#1639 Migrants and Refugees on Fortress Earth: Our politicized, fortified, industrialized borders in the US and Europe (Transcript)

Air Date 7/2/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast. 

Border security around the world continues to take turns for the dark and dystopian as right-wing sentiment against migrants and refugees continues to escalate to the extreme. 

Sources of providing our Top Takes today include Democracy Now!, It Could Happen Here, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the PBS NewsHour, and Your Undivided Attention. 

Then in the additional Deeper Dive half of the show, there'll be more on the politicization of the border, brutal border enforcement, the border industrial complex, and migrant stories.

First Illinois Latina Rep. Praises Biden's New Immigration Executive Order But Slams Border Shutdown - Democracy Now! - Air Date 6-20-24

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: For more, we're joined by Democratic Congressmember Delia Ramirez of Illinois, where it's estimated one in 10 children in the state has an undocumented parent. Ramirez is the first Latina congressmember to ever represent Illinois. She's also married to a DACA recipient who'd benefit from this new [00:01:00] Biden executive action.

On Tuesday, she and her husband, Boris Hernandez, attended Biden's White House announcement. Congressmember, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you explain in detail what exactly President Biden has now put into effect and how it affects your own personal family? 

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ:: Yeah, Amy, it's a personal --it's an announcement that hits personally, right? I'm married to my amazing husband, Boris, who came at the age of 14, who is DACA. And we've been going through this process for about three years to adjust status. 

But here's the reality. There's an assumption that if you marry a US citizen, you automatically become a US citizen or a green card holder in this country. Most people don't understand that in order for you to be able to get permanent status here, you have to actually apply through a marriage adjustment status that requires, if you enter this country unauthorized, [00:02:00] like you just heard from the southern border, for you to pay a 10 year bar back in your home country.

So what that means is that if someone is married to a US citizen, as a family, they want to stay together. The current law requires them to go back to their country with absolutely no guarantee that they will be approved to re-enter the country. Anything can happen in that time. And in some cases, people are waiting 10, 11, 12 years back in Mexico, in Haiti, Ecuador or wherever their home country is--in essence, separating families and which is why there are over 500,000 individuals made up of these households who are still in the shadows. 

On Tuesday, that changes that. It means that no longer will you have to go back to your home country in order to be able to go through your adjustment status. You will be able to stay with your family here and raise your children and apply for your legal permanent residency [00:03:00] as well as a 3-year work permit. 

It's major. It literally means keeping families together in mixed status. It means that US citizens like me who are married to non-citizens won't have to worry that at any given time if they're in their DACA that the program ends and they'll be undocumented completely or if they're not DACA that at any moment in the shadows they could be deported.

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: I want to ask you about the timing of this, both right before the presidential election debate between Biden and Trump, but also right after President Biden just issued one of the most restrictive immigration policies ever declared under a recent Democratic administration. It shuts down the US-Mexico border, denies asylum to most migrants who don't cross into the US via ports of entry, and limits total asylum requests at the southern border to no more than 2,500 per [00:04:00] day. Can you talk about what he's done now and what he did just a few weeks ago? 

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ:: Yeah, Amy, let's be honest, two executive orders that could not be more different from each other. One of them is restricting people's ability to seek asylum in this country, which I have publicly denounced, and I continue to denounce, I said to Secretary Mayorkas, this does not change the fact that that EO must be repealed as soon as possible. And then one, which is the one he should have done two weeks ago, which is giving an opportunity for families to stay together, helping Dreamers, particularly those that were not eligible through the timeline to be able to get DACA to finally get a professional visa.

Two different things. One is about what our Administration is doing about the southern border and actually reacting to Republicans who, which, by the way, I have said, it doesn't matter what you do on border, and it [00:05:00] doesn't matter how terrible you are or how great you are in immigration, Republicans will continue to attack Democrats on immigration because this is the number 1 issue that they are convinced will allow them to win the White House. And so I continue to say, be the administration that shows stark difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden as it pertains to immigration.

Tuesday was a good step in that direction. What he did two and a half weeks ago was not. And so I think we need to be very, very clear. We have to continue to allow people to seek asylum is a human right in this country. Amy, I was in Panama. I saw the worst of the worst situations. Women with children seeking asylum, many of them have made it to our southern border and they should be welcomed. We should provide resources. We should ensure that we're working with our neighbor countries to also extend protections. And people like me or a woman who I just heard who is about to give birth to [00:06:00] her child, who is undocumented, who has gone to school here, should be able to stay with her family.

The system has been broken, Amy, since the 80s. And it's funny how Republicans continue to say, Biden is trying to extend through executive action amnesty. Last I checked, Reagan was Republican. And frankly, that's why my parents are US citizens today. 

AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: Congressmember Delia Ramirez, you are also the co-sponsor of the American Families United Act. Can you explain what that would do? 

REP. DELIA RAMIREZ:: Yeah, look, this is the comprehensive bill to be able to provide immigration reform. And that's actually, Amy, what we continue to work on. Tuesday was a great step forward, but Amy, let's be honest, there's so many people left behind. I knew, and it was mixed emotions, when we were at the announcement, that there are a number of family members who don't fit this category.

Frankly, Boris was [00:07:00] happy, but if you really asked him directly, he was so sad. Because for him, it extends protections, but for Wesleyan Hernandez, his brother, who's DACA, married to a non-citizen, his status does not change. And the program ends tomorrow, he is left in limbo. My tío chilano, he's still, after 34 years in this country, still left in the shadows.

The bill, what it does, it actually provides expansive, comprehensive immigration reform, bringing the largest number of people into status. Many of them, most of them, unless they're children, contributing to this country, paying taxes, it will provide them a pathway to legal permanent residency. Therefore, citizenship, work permits. And that is honestly the thing that we should continue to work on. 

But Amy, you and I both know that the Congress that I am in dehumanizes people that look like my husband, people like my tio chilano, and we don't see Congress passing that bill this year. But we should be doing everything in our power [00:08:00] to ensure that if we gain the majority, there's no BS excuses next time that we pass the bill.

EU Border Enforcement, Part 1 - It Could Happen Here - Air Date 6-4-24

MICK: Europe is no stranger to migration and migrants, and it is something that has been happening in waves over the past three to four decades. In the early nineties, there were multiple waves of migrants from Albania to other european countries. The main cause of this was the isolationist policies that were enforced by the communist regime that was in charge there. The unrest that followed at the end of the regime, and the crisis of Kosovo--for those unaware, Kosovo had a war with Serbia for independence and Kosovari people are largely ethnic Albanians with the same language. And because of this, it was easier for Albanians to merge with the Kostafari refugees and use that to migrate further and easier into Europe.

Other waves are close by. Other geopolitical events, such as the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, which I [00:09:00] think Mia and Roberts covered in their episode on self-immolation, and much more known to everyone, the wars in Syria and Libya.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: My interest in the border has always run parallel to my interesting conflict in reporting on conflict, and it's just become such a recurrent experience to either learn about conflicts at the border here because somebody is telling me about them, or learn about often like repression of ethnic or national or religious minorities because someone here tells me about them, or to go somewhere. I was in Syria in October, was in Iraq. And then return and see people from there at our border.

And as people will be aware, the asylum system--and we'll cover it later--the asylum system allows people who are very in danger of persecution for various categories to apply for asylum. It's not functioning. It's not functioning in the EU, it's not functioning in the US. I've seen that persecution with my own [00:10:00] eyes and the consequences of it, and I've seen people try and get away from it. 

Every single time I'm in somewhere like that, people will ask me for help, and it is fucking heartbreaking to be like, yeah, the country that you see flying the F-16s or the F-35s over your head, the planes that cost more than this entire town makes in a year. No, we can't have a functioning fucking immigration system. Like in the case of the US, it's this app which doesn't work and you can only use it north of Mexico City. 

And this broken system leads to people--they're not getting in a boat across the Mediterranean, crossing the Darién Gap, walking across the mountains in northern Mexico because they want to have a better iPhone. They're doing it because whatever the alternative is seems worse, and it's worth-- People are fully aware that they're risking their lives on these journeys.

It's not that they live without access to news and the internet. They know about the deaths in the Mediterranean, they know about the Darién Gap. When I talk [00:11:00] to migrants who haven't crossed the gap, like I was talking to group of Colombian migrants two or three days ago, and they were coming in to the US through an area east of Hocomber, which is very rugged and very mountainous, and they were coming into an open air detention site where border patrol holds them. And I was talking to them. I say, how many of you walked, how many if you flew? Most of them flew and then were able to walk forward. The ones who walked, everyone was like, oh shit, that's horrible, like you must have seen terrible things. They're very aware of how dangerous these journeys are. The reason that they're taking them is because it seems like staying at home would be more dangerous.

ROSE: Yeah, although I would like to add that it's not every migrant is a real refugee, and not every migrant has to be a real refugee. 


ROSE: At least as the definition was established in the fifties by a bunch of pretentious guys who decided this is a good reason to migrate and all other reasons are not.

At first, yeah, [00:12:00] at first I worked in Greece and that was mainly with people of what are considered objectively real or good refugees, like people from Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria. Whereas when I was working in Bosnia, it was mainly people from Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan. And a lack of opportunity can be a very good reason to move. I think most white people who moved to America did so because of that. 


ROSE: Not because they were imminently bombed in their home countries, but because they wanted to make something out of their lives and they didn't have opportunities at home. 

And I think this whole concept of refugee is meant to distinguish between good and bad reasons to move, and good and bad people, migrants in the end. 

People can do really dangerous things for giving their children a better life, and if their children are not immediate danger.

And the other thing I would like to stress is that I think the migration regime that we see today is very [00:13:00] tightly connected to colonization and decolonization. For example, specifically in the Midlands, Surinam was a Dutch colony and one of the reasons why the Dutch government agreed with decolonization was because the Dutch society started to get worried about all the Black people showing up. And something similar happened with the independence war that Algeria fought against France. France preferred to give them independence rather than give them equal rights and access to the French territory. 

