Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Just Made It Harder For US Citizens To Travel To Cuba

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Following up on an announcement back in April, the Trump administration has moved to further restrict travel to Cuba.

The US government announced major new restrictions on US citizens who want to travel to the island and is limiting the most popular method of visiting.

The announcement effectively bans the most common way Americans were traveling to the island.

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These new restrictions block the most common way Americans are able to visit the island — through organized tour groups that license US citizens to travel automatically — and banning US cruise ships from stopping in the country.

American tourism is not explicitly permitted in Cuba. However, Americans can travel to Cuba if it is covered under specific categories, which included organized group travel, known as group people-to-people travel, until Tuesday.

The move is blamed on Cuba’s role in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the restrictions are a result of Cuba continuing “to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes.”

Commercial flights from the US will continue as normal.

After the Obama administration loosed travel restrictions to Cuba in 2014, many US-based airlines began service to the island. These flights will still be allowed to operate.

Officials in Cuba were quick to condemn the news.

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Cuban government statistics say US citizens have quickly grown to become the second largest foreign group visiting the island after Canadians. They also pointed out that the blockade and new travel restrictions are against international law.

Cuba is one of only two countries that US citizens can’t travel to freely.

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Many were surprised by the news because the Trump administration has positioned itself as a fan of deregulation and more ‘freedom’ for US citizens. However, this policy is limiting the rights and freedom of Americans who want to travel to Cuba.

Many worried travelers took to Twitter to check with cruise lines if their plans were still OK.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Unfortunately, most companies, including major cruise lines, were still short on details. Though according to the Treasury, travelers who already booked at least one part of their travel to Cuba will still be allowed to take their trip.

Others took to Twitter to share their stories of recent trips to Cuba and how this new policy only hurts the lives of local Cuban people.

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According to several sources, the US travel restrictions have the greatest impact on local Cubans and very little effect on the policies of the Cuban government.

I mean the blockade has been in place for more than 50 years. Has it achieved it stated goal yet?

While many were upset that other Americans may not have the chance to witness the country’s beauty.

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And that the Cuban people are being punished for the policies of their government.

But some were celebrating the move in a pretty sarcastic way.

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Since in many countries, Americans don’t always have the best reputation as travelers. People often accuse us of being loud and kinda entitled when we travel.

But overall most people reacted with disappointment.

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The travel ban and economic blockade have been in place in one form or another for more than 50 years and they’ve had little effect.

US citizens are allowed to travel to other communist countries, so why is the US singling out Cuba?

Cancun Has a Major Algae Problem and The Cause Could Be Global Warming

Culture

Cancun Has a Major Algae Problem and The Cause Could Be Global Warming

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For the past several years, Cancun has notoriously become one of The Summer Spots. With promises of cheap beer, crystal clear surf and fun hangs, tourists typically flock to the vacation destination for good times in the spring and summer in troves. The location’s sands, beaches, and resorts are typically packed by this time of year, but a nasty visitor is washing up on the shores of these beaches, scaring off the usual summertime travel industry.

For the past several months, an invasion of seaweed-like algae hasn’t been just an eyesore for tourists, it’s also been a nasal deterrent.

Hundreds of pounds of seaweed-like algae is washing up on the shores of Cancun and it’s ruining the city’s tourist season.

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The past several months, the sunny resort town has been inundated with slimy, brown seaweed-like algae. It’s name is sargassum and it has washed up all along the coast around Cancun; stretching all the way down to Playa del Carmen and even further to Tulum. With the stench of rotten eggs, the algae smells just as gross as it looks and makes for a pretty unappealing soggy mess. It’s definitely not the sort of beach conditions that encourage tourists to visit.

Though Cancun businesses are feeling the effects of this invasion, the president of Mexico isn’t as concerned. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reportedly called the problem controllable and has only allocated 2.6 Million for the removal of the algae. The removal is a slow process — being shoveled away by city workers — but the lack of resources makes the task even more difficult. Also, the endless onslaught of fresh algae with every tide doesn’t help. Even using front loaders and trucks for the cleanup, the work takes several hours and results in an algae-covered beach only moments later.

Officials aren’t certain what the cause of this algae is but there are clues that point to it being caused by major global issues.

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Scientists have suggested that the increase in algae is caused by the warming of our Earth because of the global climate change we are currently experiencing. This is the same hypothesis that has been suggested to explain Florida’s Red Tide. Earlier this month, scientists at the University of South Florida used satellite imaging to discover the largest bloom of the algae in the world. It’s being called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and it is impacting beaches along North, Central, and South America.

Others believe that deforestation is to blame for the assault of algae on these beaches. Due to the logging and increased use of herbicide and fertilizers by Brazilian lumber companies in the Amazon forest, dangerous runoff flows into the ocean. The nutrients in these fertilizers encourage the growth of the algae; causing super blooms to occur.

In a release about a study of these super blooms, Dr. Chuanmin Hu of the USF College of Marine Science expressed concern about the state of the Atlantic ocean. He has predicted that:

“The ocean’s chemistry must have changed in order for the blooms to get so out of hand.”

Regardless of what the Mexican president and scientists say, locals who face this problem every day are the ones most impacted by the algae.

