Things That Matter

A New Report Shows That The US Military Can Now Open Fire On Moving Vehicles Along The Border

It is no secret that since he announced his candidacy for the presidency, now incumbent Donald J. Trump has made border security his priority. Data, of course, indicates that his administration sometimes reads the facts in a too creative way and tends to overestimate the amount of undocumented migrants that try to cross the US-Mexico border. 

Como es su costumbre, el presidente sometimes makes bold statements that seem to come out of nowhere and threaten relationships with Mexico. Many political pundits have judged this as mere posturing with no actual legal backing. But recent revelations have shed light on the fact that Trump might have had actual institutional backing for his outlandish claims.

Recently unveiled Pentagon documents reveal the extent of what US forces could do at US-Mexico ports of entry when judging there is a risk.

Credit: Instagram. @WyrdPhotography

Newsweek magazine got access to military documents that state that US forces have had much broader… liberties… than previously thought. These permissions by the higher command include shooting at moving vehicles across the border. This permission was granted in July, three days after Mark T. Esper was sworn in as Secretary of Defense. The reasoning behind this decision is the sporadic violent incidents involving migrants. However, these incidents have mostly happened in the Mexico-Guatemala border. 

The documents state that armed forces can shoot if there is “reasonable belief” that there is a risk to security.

This is where things get complicated, as the documents, according to Newsweek, don’t really specify what this “reasonable belief” entails or how servicemen and women make the call. Newsweek states: “The Defense Department guidelines indicate that military members can use lethal force when there is a “reasonable belief” that the vehicle is an imminent threat that will cause death or bodily harm to civilians in the immediate area. However, it is unclear what the Pentagon considers to be reasonable belief, raising concerns among legal experts and former government officials”. Seems like un cheque en blanco. And these are people’s lives at stake we are talking about. Critics and legal experts argue that this move is incredibly dangerous. 

But allowing to shoot at moving vehicles is dangerous, a clear and present threat to human lives.

Political vitriol and the tense situation experienced at the border are the perfect recipe for disaster, and a tragedy could happen. As Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, has said: “That permission is incredibly dangerous. Generally speaking, the trend for decades with respect to law enforcement agencies is a ban against officers shooting at a moving vehicle because it is likely to be ineffective and carries a high risk of lethal harm, including to bystanders”. 

So Donald Trump was not totally bluffing when he said they could shoot migrant caravans.

Credit: YouTube / The White House

Donald Trump turned many heads when he stated that the military would shoot weapons if migrants threw rocks. He said that they would consider any aggression with rocks or other objects “a firearm”. Trump was referencing previous outbursts of violence in which migrants confronted the Mexican authorities. At the time the claim seemed to be unsubstantiated in legal terms when it comes to rules of engagement, but the release of the Pentagon documents makes us think differently. This new revelation makes us increasingly uncomfortable when we remember that Trump wanted to protect the border with alligators and snakes, and wanted law enforcement agencies to shoot migrants on the legs, as per a The New York Times report

The document also reveals that the number of troops at the border could increase.

Just in July this year 2,000 additional troops were sent to the border to aid Border Patrol manage the flow of migrants, in particular leading to the approach of the Central American migrant caravan. There are currently 5,500 troops authorized to serve at the US-Mexico border, but the document implies that the number could increase if necessary. 

According to the leak, some servicemen have been allowed to enter into contact with migrants.

As per the documents obtained by Newsweek via a whistleblower, and later confirmed by two military sources, some special servicemen are exempt from the rule that states that they cannot enter into contact with migrants during their border mission. The report reads: “Army Lieutenant Colonel Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that on November 20, 2018, Trump authorized the Pentagon to “use military personnel to protect CBP personnel performing their Federal functions within property controlled by CBP at or adjacent to one or more CBP-designated [ports of entry].” This is a de facto, but bajita la mano, militarization of the border. 

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump and his administration have a long track record of attacking LGBTQ+ votes. One of the first attacks was to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Years later, President Joe Biden has reversed the hateful order.

President Joe Biden has ended the trans military ban.

Former President Trump left behind a trail of destruction and pain with his administration. One of the first LGBTQ+ attacks was banning trans people from joining and serving in the military. The policy, which was created via a tweet, caused unnecessary pain to trans military members both current and retired. Many lost benefits and others were discharged for being who they are.

The order is a welcomed change to the military.

“This is reinstating a position that previous commanders and — as well as the Secretaries have supported,” President Biden said about the order. “And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform, and essentially restoring the situation as it existed before, with transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.”

LGBTQ+ people and allies are celebrating the end of the discriminatory policy.

The policy banning trans members from the military served no purpose other than singling out people for who they are. For years, the military has accepted LGBTQ+ people and former President Trump’s anti-trans policy was damaging and unnecessarily harmful to servicemembers.

President Biden’s plan will tackle the legacy of disenfranchisement in three steps:

  • Directs the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security to implement this order.
  • Immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity.
  • Requires an initial report from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security be made to the President within 60 days on their progress in implementing the directives and policy included in today’s Executive Order.

READ: Amelio Robles Ávila Was Mexico’s First Trans Soldier And A Revolutionary Hero, More Than 100 Years Ago

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Julio César Aguilar / Getty Images

As the number of parents and children crossing the border continues to increase, driven by violence and poverty in Central America, many are growing desperate while being forced to wait in migrant camps in Mexico. While crossings have not reached the levels seen in previous years, facilities that hold migrants are approaching capacity, which has been reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is forcing many to check the status of their claims by crossing into the U.S. to speak to border agents. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more women are being forced to give birth in less than ideal situations – putting at risk both the lives of the mother and child.

A migrant woman gave birth on a bridge between U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Mexican border authorities, a Honduran woman gave birth on the Mexican side of the border bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. The woman was apparently trying to reach the U.S. side, but felt unsteady when she got there and was helped by pedestrians on the Mexican side waiting to cross.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said the birth occurred Saturday afternoon on the Ignacio Zaragoza border bridge, also known as “Los Tomates.” It said authorities received an alert from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding “a woman trying to enter the country improperly.”

It said the woman was taken to a hospital in Matamoros, where she was given free care. Her child will have the right to Mexican citizenship.

Hernández is hardly the first woman to give birth while hoping to cross into the U.S.

Just last month, a woman gave birth along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. She had just crossed the river and her smugglers were yelling at her to keep moving as U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived. But she couldn’t continue, fell to the ground, and began to give birth.

The mother and her her daughter are safe and in good health. “They treated me well, thank God,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name used because she fears retribution if she’s forced to leave the country, in an interview with ABC News.

“There’s so many women in great danger,” Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told ABC News. “They must really think before they do what they do and risk the life of their unborn child.”

Like so many other women, Hernández was waiting in Mexico under Trump’s cruel immigration policies.

Hernández was reportedly among about 800 migrants sheltering in an improvised riverside camp while awaiting U.S. hearings on their claims for asylum or visas. Other migrants are waiting in Matamoros, but have rented rooms.

Thousands of other migrants are waiting in other Mexican border cities for a chance to enter the U.S. — some for years. The Trump administration has turned away tens of thousands at legal border crossings, first citing a shortage of space and then telling people to wait for court dates under its “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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