Creating those barriers and keeping people in the Global South after these countries became independent is very tightly connected with decolonization, but of course especially with new colonization and new ways of controlling people in the Global South and exploiting them.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah. If we look at the US context, the United States government has managed to engineer this compromise where capital travels freely across the Americas and people don't. So it's possible for them to exploit lower wage labor, for [00:14:00] US companies to exploit lower wage labor in Mexico and other countries to the south, but not for those people to come and seek a better way, a better way of living in the country that is consuming the products of their labor. 

And so this is obviously not new to people, this is a thing that's appartist had highlighted in 1994 and it's been the case for thirty years. 

But yeah, in the US because the United States and colonialism in a somewhat less overt way, although often in a pretty over way, it's facilitated undemocratic regimes and a low quality of life for people all across specifically the Americas, but also the rest of the world. And it's now seeking to prevent those people from coming here after it destabilized their countries, or in the case of climate change, again, like the consumption habits of certain countries that have had an impact on people all around the world, to include people in more dire economic circumstances. And it shouldn't be any less, we shouldn't have any less empathy or solidarity with [00:15:00] those people because no one's bombing them and they just want to chance for their kids to do the same shit. Like I moved to America and I was 21 because there weren't many jobs for me at home. 

ROSE: There's something very arrogant about thinking that you can decide whether someone else has a right to exist. 


ROSE: And I think that's what migration policies are. 

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, and as you pointed out, they were established after the Second World War with a very narrow set of categories. Not only do you not include climate change, but also generalized violence, the generalized violence. 

ROSE: Yeah. Actually fleeing from a war is not making you a real refugee according to international law, which is something people don't know. So like an average Syrian refugee is actually legally not a refugee. They are fleeing indiscriminate violence, but they don't have a right to political asylum.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, or like people in Ecuador. I've talked to people from Ecuador a lot, and they'll be like, well, you've seen men, they took over the TV station. So there's some gangs took over a TV station there recently, and it's an armed takeover. And then as you can see, would you want your child growing up there if you had [00:16:00] children? And of course it's a very compelling argument. And if I was in their position with young children--a guy I met the other day, his son needed medical care that he couldn't obtain in his country. That's a perfectly valid reason for coming here. But none of those things count for asylum to those people that are either lumped into quote unquote "economic migrants," which is still like people have a right to a living wage and to be able to pay for their family, to have the things that they need to survive and thrive.

But you're right, the asylum system is very narrow.

Migrants & Refugees, the Pope & Volkswagen - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Air Date 5-26-24

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Our main story tonight concerns Europe. You know, that thing Belgium is in. If you've watched the news at all lately, you cannot have missed what has been happening there. 

NEWS CLIP: Europe's migrant crisis is getting worse by the day. 

A migrant crisis spiraling out of control. 

Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers are risking everything. 

A human wave washing over Europe's southern shores.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have streamed into Europe, the largest influx there since [00:17:00] the end of World War II. 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Wow. The largest since the end of World War II. And remember, millions of people back then were searching both for a better life and for the booth where it was rumored you could slap dead Hitler.

And look, the scale of this story can be hard to get your head around. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move just within Europe and another four million are being hosted in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. And when numbers get that high, they can be hard to comprehend. It's like when someone tells you the size of the audience of NCIS New Orleans: 17 million people? How's that even possible? How many Navy-based crimes could there possibly be in New Orleans? This doesn't make any sense! And when you are dealing with a mass of people that large, you really want to be a little careful with how you describe them. Unfortunately, David Cameron, noted alleged swine fallatio enthusiast, recently referred to a "swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean", and that [00:18:00] language matters. Because a swarm of anything sounds terrifying, no matter what it is. If I hear, there are a lot of kittens coming my way, I'm going to be delighted. But if I hear there is a swarm of kittens approaching, I'm grabbing a shotgun and I'm getting to high ground, because I'm not gonna let those furry fuckers take me alive.

And here in the U.S., some in the media have chosen to reduce the migrant population to one simple stereotype. 

NEWS CLIP: A new video surfaces online showing why some are worried Europe is opening its doors to potential terrorists. 

Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. 

Those are reportedly Muslim refugees on a train in Europe chanting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great". Now, to be clear, we're not saying that any of those people are terrorists or in any way affiliated with a terror group, but it does highlight just how many of these refugees who are fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria [00:19:00] are Muslim.

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Okay. Okay. First, you don't get to claim that you're not calling those people terrorists when your lower third says, "Terrorists inbound?" If you are really not saying they're terrorists, maybe change that to something more accurate like, "People take train", or "Some wear hats, others less so".

And second, describing that as a new video that sheds light on the migrant crisis is a little misleading, because in researching this story, we found a version of that same video uploaded onto YouTube, back in 2010, well before this migrant crisis even began. And if you are going to use misleading old footage to try and make people frightened of Muslims, why stop there? Just go the whole way and use a clip from True Lies. 

NEWS CLIP: Now, to be clear, we're not saying that any of those people are terrorists or in any way affiliated with a terror group, but it does highlight just how many of these refugees who are fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria are Muslim. 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: That's [00:20:00] only about ten percent more racist than what you did. So, look, let's just take a step back, because for the record, these people are coming from many different countries and fleeing everything from civil war to economic stagnation. And while each story is unique, many of them are heartbreaking.

NEWS CLIP: Noujain is 16 and from Kobane in Syria. Disabled from birth, she cannot walk, and made the dangerous crossing from Turkey last week.

NOUJAIN MUSTAFFA: I've been trying many things for the first time during this journey, like a train and a ship. So, uh, I just enjoyed it. 

INTERVIEWER: You enjoyed it? 


INTERVIEWER: You're the first person I've met who said that. 

But to understand why, you must know the world she escaped from. 

NOUJAIN MUSTAFFA: Imagine you're 16 and you're always afraid to be dead at any minute.

INTERVIEWER: What is your dream? 

NOUJAIN MUSTAFFA: I have to be an astronaut to go out and see, and find an alien. Yes. So I [00:21:00] want to meet the queen. Yes. 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Oh, I think that girl absolutely deserves to meet an alien and the queen, and also, if she has time, a real human with feelings. But, unfortunately for Noujain and so many like her, Europe has yet to create an effective system to process this influx of people.

Every country has a different application process, and some are totally overwhelmed and underfunded. We actually got our hands on a couple of registration forms that were given to refugees upon arrival. This one was handed to a Syrian asylum seeker arriving in Greece on September the 5th. It tells him to return for registration on December the 21st. And that could be a tricky three month wait, because he's not allowed to work in that time. And yet, that is nothing compared to this form, given to an Iraqi refugee in Turkey, telling him to come back on June 15th of 2017. Which sounds bad, before you notice the pink sticky note added at the bottom, clarifying [00:22:00] that his actual date will be February 19th, 2020. And that is ridiculous. These people can't go five years without working. They're refugees, not René Zellweger. 

Tunisia, EU scrutinized for harsh treatment of migrants along route from Africa to Europe - PBS NewsHour - Air Date 8-7-23

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Risk death in the desert or drown at sea. Those are the terrible choices facing sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe via Tunisia.

Twenty seven migrants are missing, feared dead, after their rubber dinghies capsized in rough seas south of the Italian island of Lampedusa this weekend. The Italian coast guard rescued 57 people and recovered the bodies of a young boy and a woman who succumbed to the waves before deliverance arrived. 

And this is the fate they were trying to avoid, being abandoned in the Sahara Desert, one of the most unforgiving places on earth. Other sub-Saharan Africans with the same European dream have been dying of thirst after being dumped by the Tunisian authorities on the Libyan border. [00:23:00] 

This mother and her small child are among the latest victims, lying next to an empty water bottle and not far from a man who also succumbed to extreme heat and dehydration.

LAUREN SEIBERT: Over 300 people that are still currently trapped at the Tunisia Libya border in the desert, and they've been trapped there for weeks. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Human Rights Watch. Researcher Lauren Seibert is an expert on the dangers facing migrants in Africa. 

LAUREN SEIBERT: You have children, you have women, you have deaths that are increasing. You do have Libya border guards that are reporting deaths every few days. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Fatemah Ibrahim from Nigeria is terrified as Libyan border guards approach.

"We won't hit you", says this officer, as he tells a colleague to give her water. "We won't hit you. Don't be afraid". As the Libyans dispense the smallest of mouthfuls, Fatemah Ibrahim explains why they're in peril. 

FATEMAH IBRAHIM: In Tunisia, the [00:24:00] police arrested us, beat us, and took our phones and all our money. They told us to go to Libya, and my people kept saying Libya is very bad. They left us without water and food. They put us there and then left. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Tunisia's authoritarian president, Kais Saied, is being blamed for what is turning into a 21st Century pogrom. Accompanied by a jaunty soundtrack on his Facebook page, Saied presents himself as an international statesman, greeting leaders such as Italy's right wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. But many critics condemn him as a dictator who propagates racism.

In February, Saied told security forces to stop all illegal migration and expel those without documents. 

PRESIDENT KAIS SAIED: We are African and we are proud to be Africans. We give help to those [00:25:00] who come to us, but we refuse to be neither a pathway nor a land to settle in. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: A campaign of arrests and expulsions created a wave of fear among sub-Saharan Africans and Black Tunisians.

Pro-refugee activists took to the streets of the capital, Tunis, to protest the new measures, but Saied was unrepentant. 

PRESIDENT KAIS SAIED: We are being subjected to vicious campaigns from mercenaries, traitors, foreign agents, and shady parties. Today they want to change the demographic composition of Tunisia. It's a plot and they get paid for it, and they got paid in other fields to attack the state and the Tunisian people and their identity

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Saied's remarks have been widely condemned for provoking racial violence between Tunisians and migrants. The death of a Tunisian in July was one of the catalysts that led to the expulsions to the desert. [00:26:00] Despite the clashes, European Union leaders had no qualms about visiting the presidential palace to do business with the man who seized power two years ago, crushing democratic aspirations of the nation where the Arab Spring began in 2011.

The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged 100 million dollars to help Tunisia police its own borders, with the lure of a further billion dollars in aid. 

URSULA VON DER LEYEN: We need to crack down on criminal networks of smugglers and traffickers. They are exploiting human despair and we have to break their reckless business model.

