Tag Archives: Texas

Del Rio Refugees

FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER

A number of people on Twitter have been asking why refugees are congregating at Del Rio, Texas and why most of them are Haitians. 

From available sources, this is the best I can do.

The Border

A large number of the people congregated at the border around Del Rio, Texas are Haitan.  It is estimated that most of these people have not recently fled Haiti, but have lived in Central or South America for several years.

The displacement of Haitians is the result of an increase in human rights violations in the past decade in addition to several disastrous earthquakes and hurricanes.  It is estimated that the 2010 earthquake alone displaced1.5 million people.   

Initially countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Panama welcomed the immigrants because they provided cheap labor.   

But, as the pandemic’s effects caused tightening economic conditions, Haitian immigrants increasingly faced a backlash. 

It is thought that for most of these refugees, U.S. residence was always the goal, but an increasingly racist backlash in host countries prompted the current move. 

In addition, after Biden took office, immigration rules for Haitians changed.  In May, the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for 150,000 Haitians already living in the U.S.  

Several experts have argued that many Haitians, in response to the changed immigration rules, mistakenly thought that they would be accepted if they appeared at the border.

Rumors picked up and repeated on social media often cause mass movements of people.  For example, shortly after the assassination of Haiti’s president, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the embassy in Port-au-Prince carrying their belongings after false rumors spread on social media that the U.S. was handing out humanitarian visas.

But why Del Rio?  The only explanation I can find is that the entry point at Del Rio is not as heavily dominated by the cartels as other entry points.  Again, word of mouth and social media posts, likely identified Del Rio as a remote site where refugees were less likely to be victimized by cartel members.

Reading:

New York Times

The Nation Magazine: Biden’s disastrous deportation of Haitians https://www.thenation.com/podcast/world/biden-haiti-deportation/

AP: Racism in immigration policy https://apnews.com/article/immigration-race-and-ethnicity-mexico-haiti-asylum-seekers-a81ac1148118db38824d2d8f62139b87

  • Haitians are granted asylum at a lower level than other national groups.

USA Today: How did so many Haitians End up in Del Rio

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/09/21/what-led-haitian-nationals-migrating-u-s-southern-border/8419170002/

  • Natural disasters and dysfunctional governments have prompted a steady flow of immigrants.
  • The end goal of most was always the U.S.
  • 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1.5 million. 
  • Brazil was facing a labor shortage and therefore welcomed fleeing Haitians. 
  • Brazil extended residence visas in 2014 and 2016.  By August 2020, there were more than 143,000 Haitians in Brazil.
  • After the needs for cheap labor ran out, Haitians faced increasing pressure to leave and shrinking opportunities.
  • Increasing Human rights violations in Haiti over the past 10 years prompted immigration
  • In August, the State Department issued an advisory urging American not to visit Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and covid.

Human Rights Watch

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/21/us-treatment-haitian-migrants-discriminatory#

Significant Events in Haiti

2021 August Earthquake

2020 Hurricane Laura

2018 Earthquake

2016 Hurricane Matthew

2012 Hurricane Sandy

2010 Earthquake, Cholera epidemic Port-au-Prince

Significant Political events

1492 – Spain colonises the island of Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Two hundred years later Spain cedes the western half to France. Plantations worked by slaves of African origin produce sugar, rum and coffee that enrich France.

1801 – Former slave Toussaint Louverture leads a successful revolt and abolishes slavery.

1804 – Haiti becomes independent under former slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who is assassinated in 1806.

1915 – United States invades Haiti, withdrawing in 1943 but keeping financial control and political influence.

1937 – In the worst incident of long-standing rivalry with neighbouring Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians in border area are massacred by Dominican troops on the orders of dictator Trujillo.

1957 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier takes power with military backing, ushering in a period which sees widespread human rights abuses.

1964 – Duvalier declares himself president-for-life. His dictatorship is marked by repression, enforced by the feared Tonton Macoutes secret police.

1971 – Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc”. Repression increases. In the following decades, thousands of Haitian “boat people” flee by sea to Florida, many dying on the way.

1986 – Popular revolt forces Baby Doc to flee Haiti to exile in France. Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy takes over.

1988 – General Prosper Avril takes over from Namphy in a coup.

1990 – Avril declares a state of siege amid protests but resigns ahead of elections under international pressure.

1990 – Former parish priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a leftist champion of the poor, wins Haiti’s first free election. He is ousted in a coup in 1991.

1994 – U.S. troops intervene to oust military regime and Aristide returns. U.N. peacekeepers deploy in 1995 and Aristide protege Rene Preval is elected president.

1999 – Aristide is elected president for a second term despite disputed results.

2004 – Political unrest forces Aristide to flee but the country descends into violence.

