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tv   Colorado College - Inside the Migrant Caravan  CSPAN  February 21, 2019 9:35pm-11:06pm EST

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, c-span radio app. >> next, journalist alice driver talks about her travels with a migrant caravan and central american and shares photos of her journey. this is one hour and a half. hello everybody, thanks for coming. good evening. i'm glad to see you here. hutchins. on behalf of the program and the journalism minor and thank you all tonight. i want to thank the newly-founded journalism institute here at colorado college and the director steven hayward. journalistsank the in residence program that's funding this lecture. upcoming speakers include shawn king. we are coming off the longest
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government shut down in u.s. history, this time over a debate about funding for a physical wall president trump wants to build on the border with mexico. we have heard plenty from the president about that, and about the caravan heading towards the board, particularly during the run-up to the latest federal elections. we thought it would be enlightening if you heard from somebody who has actually been down on the border and writing about migration in that part of the world. bilingualer is a journalist, translator and video producer based in mexico city. she works on issues of migration, human rights and gender. she covered the migrant caravan for "time" magazine and reported in the border for "national geographic." she worked on a two-year project for reveal called road to asylum. she is currently producing a
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radio story for the center of investigative reporting on transgender migrants. i have it on good authority she might not be prepared for the weather here in colorado, but she is prepared to talk about an important topic. alice driver. [applause] i forgot to say this pretty c-span is in the house filming this and they have requested that everybody please turn off their cell phones. if you have a question, we will do it afterwards. please raise your hand and we will come over with the microphone. ms. driver: thank you for having me here. i'm excited to take you on a trip not only along the border, but traveling up from el salvador through guatemala, mexico and along the u.s.-mexico border, going through all the things that have been happening
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for the past two years politically, that you have maybe seen from here, from the perspective of washington, from the perspective of twitter, of our president. we are going to take a look at what was happening with migrants on the board with people in the border, sheriffs, nuns, ranchers. what is going on the border is really important, to look at it from perspective of people who are living there, who are experiencing that. and it is an exciting and interesting time. and i think a lot of people are approaching it with fear, and that has never been my perspective. i'm really curious, interested about what is going on. so we are going to take a journey. we are going to hitchhike. cha, is migrants and huacha
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i was there and mexico in october. a lot of migrants were walking, biking, taking buses. here you can see them walking. rafts.going to ride some when you cross from going to molly into mexico, the most common way to crosses along these inter-tube rafts. i have made that trip several across themigrants equivalent -- migrants, and it costs the equivalent of about one dollar to make that trip. of somees you an idea of the migrant routes through mexico. it is very dangerous journey. on amigrants are writing frame called the beast, it is
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called the beast because a lot of people don't survive that trip for various reasons. and we are going to meet migrants at different points along this route. that one of the shelters for migrants, telling them how far they have to go. if we are thinking of these journeys, these are people traveling thousands of miles, , different on foot means of transport but generally quite difficult, difficult for me as a reporter and i'm making part of the trip. i'm staying at a hotel. and it is really, really a challenge. i am on a bus and send salvador.
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one of the projects i was working on, i was with a trans woman from el salvador. she was making her way to the u.s. to request asylum. i went with her to mexico and have been following her life for the past year and a half. she received asylum and lives in san diego and is learning english. so there is a lot of really , andring, positive stories i think it's interesting that so many people, especially on social media, contact me and say, are you depressed, isn't this terrible? and not to negate the difficulty of these stories, these lives, everything that is happening, but there is also a lot of really empowering, positive, and helpful things that i have seen covering migration.
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so if you are traveling with a , you might meet a lot of pets. i was surprised at the number of migrants traveling with their puppies and other animals that you will see. often traveling with fromgraphers, and this is last year when we were crossing the river which is between .uatemala and mexico and one of the reasons i chose this photo was that i always try to work with women photographers, because internationally women only make up 50% of -- only 15% of photographers in media organizations.
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and what we see in the news is very much dictated by the male gaze, and it something i want to change, i want to change that narrative. the only voice that we see about migrants is often about men, about violence, about blood, about gangs, and that is not the only story, that is not the reality of migrants and migration. it is so much more complex. it's a story that needs to be told, not only in writing but in photography. rio grande the river where a lot of the migrants swim across. i was working with "national andraphic" here last june, i actually saw a group of migrants, eight or 10 of them, holding onto these plastic bags
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filled with their clothes. they were in their underwear and they are just floating to the other side. is my favorite, my favorite member of the migrant caravan. city, and allo the migrants were in mexico city for about five days, a group of around 5000 migrants. there were staying in a sports over 50% of the caravan was made up for children. that is something that often gets lost in this. he is from honduras and i saw him on the metro. mexico city made the metro free for migrants, which i thought was a great jester, and i saw theactually had iguana on top of his head when i
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saw him. and i thought, what a story here. said, he was with his wife and three kids and this is diana, she is my pet iguana. i was leaving honduras and i thought, no one else is going to love her like i do. [laughter] people are so amazing and bizarre, you find these stories and you are like, what? is this this -- what is this? this doesn't fit into any narrative that is in the media. so this is something that i really took away from working on .he migrant caravan there were just so many children. children were being born during the migrant caravan, there were
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lots of babies, it was really a family environment. i'm traveling with the caravan and i'm on all the social media because as a journalist you pretty much have to be, and so i get a lot of questions and people are like, you must feel dangerous,nd it's and are you worried about your life, are you risking your life, are you going to get raped? really, itrience was was like traveling with a gigantic family. lots and lots of babies, i'm holding babies for people, women are breast-feeding, i'm playing card games with kids. the entire migrant caravan stopped to watch the filming of of "coco."e filming
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there is so much tenderness in those memories, and that reporting for me. ahaca, ande hu migrants are sleeping intense in cardboard and all kinds of makeshift homes. to make sureing people are healthy, and safe, and all that stuff. i will talk briefly about how i got into what i currently do.
