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Global Nation


A daily public radio broadcast program and podcast from PRX and WGBH, hosted by Marco Werman


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Jonathan, an asylum-seeker from Haiti, has a collection of bus tickets from his trip last fall from Florida to the US-Canada border. The last bus dropped him off in Plattsburgh, New York, a little over 20 miles from Canada. Then, he took a taxi to the border.

But he didn’t go to an official border crossing. Instead, he followed instructions from other asylum-seekers.

“My friend sent me every [piece of] information,” said Jonathan, who asked to use only his first name because his asylum case is pending.

That information included videos posted online of an informal crossing point north of Plattsburgh. The spot, a country road that reaches a dead end in a gravel patch at the border, has become so popular with asylum-seekers that police now wait, 24/7, on the Canadian side to detain new arrivals.

But like tens of thousands of other asylum-seekers trying to reach Canada from the US in the past four years, Jonathan took this route to avoid a bilateral deal between the two countries known as the Safe Third Country Agreement. Signed in the wake of 9/11, the deal allows both the US and Canada to turn back asylum-seekers who present themselves at official border crossings if they first passed through the other country. In practice, it has more frequently impacted asylum-seekers arriving in Canada after having lived in or transited through the United States.

But last week, a Canadian judge ruled the agreement violates asylum-seekers’ rights because of what happens after people are turned back to the US if they arrive at official border crossings. Detention conditions to which returned asylum-seekers may be subject in the US violates asylum-seekers’ protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the judge found.

Related: Canadian court weighs whether the US is safe for asylum-seekers

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, which was a party to the legal challenge, explained that those who do arrive at the US border at official crossing points and are turned back are returned to US border agents.

“You may very well end up in detention for an extended period of time. In immigration detention centers, sometimes commingled with criminal convicts. That’s very commonplace.”

Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

“You may very well end up in detention for an extended period of time. In immigration detention centers, sometimes commingled with criminal convicts. That’s very commonplace,” Neve said.

In her ruling Wednesday, Canadian Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald focused on the experience of plaintiff Nedira Mustefa, an asylum-seeker who is originally from Ethiopia.

After being turned back from Canada, Mustefa spent a month in a New York county jail, which included time in solitary confinement until she was released on bond. Unable to get halal food in jail, Mustefa lost 15 pounds.

McDonald wrote: “Although the US system has been subject to much debate and criticism, a comparison of the two systems is not the role of this Court, nor is it the role of this Court to pass judgment on the US asylum system.”

However, she continued: “Canada cannot turn a blind eye to the consequences that befell Ms. Mustefa in its efforts to adhere to the [Safe Third Country Agreement].”

The ruling leaves the agreement in place for the next six months to allow the government to respond. Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government not to appeal.

Related: As asylum-seekers trek north, Canada examines border loophole

Mayor of Plattsburgh, Colin Read, says that despite the notoriety of the back road where Jonathan crossed, some families still approach official border crossings because they either do not know of the agreement or think they fall under exempted categories.

The first family of asylum-seekers he encountered back in 2017 had tried to apply for asylum at the Champlain–St. Bernard de Lacolle border crossing, a half-hour drive north of Plattsburgh, New York.

According to Read, the father of the family had $2,000 in his pocket to begin what the family hoped was a new life in Canada. Turned back from Canada as ineligible to enter and apply for asylum, he was detained by US border officers who found the sum suspicious.

Eventually, Read said, “He’s ... transported to Buffalo, which is the main [immigration] detention center in our region, and there's a wife and a bunch of kids in hand with no place to go.”


07/27/20 • -1 min

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This story is part of "Every 30 Seconds," a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

The coronavirus pandemic turned Jacob Cuenca’s life upside down just before he graduated high school.

“Literally everything was fine, you know, I was going to school, worrying about my math test, and all of a sudden there's no school for, like, three months,” he said. “We had no prom night, no senior brunches.”

Cuenca, who is 18, now finds himself in a kind of purgatory in between high school and college, stuck at home in a town just south of Miami, one of the nation's epicenters for the coronavirus. He graduated from high school but has chosen to delay his freshman year at the University of Denver in Colorado for at least one semester to avoid some of the disruption brought on by the pandemic.