So we will work with Tunisia on an anti-smuggling operational partnership. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: The EU country which benefits most from this deal is Italy. The island of Lampedusa is just over 100 miles from Tunisia and has been a landing zone for tens of thousands of asylum seekers for years. Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia [00:27:00] Meloni took office last autumn on an anti-migration platform.

GIORGIA MELONI: The partnership with Tunisia has to be considered as a model for building new relations with North African neighbors. All these, a few months ago, would have been unthinkable. And I want to say it with a level of pride, but also with a level of gratitude to the European Union. 

ANAND MENON: The rhetoric around this deal is a rhetoric of preventing people drowning, whereas everyone knows that the reality is about preventing people coming to Europe. That's the political priority in Europe. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Anand Menon is professor of European politics at King's College London. 

ANAND MENON: Europe has cash, and North African states have space to build these camps to house these migrants. We should remember that, of course, the European Union paid Colonel Gaddafi way back in the, sort of, 2009-2010 to do exactly the same thing, to make sure migrants didn't make the crossing.

So, politically, you see the rationale, but it makes the [00:28:00] European Union complicit in human rights abuses in these camps. What does this say about Europe? I mean, what it says about Europe is that Europeans and European politicians are terrified by migration from Africa and will do anything it takes to stop it, even if it means dealing with dictators such as in Tunisia.

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: These people were rescued from the desert by Libyan authorities. Their protest took place during a media facility with a border guard unit. 

IBRAHIM BANGUA: Some people are sick. We ask them for solution, no solution, every day they come with weapon for us. We are not fighting, we are just a migrant.

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Tunisia's actions are a welcome distraction for its neighbor, Libya, another country on the migrant trail with a dreadful reputation. 

NATASHA TSANGARIDES: Our legal advisors, who work with survivors of torture every day, describe Libya as armageddon. They describe it as complete hell on earth. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Natasha Tsangalides is the Associate Director [00:29:00] of Advocacy with Freedom from Torture, a British non profit.

NATASHA TSANGARIDES: People experience such high levels of trauma and PTSD following their time in Libya, being subjected to open air slave markets, being sold off at auctions, being subject to rape and torture. 

MALCOLM BRABANT - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: But for human rights activists, discussions about the morality and cynicism of the European Union and its North African partners are taking second place to the issue of life and death in the Sahara.

How do you see this ending? 

LAUREN SEIBERT: Honestly, if the Tunisian government does not take action to save these individuals lives by allowing humanitarian aid immediately to access the zone, and if it does not also facilitate the evacuation of these people, you're gonna see extreme numbers of deaths. And you've got children there. More children could die. It's just really catastrophic. 

Why Are Migrants Becoming AI Test Subjects? With Petra Molnar - Your Undivided Attention - Air Date 6-20-24

PETRA MOLNAR: Yeah, the UN and other types of international organizations are a key player in the kind of ecosystem of power and innovation and border tech because they're [00:30:00] really powerful actors. They set the agenda and the norms around, again, kind of what we see as innovation and why we should be collecting more data. That's kind of a given. If you go to a lot of UN policy documents and different pronouncements, data is in there, right? We need more data, we need to collect more information. But what's tricky from a legal perspective and a governance perspective is that international organizations are this kind of third space, right? They're not a private sector company and they're not a state. So, how do you regulate them? What kind of governance mechanisms exist? Oftentimes it's kind of an in-house, you know, ethics statement, for example, on biometric data collection. This all sounds really kind of up there and theoretical, so I'll bring it to the ground to the example you mentioned with Rohingya refugees.

So, Rohingya refugees have been escaping Myanmar for many years now and finding shelter or refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. The UN is active in Bangladesh and has been collecting data from refugees there, and it came out a couple years ago that [00:31:00] they inadvertently took this collected data and shared it with the Myanmar government, the very government that the refugees were fleeing from.

Now, if we are assuming that this is an accident, it's a pretty big one, because it's extremely sensitive personal information that often was also collected in situations that were maybe not totally driven by consent, right?, because the power dynamics are there. Can a refugee really opt out of data collection if they're in a camp that's administered by the United Nations, right? It's very different than you and I going to a grocery store and saying, oh no, you know, I don't want to participate in the survey or I don't want to give you my information, because you can just go home. That's not the dynamic, right?, that people on the move face. And the fact that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees made such a big mistake is very telling. Because what's happening with other actors in the space, what kind of data retention practices do they have, or data sharing practices too, you know, what is really happening? So much of it, again, happens in that kind of murky, opaque [00:32:00] area that's very difficult to penetrate by journalists, by lawyers, by human rights monitors, because so much is done by third party actors like international organizations that don't have to report in the same way that states do, or even the private sector does.

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: You know, if I'm a country, I would say there's going to be some kind of border arbitrage that if I don't beef up my border, then refugees are going to be turned away from countries that have a beefier border, and they're just going to flow to me. So, I really don't have a choice anyway. So, I guess what would you say to them? And really what I'm looking for is, this is not a kind of binary answer. There's not a yes or no. This is like a way that we move. This is a verb. This is an adaptive process. And from your vantage point, what would be a better adaptive process? How would we be doing the process of deciding what is okay and what's not okay in a better way acknowledging how fast everything is [00:33:00] moving?

PETRA MOLNAR: You know, maybe this seems again too simplistic, but it's about talking directly with people who are impacted by the technology and who are hurt by it, because it is now, I would say, pretty robustly documented that border technology infringes on all sorts of human rights and has potentially even led to loss of life, right, at the U.S.-Mexico border.

So, if we know all of that, and then we also see this kind of race to the bottom that states are engaged in, I think that's absolutely right, of beefing up their borders, like, really strengthening border security and not wanting to be the country that says, oh, well, okay, my doors are open, like, what are the incentives there?

I think we need to have a conversation about some no-go zones, frankly, when it comes to technology. I mean, we tried that with autonomous weapons and that still hasn't happened, right? And that's really like the sharpest edge of this conversation. But yeah, what about robo dogs? What about predictive analytics for border enforcement?

What about data that's collected as part of a DNA sample? Are we [00:34:00] actually okay with that as a society? And if not, then we really need to draw some red lines under this. A moratorium at the very least, but a ban actually, I think, is definitely something that needs to be explored. And I think it's a little short-sighted too, actually, on part of a lot of what, you sometimes we call receiving countries, so countries like the United States or Canada or the EU that have been historically in the last few decades the receiving point for people on the move.

It's very short sighted to see migrants and refugees as a threat because a lot of people contribute very highly to countries that are their second home, right? And I think we've lost sight of that. Like, the fact that everything's now weaponized against this kind of specter of migration is incredibly shortsighted. Because if we are going to be dealing with larger and larger numbers of people on the move in the future, it's actually an opportunity to think about, well, how do we uphold people's human rights? How do we actually function as a society that respects human dignity [00:35:00] and, and wants to be a functional place where people can thrive and raise their Children and contribute to local economies? That's really what we need to be talking about here. 

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: I'm just curious, what, if any, are the bright spots, or the bright people, that you would point our attention to, for where we get hints of, like, trailheads for hope? Like, we, you know, we're gonna have more climate refugees. We wish we could choose about this, but we can't. There's gonna be more people on the move, and as you said, deterrence isn't gonna work because it is a matter of life and death. And so we need examples of, you know, integration working better, refugee camps working better, and ways that technology can play a positive and helpful role in that. Is there any other examples of that you want to mention?

PETRA MOLNAR: Sure. I mean, there's really inspiring practices when it comes to, for example, education technology and making sure that children in conflict zones are able to still learn when they're on the move or when they're in refugee camps. There's all sorts of really interesting projects out there that are kind of bringing the classroom to the child that's mobile.

You know, other inspiring [00:36:00] things that, that I can kind of think of are just ways again that, for example, you know, journalists are thinking about telling different stories and kind of focusing on technology as a way to level the playing field in the kind of vast power differential that we're talking about.

And that's something that we're trying to do at the Refugee Law Lab, which is kind of my academic hat. My colleague, Sean Rehaag, for example, he's more on the kind of data science side, but he's looking at, for example, using big data sets to crunch numbers and look at, for example, refugee decisions in Canada to create information for refugee lawyers to be better informed on how a particular judge might render their decision. Very, very helpful because again, you're dealing with attorneys who might not have the same level of resources as a government lawyer might. 

So, there are definitely bright spots when it comes to using technology as well to kind of meet in the middle and, you know, work against the kind of differentials in power and privilege and even the kind of norm setting that it comes to, like who gets to [00:37:00] innovate and why. We really need to find ways to kind of talk to each other more about this. 

Final comments on our summer membership drive

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips starting with Democracy Now! discussing DACA and the American Families United Act. It Could Happen Here looked at some of the history of migration waves into Europe. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver discussed the Islamophobia rampant in the language used to describe migrants headed to Europe. The PBS News Hour reported on the harrowing trip to Europe from North Africa being attempted by desperate migrants. Your Undivided Attention drew the connection between border security and the spread of surveillance technologies. 

It Could Happen Here compared the tragedy inherent in the migrant experience with the profit of the border industrial complex. And Your Undivided Attention looked for new ways of thinking about how to manage borders. 

And those were just the top takes. There's a lot more in the deeper dive sections. 

But first I need to kick off our summer sale membership and awareness drive. We make [00:38:00] the show here because we think that it's the kind of show that needs to exist in the world. Hopefully you listened for a similar reason, but, to keep the show going, we need to ask you for money every once in a while and, frankly, your help in spreading the word of the show. Podcasts like this one don't benefit from algorithmic recommendation engines the way shows do on video-sharing and social media platforms, and this show just doesn't translate to YouTube as well as others. So, that leaves us with the old-fashioned method of people who care enough about it telling others about it. 

 On the money angle, we're offering a little incentive to sign up as a member of this month with a discount offer. You can support the show and hear our full members-only bonus episodes along with ad-free regular episodes for 20% off. If you sign up this month, you will lock in that price for as long as you keep your membership.

As for spreading the word about the show, there couldn't be a better time. As election season is swinging into full gear. [00:39:00] This show is the antidote to the breathless barrage of up-to-the-minute updates that fill the 24-hour news cycle. We go deeper and on a broader range of topics than almost any other show all while highlighting the great works of others that can turn into a sort of roadmap for anyone seeking further media recommendations. 