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up in rural arkansas in the ozark mountains, in a town of a few hundred. exposure tove any spanish growing up. i didn't travel anywhere. i didn't, my parents actually didn't have a tv for a long time , so i read a lot of books. i went to a college in kentucky berea,lace called and he you are fully funded and you work for a school -- you work for the school, so it's a school that funds students from challenged economic background that's where started jutting spanish. i fell in love mexico, i fell in love the language, the culture, the literature, the food, and i became a mexican.
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got a phd intually latin american literature, and as soon as i finished that i left academia because i wanted to write. and i wanted to write, not an academic book, i wanted to be in the street and i wanted to be using my language skills and i .anted to be traveling so in 2017 a new administration was coming in. i got funding to work on migration, this has been a long-term interest of mine and i started a project. right here we are in juarez, mexico. many of you have heard of juarez , and i lived at a migrant shelter for two weeks. this is the shelter right here.
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and in a lot of migrant shelters, the migrants are locked in and can't leave. they can leave if they are leaving, but once they are staying there they have to stay in. 24i was also there with them hours a day eating donated food, and even the act of eating all donated food is challenging if you are used to your normal life. it's like, whatever comes in is what you are eating. and i was dreaming of cakes and pies and ice creams and things at night and it was no, this is not about me. and i wanted to understand experience of the migrants, why all.were coming through,
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this menace from honduras, 38 years old, he tried to reach the u.s. 15 times over 12 years. he said he began trying when he 26, and when i met him he was 38 and that was his 15th attempt. said, where i am from there is nothing, there is nothing for me, there is no job, there is no future, there is gangs, my family has been threatened, my parents have a huge amount of debt. oftentimes gangs, if you have a business, they will demand money , it's extortion and venue end up in a situation in which you are actually in a lot of debt. he did cross into the u.s. but he got deported and is now back in honduras. he does not have a job when he
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is thinking of trying to come again. and this is also at the migrant , and then juarez bureau in spanish says, no human being is illegal. and this is a couple with a small child, and they had an interesting story. they had had difficulty traveling when they crossed from guatemala into mexico, because often people with small children will get accused of trafficking, people will say, you are not the parents. and that has happened. some, also in the u.s. with the child separation policy by the current administration to separate children from parents, that you are not really the
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parents, you are trafficking a child. this was in a city on the guatemala-mexico border. a single mother with her three children, she was very excited to see me because there are so , itwomen working this beat is an overwhelmingly male. in terms of migrants at the shelter, most of the migrants were men and most of the reporters. it is a very male-dominated beat and there were so excited to see me there. and i think it's really important because often, the issues getting highlighted, like i'm interested in talking to her about what her experience has been as a mother, for example a
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lot of women will about how they view their period when they are on the migrant trail, which is a real issue when you are traveling on a train for 36 or 40 or 50 hours and you can't get off. thinkre is things that i don't get considered that i want to talk about. that's why i am here. this is a shelter that is specifically for migrants who have been mutilated while riding the train. yllis, i think she's 11, she's from guatemala. and if you fall off a train it is very easy to lose a limb.
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it's a dangerous and difficult task to ride the trains because the train is moving and you have to run and jump on it. the entire shelter is, they work with the red cross and butpeople with prosthetics, this is something, it's like, why should we require that people lose limbs when they are crossing a territory? often leaving a situation in which, which is something that doesn't get talked about much, a lot of migrants are fleeing climate change. i asked, what do you do? i'm a farmer. how was farming?
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well, there is no water, nothing is growing, there is a drought, there was a mudslide. i mean, these are things that could happen to anyone, that could happen to me, could happen to you, and that are clearly a sign of our times. so we really need to think about the way that we are dealing with this because it is not something that you can blame someone for fleeing. i these are other migrants at are otherr -- migrants at the shelter -- -- these are other migrants at the shelter, a lot of young men. this is a migrant i met juarez,
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she actually gave birth at the migrant shelter. i herd traveled pregnant, daughter was i think three days old when i arrived. because of the caravan, of the current president, he got really upset about one particular caravan, but caravans have been happening for the past decade. it's simply a way migrants organize themselves to be safer. if you don't want to lose a limb, don't want to get threatened by a gang, travel in a big group. this is one of the caravans i met in 2017 in mexico city, and caravan specifically of transgender and gay members of g communityt.