Politically, Cuenca finds himself in a kind of purgatory as well. He registered to vote for the first time in March as a Republican. He considered himself a reluctant supporter of Republican President Donald Trump.

But the pandemic has shaken up Cuenca’s politics, too. Trump’s handling of the pandemic has made him reconsider his support for the president. Instead, Cuenca has become a hesitant supporter of presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

His journey offers a snapshot into the psyche of a first-time Latino voter in Florida, a must-win swing state.

“I think Joe Biden and Trump are both pretty bad people. But if I had to choose a lesser evil it would be Joe Biden.”

Jacob Cuenca, first-time voter

“I think Joe Biden and Trump are both pretty bad people,” Cuenca said. “But if I had to choose a lesser evil it would be Joe Biden.”

The problem with Biden is that he’s old, out of touch, and will say anything to get elected, Cuenca said. And it doesn’t help that Biden was one of the authors of a 1994 law that is broadly credited as being one of the primary reasons for mass incarceration in the US, he added.

Still, a Democrat in the White House could help pass new social programs in a time of financial crisis that has impacted his own family, Cuenca pointed out.

Related: Trump's pandemic response has this conservative Latino teen considering Biden

Family debates over politics

Cuenca’s mother also says she is underwhelmed with her options for the November election.

Nohemi Cuenca is a Mexican American who leans left and isn’t impressed with any of the candidates in the race. For her, it’s almost an existential moment for democracy.

“We should have good quality candidates that you can say, ‘Wow, we can get behind that person.’ I don’t feel like that for any of them, to tell you the truth,” she said. “Bernie Sanders, yeah, I felt it 100% that he should have been the person.”

“I think it’s a really sad time for us in the United States when it comes to politics.”

Nohemi Cuenca, mother of Jacob Cuenca

“Why they picked Joe Biden?” she asked, rhetorically. “I don’t know. [He's so] out of touch. But so is Trump. So I think it’s a really sad time for us in the United States when it comes to politics.”

Nohemi Cuenca said she is “up in arms” about who to vote for, because “neither of them, I feel, is any good.”

The Cuenca household is politically mixed. Family discussions can get passionate from all sides. But Nohemi Cuenca said talking politics with her children’s father, a Republican and staunch Trump supporter, is always informative and respectful.

“He’ll disagree with me or I’ll disagree and we have our opinions and we talk. But I listen to what he has to say. He listens to me as well,” she said. “Same with the kids. When they inform me of something that maybe I was wrong with, didn't know correctly, they will correct me. So — ‘OK, let me do my research and look about it.’ So, we all take it in stride.”

Related: Latino groups fight voter suppression efforts as US election nears

A welcome distraction

Talking politics can feel like a welcome — if inescapable — distraction from the coronavirus itself.

Jacob Cuenca has rarely left home for the last several months, besides taking bike rides around the neighborhood. He spends his time inside playing video games and sleeping i...


07/21/20 • -1 min

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This story is part of "Every 30 Seconds," a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

With four months left until Election Day in November, US presidential candidates are ramping up their campaigns — and their efforts to court Latino voters.

In Texas, a key state for the presidential race, both US President Donald Trump and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, have boosted their Latino outreach in recent weeks. Some 5.6 million Latinos are eligible to vote in Texas. They comprise about 30% of all eligible voters in the state, the third-highest rate in the country.

Related: Latino groups fight voter suppression efforts as US election nears

Trump visited the city of Dallas in June shortly after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, to meet with faith leaders and law enforcement and discuss health and justice disparities. Biden, meanwhile, debuted his first general election TV ad on Tuesday in Texas, a state that a Democartic presidential nominee has not won in more than 40 years. Recent polls show Biden has a real shot this year at turning Texas blue, or at least purple.

Texas held its US Senate Democratic primary runoff elections on Tuesday. It was the first election to take place in the state since the pandemic began. Their primary elections, held March 3, or Super Tuesday, took place a few weeks before the pandemic shut down much of the country.

