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Politics

Hispanic Voters In Florida Who Fled Dictatorships Think The Election Was Stolen From Trump


If you fled to America from a country with history that included communist revolutions, don’t you think you’d have a heightened sense of the things that led to such events?

In Florida, there are many Hispanic voters who came to America from places like Cuba and Venezuela, and they think the 2020 election is being stolen.

Why do you suppose they feel that way?

Townhall reports:

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Hispanic Voters in Florida Feel Election Was Stolen from Trump

In Florida, many Hispanic voters are worried this election was stolen from Donald Trump. They’ve seen this before, hence why they fled places like Cuba and Venezuela. They’re also not too keen on the media censorship and bias during this race, either. Some interviewed by USA Today also said that they never feared communism becoming entrenched on America’s shores until this election year.

Margarita De Castro, who fled Cuba two years after Fidel Castro took over, has voted Republican ever since she arrived in the United States, citing her persecution by Cuban communists as one of the main reasons.

They point to this article from USA Today:

Latino voters who fled dictatorships fear election was stolen from President Trump

For many Americans, the idea of a presidential election devolving into a months-long battle for control of the nation may be unprecedented, but for many Latino supporters of President Donald Trump – many of whom escaped authoritarian regimes themselves – it raises old ghosts. There is no evidence of election fraud, but many fear covert socialists are in cahoots with the media in an attempt to rob a sitting U.S. president of power.

“People used to say Communism can’t happen in Cuba, and look how that turned out,” De Castro said on a recent afternoon as she played with her great-granddaughter in her home in West Miami, a working-class Cuban American enclave in South Florida where the majority of votes were cast for Trump.

“When you have national Democratic leaders praising Fidel Castro’s indoctrination programs and hailing neo-Marxists as ‘the future of the party,’ it communicated to our community that the Democratic Party does not respect our values,” said Giancarlo Sopo, a Cuban American communication strategist on the Trump campaign. “We simply voted accordingly, as did many other Latinos – like Colombians and Peruvians – who want nothing to do with socialism and the progressive agenda.”

Do you think these people are just crazy conspiracy theorists?

They lived this. It’s documented history. They’re not just making it up.

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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Health

Colorado voters bring back wolves


Coloradoans Protecting Wildlife, a group that opposed the wolf measure, argued the close outcome showed the public remains divided on wolves — and the issue should never have been determined at the ballot box.

“[T]he forced introduction of wolves into Colorado is bad policy and should not have been decided by the voters,” the group said in a statement. “The election results demonstrate that nearly half of Coloradoans agree with us. We hope these election results show proponents, lawmakers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife that next steps must be taken in a measured, responsible way.”

The ballot measure instructs the state wildlife agency to come up with a plan to reintroduce wolves by 2023, after officials spent years blocking similar efforts. Backers of the measure say that wolves play an important role in the ecosystem, and state wildlife officials were too beholden to livestock and hunting interests to bring them back without a public mandate.

The vote was far from the landslide that some advocates projected, cutting into the narrative of widespread statewide support for the predators. Results showed a strong urban-rural divide — as predicted by wolf opponents — with counties that voted for President Trump mostly registering strong objection to wolf reintroduction.

Edward said the pandemic prevented wolf backers from running a traditional campaign and connecting with rural voters at county fairs and other venues. He also said the opponents outspent supporters 2 to 1 over the last six weeks of the campaign.

“There will always be work to do to help people coexist with wolves,” he said. “The fact is that we wouldn’t be having this conversation today if it weren’t for a significant portion of the people in Western Colorado voting in favor of wolves.”

Wolf reintroduction will face many more complications in the days ahead, as Endangered Species Act protections will probably be the subject of ongoing court battles and state lawmakers and officials work through various agreements needed to complete the plan.

Even before the vote, wildlife advocates said it was unlikely to start a trend. They said efforts would be better focused on reforming state wildlife agencies to focus on creating healthy ecosystems instead of serving consumptive industries. Many such agencies are led by commissions with heavy representation from livestock and hunting interests.

Stateline is an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.



