Things That Matter

Refugees Are No Longer Welcomed In Texas As It Becomes The First State To Refuse Refugees Under New Trump Rule

We recently published a story detailing how some Republican governors seemed to be breaking ranks with president Donald J. Trump when it comes to a controversial executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements in their jurisdiction. This means that a program that has been hailed by politicians, including presidents, from both sides of the aisle is at a clear and present danger of being greatly diminished.

Trump’s order has been blasted by pundits and activists. As reported in The Washington Post: “Critics said the policy change underscores a growing hostility to the country’s refugee resettlement program, especially in some conservative states and the White House.”

So this is Trump’s America and he is standing by his campaign promise of reducing the number of migrants that enter the US under his administration. The social and human cost of these policies, however, has been enormous, and populations that were already vulnerable due to discrimination are further put into the spotlight. 

One of the most important states when it comes to migratory issues is Texas, which shares a long border with Mexico and has a long history of multiculturalism. And a recent decision by its governor has the potential to have longstanding effects on how Texan society and culture is shaped. 

Governor Greg Abbott has announced that his state will reject the resettlement of new refugees.

In a letter penned to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Governor Abbott stated that Texas has “carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process.” He also described the current migration status quo that of “a broken federal immigration system”. And, surprise, surprise, he blamed the Democrat-led Congress for the downfall: “Texas continues to have to deal with the consequences of an immigration system that Congress has failed to fix.”

And yes, Texas has harbored more refugees than most states, so this is not necessarily an anti-immigration move per se, but the move is certainly a disappointing development.

Even if the number of new intakes has diminished in recent years, Texas has taken in more refugees than other states. As BBC reports: “Texas has large refugee populations in several of its major cities. In the 2018 fiscal year, Texas took in 1,697 refugees – more than any other state, but a large drop from 4,768 in the previous fiscal year.”

And as Abbott wrote in his letter: “Since FY2010, more refugees have been received in Texas than in any other state. In fact, over that decade, roughly 10% of all refugees resettled in the United States have been placed in Texas.”

Well, yes, but we also have to consider that Texas is a huge state and that migrants have greatly contributed to its development. The devil is in the details and in the past. Abbot has a history of opposing the resettlement of certain migrant groups. During the Obama administration, in 2015 to be exact, he tried to reject the arrival of Syrian refugees to the state. This was seen as a discriminatory measure at the time. As The New York Times reminds us: “Under Mr. Abbott’s leadership, Texas sued the Obama administration in 2015 to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, accusing the federal government of failing to consult with state officials. Mr. Abbott also cited security concerns and said people with ties to terrorist groups were exploiting the refugee program. That lawsuit proved unsuccessful in the courts.”

The governor claims that resources are limited and the system cannot support any more arrivals.

In his letter, the governor stated that the resources the state would allocate to new arrivals should instead go to “those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless – indeed, all Texans”. He also stated that refugees that have already resettled in other states will be free to move to Texas if they wish, but they will not receive benefits. 

And the decision has been controversial and activists are echando el grito al cielo.

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement group, said in a statement: “This is a shameful decision by Gov. Abbott which is unworthy of the great state’s reputation for being big, bold and hospitable.”

Several church groups are legally challenging Trump’s executive order. And others have used even harsher words. Ali Noorani, executive director at Leaders from National Immigration Forum, said: “At a time of historically low state unemployment rates, why would Texas turn away refugees with an entrepreneurial spirit that contributes to local communities and economies? Turning away those seeking safety and opportunity isn’t just disheartening — for Texas, it’s bad business.”

Military Suspect In Vanessa Guillen’s Disappearance Commits Suicide

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Military Suspect In Vanessa Guillen’s Disappearance Commits Suicide

Anthony Smith / Getty Images

The search for Vanessa Guillen has ended after human remains were identified as the missing soldier. An investigation into the crime has led to suspects being identified and arrested. Here’s what we know so far.

A soldier, who was a suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s death, committed suicide Wednesday.

