Thomas Railsback, an Illinois Republican congressman who helped draw up articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1974, has died at age 87.
Railback died Monday in Mesa, Arizona, where he lived in a nursing home in recent years, former Republican congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday.
“He would have been 88 today,” LaHood said, adding that because of Railsback’s age his body was beginning to break down. “It’s sad that Tom is gone. But it’s a blessing that he passed. He was suffering during the last few years.’’
Railsback represented the 19th Congressional District for 16 years and was the second ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee when it was conducting the impeachment inquiry into Nixon. The inquiry was prompted by Nixon’s actions in the wake of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Watergate office building.
Railsback credited Nixon with getting him elected to Congress in 1966 by campaigning for him in western Illinois.
“I feel badly about what happened to Nixon,” Railsback told the Idaho Statesman in 2012. ”On the other hand, after listening to the (White House) tapes and seeing all the evidence, it was something we had to do because the evidence was there.’’
Railsback, a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa who earned his law degree at Northwestern University, served in the Illinois House of Representatives before defeating freshman Democrat Gale Schisler for 19th District congressional seat.
Railsback said he believes he lost his seat in the 1982 Republican primary to state Sen. Kenneth G. McMillan, described by LaHood as “very conservative,” in part due to his impeachment vote. McMillan lost to Lane Evans, who held the seat for 20 years.
LaHood worked for Railsback from 1977 to 1982, and said brought him into politics.
“He taught me the good things about politics and public service,” LaHood said Tuesday. ”The way to be a good public servant is to work for the people.’’
LaHood said Railsback talked to him about his decision to support the impeachment of Nixon, one of only a few Republicans to do so.
“He said he looked at all the evidence,” LaHood said. ”He felt an obligation to the Constitution and to do what is right.’’
According to LaHood, Railsback was saddened by the current state of affairs in Washington and the unwillingness of people to compromise. He called Railsback’s death “the end of an era in politics.”
Railsback was one of four Republicans and three conservative Democrats who drafted two of the three impeachment articles against Nixon, which were adopted by the House. Nixon resigned before a trial in the Senate.
In a 2012 New York Times op-ed, Railsback noted the Democrats won a landslide in the 1974 Congressional elections, bringing in “a group of brash” legislators he said helped create an atmosphere of “division and unease.” He said that by the time of the Clinton impeachment inquiry, the Judiciary Committee was much more partisan and the climate in Congress in 2014 “appeared even more fractured.’’
Railsback moved to Mesa from Idaho and retired after holding several jobs, including an executive with the Motion Picture Association of America. He is survived by his second wife, Joye, and four daughters.your ad here
A Minneapolis carpenter whom the Associated Press exposed as a former Nazi commander — a charge his family fiercely denied — has died.
According to a Hennepin County, Minnesota, death certificate, Michael Karkoc died last month in a nursing home at age 100.
The Ukrainian-born Karkoc came to the United States after World War II in 1949 and led a modest life, working as a carpenter and worshipping at a Ukrainian Orthodox church.
A 2013 Associated Press investigation concluded that Karkoc commanded a Nazi-led Ukrainian military unit accused of committing atrocities against Polish civilians in 1944. Dozens of women and children were among the victims. The AP said Karkoc concealed his wartime activities from U.S. immigration officials.
The AP said it relied on interviews, Nazi documents, and U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence files. It also looked at Karkoc’s own memoirs where he said he was a founder of what he called the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion — a group that collaborated with the Nazi SS to stave off communist forces.
German prosecutors declined to extradite Karkoc, citing his age. But Polish prosecutors say a suspected Nazi war criminal’s age is no barrier to punishment. They announced in 2017 they would seek his arrest and extradition from the United States.
Karkoc’s son strongly denied his father was a war criminal, calling him a Ukrainian patriot who fought to free Ukraine of both Nazi and communist rule. Andrij Karkoc called the AP report “evil, fabricated, intolerable and malicious.”
But the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, said he regrets U.S. and Polish officials did not move fast enough to put Karkoc on trial.
“He didn’t deserve the privilege of living in a great democracy like the United States,” Zuroff said.
A new Cabinet was announced in crisis-hit Lebanon late Tuesday, breaking a months-long impasse amid mass protests against the country’s ruling elite and a crippling financial crisis, but demonstrations and violence continued.
