Things That Matter

Honduras Becomes The Latest Country To Sign A ‘Safe Third Country’ Agreement With The US And Here’s Why It’s So Important

Honestly, there is so much chaos these days in the Trump administration, with talks of impeachment, conspiracies involving whistleblowers and the Ukrainian President, and just generally wild statements from the White House, you’d be forgiven for missing the actual policy decisions made by the government. So, it’s important you know this: the US has announced a new deal with Honduras – the details of which would see migrants sent to wait there while the American court system processes asylum applications.

The migration deal was announced September 25.

Instagram / @narcopresidentehn

From the sounds of it, the deal was struck between the Department of Homeland Security, and the current Honduran administration, headed by President Juan Orlando Hernández. Just to clarify, this is the same Honduras that has the reputation for being one of the most violent and unstable nations in the world. You know, the country that plenty of people have been fleeing from due to prolific gang violence and expansive drug industry. In fact, in the last 11 months alone, over 250,000 Hondurans have crossed the US border due to the dire situation in their homeland.

The news comes as Honduras’ president is accused of basically running a ‘narco state.’

Instagram / @juanorlandoh

The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise in the face of allegations from US federal prosecutors that Honduras’ President Hernández is essentially running a narco-state. It is alleged that the current, and former, Honduran presidents have accepted campaign contributions from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection. Granted, these accusations fly in the face of the US government’s official stance on Honduras, which has supported Hernández’s administration and donated millions as part of security efforts to stem the flow of cocaine from South America to the US.

You’re not crazy if you think you’ve heard this story before.

Instagram / @realdonaldtrump

The Trump administration has already come under fire for its policy that’s seeing scores of migrants forced to travel to Mexico to await a decision on their applications. While Mexico has its own issues with drug trafficking and gang violence, it would seem that it has a ways to go before it can compete with Honduras on that front. And yet, migrants are finding that the conditions in Mexico are too perilous to stay, with some even traveling back to their home countries rather than risking more time in what’s proving to be a distinctly hostile environment for asylum seekers.

Imagine the chaos that’s in store when Honduras is added to the list of countries these asylum seekers must stay in while they await an outcome on their applications.

This agreement basically ensures that people with genuine fears for their safety and well-being will be denied asylum in the US.

Instagram / @realdonaldtrump

And sure, we’re no legal experts, but we can take an educated guess around how the Trump administration could justify its decision to expand its “safe third country agreement” to include countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and now Honduras. Asylum seekers are unable to gain entry into the US by citing fears of domestic abuse, or gang violence – largely because it’s difficult to prove. So, following that logic, gang violence isn’t enough to deter the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait their turn in these countries.

The United Nations has said that including countries such as Mexico in the “safe third country agreement” is in violation of the US’ international obligations.

Instagram / @australiaforunhcr

The UNHCR released a statement back in July that “the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations.” It went on to say that, horrifyingly, “individuals entering the United States across the southern U.S. land border will be regarded as ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country first and did not attempt to seek asylum there before moving to the U.S. border, regardless of whether they had access to effective international protection in those transit countries.”

It means that, in order to even be eligible in the first place for asylum in the US, migrants have to also pursue asylum applications in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala – and now Honduras.

Instagram / @my2mutts

Despite the dangers that these countries pose to migrants. But you know what country does fall into the “safe third country agreement” category? Canada. Of course. The country that’s literally to the north of the US, and nowhere near South America, where all of these South American migrants are coming from. These desperate souls are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

While we wish we could leave you with words of wisdom on this topic, it’s really difficult in the face of this new policy announcement. Can you tell we’re getting frustrated, people? Because, coming from a frustrated bystander, this is hella frustrating.

People Are Torn On A California Church’s Political Nativity Scene Calling Attention To Immigration Crisis

Things That Matter

People Are Torn On A California Church’s Political Nativity Scene Calling Attention To Immigration Crisis

Claremont United Methodist Church

It is the holiday season so you know people and churches are getting their nativity scenes together. Most are just run-of-the-mill nativity scenes with the animals, wise men, baby Jesus, and his parents Mary and Joseph. However, one church in California used its nativity scene to call attention to the humanitarian crisis on the southern border with children in cages. Here’s how they did it and how people on social media are reacting.

Claremont United Methodist Church is using its nativity scene this year to highlight the immigration crisis on the southern border.

Credit: @LATBermudez / Instagram

The Methodist church has a statement on their website directly address the crisis of asylum-seeking children at the southern border. For months, we have seen images of children taken away from their parents at the border and put into cages.

Claremont United Methodist Church wants people to know that the asylum crisis is devastating innocent families.

Credit: macmanx2 / Instagram

“We at Claremont United Methodist Church (CUMC) responded swiftly to the need of over 2,700 children of immigrants seeking asylum at the US/Mexican border. These children were forcibly taken from their parents and scattered throughout the United States in April and May of 2018,” reads a statement by Rose Schneeberger on the Claremont United Methodist Church website. “Our church raised over $10,000 to assist with the legal representation of separated children through Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON). The plight continues as more families have been detained in the last couple of months and the number of children separated from their family continues to grow.”

The church’s nativity scene is showing people what the fate of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have had to endure if they were migrants to the U.S. today.

Credit: macmanx2 / Instagram

“In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our border and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family,” reads a plaque in front of the nativity scene. “Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death.”

“What if this family sought refuge in our country today?”

“Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus, no older than two, taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a Border Patrol detention center as more than 5,500 children have been the past three years.”

“Jesus grew up to teach us kindness and mercy and a radical welcome of all people.”

“He said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’ – Matthew 25:35”

“In the Claremont United Methodist Church nativity scene this Christmas, the Holy Family takes the place of the thousands of nameless families separated at our border.”

“Inside the church, you will see this same family reunited, the Holy Family together, in a nativity that joins the angels in singing.”

“‘Glory to God in the highest on earth, peace and good will to all.’ – Luske 2:14.

People on social media are moved by the powerful image of the church’s nativity.

Credit: @thugbro_s / Instagram

It truly is a striking image to see the classic nativity scene turned into a powerful political statement about our immigration policy. Seeing baby Jesus in a manger separated from his parents into cages is something many people never thought they’d see.

People immediately saw the comparison of the nativity and our current immigration system.

Credit: @universalceo0 / Twitter

“In addition to the remaining separated children, there are over 15,000 youth and children at detention facilities throughout the United States,” reads a statement by Rose Schneeberger on the Claremont United Methodist Church website. “The CUMC Creative Peacemaking Committee has decided to keep our congregation aware of this urgent need and to encourage church members to continue to support the efforts of JFON by donating funds for the legal representation of separated children and asylum-seeking families currently in detention centers.”

Some people tried to argue with the church’s message to fit their political agendas.

Credit: @isooner / Twitter

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, according to the Bible, were forced to leave Nazareth and go to Egypt in order to avoid persecution. The family’s story of fleeing to a new country in search of safety and protection from a tyrant king seeking to persecute them is reminiscent of the families seeking asylum and peace in the U.S.

Others are showing the true conditions of the U.S. detention centers.

Credit: @ElSrdelTaco / Twitter

The conditions along the southern border have been in the news for years. Reports of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and multiple deaths have highlighted the dangers of those in detention centers. Many of the facilities are housing more people than physically possible after the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration.

Basically, people are upset that a church would use a nativity scene to get people talking about the immigration crisis because it worked.

Credit: @1600PAave / Twitter

What do you think about the nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church?

READ: Mexican Government Makes It Illegal To Buy And Sell The Moss Families Use To Create Their Nacimientos

Another Member Of The US Military Has Been Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented People Across The Border

Things That Matter

Another Member Of The US Military Has Been Arrested For Smuggling Undocumented People Across The Border

Unsplash

The U.S. military is going through a serious rough patch. Not only are they have issues recruiting new service members, but they’re also having problems retaining mental health workers, which is a really big deal because they help the people already inlisted. Now we’re seeing the ramifications of that.  Just this week a U.S. Navy sailor shot and killed two people at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor military installation. The Navy sailor went on to kill himself. It all happened in the same week as the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which the celebration is supposed to take place this Saturday. The issues the military is facing is not combatting depression and other mental health problems within their units, but some ethical ones that go completely against what the country stands for. 

On December 2, U.S. marine was charged for smuggling undocumented people across the border near San Diego, California.

Credit: Unsplash

“On December 2, 2019, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a junior-enlisted Marine with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel for allegedly bringing in undocumented immigrants at the San Ysidro port of entry,” the Marine Corps said in a statement, according to ABC News. “The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody. The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

The 20-year-old Marine has not been publically named, but the news station adds that they were not part of the “Trump administration’s southwest border support mission.”

Credit: Unsplash

Additional reports say the Marine was pulled over in a 2007 Ford Mustang for “additional screening.” That is when border officials found two Chinese women in his trunk. 

“The Marine is currently being held in civilian custody,” Marine spokesman Lt. Cameron Edinburgh said in a statement to Fox News. “The determination as to the adjudicating authority has not yet been made.”

This latest charge comes on the heels of a slew of other military officials who have also arrested on similar smuggling charges.

Credit: Unsplash

Just this summer, 19 Marines were arrested for various offenses. ABC News reports that the Marines were allegedly involved “in activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses.” All of the Marines involved in this case were stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. The number of marines involved in this case gradually increased from 16 to 19.

“1st Marine Division is committed to justice and the rule of law, and we will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter,” the statement said, according to the network. “Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process.”

According to Stripes.com, the Marines were all arrested in front of their peers during their morning formation and that was done purposely to make an example out of them. 

“It was a public display for the entire unit to see,” 1st Marine Division Spokesman 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh told the online news site. 

As for the reason to not disclose the names of the Marines arrested, Marine Maj. Kendra Motz said that is because “Out of respect for the privacy of the implicated Marines,” and added, “we will not release names or other identifying information until charges are announced.” Six out of those marines arrested have already pleaded guilty to human trafficking and drug charges. 

In related news, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that detainments at the border continue to decrease.

Credit: Unsplash

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said last month that in October, the trend of a decline of detainments at the border continues to show a decline. 

“The numbers show this administration has and continues to take bold action to address this crisis,” Morgan said, according to The Texan news. 

In May, however, it was a whole different story.  Back then, border officials said they saw 144,000 detainments in one month alone. From then until October, there has been a 70 percent. 

It’s certainly an odd predicament that the government and the military are facing because on the one hand detainments at the border are going down, which speaks positively of their security tactics. Yet, on the other hand, their own military workforce looks to be in quite the dilemma going against their own principals. 

READ: CBP Arrests A 16-Year-Old After Catching Them Using A Remote Control Car To Smuggling Drugs Across The Border