Mexico accepts housing migrants, seeks US development aid
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN and E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
Wednesday, November 28
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — As Mexico wrestles with what to do with more than 5,000 Central American migrants camped out at a sports complex in the border city of Tijuana, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government signaled Tuesday that it would be willing to house the migrants on Mexican soil while they apply for asylum in the United States — a key demand of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Mexico’s new foreign minister also called on the Trump administration to contribute to development projects to help create jobs in Central America to stem the flow of migrants from the impoverished region, suggesting an appropriate figure would start at $20 billion.
“We cannot determine at what pace people are interviewed” by U.S. officials as part of the asylum process, the incoming foreign relations secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, told a news conference in Mexico City. U.S. border inspectors are processing fewer than 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana’s main crossing to San Diego, creating a backlog of thousands.
“So, what do we have to do?” Ebrard asked. “Prepare ourselves to assume that a good part of them are going to be in this area of Mexico for the coming months.”
“We have to support local authorities” in housing and feeding the migrants, he said, adding: “That is not a bilateral negotiation. That is something we have to do.”
Lopez Obrador, who won a crushing July 1 election victory and takes office on Saturday, built his political career on defending the poor. He now faces the difficult task of placating Trump on the migrant issue while upholding Mexico’s longstanding position of demanding better treatment for migrants.
Ebrard told reporters Tuesday a key administration goal is securing a U.S. commitment to development projects in Honduras, where the vast majority of the migrants in the caravan come from, as well as neighboring Guatemala, El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America.
“What are we negotiating with the United States? We want them to participate in the project I just mentioned” to create jobs in Central America. Asked how much the U.S. should contribute, Ebrard suggested the figure should be at least $20 billion.
“Mexico by itself is going to invest in our own territory during the next administration, more than $20 billion, and so any serious effort regarding our brothers in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, should be for a similar amount,” Ebrard said.
Ebrard’s statements came as anxious Tijuana residents closed down a school next to a sports complex where thousands of migrants have been camped out for two weeks.
The move came after U.S. border agents fired tear gas into Mexico to turn back a group of migrants who had breached the border over the weekend. The incident prompted Mexican authorities to step up the police presence around the shelter.
Citing fears for their children’s safety, the parents’ association of the Gabriel Ramos Milan elementary school bought their own lock and chain and closed the school’s gates. A sign said the school would remain closed until further notice.
Carmen Rodriguez said parents had been calling for authorities to do something since the migrants arrived, adding that her 9-year-old daughter wouldn’t be returning to classes until they are gone.
“We are asking that they be relocated,” Rodriguez said, noting that some migrants had approached the school grounds to ask children for money and use the school’s bathrooms. Some even smoked marijuana around its perimeter walls, she said.
She said the parents worry about anti-migrant protesters converging on the sports complex again, as they did last week. “If they come here and there is a confrontation, we will be caught in the middle,” she said.
The migrants themselves were urgently exploring their options amid a growing feeling that they had little hope of making successful asylum bids in the United States or of crossing the border illegally.
Most were dispirited after the U.S. agents fired tear gas on the group of migrants trying to cross into the U.S. on Sunday. They saw the clash and official response as hurting their chances of reaching the U.S. Mexico’s National Migration Institute reported that 98 migrants were being deported after trying to breach the U.S. border. The country’s Interior Department said about 500 people attempted to rush the border, while U.S. authorities put the number at 1,000.
There was a steady line Tuesday outside a tent housing the International Organization for Migration, where officials were offering assistance to those who wanted to return to their home countries.
Officials also reported more interest from migrants wanting to start the process of staying in Mexico. A job fair matching migrants with openings in Baja California saw a growing number of inquiries.
“What happened yesterday harms all of us,” Oscar Leonel Mina, a 22-year-old father from San Salvador, said of Sunday’s border clash.
Mina, his wife and their toddler daughter avoided the protest and were glad they did after hearing others recount what unfolded, he said.
The events made Mina rethink his family’s plan of making it to the U.S. He says he’s heard people talk of Rosarito, a beach town popular with U.S. tourists about a 40-minute drive south of Tijuana.
There “you can earn money and live well” if you’re willing to work, he said. He set a goal of trying to move his family out of the sports stadium in another week.
Mexican security forces stepped up their presence at the sports complex, apparently seeking to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s ugly scene.
Tijuana public safety secretary Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezcua told a news conference that Mexican police would be prudent in their use of force, but “we have to guard at all cost that the border posts are not closed again.”
Sotomayor said he hopes migrants who had thought of entering the U.S. illegally learned from Sunday’s events that that won’t be possible.
Castillo reported from Mexico City.
Opinion: Strengthen America’s Democracy With More Democracy
By Lindsay Lloyd
The growing sense that democracy is not delivering enough on the promises of opportunity for all is one reason that democracies around the world are reeling from populist movements. That includes our own country, where the promise of the American Dream seems elusive for too many people.