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the woman in orange, herq name is genesis. that's one thing i want to put into context. there have always been caravans and there will be caravans, as a way to be safe. but in the overall context of migration, migration from central america has been dropping for the past decade. so statistically speaking, what is the crisis? arele are intelligent, they more organized, are traveling in groups because it is safer. but that doesn't mean that there are more of them or that they are flooding our borders or that they are attacking us. they are just being organized about traveling. says, we are going north, we have been raped and we are fed up. with trans community that is absolutely true. they have experienced a lot of
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violence. central america, particularly el salvador, is very, very conservative in terms of laws, the way people view the lgbtq community, it is much more violent than in the u.s. so they are definitely a community that will often receive asylum in the u.s. because they have a lot of documented violence they have experienced. a year and half ago i went to san salvador and i met the trans caravan in mexico city. a lot of them were from el salvador and they said, el salvador is the country that is most violent in its treatment of the lgbtq community, especially trans women
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the woman in the pattern shirt, her name is carla avilar. trans woman, she is also a human rights defender. whofounded an organization help support the lgbtq community in a lot of different ways. salvador. i met her and i am never sure with ourll find stories but she wanted to introduce me to some different by interviewing a lot of trans women.
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in commonf them had was at a young stage, they knew they were trans, they dressed up girl's clothes, had feminine gestures, wore makeup and as soon as they, for example, exhibited feminine they got kicked out of school, their parents kicked them out of the house and they ended up on the streets at ages 10, 11, 12. reason -- there is a upns women and up -- end where they do and that is because all the doors are shut. if you want to study, you will not study. if you want to work somewhere, you will not work somewhere. there is such a high level of that most of them end up living and working on the
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streets. so one night, i met fraya. she was doing sex work on a corner in el salvador. carla wanted to introduce me to her. i asked if we could have a coffee and when we sat down, i noticed she had a large scar on her neck and i asked her what happened? thesaid gangs control streets in salvador and if you are a sex worker, it is like paying rent. often, it is exorbitant and random so one of the gang members at some point attacked her with an ice pick, punctured a lung, and she says she had
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just recovered from this and said i am fleeing to the united states tomorrow morning and i am going to request asylum. i said, can i go with you? it is a split second. is this the story i am after? is this what i want to do? and you don't know where it is going to take you. i traveled with her from san bus and to mexico, raft. we crossed the river at night, a little dicey, and here she is at a bus station in guatemala city. then, i followed her all the way to the u.s. in detention for eight months and when she arrived in tijuana to request aylum at the border, which is
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right, though you may not be aware of that from other news, she only speaks spanish so she said she arrived at the border and the border agent was there and trying to tell her in andish [speaking spanish] she said he only responded in english and it didn't offer to get anyone who spoke spanish, which is weird because that is and thereal issue, should be someone at the border who speaks spanish and english. she said he started asking her are you requesting asylum? do you have any weapons? she said she just didn't know. she said yes to everything. do you have weapons? do you have drugs? now that she is learning england -- english, she finds that entertaining. [laughter] and then after that, she was
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sent to what is known as the icebox, where some children have died. , before they send them to dissension. -- detention. then she spent eight months in a mailed attention -- in a male detention center. a trans woman in a male detention center will almost experience violence always. she called me in detention, which in order to be able to -- for her to call me, i can't call her -- first i had to track her down. i didn't know what detention center she was in. hadd to track her down and help from the center for investigative reporting. i had to write her a physical letter because it is the only way you can communicate with someone in detention, saying
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"hey, i hope you are ok. i really would like to talk to you. ."ll me at this number also, i am going to put money on your detention phone system because phone calls in detention are some of the most high rates in the world, so she was not going to be able to afford that very likely. she did call me from detention, and she was pretty shaken up. had experienced violence and did not want to talk about it, was not sure if she would get asylum. hearing, andet a the judge asked -- after hearing the story did grant her asylum and she now lives in san diego. she enrolled in community college. she is learning english and has
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officially changed her name. -- following her story has been very moving. i visited her last august in san diego. suitas wearing a business and her hair was curled and she had on jewelry, and she was talking about her community college classes and she would speak perfect english. she wanted to work at a restaurant. i just think, that is the kind of person we want to be a u.s. citizen. that is the kind of person i want to be a u.s. citizen, at least. so part of my work on the border has been facing down the latest stories connected to decisions made by the president. "time magazine" i think it was
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last june called and said ok, so the president is separating children from their parents. we want you to go find someone who has been separated. we want that story, and it is a hard story because when parents are separated from their children on the u.s. side, parents are sent to detention and the children are sent to shelters or foster homes. neither of those places is ever going to let me as a freelancer in. part of what has happened with its current administration is that detention centers have almost been -- you can take a guided tour for 30 minutes if you are from "the new york times," but you can't talk to anyone. what kind of freedom of the press is that? 'sr me, i am not on the u.s. -- on the border, i will not get