2006 – Preval wins election.

2008 – 2010. Series of protests, triggered by food shortages, a cholera outbreak and then over elections.

2010 – A catastrophic earthquake kills between 100,000 and 300,000 people, according to various estimates, causing widespread damage in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Despite an international relief effort, the country is all but overwhelmed, exacerbating political, social and economic problems.

2011 – Michel Martelly wins second round of presidential election.

2012-14 Frequent anti-government protests fueled by corruption and poverty. Demonstrators demand Martelly resign.

2017 – Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician, is declared winner of 2016 presidential election.

2019 – Moise steadily amasses power and rules by decree after Haiti fails to hold elections due to political gridlock and unrest.

Thousands take to the streets chanting “No to dictatorship” and calling for Moise’s resignation.

Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Nick Macfie

2021 – Moise is shot dead after gunmen open fire with assault rifles in his private residence on July 7.

2021 – A 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes western Haiti on Aug. 14, likely causing high casualties and widespread disaster, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

“We’ll be fine”

TODAY:

  • Afghanistan has evidently disappeared since Biden and the corporate democrats have declared the war over and the operation a “success.” 
  • Now, the corporate media evidently intends show hundreds of hours of disaster coverage.  Fortunately, there is a hurricane that can be used as an excuse for doing any real investigative reporting.  The disaster coverage comes in two categories.  The first is telling us what has happened and reciting statistics, flood levels, houses affected, etc.  The other involves telling “hero” stories, heart-warming stories of heroic behavior during difficult times.  These stories are designed to convince Americans that what they are watching is not clear evidence that climate change is an existential threat.  As one New York Congresswoman said today “We’ll be fine.”  That should be the sentence running over and over endlessly at the bottom of the screen. 
  • The “hero” stories are like the “brave first responder” stories that always follow a mass shooting.  Look, the corporate media says, this is not a mass shooting which should make you go bat shit crazy over the state of the society you live in, this is an example of how wonderful we really are, how we are an exceptional people.  And, with the hurricane, this is not about climate change that has been brought about by the greed and corruption of a few, but an opportunity to celebrate our heroic natures. 
  • Meanwhile, as the corporate media is interviewing the hundredth reporter standing in water saying NOTHING OF INTEREST TO ANYBODY, Kevin McCarthy is using the Republican Party and threatening to destroy private companies if they comply with a lawful investigation into the Jan. 6 coup attempt.  Just let that sink into your head.  Kevin McCarthy (with the agreement of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson) is promising to use the power of the government to destroy private companies if they comply with federal law while Democrats are in power.
  • You can’t appoint members of the Supreme Court if the Democrats are in power and you cannot comply with a lawful order if Democrats are in power.
  • But, why get too bent out of shape?  We’ll be fine.
  • Neal Katyal, the darling of legal commentary on MSNBC, is on Nicolle Wallace’s show to comment on the Texas SCOTUS decision about abortion.  Katyal is whining about the decision and blaming the Republicans for putting three radical authoritarian judges on the Supreme Court.  Katyal was the person who introduced Gorsuch in his confirmation hearings.  Katyal wrote an article scolding Democrats and liberals for not supporting Gorsuch as the best qualified candidate.  And, MSNBC still has him on.  And, to make matters even worse (if that’s possible) Katyal is now saying that we have to “do something” about the state of the judiciary.  Well, there were people who were trying to “do something” about the state of the judiciary when Kaytal was out there trying to win career brownie points chiding liberals for pointing out the dangers of a Gorsuch appointment.  I am so sick of these people.

Economic rape and the republicans

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

Where we are and how we got there. Corrupt AGs, Anti-democratic DNC

Under the category of “Where we are”

The Attorney General of Texas was awaiting trial on securities fraud charges when he actively lobbied Donald Trump for a pardon.  How can a man who has been charged with securities fraud and who used the powers of the office of the Attorney General to harass the enemies of his cronies, stay in power?  And, now, after lobbying Trump for a pardon why is he still in office?

Under the category of “How we got here”

The DNC pushed new untried technology into the Iowa caucus process in 2020.  The story was that the DNC wanted to know in real time exactly what the vote count was.  But, the new technology was a disaster and the Iowa vote count was also a disaster.  Because the new technology caused such a chaos, the win was not immediately announced and this left Pete Buttigieg a window to declare himself the winner.

The upshot of all this was to deny Bernie Sanders, who polls showed was going to win Iowa in a landslide, crucial momentum, and an untold amount of free publicity which would have come with a clear win.

The DNC has plead incompetence, which is, I suppose, better than admitting that they interfered in the process deliberately to deny Sanders a clear win. 

And, it is important to remember that Pete Buttigieg quit the run for president and endorsed Biden right on cue, along with all the other corporate democrats.  As a reward, Buttigieg has just been named Secretary of Transportation.