Hassan Diab, a 60-year-old former professor at the American University of Beirut, announced a Cabinet of 20 members — mostly specialists supported by the Shi’ite group Hezbollah and allied political parties.
The new government, which comes three months after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned, was rejected by protesters who have been calling for sweeping reforms and a government made up of independent technocrats that can deal with the country’s economic and financial crisis, the worst since the 1975-90 civil war.
Even before the Cabinet was announced, thousands of people poured into the streets, closing major roads in the capital of Beirut and other parts of the country in protest. The protesters complained that political groups still were involved in the naming of the new ministers, even if they are specialists and academics. Later, a group of protesters near Parliament threw stones, firecrackers and sticks at security forces, who responded with tear gas and pepper spray.
“We want a government of experts … who are they kidding?” said one protester, Fadi Zakour. “We have been protesting for 90 days and we are not happy to close roads,” he added.
‘Time to get to work’
Diab saluted the protesters in the street and vowed to “work to fulfill your demands.” In a speech addressing the country following the government announcement, he added that his Cabinet is the first government in the history of Lebanon to be made up entirely of technocrats and insisted the 20 ministers are specialists who have no political loyalties and are not partisan.
He appealed to citizens to help the government implement a “rescue program” and said this Cabinet has the “capability and qualifications, will and commitment” to carry it through.
“It’s time to get to work,” Diab said.
For three months, the leaderless protests have been calling for a government made up of specialists that can work on dealing with the economic crisis. The protests have recently turned violent, with around 500 people injured in confrontations between protesters and security forces over the weekend.
Although the government announced Tuesday is technically made up of specialists, the ministers were named by political parties in a process involving horse trading and bickering with little regard for the demands of protesters for a transparent process and independent candidates.
Still, among the ministers named were accomplished academics and six women, including the minister of defense and deputy prime minister. The number is a record for Lebanon, with women now holding more than quarter of the Cabinet posts, including those of defense, justice, labor, youth and sports and the displaced.
“The independence of justice will be among our top priorities and I will put all my efforts to move in this direction,” Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm told local LBC TV.
Analysts said the new government, being politically aligned with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, would likely have difficulty drumming up international and regional support needed to avoid economic collapse.
“The Cabinet includes a fair number of capable technocrats, but it does not have any political independence to speak of,” wrote Paul Salem, president of the Middle East Institute.
“This government is likely to be short lived, to preside over a steep decline in the economy, a dangerous swerve in the state’s security relationships, and growing social and political unrest in the country,” he predicted.
The heads of the main ministries include career diplomat Naseef Hitti for the Foreign Ministry. Economist Ghazi Wazni was named finance minister and former army Gen. Mohammed Fahmi was named minister of the interior. Zeina Akar was named minister of defense and deputy prime minister.
Lebanon has been without a government since Hariri resigned Oct. 29, two weeks into the unprecedented nationwide protest movement.
First meeting Wednesday
Diab dismissed accusations that his was a government made up of one political camp consisting of Hezbollah and its allies, insisting it was the government of all of Lebanon. He also said it was natural to consult with political parties on the names of ministers, because in the end they are the ones that will decide the vote of confidence in Parliament needed for the Cabinet.
Diab said his first visit as prime minister will be to the Arab region, particularly to the Gulf Arab countries — a nod to Saudi Arabia, which was the main backer of Hariri. Backing from oil-rich Gulf countries is badly needed in Lebanon, which has one of the highest debt ratios in the world.
He said the government would get to work immediately and hold its first meeting Wednesday.
Panic and anger have gripped the public as the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, plummeted in value. It fell more than 60% in recent weeks on the black market. The economy has seen no growth and flows of foreign currency dried up in the already heavily indebted country that relies on imports for most basic goods.
Shortly before the Cabinet was announced Tuesday night, the Syndicate of Money Changers in Lebanon issued a statement saying it had agreed to set the exchange rate at a maximum of 2,000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, after it reached 2,500 pounds to the dollar last week. The official price still stands at 1,507 to the dollar.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling on the world to take “concrete actions” against the International Criminal Court ahead of a possible war-crimes case against Israel.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said last month that there was a “reasonable basis” to open a war crimes probe into Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip as well as Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank. She has asked the court to determine whether she has territorial jurisdiction before proceeding with the case.