Despite a sharp recent increase in confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state, many Latinos still went to the polls and many arrived prepared: They wore masks and brought their own hand sanitizer. Some even brought their own stylus pen to fill out their ballot.

“I didn’t feel like my health was at stake or anything,” said Maria Cruz, 63, a Dallas County resident and former educator. She came out to vote with her two adult daughters despite undergoing cancer treatment.

“We can’t tell future generations that things were bad or good if we haven’t done our part to get the representation.”

Maria Cruz, Latina voter in Dallas County, Texas

“We can’t tell future generations that things were bad or good if we haven’t done our part to get the representation,” she said.

One of Cruz’s daughters, Susana Cruz, 39, said the family has a tradition of making voting a family event — and it was no different during the pandemic.

“It’s really important for us as Latinas to come out and vote,” Susana Cruz said. “This was definitely a priority today and we were coming out to make sure we choose people that are going to be representing us locally.”

Latinos are paying attention to that representation — at all levels of government.

In Tuesday’s runoff election, one candidate for US Senate, Candace Valenzuela, won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 24th Congressional District, which includes Dallas, and other populous counties in North Texas, with 60% of the vote. She made her identity as an Afro Latina central to her campaign.

This victory puts Valenzuela on track to becoming the first Afro Latina in Congress if she wins in November.


07/15/20 • -1 min

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After spending almost his entire adult life in a cell, Chanthon Bun was released from San Quentin State Prison in California earlier this month. Officials dropped him off at a bus stop three miles away.

Bun had not expected to go free — rather, he expected to leave prison and go straight into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Bun arrived in the United States as a child refugee in 1986 after his family fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. He entered the prison system at 18 for the armed robbery of a computer store. Though Bun, now 41, has legal permanent residency in the US, his felony conviction made him a target for potential deportation once he had completed his prison sentence.

But ICE was not there to pick up Bun when he was released July 1, and that may be because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prison-to-ICE transfers are routine in the US for some non-citizen immigrants who have charges or convictions. Every year, thousands of immigrants are released from prison and put into ICE detention, where they face deportation. Immigrant rights advocates have fought this policy for years. But it has come under renewed scrutiny with the pandemic as many detention centers throughout the country have experienced coronavirus outbreaks. As of July 10, 3,090 detainees have tested positive at detention centers nationwide, among a total detained population of about 22,600. Many advocates and detainees believe that total is an undercount because of a dearth in testing.

Bun was already feeling sick with symptoms of COVID-19 before his release from San Quentin. The prison is experiencing a severe outbreak of the virus, with more than one-third of the inmates and staff testing positive.

Related: 'Emergency releases' from prison reduce risk of virus spread, criminal justice expert says

Bun’s condition made his lawyer nervous.

“We were deeply concerned, and I was getting letters from Bun as he was watching the outbreak spread around him,” said Anoop Prasad, a longtime immigration lawyer with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, a nonprofit based in San Francisco. “He was increasingly panicked and felt like a sitting duck sitting in a cell, and it was a matter of time before COVID came and got him.”

Prasad also worried that Bun’s transfer to an immigration detention center could be deadly and dangerous to others.

“We knew very well that if he gets transferred to ICE, he very well may infect other people and he very well may not survive.”

Anoop Prasad, staff attorney, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

“We knew very well that if he gets transferred to ICE, he very well may infect other people and he very well may not survive,” Prasad said.

Social distancing in detention

A growing number of groups that advocate for immigrants’ rights are also highlighting these risks.

"Folks should be released to their family members, where they can shelter in place. There is no social distancing in a crowded detention center,” said Luis Suarez, field advocacy director of Detention Watch Network, a coalition of immigrant rights organizations.

Weeks before Bun’s release, Prasad and others launched a public campaign, holding rallies and phone banks to stop the authorities from handing over Bun and other inmates to ICE.

Immigrant rights advocates in San Francisco demanded the release of Chanthon Bun from San Quentin State Prison, along with other inmates showing symptoms of the coronavirus.


Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

Meanwhile, an ICE agent informed Bun that he would be picked up from prison and taken into ICE custody.

