Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up her visit to Latin America Tuesday after meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and praising the “new era” of bilateral relations between the two countries. The U.S. and Mexico vowed to continue their joint efforts in blocking asylum seekers from reaching the border, for which Mexico has long received U.S. funding. Asylum seekers crossing through Mexico often face deadly violence and racism from Mexican authorities and organized crime.
Harris has also come under fire for not yet visiting the U.S.-Mexico border. She was questioned Tuesday by NBC News anchor Lester Holt.
Vice President Kamala Harris: “So, this whole — this whole — this whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
Lester Holt: “You haven’t been to the border.”
Vice President Kamala Harris: “And I haven’t been to Europe. And, I mean, I don’t — I don’t understand the point that you’re making.”
Over 2,000 children ripped from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border might still be separated from their parents, according to a Department of Homeland Security report. The report found nearly 4,000 children were subjected to the Trump administration’s family separation policy. A Biden administration task force set up to reunite families has so far reunified just seven children.
In related news, CNN is reporting U.S. border agents have been deployed to Cancún, Mexico, to surveil and detain travelers in the southern coastal city whom they suspect of being asylum seekers headed to the U.S.
In other immigration news, Canadian media and data giant Thomson Reuters is facing mounting pressure to end its contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Reuters just signed a new multimillion-dollar contract with ICE for a car license plate reader to help the agency track the movement of vehicles across the country. Until recently, Reuters also provided ICE with a software called CLEAR, which helped surveil and consolidate the public records of immigrants who could then be targeted for deportation. Reuters is holding an annual shareholder meeting today, and activists are calling on investors to demand the board cut ties with ICE. The immigrant justice group Mijente, which has been leading the campaign, said, “This tech continues facilitating deportations & raids, leading to terrorized & distraught immigrant communities across the US. It must end.”
In Washington, D.C., President Biden cut off talks with Senate Republicans on what he hoped would be a bipartisan compromise on his infrastructure plan, after weeks of failed negotiations. Republicans have rejected proposals to raise taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy to help fund the plan. The White House says Biden is moving on to talks with another group of bipartisan senators in the hopes of salvaging his bill. Meanwhile, the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of dozens of bipartisan House members, is proposing a $1.2 trillion spending package. Biden is embarking on a week-long trip to Europe, which will include the G7 summit.
Prominent civil rights groups and leaders met with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin Tuesday in the hopes of convincing the conservative Democrat to support the For the People Act, a sweeping bill to protect voting rights at the federal level. Manchin said the talks did not change his opposition, despite having co-sponsored the bill just two years ago in 2019, even though it also received no Republican support at the time. Manchin is now claiming the lack of bipartisan support is his reason for opposing the bill. He has instead suggested he would vote for a limited bipartisan-supported John Lewis Voting Rights Act. But on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out against the John Lewis Act, calling it “unnecessary.” Reverend Dr. William Barber announced the Poor People’s Campaign would hold a “Moral March on Manchin” in West Virginia next Monday.
CNBC reports Americans for Prosperity, a lobbying group backed by billionaire Charles Koch, has been pressuring Manchin to oppose key Democratic legislative efforts, including filibuster reform and voting rights legislation. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to remedy the gender wage gap, leading to yet more calls to abolish the filibuster.
A report released Tuesday by two Senate committees listed a range of security failures leading up to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Capitol Police received intelligence warnings that armed Trump extremists would try to “storm” the building at least two weeks before the January 6 riot, but failed to take any action or properly disseminate the information. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan stated, “The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight.”
In related news, Trump’s defense lawyers during his second impeachment trial are defending at least three people who’ve been charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection.
A sweeping international sting operation has led to over 800 arrests and the seizure of drugs and tens of millions of dollars. The arrests came after the FBI and Australian law enforcement developed their own encrypted device company, ANOM, that was then used by organized crime networks in over 100 countries. This is Acting U.S. Attorney for Southern California Randy Grossman.
Randy Grossman: “The criminal users didn’t know that for more than 18 months the FBI captured more than 27 messages — 27 million messages between users around the world who had their criminal discussions reviewed, recorded and translated by the FBI.”
A United Nations official is warning of possible mass deaths, illness and starvation in Burma after an estimated 100,000 people had to flee military attacks in eastern Kayah State. The U.N. is calling for immediate action to prevent further tragedy as the Burmese military continues its indiscriminate attacks on ethnic groups and protesters who have been taking to the streets since the February 1 coup.
In El Salvador, a woman serving a 30-year prison sentence, accused of having an abortion, has been released after nearly a decade behind bars. Sara Rogel was arrested in 2012 after she went to the hospital with bleeding injuries she said she sustained after a fall. Rogel, then a 22-year-old student, was prosecuted and sentenced for terminating her pregnancy. Rogel spoke after her release Tuesday.
Sara Rogel: “I know I am no danger for society. And likewise, I know, as well, that my fellow women who remain in prison aren’t dangers to society, either. And so I demand justice for them, as well, so they can have the liberty that I have today.”
El Salvador has long criminalized abortions, with a total ban since 1998. Dozens have also been convicted and imprisoned after having miscarriages and stillbirths.
Democratic lawmakers are reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prevent states from imposing restrictions on abortion. The move comes amid mounting Republican attacks on reproductive rights and in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that could threaten Roe v. Wade. This is Massachusetts Congressmember Ayanna Pressley speaking in support of the bill Tuesday.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “In this moment where anti-choice legislatures have made it clear that they will stop at nothing to ban abortion care, it is simply no longer enough to say that you are pro-choice. We have to proactively legislate racial and reproductive justice and meaningfully advance policies that affirm that abortion care is healthcare and that healthcare is a fundamental human right.”