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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. 

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls For ICE To Release Some Migrants To Help Fight COVID-19

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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls For ICE To Release Some Migrants To Help Fight COVID-19

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COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the globe and governments are desperately trying to get a handle on the virus. More than a third of the world’s population are living under lockdown conditions in more than 20 countries on all continents. Thirty-two states are currently under lockdown orders as of April 1 and Florida’s lockdown will take effect the night of April 2. That translates to about three out of every four Americans living under some form of lockdown orders.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is demanding ICE release migrants in detention centers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Credit: @NBCLatino / Twitter

Now, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to step up and release migrants in detention. There are thousands of migrants currently in detention centers in the U.S. and documented overcrowding of the facilities is cause for alarm during a health pandemic.

According to a report from ICE, four detainees and five agents have tested positive for COVID-19. Immigration advocates have been calling for ICE to release detainees to protect migrants from contracting COVID-19.

“ICE’s failure to reduce detention numbers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 has a real possibility of creating a severe health crisis for detention centers and overwhelming local health care facilities,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas said in a statement.

As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spreads across the globe, there is one population the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) is trying to protect: migrants. The virus, which is highly contagious, has infected more than 127,000 people across 6 continents. More than 68,000 people have recovered from the virus. To date, more than 4,700 people have died from the disease and the ACLU wants to make sure detained migrants don’t die because of the virus.

The ACLUF-SDIC is calling on the U.S. federal government to create a plan to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in migrant detention centers.

Credit: @ACLU_NorCal / Twitter

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is spreading across the globe triggering strong reactions from governments seeking to limit the spread. Italy has locked down the country to tell everyone in the country to quarantine.

So far, more than 1,300 people in the U.S have tested positive for COVID-19 and 38 have died. Most of the fatalities were in Washington state where 21 deaths happened in Seattle-area long-care facilities.

The ACLUF-SDIC is calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a detailed plan to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 in detention centers.

The ACLUF-SDIC wants a written plan to prove that immigration officials have the migrants’ health in mind.

“ICE detention facilities in San Diego and Imperial counties must act quickly to put in place a comprehensive emergency plan that protects people in their custody from COVID-19,” Monika Langarica, immigrants’ rights staff attorney for the ACLUF-SDIC, is quoted in a release. “The spread of the virus into a detention center would have devastating consequences for the people locked up inside.”

The ACLUF-SIDC is concerned about the inadequate medical care and overcrowding could lead to a serious outbreak of COVID-19 within the detained migrant population.

Other ACLU chapters are calling on ICE to work with migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The ACLU of Louisiana has asked ICE to offer expedited hearings for the elderly detained migrants to preserve their health.

“Given the CDC’s warnings about avoiding confined spaces and the threat COVID-19 poses to the frail and elderly, immediate steps must be taken to safeguard the health and well-being of incarcerated people across the state,” Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director is quoted in a statement. “We know that confining people in close quarters increases the risk of infection, but right now thousands of Louisianans are incarcerated based on the mere accusation of a crime and an inability to pay bail. In the interests of public health, we’re calling for expedited parole hearings for the elderly in state prisons and for the immediate release of people who are being jailed pretrial based solely on their inability to pay bail. We look forward to working with state, federal, and local officials to ensure the health and well-being of all people under correctional control in our state.”

For more information about COVID-19 and how you can prevent it, click here.

READ: What To Know About The Coronavirus And How To Prevent It

President Trump’s Border Wall Blew Over In High Winds And Landed On Mexican Territory—Yes, You Read That Right

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President Trump’s Border Wall Blew Over In High Winds And Landed On Mexican Territory—Yes, You Read That Right

CRA TV / YouTube

A stretch of President Trump’s infamous border wall that was newly constructed in Calexico, California, collapsed and fell into Mexicalli, Mexico due to strong winds this Wednesday. “We have a very powerful wall,” said the president in November, but judging by the photos of the toppled over structure, it doesn’t really look like it. 

Newly installed panels from the US border wall fell over in high winds Wednesday, landing on trees on the Mexican side of the border.

Agent Carlos Pitones of the Customs and Border Protection sector in El Centro, California, told CNN that the section of the wall that gave into the wind had recently been set in a new concrete foundation in Calexico, California. The concrete had not yet cured, according to Pitones, and the wall panels were unable to withstand the weather conditions.

The structure landed on trees that prevented it from hitting the ground.

Police said it happened a little before 12 p.m. local time. A portion of the wall landed on the trees, preventing it from hitting the ground. It runs about 130 feet in length.

President Trump’s prized border wall succumbed to gusts of less than 40mph.

“Luckily, Mexican authorities responded quickly and were able to divert traffic from the nearby street,” US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent Carlos Pitones said. Nobody is believed to have been injured.

The National Weather Service reported that winds in the area gusted as high as 37 mph Wednesday.

Video from CNN affiliate KYMA shows the metal panels leaning against the trees adjacent to a Mexicali, Mexico, street as the wind whips up dirt from the construction site on the other side of the border.

The fence is part of the Trump administration’s ongoing construction project to stop illegal migration across the 1,954 mile-long (3,145 km) US-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump declared at a campaign event in New Jersey that the wall was “going up at record speed.”A day later, the winds blew a section of newly installed panels against a road in Mexicali, on the Mexican side of the border.

When visiting a section of the wall in California last year, Mr Trump described its concrete and steel slats as “virtually impenetrable.”

Despite three years of slow progress, Trump has pledged to build 450 miles by 2021, in an attempt to boost his electoral chances later this year. While President Trump has often claimed the wall “can’t be climbed”, viral footage has shown multiple people climbing existing portions of the costly barrier, and to-scale replicas, with ease.

Even with funding, the administration will have to fight private landowners whose property may be seized to build barriers along the border.

As well as facing political and legal challenges, the Trump administration has also had to beat physical obstacles, filing three lawsuits towards the end of 2019 as part of efforts to seize US citizens’ property. The Department of Justice has said it’s preparing to file more lawsuits of the same nature, Associated Press reported in November.

The US president claimed he wasn’t familiar with a Washington Post report suggesting smugglers had cut through.

The Post’s report said that smugglers had succeeded in cutting through sections of the border wall using everyday household power tools. “I haven’t heard that. We have a very powerful wall”, President Trump said. “But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching.”

Customs and Border Protection says local Mexicali officials diverted traffic from the area of the accident, and the agency is working with the Mexican government on the next steps to right the wall. Pitones said it is not currently known how long the construction work in the area will need to be suspended in order to allow for cleanup.