Migrants on the move

Migrants on the move

"We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children." So said US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this week. US Customs and Border Protection reports an average of 565 children traveling alone now crossing the border per day, up from 313 last month.


Who are the migrants? US officials say most people now reaching the US border are adults travelling by themselves, but numbers of both families and unaccompanied children are growing. There are changes in where they're coming from. With exact numbers from border officials, the Washington Post's Nick Miroff reports that the highest number of families is now coming from Honduras, the most unstable country in Central America. Many kids traveling alone come from Guatemala, where the youth population and unemployment are both high and smuggling networks are most fully developed. There are now fewer migrants from El Salvador, where the Nayib Bukele government has made progress against gang violence.

Why the surge? The transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in Washington has persuaded some would-be-migrants that a limited window now exists for entry into the US. Human traffickers, short on cash following the migration slowdown of the Trump years and most dangerous months of pandemic, are now eager for more income, and thus reinforcing that message. Making matters more urgent, in November two major hurricanes inflicted severe human and economic damage in Central America, particularly in Honduras.

Taking to the road is always dangerous, especially for young children. Most take this step for the same reasons that others have taken it before them: they hope to find a much better life for themselves and their families away from the violence, corruption, and poverty all around them. In particular, research published last year by Doctors Without Borders found that more than 75 percent of Central American migrants traveling with children toward the US border reported leaving their home countries due to threats of violence, including forced recruitment by gangs.

Countries along the route are struggling to cope. In January, under pressure from the US and Mexican governments, Guatemalan police turned back a caravan of thousands of Hondurans. Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has warned that migrants remain vulnerable to his country's violent drug gangs, which have a history of kidnapping, sexual assault, human trafficking, and forced gang initiation of migrants. In addition, the surge in numbers of migrants entering Mexico headed north comes at a moment when COVID-19 makes sheltering migrants much more complicated.

Those who reach the US border may not find what they're hoping for. The US isn't ready for them, and the Biden administration, under intense criticism from Republicans for enabling this surge by promising to loosen Trump administration border restrictions, isn't welcoming them. Under the current policy, single adults and families are being refused entry as part of US efforts to contain COVID-19. "I can say quite clearly don't come," Biden has said to the migrants. "We're in the process of getting set up… Don't leave your town or city or community."

Mayorkas has promised a "safe, legal and orderly immigration system," including by streamlining the process by which asylum applications are filed and considered, but that will take time and prove much easier said than done. Last week, the Biden administration announced it would begin processing backlogged asylum applications for about 25,000 people that had stalled under the Trump administration's Remain in Mexico policy, but that process won't move quickly either.

Bottom line: Life on the road is hard and getting harder, but that isn't stopping larger numbers of desperate people from taking the risk in hopes of applying for asylum. Every government along their path is scrambling to prepare.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truckloads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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500: Fuel shortages in conflict-ridden Haiti are putting many hospital patients at risk. If fuel isn't delivered ASAP, UNICEF says around 500 people – including children and COVID patients – are at very high risk of deterioration. Supplies and deliveries have been disrupted for weeks because of heightened gang activity in the country.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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