More migrants crossing US southern border in large groups
By COLLEEN LONG
Wednesday, March 6
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of migrant families crossing the southwest border is again breaking records, and the crush is overwhelming border agents and straining facilities, officials said.
More than 76,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last month, more than double the number from the same period last year. Most were families coming in ever-increasingly large groups — there were 70 groups of more than 100 people in the past few months, and they cross illegally in extremely rural locations with few agents and staff. There were only 13 large groups during the previous budget year, and only two the year before.
The system “is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during a press conference Tuesday.
The new figures reflect the difficulties President Donald Trump has faced as he tries to cut down on illegal immigration, his signature issue. But it could also help him make the case that there truly is a national emergency at the border — albeit one built around humanitarian crises and not necessarily border security. The Senate is expected to vote next week and join the House in rejecting his national emergency declaration aimed at building border walls, but Trump would almost certainly veto the measure and the issue is likely to be settled in the courts.
After the deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody, Customs and Border Protection stepped up medical screenings. They also announced sweeping changes including more rigorous interviews as migrants come into the system.
And McAleenan said a new processing center would be built in El Paso, Texas, that will be better suited to manage families and children and handle medical care concerns — but it’s not a permanent solution.
“While our enhanced medical efforts will assist in managing the increased flows, the fact is that these solutions are temporary and this solution is not sustainable,” he said.
While fewer people overall are being apprehended crossing the border illegally each year — about 400,000 over the last budget year compared with the high of 1.6 million in 2000, the increasing numbers are alarming, officials said.
Those apprehended used to be mostly single men from Mexico, but are now mostly families from Central America — since October, more than 130,000 families have been apprehended between ports of entry. From October through September 2018, about the same number of families was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. Tens of thousands of children illegally cross the border alone. While single men used to evade capture, the families are seeking out agents.
Customs and Border Protection also reported using firearms less and less. There were 15 instances where officers and agents used firearms during the budget year 2018, down from a high of 55 reported during the 2012 budget year, and down from 17 during 2017’s budget year and 25 the year before.
Despite high-profile instances in recent months where agents used tear gas on groups of migrants that included children, use of less-lethal force like tear gas, batons or stun guns are also down, to 898. That’s a decrease from the high in 2013 of 1,168, according to the data.
Border officials said the large families groups are creating opportunities for smugglers because attention is diverted to the large groups. Border officials say they worry they’re spending too much time on migrant care and not enough on security.
During 2018’s fiscal year, border agents and officers seized more than 1.7 pounds of narcotics, including 1.1 million pounds of marijuana, 282,570 pounds of cocaine, 6,552 pounds of heroin and 2,463 pounds of fentanyl, mostly through ports of entry, according to the border security report from budget year 2018, released Tuesday. Fentanyl seizures were up nearly 70 percent from the last budget year.
Complaints of excessive force prompted the border enforcement agency to commission an audit and investigation by the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy group. The 2013 audit highlighted problems that included foot-patrol agents without access to less-lethal options, and it recommended law enforcement not be allowed to use deadly force when people throw rocks — a suggestion that was rejected.
Following those reviews, major training and policy changes were made. Border Patrol agents now undergo scenario-based drills at the academy and learn how to de-escalate tense situations. They get 64 hours of on-the-job training on use of force. Agents and officers are authorized to use deadly force when there is reasonable belief in an imminent danger of serious physical injury or death to the officer or another person.
They have discretion on how to deploy less-than-lethal force: It must be both “objectively reasonable and necessary in order to carry out law enforcement duties” — and used when other “empty hand” techniques are not sufficient to control disorderly or violent subjects.
Officials say they deploy the lowest form of force necessary to take control of a situation, but instances a few months ago where tear gas was used on migrants that included children drew strong criticism.
Ensuring racial equality – from classrooms to workplaces – depends on federal regulations Trump could roll back
March 6, 2019
Author: Derek W. Black, Professor of Law, University of South Carolina
Disclosure statement: Derek W. Black 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.
Partners: University of South Carolina provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
The Trump administration is considering eliminating one of the federal government’s most basic tools for preventing racial discrimination.