Human remains were discovered Tuesday and identified as Vanessa Guillen on Wednesday. The suspects in Guillen’s death have not been named but one of the suspects committed suicide on Wednesday morning. The military suspect shot himself while law enforcement was searching for him.

Tim Miller, the founder of Texas Equusearch, told the Houston Chronicle that he believes the military suspect killed himself at 1:30 a.m. local time. The military suspect, who was in Killeen, Texas, committed suicide shortly after human remains were discovered near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas.

Guillen’s family have expressed their grief at press conferences since the body was identified.

The family is demanding justice. One civilian suspect is currently in jail after being arrested in connection with Guillen’s death. One of Guillen’s sisters recognized the military suspect. Mayra Guillen told the press that she met the military suspect who committed suicide.

“At approximately 1:29 a.m., officers located the suspect in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue,” reads the statement from the Killeen Police Department website. “As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect displayed a weapon and discharged it towards himself.  The suspect succumbed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The suspects have not been identified, however, we do have descriptions of the suspects.

“The person who took his own life earlier today in Killeen after being sought by Killeen police and federal marshals was a soldier from Fort Hood and had fled the base earlier in the day,” reads a statement by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. “A civilian has been arrested in connection with Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance. The civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.”

The case has captivated the nation as some people hurt for the family.

The investigation into Vanessa Guillen’s death is still ongoing. There are no answers yet but her family alleges that Guillen was coming forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations. The family’s recounting of Guillen’s sexual assault allegations is renewing the conversation of sexual assault in the military.

The family is calling out Fort Hood and the military’s response to the disappearance of Guillen. According to the family, they have been pleading with Fort Hood and the U.S. Army to conduct an investigation but saw nothing happening.

READ: Partial Human Remains Found Near Fort Hood Likely Vanessa Guillen’s

#TheWorldReopenedAnd Is Highlighting All The Ways We Are Failing In Our Response To COVID-19

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#TheWorldReopenedAnd Is Highlighting All The Ways We Are Failing In Our Response To COVID-19

Kevin Dietsch-Pool / Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading across the U.S. with several states seeing significant spikes. Globally, some regions and countries have had to reinstitute lockdowns and travel bans to tamp down outbreaks. After almost four months of isolating and staying home, people are being allowed back out with restrictions and it isn’t going super great.

Twitter users let their feelings be known about the recent reopings using #TheWorldReopenedAnd.

There is a big debate raging in the U.S. about the use of facial masks. At some point, the facial mask was politicized leading to people on the right claiming that the mask violates their rights. Meanwhile, health experts around the world have stated that wearing facial masks is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

There are a lot of people on social media who just don’t trust the general public right now.

With some states and cities reopening, the cases have started to once again spike in the U.S. California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Florida has seen spikes great enough to start rolling back some of the reopenings that have happened in their states. The most common places reclosed are bars and nightclubs. Bars and nightclubs are considered as dangerous for COVID-19 spread as gyms.

The numbers are all trending poorly for a majority of states.

According to The New York Times, new coronavirus cases are increasing in 35 states. Some of the worst spikes are coming from states that have rushed reopenings ahead of their previous plans. The U.S. recorded more than 45,000 new cases on June 26 and more than 39,000 on June 30.

As the country reevaluates its reopening, without a national plan in place, Americans favor science leading the charge.

According to a poll by The New York Times, a majority of voters trust medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over President Donald Trump when it comes to the coronavirus. Eighty-four percent of all voters surveyed by The New York Times said they trust medical experts when it comes to information on COVID-19. Alternately, 26 percent of voters trust President Trump for information. The numbers show an overlap in those who trust both medical experts and President Trump. Support for President ran on part lines as 66 percent of Republican voters trusted President Trump while 4 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of Independents trust President Trump.

On a different note, some people are convinced that the end of the quarantine released an eager populations of Karens loose.

As the lockdowns have eased, there have been more social media videos of people acting out. How are you feeling about the current reopenings?

READ: Court Orders ICE To Release Children In Their Custody As COVID-19 Tears Through Detention Centers