Boomers are killing us and we're helping them — but there's a way forward

Companies can't survive under the current system of generational transfer of wealth.

It is 3:21 a.m. and I’ve been up for more than an hour, lying in bed and trying to go back to sleep. I have failed. The overly sensitive motion detector light out back keeps clicking on a few times a minute. The crickets seem louder than usual tonight. But there’s something else keeping me up and making my mind walk in circles as I try to come up with ways to get more of it: money.

This is supposed to be the greatest economy in the world. The president says constantly that everything is going great thanks to him, and that Americans are better off now than they’ve ever been before. Do you feel that way? I don’t. I think about money constantly, obsessively turning off light switches and filing all purchases and expenses in giant spreadsheets that I think will one day provide salvation. Every time I get paid I turn that money around and pay all the bills, saving 40 percent for my quarterly estimated income tax payments just to be safe. I can’t help but note how little is left over to do all the things you’re supposed to have done by the time you’re my age, 35. I constantly try to find ways to save money so that I can do those things. I want to have three month’s salary sitting in my savings account, just in case something terrible happens. I want to invest in the stock market so my money can earn some passive income. I want to get married. I want to have kids.

I can’t imagine how I will do any of that under current circumstances, because the money just is not there. I make the average American annual income and I don’t have money for these things, because apparently the average isn’t enough anymore. 

If all that weren’t enough, we are now facing the very real possibility of an economic downturn, and all my worrying is likely to soon get worse. I guess I can take a little solace in knowing that I’m not the only one — as The Atlantic laid out a few weeks ago, the next recession is going to destroy people like me, Millennials. Apparently that’s because we never fully recovered from the last one.

Millennials got bodied in the downturn, have struggled in the recovery, and are now left more vulnerable than other, older age cohorts. As they pitch toward middle age, they are failing to make it to the middle class, and are likely to be the first generation in modern economic history to end up worse off than their parents. The next downturn might make sure of it, stalling their careers and sucking away their wages right as the Millennials enter their prime earning years.

“Prime earning years,” that’s apparently where I’m at right now. It doesn’t feel like that, and the health of the global economy is really all about how people feel. If you feel like things aren’t going great, you cut back on spending. This prompts less demand for goods and services, affecting how much money other people are making. They, in turn, also cut back. This cycle perpetuates itself until it prompts an economic downturn, recession or, god forbid, depression. 

What happened? How did the average become not enough?

For one, housing costs have gone way up, Annie Lowrey reports in that Atlantic piece. To make a decent wage — an average wage — you pretty much have no choice but to live in a city. That’s where you also can’t even think about being able to buy a house, so you rent. And you’re renting from Baby Boomers, who may very well be the last generation to be better off than their parents (making us the first generation not to, as Lowrey points out). “This represents a large generational transfer of wealth from the young to the old,” Lowrey writes. “Boomers own the houses and bar municipalities from building more of them, thus benefiting from rising prices and soaking up endless rent checks forked over by younger and poorer families.”

I can speak from personal experience on this: shortly before leaving Dallas, Sarah and I approached the property manager at our home — a 1941 bungalow built by a well-known architect in the city — and asked about his not-very-well-defined offer that we might be able to buy the place. It needed tons of work — replacing the original windows alone would have cost at least $5,000. Nothing had been updated in the home, either, since it was constructed. (We pressed the owners to finally, after nearly 80 years, to put insulation in the attic so our living room wouldn’t be 63 degrees in the coldest nights of the winter.) The county’s assessed value — some $260,000 — was far too high of a price for the work that needed done, and I made that point clear. The answer: the owners would want at least that. And why shouldn’t they? We were paying their mortgage every month on a house that I’m sure was fully-paid off. There’s that generation transfer of wealth Lowrey was talking about. 

In the two and a half years we lived there, we spent $48,000 on rent at our beloved Coombs. That’s $48,000 in straight cash that went to its owners, money that could have been paying off our first home.

***

Boomers run the show in this country. They own the houses and the land. They run the government and own the companies that employ us. Most of them are Republican, because this is still a center-right country. (I’ve often made the argument that it really isn’t and if most Americans took a hard look at Democratic economic proposals they’d see their personal financial interests would be best served voting for Democrats. But over the decades, the GOP has done an incredible job convincing these folks to vote against their own economic interests by ginning up fear about everything from immigrants and welfare recipients to unions and the results-producing War on Christmas. None of my financial woes makes me want to vote for Republicans, considering they’re the ones who insist that people who make twice, quadruple and 30 times what I make pay just seven percent more in income taxes than I do.) Even the Democrats, who are supposed to be the party of progress, have three Boomers atop their presidential field — Joe Biden is 76; Elizabeth Warren is 70; Bernie Sanders is 77.

