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Biden admin refuses to call border situation a ‘crisis’

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alejandro mayorkas

Amid a surging number of migrants at the border since January, especially unaccompanied children, members of the Biden administration this week have blamed the Trump administration and are labeling the situation a “challenge” rather than a “border crisis.”

At Monday’s White House press briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border was not a “crisis” but rather a “challenge”.

“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border—that we manage the challenge, as acute as the challenge is,” Mayorkas said, adding that the “challenge” is not just for the government, but for non-governmental organizations and border communities.

In a report last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection found that the number of migrants apprehended at the border during January hit roughly 78,000, an increase from 36,679 in January 2020.

MORE ON IMMIGRATION: Sara Carter: Biden immigration policy ‘perpetuating violence at the border’

When asked at Tuesday’s briefing by a reporter about the DHS estimating 117,000 unaccompanied migrant children will arrive by this year and Mayorkas not calling the situation a crisis, White House press secretary Jen Psaki deferred to Mayorkas to explain his comment but also defended his terminology.

“Well, I’ll leave that to the secretary of homeland security to define. He said it was a ‘challenge,’ it is a challenge,” Psaki replied. “We have more than 7,000 unaccompanied kids who have come into the United States, and that is certainly a lot of children that we are trying to treat humanely and safely and process through the system as quickly as we can. That’s not easy, that is a challenge.”

MORE ON IMMIGRATION: Jen Psaki denies ‘kids in cages’ amid migrant children facilities reopening

Later on Tuesday, Philip Weggmann of RealClearPolitics asked President Joe Biden if he believes there is a crisis at the border as he left the State Dining room.

“No, we will be able to handle it—god willing,” Biden replied.

At Monday’s briefing, Mayorkas also shifted blame for the increase in migrants at the border onto the Trump administration.

“Let me explain to you why [fixing the broken immigration system] is hard and why it is going take time. I think it is important to understand what we have inherited because it defines the situation as it currently stands. Entire systems are not rebuilt in a day or in a few weeks,” the DHS secretary said at the beginning of his Monday remarks. “To put it succinctly, the prior administration dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety.”

“When I started 27 days ago, I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws that our Congress passed years ago,” Mayorkas continued. “We did not have the personnel, policies, procedures or training to administer those laws.”

“Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted.”

Mayorkas also mentioned that the previous administration had terminated the Central American Minors Refugee program in 2017, as well as discontinued funding to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which he alleged was at the center of the current situation at the border.

The DHS secretary also claimed that the Trump administration entered into contracts that “were unlawful, or against the interest of the United States Department of Justice,” adding, “that’s just the tip of it.”

“It takes time to build out of the depths of cruelty that the administration before us established,” said Mayorkas. “What we are seeing now at the border is the immediate result of the dismantlement of the system and the time that it takes to rebuild it virtually from scratch.”

Furthermore, the DHS secretary said that Biden has a “multipart strategy” to carry out that vision, including ways the administration is working with the Mexican government and international organizations in Mexico, and vaccinating frontline workers at ports of entry, among other things.

However, Mayorkas issued a stern warning to those thinking of journeying to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They need to wait,” Mayorkas said. “If they come, if families come, if single adults come to the border, we are obligated to, in the service of public health, including the health of the very people thinking of coming, to impose travel restrictions under CDC guidelines and return them to Mexico—and we have done that.”

“We are not saying don’t come,” he added. “We are saying don’t come now, because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process for them as quickly as possible.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China

REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China shutterstock 1376982239

China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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