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Politics

Swing State Voters Look to the Future


“Across the country anxiety is growing …” “One the most contentious elections in history …” “… and pandemic that has transformed the way the nation votes…” “Here’s Pennsylvania, a must win for Trump, his lead. has been …” “Votes are being counted in the states that will decide this election …” “Let’s take a look at Arizona now …” “Is trying to undermine this election …” “We are at a tipping point … Vice President Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania …” “… shows no signs of conceding …” [overlapping sound] “I would say the mood and energy of this election would be very chaotic.” “Unfortunately, no one’s listening and everyone is talking.” “I think the biggest part is just the relief. All the political ads are over. Everybody I know is just done with that.” “Around here, it’s suburbia, so you have that split vote, people feeling disenfranchised one way or the other.” “There’s a lot of inequality in this country, huge, you know. We judge each other by how we look. We hide behind our social media.” “Something that we’ve moved away from is having open discussion of ideas. And I think that Pinellas is such a swing area, it’s because we do have those type of discussions, hash some things out, you know.” “And they were teaching people to hate our country …” “Will you shut up?” “… 47 years you’ve done nothing, they understand …” “You’re the worst president America has ever had.” “I’m a patriot. So no matter who is in office, I’ll respect that. But as it’s going right now, oh my God, it’s like a bunch of chickens fighting each other.” “The last four years have left me wanting more.” “It was a lot of anxiety leading up to this point.” “I want people to have more trust in government, have more trust in the political leaders and the people we elect.” “Politics are pretty divided and things seem really dark. But, you know, as a person of color, things have always kind of been dark.” “I don’t think we focus enough on environment. We certainly don’t focus enough on, you know, the downtrodden. We just don’t do enough to help people.” “Donald Trump has a death grip over the grass roots of the Republican Party …” ”… Democrat Party wants to turn us into a socialist nation …” “Donald Trump is running a hustle the most gullible voters in history.” “The silent majority.” “… against the truth …” “There’s a feeling as if middle America is just told to shut up and sit there and vote left.” “I did vote for Trump and I would again. There’s nothing that he doesn’t represent in who I am.” “We were not necessarily going to vote for Joe Biden until, you know, maybe May or June. And by then Covid was really pretty awful.” “I voted for Donald Trump despite the issues that I have with him. Just mainly for economic policy and for stances on international affairs.” “I mean, it’s difficult because neither party is really representative of a hyper-progressive stance that I would enjoy.” “I do not want to live in a socialist country. Not at all. That was my main focus. Secondly, right now, I think the economy is great. It’s making a huge comeback. And I think Trump was the man to do it and to keep it going.” “This country … it’s frightening how many states voted for Trump. I thought we would, he would, Biden would win in a landslide. And it’s shocking. I’m shocked.” “This has been a tough election for me, honestly. I’ve always voted Republican. I did not vote Republican this time. I voted Democrat because I do not like Donald Trump.” “There are downsides to both. And because of that, I personally, I didn’t do enough research to vote. Family-wise, I do have family that supports Trump. But I just … I couldn’t.” “Well, the one that stood out that he was for the little guy. Biden, because he’s down to earth.” “One side of a deeply divided country is celebrating this week.” “Biden-Harris campaign has the most radical platform …” “And Donald Trump has shown us time and time again, how he feels about our community.” “… completely sick of identity politics, it’s garbage …” “… a racist …” “When I was a younger woman, you know, we talked about the elections all the time. But we don’t anymore.” “I think Democrats are a little more open-minded, you know, fair to see the other side, thinking critically, and it just seems like the voters on the other side, just like, ‘This is how it is.’” “I would love to talk to my friends on the other side, but it gets too…heated.” “And that’s, that’s really bad. It stops the conversation that we need to be having, but we don’t do it. We don’t.” “A reshaped Republican Party, now grappling with what its future holds.” “… the president is now enveloping himself is this fantasy that the election is still ongoing.” “He is ignoring a pandemic, which actually is ongoing.” “… has been talking about unity, what they’re pushing for …” “… divided country … pay off all of this pain.” “Heck yeah, a united country matters. I mean, this is America. I hope my liberal friends are right. I still love them all the same.” “I do not think we will be unified at all.” “Honestly, it will probably get a little bit worse before it gets any better.” “I don’t feel any kind of way against anyone who chooses Trump. They have their reasons for doing what they do, like I have my reasons for voting for who I voted for.” “And I will respect the president, no matter who it is. And that’s unlike Trump. He got no respect from anybody that was against him. And I think that’s wrong.” “I don’t think we’ll ever get there. We’ve always been divided.” “America is America. But I look at the good side and there’s a lot of good people here. A lot.” “Yes, it matters that we are a united country. If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”



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Breaking New

Arizona Voters Approve Tax On Wealthy To Fund Public Schools


Arizonans voted to boost taxes on high earners in order to steer more money to public schools, marking a major win for the Red for Ed movement that began with a wave of teacher strikes in several states two years ago.