This disconnection is one of the reasons the Bush Institute has partnered with Freedom House and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement on the Democracy Project. The public opinion research program is examining the health of America’s democracy and gauges American attitudes on some of the challenges facing it.
Those challenges are not necessarily new. Since Watergate, our democratic system and the institutions that support it have become weaker. Confidence in institutions such as Congress, the media, the courts, and business have all declined.
Yet there is a new troubling unease that opportunity is not available for all. Former Senator Mel Martinez of Florida spoke to this last fall at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty conference. He noted that one result of the 2008 financial crisis was that “a lot of people began to doubt the promise of America, and the conversation began to be had that many people are having today: Whether the next generation will be able to live the fruits of the American Dream.”
Our research confirmed this dissatisfaction. While we reassuringly found a country that still believes strongly in the ideas and principles of democracy, we also found a country that is questioning whether that system is working as intended.
Younger people and nonwhites were notably less likely to believe in American democracy’s ability to deliver on the challenges facing them as individuals. The most alarming part of our findings is that those who are most skeptical about democracy are those who comprise the future majority of our population.
The U.S. Census Bureau forecasts that by 2044, non-Hispanic whites will no longer form the majority of the American population. Whites will continue to be the single largest ethnic group, but America will be a majority-minority nation in 26 years. Five states — California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas — and the District of Columbia already have crossed the threshold to majority-minority status, and more will follow.
In my view, our increasing diversity is something to celebrate. It makes us a more dynamic and better country. But to be a better country, our democracy must connect with this new body politic.
Our research found significantly less intense support for democracy among racial minorities. For example, 64 percent of white respondents said it was “absolutely important” to live in a democracy, but only 54 percent of nonwhites agreed. What happens if America’s new majority no longer buys into the basic premises that have guided the United States since its founding?
A similar trend is in play among age groups. While 60 percent of all respondents said living in a democracy was “absolutely important” to them, 39 percent of those under 30 felt that way.
Some research suggests that as people age they tend to become more invested in democracy. Over time, we’d expect those who are currently more ambivalent to become less so. For example, seniors tend to vote in large numbers; people in their late teens and 20s, not so much.
But there’s no parallel phenomenon to point to in terms of race. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s looked at social media or watched the news of the last few years that significant and important differences of opinion exist on questions related to race in America.
When our poll asked if equal rights and protections for racial minorities are getting better or worse, whites and nonwhites expressed very different perspectives.
Among whites, 50 percent said things were improving, versus 41 percent who said they were not. But among nonwhite respondents, just 31 percent said things were getting better, and 63 percent said they were getting worse.
We asked respondents to choose two among 10 elements of democracy that are most important to them personally. Significantly, “equal rights regardless of gender, race or beliefs” was ranked as the single-most important element of democracy, ahead of concepts such as freedom of speech, checks and balances, and free elections. Four in 10 respondents named equal rights as the most important value to them personally.
Among key demographic groups we saw even stronger conviction on equal rights. Nearly five in 10 nonwhite respondents and a similar number of those aged 18–29 stated it was the most important element to them.
When half of the nonwhite population says equal rights are the most important element of a democracy and nearly two-thirds of them believe equal rights are getting worse, we have a problem.
An Arizona teacher who participated in a focus group discussion put it this way: “Racism in the system … has been institutionalized. The pipeline to prison for our children; the disproportionate amount of children of color in emotional and behavior disorder classrooms and special education; the graduate turnout; the disproportionate way we discipline children, especially in certain school systems.”
As America transitions from a white-majority society to a much more diverse population, and as millennials become the largest generation, it’s imperative that they see their democracy is built on the concept of equal rights. It’s vital that they believe their democracy protects them.
One element of that is clearly the criminal justice system. For many Americans, especially African-Americans, there are grave doubts that justice is truly just.
When our survey asked, “Do you have confidence in your local police?” just under a third of white respondents said they lacked confidence. But more than half of nonwhites said they did not have confidence in their local police.
We can take heart that in the big picture, this study found continuing confidence in the concept of democracy and no obvious appetite for any alternative. Jeremy Rosner, managing director of Greenburg Quinlan Rosner and one of the pollsters who guided the research, noted, “There is strong pride in America’s democratic traditions and institutions. Freedom makes America different.”
One approach to these challenges seems promising: treat what ails American democracy with more democracy. The study tested a series of messages on democracy and one resonated particularly strongly across demographic categories:
“Today, there is a great need for us all to act as responsible citizens — things like voting, volunteering, taking time to stay informed, and standing up for what’s right — so that the freedoms and rights we cherish don’t get whittled away.”
Nearly 90 percent favored this message — across party, racial, regional and generational lines.