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juarez andwent to was scouring the town. i went to the point where all deported immigrants are dropped off and started talking to people there and i found this woman who had been separated from her son. from an area of mexico that has a lot of drug cartel activity, and she and her son -- her son was 17. their house had been burned down. there was some kind of cartel turf war going on. they were fleeing that violence and when they crossed into the u.s., they were separated and her son was immediately deported sent to she was
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detention and they said you can request asylum. my son was just sent back to a very dangerous area where he is alone and i am going to sit in detention for six months to a year waiting to request asylum? she self deported. she said i am going back to get my son. jmet her in bar is -- uarez where she had been deported. when i was interviewing her for this story, she got a notification on her phone and it was, president trump has ended the child separation policy. know he is going to change his mind in minutes or hours. that is something that stuck with me. migrants whoe of
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are living these policies and you think, in any circumstance, can you say separating a mother from their child is a policy? i mean, that is my central question, i think, because it is something that is ongoing. there are still children who have not in reunited with their parents and as of two days ago, the official administration's response was it would be too traumatic to reunite them with their parents. [laughter] and this is another migrant i met in juarez, and i remember him because he gave me -- i have ats on my desk, actually -- the detention center, they give migrants craft projects, basically. one was lacing baby shoes, like
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origami baby shoes. i don't understand, but it struck me. the other thing he told me was that he was working at the detention center, cleaning the detention center for one dollar per day. rune have these private detention centers taking in a lot of money and they are then hiring the detainees to run and clean the center for one dollar a day. i also do not understand what kind of a policy that is. withi was working "national geographic," we were traveling both sides of the border. right after i went to juarez, i negros, thedros mexico side, eagle pass, that texas side and interviewed a
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working in mexico, he runs a migrant shelter. he has seen a lot of parents be separated from their children and was talking about the impact of that on the parents and the children. i interviewed a sheriff in texas. if you look, you can see he has a gun rack above his desk. a big hat, he has boots. this guy might sentiments ime might not agree with. it was interesting because he was saying you know what, immigrants are working in agriculture. they are doing all the construction on -- in this area. immigrants,done by
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documented and undocumented. i really wish we could create policies that recognize this and allow people to work. went -- in eagle pass, i went on a ride along with some of the members of the police force who work often in conjunction with border patrol and there were several women on the police force. all of them bilingual and i think that is really important. i don't know why we are so against learning languages. we should all be bilingual. there is no reason we should not speak another language. it is amazing. it opens your world, it is empowering, i love it. beste, it is one of the things i have ever done. switching back and forth between
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maybeh and spanish -- some of you haven't done this. i grew up in the country so i had to learn how to drive a should -- stick shift. pink handcuffs and said she loved arresting them with her pink handcuffs because they got so upset. she said you wouldn't believe how angry they get. this is in nuevo laredo. how do peopleg at feel about migration on both sides of the border. there is an international bridge so people are lining up to request asylum. working the border for a long time, but this was the first time last year that i saw families sleeping on the
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bridge and at the time, i was like -- i hadn't seen this, but it was because the u.s. has been restricting the number of people who request asylum. so they essentially just are hanging around, waiting to be able to request asylum, which is problematic in terms of the law. what has happened recently is that this administration has decided that people who request asylum have to wait in mexico in tijuana. it is problematic because if you thing about safety and think about the fact that it often takes six months to a year to request asylum, let's say you are a trans woman in tijuana waiting six months to a year to request asylum. the chances that you will experience violence are very
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high. this was a single father traveling with his son. i will never forget what he said to me. he said, i am both the mother and the father. this is more -- this is all the people who were lined up on the international bridge. another really amazing woman photographer i worked with. she is chilean. there were quite a few venezuelans on the bridge. if you have been following what is happening in venezuela, you will understand why people are fleeing venezuela. this was actually kids. they were like 16, 17, 18 years old. and they said if you want to see someone kill a stray dog and eat it in the street, go to venezuela. and then they offered me the money.
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they said, it's worthless. you can have it. this was also working with national geographic. this was at a center where deported people were dropped off that had just been deported from the u.s. this guy had a bunch of neck tattoos. and something i love to do is ask people about their tattoos because it is such a stigma. like, oh, that's a gang member. that's a bad guy. he's from ms-13. so i asked him, what are your tattoos? on one side of his neck he had "liliana," which is one of his daughters, and the other "daniela." i think we forget that people have different ways of remembering. if you are fleeing and you cannot take anything with you, how do you remember your family?
