The Biden administration is considering a plan to start detaining asylum-seeking families who are apprehended in the U.S.-Mexico border — after U.S. officials had largely ended the practice over the past two years. The move comes as the U.S. continues to intensify its crackdown on asylum seekers as it prepares to phase out the contested Trump-era Title 42 pandemic policy in May. The rule has been used to expel over 2 million migrants without due process at the southern border. Silky Shah of the Detention Watch Network said on Twitter, “Biden confirming his Obama 2.0 status with this news. … I really hope it’s a trial balloon that doesn’t go anywhere, but if not they are definitely going to get a fight.”
Last month, the Biden administration proposed another policy that would force tens of thousands of asylum seekers to first seek protection in Mexico or another country they passed through on their trek to the U.S. Harsher immigration policies are forcing asylum seekers to rely on more dangerous methods and routes to reach the United States.
In Mexico, over 340 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador were found in an abandoned truck in the state of Veracruz on Sunday. More than 100 unaccompanied migrant children were among the group.
In Tunisia, authorities have arrested hundreds of sub-Saharan African refugees following President Kais Saied’s racist remarks last month calling for an end to sub-Saharan migration as he claimed Black migrants were part of a so-called plot to alter Tunisia’s demographics. The comments have triggered a wave of violence and hate crimes against African refugees, forcing many of them to seek safety at the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration building in the capital Tunis after being attacked. Saied has faced widespread backlash over his remarks. The African Union postponed a conference scheduled to take place in Tunisia this month.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration said it was concerned by the comments, as well as the arbitrary arrest of refugees in Tunisia. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price addressed the issue Monday.
Ned Price: “These remarks are not in keeping with Tunisia’s long history of generosity and hosting and protecting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and we’re disturbed by reports of violence against these very migrants. We urge Tunisian authorities to meet their obligations under international law to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.”
South Korea has agreed to set up a fund to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonization of Korea in the first half of the 20th century. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry plans to raise the funds through voluntary contributions by businesses. South Korean survivors condemned the agreement as a betrayal by their own government. They’ve been pushing for the funds to come directly from Japanese companies responsible for enslaving Koreans — including Nippon Steel Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Supporters of the victims rallied against the agreement at a protest in Seoul on Tuesday.
Kim Young-hwan: “We condemn the South Korean government for exempting Japan from its responsibility. It should have stood up to the Japanese government and engaged in diplomatic negotiations.”
Lee In-sun: “Japan should apologize and compensate. But it doesn’t make sense that the government proposed compensation in this shameful way without Japan’s apology.”
In Washington, D.C., President Biden celebrated the deal Monday as a “groundbreaking new chapter of cooperation and partnership” between Japan and South Korea.
North Korea’s government has warned the United States against shooting down any of its missile tests. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said any such interception would be viewed as a “declaration of war.” Her warning came a day after the U.S. flew a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber over the Korean Peninsula in a joint drill with South Korean warplanes.
Meanwhile, Japan’s space agency failed in its debut attempt to launch its new H3 rocket to orbit on Tuesday after the vehicle’s second-stage engine failed to ignite. The malfunction destroyed a land observation satellite that was designed to help detect North Korean ballistic missile launches.
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning to meet Taiwan’s president in the coming weeks when she visits California. The Financial Times reports Tsai Ing-wen convinced McCarthy to meet her on U.S. soil rather than in Taipei to avoid an aggressive Chinese military response. In Beijing, China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang condemned the U.S. stance over Taiwan Tuesday in his first news conference since taking office.
Qin Gang: “The Chinese people have every right to ask: Why does the U.S. talk at length about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity on Ukraine while disrespecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Taiwan question? Why does the U.S. ask China not to provide weapons to Russia while it keeps selling arms to Taiwan?”
Those remarks came as Chinese President Xi Jinping directly accused the United States of suppressing China’s development Monday in what The Wall Street Journal described as an “unusually blunt rebuke of U.S. policy.” Xi said, “Western countries — led by the U.S. — have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development.”