Israel, which is not a member of the ICC, has said the court has no jurisdiction and accused Bensouda of being driven by anti-Semitism.
In an interview with the Christian network TBN to be aired later Tuesday, Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump for criticizing the ICC and called on others to follow suit.
“I think that everybody should rise up against this,” he said, according to excerpts released by his office. “I urge all your viewers to do the same and to ask for concrete actions, sanctions against the international court, its officials, its prosecutors, everyone.”
“They’re basically in a full frontal attack on the democracies, both on the democracies’ right to defend themselves, and on Israel’s right, the Jewish people’s right, to live in their ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel,” he said.
There was no immediate reaction from Bensouda. But in a recent interview, she told the Israeli news site Times of Israel that accusing her of anti-Semitism was “particularly regrettable” and “without merit.”
The TBN interview came ahead of a gathering in Jerusalem on Thursday where dozens of world leaders are to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp and to speak out against anti-Semitism.
Netanyahu is expected to use the gathering to try to rally international opposition to the ICC case against Israel.your ad here
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his nation will put “people before passports” as he pledged a fairer migration system at an investment summit for African leaders in London Monday. Britain wants to strike trade new deals with fast-growing economies in Africa and beyond after it officially leaves the European Union on January 31st. But as Henry Ridgwell reports, turnout for the summit suggests muted enthusiasm among many African leaders.
China has sentenced the former president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, to 13 years and six months in prison on charges of accepting more than $2 million in bribes.
Meng was elected president of the international police organization in 2016, but his four-year term was cut short when he vanished after traveling to China from France in late 2018.
Interpol was not informed and was forced to make a formal request to China for information about Meng’s whereabouts amid suspicion he had fallen out of political favor with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Meng’s wife, who remains in France with their two children, has accused Chinese authorities of lying and questioned whether her husband was still alive.
Grace Meng is now suing Interpol, accusing it of failing to protect him from arrest in China and failing to look after his family. Meng’s lawyers last year filed a legal complaint in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.
In a statement sent to The Associated Press, she said Interpol “breached its obligations owed to my family” and “is complicit in the internationally wrongful acts of its member country, China.”
A statement Tuesday from the No. 1 Intermediary Court in the northern city of Tianjin said Meng accepted the verdict and would not appeal. In addition to his prison sentence, he was fined 2 million yuan ($290.000) .
It said Meng, 66, admitted he abused his position to accept 14.4 million yuan ($2.1 million) in bribes while serving in various offices, including as a vice minister of public security and maritime police chief, often in exchange for favors and using his influence with other officials.
Meng has already been fired from his positions and expelled from the Communist Party. The relatively light sentence was likely a result of what the court called his cooperative attitude and willingness to admit to and shore remorse for his crimes.
While serving at Interpol, Meng retained his title as China’s vice minister of public security. It wasn’t clear when or how he had crossed Xi, who has leveraged a wide-ranging campaign against corruption at all levels to eliminate or intimidate political rivals.
As a long-serving vice minister of public security, Meng served for a time under Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was sentenced to life in prison, becoming the most powerful figure to fall in Xi’s anti-graft campaign.
State officials and U.S. hate-monitoring groups are warning about the potential for violence ahead of a gun-rights rally in Virginia that’s expected to draw a mix of militias, firearms advocates and white supremacists to Richmond.
Citing credible threats of violence, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of Monday’s rally, banning all weapons, including guns, from Capitol Square.
Virginia’s solicitor general last week said law enforcement had identified “credible evidence” armed out-of-state groups planned to come to Virginia with the possible intention of participating in a “violent insurrection.”
Online, threats of violence have been “rampant” among anti-government and far-right groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacists and other extremists. Conspiracy theories and other misinformation have also proliferated.
Organizers of an annual vigil at the Capitol for the victims of gun violence said Friday they have canceled their event this year because of fears of “armed insurrectionists.”
Meanwhile, the gun-rights group that has planned the event is urging peace.
A look at some of the groups involved:
Virginia Citizens Defense League
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, an influential grassroots gun-rights organization with a long record in the state, has been the leading force behind Monday’s rally.
Each year on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday the group holds a lobby day, typically attended by several hundred gun enthusiasts who rally and meet with lawmakers to discuss legislation.
But this year’s event is expected to draw an enormous crowd.