To me. That sounds like the kind of show more people should know about. 

And to help you with all this, I happened upon a reasonably good idea in an Ars Technica article recently titled "Give Yourself a Day to Tackle All Your Recommendation and Subscription Guilt." Hopefully it won't take you a full day, but the underlying idea is pretty solid. The writer addresses the problem that so many of us have with the constant knowledge that there are independent creators out there who need and deserve our support. But we rarely take the time to give it. 

 To make that nebulous scattershot set of [00:40:00] thoughts about who you want to support that sort of comes to mind randomly more manageable, the writer recommends blocking out some time and knocking them out all at once. 

The article says, "Declare a tech guilt absolution day. Sit down, gather up the little computer and phone stuff you love that more people should know about, or free things totally worth a few bucks, and blitz through ratings, reviews and donations.

Pull your brain about the little phone, computer and email things you like and know could use a little boost (Ahem). 

This could be a one-time donation, a Patreon or newsletter subscription, writing out a couple of nice sentiments about something more people should know about, or taking the 30 seconds to log in and rate something, thumbs up or five stars."

But then, recognizing the issue with subscription fatigue, the writer also points out that this could be a time to reorganize priorities. "Subscription fatigue is real and little donations [00:41:00] add up, so go ahead and make a budget for this exercise. 

You might consider checking your existing subscriptions and cycling the money from canceling. 

One of them into something more relevant. I personally felt great turning the rest of the year's Hulu subscription into Patreon dollars for my favorite podcast." Very on point. I appreciated that. 

And then the writer concludes based on their experience of setting aside a bit of time to tackle this task—critical to the survival of those of us struggling in the attention economy—that it really does make the process much more manageable. So if that sounds like something you've been meaning to do for awhile, take this as your opportunity to support the creators you love and spread the word so that others can get the same value you do. 

To support us, just head to BestOfTheLeft.com/support and grab your discounted membership, and then tell someone about us.


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: And now, we'll continue with deeper dives on four topics. Next up, Section A: "The Politicization of the Border," [00:42:00] Section B: "Brutal Border Enforcement," Section C: "The Border Industrial Complex," and Section D: "Migrant Stories."

Immigration with Alejandra Oliva - You're Wrong About - Air Date 6-11-24

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: So yeah, I thought that a fun place to start today would be with Ronald Reagan.

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: He's always fun. Reagan's never not fun. It's, you know, when we lose. Things on such a massive scale and on such a scale of civil rights and human rights, it feels like it's, it's also important to sometimes take a moment and just talk about, like, if we weren't fighting for just the basics, what the world could look like and how, for example, if abortion wasn't so politicized in America, which, you know, recently did a great job on our show explaining how suddenly that happened and who made it happen.

Like abortion could not just be a non life threatening experience in terms of the fear of, you know, being identified, being harassed, being in a clinic that gets bombed, but it could be nice [00:43:00] and people getting abortions deserve to be taken care of and pampered a little bit, you know, and have, what if, what if you had a nice robe?

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: And I think this also means that our communities look different than they might if immigration was something that was easy or natural or, you know, Even, like you said, like, having a nice experience of abortion, what if we provided a nice experience of immigration that didn't involve, like, being constantly threatened with deportation and miles and miles of paperwork?

What if instead you could, like, show up at a community center and have English classes taught by somebody who lived near you, and have somebody be like, hey, I'm gay. Don't go to that grocery store. That's the bad grocery store in the neighborhood. Come with me. We'll do our shopping at the good one. I'll show you like they have good deals on Tuesdays.

So that's when I go and just kind of have community and local welcoming and have richer, more interesting, more nuanced communities for all of us. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Oh my God. And so we're beginning with Reagan. I mean, I'm not surprised, but I am [00:44:00] intrigued. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Yeah. During the Reagan administration, Congress passed, and then Reagan signed into law, a huge, huge undocumented person amnesty that would allow hundreds of thousands of undocumented people to get on the path to citizenship, which, if you look at that from today's politics, if you think about what it would take for Not just a Republican president, but like the Republican president to pass that kind of legislation today.

Like, it feels unimaginable. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: What do you make of that? Like, how does, when did you learn that? And what was your, what were the stages of grief you went through? 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: So I can't remember, like, exactly when I did, but it felt like a window into a different world. Like, what could have happened? What could have changed so much that now the Republican, like, baseline argument is we should have a completely separate system?

[00:45:00] no passage of people just capital. But I want to take Nancy to 




ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Reagan also, he had the amnesty, but I think on a lot of other immigration issues or like, uh, foreign policy that creates immigration issues was a much, much more complicated figure than just like he said that people could be on a path to citizenship.

So I think we should start by setting the stage, especially because so much of this like foreign policy that was going on during Reagan's time is like what is leading to, for example, the tremendous amount of Central American immigration that we have coming to the U. S. today. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: And how much of that is Reagan's fault, actually?

I bet. So much of 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: it. Oh, God. We had, as a country, had kind of been involved in Central America since the 1960s when we decided that communism was the thing that [00:46:00] was happening there. But Reagan really like doubled down and a lot of those civil wars got notably worse in the 80s, I would say. The Civil War in Guatemala began sort of including this Widescale genocide of indigenous Mayan people who lived in the country, thousands and thousands of people died at the hands of CIA trained military Reagan support for the Contras in Nicaragua, I think, was one of his most direct interventions into the politics of one of these countries that didn't wasn't just like we're going to support people but basically he armed and funded and trained a group of separatists to unseat an elected socialist government The Salvadoran Civil War was going on at that time.

Why were we so upset about? Communism that we were sending that much money and that much support and why was this such a huge, huge deal [00:47:00] as we were funding all of this? It just seems wild. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: As Baby's sister explained in Dirty Dancing, the idea of the domino effect, and that if one country goes communist, all the others will fall and eventually America and the world.

And that's why we have to fund this horrible war. Yeah, these stories that forgive the sins that we commit in order to fight an imagined enemy never seem like enough. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Wars. are very good at several things, but one of them is creating displaced people and refugees. And so, kind of from the 1960s to the 1980s, we start seeing increasing numbers of people from the countries in which we are living.

waging these sort of shadow wars through funding, through weapons, coming to the U. S. and becoming visible presences in and around the country. So a lot of Central American people, a lot of Vietnamese people are coming. I [00:48:00] read some statistic at some point that before the Vietnam War started, there were like less than 100 Vietnamese people in the entire United States.

And by the time it ended, There were a lot more than that. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Setting aside all the bigger questions about the idea of borders and the idea of countries and, you know, not to hand it to John Lennon, we just, you know, in a more finite sense, if you destroy someone's home, then I don't know, shouldn't you give them a new one?

Isn't that your job at that point? 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Yeah, it's people that are coming to the U. S. because it's kind of seen as the last safe haven, the last line of safety. And we are, in some cases, giving people asylum, or in some cases, sort of giving them other kinds of protected statuses that don't put them on a path to citizenship, but do ensure that they're not being deported.

Or we're just, you know, deporting people immediately.

Migrants & Refugees, the Pope & Volkswagen Part 2 - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Air Date 5-26-24

NEWS CLIP: Disturbing cell phone video appears [00:49:00] to show migrants at the main refugee camp here being fed like a herd of caged animals in a holding pen.

It's a shocking video that has garnered attention from around the world. As waves of desperate migrants sprint from a holding camp in Hungary. A camerawoman appears to trip a man running with his child in his arms. The woman also kicks other migrants as they run, including a young girl. Now, the camerawoman is out of a job.

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Oh, I'm sorry, she lost her job. That's absolutely terrible. Don't worry, I'm sure she can find a new one on actualmonster. com. To be fair She later apologized, saying, I'm not a heartless, racist, children kicking camera woman. Which I can only presume means she's a loving, accepting, children kicking camera woman, because the children kicking part is not really up for debate anymore.

And even those countries who are offering to take refugees are sometimes making those offers in the most insultingly 

NEWS CLIP: selective way. [00:50:00] Slovakians saying that, um, that they're only going to give asylum to, uh, to Christians. They don't want, uh, Muslims, uh, migrants coming into the country, Muslim asylum seekers.

Not least because they haven't got any mosques. Oh, I'm sorry, 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Slovakia. You can't take Muslims in because you don't have any mosques. You do know you can build those, right? Mosques don't naturally occur in the wild due to erosion or particularly devout beavers. Muslims Muslims can live anywhere that other humans can live.

Muslims are not like dolphins trying to resettle in Scottsdale, Arizona. And when refugees Poles are not being excluded on the basis of religion. They're being accused of being lazy freeloaders. Just listen to one Polish MEP address the European Parliament. 

NEWS CLIP: If we abolished all benefits, then people who don't want to work and want to live from benefits wouldn't come to Poland and the rest of Europe.

People who want to work are precious, however [00:51:00] they are sent back and we accept only those who don't want to work. It's ridiculous policy leading to invasion of human trash. Let us be clear, human trash, human garbage that doesn't want to work. 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: Human garbage? Those are some pretty strong words coming from the Polish Six Flags guy.

And what he said is not just offensive, it's also wrong. Research has shown that while there is some small cost in the short term, eventually, an influx of lower wage immigrants into a community tends to raise wages for everyone else. And a working paper published last year by four economists found that immigration benefited local populations in 19 of the 20 industrialized countries they studied.

And think about that. Adding immigrants makes things better 19 times out of 20. That's a success rate matched only by Bacon and Paul Rudd. And incidentally, it's just a little hard to hear these migrants and refugees being called lazy, considering how hard [00:52:00] many of them have worked to reach Europe in the first place.

You really want to talk about lazy migrants, I'm a lazy migrant. I left a country by airplane, and the only things I was escaping were fog, public indifference, and an almost certain future as the turtle of Prince Harry's entourage. I didn't want to be royal turtle. I didn't want to be royal turtle. And the maddening thing, the maddening thing here is, Europe doesn't even need to do this for good reasons.

It can do it for selfish ones, because as a continent, it is in dire need of new citizens. 

NEWS CLIP: According to the U. N., the average woman needs to have 2. 1 children to maintain the population of a developed country. But in the European Union, every single country is below that 2. 1 level. By 2050, some countries, like Greece, Portugal, and Germany, will see their populations drop by double digit percentages, according to Pew.