Ukraine’s military leaders have called off plans to retreat from the eastern city of Bakhmut and are requesting reinforcements amid some of the heaviest fighting since Russia invaded over one year ago. Military analysts say that while both sides are suffering heavy casualties, Russian conscripts and Wagner Group mercenaries are dying at a faster rate. This week the U.S. think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, estimated Russian deaths in Ukraine have surpassed all its war fatalities since World War II combined, with as many as 250,000 dead and wounded in the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A court in Belarus has convicted opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on charges of treason, sentencing her in absentia to 15 years in prison. In 2020, Tsikhanouskaya ran for president against Belarus’s longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko after her husband Sergei was jailed while running for president. She fled Belarus to exile in neighboring Lithuania after the election.
In Haiti, the humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders is considering suspending its operations after a series of shootouts at its clinics in Port-au-Prince and other violent incidents as the island nation is increasingly controlled by gangs. Local residents are also facing deepening food insecurity and hunger, while medicine and other resources are extremely hard to access due to the turmoil. Human rights advocates have documented severe abuses, including sexual violence and hundreds of killings. A new report by the U.N. says weapons are being smuggled from the United States and ending up in the streets of Haiti. Fighting between gangs has also intensified over the control of territory, forcing families to flee their homes.
Unidentified local: “I was sleeping on the street. I came back this morning, and I see that things are still the same.”
Journalist: “Are you going to leave the house permanently?”
Unidentified local: “I have no place to go. I have no place to go.”
The Biden administration is considering a plan to vaccinate millions of chickens against avian influenza. The plan comes amid the worst outbreak of the viral disease in U.S. history, which has killed tens of millions of domesticated chickens, turkeys and ducks, along with countless wild birds. It’s been blamed for thousands of sea lion deaths in Peru and has sickened and killed dozens of other species, raising fears it could lead to community spread among humans.
In Georgia, prosecutors have charged 23 forest defenders with “domestic terrorism” after their arrests late Sunday at a festival near the site of Cop City, a massive police training facility being built in the Weelaunee Forest. The arrests followed clashes between police and protesters on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, Atlanta interfaith clergy members joined activists calling on Mayor Andre Dickens and other city officials to cancel the $90 million Cop City project.
Rev. Leo Seyij Allen: “To ignore the cries of residents, the city of Atlanta moves to destroy the nation’s largest urban forest and replace it with the largest militarized police training facility in North America. … And may I add that in the face of the violent raid that took place last night as city residents gathered in solidarity to defend this forest, that is an example of the militarization that we are calling out.”
In Ohio, Norfolk Southern has agreed to a limited plan to relocate residents of East Palestine affected by the February 3 rail disaster, which caused a massive release of vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals. Local activists with the group River Valley Organizing called the move an important first victory, but said in a statement, “Bottom line: this is not enough. A one mile radius for relocation doesn’t reflect the facts on the ground that this chemical disaster has had a far reaching impact. We need to stop letting Norfolk Southern put their profits ahead of the people of our community.”
In Minneapolis, environmental justice advocates are appealing to Minnesota’s state Legislature and Supreme Court for relief, after city counselors voted 7 to 6 to demolish a warehouse on a former Superfund site in south Minneapolis. Residents of the East Phillips neighborhood and surrounding communities fear the demolition of the Roof Depot site would stir up toxic chemicals from an area known as “the arsenic triangle,” and have proposed turning the building into an indoor urban farm and community business hub. Last month, over 100 Minneapolis police swarmed the site and arrested eight activists who had occupied the space to prevent its demolition. This is Cassie Holmes, a resident of the nearby Little Earth housing complex, which is home to many Native Americans.
Cassie Holmes: “The way I found out about this site was that I had lost my oldest son, who was 16, to a heart condition he wasn’t born with. My best friend lost a child at an early age of 20, after her second child, to a heart disease she wasn’t born with. We lost friends to asthma attacks. And we start learning about how toxic the air is in our community. And then, so we wanted to create a green space with green living, green jobs, green training, and it was going to be at this site right here. But the city threatened eminent domain. They got the site. And what they want to do is break down, demolish this building, which is encapsulated arsenic. And everything that they want to bring in is just going to create a lot more toxic pollution for our already overtoxic community.”