BOSTON (AP) – Employees at online home furnishings retailer Wayfair have planned a walkout to protest the company’s decision to sell $200,000 worth of furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Texas.
More than 500 employees at the company’s Boston headquarters signed a protest letter to executives when they found out about the contract. Wednesday’s walkout was organized when Wayfair refused to back out of the contract.
Elizabeth Good, one of the walkout’s organizers, told The Boston Globe knowing that Wayfair is profiting from what’s going on at the southern border is “pretty scary.”
Management wrote in a letter to employees that it’s standard practice to fulfill orders for any customer acting within the law.
Wayfair did not respond to several requests for comment by The Associated Press.
Warning: Video contains graphic material some may find disturbing; viewer discretion advised
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.
The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.
According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.
The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene — “amid tears” and “screams” — Le Duc told The Associated Press.
Details of the incident were confirmed Tuesday by a Tamaulipas state government official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, and by Martínez’s mother back in El Salvador, Rosa Ramírez, who spoke with her daughter-in-law by phone afterward.
“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Ramírez told the AP. “He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far’ and decided to go with her.”
From the scorching Sonoran Desert to the fast-moving Rio Grande, the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border has long been an at times deadly crossing between ports of entry. A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded last year; the toll so far this year has not been released.
In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead in the sweltering heat. Three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande, and a 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The search for Martínez and his daughter was suspended Sunday due to darkness, and their bodies were discovered the next morning near Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas, several hundred yards (meters) from where they had tried to cross and just a half-mile (1 kilometer) from an international bridge.
Tamaulipas immigration and civil defense officials have toured shelters beginning weeks ago to warn against attempting to cross the river, said to be swollen with water released from dams for irrigation. On the surface, the Rio Grande appears placid, but strong currents run beneath.
Ramírez said her son and his family left El Salvador on April 3 and spent about two months at a shelter in Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala.
“I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home,” Ramírez said. “They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.”
El Salvador’s foreign ministry said it was working to assist the family, including Ávalos, who was at a border migrant shelter following the drownings. The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday.
The photo recalls the 2015 image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean near Turkey, though it remains to be seen whether it may have the same impact in focusing international attention on migration to the U.S.
“Very regrettable that this would happen,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday in response to a question about the photograph. “We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing” the river.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
U.S. “metering” policy has dramatically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry.
The Tamaulipas government official said the family arrived in Matamoros early Sunday and went to the U.S. Consulate to try to get a date to request asylum. The mother is 21 years old and the father was 25, he added.
But waits are long there as elsewhere along the border. Last week, a shelter director said only about 40 to 45 asylum interviews were being conducted in Matamoros each week, while somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-1,700 names were on a waiting list.
It’s not clear what happened to the family at the U.S. Consulate, but later in the day they made the decision to cross. The Tamaulipas official said the father and daughter set off from a small park that abuts the river. Civil defense officials arrived at the scene at 7 p.m. Sunday and later took the wife to the shelter.
“I was drawn to the girl’s arm on her father,” Le Duc said as she described arriving at the scene. “It was something that moved me in the extreme because it reflects that until her last breath, she was joined to him not only by the shirt but also in that embrace in which they passed together into death.”
“It’s a horrifying image,” Maureen Meyer, a specialist on immigration at the Washington Office on Latin America, which advocates for human rights in the region, said of the photograph. “And I think it speaks so clearly to the real risks of these U.S. programs that are either returning people back to Mexico seeking asylum or in this case limiting how many people can enter the U.S. every day.”
The United States has also been expanding its program under which asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in U.S. courts, a wait that could last many months or even years.
This week Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, the same state where Matamoros is located, said it will become the latest city to receive returnees as soon as Friday.
Many migrant shelters are overflowing on the Mexican side, and cartels hold sway over much of Tamaulipas and have been known to kidnap and kill migrants.
Meanwhile, Mexico is stepping up its own crackdown on immigration in response to U.S. pressure, with much of the focus on slowing the flow in the country’s south.
“With greater crackdowns and restrictions,” said Cris Ramón, senior immigration policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank in Washington, “we could see more desperate measures by people trying to enter Mexico or the U.S.”
Associated Press writers Marcos Alemán in San Salvador, El Salvador, and Alfredo Peña in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, contributed to this report.
SAN MATEO (KRON) – Four of July is just days away.
With the holiday just around the corner, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA is urging pet owners to take precautions during the upcoming celebrations.
Some dogs may become frightened by the sounds and sights associated with fireworks and 4th of July celebrations.
“Dogs can become so scared they break through fences and gates fleeing their yards, become lost, and are brought into our shelter as strays,” said Buffy Martin Tarbox, PHS/SPCA Communications Manager. “They arrive scared and often with minor injuries such as cuts on their paws.”
PHS/SPCA urges pet owners to keep the following tips in mind while celebrating:
Don’t take pets to fireworks displays.
While at home, keep pets inside a room in the house and make sure blinds or drapes are drawn. Leave a TV, radio or fan on to drown out the fireworks noise.
Make sure pets have current identification and/or a microchip. This permanent form of identification — implanted just under the animal’s skin — will insure the animal can be identified even if their collar is missing. Microchips are available at PHS/SPCA, no appointment necessary for a small fee.
If you know from past experiences that your pet will have severe anxiety caused by fireworks, talk to your veterinarian about giving your pet a mild tranquilizer.
If you lose your companion animal in San Mateo County, please visit the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA on July 5th. This process must happen in person, as staff cannot positively identify animals over the phone.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It took last-minute changes and a full-court press by top Democratic leaders, but the House passed with relative ease Tuesday a $4.5 billion emergency border aid package to care for thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill passed along party lines after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quelled a mini-revolt by progressives and Hispanic lawmakers who sought significant changes to the legislation.
