The U.S. and Mexico reached a deal Friday to avert a 5% tariff on all imported Mexican goods that was due to take effect today and increase to 25% by October. The Trump administration said the deal was based around Mexico’s commitment to deploy National Guard forces throughout the country, in particular to its southern border, in order to stem the flow of northbound migrants headed toward the U.S. Under the deal, Mexico also agreed to expand what is known as Remain in Mexico policy, which allows the U.S. to send back Central American asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico while their cases make their way through immigration courts.
However, on Saturday, The New York Times reported that the plan to send troops to the border had already been agreed to in March. Trump lashed out at The New York Times report Sunday, tweeting, “We have been trying to get some of these Border Actions for a long time, as have other administrations, but were not able to get them, or get them in full, until our signed agreement with Mexico.” He added, in another tweet, “They are truly The Enemy of the People!” referring to both The New York Times and CNN.
Trump also said Mexico agreed to start buying large quantities of agricultural goods from the U.S., though it’s unclear if this is related to the immigration deal.
At a rally in Tijuana Saturday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador celebrated the passing of the deal and said Mexico would carry out the immigration plan while respecting the rights of migrants, but many immigrant rights advocates and migrants said the plan would further harm asylum seekers. This is migrant activist Luis Garcia.
Luis Garcia: “This migrant policy has been pushed through because of statements and the dispute between Republicans and Democrats, and a paranoid man, a mentally ill man, in power in the United States, the tyrant Donald Trump, pressuring Mexico so he can get votes. There’s no other reason. The exacerbation of this crisis that he says will infect the United States, it’s just in Donald Trump’s head.”
In more immigration news, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressmember Pramila Jayapal are demanding the company operating the country’s largest shelter for migrant children explain its decision to add former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to its board of directors. The Democratic lawmakers also want Caliburn International to disclose information on the operation of their prisons for unaccompanied migrant children. Jayapal and Warren wrote in a letter to Caliburn, “General Kelly was at the center of the inhumane and poorly planned immigration policies that put children in cages while separating thousands of families and that benefited your company. … It is outrageous that he now appears to be cashing in on those same policies.”
In related news, a Homeland Security inspector general report released Thursday revealed that ICE failed to meet government standards for housing migrant prisoners at multiple facilities last year. They found multiple violations including “nooses in detainee cells,” expired food and “inadequate medical care.”
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Senator Todd Young are introducing a bill today to force a vote on U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia, as a bipartisan effort to block President Trump’s emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is mounting. On Friday, The New York Times reported that the contested arms deal—secured after Trump used an emergency declaration last month to push it through without congressional approval—will allow for high-tech U.S. bomb parts to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia. Under the deal, Raytheon would work directly with Saudi Arabia on precision-guided bomb technology, which has been used against civilians in the U.S.-backed war in Yemen. The provision is part of an $8.1 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including staunch Trump ally Lindsey Graham, have blasted the arms deal, and senators have announced 22 resolutions against it—one for each sale. Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement, “The process we are setting in motion will allow Congress to weigh in on the totality of our security relationship with Saudi Arabia, not just one arms sale, and restore Congress’s role in foreign policy-making.”
In April, Trump vetoed a historic congressional War Powers Resolution ordering the U.S. to halt most military support for the war in Yemen. Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. In April, a new report by the U.N. found that the combined death toll from fighting, hunger and disease has reached nearly a quarter-million since the start of the conflict.
In related news, Raytheon and aircraft manufacturer United Technologies announced Sunday they are merging, creating a defense and aeronautics giant that would rank as the second largest behind Boeing.
In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of protesters blanketed the streets Sunday, calling out a proposed bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to face charges in mainland China. Protest organizers estimated more than 1 million people took to the streets, while the police reported around 240,000. Demonstrators say the bill would infringe on Hong Kong’s independence and their legal and human rights.
Dorothy Lau: “The motherland once promised that we would have 'one country, two systems.' But now, under the regime of Xi Jinping, Carrie Lam and John Lee, who are betting on the future of Hong Kong people, the freedom that Hong Kong people used to have will no longer exist if this law is passed.”