Proposition 208, dubbed Invest in Ed, will go into effect next year to fund salaries and training programs for teachers and support staff at public schools and public charters.

The Associated Press called the race late Thursday, with “yes” votes leading “no” 52% to 48%.

The additional 3.5% tax on income will apply to earnings above $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers. It would be added to Arizona’s current top tax rate of 4.54%.

Backers of the measure estimate it will put an additional $940 million annually into the state’s public K-12 school system.

Arizona teachers were part of the historic series of strikes that hit public schools around the country, starting in early 2018. The educators were protesting years of disinvestment in public schools that led to staff shortages and underfunded classrooms. Even though the strikes temporarily shut down schools, the public by and large supported teachers’ efforts to boost funding for the education system.

The results of Tuesday’s vote show Arizonans still like the idea of pumping more money into schools even if it means higher taxes for some residents. Polling ahead of the vote showed broad public support for the proposal crossing party lines, with two-thirds of respondents saying they approved of the tax. But the result ended up much closer.



Public school teacher Taylor Dutro participates in a protest in May 2018. A ballot measure passed in this week’s election by Arizona voters was an outgrowth of the teacher strikes there and in other states that began two years ago.

Teachers and their unions pushed for a tax increase on high earners in 2018, but the Arizona Supreme Court ordered that the initiative be removed from that year’s ballot due to the language used in the petition. This year’s ballot initiative did not run into the same problem.

Teacher unions helped fund the Arizona initiative, saying school districts pay staff too little to attract and retain talent. The average teacher salary in Arizona was $50,353 during the 2018-19 school year, giving it a rank of 43 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country.

Under Prop. 208, half the money raised would go toward salaries for classroom staff, a quarter toward salaries for school support staff, and the rest toward retention and training programs. According to The Arizona Daily Star, only around 90,000 Arizona residents earn enough money to be hit by the tax surcharge.

The ballot measure drew opposition from state Republican leaders including Gov. Doug Ducey, who said it would hurt small business owners whose earnings top the $250,000 mark.

Business lobbies lined up in opposition to the proposal as well, with the state Chamber of Commerce pouring more than $8 million to fight it in the final stretch. But initiative supporters still outspent the opposition by a healthy margin, according to Ballotpedia.





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Dining News

California Voters Approve Tech-Bankrolled Campaign to Deny Benefits to Food Delivery Drivers


Proposition 22, the California ballot measure backed by food delivery companies like Postmates, Instacart, and Doordash, was approved by voters during the November 3 election. Its win means that food delivery and ride-hailing companies, unlike most other business sectors in the state, will not have to provide its drivers with standard employee protections like minimum wage for hours worked, health care benefits, or unemployment insurance.

According to the election results available on November 4, 58 percent of California’s over 11 million voters supported Prop 22, a margin well in excess of the 50-plus-one percent it needed to prevail. Its success will allow companies that use drivers as its workforce — as Uber does both with Uber Eats and its Uber ride hail offering, for example — will not have to adhere to Assembly Bill 5, a law that went into effect on January 1, 2020 that says that regular workers whose duties are part of the usual course of a company’s business must be classified as employees, not independent contractors.

As delivery and ride-hailing apps’ businesses are indeed built on the labor of those workers, AB5 would have required a massive overhaul of how the companies do business in California, requiring them to operate as other companies are legally required to do by providing sick pay, paying for overtime work, and making payments into the state’s unemployment system and disability insurance fund.

Instead, these companies filed a ballot measure intended to ensure that AB5 does not apply to them. In the end, the combined companies spent over $224 million to ensure that they needn’t comply with the law, making it the most expensive ballot measure in California history. By comparison, the workers groups that opposed Prop 22 raised about $20 million.