When the government runs or funds programs, those programs are obligated to ensure that everyone gets equal access and treatment. This duty comes from something called “disparate impact regulations.” These regulations require the programs to pay careful attention to whether their policies cause racial disparities.
From my perspective as a scholar of discrimination law, abandoning these regulations would be a major departure from the federal government’s mission since the 1960s of ensuring racial equality.
In the 1950s and 60s, civil rights advocates challenged racial segregation and inequality in every facet of public life – from schools, buses and bathrooms to employment, housing and restaurants. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to stamp out as much of that discrimination as possible, prohibiting discrimination in all those areas and more.
But Congress went beyond just prohibiting “discrimination.” It recognized that prohibiting policies with obvious or explicit intent to discriminate was not enough to ensure equality.
Following Congress’s lead, the Department of Justice concluded in a 1966 report that policies that impact one racial group more than another should also be prohibited. Numerous other agencies agreed and put in place what we now call “disparate impact regulations.”
The fact that some policy or practice disproportionately affects a racial group does not alone violate the regulations. The disparity, if serious enough, simply triggers further investigation by a federal agency. That investigation involves two key additional questions.
First, does the program have a good reason, or “legitimate justification,” for the policy that is causing the racial disparities? If not, the agency can block the policy because the disparities are unjustified.
But if the program has a good reason, which it often does, the second question is: Can an alternative policy achieve the program’s goals without producing egregious racial disparities? If so, the program should pursue the less discriminatory alternative because the disparities are clearly unnecessary.
Today, discrimination and inequality continue largely due to subconscious racial biases. These biases are rampant and affect everything from who gets a job to who gets suspended from school.
These regulations alleviate the need to dig into individuals’ minds and search for very difficult to prove racial motives. These regulations, like in decades past, further racial equality by asking that officials justify disparities and pursue alternative policies when possible.
For instance, a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Education found that schools were suspending and expelling African-Americans more than three times as often as white students. Most of the time it was for minor misbehavior. While racial bias often plays a role in these disparities, federal agencies focused on the negative long-term consequences of school exclusion – consequences that are unnecessary.
The Department of Education asked districts, when possible, to pursue alternatives that would bring down disparities and still maintain school order. This could include programs that prevent misbehavior before it occurs – like student behavioral supports and staff training. Schools that implemented those alternatives saw misbehavior and school exclusion drop, and saw academic achievement increase. Agencies’ ability to push this change rested solely on the power given to them by disparate impact regulations.
Critics, including the Trump administration, claim that disparate impact regulations impose an undue burden on federally funded programs. They say the regulations force programs to focus too much on analyzing data and avoiding statistical anomalies. Implicit in this claim is that racial discrimination and inequality are no longer widespread problems.
But disparate impact was never just about data, and discrimination was never fully eliminated. To the contrary, data shows discrimination has not declined in the past 25 years.
Given the evolution of discrimination and the persistence of gross racial inequities, these regulations remain as important today as ever.
Changing Policies To Support Corporate Social Responsibility Future profits might depend on present-day choices by your business
Sam Bowman March 4, 2019
Corporate social responsibility is a business approach that incorporates sustainable development into business practices with the goal of prioritizing social and environmental responsibility. These business practices involve putting money towards sustainable practices that business partners, clients, and consumers can feel good about supporting.
Sustainable environmental policies are growing among large corporations as support for sustainable practices becomes a larger influence in how consumers spend their money. A report on greenhouse emissions over the last two decades found that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse emissions, which has convinced top-level executives to invest in sustainable practices in order to quell growing concern for climate change.
Developing sustainable environmental policies allows companies to demonstrate that they recognize climate change as a factor in the adverse weather events that cause mass injuries and deaths, which helps businesses increase their competitive edge. Corporations that craft thoughtful environmental policies supporting sustainable ideals and expectations are more likely to receive support from younger generations and environmentalists.