By focusing on some of the core elements of our democratic system, we have the tools to strengthen our democracy. Vote. Give your time to causes or candidates you believe in. Pay attention to current events. Treat each other with respect and civility. In so doing, we can ensure that America’s democracy delivers for every American.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Lindsay Lloyd is deputy director of Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute. He wrote this essay for “The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.” This is distributed by InsideSources.com.
Test prep is a rite of passage for many Asian-Americans
November 28, 2018
Julie J. Park
Associate Professor of Education, University of Maryland
Disclosure statement: Julie J. Park served as a consulting expert for The President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard Corporation) (“Harvard”) in connection with the matter of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard, Civ. Act. No. 1:14-14176. The views and opinions expressed here are her own and do not reflect Harvard’s views or information learned from Harvard in the course of her work.
When ACT released its latest test scores this past October, the results showed that average scores took a dip for every racial group in the United States except one – Asian-Americans.
A similar situation played out with the SAT. Asian-Americans experienced a gain over the prior year – 42 points on a 1600-point scale – whereas other groups had more modest gains, no gains, or lost ground.
The issue of Asian-Americans’ high test scores featured prominently in a pending legal case in which a group called Students for Fair Admissions – led by an activist who opposes the consideration of race in college admissions – alleges that Asian-Americans are discriminated against in Harvard College’s admission process.
As a researcher who specializes in the study of Asian-Americans and higher education, I see three factors that help explain this trend around test scores.
1. Many Asian-American students are socialized into test prep
As I document in my book, “Race on Campus,” many Asian-American students get frequent messages from an early age about the importance of doing well on tests. Test prep businesses may post an “honor roll” that features local youth and their elite college destinations. Relatives may stress that good test scores matter.
These messages are powerful, as explained in the book “The Asian American Achievement Paradox.” They set up high expectations for Asian-American students. Test prep becomes a way of meeting those expectations.
In many ways, these messages reflect the influence of East Asia, where college admission is decided on a single high-stakes test – such as China’s gaokao or South Korea’s suneung – and where intense test prep is a regular feature of teenage life. For that reason, many Asian immigrant parents see the SAT or ACT as the equivalent of Asia’s admissions tests. As a result, many conclude that test prep is a worthy investment.
This helps explain why Asian-Americans, and in particular Chinese- and Korean-Americans – have the highest rate of participation in SAT/ACT test prep.
In one study, I found that over half of Korean-Americans and 42 percent of Chinese-Americans took an SAT prep course prior to college, compared to 35.6 percent of white students, 32.4 percent of Hispanic students and 40.4 percent of black students. While affluent Asian-Americans are more likely to take test prep, 46.7 percent of low-income Korean-Americans still took a prep course.
2. Asian-Americans are better prepared to benefit
East Asian-Americans are the only group that show statistically significant gains from test prep. Average gains linked with test prep are more in the range of 10-30 points, versus the hundreds of points that are often advertised. Why?
Test prep tends to work best when students already have high levels of academic preparation. While there is a wide range of experiences within the Asian-American community, on average, Asian-Americans tend to have access to higher quality K-12 education than other minority groups.
They are also less likely to attend racially segregated, poorly resourced schools, unlike their black and Hispanic counterparts.
For these reasons, even some lower-income Asian-Americans enter test prep with high levels of prior educational achievement.
This is not to say that test prep can’t help students with weak academic preparation. It just won’t help in a way that will radically transform their ACT or SAT score, most likely. For instance, one study found no significant benefit from test prep among a sample of low-income students.
3. Test prep companies target Asian-American communities
Test prep businesses that cater to Asian-Americans are a mainstay in urban centers like Koreatown in Los Angeles or heavily Asian suburbs, such as the San Gabriel Valley, as noted sociology professor Min Zhou has found.
Signs in the front window of these businesses advertise in multiple languages. These test prep companies also advertise in Asian-language newspapers and ethnic media. Their presence is hard to miss, making SAT/ACT prep highly visible and available for Asian-American students. As The New York Times observed, most of New York City’s 411 prep centers are based in Queens and Brooklyn, “with over a quarter of them springing up in the past four years alone, most notably in the boroughs’ Asian enclaves of Flushing and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.”
“On the opposite coast, 861 such tutoring centers exist in California’s Orange, Santa Clara and Los Angeles counties, all heavy with Asian-American families,” the article states.
Beyond test scores
Related to the Harvard case, test scores for all students should be considered with a grain of salt. Yes, high scores are impressive, but they should be understood in the context of opportunity. It’s also important to note that strong scores are the norm in Harvard’s applicant pool.
Given that test scores are limited in their ability to predict future achievement, and are heavily shaped by race and social class, colleges should consider the value of SAT-optional or even doing away with the test.
But as long as the ACT and SAT remain part of college admissions, it should be understood that test prep alone won’t be enough to eliminate racial disparities in standardized test scores.