Protesters clashed with police in the early hours of Monday morning, as riot police used batons, pepper spray and water cannons against protesters in front of government buildings. Social media posts and reports about the protest were blocked by internet censors in mainland China. Pro-democracy and pro-Beijing lawmakers broke out in skirmishes last month over the contested bill. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she does not plan to withdraw the bill in the wake of the massive protests, and lawmakers are scheduled to debate on the legislation later this week.
In Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, police reported two people were shot dead as thousands took to the streets across the country Sunday in an ongoing push for President Jovenel Moïse to resign over accusations of government corruption and mismanagement of the country’s oil fund.
Protester: “A group that we voted in has misspent $4.2 billion from a fund that should have been used to improve our lives. It was used to buy homes in foreign countries. As youth, as citizens who live here in the country, we take on this responsibility and act accordingly, to demand justice, to stop all those who have stolen from this fund. They have to return the money so that children can go to school, for hospitals, for families to work and better their lives and for criminals to all go to jail.”
The Washington Post is reporting that the White House barred a senior State Department intelligence analyst from issuing a testimony describing climate change as “possibly catastrophic” to the House Intelligence Committee. The White House objected to references to the science around man-made climate change. Rod Schoonover was permitted to appear before the House panel, but his written testimony was blocked from being entered into official record. His testimony read, “Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant—possibly catastrophic—harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.”
One of those who objected was National Security Council official William Happer, an architect of the Trump administration’s climate policy and a known climate science denier who once compared the fight against climate change to the Holocaust. He reportedly said that the report includes “climate alarm propaganda” and that the phrase “tipping points” is “a propaganda slogan for the scientifically illiterate.”
In New York, 27-year-old transgender, Afro-Latinx prisoner Layleen Polanco was found dead inside a cell at Rikers Island Friday. The cause of death is unknown. Transgender rights advocates and Polanco’s family are calling for a full investigation. A gathering in Layleen Polanco’s memory is being held tonight in New York City. Her death has also prompted renewed calls to shut down Rikers jail. Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects the prison to shutter by 2026.
Meanwhile, reports emerged Friday of the murder of 23-year-old Chanel Scurlock, a black transgender woman in North Carolina. She was fatally shot last Wednesday, and her body was discovered by police in a field. Friends told local media Scurlock was on her way to meet someone over a disputed Facebook post and that they feared the encounter could be dangerous. Scurlock is the ninth known case of deadly violence against black transgender women in 2019.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, police charged 18-year-old Devon Robinson with the murder of two gay men and a transgender woman. The triple murder is believed to be a hate crime and took place last month, claiming the lives of Alunte Davis, Timothy Blancher and Paris Cameron, a 20-year-old black transgender woman.
As events and celebrations marking Pride Month take place around the country, U.S. embassies are defying a Trump administration policy barring the hoisting of LGBTQ rainbow flags outside of official buildings. Large rainbow flags have been draped across U.S. missions in Seoul, Korea, and Chennai, India, while the New Delhi Embassy is lit with rainbow-colored lights. Requests to hoist the rainbow flag have been routinely approved over recent years, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo changed the rules last year, requiring embassies to obtain top-level approval—which the State Department has been rejecting. A diplomat referred to the move as “a category one insurrection.”
The fallout continues for former New York City prosecutor Linda Fairstein, as publisher Dutton, a Penguin Random House imprint, announced Friday it was dropping the successful crime novelist. Fairstein has come under fire since the release of a Netflix series about the infamous Central Park jogger case, which saw five Harlem teenagers of color wrongfully accused and convicted for a rape in 1989. At the time, Fairstein was head of the Sex Crimes Unit for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. A #CancelLindaFairstein campaign has also grown on social media. Click here to see our hour-long interview with director Ava Duvernay on the series, “When They See Us.”
In Minneapolis, a judge sentenced Mohamed Noor, the former police officer who shot and killed a white woman while responding to her 911 call, to 12.5 years in prison. In April, Noor was found guilty of third-degree murder and manslaughter for fatally shooting Australian Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017, after she reported a possible sexual assault happening in the alley behind her home. When the police came, she came downstairs and Noor shot her.
And at last night’s Tony Awards in New York City, actress Ali Stroker made history as the first wheelchair user to win the prestigious award. She won Best Actress for her performance in the critically acclaimed revival of the musical “Oklahoma.”
Ali Stroker: “This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena. You are.”