“Inside, we all know about the ICE holds,” Bun said, referring to ICE’s requests to law enforcement officials to detain immigrants in jail or prison until they can be transferred to ICE’s custody.

The public pressure campaign seemed to work: ICE did not pick up Bun. He was so sure ICE agents would detain him that he hadn’t arranged for any friends or family to meet him at the bus stop, even after two decades in prison.

“I had my medication ready ... because I knew I was really sick. I was getting ready for myself, to protect myself when I got to ICE.”

Chanthon Bun, recently released from prison

“That was the biggest surprise ever,” Bun said. “I had put together a safety pack for myself to go to ICE. I had collected a little hand sanitizer. I had my medication ready ... because I knew I was really sick. I was getting ready for myself, to protect myself when I got to ICE.”


07/14/20 • -1 min

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This story is part of "Every 30 Seconds," a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

Brayan Guevara comes from a long line of educators: His mother is a college instructor, and his grandparents were teachers in Honduras.

Now, Guevara is on the same path. The 19-year-old is a sophomore at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and wants to become a teacher.
Before the pandemic and while school was still in session, Guevara spent his weekdays as a teacher’s assistant at Irving Park Elementary in Greensboro helping kids with their schoolwork and classroom behavior.

“At the time I was working with kindergarteners and first graders,” he said. “They're still in their fundamental stage where they need to do [work on] three-letter words or four-letter words. I will just help them do that and mostly get their own behavior in check.”

The lack of Latino educators in the US is one reason Guevara, who is Afro Latino, is pursuing his career path. He wants to change the way teachers interact with students, especially minorities. And he wants to serve as a model for his students — especially those who are Black, Latino and Afro Latino — so that they, too, see a future for themselves in education.

“How teachers treat Black kids, which I have experienced in my time — it’s just the stigma that they already have for these kids."

Brayan Guevara, sophomore, Guilford Technical Community College

“How teachers treat Black kids, which I have experienced in my time — it’s just the stigma that they already have for these kids,” Guevara said.

Related: This first-time Afro Latino voter is undecided. His biggest issue? Education.

The North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals is working to address the lack of Latino educators, especially those who are Afro Latino. The nonprofit promotes education among Hispanic youth in North Carolina.

But there needs to be more intention when it comes to recruiting Latino educators, said the group’s board chair, MariaRosa Rangel.

“If we truly believe in equity and if we really want to make a difference, we need more Latino teachers.”

MariaRosa Rangel, board chair, North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals

“If we truly believe in equity and if we really want to make a difference, we need more Latino teachers,” she said. “We also lose a lot of students because they don't see themselves reflected in the curriculum, they don't see themselves as reflected in the classroom.”

Guevara shares his love of teaching with his mother, Nodia Mena, a Spanish language instructor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Mena received her teaching certificate while she was living in Honduras. She immigrated to the US in the 1990s, and worked in the corporate world in New York. After several years, Mena moved to North Carolina and earned her master’s in Spanish literature, then began teaching.

Like her son, teaching is her passion. And as an Afro Latina educator, she wants to expose her students to a world that is inclusive of all races.

“I realized that most of the Latino students are not aware of the presence of Afro descendants in Latin America, the lack of presence in the media,” she said. “It does not include Afro descendancy in it, and it's hurtful for me.”

Related: How a trip to Honduras shaped one young US Afro Latino voter's identity

The rise of Latinos in higher ed

The proportion of Latinos in higher education in the US is growing. In 1990, only 10% of recently arrived Latino immigrants older than 25, had a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2018, roughly a quarter of Latino immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

While this increase is welcomed by organizations that promote Latino education, more work needs to be done to close the gap. Only 24% of Latino adults in the US have an associate’s degree or higher — compared to 44% of all US adults.

it’s a myth that Latinos don’t value education, said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit aimed at increasing Latino student success in higher education. And the US presidential election in Nove...


07/10/20 • -1 min

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Monday brought disappointing news for Harvard University sophomore Noah Furlonge-Walker.

Due to the coronavirus, all of the university’s undergraduate classes will be held online this fall, and fewer than half of students will be allowed on campus.