New provisions added to the bill Tuesday were more modest than what those lawmakers had sought, but the urgent need for the funding — to prevent the humanitarian emergency on the border from turning into a debacle — appeared to outweigh any lingering concerns.
The 230-195 vote sets up a showdown with the Republican-led Senate, which may try instead to force Democrats to send Trump a different, and broadly bipartisan, companion measure in coming days as the chambers race to wrap up the must-do legislation by the end of the week.
“The Senate has a good bill. Our bill is much better,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told her Democratic colleagues in a meeting Tuesday morning, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private session.
“We are ensuring that children have food, clothing, sanitary items, shelter and medical care. We are providing access to legal assistance. And we are protecting families because families belong together,” Pelosi said in a subsequent floor speech.
The bill contains more than $1 billion to shelter and feed migrants detained by the border patrol and almost $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children who are turned over the Department of Health and Human Services.
It seeks to mandate improved standards of care at HHS “influx shelters” that house children waiting to be placed with sponsors such as family members in the U.S.
Both House and Senate bills ensure funding could not be shifted to Trump’s border wall and would block information on sponsors of immigrant children from being used to deport them.
Trump would be denied additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.
“The President’s cruel immigration policies that tear apart families and terrorize communities demand the stringent safeguards in this bill to ensure these funds are used for humanitarian needs only — not for immigration raids, not detention beds, not a border wall,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
Three moderates were the only House Republicans to back the measure. The only four Democratic “no” votes came from some of the party’s best-known freshmen: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ihan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
The White House has threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would hamstring the administration’s border security efforts, and the Senate’s top Republican suggested Tuesday that the House should simply accept the Senate measure — which received only a single “nay” vote during a committee vote last week.
“The idea here is to get a (presidential) signature, so I think once we can get that out of the Senate, hopefully on a vote similar to the one in the Appropriations Committee, I’m hoping that the House will conclude that’s the best way to get the problem solved, which can only happen with a signature,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
A handful of GOP conservatives went to the White House to try to persuade Trump to reject the Senate bill and demand additional funding for immigration enforcement such as overtime for border agents and detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a top GOP lawmaker who demanded anonymity to discuss a private meeting. Trump was expected to reject the advice.
House Democrats seeking the changes met late Monday with Pelosi, and lawmakers emerging from the Tuesday morning caucus meeting were generally supportive of the legislation.
Congress plans to leave Washington in a few days for a weeklong July 4 recess, and pressure is intense to wrap up the legislation before then. Agencies are about to run out of money and failure to act could bring a swift political rebuke and accusations of ignoring the plight of innocent immigrant children.
Longtime GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Democrats were simply “pushing partisan bills to score political points and avoiding doing the hard work of actually making law,” warning them that “passing a partisan bill through this chamber won’t solve the problem.”
Lawmakers’ sense of urgency to provide humanitarian aid was amplified by recent reports of gruesome conditions in a windowless Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, where more than 300 infants and children were being housed. Many were kept there for weeks and were caring for each other in conditions that included inadequate food, water and sanitation.
By Tuesday, most had been sent elsewhere. The incident was only an extreme example of the dire conditions reported at numerous locations where detainees have been held, and several children have died in U.S. custody.
The Border Patrol reported apprehending nearly 133,000 people last month — including many Central American families — as monthly totals have begun topping 100,000 for the first time since 2007. Federal agencies involved in immigration have reported being overwhelmed, depleting their budgets and housing large numbers of detainees in structures meant for handfuls of people.
Changes unveiled Tuesday would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish new standards for care of unaccompanied immigrant children and a plan for ensuring adequate translators to assist migrants in their dealings with law enforcement. The government would have to replace contractors who provide inadequate care.
Sanders announced Tuesday that he’s stepping down next month amid outrage over his agency’s treatment of detained migrant children.
In a letter Monday threatening the veto, White House officials told lawmakers they objected that the House package lacked money for beds the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to let it detain more migrants. Officials also complained in the letter that the bill had no money to toughen border security, including funds for building Trump’s proposed border wall.
MANDEVILLE, Miss. (AP) — An outbreak of toxic bacteria is ruining some beach plans in Mississippi, where authorities are warning people not to swim or eat seafood from polluted coastal waters.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality released a list of closed beaches to news outlets. Residents shouldn’t even allow their pets to come in contact with water that has a greenish-blue hue.
The toxic cyanobacterium can cause rashes, diarrhea and vomiting.
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins blames fresh water entering the Mississippi sound.
A New Orleans spillway has been open for a historically long time to relieve pressure on levees from the flooded Mississippi River.
The fresh water influx is creating a dead zone without oxygen where marine life can’t survive.
(CNN) – The Forsyth County Sheriff’s office near Atlanta has released dramatic bodycam video from the night authorities found a newborn baby wrapped in a plastic bag in the woods.
The footage, released Tuesday, was captured on June 6 in Cumming, Georgia about 40 miles from Atlanta.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement it “is continuing to aggressively investigate and to follow leads regarding Baby India. As of today, we are still receiving tips from across the country on the possible identity of ‘Baby India.’ “
The office said it decided to release the footage “in hopes to receive credible information on the identity of Baby India and to show how important it is to find closure in this case.”
In the video, a deputy is seen tearing open a yellow plastic bag and finding a crying baby still with the umbilical cord attached before placing her in a blanket.
“I’m so sorry,” one responder is heard saying, while another remarks, “She’s a sweetheart.”
Authorities took the baby to a hospital for treatment. Baby India is now “thriving” and in the care of Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities are still looking for the baby’s mother.Residents in a nearby home stumbled upon Baby India when they checked out a noise coming from the secluded area.
The baby is believed to have been just hours old when she was discovered.