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An American flag flies atop Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Sipa USA via Reuters

HARD NUMBERS: Americans on the same page, Africans in rural Quebec, Chickens on death row, Honeybees on the rise

90: There are plenty of things that divide Americans these days, but what unites them? More than you’d think. A new poll shows that 90% of people in the US say that “equal protection under the law,” the “right to vote,” and “free speech” are fundamental to US identity. The “right to privacy,” “freedom of religion,” and “freedom of assembly” all come in above 80%. But polarization is never far away: The number drops to just 54% for “the right to bear arms.”

4,500: The once-declining northern Quebec town of Rouyn-Noranda, located some 400 miles northwest of Montreal, has been economically and culturally revitalized in recent years by an influx of immigrants from Africa. Of the 4,500 temporary foreign laborers in the city, the vast majority are from French-speaking African countries like Cameroon or the Democratic Republic of Congo. The city’s most famous poutine restaurant is now owned by a couple from Benin.

2 million: The largest egg producer in the US, Cal-Maine foods, has destroyed nearly 2 million chickens after detecting a case of avian flu at a farm in Texas. The news came just a day after a farmer was infected with the disease after coming into contact with cows that had it. Health officials said there was minimal broader health risk for now, but with egg prices already creeping back up to their highest levels since April 2023, consumers are likely to feel the outbreak at the checkout aisle before long.

3.8 million: From the birds to the bees … The latest US Department of Agriculture Census shows that the honeybee population has soared to 3.8 million colonies, the highest figure on record. After years of concern about the plight of the bumblebee, the sudden turnaround raised some antennae. It seems that a buzzing boom in smaller beekeepers, driven in part by fresh tax incentives, accounts for the change of fortunes. And now, listen to Rimsky-Korsakov.

A man walks his dog on the Mexican side of a section of the U.S.-Mexican Border wall on Wednesday morning, September 7th, 2022, as seen from Cameron County, Texas

Reginald Mathalone via Reuters Connect

Can Texas write its own border laws?

Federal courts played a game of injunction ping-pong this week with Texas’ controversial new immigration law known as SB4, which would dramatically expand the Lone Star State’s power at the border. The law would allow Texas police to detain people suspected of entering the US illegally and enable Texas judges to deport them – powers that have traditionally fallen under federal jurisdiction.

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The New York migrant crisis up close
The New York migrant crisis up close | GZERO Reports

The New York migrant crisis up close

Since 2022, New York City has absorbed more than 170,000 migrants, mostly sent on buses by Texas officials from the US-Mexico border. Many of them are asylum-seekers who hail from South American countries facing political and economic upheaval, like Venezuela and El Salvador. But increasingly, people from Asia, western Africa, and the Caribbean have been making the difficult journey to the US via the southern border as well.

Unlike other so-called “sanctuary cities,” New York has a legal mandate, known as a consent decree, that requires the city to provide shelter to anyone who asks for it. But the already under-funded, under-resourced system is struggling to deal with the influx of so many people. Adding to the chaos, in October, the city changed its policy to require everyone in the shelter system to reapply for a bed every 30-60 days. For asylum seekers already trying to navigate byzantine legal and healthcare systems, the instability can have devastating consequences.

That’s why grassroots organizers like Power Malu of Artists Athletes Activists, Adama Bah of Afrikana, and Ilze Thielmann of TeamTLC have been stepping up to fill a major gap in the city’s immigration system: greeting arrivals, pointing them towards resources, providing food and clothing. Most crucially, they're help people understand their rights and apply for asylum, so they can get work permits and find permanent housing.

Speaking from the front lines of this crisis, the organizers say the city isn't fully meeting the needs of the migrants coming here, despite spending $1.45 billion on migrant costs alone in 2023. "The illusion is that they're in these beautiful hotels and they're getting all of these services and it's not true," Malu says, "That's why you have organizations like ours that have stepped up and had to change from welcoming to now doing case management, social services, helping them with mental health therapy."