The same day, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students like Furlonge-Walker would be stripped of their student visas if their coursework is entirely online. Under the new rules, international students must leave the country — or would not be allowed in — if they cannot take classes in person.

“I was pretty upset about it because it couldn't have come at a worse time,” said Furlonge-Walker, who returned to his home country, Trinidad and Tobago, after Harvard closed its campus in response to the pandemic in March. “It was a lot of news to take in on one day, and it just felt like the US was making it particularly hard on international students.”

ICE’s announcement left many international students wondering whether they would be able to complete their degrees or return to their lives in the US. It also left universities scrambling to rethink some of the pandemic contingency plans they’ve made for fall — and to find ways to keep their students in the country. Some experts say it’s the Trump administration’s way of forcing universities to reopen before it’s safe to do so.

Universities and advocates for international students were quick to slam the new rules.

Harvard, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sued the federal government Wednesday, saying the guidelines “threw all of higher education into chaos.” The suit seeks to temporarily block the government from enforcing the policy, saying it was not implemented properly. Dozens of universities signed on to an amicus brief in support of the Harvard and MIT. And many released statements saying they are studying the guidelines and looking for ways to support international students. California also filed a similar lawsuit Thursday.

ICE's guidance “imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem.”

Lawrence S. Bacow, Harvard University president

Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a statement Tuesday that ICE's guidance “imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem.”

The American Council on Education called the announcement “horrifying.”

“This guidance raises more questions than it answers and unfortunately does more harm than good,” it said in a statement. “Regrettably, this guidance provides confusion and complexity rather than certainty and clarity.”

Some 1.1 million students were enrolled in US universities during the 2018-19 school year, according to the Institute of International Education. Most of them are on F-1 student visas. The federal government provided special exemptions that allowed them to study remotely during the coronavirus outbreak in March. Usually, those on student visas may attend a maximum of one class online; the rest must be in person.

Related: Visa restrictions on Chinese students will disadvantage US, says Queens College president

But the pandemic is far from over in the US, and many universities have opted to continue offering remote instruction in the upcoming school year. According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, which is tracking more than 1,000 universities around the country, 9% will have remote instruction and 24% will implement a hybrid model, which offers a mix of in-person and online classes.

Under ICE’s guidelines, students will be allowed to take more than one class online if they’re enrolled in colleges and universities offering hybrid classes. But students and their universities have to go through a certification process.

In an interview with


07/08/20 • -1 min

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For American universities, catering to international students is big business. Each year, more than 1 million come here to study. About a third are from China.

But come fall, many may be absent. This week, the Trump administration announced that international students would not be allowed to enter or remain in the US if their colleges and universities are online-only this fall. The move drew swift backlash from higher education administrators and advocates. Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit against the government Wednesday to block the measure.

Unlike domestic students, international students often pay full tuition — which helps universities to fund scholarships and their general operations. International students injected nearly $45 billion into the US economy in 2018.

For some international students, remote learning could mean attending classes in the middle of the night, dealing with spotty or no internet access, losing funding contingent on teaching, or having to stop participating in research. Some are considering taking time off or leaving their programs entirely.

Frank Wu, president of Queens College in New York, has written about the US government's complicated relationship with students from China. He joined The World's host Carol Hills for a conversation on the Trump administration's new guidance and its impact on international students in the US.

Related: Universities scramble to help international universities stay in US after new visa restrictions

Carol Hills: Frank, how do you interpret this move by the Trump administration? Is it about politics or public health?

Frank Wu: It's about everything. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Even before this, there was suspicion and statements, including by the president himself, that almost all students coming from China are spies. That was said by the president at a private dinner. And it made the news, but the story didn't stick, which was just one of many things that are said along similar lines. About 350,000 students per year have been coming from China. That's pre-pandemic. So they're the biggest part of the international student population.

But there is a public health piece to this. I mean, one could say that you're working on the basis of public health if you're restricting students from overseas from coming to the US. What's your sense of that?

