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The Refugee Caravan

The Refugee Caravan

Last week, we noted that a “refugee caravan” made up of hundreds of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador — many of them unaccompanied children — are walking through Mexico toward the US border. Along the way, activists are coaching them on how to apply for political asylum in the US. President Trump has heard the news. Last weekend, he tweeted this: “Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW.”


The Mexican government said Tuesday it will disperse the Refugee Caravan, but that it would issue one-year humanitarian visas to the most vulnerable members of the group. Others can submit applications within the month to stay in Mexico. The rest must leave the country within 20 days.

Trump tweeted yesterday that “The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border.” But this drama is not finished; some migrants say they’ll continue on toward California.

Look at this problem from various angles.

From Trump’s point of view: If the president sent a message that anyone fleeing violence in Central America will be given sanctuary in the US, the US would face a tidal wave of asylum seekers. (Cue the obligatory Angela Merkelreference.) Trump also knows, probably because he’s been told, that the centrality of border security for many of his diehard backers ensures that an influx of Honduran migrants would dismantle his political base overnight. He also wants to make clear that Mexico can’t ignore its own laws on migrants crossing its borders to reach the US.

From Mexico’s point of view: Mexico doesn’t want a “giant scene at the border.” Its government understands all too well the violence these migrants are trying to escape. (2017 was the most violent year of crime in Mexico since government began keeping records in 1997.) But it is legally bound to enforce its own immigration rules, and its government is still trying to strike a deal on renegotiation of NAFTA, with much less leverage than Trump has. Forcing the US president into a political crisis won’t help.

From the migrants’ point of view: High-powered weapons continue to flow from the US into Mexico and Central America, helping criminal gangs outgun police, killing civilians caught in the crossfire, and pushing rates of violent crime higher than just about anywhere else on Earth. There are many reported cases of children forced to choose between joining a gang and death for their entire families. If people can’t be safe in their own communities, they will seek safe haven where they can find it.

How many of these people will reach the US border? Stay tuned.

A decade ago, Bank of America established the Global Ambassadors Program with Vital Voices, and the results are phenomenal. We've provided 8,000 hours of training and mentoring, engaging 400 women from 85 countries and helping women around the world build their businesses.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a lot of foreign governments really mad. Let's call the roll.

Europe. The EU is angry that Turkey is drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean, and NATO is furious that member Turkey has defied its protests to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia. Erdogan has repeatedly rejected pushback from EU leaders by calling them fascists and Islamophobes.

Just this week, Erdogan refused to express sympathy with France following the beheading of a French schoolteacher by an Islamist extremist, attacked Macron's own response to the murder, suggested the French president needed "some sort of mental treatment," and countered Macron's vow to crack down on Islamist radicals with calls for a boycott of French products.

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Less than a week before the US election, President Donald Trump is repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of the vote (if he doesn't win) over largely unsubstantiated claims of potential fraud in universal mail-in voting. But with absentee ballots coming in all-time highs in all states due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans worry that the system itself may not be able to handle such an influx of ballots, including those already cast by a record number of early voters. Whether or not you agree, Gallup data show that US citizens are now less confident that the election will be conducted accurately — and more concerned about election irregularities and voter suppression — than they were four years ago. We take a look at how Americans' views on these electoral integrity issues have changed from 2016 to 2020.

Belarus on strike: In recent days, the Belarusian streets have turned up the heat on strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, as thousands of state factory workers and students in Belarus heeded a call from opposition leader Svyatlana Tikhanouskaya to join a general strike. Protests have roiled the country since August, when Lukashenko, in power since 1994, won a presidential election widely regarded as rigged. Last Sunday, 100,000 people turned up in Minsk, the capital. Tikhanouskaya — who ran against Lukashenko in that election and is currently exiled in neighboring Lithuania — had demanded the president resign by October 26. When he didn't, the walkout began. In one of the most iconic moments of protest so far, a striking worker at a refrigerator factory climbed the plant's tower to record a dramatic call for Lukashenko to step down. Belarus has been hit with sanctions from the US and EU, both of which are calling on him to hold new elections, but so far he has shown no signs of backing down, deploying his riot police with the usual fury. Something's got to give, soon.

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Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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