While Boomers are doing their part to make us poor and miserable, we’re contributing to that downward spiral pretty well ourselves. Boomers kick our asses when it comes to showing up on Election Day, as Politico’s Timothy Noah notes in his recent piece. That’s surely the biggest reason why we have a “Gerontocracy,” as Noah calls it — we are governed by the old because the old actually go out and vote and because soon we will mostly be the old.

By 2030, every living Boomer will be elderly (that is, age 65 or older), and by 2035, the Census Bureau projects, the elderly will outnumber minors for the first time in U.S. history,” Noah writes.

We should probably start voting more, but I myself am bad at this because I’m sitting up at 4:08 a.m. writing this newsletter instead of researching my local, state and federal representatives to see who I’ll vote for in November. Younger Millennials — the future workforce — should especially get involved by working to figure out how to force employers to share more wealth, and voting for people who would support those efforts would certainly help. 

Hell, their potential Boomer bosses are already claiming to address this issue. Last month, when the Business Roundtable introduced a 95 Theses of sorts that said their companies would focus on objectives other than simply making their shareholders money, it was met with justified skepticism. But I believe them.

The reason they are shifting focus is not because they want to save the planet or necessarily provide better wages to their workers, but because an economy that is forever shifting wealth from young to old is not one that can sustain companies like those from the Business Roundtable and the S&P 500 on down to your neighborhood coffee shop.

If those companies want to exist far into the future — far past the death of the last wealthy Baby Boomer — they’re going to need Millennials not just to buy their products but to invest in their companies. We can’t do any of that if we’re all dead broke. 

All the photos on this post are mine, from our home on Coombs Creek in Dallas’ Oak Cliff. If you like this post or any of my previous writing, tell a friend. Eventually I’m going to turn the paywall on here and you’ll have to give me some of that money I’m awake at 4:28 a.m. thinking about. Mahalo.

They made it here with a little help

Mateo and his mother Alma made it to America with perseverance and a little luck. Their story ends, for now, my tenure as an immigration reporter.

Mateo won’t remember any of this. He won’t remember the man in the big truck in the parking garage who jump-started my car. He won’t remember the Whataburger drive-through, or the couple in the front seats speaking a language he and his mother did not understand. Or the little bridge over the creek, or the art-filled house, the fluffy dog who was very interested in his sleeping body, the pull-out couch in the spare room, or the drive back to the airport a few hours later. 

He will remember none of it. But it was how he made it to America. 

I first saw him in the El Paso airport, tired and hungry and happy that he got a bottle of Coke and a bag of chips. His mother — who looked to me like a child herself — tended to him alongside another young migrant mother with her own young child. In the back of a jet from El Paso to Dallas I met Mateo and his mother, Alma. On the sidewalk outside a terminal in Dallas I realized she didn’t know where she was and had no place to go. 

Que es la dirección de tu familia? I asked in broken Spanish, wondering why she was pacing on the sidewalk and who from Dallas was coming to pick her up.

“Birmingham,” she replied.

Birmingham? Fuck. She thinks she’s in Birmingham. She had been traveling there to meet her husband and their other child, a daughter, when her flight from El Paso to Dallas was delayed. Arriving at nearly midnight, her connecting flight to Alabama was long gone.

She may not have even known she had a connecting flight. She carried with her a small purse and a plastic bag with her tickets and identification, much like other migrants I’ve seen flying out of El Paso who are bound for friends or family in the interior of the United States. Alma had wandered past security and onto the sidewalk, and now she was stuck. Her options were to sleep on the floor near a baggage carousel, or come with us. I found someone who speaks better Spanish than I do and had him explain these options to her. She chose our offer of a place to sleep and a ride back to the airport for the next day’s flight. 

After a few hour’s rest and some pleading with TSA agents the next morning, Mateo and Alma made their flight and are now in Alabama after living their whole lives in Guatemala. They made it here like generations of people before them, with a whole lot of persistence and perseverance, some luck, and a little of the kindness of strangers. Now they have a better chance in life than they might have ever had before. 

