Along US border, a growing opposition to military deployment

he amount of militarization that we already experience on a daily basis and that we are currently living under is like living in a waking nightmare, says border resident. (The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Along US border, a growing opposition to military deployment

  • I find the fact that the military is being deployed absolutely terrifying: Arivaca resident
  • The military expects to have most of the over 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday

PHOENIX: Amy Juan drove two hours north from her remote community on the US-Mexico border in Arizona to rally against the deployment of troops there.
She’s one of many residents of the Southwest who oppose and are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to fend off a slow-moving caravan of Central American migrants headed to the US
In El Paso, Texas, a march is planned to protest the deployment this weekend. In Laredo, the city’s mayor released a statement referring to the deployment as “false efforts” that will “harm morale and damage the economy of our region.”
“Even though our communities are all very different and diverse, we all experience the same thing, which are the effects of militarization at the border,” said Juan, who was one of several speakers at a news conference in Phoenix on Thursday. “Having an increased presence of military is scary, you know. It’s scary.”
Juan is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which sits on about 75 miles along the international border. Residents of the reservation have long had a complicated relationship with the US Border Patrol, and its leadership has been vocal about its opposition to the president’s plans for a border wall.
“I find the fact that the military is being deployed absolutely terrifying. The amount of militarization that we already experience on a daily basis and that we are currently living under is like living in a waking nightmare,” said Eva Lewis, a resident of the small town of Arivaca just north of the US-Mexico border.
Many residents of Arivaca have spent years battling the Border Patrol’s checkpoints, which require everyone who cross them to stop and declare whether they are citizens. Trips to school or the grocery store require passing through checkpoints, and many residents say that agents discriminate against Latinos in the area, a claim the agency denies.
In Nogales, Arizona, which shares a name with its neighbor to the south, residents said they were distressed, confused and shocked when the military showed up on election day to install barbed wire on a border fence, according to the Nogales International newspaper.
As of Thursday, there are over 5,600 troops deployed at the border. There are 2,800 in Texas, while 1,500 are in Arizona and another 1,300 are in California.
The military expects to have most of the over 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense could not be reached Thursday.
But not everyone opposes the military presence.
Jim Chilton, an Arizona border rancher and staunch Trump supporter, said in a news release to the AP this week that he looks forward to the arrival of more troops. Chilton said the 25 miles of international border in Arivaca is poorly secured and actively sees drug smuggling and human trafficking.
“The lack of access and infrastructure, cartel scout presence, and rough terrain and inefficient ‘defense in depth’ strategy creates a de facto ‘no man’s land’ in which border ranchers live and work,” Chilton said.
Despite rhetoric about the Central American migrant caravan, illegal immigration to the US is at historic lows, with only a fraction of arrests made by the Border Patrol — and twice the number of agents — made this year compared with 2000, at the height of illegal activity.


India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C) gestures after laying a wreath to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 min 39 sec ago
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India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

  • Rahul Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties
  • This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised

NEW DELHI: Indians are voting Tuesday in the third phase of the general elections with campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and the opposition marred by bitter accusations and acrimony.
People lined up outside voting station at several places even before the polling started at 7 a.m.
The voting for 117 parliamentary seats in 13 states and two Union Territories on Tuesday means polls are half done for 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The voting over seven phases ends May 19, with counting scheduled for May 23.
The election is seen as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch trying to win the majority Hindu votes by projecting a tough stance against Islamic neighbor Pakistan.
The opposition is challenging him for a high unemployment rate of 6.1% and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices.
Modi is scheduled to vote on Tuesday in his western home state of Gujarat, though he is contesting for a parliamentary seat from Varanasi, a city in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The voting also is taking place in Wayanad constituency in southern Kerala state, one of the two seats from where opposition Congress party president, Rahul Gandhi, is contesting. His home bastion, Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh state will have polling on May 6. He will give up one seat if he wins from both places.
The voting is staggered to facilitate movement of security forces to oversee an orderly election and avoid vote fraud.
India’s autonomous Election Commission intervened last week to block hate speeches by imposing a temporary ban on campaigning by some top politicians across political parties.
Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Yogi Adityanath of Modi’s BJP was barred from campaigning, in the form of public meetings, road shows or media interviews, for three days for making anti-Muslim speeches. He said a Hindu god will ensure the BJP victory in elections, while the opposition was betting on Muslim votes.
Mayawati, a leader of Bahujan Samaj Party, was punished for 48 hours for appealing to Muslims to vote only for her party. India’s top court ordered strict action against politicians for religion and caste-based remarks.
Hindus comprise 80% and Muslims 16% of India’s 1.3 billion people. The opposition accuses the BJP of trying to polarize the Hindu votes in its favor.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP leader, filed a contempt of court petition against Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court for misrepresenting a court order while accusing Modi of corruption in a deal to buy 36 French Rafale fighter aircraft. Modi denies the charge.
Modi has used Kashmir to pivot away from his economic record, playing up the threat of rival Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 soldiers, in a bid to appear a strong, uncompromising leader on national security. The bombing brought nuclear rivals India and Pakistan close to the brink of war.
Opposition parties have consistently said that Modi and his party leaders are digressing from the main issues such as youth employment and farmers’ suicides.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.