Review Your Environmental History
Before you create an environmental policy, it’s important to make sure you understand sustainable practices and what policies have the biggest impact. What is truly missing among businesses that try to make environmentally friendly changes is a big-picture push for sustainability — fixing the most important problems, not just the problems that are easiest to fix. If your company is truly striving to be environmentally friendly, it should innovate sustainable solutions across their business model, products, and services.
Once you do your research to understand sustainable practices, you’ll need to do some additional research on the unsustainable practices your company is most guilty of each year. Most often, these areas are the use of finite resources and polluters, such as excess energy consumption. When corporations seek to reduce their environmental impact, one of their first steps is to seek out more sustainable forms of power, as there are already many different forms of alternative energy, and incorporating this change is a relatively simple investment.
Create an Environmental Policy
After you understand how your company can reduce its harm to the environment, your top-level executives should create an environmental policy that will be shared throughout the company and on the company website. This will establish environmental principles that will indicate to employees and business partners the expectations that your business has in its suppliers and contractors. This will demonstrate your company’s commitment to sustainability and complying with environmental regulations.
An environmental policy should be signed by upper management and specifically reflect company values, as a generic environmental policy is more likely to be dismissed. It should be kept short, preferably less than a page. Because it will be shared with business collaborators, customers, and all levels of employees, it should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand. Even if your company is ambitious about where it wants to take sustainability, it’s important for the policy contents to be realistic and reflect the company’s most important concerns and priorities.
Set Company Goals
After doing your research for the areas of your business that could stand to improve, use reports to create an analysis of how to reduce your impact. Consider forming an environmental committee that can analyze various business aspects for ways to incorporate environmental policies at all levels of operations.
This can include hiring remotely to avoid flying candidates out for interviews, offering remote work options to employees to reduce car emissions, going paperless, reducing the amount of waste created throughout production, and incorporating other eco-friendly policies. To accommodate remote workers, you’ll need collaboration and task management software, but you’ll want to be careful when choosing. Discuss your organization’s specific needs with your IT department or specialist in order to find collaboration software that is compatible with your business’ objectives. By creating a roadmap, you’ll be able to target the areas that really matter and find the tools needed to propel your business forward.
Take beverage companies, for example. One large environmental issue is the sale of single-use plastics; an issue that is largely threatening the plastic industry. To combat the negative perceptions consumers have about this issue, single-use water bottle companies are emphasizing their use of recycled plastics in their marketing strategies. After striving to be more environmentally friendly in this manner, Arrowhead reached a recycled content milestone with 90 percent of Arrowhead water bottles made in California now made of 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic content. By overtly addressing this past issue, they’ve built goodwill with consumers and found success.
Establish Systems for Change
Once you target the areas of your business practices that need change, you’ll need to establish systems for change to put your eco-friendly policies into action. These systems will depend entirely on what you’re planning and will likely require the assistance of product developers and production experts. Once you’ve decided on the methods you’ll use, your company will be on its way to meeting its goals and following through on becoming a company who cares about sustaining the planet that we live on.
As these systemic company changes settle into the workflow, it’s important to continue monitoring company progress and the impact that they are having on your fight towards sustainability. Assessing progress is a crucial part of meeting any company goals. By analyzing the data after a few months of policy changes, your company can determine what areas still need improvement. It can also help your management team monitor impacts and improve the efficiency of your processes.
The success of corporate sustainability strategies relies largely on a comprehensive analysis of every aspect of the business that will help achieve company change through regular reassessment. Creating an environmental policy and setting realistic goals are the first steps to helping your company implement environmental management standards that it can hold itself accountable to. But once this is done, it becomes much easier to monitor the progress that your business is making on all levels.
It takes a lot of planning and restructuring to develop and implement new environmental policies for your company. Although these changes can be a lot of work, they can improve your company’s marketing and put your business on the right side of the fight against climate change. Doing so will help sway consumers in your direction and away from your competitors.
In order to keep your policies up to date, it’s important to constantly analyze the environmental impact in each level of your business. This is done by reviewing your company’s history, creating a strong environmental policy, setting goals, establishing systems for change and monitoring company progress every few months. If enough businesses set this precedent for sustainability, we may begin to see real change in corporate social responsibility.