They are as American as they come.

Here is where a quote would go to end this section, but Alma was so reserved and quiet in our time together that there is none to provide. Whatever the question was, her answer was Si. All she wanted was to get her and Mateo to her husband and daughter. Whatever it took to get there, the answer was Yes. 

***

For the last two and a half years now I’ve lived in Texas and have seen many things. I have been to the border almost a dozen times in the last year and it has changed my perception of right and wrong and how some people in this country should be treated

I have a very difficult time controlling my anger around people who are full-throated Trump supporters because of the things I have seen at the border. But those experiences are only in addition to being inundated each week with news of how so many people in power in this country degrade and denigrate migrants like Mateo and Alma — and how many regular people support those statements. Then there are the horror stories coming out of the detention centers where we’re holding more than 50,000 people whose only crime is seeking a better life. Then there’s the seven deaths, at least two of them children, that occurred under our government’s watch at those facilities. 

Radical reshaping of asylum law to effectively shut it down, metering at ports of entry, detaining American citizens because of their skin color, daily vile statements from the president — all of it is too much to handle sometimes.

All of this hateful rhetoric and fear-mongering policy decisions came to their logical conclusion in early August when an angry white man shot and killed as many people as he could at a Walmart in El Paso simply because they were brown. The president is responsible for that, because he is constantly saying that white people should be angry at and afraid of brown people. 

Do not believe people when they tell you that calling the president a racist is unfair or to call his supporters racist is also unfair because you can support a racist president but not be racist yourself. Do not listen to people who say calling Trump and his supporters racist is a slippery slope to calling anyone you disagree with regarding immigration a racist. 

Don’t listen to this bad faith argument because what we’ve been living through in the past three years is not a traditional Democrat-versus-Republican policy dispute on immigration. What we have witnessed since Trump took office is a historic, extreme radicalization of American immigration policy, and our country’s stance towards refugees. Because that’s what these migrants are — refugees from failing states plagued by violence and corruption. Migrants move because they want to. Refugees flee because they have to.

This administration knows all of this and surely has access to even more detailed information about the deteriorating conditions in the Latin American countries many migrants are fleeing from. In response to this desperation the Trump administration has effectively shut down the asylum process as we’ve known it for the last 50 years. Putting salt in the wound, Trump and his lackeys in right-wing media have engaged in a full-throated campaign to portray migrants as criminals, free-loaders and job-takers. They have scapegoated migrants, and told White America that it need look no further than the nearest brown person to blame for all the problems in their own lives. 

That is, by definition, racist. 

Following the El Paso shooting, I thought that Republicans and Trump supporters would face a reckoning, that they would have to disavow the president because his words had turned into bloody bodies on the ground. 

Less than a month later, El Paso is as forgotten and gone as Las Vegas was five months after 58 people were gunned down there by another dead-eyed white man.

I fear that it is only a matter of time before it happens again. 

***

This will likely be my last post for some time that is focused on immigration and the border. Sarah and I have moved to Savannah, Georgia for her work. After two years of covering immigration I can honestly say this change is a relief. This is difficult work. Like I said in the first post about Rubén, the Central American asylum-seeker I met in February in Juárez, it is very difficult to watch someone cry because you asked them a question about the difficulties in their life. Rubén’s story is just one of dozens I’ve heard in the last few years, all just as heartbreaking and painful as the next.

But every one of those tragic stories is rooted in hope, because before bad things befell each one of those migrants, they had left their home with great hope in their heart that they would one day have a better life here. That’s why immigration reporting is so difficult  — because for every migrant who makes it through there are 100 more who don’t, and every single day, our leaders are making it more difficult for them to come here. I can’t imagine how immigration attorneys do it, just getting knocked down day after day and always getting back up to fight.

It’s not people like Donald Trump who are tough and brave — as much as he and his supporters believe themselves to be — it’s people like Taylor Levy and Iliana Holguin in El Paso and Eileen Sterlock in Portland. They and other immigration advocates and attorneys battle forces several times their size every single day and always show up when the bell rings.

Cowards beat up people smaller than them, thus proving their own smallness. In this way, we know Donald Trump is the world’s smallest man.  

But there is occasional good news on the immigration front. 

Following the shooting in El Paso, citizens of Juárez shined the lights of their cell phones toward El Paso, a place many of them can’t go. 