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so this, for me, was just a really touching and important reminder that everyone remembers things in a different way and under different circumstances. this is at one of my most recent projects. i went right across from mcallen, texas. it has two shelters for migrant minors under the age of 18, most of whom have traveled alone from el salvador, honduras, and nicaragua. i wanted to tell the stories of these kids because there is so much news about, why don't these
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people stay where they are? they are such bad parents. they should tough it out. i think if you really look at the circumstances that are causing people to flee, you wouldn't say that, and especially imagining a child traveling alone, making this journey. so this is a mural at the migrant shelter made by the children. the story, the main girl that i interviewed, she was 15. she had traveled from honduras alone. she was fleeing domestic violence. in her case, a family number had -- a family member had threatened to kill her. she said that she loved to read maps. she was just like, i'm going to
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make this journey and put it together and plan it out. she dressed like a man. she rode the train. when she was in mexico, she made it to reynosa. one of the things she told me was when she got to mexico, she was looking for work, trying to make money. she told some old guy who was out sweeping or something that she had come all the way from honduras, and he said, girl, where you have made it, many men have failed. [laughter] and if was super excited, she was wanting to come to the u.s. and study, and telling me about her favorite classes. she just had -- despite all the crazy and difficult circumstances. she was very much thinking about her future.
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president ortega last year used force against protesters, and began killing mostly students, some children in the streets. there's just so many forces at work about why people are leaving countries. this is just one situation. and then now, we are up to the current migrant caravan, the one that was traveling through mexico that is now in tijuana. a lot of kids. a lot of people write phone numbers on their shoes or inside their -- i mean, if you wanted a place that -- because if you
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lose that, a lot of times they lose phones. things get stolen. it is a real tossup of whether you will even, once you get to the border, do you even have anybody in the u.s. to contact. a lot of times, it is parents who left children when they were months old. so these children are looking for their parents. that's a quest that makes sense , i think, to most people. you want to be reunited, and this was a mother of four from nicaragua. she was fleeing the violence in nicaragua. pretty tough job with four kids, i would imagine. and this is volunteers giving out food at night, and lots of donated clothes and things.
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this is a baby that was just a few months old. you can see eating some beans and rice, tortillas. oh, and this is everybody watching "coco." [laughter] i mean, it was so interesting to be here. here i am, it's like, one of the most moving moments seeing all these migrants watching "coco." volunteers set up a screen. and at the same time, i'm getting these messages like, are you safe? are you going to die? is everything ok? and i got messages like, who's paying these migrants? i'm like, just come down here.
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if you walk with them for a day, you know that no one is paying them. i mean, how much would you have to pay someone to walk several thousand miles with four kids under the blazing sun? i don't know. these are volunteers. there were so many volunteers. that's another thing that i found very moving. people preparing food and doctors from both sides, from both mexico and the u.s. this is who was traveling with the migrant caravan. i mean, it's not that terrifying. it's such an interesting experience being there versus all the news and all the worry.
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and all of this is not to say, like, anyone who shows up at the border gets into the u.s. no. anyone who shows up at the border has the international right to request asylum, which is a legal process that you go through. and the fact that we are not protecting that and upholding that is worrying. so you can get a feel for the amount of children. people playing cards. i mean, one of the things about this photo, you look at the scar and there are so many scars. and for me, every scar is a story. pretty tired. everyone asked me how migrants are bathing. do they get to take baths? they
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would set up these big containers of water, and then migrants would just cut water bottles in half and dump water over themselves. yeah. these are volunteers, doctors with medicine because illness is a real issue, just in terms of coughs and pneumonia and getting tired or worn out. i got tired and worn out, and when i was with "time," i was with them only five days. it's not an easy trip. so this guy i remember because he is a climate change -- he left -- he's a farmer. i said, why did you leave? he's like, well, there's a drought. there's no water. he didn't say climate change forced me out of my country.
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you know? he didn't put it in those terms, but what he was talking about was climate change. and in mexico city, it was interesting. i noticed this. they were giving out birth control, which is another issue that doesn't get talked about. women have to worry about sexual violence, and so this is very important. women should have options to think about not only family planning, but the potential that they will experience sexual violence because it's a real issue when you are traveling as a woman, as a girl. so that's something that i highlighted in my work for "time." these are migrants sleeping. those are the letters of mexico city, and the migrants were sleeping inside. so i thought that was pretty representative.
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and this is leaving mexico city. there were a lot of christmas decorations up, and this is the way out of the city. migrants were hitchhiking and we passed a christmas tree. this is the trans woman from el salvador in san diego, putting on her makeup. so i just talked to her the other day. she is working at a pizza restaurant, and she will be sharing her story in a radio piece i'm doing at the center for investigative reporting. that should come out soon. i think she is excited because she wanted to share the story of a trans woman. she said she felt like she never had any information or any feeling that there were other people like her.
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in el salvador. neither at this elementary school. they are learning french in geneva. carlo is working with the u.s.. migrants doing such important work, often with very little education. i know that carla has changed my life. there is no doubt. what i'm taking away -- when i talk about migration,
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i think there is a real humanity we need too it that bring into the conversation when we are making policies, when we are talking about what kind of country we are, and i just wish we would do that more, and this could be a less divisive issue. this is estrella, who now changed her name to michelle, on the bus in san diego. she is really excited about firstin -- this is the time she has seen lgbtq couples holding and kissing hands in public. she found that really moving. i want to open this up to questions. feel free to ask whatever you are curious about. >> [applause]
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>> someone's going to come around with a mic. the ladies get to switzerland? was that with the un? nominatedad been for the highest human rights award in switzerland. the ceremony was in switzerland. it coincided with her and her mother receiving death threats. the organization that gave her the award sponsored her through this process. she officially got asylum in december. she wrote me a letter. it made me cry. yeah -- she is now trying to get used to life in geneva, which is such a
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different and new process. >> is the option to go to europe for mexicans, is that very real? >> no. carla ended up in europe precisely because she is a well-known human rights activist. she has won a lot of alerts. -- won a lot of awards. she has done some incredible work. she, because she had been nominated for this award in switzerland, she ended up getting support for that. when i met her, she had no idea this was going to happen.
