Chris Babcock July 4, 2018NewsComments Off on Cruz Suggests Mexico’s Election of “Far-Left Socialist” Lopéz Obrador Means U.S. Needs Border Wall
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday that the election of a “far-left socialist” to the Mexican presidency underscores the need for President Donald Trump’s administration to secure the border and build a wall between the United States and its southern neighbor.
Cruz said Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 64, had been running on an “anti-American campaign for a long, long time.”
López Obrador earned more than 50 percent of the vote count Sunday, a landslide compared to Mexico’s historical election results. He ran on a populist agenda in which he promised to put Mexico’s interests ahead of those of foreign governments and investors, leading some to label the candidate as a socialist in the mold of other Latin American leaders.
While responding to an audience question at a campaign stop Tuesday in Waco, Cruz pondered the future of U.S.-Mexico relations if López Obrador, known as “AMLO” in Mexico, were to become the equivalent of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro or his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
“It could really cause a problem in terms of our relationship with Mexico if he follows through on the anti-America rhetoric,” Cruz said. In addition to the wall, Cruz also repeated his call for the federal government to increase staffing and technology on the border with Mexico.
Cruz stressed, however, that he hoped López Obrador’s fiery rhetoric was limited to campaign-trail stumping and that it would not influence his foreign policy. But the senator said an area of highest concern was López Obrador’s take on immigration.
“One of the areas that could be particularly problematic is he urged Mexicans before the election, ‘Pack up and go up north to America.’ … I’m running in the state of Texas. How would it work if I stood up and said, ‘Elect me and then get the hell out of Texas!’?” Cruz said. “What a profound statement of giving up on your country, telling your citizens, ‘Flee our country because we’re not gonna solve the problem.'”
Claims that López Obrador called for mass migration to the United States during the campaign have been debunked. Instead, PolitiFact reported that López Obrador said his party would defend the rights of migrants who have, out of necessity, left their hometowns to find a better life in the United States.
“It is a human right that we are going to defend,” he said.
López Obrador, who ran unsuccessfully in 2006 and 2012, has reportedly taken a more moderate tone since his historic victory on Sunday, calling for friendship with the United States. Still, observers are waiting to see what happens during Mexico’s five-month-long transition period, during which the president-elect will likely lay out his policy proposals and Cabinet nominees — providing a better look into his administration’s agenda.
The Texas Tribune June 22, 2018NewsComments Off on Japanese-Americans Imprisoned at Texas Internment Camp in 1940s Watch Border Crisis Unfold with Heavy Hearts
In the small South Texas town of Crystal City, little remains of the massive internment camp that was used to incarcerate thousands of people of Japanese and German ancestry in the 1940s.
But the memories of that imprisonment — and the enduring trauma that came with it — have stalked Hiroshi Shimizu since the day he left the camp in 1947.
“From the time I was born until I was almost five, all I had known was incarceration,” Shimizu said. “You carry that with you every day.”
As a humanitarian crisis has recently unfolded on the border where more than 2,300 migrant children have been separated from their parents after crossing into the country illegally, Shimizu and other Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned at the Crystal City internment camp have watched with heavy hearts, all too familiar with the toll that being confined can take on a child.
Bearing witness to the detention of young children has only been made more painful by the fact that the trauma they’ve been burdened with for most of their lives is now being inflicted on children who have no one to lean on.
“There’s a strong part of me that identifies with what’s happening today, except for the fact that I was never separated from my parents,” said Shimizu, who lives in the Bay Area. “It’s difficult to conceive of what’s going on …” he said, before choking up and letting his response linger in quiet sadness.
For months, the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy has led to the separation of thousands of migrant families who crossed the border together but were separated after the federal government began criminally prosecuting all adults who entered the country illegally. Because youths cannot be sent to jails, children — some of whom are reportedly just a few months old — have been taken from their parents and placed in federal custody.
Even now that President Donald Trump signed an executive order meant to halt the family separations that his administration’s policy caused, it remains unclear how or when families may be reunited — if they’re reunited at all.
For some Crystal City internees, the parallels that have emerged between today’s immigration crisis and the internment of Japanese-Americans are chilling.
Scores of Japanese-American families were torn apart in the 1940s when the federal government forcibly relocated and incarcerated citizens of Japanese ancestry and immigrants it considered “enemy aliens” in detention camps across the country following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. In some cases, children were rounded up with no idea where they were going, how long they were going to be held or whether their parents had been deported to another country.
