Things That Matter

A Trump Immigration Judge Threatened A Toddler With An Unreal Punishment If He Didn’t Settle Down

If President Donald Trump had a Glassdoor profile for his administration, it would not be a positive one. Consider for a moment all of the people that have come and gone since his election (even prior). The man has seriously had an influx of employees that have been fired, arrested, tried in court, and some that have just vanished. The most surprising aspect about this revolving door of employees is that regardless of the job title, Trump can always find someone else for that job no matter if they’re qualified for that job or not. One of his latest hires — not for National Security Adviser John Bolton who just got fired yesterday — but rather an immigration judge sure has a murky past. (Maybe they forgot to do a background check?) 

Judge V. Stuart Couch was placed on the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals last month, but his record shows that he once threatened a toddler in court that a dog would bite him if he didn’t behave. 

This story at first sounds hilarious and unbelievable, but it’s actually quite disturbing and very real.  According to a Mother Jones report in 2016, Couch told a Guatemalan toddler who was in court for an asylum hearing to stop making noise or else he would get a dog to attack him. The boy was in a courtroom in Charlotte, North Carolina with his mother. The pair were in a hearing in Couch’s courtroom where he would decide their fate over whether they would get asylum or not. 

The judge told the 2-year-old: “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!”

The entire exchange between the heated judge and the toddler was witnessed by Kathryn Coiner-Collier, a then a coordinator for a project run by the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. Coiner-Collier recounted her story to Mother Jones and said that she, along with the boy, and his mother, experienced trauma unlike ever before. She said that Couch scolded this young boy to behave and made a Spanish translator tell the boy exactly what he was saying. 

“Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?” Coiner-Collier recalled to the publication. For anyone wondering how she could remember what Couch said in 2016, Coiner-Collier wrote down every single work the judge said because not only was it incredibly terrible but she needed a record of what happened that day. Coiner-Collier also believed Couch would possibly bring the dog in the courtroom because it’s very typical for police dogs to be sniffing around. 

The boy was eventually removed from the courtroom and the entire family was left traumatized by the judge’s outburst. Coiner-Collier said that she has witnessed Couch be a “fair and thorough” judge in previous cases, but that he definitely has a temper. 

Couch ended up removing himself from the case. The following judge who heard the asylum case on this young boy and his mother from Guatemala ended up rejecting their case. The mom has now filed an appeal. But here’s the ironic twist. 

Now that her asylum case is headed to the appeals court, and the new judge could be…you guessed it:  Judge V. Stuart Couch. 

Couch was one of six new hires on the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals and his record for rejecting asylum cases is just what you would expect. This tidbit of facts by Mother Jones is especially interesting: 

“All six judges reject asylum requests at a far higher rate than the national average; Couch granted just 7.9 percent of asylum claims between 2013 and 2018, compared to the national average of about 45 percent. (Before becoming an immigration judge, Couch served as a military prosecutor and attracted widespread attention for refusing to prosecute a Guantanamo detainee because he had been tortured.).”

People on Twitter were livid, though not surprised, to find out that a judge like Couch would now be calling the shots in immigration appeals court.

Laila L. Hlass, a law professor tweeted, “Is #immigrationtwitter surprised Judge Couch, known for trying to end refugee protections for domestic violence survivors also threatened a 2 yr old child in court with a dog attack? Or that he was recently promoted? In a word, no. #immigrationlaw.”

It’s almost as if Trump hired this judge for the very reason that he threatened a 2-year-old.

We know the type of people Trump likes on his side, including racists types such as Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, who he pardoned in 2017. And let’s not forget Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Shall we go on?

READ: Judge Says Immigration Officials Didn’t Follow Protocol With DREAMer Jessica Colotl

Could The U.S. Actually Ban Americans From Using TikTok? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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Could The U.S. Actually Ban Americans From Using TikTok? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

With millions of teens and young adults – a demographic I think I still fit – under lockdown orders thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans turned to TikTok.

The fun, 15-second video app has been downloaded more than 200 million times in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, with users sharing everything from dance and recipe videos to starting now-viral trends. The app is loved by its users and they’re proving they’ll stand by it when it comes under threat. Which is exactly what they’re doing now as the Trump administration has announced a potential ban on TikTok.

According to some officials, Trump is looking to ban TikTok.