“The obscene amount of money these multibillion-dollar corporations spent misleading the public doesn’t absolve them of their duty to pay drivers a living wage,” Art Pulaski, spokesperson for the California Labor Federation, a Prop 22 opponent, said via statement. “The end of this campaign is only the beginning in the fight to ensure gig workers are provided fair wages, sick pay and care when they’re hurt at work.”

Via a statement, Geoff Vetter, a spokesman for Yes on 22, celebrated the campaign’s victory. “California has spoken, and millions of voters joined their voices with the hundreds of thousands of drivers who want independence plus benefits,” Vetter said. “With the passage of Prop. 22, app-based rideshare and delivery drivers across the state will be able to maintain their independence, plus have access to historic new benefits, like a minimum earnings guarantee and health care.”

However, while Proposition 22 will indeed require companies to pay drivers an hourly wage equal to 120 percent of either a local or a statewide minimum wage, it applies only to the time a driver spends while actively picking up and ferrying food or passengers. It will not cover time in between trips, which means that it’s likely that most drivers will make far less than state or local minimum wages, nor will they receive a guaranteed rate of pay.

Prop 22’s triumph also suggests that other business sectors across the state will also turn to voters to resolve labor issues, political science professor David McCuan of Sonoma State University told KPIX.

“What Prop. 22 does is it raises the tide of all ballot measures,” McCuan says. “It sets records that are just going to be blown past the next time. … It makes the parallel route of direct democracy a playground that will be measured in the billions in a few (election) cycles.”



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Health

As the coronavirus continues to spread, covid-19 trails the economy as top issue for voters, exit polling shows



But about one-third said they were primarily motivated by the economy, including 6 in 10 of the voters who supported President Trump.

A slight majority of voters said it is more important to contain the coronavirus now, even if the necessary measures hurt the economy. About 4 in 10 said the economy is more important, even if restoring the nation’s economic health hamstrings efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

Amid the resurgence of the coronavirus in much of the United States, preliminary exit polling showed that voters are closely divided on whether U.S. efforts to contain the virus are going “well” or “badly.” But roughly twice as many voters say efforts to control the pandemic have gone “very badly” than say they have gone “very well.”

Millions of voters who cast ballots in person Tuesday were braving the worst stretch of the pandemic to do so. Nearly 88,000 new infections were reported Tuesday, bringing the U.S. total to more than 9.3 million cases. The virus continued its surge through the Midwest and Plains states. Seven states set records for hospitalizations of patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, including Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Control of the White House and the Senate was up for grabs Tuesday, circumstances not lost on voters whose families and finances have been battered by the coronavirus.

“It’s very personal to me, because it’s right in my immediate family,” said Betty Sullivan, 59, as she stood in line to vote in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday morning.

Two of Sullivan’s sons and three of her grandchildren have contracted the coronavirus. Her oldest son, who is 36 and lives in Atlanta, tested positive after going to a bar. Her youngest son, 32, apparently was infected by a co-worker. Her grandchildren, ages 6, 8 and 14, contracted the virus after being in day care and school within the past three weeks, she said.

“I think in the past, we’ve not really thought too much about voting; we’ve kind of been really, really casual about it sometimes, but, just with everything with the virus, with the pandemic, with the political climate, everybody now really realizes how important it is to get out, to come out and vote,” Sullivan said.

Regardless of the election outcome, the recent staggering increase in coronavirus cases has set the country on a difficult course for the next several weeks. A sharp rise in hospitalizations, already underway, follows the jump in infections, and a subsequent surge in deaths is expected in the weeks after that.

“The trajectory that we’re on is one that we should expect to be on for the coming weeks,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We should expect to be hunkered down for the coming weeks.”

Stopping a surge in the pandemic, experts said, isn’t like throwing a switch. It’s more like trying to turn around an oil tanker at sea.

“The virus doesn’t know elections, doesn’t know borders, doesn’t know demographics,” said Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington epidemiologist. “Unfortunately, the virus is taking its course irrespective of what happens today.

“The election is not going to change the virus,” Mokdad added. “Our behavior, our response to the virus, hopefully will change.”