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>> in your work, did you talk to border people about what they were thinking? i guess officials. was there an official stance that the border people that were hired by our government told, to be hostile? i just want to know the feeling that is there. it is interesting, because even with border patrol and the sheriff, so much of the border is bilingual. half the families in mexico, half the families in the u.s.. it is a very interconnected space, even financially, commercially. so much of the economy on the u.s. side of the border is coming from exec -- is coming from mexico. most of the people i interviewed were really pragmatic.
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i wish we had policies that made sense. people need -- people in agriculture, they want workers. people in ranging and cattle also. people in construction. a lot of times, just like the president, they are hiring undocumented workers. what greater irony is there? clearly we want undocumented people here doing work if it is coming from the president, from members of the senate who have nannies who are undocumented. it is all in our history, it is in the present. the real task is why can't we just discuss creating policies to make that legal? you traveled a lot. you met a lot of folks.
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much courage on your part. much compassion. you are obviously emotionally involved. of all the people you met, any indication, any documentation of drugs, guns, crime? hearn, the things that we about. >> i mean, let me think about this. i personally in all of my work, and this does not mean it does not exist, but i personally have not seen any drugs or any weapons. the interesting thing is most central american countries have very strict gun laws, unlike the united states. and most drug consumption is
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-- drugs are coming to the u.s. because they are being consumed in the u.s. drug consumption in mexico is quite low. we just do not talk about these ironies enough. we gives off these image of all of these mexicans doing drugs. no, mexicans are just selling what we are buying. that's not to say any population. any people, there are people who do drugs and people who have guns. it is not like this is all angels traveling to the u.s. not at all. there are people who clearly will never ever get asylum, absolutely without a doubt. and that's part of the process. you can request asylum, doesn't mean you get it. >> how many, if any, are the mexican government willing to
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take on and give them status? >> so when i was at the caravan, they were allowing anybody who wanted to work to go through the process of the paperwork involved to be in mexico and work legally. and i think the issue is for a lot of people is that some of the things that they are fleeing maybe from other countries, especially if you are a member of a marginalized group, or a woman, there are certain aspects areiolence and gangs that still present in mexico. a lot of people want to request asylum in the u.s. and people have parents or children in the u.s. who they would like to be reunited with. there is a very complex -- some people do stay in mexico and do work in mexico.
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not everybody, but mexico has opened up that process at least. i'm wondering how, as a journalist, you dealth with the ethical area with covering the somebody's story and being part of the story. when you were, for example, a's journey, did you want to help her in ways you were not supposed to or did people ask you for financial help or some kind of thing like that? and what was your way of dealing with that? alice: often migrants ask me for money. i don't take it personally. i don't get upset. they obviously are people who need money. there is no doubt about it. the economics of this are very imbalanced. i clearly am at least
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financially stable for now in the journalism world. and one thing i do is i really try and treat them like intelligent human beings and adults and talk about journalism, ethics of journalism, and we don't pay for interviews, and don't give anyone money, and that part of the beauty and the truth of telling a story is that someone wants to share it for whatever the reason may be, and if they don't want to share it, that's fine. i always accept a no. i'm not trying to struggle to get someone to tell me their story. that's not the stories i'm interested in. i'm really interested in people that have a very clear ethical or humanist reason for wanting to share.
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like with estrella, she really said these are stories i could have never heard that could saved me heartbreak and feeling alone and i want my story to be that for someone else. -- migrants don't absolutely asked me for money but i try to have a discussion with them about journalism and what that means. and they have been respectful of that. or if they're not, i just say, well, i'm not going to share your story because i don't want to deal with this. >> there's the drug cartels that that we hear about and i have heard that a lot of migrants do mention like fleeing from gangs and stuff. so i'm just thinking, the drug cartels as organized crime and a lot of spinoff gangs that are all over the place?
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how thick are the thieves, and do you have any idea how extensive the drug gang-type culture is in the countries where people are migrating from? alice: so that is a very complex question. i think the more interesting way to frame it is that these drug cartels and gangs extend from central america into the u.s. and we never talk about the u.s. side of who is moving drugs and who is moving money, who is laundering money. this is all something that is clearly happening. this isn't something that stops at the mexico side of the border. it's something that is a continuous presence throughout central america and into the u.s. and i think it is unfortunate that we always investigate, research, and talk about central america and never about the u.s.