Oh, absolutely. That probably isn't the reason, because at the same time this ban on foreign students was announced, the president said he would pressure states to pressure schools, including colleges, to reopen. So, it doesn't make sense to say, well, let's have everyone reopen, but then let's keep out people from places with lower rates of the coronavirus.

Do you think many Chinese students enrolled at American universities will just say, "Forget it, I'll enroll in a university in Asia or Europe instead"?

That's already happened. For many international students, the United Kingdom looks very popular, or just staying home. We face a real risk of a reverse brain drain. So, I'm an American. I was born here in the United States, grew up in Detroit. My parents, they were born in China. They grew up in Taiwan, and they came to the United States in the 1960s, that bygone era when America was welcoming people. And America invested in them. They didn't just come. They came as scholarship students. America wanted to recruit them. It was a good investment because my parents became citizens, taxpayers, contributors. My family has staked its fortunes on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

It's pretty clear you interpret this move by the Trump administration as a move against China and Chinese students. What does the US lose if many of these students decide to go to another university and not wait it out for trying to finish at a US university?

America risks losing its competitive advantage. What we have is freedom and opportunity — and that attracts the most talented from everywhere else. Imagine if everyone of Chinese descent just vanished overnight. What would happen to the physics department at most universities? What would happen in Silicon Valley? What we risk losing is the talent that we've been able to recruit that has driven American entrepreneurial activity, scientific research and progress.

As president of Queens College in New York, how are you responding to these new guidelines on international students?

The chancellor [Félix V. Matos Rodríguez] of the CUNY system — we're part of a system — issued a powerful


07/08/20 • -1 min

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For the past four years, Reyna Isabel Alvarez Navarro has reported to work at a crawfish processing plant in Crowley, Louisiana, bundled in two pairs of pants, two sweaters and a hat. She spent her days inside a freezing room where up to 100 employees worked elbow to elbow peeling crawfish.

The cold, crowded conditions weren’t new for the 36-year-old seasonal worker from northern Mexico. But it turned out to be the perfect setting for the novel coronavirus to spread: This spring, several dozen workers in the plant fell ill with COVID-19, including Alvarez Navarro.

Her working conditions also made it difficult for her to obtain medical care. Alvarez Navarro and other migrant workers from her region have come to Louisiana and other states in the US every year on H-2B visas for temporary foreign workers. They stayed for the crawfish farming season, which usually runs from January to July, and lived in employer-provided dorms along with up to 40 people. They were paid $2.50 per pound of peeled crawfish — amounting to $600 to $700 per week.

H-2B workers rely on their employers for things like transportation and housing.

H-2B workers’ visas tie them to their employer, explained Evy Peña, communications director with Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a migrant worker’s rights group with offices in Mexico and the US. Workers rely on their employers for things like transportation and housing.

“And this means that their access to basic services, including food and medical services, depends on their job,” Peña said.

But Alvarez Navarro’s employer did not provide her with health care or help her obtain it — not even after placing her and many of her co-workers in quarantine once they showed symptoms of the coronavirus. Their effort to seek treatment kicked off a legal battle with their employer over dangerous work conditions for seasonal workers during the pandemic.

While the Trump administration is temporarily suspending some employment-based visas, visas for workers essential to the food chain are still being granted. Crawfish is one of Louisiana’s largest industries — and amid the pandemic, seafood workers are considered essential. The seafood industry could face some of the same problems the meatpacking and poultry industries saw earlier this year: meat shortages and plant closures after workers fell ill.

Related: Migrant farmworkers in US deemed essential — but lack basic protections

Alvarez Navarro started feeling ill in April. First came headaches. Then a cough and shortness of breath. Many others fell ill too. Most kept working, but at some point, Alvarez Navarro and many others became too ill to work.

Without access to treatment, Alvarez and another sick co-worker, Maribel Hernandez Villadares, decided to go to a hospital with the help of a friend who spoke English.

“And when the friend called our boss, the boss said he had reported us to immigration authorities because we had run away.”

Hernandez Villadares, seafood worker

“And when the friend called our boss, the boss said he had reported us to immigration authorities because we had run away,” said Hernandez Villadares, a 29-year-old worker with several crawfish harvest seasons under her belt.