E-The Environmental Magazine
A Project of EarthTalk Inc.
EarthTalk, a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization
North Korea said to be rebuilding structures at rocket site
By HYUNG-JIN KIM and KIM TONG-HYUNG
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is restoring facilities at a long-range rocket launch site that it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul’s spy service.
The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service provided the assessment about the North’s Tongchang-ri launch site to lawmakers during a private briefing Tuesday. North Korea didn’t immediately respond in its state media.
An article from 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, cited commercial satellite imagery as indicating that efforts to rebuild some structures at the site started sometime between Feb. 16 and March 2.
Dismantling parts of its long-range rocket launch facility was among several steps the North took last year when it entered nuclear talks with the United States and South Korea. North Korea has carried out satellite launches at the site in recent years, resulting in U.N. sanctions over expert claims that they were disguised tests of banned missile technology.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the report might affect nuclear diplomacy. The Trump-Kim summit fell apart because of differences over how much sanction relief North Korea could win in return for closing its aging main nuclear complex. The U.S. and North Korea accused each other of causing the summit breakdown, but both sides left the door open for future negotiations.
Trump said Kim told him that North Korea would continue to suspend nuclear and missile tests while negotiations are underway, and South Korea and the U.S. announced Sunday that they are eliminating massive springtime military drills and replacing them with smaller exercises in an effort to support the talks.
One of the South Korean lawmakers who attended the intelligence briefing said Wednesday that NIS director Suh Hoon said the structures being restored at the launch site include roofs and building doors.
The lawmaker requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.
He quoted Suh as saying that the move could be preparation to restart long-range rocket launches if nuclear diplomacy completely collapses, or could be an attempt to add structures that could be dramatically blown up in a show of denuclearization commitment when U.S. inspectors visit if negotiations with Washington go well.
The NIS said it couldn’t confirm the report on Suh’s briefing.
The 38 North report published Tuesday said the rail-mounted processing building, which is where space launch vehicles are worked on before they’re moved to the launch pad, is being reassembled. It said two support cranes can be seen at the building, and walls have been erected and a new roof added.
At the engine test stand, the website said it appears that the engine support structure is being reassembled. It said new roofs have been installed on the fuel and oxidizer buildings.
The report was written by Jack Liu and Jenny Town.
Beyond Parallel, a website run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, issued a similar assessment of the Tongchang-ri site. It said satellite imagery taken Saturday, two days after the failed summit, showed North Korea “is pursuing a rapid rebuilding” of the rocket site.
After repeated failures, North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit for the first time in 2012 in a launch from the site, which is also known as the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. North Korea had another successful satellite launch in 2016.
North Korea has said its satellite launches are part of its peaceful space development program. None of the country’s high-profile missile tests, including three ICBM launches in 2017, was conducted at the site.
But many outside experts say ballistic missiles and rockets used in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology. They say each of the North’s satellite launches was believed to have improved its missile technology.
After carrying out the third of its three ICBM launches in late 2017, North Korea claimed to be able to attack the mainland United States with nuclear-armed missiles. Foreign missile experts say the North still needs to master a few remaining technologies, such as perfecting a re-entry vehicle, to have functioning ICBMs.
In early 2018, North Korea abruptly expressed its intention to deal away its weapons arsenal in return for political and economic benefits. The North has since suspended nuclear and missile tests and dismantled its underground nuclear testing site.
Its dismantling of parts of the Tongchang-ri facility occurred at the beginning of U.S.-North Korea negotiations last year. Both the launch pad and engine test stand were in about the same condition since last August, according to the 38 North report.
After a September summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, Kim agreed to “permanently shut down” the Tongchang-ri engine test ground and rocket launch pad with the participation of foreign experts.
A statement issued by Kim and Moon categorized the steps as parts of a broader goal to make the Korean Peninsula free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat. This could suggest that North Korea acknowledged that the Tongchang-ri site is a nuclear-related facility.
Firearms use by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents has reached a record low. According to data obtained by The Associated Press, there were 15 instances in which officers and agents used firearms during the budget year 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)