And as questions continue over how long the migrant families will be separated, some of the Japanese-Americans who were held at Crystal City have been left to agonize over whether the legacy of trauma that followed their mass incarceration — post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders — will be handed down to the children who have been detained away from their parents.
“The thought of being torn from their parents and being placed in a separate facility unknown miles away from where their mother is possibly being deported causes so much anxiety,” said Satsuki Ina, a therapist from the San Francisco area who was also held at Crystal City. “I think these children are being damaged.”
Like some of today’s detained children, Ina was separated from her father who was sent to a camp in North Dakota while she was held in Texas with her mother and brother from 1944 to 1946. Her reaction to her father’s return two years later was indicative of the trauma she had already suffered.
“I cried whenever he came close to me. I had no idea who he was,” Ina said. “Here was somebody who was a total stranger, and I was supposed to call him father.”
Her mother suffered from psychological trauma and dealt with back and kidney problems. She also carried a lifelong fear of being left behind — a level of anxiety that Ina says her mother transmitted to her after the family was released and lived in an “atmosphere of fragile safety.”
“I do have this constant state of vigilance and a constant need to prove myself,” she said. “We talk about how much we’re still in the camp.”
Created to incarcerate entire families, the living conditions in the Crystal City camp were better than at other internment camps across the nation. But the feeling of imprisonment was inescapable, with the facility’s 10-foot-high barbed wire fence and guard towers at each corner.
As the outcry over the current separation and detainment of children has grown across the country, federal officials have defended the conditions in which the children are being held once they make it to a shelter or foster home. They’ve offered up photos of tidy beds provided to the children and have pointed out that children are being educated and are allowed time to play.
“I heard that just yesterday they were saying they had good food and books and TV and all those kinds of things they were being taken care of very nicely, but they were confined and they were without their parents,” Shimizu said. “I don’t care how they try to paint that picture. It’s a horror.”
Many of Shimizus’ memories from the camp are tried to the strong relationships he had with his family and he remembers playing and exploring the grounds with other children, but even the fond memories are overridden by the shadow of incarceration.
“We were inside these fences,” he said. “We couldn’t go beyond.”
“Imprisoning these children,” even if they’re allowed to “play games and watch Moana,” is additionally troubling to Ina, who, given her work as a therapist, is well aware of the severe effects living in a state of fear and terror can have on the developing brain of a child. That sort of irreparable harm is only intensified if children are detained without their parents, who can at least provide some comfort, she added.
The experiences of the Crystal City internees also serve as examples of how the lasting trauma of detention can be inherited by even the youngest of migrant children who are currently detained.
Born in the Crystal City camp in 1945, Larry Oda says he has no memories of being at the camp because his family was released about a year later. But he grew up hearing from his parents about what it was like to lose everything, and he remembers the reactions of others when the painful memories of being rounded up are relived. That’s left him to carry the weight of his family’s detention his entire life, constantly living in fear of being blamed for something he didn’t do.
“We were imprisoned for the way we looked. There was no reason,” said Oda, who lives in Monterey, California. “So I felt that I had to make sure I did everything right, that I didn’t make waves. Otherwise, I would be targeted again.”
The fate of today’s separated families is unknown, and there appears to be no guarantee that every family will be reunited. Some children have been placed in state-licensed facilities, many of which have a long history of regulatory inspections that have uncovered serious health and safety deficiencies. Others have since been moved to foster homes. An untold number of children are now hundreds if not thousands of miles away from where their parents are being detained. Some parents have even been deported without their children.
Even if a clear path for reunification was in place, some of the Crystal City internees struggle with the reality that the detained migrant children might not overcome the scars they now share.
For Shimizu’s family, life after the internment camp meant a return to San Francisco. His family had lost everything during their imprisonment, but his father, who worked for a Japanese-American newspaper before the war, put everything he had into starting over. He helped start up another local newspaper that was tailored for Japanese-Americans, and he served as the editor of the Chinese section. Three years before he died, he had become the president of the company that owned the paper.
But Shimizu knows that the prospect of recovery may not be available to all of the migrant children who have been so deeply traumatized by the separations from their parents.
“I can’t really imagine the process you would have to go through to become whole — they’ve just been so injured,” Shimizu said. “The longer this goes on, the harder the journey will be for them.”
The Texas Tribune April 9, 2018NewsComments Off on El Paso Border Patrol Sector Kicks Off Construction of Trump’s Wall on Border
SANTA TERESA, N.M. — A groundbreaking Monday for a new border barrier in New Mexico signals the beginning of the fulfillment of President Donald Trump’s best-known campaign promise, federal officials said.