Without a job, H-2B workers don’t have the authorization to work in the US — and that creates a domino effect, Peña said.

“So losing a job, losing their immigration status means that not only could they get blacklisted, but also their family members, maybe even their entire community. So when we're talking about a financial burden, it's not only individual, it's also collective,” Peña said.

Both Alvarez Navarro and Hernandez Villadares filed a whistleblower complaint against their former employer, Acadia Processors LLC, saying they were fired without a valid reason.

Acadia Processors LLC didn’t respond to an interview request from The World. But a spokesperson told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser newspaper the company didn’t fire the workers — rather, it said, they “fled the scene” and “abandoned their jobs.”

Related: For undocumented workers, demanding better work conditions could mean deportation

Complaints about worker safety and employer safety are common and have persisted duri...


07/06/20 • -1 min

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This story is part of "Every 30 Seconds," a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

A few weeks ago, 18-year-old Izcan Ordaz joined his high school classmates for his first protest. They called for racial justice as part of a national wave of Black Lives Matter activism. A few days later, he marched again in Keller, an affluent suburb of Fort Worth, Texas, not usually known for protests.

But similar to many places across the country, residents turned out in larger numbers than expected. Keller police estimated 3,000 people showed up.

“I really assumed it was just going to be mostly young people, mostly a lot of minorities,” Ordaz said. “But when I got there I found that it was predominantly white Americans and lots of older families, lots of children.”

Izcan Ordaz, left, poses with a Fort Worth, Texas, police officer at a recent Black Lives Matter protest near his high school.


Courtesy of Izcan Ordaz

Ordaz, who recently graduated from Central High School in Fort Worth, will vote in his first presidential election this November. He falls somewhere in the middle of the US political spectrum: more conservative than his parents, but not too far to the right. Ordaz believes in capitalism and a free-market economy. And two major recent events — the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests — are shaking up how he views US politics.

Back in April, Ordaz’s biggest concerns were getting through the pandemic, the state of the US economy and finishing high school virtually.

Related: This Latino teen voter worries about prom, graduation — and the economy

Now, the issue of racial justice is also top of mind. Ordaz said he felt compelled to do something after watching the viral video of a white Minnesota police officer press his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a Black man.

What happened to Floyd wasn’t right and was painful to watch, Ordaz said. Floyd’s death reflects a larger problem of racial injustice in the country, he added — and that’s why he’s speaking up.

“I think as young people living in the United States, it really is our job to start to step up and to really make the future of the United States go in a different direction.”

Izcan Ordaz, first-time voter

“I think as young people living in the United States, it really is our job to start to step up and to really make the future of the United States go in a different direction,” he said.

As a young Latino, Ordaz is part of a demographic that is changing the US — politically, culturally and demographically. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the US turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. Latinos’ sheer numbers make them an important voting bloc: This fall, they could surpass Black voters for the first time, making them the largest racial or ethnic voter group after whites, according to the Pew Research Center.

Related: Every 30 seconds, a young Latino in the US turns 18. Their votes count more than ever.

Ordaz said it’s his generation’s responsibility to not commit the same mistakes made by previous generations. While he credits older generations for paving the way in the fight for racial equality, he believes his generation can do more.

He points to high-profile cases, such as the 1992 protests that erupted in Los Angeles after four police officers who were videotaped beating Black motorist Rodney King were acquitted at trial.

“This police brutality has been a recurring issue in the United States that hopefully by the time we get to our parents’ age will not still be an issue,” Ordaz said.

Max Krochmal, an associate history professor of history at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, said it’s promising to see a new wave of activism around racial justice, which has taken cues from the 1960s civil rights movement.

That movement pushed the country as far as white Americans were willing to go, said Krochmal, who also chairs comparative race and ethnic studies at the university. In the '60s, Black activists marched and demanded equal rights. They won access to public accommodations, such as restaurants and movie theaters. And the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Other changes around racial equality occurred in the 1960s, but the movement eventually plateaued, Krochmal said. And in some ways, he feels like the nation has moved backward.