Readers of this newsletter recently raised another $1,000 for Rubén, which bought Rubén much-needed medical supplies. (A special thanks goes out to Jess Ann Kirby, an influencer friend of Sarah’s who shared Rubén’s fundraiser with her followers. That second push last month brought the total raised to almost $2,000 since I launched the fundraiser in April. Now, I am preparing Rubén’s asylum application ahead of his next check-in with immigration authorities.)

Migrant advocates also helped a Central American couple stuck in Juárez under Remain in Mexico nearly reach a goal of $2,500. They need the money to pay for travel around Juárez, where they’re looking for work, as well as for trips to El Paso for their asylum case hearings. Recently, the couple used some of the money to get married — a legal hoop they had to jump through that could affect their asylum case. 

My friend Justin Hamel, the El Paso-based photographer who has been documenting the situation at the border for months, and who shot my story about Juárez for Heated Mag, was there to watch the couple tie the knot. Here they are, faces obscured to protect their privacy.

***

After a dead battery in my car, a stranger jumping it, a trip to Whataburger for much-needed sustenance and two hour’s sleep, Sarah and I took Alma and Mateo back to the airport that morning in late June. We got her a wheelchair to sit in with Mateo — you should have seen this tiny woman carrying the boy, who is big for his age. It was then that we realized the only identification she possessed was a Guatemalan ID card. No visa, no passport, no nothing. How did she get past security in El Paso? Unknown. How would she get past security to make it to Birmingham?

With a little luck, and TSA agents looking the other way.

“She has to be legal somehow,” I told them. “They let her get on the plane in El Paso, after all.”

Eventually, they waved Alma and Mateo through. She looked back one last time and we waved. They had made it.

***

All of the photos on this post are mine with the exception of the married couple in Juárez, which was provided by Justin Hamel. The first is of the canal separating El Paso and Juárez from my trip there for Heated Mag. The second is of a holding pen for migrants at Paso Del Norte, and the third is of myself and my fixer and friend, Julian Cardona, in Juárez. Many, many thanks are owed to Julian for his help navigating Juárez. Without him, I could not have done this work. Now thousands of miles from the border, this newsletter will soon go in a different direction. I’m interested in unsolved missing persons cases and homicides, which I’ll begin investigating here in Georgia. The New York Times will soon be publishing a piece of mine about members of Congress who are involved with private companies, so it’s also very likely that Where Do We Go From Here will take on a renewed focus on political corruption. As always, if you like what you see here, tell a friend. And if anyone has any tips on scandals, malfeasance or general wrongdoing in Georgia and the Low Country, please let me know. Here, I’ll continue my efforts to give a voice to those who usually don’t get one, and holding people in power accountable. Thanks for reading. 

They are open with it: an armed Trump supporter brings his gun to a migrant shelter, is released

It's not illegal for a white supremacist to brandish a gun in El Paso outside a place where migrants are welcome.

In El Paso yesterday, Thomas Bartram told my friend Rob Crilly, a reporter for the Washington Examiner, that he was an open-carry advocate but didn’t plan to brandish his gun in that devastated city because it was a “funeral, so it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.”

Less than 24 hours later he was walking around outside an El Paso migrant community center with a gun and a knife. Police detained him at gunpoint, found several clips of ammunition and a bag of white powder on him, and briefly detained him before letting him go.

Bartram is a young, white man who has been seen flashing a white power hand sign in past social media posts. He is also seen in a wire photo in Dallas carrying an assault rifle at a pro-second amendment event that coincided with last year’s National Rifle Association convention here. He is seen in a video from April that was featured on his beloved InfoWars in which he and two others unfurled banners over an interstate in Houston, where he lives. “It’s OK 2 B white,” one banner reads. “Trump 2020,” reads another. 

Texas’ open carry law means that police were likely legally handcuffed from booking Bartram on any charges — after all, it’s not illegal in this state to walk around outside a migrant community center while carrying a gun. And while Texas doesn’t have a red-flag law, if it did Bartram should qualify. 

He should have his guns taken from him right now by police in Houston before he actually goes through with killing someone. He is clearly a far-right, white supremacist who believes this country is being invaded by brown people — the very same belief that prompted Patrick Wood Crusius to drive nine hours from Allen, near Dallas, to carry out his atrocities in El Paso.