The VCDL has donated over $200,000 to state lawmakers since 2002, records show. The group has emphasized the rally is intended to be peaceful and urged members not to bring long guns, saying they would be a “distraction.”
“The eyes of the nation and the world are on Virginia and VCDL right now and we must show them that gun owners are not the problem,” the group wrote in a recent email to its members.
The group’s president, Philip Van Cleave, has been in the national spotlight before. In 2018, Van Cleave was duped into participating in Sacha Baron Cohen’s ambush chat show, where he advocated for arming children.
Gun Owners of America
The influential pro-gun group Gun Owners of America describes itself as the only “no-compromise” gun lobby in Washington and enjoys a loyal following.
Founded in 1975 by a California state lawmaker, Gun Owners of America joined the VCDL to seek an injunction against enforcement of Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order banning guns from the Capitol Square. The state Supreme Court upheld the ban late Friday.
On its website, the group has urged its members to attend Monday’s rally.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association, the country’s best known gun-rights organization, has distanced itself from Monday’s rally and instead held a lobby day last week.
Hundreds of people attended the event, where the NRA handed out unloaded 30-round gun magazines. A spokeswoman for the group headquartered in northern Virginia said the magazines were meant as a “morale booster” for the NRA members who showed up to urge lawmakers to reject the gun control measures proposed by Northam and Democratic lawmakers.
Former U.S. Army paratrooper Stewart Rhodes formed The Oath Keepers in 2009, and the group has become one of the nation’s largest anti-government organizations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2014, Oath Keepers members joined an armed standoff between federal officials and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing rights on government land.
Later that year and in 2015, members patrolled the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, amid protests over the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. They wore camouflage body armor and openly carried rifles.
The group urged its members in a post on its website to attend Monday’s rally and said it was sending trainers to Virginia to organize and train “armed posses and militia.”
“It is NOT just about one day at a rally. It’s about organizing and training up Virginians in each town and county to make their Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties truly strong, united, and capable of actually defending their lives, liberty, and property,” the group’s website says.
Three Percenter Movement
The Three Percenters are a loosely organized movement that formed in 2008, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish civil rights organization that tracks extremist groups.
On its website, the right-wing group says it isn’t an anti-government militia but “we will defend ourselves when necessary.”
The Three Percenters derives its name from the belief that just 3% of the colonists rose up to fight the British. They have vowed to resist any government that infringes on the U.S. Constitution.
The Oregon Three Percenters joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016. Dozens of people occupied the remote refuge for more than a month to protest federal control of Western lands. The group also took part in a violent right-wing rally in Portland last year.
J.J. MacNab, a fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, said she didn’t expect large numbers of white supremacists. But MacNab said she thinks those who do attend will try to capitalize on the large expected crowd for a moment in the limelight.
“It’s going to be a big event — they want to be part of it. They’re desperate to do Charlottesville 2.0,” she said, referring to the 2017 rally that descended into violence.
Last week, authorities arrested at least seven men they linked to a violent white supremacist group known as The Base. Three of the men were planning to attend the rally in Richmond, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.
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Looking for consistency in American politics is often a long and futile pursuit. But nowhere is that more evident than in the views of key figures in the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump that starts in earnest on Tuesday.
The line of demarcation — a then-and-now compilation of quotes — is a look-back and a look-now at two presidential impeachments.
One occurred in 1999 when then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, faced impeachment over a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his lying about the affair in sworn testimony. Trump, a Republican, now faces allegations he abused the presidency by pressing Ukraine to open investigations to benefit himself politically, and obstructed congressional efforts to review his actions.
Clinton’s main accuser was independent counsel Kenneth Starr, whose wide-ranging investigation of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair led to the president’s impeachment and eventual acquittal in a Senate trial. Two decades ago, some critics considered Starr’s probe overreaching, a crusade to prosecute a moral failing to throw Clinton out of office.
Back then, Trump sympathized with Clinton’s fate.
“I mean, can you imagine those evenings when he’s just being lambasted by this crazy Ken Starr, who is a total wacko? There’s the guy. I mean he is totally off his rocker.”
Fast forward to Trump in the White House. Last week, he named Starr to his Senate trial legal team.
‘Narrowly voted impeachment’
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, one of the key Democratic lawmakers who led the effort to impeach Trump, will help prosecute the case against Trump as one of the House impeachment managers.
During Clinton’s impeachment, Nadler said, “There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come, and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.”
