Monday Morning Reads

The Real Border Crisis, The Atlantic, Adam Serwer, March 2021

This border surge is no different than 2019 and going back a decade. It will peak in May and the decline.

What is the border crisis? Is it the recent surge of migrants, or is it the treatment of those migrants in detention facilities? The answer to that question—or whether you consider the situation at the border to be a crisis at all—most likely determines what you think the Biden administration should do about it.

For conservatives, the answer is clear: Democrats invited the increase in migrants with their permissive, open-borders immigration policies. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has accused President Joe Biden of announcing that “the United States will not secure our border, and that is a big welcome sign to migrants from across the world.”

If the Biden administration’s leniency is responsible for the increase, as Republicans like Cotton believe, then it follows that the U.S. government should employ harsh measures in the interest of deterrence, much like the Trump administration did.

Some Republicans have sought to have it both ways, accusing the White House of being too permissive while also attacking the administration for detaining large numbers of migrants. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida declared on Twitter the increase in apprehensions was “caused entirely by President Biden’s words & actions” and, on the same day, that the administration was “putting kids in cages.”

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

The same as the last 10 years.

We can take this one more step and examine the trend by looking back to 2012 going forward and displaying the cumulative totals by month over eight years ending in 2020.

The Washington Post: There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border

As you can see, migrants start coming when winter ends till May and then the numbers start to drop as the weather heats up in June.

We see a regular increase not just from January to February, but from February to March, March to April, and April to May. And then a sharp drop-off typically starting in May as migrants stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.

Unless the trend of migrants’ changes, the numbers of migrants will peak in May in 2021 the same as other years. The US can expect decreases from May to June to July.

Revolver Spotlight: Abigail Seldin, Revolving Project, Ella Fanger, March 2021

Progressive groups successfully pressed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to replace the acting head of the office that oversees the nation’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio in recent weeks. Now, Abigail Seldin, a former student loan company executive, is reportedly a candidate to lead that office. 

Seldin is best known for co-founding College Abacus, a college cost calculation tool. College Abacus has faced  criticism  from Student Aid Services, the company that manages the net price calculators for 700 colleges, for charging students for information that can be found for free on colleges’ websites. Student Aid Services also flagged College Abacus for providing inaccurate information, sometimes differing from college’s net calculators by a few thousand dollars. 

In 2014, Seldin sold College Abacus to Education Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), a relentless student debt collector, and became an executive with the company. Seldin served as VP of Innovation and Product Management with ECMC from 2014 to 2016.

ECMC has a long history of  opposing student loan discharges in bankruptcy and even  mounting  legal action against students seeking relief, leading student advocates to  accuse  the organization of using “bulldog tactics to scare away someone who has a legitimate claim for relief.” Without relief from ECMC, desperate students facing bankruptcy struggle to afford rent, healthcare, and basic necessities, much less pay back their loans. 

Suez Canal Box Ship ‘Partially Refloated

a large ship in a body of water: This picture taken on March 29, 2021 from a nearby tugboat in the Suez Canal shows a view of the Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' (operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine) container ship as it begins to move.

Efforts to dislodge the Ever Given – a skyscraper-sized cargo ship – from the Suez Canal, will continue Monday. After a canal services firm announced that salvage teams “partially refloated” the vessel. 

The breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, said workers continued “pulling maneuvers” to refloat the vessel early Monday. In the U.S., the blockage could worsen months-long snarls in the global supply chain, causing shortages of products such as toilet paper, coffee and furniture. 

High tides helped by a full moon Sunday night, assisted in the partial refloat of the Ever Given as detailed by a pilot with the Suez Canal Authority told The Associated Press. The full moon offers a spring tide, or king tide, in which high tides are higher and the low tides are lower because of the effects of gravity during a straight-line alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun.

I can just imagine the impact of the stop when the “Ever Given” hit shore. I would bet some ” canal pilot” is in trouble.

Derek Chauvin Trial, USA Today, N’dea Yancey-Bragg and Grace Hauck,

“MINNEAPOLIS – Attorneys were expected to lay out their cases Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the death of George Floyd last spring – an incident that ignited hundreds of protests worldwide against police brutality and touched off a racial reckoning in the U.S.

Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. If convicted of the most serious charge, he could face 10½ years to 15 years in prison under sentencing guidelines for first-time offenders.”

While a prisoner is in restraints, you do not have the authority to cause the person severe bodily harm or death. To be decided is whether Chauvin efforts were excessive.