Greg Abbott Invoked Mental Illness After the El Paso Shooting. Where Is Evidence?

Greg Abbott Invoked Mental Illness After the El Paso Shooting. Where Is Evidence?

Hours after a white gunman walked into an El Paso Walmart on Saturday and killed nearly two dozen Hispanic shoppers, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addressed a room full of reporters in the border city and expressed grief and support for the community.

As high-profile mass shootings continue to erupt across the country — three of which occurred in Texas in the last two years — a reporter asked the governor what he planned on doing to ensure one doesn’t happen again.

Abbott, a Republican, hesitated, then spoke at length about how the state Legislature reacted to the 2018 high school shooting in Santa Fe, eventually focusing on what he said was the most agreed-upon need: addressing mental health issues.

“Bottom line is mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence, and the state of Texas this past session passed a lot of legislation and provided funding for the state to better address that challenge,” he concluded, referring to bills aimed at improving children’s mental health care.

Behind him, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, visibly stiffened, shaking her head slightly as Abbott connected mental illness to what appears to be an act of domestic terrorism fueled by a white supremacist ideology.

The next day, before a downtown El Paso vigil for the victims, she put into words what had been apparent on her face.

“I would also call on those who use mental illness as an excuse to please stop. Please stop,” Escobar told reporters, to light applause from those beginning to arrive for the service. “It further stigmatizes those who truly suffer from mental illness, and the fact of the matter is people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violent crime, not perpetrators.”

“This tragedy is not in vain if we can finally have a reckoning in this country as to what is really going on,” she added.

Resistance to Private Prison Industry Mounts Amid Debate Over Trump’s Immigration Detention Policies

Resistance to Private Prison Industry Mounts Amid Debate Over Trump’s Immigration Detention Policies

The private prison industry is under renewed scrutiny, and things are not going well for it. Prison companies were already under fire, accused of putting profits above the well-being of incarcerated individuals and staff at the dozens of federal and state prisons and local jails they run around the country. Currently, about 8 percent of state and federal prisoners are held in privately operated facilities across 27 states and the federal system.

But these companies aren’t only in the business of housing people convicted of crimes. As of July, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had almost 53,000 people in its custody, and private prison firms are responsible for detaining more than 70 percent of them. Now the industry is getting more attention because of President Trump’s immigration detention policies, such as separating children from their parents, and because of the terrible conditions in many detention facilities, many of which are run by the government and not private firms.

Ironically, because of the Trump administration’s focus on building a border wall and keeping immigrants out, a Republican administration thought to be a boon to the private prison sector has proved one of its biggest problems. As resistance to current immigration policies mount, here is a roundup of some of the high-profile actors targeting the industry.

Presidential election politics

At least 11 Democrats running for president want to eliminate private prisons. Sen. Kamala Harris of California recently tweeted, “One of my first acts of business as president will be to begin phasing out detention centers and private prisons.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts issued a sweeping plan to eviscerate the industry by attempting to phase out federal contracts for private prisons and by reducing states’ reliance on the industry through cutting federal funding to states that contract with these companies. Other candidates have expressed support for immediately canceling all federal contracts with the industry and phasing out the government’s reliance on private prisons.

Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) Introduces Bill To Standardize Health Care Screenings At US Border

Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) Introduces Bill To Standardize Health Care Screenings At US Border

In the cage match between Trump and the Squad, it's easy to miss enlightened comments about the Mexico border migrant crisis like the one Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood just delivered on 'Morning Joe'.

Congresswoman Underwood introduced The U.S. Border Patrol Medical Screening and Standards Act, which would standardized processes and training to ensure consistent medical screenings for migrants in US custody at the Mexico border, according to a news release.

"We progressive women aren't going anywhere," was her final statement. Underwood never embraced all of the Squad's positions or style; not did she try to separate herself from them. But as a Democratic woman of color who defeated a Republican in Illinois’s 14th congressional district in 2018, she's in that camp derided by our most left-wing voices. As if 'she' is the problem in executing the Democratic agenda and not Republicans!

Padma Lakshmi Bakes Fourth of July 'Close the Camps' Red-White-Blue Flag Pie

Padma Lakshmi Bakes Independence Day 'Close the Camps' Red-White-Blue Pie

‘Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi celebrated the Fourth of July, creating her own fireworks with her special American flag pie. Lakshmi decorated her Independence Day pie with an American flag and the phrase “Close The Camps.” In another tweet, she urged people to “contact your representatives tomorrow and demand they #CloseTheCamps”, referencing the federal facilities that are holding undocumented migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In March Lakshmi used her own immigration story to call out Trump on Noah Trevor’s ‘The Daily Show’.

“I’m an immigrant,” the award-winning India-born cookbook author told host Trevor Noah as they discussed her advocacy for immigrants as an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Nations.

I really came here with my mother, much like these people at the border with hardly anything. What you have to understand is that, if a parent takes a child on a dangerous journey, puts them on their back, is willing to walk across deserts, that’s because the place they’re leaving is worse and more dangerous, and I just think we have plenty to share. And if you look at all the contributions that immigrants have made, you’re basically looking at what America is today, in whole, full stop.

AOC notes that four months later, everyone now refers to the Mexican border crisis as a ‘humanitarian crisis’. When Lakshmi spoke with Trevor Noah in March 2019, she said:

There’s no crisis. There’s no crisis. The only crisis is that we have a lunatic with a lot of power. That is the only crisis.

On Wednesday the 9th Circuit of Appeals voted 2-1 to deny a request from the Justice Department for an emergency stay of a lower court judge’s injunction blocking the Trump administration attempts to seize funds to build Trump’s wall by taking money from already in place to fund border projects in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Wayfair Corporate Boston Workers Protest Of Sales To Texas Detention Camps -- Square Offers Support

Square Workers Support Wayfair Wakout for Migrants.jpg

Wayfair Corporate Boston Workers Protest Of Sales To Texas Detention Camps -- Square Offers Support

As promised, employees at Wayfair’s corporate headquarters in Boston staged a walkout Wednesday over the company’s sale of about $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to the global nonprofit BCFS (Baptist Children and Family Services), headquartered in San Antonio.

About 550 employees out of about 6000 working at the Boston offices signed a protest letter sent to the company’s leadership team last week, asking them to abort the sale The furniture is destined for a detention camp in Carrizo Springs, Texas that is expected to have capacity for 3,000 children writes The Daily Beast.

The employees took issue with a 2018 New York Times report that BCFS “has received at least $179 million in federal contracts since 2015 under the government’s so-called unaccompanied alien children program, designed to handle migrant youths who arrive in the country without a parent or other family member.”

U.S. Houses Passes $4.5 Billion Border Aid Bill Amid Mounting Concern For Detained Migrant Children

Veronica Escobar REUTERS TT.jpg

U.S. Houses Passes $4.5 Billion Border Aid Bill Amid Mounting Concern For Detained Migrant Children

By Adam Willis. First published in The Texas Tribune.

As reports of migrant children being held in squalid conditions at federal facilities near the border continue to draw outrage, Democrats successfully pushed a $4.5 billion humanitarian aid package through the U.S. House late Tuesday evening with a vote of 230 to 195.

The passage of the bill marks a narrow victory for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who managed to coalesce a unified front after several days of uncertainty and division within the party. Ultimately, only four Democrats broke rank, none of them Texans. Among the Republicans from the state, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, was the only member to buck his party, voting in favor of the bill. Hurd's districts covers much of the state's border with Mexico.

Note: The Four Democratic women who broke with Pelosi are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).