Bartram himself drove 10 hours to El Paso from Houston to make his statement of support for President Trump, which would have been known by anyone and everyone who came across his truck: the vehicle is adorned with a depiction of Trump as Rambo, holding a rocket launcher, and bumper stickers backing conspiracy theories fueled by InfoWars, as well as the website itself. 

Here he is in El Paso sporting a white power hand gesture in a photo taken by Crilly.

And here he is in a pair of screenshots from the video in Houston, where he and his fellow members of the “InfoWars Army” unfurled their banners.

Bartram is a danger to society as well as black and brown people everywhere. His actions in the last 24 hours make clear that he should not have access to firearms. But in this country, the second amendment continues to trump the safety of all Americans. 

The latest chapter in American death

Pointless, random, painful and never-ending.

The truck has 10 bullet holes in it and the seat is covered with his blood three days after police shot him in Fort Worth. His stepdad and I are looking at the truck together because we both want to know what happened. The stepdad gives me his phone number so we can keep in touch in case I end up writing a story for one of the publications I write for, which of course didn’t happen because it looks like police were relatively justified in killing JaQuavion Slaton, and in America in 2019 that is what you call Not a News Story.

Some would say it’s resiliency that less than 24 hours after a madman armed himself to the teeth with plans to kill a bunch of innocent people in a major American city, Dallas was pretty much back to normal on Monday afternoon when I dropped by the scene of Brian Clyde’s would-be rampage. Some would say positive things like you can’t scare Americans but I think it’s just dystopian that we can all process something like what happened on Monday so quickly, probably because things like that or much worse happen all the time.

I think it’s dystopian that I can be sitting at my desk on a Monday morning and then have to hop in my car, turn on my police scanner, and go downtown in the city I live to walk around and look at cops with assault rifles ushering people into work while I go into a 7-11 and get batteries and taquitos like everything is fine. Everything is not fine.

Any given day any one of us can be gunned down or blown up by a terrorist who has been radicalized in the dark corners of the Internet, like I suspect Clyde was. For years we feared threats like those coming from the Muslim world — teenagers from across Europe who had trekked to Syria and elsewhere to murder people in the name of the Islamic State or who had blown up some place in Europe under the same twisted ideology. We worried about them coming here and doing the same which has happened less than a dozen times since 9-11 and has cost fewer American lives than your average Texas freeway does in a given year.

Now, the threat is coming from our own backyard.

Clyde’s family told the Dallas Morning News that the 22-year-old had dealt with mental health issues and depression in the past and that he wanted to kill himself. For some reason the newspaper did not address any of Clyde’s Facebook posts showing what my colleague Kelly Weill described in our story on Clyde as a “familiarity with the right-wing Internet.” Swastikas, homophobic and transphobic memes — in line with what a gay classmate of Clyde’s told the News were some bigoted personality traits of his — and at least a couple references to QAnon dotted Clyde’s Facebook page as I scrolled through it Monday morning.

But it wasn’t just the memes from the far-right Internet’s radicalization engine — which Weill has written about extensively — that showed up on Clyde’s page; there was also general sense of dispossession and separation from the larger world that bled through his posts. You can blame Clyde’s actions on what his family says were unaddressed mental health issues but take a run through his Facebook page and any reasonable person would also conclude that his problems were exacerbated by the right-wing garbage he was consuming online.

“A modern gladius to defend the modern Republic,” he wrote above a picture of a sword the day before he strapped up and headed into downtown Dallas.

That is not something your average depressed young man says before deciding to die of suicide-by-cop, which is what his dad told the News he thought Clyde wanted. We don’t know everything Clyde was looking at online but his Facebook shows that his apparent depression and accompanying death wish probably weren’t getting any better by whatever he was reading.

Watch Fox & Friends any given morning and you get the extremely watered-down version of what that Clyde’s and a lot of other people’s worlds looks like: creeping marauders around every corner, strange foreigners trying to take something that you were given by birthright, an entire industry of fear and hate of the other that gives young, dispossessed men like Clyde a sense of identity and community that they’ve never had before. Sanctuary from the evil forces that are surrounding and outnumbering them.

Generally speaking: them fucking over you.

***

Maybe Slaton found a sense of community in the streets of Fort Worth before his brief, 20-year-old life came to a violent end on June 9. Maybe he just made a mistake when he fled from a traffic stop because he had warrants and hid in a truck, allegedly brandishing the gun he was carrying with him. Police say he shot himself in the head then, killing himself, as five officers surrounded the truck with their guns drawn. Or maybe it was one of the nine rounds they fired into the truck — hard to tell.

