Some asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico help each other
A small group of asylum seekers sit under a canopy on the side of a road leading into the United States, chatting to pass the time as a blazing desert sun pushes the heat into triple digits and fumes roll in from dozens of cars lined up to cross the US-Mexico border.
Coming from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba and many other countries, they’re waiting in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, to seek asylum at the official border crossing just south of San Luis, Arizona, The Associated Press reported.
Under the canopy, surrounded by little but fencing and some stores and restaurants, they look like old friends. They have banded together around their small foldup table, where they spend hours waiting.
They assign people with children to early morning shifts when the heat isn’t as bad. A daily “colecta” — a collection of cash — pays for water and snacks for those guarding the table.
“Here, you have nobody but each other,” Julio Montenegro, a 33-year-old Guatemalan who has been waiting for several weeks, said on a hot afternoon in late June.
Despite their bond, this group has just met. They’re among roughly 950 people on the waitlist in San Luis Río Colorado that’s moving slowly — only a few people each day get called for the chance to start a new life, and there are days when none do.
President Donald Trump’s administration forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexican cities before they can start the asylum process, a policy referred to as “metering.”
As a result, thousands of people along the Mexican border don’t get an interview with an asylum officer for months and face danger even after fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.
For the few who get an interview, the US government still forces many to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases wind through court, which can take years.
The fate of those seeking asylum at the southern border is uncertain after the Trump administration this week said it was banning migrants from seeking US protections if they pass through another country first. The rules have been challenged in court.
Metering and other policies that make it hard to seek asylum have led some migrants to cross the border illegally out of desperation, including Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his young daughter, Valeria, who were seen in a widely shared photo last month after drowning in the Rio Grande.
On some parts of the border, asylum seekers camp out in tents for weeks. They did in San Luis Río Colorado until late spring, when temperatures became dangerously high.
Now, most stay in hotels or rent rooms in houses, paid for by relatives in the US They rely on each other to ensure a constant presence at the border to know when US officials call someone for an interview. Typically, a person has a brief period to show up or they can be skipped over on the list, which is ordered by when people arrived at the border.
Despite the heat, San Luis Río Colorado is relatively safe compared with other Mexican border cities, where kidnapping and murder are rampant. It’s a small place that supplies many of the farmworkers who tend fields of lettuce and other leafy greens in Yuma, Arizona, about a 40-minute drive north.
Many migrants waiting to get to the US can feel comfortable walking down the street here, said Martin Salgado, who runs a shelter in the city of less than 200,000 people. He also helps manage the wait list, getting word from the Mexican government when the US approves a number of people for asylum interviews.
Migrants at the top of the list stay at his 30-person shelter less than a 10-minute drive from the border. His mother founded it decades ago to feed and house immigrants deported from the US — usually adults — before they made their way home.
Casa del Migrante la Divina Providencia now is filled with the voices of young children at play. There are a few small rooms with bunk beds, one specifically for families with children and others for single adults.
Of the approximately 950 people on the waitlist here, 65 percent are Mexican, 20 percent are Cuban and the rest are from various countries, with people from African nations increasingly passing through the city, Salgado said. On average, the government calls about eight people a day, although some days, none are called, he said.
Montenegro, the Guatemalan, said he has been waiting for weeks to reunite with his daughters in California. The truck driver, who rents a room in a house near the border, said he left his home country because he feared for his life after threats from gangs trying to extort money.
“They knew my kids’ schedules,” he said.
“We left with what we had on our backs.”
Jesse Telleria, 32, said she fled Nicaragua because of deep political turmoil that has caused chaos and poverty. The hairstylist said she left her young son with her mom and hopes to work and send money home.
Telleria said she has been waiting to seek asylum for three months and expects to wait at least another month. Life in Nicaragua is “not calm, there’s no opportunity,” she said.
Claudio Aviles, 25, of Guerrero, Mexico, was in San Luis Río Colorado with his wife and two young children for over three months and helped Salgado, the shelter operator, coordinate the waitlist.
At the border, waitlists are managed by local shelters or asylum seekers themselves. There have been reports of bribery and cheating to move up the list, so Aviles was dedicated to making it fair. He’s now in Alabama with relatives, who had sent money so his family could rent a house while they waited.