“The president has started his project,” Agent Aaron A. Hull, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, said as he stood a few feet from the existing fence that will be replaced by the new barrier. “This is the beginning, in this sector, of the president’s border wall – very much so.”
The project will include 20 miles of new bollard-style wall up to 30 feet tall, including five feet of climb-resistant material, Hull said. The new barrier will extend west from Santa Teresa, New Mexico — a town located about 13 miles northwest of El Paso — and will replace shorter vehicle barriers, which agents said are not effective to deter illegal crossers or drug smuggling.
Agents in the sector, which includes El Paso and Hudpseth counties in Texas and all of New Mexico, said new construction will also begin soon in parts of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Arizona and San Diego.
Hull said the new construction was mandated by the president’s January 2017 executive order on immigration and will take about a year to complete. The 20 miles of barrier will cost more than $73 million, which will come from 2017 Department of Homeland Security funding.
Hull said the Santa Teresa area was chosen for the initial groundbreaking because it’s one of the busiest crossing points in the sector. In fiscal year 2017, agents apprehended more than 25,000 undocumented immigrants and seized more than 34,000 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine throughout the sector. Agents also reported being assaulted 54 times during that fiscal year.
“The president has set the standard for us. And the standard is operational control,” Hull said. “Operational control means our ability to detect, deter and deny illegal entry, maintain situational awareness and provide the appropriate law enforcement response.”
Hull also told reporters that he and his agents met with units of the National Guard that will be deployed to the border. Trump ordered National Guard units to reinforce the Border Patrol last week.
“We’re nowhere near deploying yet but we have conducted initial outreach with both the New Mexico National Guard and the Texas National Guard,” he said.
Monday’s press event came the same day that an environmental group announced they are appealing a federal district court’s ruling that allowed the administration to move forward with border wall construction. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the administration last year, alleging the Department of Homeland Security illegally waived several environmental laws in order to fast-track the wall’s construction.
“Converting existing vehicle barriers to border wall is wasteful, unnecessary, and just as damaging as building a new border wall,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate at the Center. “This newest section of border wall is an insult to people living on both sides of the border and a serious threat to Mexican wolves and other wildlife that need to move across the landscape to survive.”
Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled in favor of the administration in March.
AUSTIN–U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s announcement that he will authorize Governors to deploy the National Guard to help support law enforcement along the southern border of the United States:
“Utilizing the men and women of the National Guard in a supportive role, as President Obama authorized in 2010, is a commonsense way to temporarily assist law enforcement along the border.
It’s critical that the Administration continue to work in close consultation with state and community leaders to ensure the border region can remain safe and prosperous.”
In 2010, President Obama ordered the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as a part of Operation Phalanx, a response to increased violence in the region from Mexican drug cartels and illegal crossings.
Senator Cornyn has introduced the Building America’s Trust Act, border security legislation to increase law enforcement resources at our borders, boost trade through ports of entry, and strengthen enforcement of existing laws. The legislation provides both the resources and the plan needed to ensure our law enforcement combatting the flow of illegal immigration and goods have the tools they need to secure our border.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.
The following is State Sen. José Rodríguez’s statement on President Trump’s proposal to militarize the southern border:
The President and other Republicans have manipulated the fears of Americans, many of whom know very little about life on the border, into a potent political weapon. In his latest anti-immigrant action, Mr. Trump proposes to use the U.S. military as actors and the border as a stage to create electoral theatre in hopes of appeasing his political base. Mr. Trump is responding to a caravan of women, children, and elderly seeking refuge from violence in Central America that is working through Mexico to raise awareness of their plight. This is morally reprehensible.
We are not Russia or any other totalitarian country that uses our military domestically, against our own residents. By assigning the military to enforce domestic civil laws on immigration — something not previously done — he is sending a message to the world that America is no longer a beacon of hope to those in need or even a free society.
Border communities do not want the military patrolling their backyards; no American community does. In May 1997, Ezequiel Hernandez, an 18-year-old high school student, was tracked by soldiers for 20 minutes before being shot and killed while tending his family’s goats in Redford, Texas. That tragedy occurred in my district, Texas Senate District 29, which has about 350 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The border has been secured; in fact, apprehensions on the border are at their lowest since 1971. Meanwhile, the movement of millions of residents and billions of dollars in commerce is clogged at understaffed ports of entry. That is where our focus and investment should be — not on using the military as puppets for election year antics.