The medical examiner can’t say which bullet it is that killed him because that’s how multiple gunshot wounds work.

But that didn’t stop anonymous sources within the Fort Worth Police Department from going to the Morning News and saying that their investigation had concluded Slaton killed himself before the ME had released its findings.

At the press conference last week where police chief Edwin Kraus showed body camera footage of the foot chase that preceded Slaton’s death, I asked him if Slaton’s head had powder burns on it — something that is almost always present in close proximity shots, like someone putting a gun to their temple to end their life.

Kraus said he didn’t know because he hadn’t seen the autopsy report yet. A very smart reporter then followed up and asked the chief whether he could say with certainty that Slaton killed himself.

“I’m not going to speculate on that. I’ll wait until I see the ME’s report,” he replied.

I asked him, then, if he knew who from his department had gone to the News a few days earlier and closed the case in the public eye without having the report, the most important physical evidence there is in Slaton’s death. He said he didn’t know.

“I have no idea who that would be,” he replied.

***

We’re now at a point where this is done and no one really cares all that much whether another black kid was shot by cops for very good or no good reasons at all. Or that some kid professing a few different varieties of white, hetero grievance alongside weaponry fetishization on his Facebook page had enough bullets on him just a few days ago to kill 100 people, but apparently got scared and decided not to.

The locals cover these events because they happen in their communities. The nationals cover them only if the body count is high enough or if there’s some sort of political angle, like Clyde’s Facebook page. For a national to cover a police shooting in 2019 there would have to be major protests or very serious questions about the incident itself.

But because there aren’t usually reporters just standing around when someone is shot by police those questions can only come about by eyewitnesses and, most importantly, reporters talking to those eyewitnesses and getting their sides of the story.

That’s why I drove out to Fort Worth last week and wound up standing next to Slaton’s stepdad as we looked at the truck where his son died.

Eventually Slaton’s friends showed up and told the stepdad that, yes, his son did have a gun. In that moment, I could see the heartbreak in his eyes. Where before he at least had hope that the cops did something terribly wrong and he could dedicate his time to seeking justice for his son, now he knew finally that they may have justified in taking his child from him.

There may be fewer things that are simultaneously more painful and frequent than random American death.

P.S. All of the photos on this post are mine. Inside the truck where Slaton died, his stepfather’s friend — an ex-cop — showing entry bullet holes from Fort Worth police, and Slaton’s stepfather walking away from the scene.

We will pay one way or the other

If tariffs on Mexico go through we'll be paying a tax for the president's racism. You can fight back by helping migrants and their advocates.

I joked that, of all the terrible things Donald Trump has done, potentially slapping a five percent tariff on my beloved Tecate was the worst of all.

Moments of levity are all we have now in the face of the never-ending onslaught of meanness and stupidity that surrounds us each day. When it came to immigration policy, the Trump administration has engaged in widespread cruel stupidity that does nothing to address the root causes of migration. With the possibility of tariffs against Mexico, Trump is now opening a new front of economic stupidity, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted a few days ago.

The tariffs on Mexico are our Child King’s latest salvo in his flailing attempts to completely stop the migration of brown people to the United States. This time, he thinks he can do it by making Americans pay more for fruits, vegetables, beer and many other things. He thinks somehow the cost of the tariffs, which he says will only stop if Mexico is somehow able to solve a problem — migration — that no one in the span of human history has been able to solve, will be paid for by Mexico.

This, of course, will not happen.

He believes he can stop people who are in part fleeing a lack of economic opportunity by imposing more economic inopportunity. If the goal is to get Mexicans and Central Americans to want to stay in their countries, tariffs that will kill jobs and reduce income for those countries will do the exact opposite.

Many people, to use one of Trump’s favorite phrases, have noted this. They include Shannon O’Neill, of the Council on Foreign Relations. From Bloomberg:

The U.S. government is pushing Mexico to sign onto a safe third party agreement in exchange for continuing free trade (something the previous Enrique Pena Nieto administration refused). This would designate Mexico a safe place for migrants, even though it is patently not. It would also free the United States from any Central American asylum claims along its southern border by forcing Mexico to deal on its own with the hundreds of thousands of refugees. Which it obviously can’t.