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: That's true. If Europe doesn't open its doors to more [00:53:00] migrants, this is not the changing face of Europe they should be frightened of. This is. This one, right here. And look, not every single asylum seeker is going to be the perfect economic wellspring. But instead of worrying about the hypothetical downside of letting these migrants in, Countries should be more worried about the actual downside of turning them away.

If for no other reason that you might miss out on someone like Najeen, who seems like she would improve any country that would have her. Just listen to how she taught herself English. How did you learn to speak such good English? 

NEWS CLIP: At home with my favorite TV show. What's that? It's days of our lives with, uh, with this sunny nature struggle.

Yeah, I love them both. 

JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT: How can you not want this girl in your country? She loves days of our lives. She loves it. She loves days of our lives. And specifically, she loves EJ and Sammy. In fact, even after weeks of total hell, [00:54:00] mortal danger, and inhumane treatment, Najeeb's biggest complaint is that the show actually killed off EJ, who was her favorite character.

Immigration with Alejandra Oliva Part 2 - You're Wrong About - Air Date 6-11-24

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: So the bill was widely considered a failure by the right because the first election after this happens. California extremely decisively flipped from a red state to a blue state and everyone was like, ah, it was those damn immigrants.

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Because they've created a bunch of new voters who are going to vote Democrat. Is that why? 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Yeah. And like, I really think that that is why, for example, a lot of like the stuff that Obama tried to get past didn't work because they were all like, well, remember the amnesty in the 80s and how that went for us.

And so. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: And so then they were like, never again. Yeah, 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: it like really poisoned 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: it. It is interesting that like the most you ever hear politicians saying anything about anyone Latino is the Latino vote. What about the vote? Is the vote okay? Is the vote [00:55:00] ailing? How's the vote? Is he sick? Is he well? Is he struggling?

Are we taking care of the vote? How's the vote doing? Does the vote need help? It's like, what about the people making the vote? 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: So that is Reagan's amnesty. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: All right. They tried to do something. They decided they would never try it again, like me going to a Zumba class in 2012. Beautiful. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Oh, God. Yeah. So then, Up next, I kind of want to lump in Bush Sr.

and Clinton into one little lump. Clinton's going to get his own section later, but I want to talk about NAFTA. So NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Alliance, and it is a trade partnership between Us and Mexico and Canada and Reagan came up with it and Bush senior sort of negotiated all the fine points and then Clinton got all the credit because he signed it into law.

Classic case. I don't want to spend a [00:56:00] ton of time on this. It's not explicitly immigration policy, but I think it does. It did so much to change the way that we think about immigration in this country and especially like immigration and labor stuff. And it also changed a lot of extremely basic things about how people lived in Mexico and the U.

S. At the very basic level, if you are an economist, please don't email me. This is very, very basic. At the very basic level, NAFTA made it easier for money to flow back and forth across the border. So it made it easier for U. S. companies to set up the shop in Mexico. It made importing things like corn or pork or whatever.

for Mexico or doing the growing of the corn and the pork in Mexico and bringing it to the U. S. a lot cheaper. And it made it much, much harder for small farmers and landowners to keep doing the work that they had been doing because they were getting priced [00:57:00] out of the economy anyways. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Because fuck farmers, am I right?

Fuck farmers. Fuck little farmers, according to the American government. Yeah. Fuck farmers who aren't forced to use copyrighted seeds. We hate that. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: The interesting thing is that this affected farmers on both sides of the border. 


ALEJANDRA OLIVA: as big farmers are able or big farm, like Conglomerates are able to start doing this work in the U.

S. and in Mexico. U. S. corn prices rise. It's great if you are growing like a million billion acres of corn a year. It is less cool if you are. A small diverse farmer in the US who is trying to make a living. 


ALEJANDRA OLIVA: so you have this kind of two part shift. A lot of US jobs are going to Mexico and it's this very, very public, very visible, like we are closing down this plant in Ohio.

We are reopening it in like Reynosa or [00:58:00] Matamoros or like a border city. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: What a great way to create a sense of unity between two nations. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Exactly. And so I think you start seeing this feeling of like, Oh, Mexicans are stealing our jobs. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: If someone stole my TV from me and sold it to someone else, I would not call the new owner of it the thief.

I would call them lucky. And I would call the person who took it from me responsible. If I see it as a family, it makes sense to me, right? Where if you see your employer, the company you work for, maybe that your parents worked for as a parent figure, then it's like, it's harder to imagine a world where they're not in charge than it is to just blame someone who maybe feels more like a sibling.

It's like we're, I don't know. It feels like, yeah, the way that we are trained to see companies as caretakers. It's like we were so perfectly set up for this to be the next move. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: You know, you think about like a mid sized town in [00:59:00] Ohio where the company is kind of the only game in town. You work there, your dad worked there, all your neighbors work there.

Most of the people who are working a job are working in the same place, and then suddenly they close up shop, and it, yeah, it feels a little like a divorced dad starting a new family, and you're 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: like, And it's always the hot wife who gets blamed. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: But also, fuck those new kids. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and like there are so many towns that exist because a company decided to build a factory there, right?

Like that it's so much a part of our history that we just call them company towns and it used to be so normal. It isn't anymore. And that again, kind of by the same token, like if you destroy someone's home because of a war that you created where they lived, then you're responsible for them in the same way.

I think that. If your company created a plant, you know, in a town that then perhaps even sprang up around it where there was nothing before, because suddenly you would create a [01:00:00] jobs, you know, created a world and, you know, maybe an entire intentional community meant for these workers, then you can't just leave, you know, and a stockholder would say you can just leave, but 


SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: but human ethics don't say that 

Why Are Migrants Becoming AI Test Subjects? With Petra Molnar Part 3 - Your Undivided Attention - Air Date 6-20-24

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: It seems like one of the ways to motivate public action to regulate this is to show how, you know, what starts at the border to deal with, quote unquote, the other and the immigration that's coming into the country, then later can get turn around to be used on our own citizens. And in your book, you actually have talking about how the global push to strengthen borders has gone hand in hand with the rise in far right politics to root out the other.

And you talk about examples of far right governments who turn around and use the same technology tested at their border on their own citizens to start strengthening their regime. And you give examples, I think, in Kenya, Israel, Greece. Could you just elaborate on some of the examples? Because I think if people know where this goes, then it motivates how do we get ahead of this more?


PETRA MOLNAR: Yeah, I think it's important, yeah, to bring it back to political contexts because all around the world we're seeing the [01:01:00] rise of anti migrant far right groups and parties making incursions into, you know, the political space, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in major ways. And, you know, I think it's an open question what's going to happen in the United States this year, right, with the election that you guys have coming up.

What I've seen, for example, in Greece. is that parties that are very anti migration normalize the need to bring in surveillance technology at the border and test it out in refugee camps, for example, and then say, okay, well, we're going to be using similar things by the police on the streets of Athens, for example, you know, in Kenya, similar things with normalization of just the border.

kind of data extraction for the purposes of digital ID are then used and weaponized against groups that already face marginalizations like Somali Kenyans, Nubian community, and smaller groups like that. So again, I think the fact that there is this kind of global turn to the right and more of a fear based kind of response to migration.[01:02:00] 

motivates more technology and you again see this kind of in the incursion of the private sector kind of normalizing some of these really sharp interventions and say oh well you know what we have your solution here you are worried about migration and the other let's bring in this project and then all lo and behold you can actually use it on you know protesters that you don't like or sports stadium fans who are too rowdy and and you know groups like that as well 

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: okay so we just talked about kenya and greece in the context of other governments But what about Israel?

What, what's their role in all this? Are they using these technologies at their borders? 

PETRA MOLNAR: Yeah, for sure. I mean, Israel is definitely a nucleus in everything that we're talking about today. And I also felt compelled to go to the occupied West Bank for the book because it's really the epicenter of so much of the technology that is then exported for border enforcement in the EU and at the U.

S. Mexico border, right? But what is really troubling in how Israel has been developing and deploying [01:03:00] technology is that Palestine has become the ultimate testing ground, a laboratory, if you will. Surveillance technology is tested on Palestinians, both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and then sold to governments around the world for border enforcement.

And, and all of these projects that are normalized in these situations then can get exported out into other jurisdictions.


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Now entering Section B: "Brutal Border Enforcement." 

EU Border Enforcement, Part 1 (Part 2) - It Could Happen Here - Air Date 6-4-24

MICK: I found a very nice scholarly article that breaks down

how the EU borders work and makes a very clear

distinction between the different layers that protect fortress Europe. These

layers will be called the paper border, which largely consists

of visa policies and similar bureaucracy that regulates movement to

the EU and within it. Then we have the iron border,

which is exactly what you imagine it to me, it's

the [01:04:00] physical structures and forms of control that we put

up to keep people out. And then we have the

post border, and that's about the reception of migrants, migrant

shelters and similar constructions that keep migrants and refugees ostracized

and isolated even after being allowed access into the EU

and having started a asylum process. For those stories, we

should turn to Rose when we get there, because she

is much more on the ground experience than I have

with this, So we'll start with the paper border. During

the mid eighties, the EU started to propose and enact

a series of treaties and policies that in effect strengthened

the external borders and loosened the borders within Europe. I

think no one is particularly interested in this series of treaties,

so I will name the only one is the Shangan Treaty.

This treaty essentially [01:05:00] unites the external borders under EU command

rather than as a task for individual states. In practice,

this also means that you citizens who have a proper

documentation can move really between countries who are who have

signed the sang In Treaty for holidays or work loose.

You and I we could move to Germany tomorrow if

we wanted to, and I have little to know obstacles

in terms of like documentary.

ROSE: Were economically independent though, like that is very crucial about

your friend. Enough movement is conditional on.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: You making money, yeah, having enough money to support yourself.

But you can move like this is very funny. Pissed

off British people who are living in Spain right when

they when Britain brexited, because they hadn't realized that they

would impact them. They you know, like.

