Things That Matter

Trump Issued An Executive Order Allowing States To Refuse Refugees And It Might Be A Step Too Far Even For Republicans

The Trump administration has had a few tug-of-wars with city and state governments. The dimes y diretes in which POTUS and former Californian governor Jerry Brown are now legendary, for example. However, so far Trump’s administration has had a very smooth sailing with Republican incumbents, who even if they didn’t fully agree with POTUS, would follow directives from the White House.

However, a recent development has made some pundits believe that certain Republican governors have had enough and might be breaking ranks with the president when it comes to the highly contested issue of refugee migration policies. Whether this is an honest act of compassion or a political move in face of this years elections remains to be seen, but the fact is that Trump’s isn’t always the last word even in red states. 

So, Trump gave an executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements.

Credit: @TheNation / Twitter

Yes, this is a continuation of the Trump administration’s harsh (and some argue, cruel) stance on migration issues. Detention centers, family separations, privately-run companies that are put in charge of the welfare of vulnerable populations… the list goes on and on. There has been wide criticism for the executive order and three refugee resettlement agencies have sued the Trump administration – the agencies are HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit, Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

But there are plenty of states that will continue to accept refugees, even some governed by Republicans.

Credit: Axios

This graphic, published in Axios, shows the states that have established that they will continue accepting refugees. These local and state governments are unwilling to block the resettlement of people who have escaped danger in their home countries and gone through the stringent and tortuous process of becoming a United States refugee, a status that is very, very hard to obtain.

Those who apply for this status are put under the microscope and have to undergo seemingly endless bureaucratic processes that guarantee that their claim is indeed valid under the law. This means that successful applicants were in the riskiest situations imaginable.

Just this week, the Republican governors of Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska wrote letters to the State Department or stated loud and clear that they would continue to accept refugees. Some key states haven’t stated their decision yet and promise to be battlegrounds for opposing political views. Texas, for example, has a very conservative governor on Greg Abbott, but many of its cities, such as Austin, have more progressive majors. 

Refugee resettlement is often seen as a tool to obtain goodwill both domestically and internationally, and history has seen plenty of bipartisan efforts to guarantee it.

There is a push against this executive order. As The Washington Post reports, even conservative states like Utah want to continue receiving refugees and even increase their numbers. Governor Gary Herbert, who aligns with Donald Trump on most issues, wrote a letter to the president stating: “”We empathize deeply with individuals and groups who have been forced from their homes and we love giving them a new home and a new life”. He added that newcomers become “productive employees and responsible citizens”. 

Trump’s position is unprecedented: even Ronald Reagan was proud of the refugee resettlement program.

As The Washington Post also notes: “From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every president in recent decades had sought to bolster the program, identifying it as a way to generate goodwill and prestige internationally while strengthening bonds in communities at home.”

Refugees are a key element of American multiculturalism. From the pilgrims in the Mayflower escaping religious persecution to migratory waves of Jewish, Italian and Polish refugees during and after World War II, the United States has been accomodating to those in despair. The recent move from Trump’s White House can lead us to believe that the executive order could potentially have ethnic or racial connotations given the Brown and Black background of those seeking a refugee status today. 

Trump has already cut the number of annual arrivals to 18,000, a record low.

Just picture this. In a rally he mentioned Somali refugees and the crows began to boo. He then said that he would order the executive decision, something that no other president would do. He got that right: no one else would do it. He seems to be catering for his core base, as the WP further reports: ” He has repeatedly attacked refugees, suggesting they may be a “Trojan horse” intent on violence or a Muslim takeover”. This is just not true and only echoes the sentiments and rhetoric of far-right politics 

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Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

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Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

So many of those attempting to reach the United States – or even Mexico in some cases – are already fleeing extreme violence, poverty, and fear. Refugees from Honduras and El Salvador (among other countries) are hoping to find a better life faraway from the corruption and danger that they face in their home countries.

But what happens when those same people fleeing violence in their home countries are met with state-sponsored violence on their journey to a better life? Unfortunately, at least one refugee, 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters, has lost her life while hoping for a better one.

Four police officers are in custody after the killing of a woman from El Salvador.

Four municipal police officers are in custody and under investigation for murder following the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested in Tulum.

Video footage shows a female officer with her knee on the back of 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters who was living in Tulum on a humanitarian visa.

In the footage, Victoria, who was apparently arrested for disturbing the peace, can be heard moaning in pain and is seen writhing on the road next to a police vehicle as she was held down for more than 20 seconds. Three male police are also present, one of whom appears to help the female offer restrain Victoria. Footage then shows officers drag her limp body into the back of a police truck.

Many are comparing Victoria’s murder to that of George Floyd.

Many in Mexico are comparing Victoria’s death to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer, who also died pinned under an officer’s knee. Video shared on social media shows a police officer leaning on Salazar’s head and neck and she cries out, and then goes limp. Officers then drag her body into the back of a police truck.

Mexican officials have largely condemned the officers’ actions and the Attorney General said that the officers — three men and one woman — will be charged with femicide. The charge of femicide carries a penalty of no less than 40 years in prison. The police actions violated the national law on the use of force, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Victoria’s death comes as millions of Mexican women demand that the authorities do more to combat gender violence in Mexico, where an average of 11 women are killed every day. Her alleged murder also occurred as Mexican authorities ramp up enforcement against mainly Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

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Worried If TikTok Will Still Be Banned In The US? The Biden Administration Just Made Some Announcements

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Worried If TikTok Will Still Be Banned In The US? The Biden Administration Just Made Some Announcements

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Since his inauguration last month, Joe Biden has reversed many of Donald Trump’s nightmarish policies established over the last four years. In the first 24 hours alone, he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, reinstated protections for LGBTQ+ people, ended a travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, and retracted the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.

Now, the Biden administration has also announced its intentions with the proposed TikTok ban, as it assesses whether the short-form video app really poses a national security threat.

The Biden administration has halted the proposed ban on TikTok.

According to the BBC, the suspension means that both TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, two Chinese-owned apps implicated in the ban, can continue to operate in the US while government staff familiarize themselves with the case.

Trump had claimed that TikTok presents privacy and security concerns, echoing hacktivist collective Anonymous’s allegations that the app is: “essentially malware operated by the Chinese government running a massive spying operation.”

The suspension signals that US-based TikTokers won’t have to worry about the platform being banned anytime soon – roll on more sea shanty success stories and viral style challenges.

Originally Published July 30, 2020: President Donald Trump is renewing his attempt to ban TikTok from the U.S. There has been more scrutiny on TikTok as more people delete the app from their phone over security and privacy concerns. Yet, Microsoft is now interested in buying the social media platform.

President Donald Trump is reportedly getting ready to tell Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell their U.S. stakes in TikTok

While President Trump continues his attempts to get rid of TikTok, Microsoft is swooping in to save the social media platform by acquiring it now. It is unclear how far the talks are between Microsoft and TikTok but it would protect the app from being banned in the U.S. ByteDance the company that owns TikTok is valued at $100 billion.

Original: 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.

https://twitter.com/taylorlorenz/status/1281680094218592259?s=21

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.

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