In December, Nadler chaired the House Judiciary Committee that drafted the two articles of impeachment against Trump.
When the full House approved the impeachment allegations, not a single Republican lawmaker voted for them. Trump was impeached exclusively with the votes of Democrats.
California Congressman Adam Schiff is the lead House manager pursuing Trump’s conviction in the Senate and removal from office. He took a different view of impeachment when he first ran in 2000, a year after Clinton was acquitted.
Schiff’s Republican opponent was a leading antagonist against Clinton as the impeachment drama played out in Washington. Schiff’s campaign literature hammered away at two-term Congressman Jim Rogan for supporting impeachment.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, now the Senate Democratic leader and a key political foe of Trump, has loudly castigated Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for coordinating legal strategy defending Trump with his White House lawyers.
“Let the American people hear it loud and clear,” Schumer told the Senate, “the Republican leader said, proudly, ‘I’m not an impartial juror. I’m not impartial about this at all.’ That is an astonishing admission of partisanship.”
As senators, who will be jurors, were sworn in last week, they pledged to administer “impartial justice” in considering the case against Trump.
Two decades ago, as Clinton faced his impeachment trial, Schumer said, “We have a pre-opinion.” He said it was “not like a jury box (in a criminal trial) in the sense that people will call us and lobby us. You can’t do that with a juror. The standard is different. It’s supposed to be a little bit judicial and a little bit legislative-political. That’s how it’s been.”
As for McConnell, two decades ago he described the allegations against Clinton as “grave.”
“The investigation is legitimate and ascertaining the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unqualified, unevasive truth is absolutely critical,” he said back then.
Now, McConnell is leading the fight against Democrats’ calls for testimony from key Trump aides in the White House with knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine actions.
‘Unfit for office’
In the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called Trump a “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office.” In turn, Trump called Graham “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”
Four years later, Graham is one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in the Senate and calling for his quick acquittal.
Graham ridicules Trump’s impeachment as “a partisan railroad job. It’s the first impeachment in history where there’s no allegation of a crime by the president,” Graham said.
“The best thing for the American people is to end this crap as quickly as possible.”
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The Honduran government has formally declared Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, a top security official said on Monday.
“We declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and will include it in the registry of persons and institutions linked to acts of terrorism and its financing,” said Luis Suazo, Honduras’
deputy security minister.
Heavily armed Hezbollah, a Shia-dominated group, has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Last week, Guatemala’s new president, Alejandro Giammattei, also signaled he would label Hezbollah a terrorist group, in addition to keeping the Guatemalan Embassy in Israel in the city
Both moves were seen as aligning Guatemala’s foreign policy more closely with that of U.S. President Donald Trump.
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Hawaii’s governor says two police officers have died after a shooting in Honolulu on Sunday.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that officers had responded to an assault call when they encountered a male with a firearm, who then opened fire, striking two officers.
“Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning,” Governor David Ige said in a statement.
The neighborhood where the shooting occurred is at the far end of the Waikiki Beach between the Honolulu Zoo and the famed Diamond Head State Monument. The area would be packed with tourists and locals, especially on a weekend.
“It sounded like a lot of shots, or a lot of popping, loud noises going on,” said Honolulu resident Peter Murray. “So hope everybody is all right. Some people got hurt today.”
“We grieve with HPD and other first-responders who put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” said Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine.
A home the suspected gunman was believed to be inside caught fire and was quickly engulfed by flames. The fire at the home has since spread to several neighboring homes and a parked police vehicle.
The Honolulu Fire Department was battling the blazes.
No arrests have been made.
Police have closed several streets nearby. The public has been asked to avoid the area.
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The bridge spanning the Suchiate River between Mexico and Guatemala was open again for business Sunday, but few migrants crossed after a failed attempt by thousands of Central Americans to barge through the previous day.
More than 2,000 migrants spent the night in Tecun Uman, on the Guatemalan side of the border, uncertain of their next steps. Many got that far by traveling in caravan for greater safety and, they hoped, success in reaching the United States.
Mexico, pressured by the U.S. to halt the northward flow of migrants, is offering those who turn themselves over to authorities temporary jobs in southern Mexico, likely in agriculture or construction. But many of the migrants would rather pass through the country to try to start a new life in the U.S.