GZERO’s Alex Kliment spent time on the ground with newly-arrived asylum-seekers and the volunteers to better understand the reality on the ground, how this current crisis getting so much national attention is functioning day to day, and if the city could be doing more to help.

GZERO has reached out to City Hall for comment and will update with any response.

Learn more about the organizations mentioned in this report:

Catch this full episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer on public television beginning this Friday, March 15. Check local listings.

“Everything is political” is personal: the NYC migrant crisis

“Do you know,” Jhon asked me, shivering slightly in the lengthening afternoon shadows of New York’s Penn Station, “do you know if we can stay here – in America?”

Jhon is a wiry 42-year-old construction worker who fled Ecuador a month ago with his wife and four children. The recent surge of narco-violence there had gotten so bad, he said, that the local school switched to virtual classes for the safety of the students and their parents.

Now, after a trying journey by foot, boat, bus, and train, he was standing in the middle of New York City, bewildered but hopeful.

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Marc Miller, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, hands small Canadian flags to 53 new Canadian citizens representing 22 diverse nations, at a special ceremony at Canada Place, on Oct. 12, 2023, in Edmonton, Alberta.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Reuters

HARD NUMBERS: Small towns get big say in immigration, Canada faces arms export lawsuit, Red Sea attacks push up shipping costs, Hotel California suit gets checked out

18: Over the next 18 months, Canada will expand and make permanent a pilot program that gives small towns a say in where immigrants can settle. The program has already resettled close to 5,000 foreigners in rural villages and small towns struggling with labor shortages.

21 million: The Canadian government is facing a lawsuit alleging that $21 million worth of Ottawa’s arms exports to Israel are illegal. The plaintiffs – the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights and a Ramallah-based non-profit called Al-Haq Law – allege that arms exports to Israel since Oct. 7 violate Canadian laws that prohibit the sale of weapons that could be used in human rights violations. Ottawa says all exports since Israel launched its assault on Gaza have been “non-lethal” equipment.

1,000: The cost of shipping goods from India or the Middle East to North America is about to go up. Global shipping giant Maersk has raised prices along those routes by $1,000 per container, a hike of around 20%. Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea have forced companies like Maersk to take much longer routes around the Cape of Good Hope, which adds at least 15 days to the journey.

3: Well, three lucky guys in New York won’t be “prisoners here of their own device,” or any other device, as it happens. Authorities have dropped charges against a trio of men accused of trying to sell a stolen notepad with handwritten lyrics to the famous Eagles tune “Hotel California.” The pad was swiped from the Eagles’ archives by a biographer in the 1970s and sold to one of three accused men for $50,000 in 2005. Prosecutors said a newly released cache of emails cast doubt on the fairness of the case and asked a judge to drop it.

Paige Fusco

Graphic Truth: Are migrants crossing the US-Canada border?

Immigration has been a polarizing political topic in the US since, well, forever. This is particularly true during election years. A recent Gallup poll found that Americans are most likely to cite immigration as the most important problem facing the US, which hasn’t been the case since 2019.

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks urging Congress to pass the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., on Feb. 6, 2024.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Biden mulls executive order to curb asylum-seekers

After House Republicans killed a bipartisan funding bill for border security and Ukraine aid, President Joe Biden is considering using an executive order to limit asylum claims. The order would suspend the American guarantee that anyone has the right to ask for safe haven.
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Why Republicans hold Biden accountable for border problems
Why Republicans hold Biden accountable for border problems | GZERO World

Why Republicans hold Biden accountable for border problems

President Truman famously had a sign on his Oval Office desk that read: "The buck stops here." Indiana Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz believes that truth holds when it comes to President Biden and US immigration dysfunction as well.

"I will lay responsibility on President Biden because he is in charge," Spartz tells Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World. "He's a top executive president. Trump is campaigning to be president, so I'll judge him if he is a president, I think he will likely might be."

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