Barring a major change in behavior, meaning much more widespread adoption of masks, social distancing and other mitigation measures, Mokdad believes that “some states, a large number of states, will have to do a hard stop, lockdown” by December or January.

Although mortality rates have improved thanks to better medical techniques and drugs, the key driver of the pandemic is rampant community spread in much the country.

“Even a vaccine won’t flick any switch. There will be the hard work of actually vaccinating people,” William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in an email Tuesday.

Columbia University epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman said part of the problem is that human behavior is not easily changed. There is “huge inertia,” he said, and that will make it difficult for officials to slow outbreaks in many parts of the country.

And if the United States follows Europe and enters a new phase of restrictions, there will probably be growing pressure for another large relief package, something Congress has been unable to agree on since the first one expired.

“There’s growing evidence about the need for providing resources to help people comply with public health recommendations,” Nuzzo said. “I fear we have focused on increasing number and type of tests, but have not eliminated the disincentives that people may experience about getting tested. Lost income, in particular.”

Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he hopes that after the election, “we can come together as a country and collectively fight the virus and not each other. There are no longer red and blue states, counties or cities. They are all covid-colored.”

Sarah Fowler in Jackson, Miss., and Scott Clement and Emily Guskin in Washington contributed to this report.



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Politics

LGBTQ Latino voters ‘show up and show out’ for 2020 election


According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, 21% of LGBTQ people are not registered to vote, 22% of registered LGBTQ voters are Latino, and 13% are Black. Familia TQLM says these numbers indicate there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to reaching trans and queer Latino communities.

Familia TQLM Campaign and Organizing Director Úmi Vera told Prism that the work the organization is doing is “unique.” Familia TQLM uses direct action tactics in advocating for the abolition of ICE. As state violence ramped up under the Trump administration, Vera said the organization decided to launch Vota Jota instead of standing on the sidelines for the 2020 presidential election.

“Our ultimate goal is to empower trans and queer immigrant folks. We want them to know how to register to vote and how to have conversations about the importance of voting with their loved ones who are able to vote,” Vera said. “The way I see it, we are integrating electoral strategy into our radical abolitionist politics.”

The Vota Jota campaign does come with a list of demands: universal basic income; universal health care for all; housing; abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the police; and ending the criminalization of trans-queer workers, including sex workers, drag performers, day laborers, and service and retail industry workers, among others.

“An incredible amount of people are not eligible to vote in the Latinx community because they have been disenfranchised through the criminal justice system, and our people are disenfranchised because of their immigration status, which leaves millions of our parents, family members, and beloved queer and trans siblings unable to vote,” Vera said. “Organizing around this election is just another strategy in our toolbox, and it is allowing us to strengthen our movement by building this campaign with queer and trans organizations and organizations that do civic engagement work.”

This includes the Arizona chapter of Poder Latinx, North Carolina’s Siembra NC, and Florida’s QLatinx, which formed after the Pulse Nightclub massacre that took the lives of 49 people, most of whom were members of the queer Latino community. The strategies for engaging voters have varied significantly in each of these battleground states, but all seek to speak directly to LGBTQ communities.

Poder Latinx has historically focused on civic engagement, but this year the organization partnered with ArizonaDrag.com as part of the Vota Jota campaign. What emerged was the Drag Voter Squad, a group of Arizona-based drag performers working in coalition to produce voter education materials. As part of these efforts, Poder Latinx has also organized webinars, know-your-rights toolkits, streaming debate parties, and phonebanking events the organization called “drag-a-thons.”

The Arizona state director for Poder Latinx Adonias Arevalo is a queer and undocumented drag performer. In fact, Arevalo was the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient to compete in the Miss Gay America drag pageant.

“I’m the state director for a civic engagement organization, but I’m also a drag performer so everything I do is with this queer lens. For me, drag has always been political and drag is another organizing tool that I can successfully use to reach young voters,” Arevalo said. “I can’t vote, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a role to play in this election.”

Of increasing concern to organizers is the voter suppression that LGBTQ people of color may face at the polls this year—especially if their identification doesn’t match their gender identity. In this election, there are 35 states that have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. Arizona has one of the strictest laws in the nation. This is why Poder Latinx has focused heavily on know-your-rights trainings.