According to senior administration officials – and Trump himself – the TikTok app is a threat to U.S. national security and at risk of being banned in the country. Some are suggesting it’s a way for Trump to retaliate against China over its handling of the Coronavirus, others suggest it’s Trump retaliating against ‘TikTokivists’ who helped make his Tulsa rally a total disaster. Either way, news of a possible ban on TikTok has sent its users into overdrive.

Trump’s comments came after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Americans not to download the app unless they want to see their private information fall into “the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Trump didn’t offer specifics about a potential decision and Pompeo seemed to walk back the idea of a ban in a later statement, saying that the U.S. efforts to protect American consumers’ data don’t relate to any one particular company.

TikTok, an app known for quirky short videos, is facing political heat because of its ties to China.

Credit: Getty Stock Images

TikTok has in fact come under increased scrutiny in recent months – not just in the U.S. – for it’s ties to China. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and many countries around the world are worried about that connection. Citing national security concerns, India banned TikTok last week. The US Army and Navy have banned service members from downloading the app to government-issued phones. Even Amazon has raised concerns. On Friday, the huge online retailer barred employees from using the app on devices that connect to the company’s email, citing “security risks.”

TikTok has tried responding to the issue. In an interview with CNBC, a TikTok spokesperson said, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

The company has also made it clear that all data from American citizens is stored outside of China, on servers based in the United States. The company claims that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and that none of their users’ data is subject to Chinese law.

Meanwhile, many TikTok users say they care less about potential Chinese snooping and more about Trump taking away their digital hangout. In the U.S., TikTok has been downloaded more than 165 million times, according to Sensor Tower.

“I don’t believe Trump is trying to take TikTok away because of national security, but more to retaliate against activism on the app and all the videos about him that drag him through the mud,” said Darius Jackson, an 18-year-old TikTok user, in a statement to CNBC.

“This is the first year I’ll be able to vote and I think activism on TikTok is going to make a big difference,” Jackson said.

Many view the move as retaliation for Trump’s failed Tulsa rally.

Credit: Mark Short / Getty Images

It’s hard to forget the epic fail that was Trump’s Tulsa rally. His planned ‘relaunch’ of his 2020 campaign after being forced to suspend his massive rallies because of Coronavirus.

Leading up to the event, Trump had touted record-shattering interest and ticket sales for the rally. He went so far as to say that millions of Americans had RSVP’d for it – and he wasn’t actually lying this time. However, there was one minor problem – hundreds of thousands of tickets were actually reserved in a massive campaign by Korean pop stans and TikTok users.

Thanks to a TikTok campaign, Trump’s ‘massive’ rally was an utter disaster attended by only a few thousand people. Many suggest that this campaign cold be why Trump is looking to target TikTok with some sort of ban.

Since the announcement, ‘TikTok Teens’ have launched a full-fledged assault against the Trump administration.

One of the pettiest (ie. best) moves the collection of ‘TikTokivists’ has made so far, is that tens of thousands flooded the Apple App Store and left scathing reviews of the Trump 2020 Campaign app. On Wednesday alone 700 negative reviews were left on the Official Trump 2020 app and 26 positive ones, according to tracking firm Sensor Tower.

“For Gen Z and Millennials, TikTok is our clubhouse and Trump threatened it,” said Yori Blacc, a 19-year-old TikTok user in California who joined in the app protest. “If you’re going to mess with us, we will mess with you.”

The efforts to push the app low enough so that Apple will remove it from the app store may be misguided. Apple doesn’t delete apps based on their popularity. The App Store may review those that violate its guidelines or are outdated, but not if their ratings sink. A similar tactic was tried in April to protest Google Classroom by kids frustrated with quarantine home-schooling.

But can the U.S. government actually ban an app?

According to most legal experts, the answer is no. Sure, the administration could attempt to but thanks to the U.S. legal system, a total ban wouldn’t last. Administrations have limited authority to ban outright any specific piece of software, like an app. But it could potentially lobby Congress to enact legislation that targets TikTok.