The ensuing humanitarian crisis would likely send Mexico’s economy, which already shrank in the first quarter of 2019, into recession if not a full-blown crisis. If that happens, more migrants will head to the U.S., as Mexicans join Central America’s sojourners.

The US Chamber of Commerce is considering suing the Trump administration over the tariffs. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce noted that a lot of those working class Hoosiers who voted to Make America Great Again will now be “innocent victims [...] paying what amounts to tax increases.”

Fellow old white man who normally supports Trump’s radicalization of immigration policy Chuck Grassley said the tariffs are a bad idea. The markets acted predictably to the world’s largest economy seeking tariffs on its second largest trading partner over something that has nothing to do with economic policy while also in a trade war with its largest trading partner, China, by posting some of their worst losses since 2011.

“He’s gonna create a recession or die trying,” a friend texted me.

Good thing that folks as wealthy as Donald Trump are usually immune to recessions. The rest of us aren’t so lucky.

If the tariffs on Mexico go through, American citizens and companies will be forced with the choice of either paying a lot more for things or not buying them at all. It’s a pretty safe assumption most will choose the latter, something Trump and his fellow millionaire advisors don’t understand, because they’ve never really had to make decisions on things like weekly grocery bills, rent, putting gas in their cars and child and health care.

One of the concessions Trump is looking for is what O’Neill mentioned — a safe third party agreement. This means the Trump administration — and by that, we mean Stephen Miller, the 33-year old, fascist anti-immigrant advisor with no experience in economic policy who is pushing the Mexico tariffs — wants the country to designate itself a safe third party state. In other words, a place where migrants fleeing rampant gang and drug violence will be “safe” while they wait for their asylum cases to be heard in US immigration courts. Mexico cannot do this, obviously, because violence there has been rising in recent years to its highest levels in years.

Migrants are especially vulnerable targets for exploitation in such environments. Not that the Trump administration cares. If Mexico were to agree to safe third party designation that would open the doors for the US government to send even more migrants there, which it’s already been doing under Remain in Mexico.

At least three migrants seeking asylum were murdered after being returned to Juárez to await their court date, according to the Hope Border Institute, an El Paso-based non-profit. Hope has been documenting the various problems that migrants are facing under the program. They include lack of access to attorneys, advocates, and translators. A mother and her five-year-old daughter were kidnapped in Juárez after telling a judge they feared returning there. The judge sent them back anyway.

You can donate to Hope here.

El Paso has quietly remained ground zero for the historic surge in migrants in recent months. On May 30, the Homeland Security Inspector General detailed “dangerous” overcrowding at facilities at Paso Del Norte. You might remember that El Paso-based photographer Justin Hamel and I detailed the growing tent cities that migrants are being held in there back in April. They’ve grown larger since then.

Meanwhile, a company with major Republican ties whose CEO is constantly on Fox News yammering about border security is behind a crowdfunded effort to build a wall in nearby Sunland Park, New Mexico.

While migrants are held in poor conditions and the US government is engaged in what courts may decide is a mass-denial of their rights under the constitution — let alone human rights — this is what some Americans have chosen to spend their money on.

Readers of Where Do We Go From Here can do the opposite. Authorities continue to release as many as 1,000 migrants a day to Annunciation House in El Paso, which has been scrambling to keep up with the demand for food, clothing and shelter for the men, women and children who have trekked thousands of miles for a chance at a better life. You can donate to A-House here.

Finally, a bit of good news. Rubén, the Honduran migrant I met in Juárez in February, has finally made it to Texas where he is staying with family. This wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of this newsletter’s readers, who raised more than $1,000 for Rubén’s asylum defense back in April. Some of those funds got us a consultation with an attorney, which led us to the very helpful folks at the University of Tulsa Legal Clinic. A few dollars more got Rubén a ride — you might remember that he is confined to a wheelchair — down to Texas, about five hours in the car.

We are both incredibly grateful for you generosity.

I’ll be updating the fund soon, which you can still donate to here, because we now must begin the asylum application process for Rubén. Once he’s given a date for a credible fear interview, we’ll need to raise more money to hire a lawyer. But for now, thank you all.

As always, if you like what you see here please consider sharing this newsletter with a friend, or subscribing to receive it in your inbox. And remember what Rubén said:

Pedir es fuerza y dar es voluntad.

***

P.S. The photo at the top of this post is mine. It’s from February in Juárez, the day after I met Rubén.

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