is unlikely 100 years on even though the world’s roads are still deadly. Globally, more lives are lost to road deaths than to malaria or HIV/AIDS. Each year, more than 1.2 million people die in road crashes. In reality, the figure could be larger: road crash data is known to be regularly under-reported.
It’s not just about lives lost. People who don’t die in crashes may still be badly injured or permanently maimed. Globally, road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product. The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday 18 November is a reminder of the human tragedies behind the data.
The risk of a road traffic death are highest in the African region, at 26.6 deaths per 100 000 people. The lowest risk is found in Europe, with 9.3 deaths per 100 000.
Why is road death and injury still so prolific? Enough research has been done, verified and compiled to show which policies, regulations and technologies can radically reduce road deaths and injuries. The World Health Organisation has produced multiple guidelines that set out how nations can make their roads safer.
Some identify a lack of “political willas a key factor in road safety failures. But generalising about “political will”, while understandable, also reinforces an unhelpful categorisation. It contains an assumption that politics is separate from technical road safety and road engineering work. That somehow professionals, governments, businesses and civil society working on road safety operate in a depoliticised, “technical” realm.
Transport scholars have shown, in various cases studies and analyses, how the political and technical work hand in hand. Biases favouring one group are inherent in transport planning and engineering. Early funding allocations in the US were skewed towards highways prompted in part by the less than robust use of statistics. And seemingly independent road professional bodies have been influenced by corporate interests.
In short, road engineering, planning and use is not divorced from broader politics.
Lobbies and interests
Historical work like Norton’s about the dawn of motoring in the US reveals some of the contours of power at play. It shows who or what was able to influence roads policy and engineering norms at the beginning of motoring. Trevor Barnes points out that such norms put in place at the beginning of a discipline’s development have a particularly strong influence and are difficult to displace.
In the case of public road development, businesses lobbied to protect and promote their interests. In particular, Norton exposes the role that oil and motor industries played in propagating a very particular style of managing and engineering roads. Regarding road safety, the powerful “motordom” lobby worked to quieten concerns about the relationship between vehicle speeds and road injuries.
The link between vehicle speeds and road death and injury is now widely accepted and corroborated by research) but speed remains a poorly understood public health risk, despite strong warnings.
Now, 100 years on from the first days of motoring, can we still attribute the generally parlous state of road safety in many countries to such “motordom” interests wedded to high vehicle speeds and increasing motorisation in business interests? To some extent, we can.
The politics of roads
Present day engineering practices can be traced back to road engineering norms established in the early part of the last century. The attribution of responsibility to the “reckless” pedestrian rather than to the motorist who is driving the vehicle that’s capable of causing harm can also be traced back to these earliest days of motoring.
Historical and sociological research work on planning and engineering thus queries the idea of roads and traffic as objective, de-politicised realms of practice. Yet, the work of road safety continues for the most part to be divorced from thinking about the broader political interests that are at play in the business of roads and traffic.
Political analyses of road safety are in their infancy. Much work is still required to understand the politics of roads and road-making. But deeper interrogations of the forces holding the status quo in place are also needed.
Development scholar and author Wolfgang Sachs, as an example, writes eloquently of the car as an object of desire; the love for speed is central to its popularity. The car, he argues, promises humans a means to overcome their existential angst at slowness of life.
Peter Sloterdijk, a philosopher and cultural theorist, points to our collective “sacrifice” of 3600 children killed in road crashes each year in the name of modernity. He suggests that people’s yearning for relief from the discomforts of being human goes some way to explaining the thirst for automobility.
To accelerate change we need more broad conceptions like these. They offer tantalising possibilities for improved thinking – and acting – for road safety.