Volunteers spooned out a hot breakfast of beans, eggs, tortillas and coffee on Sunday to a line of migrants that stretched around the Senor de las Tres Caidas church, a blue and white Spanish colonial-style structure with a bell perched on top that’s in the heart of Tecun Uman.
“We improvised this shelter because the other one was crowded,” said Alfredo Camarena, vicar of the Catholic church.
Camarena estimated that more than 2,000 migrants spent the night in his church, in shelters or on the streets, and that several hundred more would arrive in the coming days.
Mexican national guardsmen on Saturday slammed shut a metal fence that reads “Welcome to Mexico” to block the path of thousands of Central American migrants who attempted to push their way across the Rodolfo Robles Bridge.
Beyond the fence, on the Mexican side of the border, Mexican troops in riot gear formed a human wall to reinforce the barrier as the crowd pressed forward.
Mexican Gen. Vicente Hernandez stood beyond the green bars, flanked by guardsmen, with an offer: Turn yourselves over to us, and the Mexican government will find you jobs.
“There are opportunities for all,” he promised.
Migrants looking for permission to stay in Mexico passed through in groups of 20. As the day wore on, around 300 turned themselves over to Mexican immigration.
At a less frequently used border crossing called El Ceibo, nestled among national parks near the city of Tenosique in Mexico’s Tabasco state, Guatemala’s human rights defender’s office reported Sunday that around 300 people opted to turn themselves over to Mexican authorities for processing.
Mexico’s offer of employment, and not just legal status, represents a new twist in the country’s efforts to find humane solutions to the mostly Central American migrants who are fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries.
Under threat of trade and other sanctions from the U.S., Mexico has stepped up efforts in recent months to prevent migrants from reaching their desired final destination: the U.S. Over the weekend, Mexican immigration officials deployed drones to look for migrants trying to sneak into the country. The National Guard presence was also heavier than usual.
As the latest caravans approached Mexico on Friday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested that Mexico might be able to accommodate the migrants longer-term.
“We have more than 4,000 jobs available there along the southern border, and of course shelters and medical attention — everything — but on offer is work in our country,” he said during a morning press briefing.
The offer of jobs to foreigners rankles some in Mexico, a country in which half the population lives in poverty and millions are unemployed.
Lopez Obrador was quick to add Friday that “the same goes for our nationals, there’s a way for them to have work.”
Despite the offer, distrust ran high among the migrants congregating just south of the Mexican border with Guatemala. Some feared they would be swiftly deported if they handed themselves over to Mexican authorities.
A few, relying on unfounded rumors swirling among the migrants, said they suspected a more selfish motive behind Mexico’s reinforcement of its southern border.
“We’ve heard that the president of the United States has opened the doors and that he even has work for us, and that the Mexicans don’t want to let us pass because they want to keep all the work,” said Carlos Alberto Bustillo of Honduras as he bathed in the Suchiate River.
The Suchiate has sometimes been a point for standoffs, as migrants group together for strength in numbers, hoping that they can force their way across the bridge, or wade across the river, to avoid immigration checks in Mexico.
The water levels of the river have been low enough this weekend to allow those who dare to simply trudge across. National Guardsmen lined the banks to warn against such undertakings, with interactions that resemble a high-stakes game of chicken.
Honduran Darlin Mauricio Mejia joined a dozen other migrants for a splash on the banks of the Guatemalan side of the river early Sunday.
Playfully, he shouted out to the guardsmen: asking if they could cross into Mexico to grab some mangos to eat.
One of the guardsmen responded, curtly: “Let’s go to immigration and they’ll help you there.”
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Chinese health officials in Wuhan report 136 new cases of a newly confirmed coronavirus in the past three days, bringing the total number of cases of the potentially deadly virus to nearly 200.
Most of the confirmed cases are mild, but at least three deaths are reported, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. The WHO reported 139 new confirmed cases, citing China as a source.
#China🇨🇳 has reported to WHO 139 new cases of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in #Wuhan, #Beijing and #Shenzhen over the past two days.
This is the result of increased searching and testing for 2019-nCoV among people sick with respiratory illness. pic.twitter.com/qAuaFzYmXH
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 19, 2020
On Friday, U.S. health officials began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three U.S. airports: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
The virus is believed to have started in Wuhan. It belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold as well as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). SARS killed nearly 800 people globally during an outbreak 17 years ago. It also started in China.your ad here