“So I see the current Black Lives Matter movement as picking up that torch, as saying that the things tha...


07/01/20 • -1 min

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Ernestina Mejía knew people were getting sick all around her this spring. She heard co-workers coughing in the bathroom at work. Others whispered about colleagues looking feverish.

Mejía wasn’t surprised. She works at Primex Farms, a dried fruit and nut producer based in Wasco, California, about 130 miles north of Los Angeles. Mejía, who moved to the US from Mexico a decade ago, sorted pistachios indoors on an assembly line, working in close proximity to others. Primex offered them no masks, no gloves and no protection against the coronavirus, she said.

Then, in mid-June, Mejía fell ill.

“I started feeling shivers and a terrible cough that wouldn’t let me sleep,” she said in Spanish.

Mejía, along with her husband and youngest daughter, had contracted the virus. So did 99 of Mejia’s coworkers, or about a quarter of Primex’s 400-person workforce, according to a tally by the United Farm Workers, a farmworkers’ union. One of her Primex colleagues, Maria Hortencia Lopez, 57, died on July 13 from COVID-19, according to friends and the UFW. Meanwhile, Mejía said, Primex did not acknowledge that people were falling ill.

Horrified at the outbreak, Mejía and other Primex employees took part in a one-day strike in late June to protest what they viewed as their employer’s failure to protect them. They also demanded an investigation by the state’s attorney general.

Their situation highlights the tightrope farmworkers must walk to protect their health and jobs while avoiding retaliation from their employers. Within weeks, at least 40 Primex workers, many of whom were active in the strike, were terminated, former workers told The World. Others said they feared the same fate if they spoke up.

From the start of the pandemic, warnings were clear that farmworkers — deemed “essential” to the nation’s food supply and thus exempt from lockdown orders — would be at high risk for COVID-19.

From the start of the pandemic, warnings were clear that farmworkers — deemed “essential” to the nation’s food supply and thus exempt from lockdown orders — would be at high risk for COVID-19. Across the US, an estimated 2.5 million farmworkers often work in cramped spaces, carpool to work and live in crowded homes. Many are immigrants and refugees. They’re part of an industry where safety and labor standards are notoriously weak, but many workers cannot leave their jobs because they’ll fall into poverty. The stakes are even higher for undocumented workers, whose legal status leaves them vulnerable to immigration enforcement.

Related: Farmworkers are now deemed essential. But are they protected?

Now, those early warnings are bearing out as outbreaks are reported at farms and food processing plants across the US. In July, dozens of farmworkers at a dorm-style housing facility in Southern California tested positive for the coronavirus. In southwest Florida, Doctors Without Borders has noted high rates of infections among farmworker communities and is providing them with COVID-19 testing and virtual medical consultations.

Employers’ lack of disclosure to employees about workplace infections is not unusual. Jesse Rojas, a business consultant Primex hired to speak to the media on its behalf, told The World the company has been following official safety guidelines and has been “very proactive in communicating with employees.”

In a statement to the local ABC television station, the company attempted to distance itself from the possibility that its workers were infected on-site.

“Primex cannot control the circumstances or monitor what employees are doing outside on their own time,” it said. “Primex is known as one of the cleanest plants in the industry.”

Mejía, along with several current and former Primex workers, also said that the farm did not provide masks for several months as the coronavirus surged across the country. When it did, cloth masks were provided for sale on-site for $8 each.

“That’s not something we can afford,” said Mejía, who earns $13 per hour. In the end, she said she purchased handmade masks f...


07/29/20 • -1 min

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How many episodes does Global Nation have?

Global Nation currently has 66 episodes available.

What topics does Global Nation cover?

The podcast is about Podcasts and Science.

What is the most popular episode on Global Nation?

The episode title 'Canada judge rules sending asylum-seekers back to the US violates their rights' is the most popular.

What is the average episode length on Global Nation?

The average episode length on Global Nation is 2 minutes.

How often are episodes of Global Nation released?

Episodes of Global Nation are typically released every 3 days, 23 hours.

When was the first episode of Global Nation?

The first episode of Global Nation was released on Mar 5, 2020.

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