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side of this. because it does exist. and as for cartels and gangs, it's country-by-country. when i was working in el salvador, it was a very different environment than mexico. in mexico city, i walked the streets and had a pretty normal life. in el salvador, almost every area of the city is controlled by gangs, very few people out. everybody is always in a car. people congregate at shopping malls. it felt very restrictive and dark for me. so it really depends on where you are in terms of what gangs and cartels are running things. and it evolves quite quickly. there is old cartels and new cartels. the other day i was talking to
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somebody who works on cartels, and he said the old drug cartels are media friendly. they are like, you want an interview? new drug cartels that which are run by 14-year-old, they are like isis. they might shoot you if they are high. it is very unpredictable. you have a lot of different dynamics, and i don't specifically work on drug cartels, so i wouldn't want to try and explain that. >> i have a question just about how we can do things, like donate money. at the end of the day, we can consume these stories and we can laugh at the man with the iguana, and and we can be happy can allella, but we back to our beds at night and
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sleep soundly. so i was wondering if you are familiar with any organizations that we can use to donate time or money or things like that? i'm familiar with one in texas, but i do not know if you are familiar with any others? alice: the thing you can all do first is subscribe and pay for news, whether it be local, or national, or international. become a subscribing member of something. i don't care what. "new york times," the local newspaper. pay for news. so many journalists have been laid off. i don't know if you saw last week, buzzfeed, vice laid off huge amounts of their staff , all people covering national security. why would you lay off people covering national security right now? that is a really burning question that i have.
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and even myself as a freelancer, financially every day is a mystery and a struggle. every day that i can continue to do this, i'm like this is a win because people have gotten used to not paying for news. another organization, which i love, is called immigrant families together. it was founded by a mother of children in new york who is three married to a cuban, who heard on the radio about an immigrant mother being separated from her three children. the mother was in arizona. the three children were sent to a shelter in new york. this is a writer who i happen to know. she said, i'm going to raise money to bond out this mother who has been detained. i don't know if you are all familiar. but when you are in detention, even if you are requesting asylum, there is a bond starting on you usually starting at $7,000 going up to $30,000, $40,000.
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this woman, her bond was $8,000. my friend raised the money, the volunteers to drive her from arizona to new york and reunited her with the kids, at which the shelter said point you cannot have your kids back until you have an apartment paid six months up front and one room for each child. and then we will give you your children back. so my friend raised money, got the apartment, got everything. and then, suddenly, how many parents are separated from their children, how many immigrant parents? she started hearing about people and had a gofundme and now has raised over $1 million and has formally created a nonprofit and has a book deal. so i'm just excited to see what she does because there are still children who are not reunited with their parents and that is a really good organization.
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you can find it online at immigrant families together. as you were traveling with the caravan, i was wondering -- how i guess you were treated by other people, the locals that actually live in the area? i am wondering how they were treated. was it welcoming? alice: the migrant caravan when it coming through mexico, both the migrants themselves and everyone was -- my experience was that people were helpful and wanted to donate baby food and diapers, and doctors were there, and there is even a chiropractor volunteering and giving people adjustments in mexico city. it was an interesting mix of
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people. once we got near the border to tijuana, they started encountering more resistance and racism and violence and protests against migrants and things like that. >> maybe i didn't hear you mention it, but the catholic church south of our borders is so powerful as to prevent any sort of birth control and the tidal wave of babies -- i love babies, but it is a tidal wave which will engulf this continent, too. >> ok. i don't like to use language like tidal wave and flooding. i think when, you know, your wife has a baby you don't use the word tidal wave, so i wouldn't use that word with anyone else. as i said, migration has been
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declining for the last decade, so there is no tidal wave. just because you see a baby or several babies, statistically speaking, that does not mean that we are being overrun. there is all this language of like armies and invasions and things, and it's meant to strike fear. >> [inaudible] alice: no, not at all. it's an important discussion. them., i was one of alice: that's different. i'm talking about overall statistics. i think it's important that we remember that migration is at a actually at a low point right now in terms of central america. so what are we actually really worried about? >> i would just love to hear what you think are some of the
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best outlets that are publishing on migration? alice: ok. my favorite outlet is propublica. doing absolutely unbelievable investigative work. i don't know if you heard the audio of children crying in a detention center published by ginger thompson, who is my hero in terms of reporting. so that audio was heard around the world. so ginger got ahold of audio of children who had been separated from their parents, crying in detention. so anyone who can listen to that and still say, wow, this is a great policy for deterring migrants, i think you really have to think about that and people did rethink it. actually, trump announced the end of his policy right after that audio was published. so that is important work, it's
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also really well done, really creative thinking about, i'm going to go to a detention center and request that audio. and so that's one outlet that i follow a lot. they do stuff in spanish and english, which i love. i think it's really important. a large number of people in the u.s. speak spanish and it's -- we should be producing content that gets to them that is related to them as well. in terms of other outlets, let me think. i really like any outlet that's doing multilingual work. i work at a site that supports longer-term projects. they do work in multiple languages. if the story is about japan, they will publish in japanese, or in germany, they'll publish in german. i think it's important to think outside the box of the united states. that's the kind of work i'm interested in.