“There’s a lot of crime in Guerrero,” Aviles said. “We’re looking for a better life.”
Report: At least 14 Alaska cities have officers with criminal records
At least 14 cities in Alaska have employed police officers whose criminal records should have prevented them from being hired under state law, the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reported.
The news organizations said they found more than 34 officers who should have been ineligible for these jobs. In all but three cases, the police hires were never reported by the city governments to the state’s Department of Public Safety, as required, The Associated Press reported.
In eight additional communities, local tribal governments have hired tribal police officers convicted of domestic violence or sex crimes, the news organizations reported.
All 42 of these tribal and city police officers have rap sheets that would prevent them from being hired by the Anchorage Police Department and its urban peers, as Alaska State troopers or even as private security guards most anywhere else in the United States, the news organizations said. Many remain on the job.
“It’s outrageous that we have a situation where we have a, such a lack of public safety that communities are resorting to hiring people who have the propensity for violence,” said Melanie Bahnke, a board member for the Alaska Federation of Natives, which represents 191 tribes.
“And placing them in a position where they have control over people and possibly could victimize the victims further.”
“That’s like a frontier mentality,” said Bahnke, who is also chief executive for Kawerak Inc., a Nome-based tribal consortium that oversees state-paid police in the region.
The Daily News/ProPublica report comes nearly a month after US Attorney General William Barr declared a law enforcement emergency in Alaska, clearing the way for the Justice Department to award more than $10 million to combat crime in rural communities.
That announcement came after Barr visited the state and met with Alaska Natives, who described disproportionately high rates of violence and sexual assault in Native communities and other problems, including not having any law enforcement presence in some villages.
The Daily News and ProPublica reported that there aren’t enough state troopers or other state-funded officers to go around.
They said that village police officers and tribal police officers working in Alaska villages are at least as common as state troopers or state-funded officers. The news organizations said that no one keeps track of who these officers are, where they are working, if they’ve passed a background check or if they’ve received any training.
Study: Women no longer regarded as less competent than men
A nationally representative study of gender stereotypes in the United States shows that women are no longer regarded as less competent than men on average.
The study, posted on the website of Northwestern University (NU), analyzed 16 nationally representative opinion polls conducted in the United States with more than 30,000 adult respondents, Xinhua reported.
These polls asked respondents to compare women’s and men’s competence, such as intelligent, organized, creative; communion, such as affectionate, compassionate, emotional; and agency, such as ambitious, aggressive, decisive.
Most adults now report that women and men are equal in general competence. But among those who see a difference, most see women as more competent than men.
In the most recent poll conducted in April 2018, 86 percent of the respondents said that men and women are equally intelligent. However, nine percent said that women are more intelligent, compared to five percent who said that men are more intelligent.
“The perceptions of women as communal and men as agentic have not eroded since the 1940s, contrary to conventional wisdom about convergence in gender roles,” said Alice Eagly, lead author of the study and professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at NU.
“Rather, communal stereotypes have changed but increasingly towards portraying women as more compassionate, affectionate and sensitive than men. Men are still viewed as more ambitious, aggressive and decisive than women, and that agency stereotype has not substantially changed since the 1940s,” Eagly said.
The researchers noted that different groups of respondents — men, women, racial subgroups — generally agree about these stereotypes. For instance, respondents in recent US samples ascribed competence more often to women than men, regardless of the respondent’s sex, race, ethnicity, college education, marital status, employment status or birth cohort.
Interpretation of these findings is that women’s increasing labor force participation and education likely underlie the increase in their perceived competence, but that occupational segregation underlies the other findings.
“The current stereotypes should favor women’s employment, because competence is, of course, a job requirement for virtually all positions,” Eagly said.
“Also, jobs increasingly reward social skills, making women’s greater communion an additional advantage.”
But the findings are not all positive for women.
“Most leadership roles require more agency than communion and the lesser ambition, aggressiveness and decisiveness ascribed to women than men are a disadvantage in relation to leadership,” Eagly said.
The study has been published in the journal American Psychologist.
Peruvian authorities evacuated hundreds of people living near the Ubinas Volcano located in the Moquegua Region after explosions and ash emissions, Reuters wrote.