In talking about his fitness for the job, Buttigieg said that he had always liked transportation as a kid (had a train set?), and that he had proposed to his partner at an airport.  You can’t make this up.

ESSENTIAL PODCAST: DECONSTRUCTED INTERVIEW WITH PROGRESSIVE MIKE SIEGEL

Essential Podcasts: Deconstructed (Episode 11/6/20)

Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.  

  • According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on.  The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do.  If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
  • Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach. 
  • Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class.  As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.” 
  • The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors”  These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about.  “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…” 
  • Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame.  Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
  • The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter.  These are the issues you should stress.  These are the talking points.  As Siegel says,   “it’s relatively conservative.”
  • The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
  • As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
  • If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
  • “At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
  • As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message.  There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.” 
  • The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much. 
  • Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.  
  • Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”

But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.”  Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people.  It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them.  The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.

Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions.  One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy.  These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020.  Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation.  There are no other options.  But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about.  In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue.  It is the unspeakable topic.

The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating.  There is a very good reason for this.  If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant.  The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business. 

So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run.  How does this make sense? 

You can follow me on Twitter @cjjohns1951

We don’t need voluntary capitulation

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight.  Why?  The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion.  Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.

So, this is where we are in this country.  The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.

The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes.  But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.   

It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda.  He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with. 

Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying.  They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels. 

There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists.  And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.   

Stealing the election: Just today

The Head Fake

  • Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day.  He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion.  Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.”  He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
  • The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe.  There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
  • So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging.  The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned. 

Election Security: Stealing the Election

  • Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014.  It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016.  This has never been explained.
  • Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
  • Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.” 
  • According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties.  The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
  • Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
  • Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)

Information on voting of Interest:

  • Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice

Other Information of Interest

  • Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
  • 102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)

Stealing the election one lawsuit at the time

“…the Trump campaign, the Republican Party and their judicial allies are not worrying about the Constitution. They are in full burn-it-down, win-at-any-cost mode.”  The Nation, John Nichols

https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/wisconsin-court-voter-suppression/

Even though the corporate media seems drawn to the notion of Trump refusing to leave the White House after a massive win by Biden, there is another much more likely scenario.  As Nichols writes: “…what could turn out to be the most concerted effort to overturn the will of the people is taking place before most ballots are cast.”

In a thousand different ways, the Republicans are deploying strategies to steal the election before it even beings.  Nichols details “legal challenges, lawsuits, court orders, decisions and rulings in so many states.”  It is, he says, a “strategic assault on voting rights.”

In May of 2020, the NYT was reporting millions of dollars allocated by the GOP to fund legal actions. This was part of a $20 million plan to challenge “voters deemed suspicious.”

In locality after locality, the Republicans and their teams of lawyers and jurists are placing barriers to high-turnout election.  In some states, like Florida and Georgia, this includes taxpayer funded efforts being carried out by Republican minions such as Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp. 

In Florida, in addition to roadblocks to voting by mail, lawyers working for the Republican governor have secured a decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 11rh Circuit to require former felons to pay off any outstanding court fees before they can vote.  This is after the voters in Florida voted to allow former felons to vote.  But, the new poll tax approved by the court, means that some 774,000 former felons are now charged for the right to vote.  It is instructive to remember that Clinton lost Florida by less than 115,000 votes.

In Iowa, a successful legal challenge meant that absentee ballot requests already sent out were voided because the requests contained identifying voter information already filled in.  Republicans succeeded in having 64,000 requests voided in two counties.

In Pennsylvania, Republican lawyers are seeking to prevent voters from using drop boxes to deliver absentee ballots.  The drop boxes were intended to help compensate for the post office slow downs that will delay the ballots if mailed. 

Pennsylvania legislators have tried to ban drop boxes entirely and put new restrictions on deadlines for requesting mail in ballots.  Trump won Pennsylvania by less than 45,000 votes.

In some states, the courts have not allowed the Republican party to get away with this pre-election voter suppression.  In Ohio, for example, a judge ruled that the Republican Secretary of State, Frank LaRose’s, move to limit the use of drop boxes was “arbitrary and unreasonable.”

In Wisconsin, the State Supreme Court voted to let 1 million requested absentee ballots be sent to voters after the distribution of the ballots had been delayed.  There was a dispute over whether the Green Party had qualified for the ballot.   

But, in Texas last week, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit ruled that Texas did not have to offer vote by mail to all eligible voters.  They embraced a Republican argument that the state should be allowed to mandate a 65-and-over age limit for voting absentee.

These lawsuits and many others form an attack on voting rights, the use of the courts to restrict voting in districts where Biden is thought to be ahead.