ROSE: Was only the Polish that we yeah, like the undesirable migrants,

but yes, assume themselves to be desirable.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, well, yeah, [01:06:00] I don't think we use the word

expat right like Bridge would use the word expected its

describe a migrant from Britain to Spain like it's yeah,

it's reallyiculous. I mean, I've lived in front in Spain,

of fift in Belgium and I was, I guess, somewhat

economically independent. Made twelve thousand years a year as a

bike racer, but that was you know, I could do that.

It's very easy for me, but it is.

ROSE: I do think it's important because I think it's one

of those post border things that what we see for

some point in analyts is that most homeless people here

are not the undocumented migrants. They are not the refugees

or Dutch people that they're EU migrants. So people have

low paying jobs, break their legs, get kicked out of

their houses and their jobs, and are not welcoming to

homeless shelters because an endlands says, well, you are not

economically independent. There were, Yeah, so this is also part

of the migration regime, and this is also part of

keeping migrants exploitable. Even if you use citizens have the

right to work, they don't. [01:07:00] They're only allowed to work.

We only want them if they bring in econo profits.

We don't want them when they're sick or neat or whatever.

MICK: Yeah, and then mostly we want them for jobs that

we feel too good to actually do. When I was younger,

I used to work in a greenhouse, and there's an

immense amount of people from like Poland or other Eastern

European countries coming there because Dutch people tend not to

want to work in a greenhouse. It's one of those things.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: It's an extension of that, like a colonial perspective, right

that like, these are not jobs for.

MICK: Us exactly because you get your hands dirty and we

can't have that here. To put the whole thing about

the paper border into less academic term, the EU started

to act like a nation state and started to make

sharp distinctions between native and non native European citizens. I

think it's worth [01:08:00] pointing out that what counts as EU

is also a how was it? European identity. It's very

closely tied to geographical location and therefore also implicitly linked

to Christianity. Countries that are largely non Christian but connected

to Europe tend to be excluded. Turkey is partially in

Europe but not part of the EU, and Bosnia Herzegovina,

which is a majority Muslim country, is also excluded from that.

But much like Turkey is being tempted with the whole

maybe you can join if you do this and that,

but we're not really committing to that. That, however, is

a story for another time. Maybe The point that I

want to make here is that the visa program for

Europe is based on geographical discrimination. Countries outside the geography

of Europe are blacklisted and cannot gain access to the

papers that they need to [01:09:00] legally enter the EU. This

bureaucracy prohibits people from entering the EU before fences or

border guards have even entered the equation, hence the paper border,

since entering or crossing without a paper visa is nigh impossible.

€210 million EU-Mauritania deal Money in exchange for curbing migration to Europe - DW News - Air Date 6-7-24

TOMI OLADIPO - HOST, DW NEWS: Let's speak now to Hassan Oud Mokhtar, a researcher and consultant and the author of the forthcoming book, After Border Externalization, Migration, Race and Labor in Mauritania. Hassan, it's good to have you on the program. Welcome to DW News Africa. Now, North African countries, have been the main exit point for migrants going to Europe.

So give us some context as to why or how West African countries like Mauritania have become major hubs as well. Well, 

HASSAN OULD MOCTAR: Thanks for inviting me to be here. And I guess the context goes back to 2006 when for [01:10:00] Mauritania, at least Departures increased quite significantly from the West African coast to the Canary Islands upwards of 32, 000 people arrived on the islands over the course of that year.

And as a result of those arrivals, there have been a slew of measures, both militarized security measures on the part of European states and Spain in particular. In addition to more soft developmental measures like jobs at origin programs and youth employment programs all with the aim of preventing people from leaving the coasts of West Africa to Europe.

They have had various degrees of success over the years, but as the recent arrivals over the past couple of months and The latter half of 2023 in particular, as they indicate there is as of yet little little outright success in the prevention of those departures from West African 

TOMI OLADIPO - HOST, DW NEWS: countries like Mauritania.

And just clarifying, [01:11:00] so these people are both Mauritanians and people coming from other, uh, other countries as well, using Mauritania as a, as a route? Thank you very much. 

HASSAN OULD MOCTAR: Yeah, that's correct. Primarily people using Mauritania as a route. 

TOMI OLADIPO - HOST, DW NEWS: And, and so you're saying that this deal between the EU and Mauritania, uh, will not achieve its aim?

HASSAN OULD MOCTAR: Yes, in the immediate term, I think it might succeed in preventing departures, maritime departures. So from the coast of Mauritania to the Canary Islands but I think the broader aim of preventing so called irregular arrivals in Europe will not be achieved by this deal. I think people will continue to migrate through unauthorized channels most likely through the border post between the Moroccan western Sahara and Mauritania and travel overland and [01:12:00] that the roots will disperse in response to these kinds of deals.

And I'm saying this just on the basis of what has happened in the region since 2006, when, as I mentioned, the initiative to kind of externalize migration controls to Mauritania and to other countries in the region was initiated. 

TOMI OLADIPO - HOST, DW NEWS: And Hassan, if the EU were to still pursue this, um, this plan as, as it were to, to cut down migration numbers, is there a better way it can collaborate with countries like Mauritania at achieving this?

HASSAN OULD MOCTAR: Yeah, I think so. I think the first is vastly increasing the scope for legal migration into European territory. Um, this is something that is promised within the deal. There is one Aspect of it that calls for a [01:13:00] increase in, uh, I think both students student visas for Mauritanian nationals.

In addition to I think circular migration schemes. But given that, as we said earlier it's primarily not Mauritanian nationals who are trying to get from Mauritania to Europe. I'm not convinced as to how effective that particular measure will be because it's essentially promising a certain and very limited, it must be said, degree of mobility for Mauritanian nationals to Europe in exchange for non Mauritanian migrants who happen to be in Mauritania being policed and kept where they are.

So I think vastly increasing the scope for legal migration and of course the scope for Applying for asylum for international protection across the EU, not just in Spain, would reduce the number of people migrating through illegal channels. It's been long argued in migration studies scholarships that a restriction in visas and [01:14:00] avenues to migrate legally Increases, as I said, the costs, financial and human costs of the journeys to Europe rather than stopping them.

And it also, for those who do make it it has the kind of perverse consequence of Preventing them from going home because it will be that much difficult to come back. So, if it were the case that it were possible to migrate legally there would be less of an incentive to stay in a European context or any destination context 



TOMI OLADIPO - HOST, DW NEWS: one had arrived.

EU Border Enforcement, Part 1 (Part 3) - It Could Happen Here - Air Date 6-4-24

MICK: Okay, so the next part is the Iron Border. This

is very similar to what people already think of, but

but somehow worse. The Iron Border is a collection of fences, walls,

barbed and razor wire, or even fortified enclaves such as

Suta and Melilla in Spain. Sorry for butchering those names.

It is both the Trent and a performance. It's meant

to project [01:15:00] security for people within the walls. It shows

that EU uses an iron fist to protect Europeans from

irregular or illegal immigrant migration. What is more important to

highlight it also makes for very good outreach media for

right wing and fascist platforms. Refugees will continue to breach

those fences and the photographs and videos of it made

for very good propaganda about how borders need to be strengthened.

The fenced borders of Europe have increased from three hundred

kilometers in twenty fourteen to a shocking two thousand and

forty eight kilometers in twenty twenty two.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, that's substantially than the US we have. Of course

it's America, so it's miles. But the most generous estimate,

based on pre existing war repairs Trump wall building is

seven hundred and forty eight miles. That was actually I

would say about seven hundred and fifty because I've seen

[01:16:00] construction happening since then, so that's what like eleven hundred kilometers,

And it's you know, we're just just behalf of what

the EU has.

ROSE: And I think for me, like when I when I

was at the physical borders, like the border walls, I mean,

it feels like a military zone, like I was on

the Hungarian border. There's drones, there's super heavily weaponed soldiers

walking around, like helicopters flying around. It's like it's a

very intimidating feeling. But if you talk to the people

crossing the fence, the fence is kind of a joke

like you can just bring Yeah, you can just go

to a gardening shop and buy a stairs or like

a ladder and just put it over the fence. You

can buy a super simple scissor that you would use

in the garden to cut your vegetables and you kind

of cut the fence open with it. People were building tunnels,

like of course it is. It takes time to us

and it's so in that sense, it's it's a hindrance.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: But the [01:17:00] entire.

ROSE: Promise that if a wall holl stop people is indeed,

it's just a political game, and the politicians know that

it's not true. It's it's just a way to show

how tough they are and how rough they are. 

So most

of the European borders are equipped with razor wire, and

that is literally like knives wire, you know, like it

is like it's razors blades. Yeah, so the border in one hand is

kind of useless, but at the same time it is

really built to be as cruel and as harmful as possible.

And I know a lot of people with a lot

of scars on their bodies just from those razor wires.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, like Lbit Technologies has massive, multi tens of million dollar

contracts for border surveillance where I live. The raiser ware that you

mentioned is everywhere out here. Right. It doesn't work, it

gets cut eventually, it gets blankets thrown over it, but

in the meantime it hurts people [01:18:00] and the wall. It's right,

there's also walls between it's rail and Palestine, between Kurdistan

and Turkey. What they, at least these larger ones do

is is they force people. The US Wall is also

one that's entirely breachable. I've seen people climbing it. I've

seen people climbing again this week. I've seen people go

under it, I've seen people go through it. I've seen

people go around it. But what it does tend to

do is force people into the more remote areas where

they didn't build wall, and those areas are where you're

more likely to die. And every year that we've built

more wall, we've seen more deaths. And as someone who

engages in mutual aid, every year that they build more wall,

we have to think about where will people go, how

will they get there, what state will they be in,

How can we make this journey less deadly? And that

becomes harder and harder for us. You know, we did

a water drop on Sunday. It took us five hours

to hike a very small section of this trail that

people hiked in order to surrender themselves, just as they

would if they could come [01:19:00] through a port of entry.

No more deadly.

ROSE: Yeah, I think that's kind of sum sort of most

migration policies or migration like obstacles to migration in Europe

as well, they don't actually stop migrants, but they do

hurt them, and they do push them into danger or actual.

MICK: Deadly Yeah, because you're never going to stop it, but

you can use like quote unquote deterrens in the hopes

that will all slow down, but you're just going to

get people hurt and killed.

ROSE: Yea. Yeah, that is like how incredibly cynecle the border is.