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>> hi. i'm just wondering why it seems like so much of the focus we have with crime is immigrants perpetuating that crime themselves, and we forget to acknowledge the legal injustices happening in the u.s. you already mentioned some, whether it's a border patrol agent not speaking spanish or estrella facing gender and sexual identity-based violence in a detention center. and so i'm wondering what action , if there's any happening now, to have legal justices acknowledged, if any work is being done, and what you think should be done to confront those and help people. alice: i think it is really important as citizens that we -- first of all, american citizens commit crime at a higher rate than immigrants.
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that is a statistic. just think about mass shootings. i don't know why we can't have that discussion, but it is all white male u.s. citizens committing those acts of violence. it is something that forever -- for whatever reason we are not willing to have an honest discussion about. and in terms of helping migrants, there's a lot of legal organizations, lawyers doing pro pro bono work, i think that's important. people that are volunteering as translators in court, there's a writer who i really love. she lives and works in new york, and she volunteered as a translator for children in the courts. and think of how many children we have right now in court. i mean, you have probably all seen video of the kid crawling on the court table with crayons. it's so bizarre.
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so if you come at it from what can you offer, can you translate, can you write, can you just be a concerned citizen who calls your senator and says, hey, this is not ok. and so there is always something you can do. >> hi. first off, thank you so much for what you are doing. it is really important. really quickly, i have two questions. when michelle called you and was talking to you from the detention center, do you know if that was a designated detention center or a prison turned into a detention center? do you know any details about it? alice: it was at the time they mesa detention center. that is all i know about it. >> and then as far as when immigrants are deported, the
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centers you were talking about, what happens after that? are there people helping them come up with a game plan? or when they are in that limbo? alice: often what happens when they arrive at the centers is the mexican government will pay for their bus ride to wherever or if they are going to el salvador, they get a bus from mexico and are on their own. so game plan i would not say so much. it is like, here is a bus ticket. go. >> say more about the bonding process.
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i just became recently aware of a 21-year-old nicaraguan girl who ended up in tucson. she went through all the process of applying for asylum the legal way. and i.c.e. -- well, the way i heard it, threw her, locked her up, and put a $75,000 bond on her. what is this about? is this the process? alice: yeah. i actually do not understand how the numerical -- like, i know some people have had a $7,000 bond. some people have a $30,000 bond. i don't know who makes the decision and what they are based on, so that is something i have not researched. and i would be very curious to know as well, because it seems like a great mystery to me. i feel like most people are not aware of it as well.
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>> first off, thank you very much for everything you are doing and the reporting. i was able through some of the emails to read the published online stuff. thank you very much for all of that. so you have covered or you have talked, and we have a sense of the reporting -- a lot of it seems like misreporting in this country about migrant caravans and the immigrants are coming and so on, most of which seems to be nonrealistic. what is the sense of reporting in other countries like mexico around migrants and what is happening with u.s. policy? what would you say is the general feel, whether it is incorrect or correct or how they
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are presenting it? i do not know what the stories are coming out of those countries around this issues. alice: mexico's economy and well-being is so much tied to the u.s. that, you know, they have a new president that just came into office. he's obligor -- obdrador, known as a populist. i think they are constantly struggling with how to maintain a positive relationship with the united states, because i do see them always struggling to do that. it has been interesting because i feel like people always ask me if mexicans are mean to me, if they hate me. those are things i have not really experienced.
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and another aspect of the media in mexico and a lot of central america is the lack of press freedom. syria in terms of the number of journalists that are killed per year. and so there is a definite lack to report on certain issues. i don't know if that affects the way they talk about the u.s. so much but it is an issue in terms of press freedom. >> you've mentioned several times that there have been a lot of violations of international law at the border. could you speak a little more
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about what the repercussions of those violations might be if you know of any involvement by the international court of justice in prosecuting the united states, or if there is any actual backlash. >> that's a really good question. it's not something i've specifically written about. separationbegan the policy the united nations did make a declaration that that was not an acceptable policy, in terms of human rights. it is a real test of international organizations and also national organizations is anybody keeping the law and check? -- in check? i don't know that anybody is, currently. week, we, just last
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started sending asylum-seekers back to deal on a. i'm just wondering when someone is going to die, which i don't think you should pay -- i don't think the price of requesting asylum should be you die while waiting. surely, we could come up with a better system than that. that's a good question, definitely. i want to thank you guys for having me. i'm really happy to be here, and you can feel free to reach out to me if you have any more questions. i'm happy to talk or exchange email. [applause]
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announcer: coming up live friday, a syndicated columnist talks about presidential authority and the role of congress in light of the recent national emergency declaration. that's live at 12:20 p.m. eastern on c-span. a messages -- elizabeth warren will speak at a democratic dinner. is holding its ninth annual state conference at not a caulk a.m. eastern -- 9:00 a.m. eastern. >> i admire him because he is oftenle and because he will own up to failures. elizabeth, english professor at the united states military academy at west point,
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