“There are layers to being a LGBTQ voter. It’s not always as simple as showing up at your polling place. This is why we want to make sure that LGBTQ people understand how to navigate this very unjust system,” Arevalo said.

This is also a concern for Siembra NC. The organization is best known for its advocacy on behalf of Latino immigrants in North Carolina and for its organizing against anti-immigrant sheriffs, but the group’s new Queer Caucus aims to turn North Carolina into a place of power for queer Latino community members.

Cris Batista is a member of Siembra NC’s Queer Caucus and as part of the Vota Jota campaign, she and other members have focused on voter registration and voter education, especially as it relates to the intimidation Spanish speakers may face at the polls.

North Carolina is a purple state where 28% of the region’s 890,000 Latino residents are eligible to vote. Batista told Prism there is little outreach in these communities and in rural areas like Alamance County, there is an “outright anti-Latine atmosphere.” Voting as a Latino person in a hostile area gets more complicated if a person presents as queer, Batista said.

“We are working hard to make people feel safe if they are speaking Spanish at the polls and are queer presenting,” Batista said. “The other goal is to really support our undocumented queer community and to let them know that we understand voting is a privilege they don’t have, and we are going to use this privilege to vote with them in mind as we fight for a better future.”

QLatinx Executive Director Christopher Cuevas told Prism that in the rare instances that campaigns seek to engage Latino voters, a “blanket identity gets wrapped around the community,” one that erases LGBTQ people, Afro-Latino populations, and other groups.

“We’re not a monolith. We’re very diverse—that includes our cultural practices, ethnicities, the languages we speak, and the issues that matter to us,” Cuevas said. “Latinx voters are the largest voting minority in the U.S. We have a lot of untapped power, and trying to hispander to us isn’t going to work. It’s going to take more than talking about immigration. Health care, housing, basic income, the lack of these things is killing our communities.”

In Florida, QLatinx has focused on engaging Latino communities through literature drops, door-knocking campaigns, phonebanks, and text message campaigns. It’s “painstaking work,” the executive director told Prism, and so are the inroads the organization is trying to build with national organizations that focus on civic engagement.

The goal, Cuevas said, is to get these organizations to go beyond “rainbow narratives” and begin to advocate more widely for criminal justice reform, access to reproductive health care, and to shift their understanding of immigration as a fundamental LGBTQ issue.

The Vota Jota organizers who spoke to Prism all reported feeling uneasy headed into the presidential election, especially in light of the Supreme Court being stacked with President Donald Trump’s appointees and swirling concerns about a potential coup. Even if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the election, Cuevas said the work cannot stop.

“I’m thinking a lot about where all of this momentum will go after the election. Like AOC said, there’s no going back to brunch if Biden is elected. We can maybe get some takeout, but there is no going back to ‘normal,’” Cuevas said. “Biden and Harris are not going to be our saviors. They may stop the bleeding, but this country has a lot to fix and we have to continue mobilizing our communities. We need to show up and show out—not just on Election Day, but every day.”  

Tina Vasquez is a senior reporter for Prism. She covers gender justice, workers’ rights, and immigration. Follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places and issues currently underreported by our national media. Through our original reporting, analysis, and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.





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Trump’s Hard-Line Immigration Policies Go Before Voters


McALLEN, Texas — The leadership of the Department of Homeland Security gathered on Thursday under the shadow of 30-foot, black-painted, steel bollards to promote the near completion of 400 miles of President Trump’s border wall.

The politics of the moment, five days before the election, was lost on no one.

“The only reason we haven’t reached another crisis is because of the policies and procedures this administration put into place over the last several years, including the construction of an effective border wall system,” Chad F. Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, told reporters, photographers and cameramen. “Abolishing these measures or reversing course is absolutely no way forward.”

Immigration has not been a central theme of the race between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but the future of some of the president’s hard-line policies at the border will be determined by the results.

The Department of Homeland Security has been racing to deliver on Mr. Trump’s promise of 450 miles of border wall before the end of the year. The agency is still about a week away from the 400-mile marker, according to Customs and Border Protection officials, and nearly all of the construction has been in areas where dilapidated fencing or vehicle barriers already stood.