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Tourism in the community has taken a major hit during a time when Mexico is already heading towards a recession. The first three weeks of June, hotel occupancy in the area dropped by 3.4%. Air travel to the city also saw numbers that aren’t as optimistic as Cancun usually sees during this time of year. It only claimed 1.2%, the smallest amount of growth that the area has seen since 2011.

It isn’t just the international travel industry that loses money to the algae. In a city like Cancun, as much as 40% of jobs are tied to tourism alone. Events like this — that impact the beaches so severely — threaten the livelihood of locals. The Mexican transportation industry, local artisans, restaurants, beach resorts, and sight-seeing locations depend on this busy season to provide the bulk of their yearly income. In order to lure travelers, hotels in the area are even running specials. In many places in Cancun, tourists can get as much as 20% off rooms and free transportation to unaffected beaches.

Cleaning up after this mess will take a lot more than a few hundred shovels.

Twitter / @ElCanaco

Reversing the effects of climate change can not really be accomplished on an individual level. Realistically, a single person does not cause this damage. Instead, it is large conglomerations that hurt our Earth with their anti-environmental policies. Until the governments of the world decide to hold these companies accountable, nothing productive will be done to stop this damage.

Right now, we’re seeing this onslaught of algae but who knows what is in store for our environment if we don’t make major improvements soon. It’s more than just our Cancun vacations that are counting on these changes.

With This New Rule, Migrants Passing Through Mexico Will No Longer Be Eligible To Seek Asylum In The US

Things That Matter

With This New Rule, Migrants Passing Through Mexico Will No Longer Be Eligible To Seek Asylum In The US

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The US will end asylum protections for Central Americans and others who cross through Mexico to reach the southern border, the Trump administration announced Monday, a sweeping, unprecedented move that will quickly be challenged in court.

The new move, which bars asylum for any individual who crosses through a third country but does not apply there for protection before reaching the US southern border, takes effect Tuesday in the form of a regulatory change.

In a move that many are saying is illegal, Trump has moved to limit asylum protections for migrants from Central America.

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The Trump administration on Monday moved to dramatically limit the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum if they enter the United States by land through Mexico, the latest attempt by the White House to limit immigration and toughen the US asylum process amid overcrowded conditions at border facilities.

The rule from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security would prohibit migrants who have resided or “transited en route” in a third country from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring migrants traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum and as a result, drastically limit who’s eligible for asylum.

The new rule affects anyone who travels through a third country before seeking asylum in the US.

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It becomes the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to actively deter asylum seekers from reaching the border. 

Many are saying that with this one rule change, the US is turning its back on the entire asylum process and likely breaking US and international law.

Many are describing the new rule as completely violating both US and international law.

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Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who has led efforts to contest the Trump administration’s immigration policies in court, said the organization will challenge the new asylum rule, arguing that it is inconsistent with U.S. and international law.

“The administration is effectively trying to end asylum at the southern border,” Gelernt said. “The administration has already tried once to enact an asylum ban for individuals who cross between ports of entry and the courts struck it down because Congress has made a commitment to provide protection to individuals regardless of where they cross. The administration is now attempting an even broader bar on asylum based on which countries you transited through, but Congress made clear that it’s irrelevant whether you had to walk through other countries to get to safe haven in the United States.”

The ACLU and other immigrant’s rights organizations are already threatening immediate legal challenges.

The move is almost certain to trigger swift legal challenges, because the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains broad provisions allowing foreigners who reach US soil to apply for asylum if they claim a fear of persecution in their native countries.

An American Civil Liberties Union attorney who has been challenging Trump administration immigration policies in court said the organization would seek an injunction “immediately.”

Perhaps most disturbing, the rule change also affects unaccompanied minor children.

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Kids who come to the US border to seek asylum would now be forced to return to Mexico and first attempt a claim at asylum there.

Democratic officals pointed out the irony of Trump forcing migrants fleeing violence in their home country to seek asylum in a country he’s described as full of violence and rapists.

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Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil. There’s a caveat, however, for those who come through safe third countries, meaning countries that the US has entered into an agreement with.

The United Nations’ refugee agency defines “safe country,” in part, as “being countries in which refugees can enjoy asylum without any danger.”

But Trump’s own statements on Mexico could undercut that definition. In tweets, the President has called Mexico “one of the most dangerous country’s in the world” and claimed that the murder rate in the country has increased.

“The Coyotes and Drug Cartels are in total control of the Mexico side of the Southern Border. They have labs nearby where they make drugs to sell into the U.S. Mexico, one of the most dangerous country’s in the world, must eradicate this problem now. Also, stop the MARCH to U.S.” Trump tweeted in April.

Many took to Twitter to express their doubt about whether the president even understands how international treaties work.

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“This latest regulation is an attempt to close down one of the few remaining avenues for people in need of protection,” said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“The only ray of light for those seeking safety is that Congress was clear when it enacted the asylum law and this attempt to circumvent it by regulation will likely see the same fate of other Trump administration attacks on the law and result in a federal court injunction.”

READ: After Being Denied Asylum By The US Some Migrants Are Returning Home With Mexico’s Help

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