I think that the main deterrence is the people dying,

and that this is part of the political game to

disencourage migrants.


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Next up, Section C: "The Border Industrial Complex." 

Immigration with Alejandra Oliva Part 3 - You're Wrong About - Air Date 6-11-24

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Was our homeland insecure before 9 11? We just weren't worried about it. Presumably. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Yeah, so like [01:20:00] immigration stuff used to be kind of spread across the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor and like sort of, you know, are immigrants involved with like the immigration justice system? Are they looking for jobs?

Like what, what are they up to? And depending on that we will put them in a specific department. And now it is, it all sort of gets grouped up and put into the Department of Homeland Security and also given a ton more like enforcement responsibilities and funding. And so suddenly we get the existence of ICE, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

And ICE was created to quote, prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities, particularly as they were sort of like moving across borders. So like money laundering, um, terrorists moving across borders, things like that. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: All these terrorists that [01:21:00] suddenly were around.

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Yeah. And so when ICE was funded, a lot of people were like, wait, what exactly are you doing? What's the point of this? To the point that in 2004, a year after the Heritage Foundation, which is well known for its, uh, supportive organizations like ICE. We're like, why does this exist? And it's like, main mission is covered by other, by other organizations and other agencies.

Let's just fold it into CBP, Customs and Border Protection. Like they're not really doing anything unique. But instead we were like, oh, we'll just give them more money and they'll figure out what to do with it. And that is how we have the ICE of today. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Federal agencies always do better when they have a bigger sandbox to play in.

Yeah, and everybody's so thrilled with how that's gone. Yeah, 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: no, it's been really, really successful. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: If someone is like, I am a time traveler, what is ICE? [01:22:00] 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: It's an enforcement agency, which basically just means that they're like immigration cops. They have this really loose mandate, which means that they run the detention centers where people are kept while they are, you know, sort of in the immigration process.

They also do workplace raids. They also have been known to like, go onto Greyhound buses and demand to see people's papers. They will. serve out warrants to arrest people. Like they're very in public life and in public spaces kind of trying to catch out undocumented people, arrest them, and deport them.

Every new president that has come in and kind of been like, oh, I guess I like run this organization, has tried to give them different kinds of parameters to operate under. Like Obama was like, we're going to stop ICE from going after families. We're just going to make them go after people with criminal records.

And then Trump was like, ICE gets to get [01:23:00] deployed in sanctuary cities and liberal cities and they get to do whatever they want there. They get to arrest everyone. They get to do racial profiling. I don't care. Or like, I do care and I want them to do more of it. And the way this happened relates to to this funding question.

So in 


ALEJANDRA OLIVA: Congress gives them funding that says you have to maintain a certain number of beds in immigration detention at all times. Doesn't matter if there's anyone in those beds, you just have to like, we're paying for them. You should think about filling them. And suddenly ICE goes, Oh, okay. And those beds are partially in private detention centers, but they also contract with local, like, state and county jails.

So, the Freedom for Immigrants has this really great, like, interactive map where you can see whether your local county jail has an ICE contract and holds ICE detainees and [01:24:00] where your closest ICE detention center is, because there is one in just about every state. So, all of a sudden, they're responsible for all of these.

beds in jail and they start filling them 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: as one might imagine they would. 

ALEJANDRA OLIVA: It's, uh, there's actually this really interesting, relatively recent report from detention watch network called, if you build it, ice will fill it. And it shows that whenever I opens up a new contract or gets like a new detention center, In an area, the number of ICE arrests will go up in that area.

If there's a new ICE detention center in your town, suddenly more people from your town will be going to fill that detention center. 

SARAH MARSHAL - HOST, YOU'RE WRONG ABOUT: Yeah, this is why we will never truly be able to learn about the world through narrative alone. Because not just the kind of stories that make it into like Netflix shows or biopics or, you know, pieces of fiction that everybody [01:25:00] is.

Is telling you to watch or based on a true story, but like even the kind of journalism that makes it to you, right? Because newspapers run on circulation or, you know, at this point, they run on clicks. Like, yeah, nonfiction narrative is affected by this as well. The fact that the stories that really tell us, I think the true depth infrastructural and it comes down to it.

Yeah. Stuff like this, stuff like, you know, prison contractors, right? The question of like, who is providing the meals for the people in the prisons and jails where you live? It's probably somebody who put in a very low bid and was therefore selected by the government because they promised to do it for a very low price because nobody cares what inmates are eating because they don't vote and the people who care about them don't matter as far as voting is concerned.

And so. Obviously, the best way to save money is to treat them as if they're not human and potentially endanger [01:26:00] their lives. And that's, that's not gonna work as a 2020 segment, right? It's not thrilling enough. There isn't an easy to pick out hero or villain. It's just another wheel. 

Why Are Migrants Becoming AI Test Subjects? With Petra Molnar Part 4 - Your Undivided Attention - Air Date 6-20-24

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: It strikes me that if I was a VC, I'd be looking at the UN's estimate that by 2050 there'd be 1. 2 billion climate refugees and saying, oh, that's a great market. There's a huge incentive for me to invest.

This border ecosystem is just going to grow. And so I'm curious right now, like, what are the actual, the companies that are in there? Um, let's dive a little bit into this, like, very perverse incentive. 

PETRA MOLNAR: For sure. I mean, It's kind of mind boggling the amount of companies that are involved. And some might be familiar to listeners, um, it's, it's the big players like Palantir, Clearview AI, Airbus, Thales, um, actors like that.

But what I found particularly disturbing is some of the [01:27:00] small and medium sized companies that kind of, you know, sneak under the radar. Pun fully intended, you know, and are able to present these projects in a way that are seen as inevitable. There's one company in particular that comes to mind, um, when you ask your question.

And it was a company that was started by a 20 some year old tech bro in Silicon Valley, if I can put it this way. And he thought it would be a good idea to put a taser on a drone and then have this drone fly around the U. S. Mexico corridor, picking out people and tasing them and waiting for the border patrol to come.

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: Here's a clip from the demo video the company created when they were trying to market this. 

CLIP: When the drone detects an intruder, control of the drone is shifted to a human operator at a nearby border control office. Then the controller pilots the aircraft down and interrogates the suspicious person.

PETRA MOLNAR: Luckily this didn't get rolled out in real life, but he got VC money for this. [01:28:00] How can that happen? How is that even possible, right? Well, because it's lucrative and there are very few regulations that would prevent, um, a company like this from operating. 

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: Do you want to talk about why, you know, there's more latitude for trying on more of these kinds of things here versus, you know, Silicon Valley not being able to deploy robodogs in the streets of San Francisco or L.

A.? You know, 

PETRA MOLNAR: I think a lot of this has to do with just the fact that we really are dealing with differences in lived experience. And I know that might sound a bit simplistic, but I do think it has a lot to do with the fact that the people who are thinking about and innovating and developing a lot of this technology, oftentimes don't interact with the communities that it's hurting.

You know, I sometimes when I talk to the private sector, I like to go around the room and ask, you know, who's an engineer? A couple of hands go up. Who likes to code? A couple more hands go up. Who's ever been in a refugee camp? Not many hands. And I mean, I'm simplifying it a bit because of course there's diversity in the private sector space too, but [01:29:00] what we're seeing is it breaks kind of along this power differential again.

And when you don't regularly interact with people who are on the move, who might be refugees, Or let's also broaden it out, who maybe have been victims of predictive policing or who have had to use an algorithm to see if they would be eligible for welfare. Again, it just becomes kind of divorced from the real life applicability of what is being done in the private sector for the sake of innovation and all of that.

And I do think, you know, I mean, there are clearly projects and companies that are being weaponized against people on the move and people who are marginalized or in war and things like that. Like the company we were talking about with the drone and taser. But I do think some of it is still going on.

about just lived experience and not having those kind of connections and and seeing what actually is happening beyond just the development and innovation phase. And we even see that kind of in these framings that are so common now, right? AI for good, [01:30:00] tech for good. But good for who? 

TRISTAN HARRIS - HOST, YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION: Yeah, I think I read in your book that the industry is projected to have a total of 68 billion dollars by 2025.

Do you want to give any other numbers about just the size of the fortunes that can be made here? I think the fact that this is just a huge growth industry is important for people to get. 

PETRA MOLNAR: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we've been seeing kind of this exponential rise of the border industrial complex. Um, and 68 billion is I think just scratching the surface because we're again talking about a very lucrative market where not only do we have to pay attention to the kind of border enforcement companies, but also military companies who are now making incursions into that space.

And so militarization of borders and using military type technology Transcribed like robodogs and all sorts of different things that are also making their way there is also again kind of inflating these numbers and the rise not only just in the U. S. but also at the EU level and the international level as we are seeing projected numbers of migration rise in the coming decades.

That's kind of inevitable at [01:31:00] this point I think. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: And, finally, Section D: "Migrant Stories."

EU Border Enforcement, Part 2 (Part 2) - It Could Happen Here - Air Date 6-5-24

MICK: Uh, it's a fundamental principle of international law that forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which there would be improbable danger of persecution. Based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

That being said, I'm aware even like the Dutch government has sent like LGBTQI people back to countries where they could be like persecuted for that. So again, those rules seem to be very optional. So what follows now is two examples of border practices that I think are particularly egregious. So on October 3rd, 2022, Abdullah Mohammed, age 19, a Syrian refugee attempted to cross the Bulgarian Turkish border.

After being pushed back by border guards, they threw [01:32:00] stones at the border. I want to emphasize here at the border itself, not at the 


MICK: After this, a shot rang. and Abdullah fell to the ground with a bullet lodged one centimeter away from his heart. He survived and was interviewed by Lighthouse reports.

He states that there was an intent to kill when he was shot. That's his belief. The bullet also pierced his hand, which is now partially paralyzed. There seems to be no justification or reason whatsoever for border guards to have shot or to have shot with live ammunition. This was the first time that such an incident was caught on video.

If you want, you can find it linked on Lighthouse Reports, attached to the article about this incident. The video is not as bad as you might think, but watch at your own risk. As far as I'm aware, there have [01:33:00] been similar rumors before, but this was the first incident that has entered the public record. or the first time it was actually documented.