But the steel structure on the border, built without congressional approval, is something of a monument to the president’s determination. It has affected the environment, private property owners and, homeland security officials say, the job of border agents.

Department leaders in recent days have traversed the nation, including in battleground states, to emphasize routine arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, criticize Democrats and blast so-called sanctuary city policies. The agency has also erected billboards in Pennsylvania to warn of individuals who were previously arrested or convicted of crimes in the United States and released.

All of that has amplified criticism that the department has become an arm of the Trump campaign.

“There are partisan politics behind it, not operational reasons,” said David Lapan, a former spokesman for the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense under Mr. Trump. “Over the time of the Trump administration, D.H.S. has been seen as more and more politicized.”

The nonprofit government watchdog American Oversight requested that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general investigate whether the senior leadership had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities on the job.

Standing in front of a line of Border Patrol agents, Mr. Wolf dismissed the criticism and defended policies that have effectively halted migration across the southwest border, leaving families in squalid tent camps in some of the most dangerous areas in Mexico.

The homeland security officials also attacked the policy proposals of Mr. Biden, who has pledged to immediately halt wall construction and end the Remain in Mexico program that has forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for court hearings on asylum claims.

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Mark A. Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said policies embraced by Mr. Biden would prompt a migrant “invasion,” though he acknowledged in a separate interview that most migrants who crossed the border last year were not criminals but rather Central American families fleeing poverty.

Asked in an interview if he was concerned his language could create the perception of a violent threat, Mr. Morgan responded defensively.

“That’s what people immediately want to go to, is that we’re being xenophobic, we’re racist, right?” he said, adding: “I have no problem saying that the overwhelming majority of those trying to illegally enter the United States are not bad people, right? But some are. So my question is, how many?”

Most illegal crossings into the United States in recent years have been in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, but only seven miles of the wall have been constructed in the area.

Private landowners in South Texas say the wall will cut through their farmlands and properties; they have forced the Trump administration to go through the arduous process of asserting eminent domain in court. To make good on Mr. Trump’s promised 450 miles, the administration has concentrated construction in areas owned by the federal government, over terrain that already impedes border crossers.

Chief Rodney S. Scott of Border Patrol conceded that the Rio Grande Valley “was higher priority for the U.S. Border Patrol.” But, he added, “we elected to go ahead and shift down to a lower priority because I could make a difference there and then.”

That approach has damaged ecosystems and disrupted the migration of endangered wildlife, said Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This 400-mile celebration is not insignificant,” he said. “This is something communities and Indigenous nations across the borderlands are mourning. This marks 400 miles of destruction.”

The Trump administration has secured about $15 billion to build 731 miles of border wall, with much of the money transferred from the Defense Department and funds that had been appropriated by Congress for military construction projects and narcotics interdiction.

With the president’s deadline nearing, the government has stepped up litigation against landowners in South Texas. It has filed 106 lawsuits against landowners this year to survey, seize and potentially begin construction, an increase from 27 lawsuits filed in 2019, said Ricky Garza, a staff lawyer for the Texas Civil Rights Project. The federal government filed 22 cases in September alone.

“This is an attack on our culture, our heritage, our very identity, and that is why we are fighting,” said Melissa Cigarroa, a landowner who said the government had threatened to sue her for access to her property in Zapata County, Texas. “We feel it viscerally.”

Homeland security officials say the border wall is critical. It has allowed the agency to funnel migration into specific areas, where they can strategically place Border Patrol agents to apprehend migrants. They say it has freed those agents to make more arrests rather than respond to families seeking protection.

This month, the agency is expected to record the highest monthly total of illegal crossings for the year, Mr. Wolf said. But the blockade on asylum came not from a wall of steel but a web of policy changes, especially the Remain in Mexico policy, which has forced more than 60,000 migrants back to Mexico to await court dates to have their asylum claims assessed.

The department has also used a public health emergency declaration to rapidly return migrants, including unaccompanied children, to Mexico or their home countries without providing chances to have their asylum claims heard.

While the department has said the rule has prevented the spread of disease in the United States, immigration lawyers say it conflicts with immigration laws that say migrants must have a chance to have their fear of persecution in their home countries heard when they step on U.S. soil.