Mexico’s AMLO And Trump Plan To Meet In July And Everyone Wants To Know What They’ll Be Discussing

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Mexico’s AMLO And Trump Plan To Meet In July And Everyone Wants To Know What They’ll Be Discussing

Hector Vivas / Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Trump has a long history of treating Mexico as a political punching bag. He literally launched his campaign for president by demonizing Mexicans. BUt despite this, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has said the U.S. president has always treated him with respect. After threatening Mexico with tariffs last year, AMLO deployed troops to deter migration by Central Americans across Mexico to the U.S. – in a move many saw as an act of obedience to Trump.

But Trump’s own rhetoric has also changed. During a visit to Arizona last week, he said that it was Mexico who has helped drive down border crossings.

“If you look at so many of the different crimes that come through the border, they’re stopped. We’ve implemented groundbreaking agreements with Mexico,” Trump said during a round table on border security. “I want to thank the President of Mexico. He’s really a great guy. I think he’ll be coming into Washington pretty soon.”

So the two leaders seem to be on good terms. But a meeting with Trump could backfire.

President Trump and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are planning their first personal meeting for July.

In what would be their first head-to-head meeting, Mexican President AMLO and Trump are likely to meet in the beginning half of July, according to officials. It’s a politically risky move for Mexico’s AMLO, who is already being attacked from across the political spectrum for appearing to appease Donald Trump.

AMLO said that in his meeting with Trump he intends to promote their new trade deal (the USMCA), as well as to thank him for sending medical ventilators to Mexico to help with the growing Coronavirus pandemic in the country. The date of the visit though is still not set in stone, since the pair would also want to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – since his country is also a signatory to the trade deal.

“It is very important for us participate in the beginning of this historical agreement, which is very timely because it will help us in the recovery of our economy and the creation of jobs,” Lopez Obrador said during his daily press conference.

Mexico’s economy has been battererd by the Coroanvirus and AMLO is betting its recovery is tied to the U.S., since both countries are facing their deepest recessions since the Great Depression.

Many are speculating about the what the meeting could focus on – with there being so many hard pressing issues between the two countries.

Credit: Evan Vucci / Getty Images

AMLO has made it clear that his stated goal of the visit would be to promote the renegotiated trade deal known as the USMCA, formerly NAFTA. However, the Coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the two countries and it’s likely it will be play a major part in discussions as well.

Apart from these two timely topics, both countries are speculating as to what else the two leaders could discuss – especially since Trump has so often spoken poorly of Mexico and issued sweeping demands in the past.

Will the pair discuss immigration, asylum and the border wall?

For AMLO, this would be his first trip out of Mexico since assuming the presidency in 2018.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

AMLO assumed the presidency in December 2018, and since then he hasn’t left the country once. He has sent surrogates to attend globally important meetings, including to the U.N. Security Council election and several major economic forums. Instead, AMLO has preferred to stay in Mexico, traveling from state to state promoting his domestic agenda.

Even though AMLO’s critics have encouraged him to take international trips in the interest of Mexico, this is one that most experts agree is a mistake. They’re skeptical that the meeting will be beneficial at all to Mexico.

In a tweet, the former Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, called the potential visit “a big blunder and a mistake,” saying that Trump would only use the Mexican president as an electoral prop. He also called such a visit “suicidal for Mexico’s long-term and strategic relationship with the United States.”

Former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda told Reuters he thought a visit was “a dumb idea” considering it is an election year in the United States.

Complicating matters, AMLO will fly to the U.S. on commercial flights amid a global pandemic.

Credit: Alfredo Estrella / Getty Images

AMLO is well-known as being frugal. He turned the palatial Los Pinos (the formal home of the Mexican President) into a cultural center and instead lives in his own apartment. He drives his own Volkswagen Jetta. And he always flies commercial, wherever he goes. And, apparently, that’s still the plan for his trip to Washington despite a global health crisis.

“I am going to travel on a commercial aircraft,” López Obrador told reporters during his morning news conference. “There is no direct trip from Mexico City to Washington, but you can make a stop. I will arrive a day before the meeting that we will have.”

And for Trump, the meeting would be high stakes given the concessions his supporters will want from Mexico.

Trump literally launched his presidential campaign by demonizing Mexicans. Since then, he’s made several swipes at the country and its people and has pursued inhumane immigration policies that have broken families and likely resulted in the deaths of many. Yet to his supporters, he hasn’t done nearly enough on immigration.

Therefore, it’s widely accepted that Trump will use the meeting as a way to advance his political standing with his core supporters and talk up his ‘achievements’ on border security.