The News Memo
Stories this week:
Over 76,000 Illegal Migrant Crossings At Southern Border In February
Despite President Trump's strong rhetoric and policies regarding illegal immigration, a record 76,000 migrants crossed the Southern Border in February of 2019, making it the highest migration number in one month in over 11 years. Many of the migrants are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala where they are fleeing poverty and violence. After crossing illegally, most migrants turn themselves in to border officials to seek asylum.
Here’s what the situation looks like:
“This is clearly both a border security and a humanitarian crisis,” Kevin K. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection told reporters. He added, “the system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point.” When migrants arrive, they have the legal right to seek asylum and or be initially processed. This can take multiple days and many of them require bedding, detainment centers, and even urgent medical care upon arrival. Immigration
The reason it’s so expensive
Migration is not the highest it’s ever been by any means. In 2000, during President Clinton's term, over 1.64 million illegal crossing arrests were made. However, migrant demographics are changing quickly. In Clinton’s term, the majority of migrants were single men, who are easier to detain and possibly deport compared to a family of migrants. In fact, the number of migrants with families has surged in the last six months, for the first time surpassing the number of single migrants.
Has Trump responded?
President Trump responded on Wednesday, tweeting: “Wall Street Journal: “More migrant families crossing into the U.S. illegally have been arrested in the first five months of the federal fiscal year than in any prior full year.” We are doing a great job at the border, but this is a National Emergency!”
Democrats Condemn All Hate Amid Ilhan Omar Controversy
On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly passed a broad resolution (proposed by Democrats) condemning bigotry and hatred in all forms, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and white nationalism. The resolution contains no legislation or law, but is simply used to express principles or opinions of the House.
What is the context?
The resolution stems from comments last week by congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D., MN). Omar said that some people “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” referring to Israel. While most Democrats disapproved of Omar’s comments, saying they evoked anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish Americans having divided country loyalty, others have defended her saying the comments should not silence debate about lobbyists influence.
The House was set to vote Wednesday on a resolution particularly denouncing anti-Semitism. Although Omar was never mentioned in the resolution by name, some members of the more progressive wing of the Democratic party said it unfairly singled out Omar. After a tense private meeting on Wed., Democrats decided to widen the resolution to contain all forms of intolerance.
Omar’s comments and the subsequent debate has highlighted the divide between younger, more progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, and more moderate establishment figures such as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. It has averted Democratic focus from their primary legislation H.R. 1, which includes campaign finance reform, anti-corruption measures, and increased voting rights.
Who is Ilhan Omar?
Omar is a first-year lawmaker from Minnesota and one of two Muslim congresswomen. She has come under scrutiny in the past for her comments about U.S. policy towards Israel. In February, she suggested in a tweet that the U.S.’ support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby,” referring to $100 bills. Critics say it evoked stereotypes about Jews using money to influence foreign policy. She later apologized for the tweet. Before being elected to congress, Minnesota lawmakers had previously held discussions with Omar about comments they viewed to be anti-Semitic.
In 2018, there were 372 cases of the measles in the U.S. So far in 2019, there have already been over 200. Although the disease was declared defeated in 2000, due to falling vaccination rates in some communities and foreign travelers, the disease is reappearing. The majority of 2018 cases were in insular religious and immigrant groups, including Orthodox Jews, Amish, and Somali-Americans. No deaths have been reported, but hospitalization is often required.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The CDC recommends at least 90% of all children receive the vaccination to prevent its spread. Parents may not vaccinate their children for religious, medical, or personal reasons, although regulations vary by state. With the rise in anti-vaccination sentiments, some states are working to limit the exemptions, while others want to expand them, concerned about religious and personal freedom.
The anti-vaccination movement gained significant following after a 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield, which suggested vaccination may predispose children to autism. Although the paper was later shown to be manipulated and retracted, it had a lasting impact. You may recall President Trump suggested there could be a link between the two during a 2016 presidential debate.
The medical profession has found no association between vaccinations and autism, while also finding the benefits outweigh the cost of vaccinations. Just this week, research from more than 600,000 children over a 10 year span in Denmark found no correlation between the two.
Related to the debate, social media platforms are trying to limit the spread of misinformation when it comes to health topics. Late last year, Pinterest temporary implemented a policy to block results for vaccination related searches. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are exploring similar actions. The process has proven delicate, as any censoring immediately raises constitutional questions related to freedom of speech.
GetSmart: The U.S. Flag Was Designed by a 17-Year-Old
In 1958, Robert G. Heft received a B- on his history assignment which was to design a new American banner recognizing the new states of Hawaii and Alaska. Heft, from Ohio, then sent his design to Washington where it was picked, voted on and approved as the new American flag during President Eisenhower's term. His assignment was later changed from a B - to an A by his teacher.
-U.S. trade deficit in goods (the U.S. is importing more than they’re exporting) reached a record $891.2 billion, something Trump was trying to shrink. The deficit grew in part due to Trump’s tax cuts and a slowing global economy. The tax cuts on average gave U.S. companies more money to spend, and the global economic slowdown strengthened the U.S. dollar (a strong U.S. dollar makes imports less expensive).
-U.S. Economy adds 20,000 jobs in February, marking a significant slowdown compared to previous months. Unemployment rate fell to 3.8% from 4.0% last month.
-Facebook will focus on encrypted messaging services (like WhatsApp), indicating a change from public communication to private ‘living room’ conversations. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the information in a blog post. Details are unclear.
-Democrats Ramp-up Trump Probes: by requesting documents from 80 people in Trump’s family and business circles. Much of the information is being investigated by Special Counsel Mueller, but Democrats are potentially building a public case for impeachment. Related: former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a 47 month prison term in the first of two sentencings.
-North Korea: Amid denuclearization talks with the U.S., sky-high photos show that North Korea is revamping some of the structures of its missile site that it previously said it would dismantle.
The News Memo is edited by Madeline Krumel
The New York Times
Now with Big Data, No Association between Vaccinations and Autism
House Votes to Condemn All Hate as Anti-Semitism Debate Overshadows Congress
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Says He’ll Shift Focus to Users’ Privacy
The Wall Street Journal
Washington State Becomes Latest Hot Spot in Measles Outbreak
House Overwhelmingly backs resolution opposing hate
Ilhan Omar: US House votes amid anti-Semitism row
Trump dealt blow as U.S. trade deficit jumps