Mr. Morgan again pushed back.

“There are times when someone’s want and need to claim asylum is superseded by something of far greater value,” he said, “and that’s lives of American citizens.”

He added that migrants were still provided the opportunity to have fear of torture assessed by an immigration officer, although that screening carries a much higher bar than screenings for persecution.

Mr. Morgan said the Mexican government had not verified reports of widespread violence against migrants in Mexico. But immigration advocacy organizations have recorded hundreds of attacks against those forced by the United States to return to Mexico, with some disseminating recordings of extortion attempts by cartels.

Mr. Morgan blamed the migrants.

“They’re intentionally leaving the sheltered environment, re-engaging the smuggling organizations, even when they’ve been told not to, to try to get illegally in the United States,” he said. “That’s when they’re exposing themselves.”



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Breaking New

Thousands Of Early Voters Waited For Hours In Snaking Lines On Saturday To Cast Their Ballots



On the first day of early voting in New York on Saturday, tens of thousands of people waited in long lines — often for hours on end — to cast their ballots. 

Social media was abuzz with videos and photos of snaking voting lines outside polling places across the state. 

At Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, the voting line stretched across multiple blocks — and according to The New York Times, more than 750 people were still in line after polls officially closed on Saturday. 

One of the voters in the line, Emmanuel Vazquez, 25, told the paper that he’d waited for three hours to cast his ballot.

“I’m tired, I’m hungry and I want to go home,” Vazquez said. “But I’m just thinking about how worth it this will feel in a few weeks. And that’s keeping me alive right now.”

(Story continues below.) 

Some New Yorkers criticized the long lines and the apparent lack of adequate infrastructure to handle the onslaught of early voters. The Times reported that some polling centers in New York City had issues with malfunctioning poll machines on Saturday. 

Still, many New York voters said they were undeterred by the long wait times. In New York City alone, more than 80,000 votes were cast on Saturday, the city’s Board of Elections said.

“Given this year and given the current president we need to send a clear message that his policies don’t work, that they’re offensive, that they don’t represent American values,” Vanessa Reilly, a 38-year-old Brooklynite who waited in line to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, told Reuters.

Early voters in several other states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Alabama, also showed up in droves to cast their ballots on Saturday.

Already, more than 56 million Americans across the country have cast early ballots either in person or by mail. At this rate, the U.S. could see the highest voter turnout rate since 1908, Reuters noted, citing data from the U.S. Elections Project.





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Politics

Survey Finds President Trump Has Far More Support From Muslim Voters Than Joe Biden


A new survey has found that Muslim voters are backing President Trump over Joe Biden, and by a large margin.

Democrats and the media have spent years falsely describing Trump’s temporary travel ban as a “Muslim ban” in an obvious effort to portray him as anti-Muslim. This has obviously failed.

Trump’s approval among Muslim’s is even higher than Obama’s was in 2012, according to the survey.

The Washington Examiner reports:

TRENDING: BREAKING: Giuliani Gives Hunter Biden’s Hard Drive to Delaware State Police Over Photos of Underage Girls, Inappropriate Texts

‘Trump does what he says’: Muslims abandon Biden, back president

President Trump, whose Middle East plan is winning support from Arab nations, is gaining strong support from Muslim leaders and their followers who believe that the Democrats haven’t delivered on years of promises, according to a new survey of Islamic leaders.

In a shocking turnaround, 61.48% of the 109 Muslim leaders who “represent two million voters” plan to vote for Trump. That is a slight edge over their 2012 vote for Barack Obama.

The survey of the leaders was done by the Washington correspondent for Aksam Gazetesi, a Turkish news site. It suggested that the Muslim leaders’ support for former Vice President Joe Biden was 30.27%.

Those results represent a dramatic flip of the Muslim vote, which for years has sided with the Democrats.

Aksam’s Washington correspondent Yavuz Atalay shared his results with Secrets and said, “It’s about the trustworthy. Obama, Clinton said good words, but they did not do what they said. Biden is doing same things. Good words but no action. Trump does what he says.”

This is a remarkable development which is being largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Here’s an interesting theory about the support:

It will be fascinating to revisit this after the election to analyze the results.

Cross posted from American Lookout.





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