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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.

“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).

Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.

via Getty Images

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.

TikTok and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.

The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.

The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.

But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.

Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.

“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”

Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”

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