Uh, needless to say, no one should be shot for attempting to cross a border. Uh, I don't care about anyone's opinion or bad faith nuances. People have a right to apply for asylum. And as far as I'm concerned, this was a deliberate and calculated attempt at murder. 

ROSE: Yeah, I do think there have been quite a lot of videos of people being shot.

And definitely people making statements about it and just having the actual bullet in their body to prove that it happened. Yeah. It happened in Croatia. It happened in Greece. Greece has a habit of shooting at boats as well, and in that way making people drown. Yeah. And of course, apart from the shootings, which I would say on the European borders that they are still kind of rare, the, yeah, the pushbacks and the violence and the [01:34:00] torture is, yeah, the evidence of that is like, uh, an enormous pile.

Yeah. When I was working in Bosnia, I think that was in 2018 19, there was no video footage of a pushback and there was a journalist who volunteered with us for a while and they were the first one to film it. But in the past years, there have been like many, many horrible videos of people being beaten up and actual torture.

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: Yeah, of course, in the US under the pretense of protecting us all from the coronavirus, which still killed millions of people in this country. We, we have something called title 42, which allow border patrol to, uh, quote unquote repatriate. People to Mexico, even if they weren't Mexican, and just drop them back in Mexico to include laterally transferring them, which is a pseudonym for kind of trafficking them halfway across the country and then [01:35:00] dumping them in a place where they have no connections, no money, and no way of establishing themselves, right?

And this led to Massively increased a fatalities at the border because people are trying to avoid border patrol rather than coming in and surrendering themselves for asylum. It's like, as we see now and massively increasing counters at the border encounters don't necessarily represent unique individuals, right?

This is my I will beat this fucking drum until I die. But apparently Our colleagues at the New York Times haven't worked it out yet. Um, Wall Street Journal, almost every NPR, every big outlet in the United States that likes to commission border reporters who don't live on the border will tell you that, that like the number of migrants went up.

An encounter is an encounter. If someone crosses and then gets bounced into Mexico and then crosses again and does that five times, that's five encounters, it's the same person. Um, BP doesn't come, doesn't keep. records of unique individuals under title 42. We [01:36:00] didn't keep under title 42. We don't know how many people, but we know that more people tried to cross.

And we also know that every time you try to cross, you risk your life. And so we certainly know that more lives were put in danger because of this policy, because again, like turning someone back, it's not going to stop them, especially when you're dropping them in a country where they don't want to be and where they're not from.

Like the people aren't just going to be like, Oh, okay, cool. Um, I'll stay in Mexico. Um, like that has not historically been the case. 

ROSE: Yeah, we had exactly the same kind of juggling with numbers. I remember people in Bosnia, some of them would get pushed back like 40 or 50 times. 


ROSE: And so they would be counted as individual stops.


ROSE: Indeed. So it would sound as if there was like, I don't know, tens of thousands. And I was like, It's really not that many though, you 

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: know? Yeah, yeah, we were saying the same thing. So they would 

ROSE: just literally count the same person again and again and again. 


ROSE: and also I would like to say that, like, yes, it is the border, like the EU [01:37:00] border countries, but it is also much deeper into the territory.

So, we externalize the border towards, like, uh, Libya, Niger, and, and, and way further even. But we also internalize the border, so we would find, we would have people who had made it to Austria, uh, or Italy, and they would get caught in Austria or Italy, be pushed back to Slovenia. Uh, taken over by Slovenian police, brought to the Croatian border, taken over by Croatian police, often in Croatia, get tortured, and then be dumped on the Bosnian border, which would be the EU border as well.

So this, this is what they call chain pushbacks. And, yeah, I, yeah, so I worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is non EU, uh, so we would get the people after they had been, you know, Pushed back. Yeah, the, the things that people have done, like, border guards have done to migrants are, yeah, I don't, I don't know if you actually want to use this footage, but it's like, it's [01:38:00] really, really gruesome.

Like, in Bosnia, they would, there would be, like, snow for, like, they have very long and very cold winters. They would take away people's shoes and socks and like make them walk for five hours on their feet. So one of the main tasks of our volunteers, our medical volunteers was amputating toes. People would, yeah, people would come back with broken bones, broken skulls, people would be sent back with just their underwear at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

I don't know how much that is in the U S. 

€210 million EU-Mauritania deal Money in exchange for curbing migration to Europe Part 2 - DW News - Air Date 6-7-24

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: Lala grew up in Senegal and in Mauritania, where she has long dreamed of a better life. By the time she was 30, she'd saved enough to pay for a pirogue to take her from the capital Nouakchott to Spain's Canary Islands and a future in the EU.

It's hard for her to recount the ordeal she suffered. [01:39:00] 

LA LA (TRANSLATION): There were all sorts of nationalities, Senegalese. The police themselves came to take us to the beach. The big boat to take you to Europe is waiting out at sea. Small boats come to pick you up and take 20 people on board, 20 people, 20 people. Not everyone could get on because there were so many of us.

More than 100 or so people, only 80 were lucky enough to get on. I've seen people who almost went mad. Sometimes people fought with each other, but the captains have big knives. They threaten you and tell you to shut up, or they'll throw you on the beach and they're not kidding.

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: But it wasn't to be. After four days at sea, drifting without fuel, they ended up on a beach in northern Mauritania. [01:40:00] The foreign nationals will be deported, but Lala, as a Mauritanian, was simply released. I haven't been 

LA LA (TRANSLATION): able to sleep since I got back. 

When I sleep, I feel like I'm still in the boat that was rocking 

in the sea.

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: Ali knows all too well. He's a fisherman who has seen the hopeful and the desperate taking their leave by night. 50 migrants, he says, cramming themselves into a fishing boat designed for a crew of six. And the sea knows little mercy. 

ALI (TRANSLATION): Look, someone sent me this photo. Of a dead person. These are corpses.

Look, there's a little baby here.

He's such a powerful image.[01:41:00] 

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: Nouadhibou's port is full of pirogues, traditional fishing boats that the human traffickers have made into their business model. One smuggler wants to buy a pirogue for his next departure and agrees to tell us about the authorities and the restrictions. He too wants to conceal his identity.


SMUGGLER (TRANSLATION): first one there is a police boat. The second is a coast guard. 


SMUGGLER (TRANSLATION): hard to get out of here illegally.

Look at that baroque there from Papafowl. That's a big baroque. You can put a lot of people in it. You saw it. For this kind of pirogue, there are controls to see if they're going fishing or for something else.

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: Mohamed arrived here two months ago. [01:42:00] He is a welder by trade and has one aim, to reach Europe. As a day labourer, he earns the equivalent of 10 euros a day, which he spends on food, water and somewhere to live.

MOHAMMED (TRANSLATION): You've seen the people here. We are looking for work. 

ALI (TRANSLATION): It's not easy. 

MOHAMMED (TRANSLATION): Morning and night we come and 



ALI (TRANSLATION): earn. I've been here two months. I work anywhere. 

MOHAMMED (TRANSLATION): You travel part by part. 

ANNE-FLEUR LESPIAUT - REPORTER, DW NEWS: For Lala too, despite everything she has suffered and the huge sums of money she has spent, she is still determined. She tells us that however horrible her memories are of being at sea, she would do it all again to get to Europe, where she hopes to earn a living.

In this city of 140, 000 [01:43:00] inhabitants, more than 30, 000 are like Lala and Mohamed, waiting to leave. But many find themselves trapped for months. Even years, saving what little they earn to be able to afford a boat to Europe.

EU Border Enforcement, Part 2 (Part 3) - It Could Happen Here - Air Date 6-5-24

MICK: So, uh, I'm sure you've, you've heard this story before, but still, I think it's very much worth repeating. So, uh, on June 14th, 2023, Uh, the Adriana, a ship on its way to Greece, uh, capsized and subsequently sank.

The boat allegedly had the capacity for about 400 people, but carried around 750. Of all those lives, uh, 104 were saved. 82 were confirmed dead and up to 500 are missing and presumed dead, the majority of which are women and children. I'll refer back to the Lighthouse Report who did a reconstruction of the incident, which [01:44:00] makes this even worse that it already is.

Transcriptions and witness statements obtained by Lighthouse Report, Der Spiegel, Monitor, uh, S I R A J L P S, Reporters United, and the Times strongly suggest that the Greek Coast Guard attempted to conceal their own involvement in this tragedy. Nine survivors were asked to make statements, none of which appeared to blame the Coast Guard.

Uh, different suggestions were given for the capsizing, uh, blaming it on the age of the ship, or the lack of life jackets. Um, four of these statements contained near identical phrasing. It was later discovered that one of the translators was a coast guard himself. Uh, there were other translators, all of which were sworn in on that very day.

Uh, later in Greek courts, six of those nine stated that the coast guard did in fact tow the boats before it went down. Two [01:45:00] survivors told Lighthouse Reports that certain parts of their testimony was omitted in the transcription. To clarify that a bit. Because of what I said earlier, that migrants have or are obligated to apply for asylum in the country in which they arrive.

It's become a habit of like Coast Guard and Frontex to drag them to certain areas of water that are part of, for example, Italy or Greece. This particular one boat may have been, uh, An attempt to drag the boat to Italian waters, so the Greeks didn't have to take them in. So, to quote the report from Lighthouse, 16 out of the 17 survivors we spoke to said the coast guard attached a rope to the vessel and tried to tow it shortly before it capsized.

Four also claimed that the Coast Guard was attempting to tow the boat to Italian waters, [01:46:00] while Four reported that the Coast Guard caused more deaths by circling around the boat after it capsized, making waves that caused the boat's carcass to sink. End quote. Not great bedtime stories, um, if you ask me.

Yeah, I think that's fucking horrible. There's just no words. Like, yeah, 

JAMES STOUT - CO-HOST, IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: yeah. I got nothing. I got nothing to say. Like I don't think anyone should Be okay with it.


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: That's going to be it for today. As always, keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about today's topic or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text at (202)999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. The additional sections of the show included clips from You're Wrong About, Last Week Tonight, Your Undivided Attention, It Could Happen Here, and DW News. Further details are in the show notes. Thanks to everyone for [01:47:00] listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. 

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