Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Albuquerque Journal on President Joe Biden's immigration policy:
The Biden administration says it’s not a “crisis” along our southern border. And the president insists he hasn’t sent a signal that if you get here you can stay. Unfortunately, the message being sent is not the same as the one being received.
Sensing the United States has become more welcoming, Central American migrants are streaming north in the largest numbers in two decades, The New York Times reported Monday. We have holding facilities overflowing with children and teens who entered the country without parents. Not wanting a repeat of the detention center debacle that occurred under Donald Trump, the Biden administration is scrambling to deal with the worsening situation.
The Biden administration says it is still turning away adults at the border but isn’t going to release children into the desert. And it shouldn’t. But whether he intended to or not, the president sent the signal that led to the current influx.
He now needs to articulate a clear policy on immigration beyond “humane” treatment, legislation to legalize “Dreamers” and a path for citizenship for others. These are important, but this country deserves to know where the administration stands on the broader questions. As the Times reported, there is a strong sentiment for humane and generous treatment for undocumented people living here who have abided by our laws — and a strong sentiment for rigorous border security. The latter isn’t just a Republican talking point. Historically, many Democrats have supported immigration restrictions as a way to keep U.S. wages high. That’s especially pertinent in a country that still has more than 10 million people unemployed.
During the campaign, Biden said he would sharply limit deportations. Meanwhile, the administration has done away with Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers and is processing tens of thousands of minors who can legally stay permanently only if they are granted asylum, which in most cases is unlikely. So then what happens?
It’s a message that says “open.”
But exactly what is Biden’s policy? Does he agree with his former boss, Barack Obama, when he said, “We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States, undetected, undocumented and unchecked”?
The Times raises the question of whether the new administration’s version of “humane” treatment coupled with virtually no deportation would be to allow anyone who manages to enter the U.S. to stay. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the rounds of Sunday news talk shows and insisted the Mexican border is “closed.”
But immigrants and the traffickers who shepherd them north don’t pay much attention to Sunday news shows. If Biden hopes to stem the flow, he needs to be crystal clear in both actions and words on the immigration policies he is implementing by executive authority and what he wants Congress to adopt in terms of a long-term fix.
The Denver Post on the mass shooting in Colorado:
The grocery store shooting that killed 10 people in Boulder Monday has driven home what we’ve long suspected: Today America is a country where every resident must be prepared at all times for a deadly assault.
Americans once enjoyed domestic peace. The Columbine High School massacre in 1999 was an anomaly of such historic proportions that the entire world watched in horror as the death toll climbed. Too much evil has occurred since then, and Colorado has received more than its fair share of senseless violence.
On Monday when shoppers heard gunfire in the King Soopers in south Boulder, it was as though the inevitable had occurred. “It seemed like all of us had imagined we’d be in a situation like this at some point in our lives,” James Bentz, a survivor of the tragedy told Denver Post reporters.
And so, Americans must decide if we are OK living with the fear that someday we too might lose someone we hold dear at the hands of a mass killer. Most decidedly, The Post’s editorial board is not willing to accept the status quo. Because while we cannot prevent every mass shooting, or drive-by, or suicide, or accident, we can implement policies that would make these tragedies rarer and less deadly.
In the coming days, we will learn more about what happened Monday.
Some of the details will matter a great deal — the stories of those who died.
We know that one of the victims was Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, a man with more than a decade on the force and seven children, who responded to the call of shots being fired and died at the scene. His courage will be marked in the coming days with solemn tributes from his friends and family. His name will forever be linked with University of Colorado Colorado Springs Police Officer Garrett Swasey who died in 2015 trying to prevent the Planned Parenthood shooting; Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Zackari Parrish who did everything he could to deescalate a mental health crisis before he was shot and killed; and Kendrick Castillo who died in 2019 while trying to stop a teen gunman at STEM School Highlands Ranch. There have been too many fallen heroes in recent years to name here. ...
Some of the details will be hard to turn away from, but they won’t matter.
Knowing the shooter’s name and his motive won’t bring back the dead or stop the hurt felt throughout the Boulder community.
And some details will be critical as we go forward.
Colorado closed the gun show loophole after Columbine. We learned there were warning signs that psychiatrists needed to report to authorities from the Aurora theater shooting. Claire Davis’ family pushed Arapahoe High School after the 17-year-old was shot and killed to take future threats of violence seriously. And the STEM shooting taught us all the consequences of not having firearms stored securely enough from those who could be dangerous.
There will be time to grieve as a community, lessons to learn and vulnerabilities to patch up.
We pray this never happens again, and if that’s not possible in today’s America then we pray for the resolve to never let this become ordinary, to never give up the hope that a more tranquil world could exist. We must all be prepared for a deadly assault like the one in Boulder on Monday, but we don’t have to pretend that it’s inevitable.
The Baltimore Sun on Florida's spring break chaos:
Thousands of Maryland college students returned to class on Monday after a brief mid-semester respite ... It’s probably safe to assume that some of the more adventurous of the undergraduate set either has made, or is planning to make, the trek to Florida or a similar clime. We have no problem with that, we all need a getaway now and again.
We do have a problem, however, with young adults treating their deserved vacations like a rock concert gone bad and failing to maintain social distance or wear masks, like occurred in Miami Beach over the weekend, leading to an emergency curfew and police intervention to try to disperse the massive crowds. They may well have dragged home an unwelcome souvenir, a little COVID-19, to finish out the spring term.
This was all so predictable, beginning with the choice by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to not only lift restrictions, but prevent local governments from imposing mask mandates. If anyone was chomping at the bit for the pandemic to be over (beyond Florida businesses that profit off spring break), it’s 18-to-22-year-olds, who already feel invulnerable and are looking for a good time ...
The problem here is not just spring break. And it’s not just Governor DeSantis. No, the underlying issue continues to be the public’s COVID-19 fatigue and the desire to let our collective guard down as the nation makes progress in vaccinations. Florida spring break is just the most visible sign of this concerning trend.
As Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts have stated repeatedly: This is not let the moment to lift vital safety measures.
It is all very well to relax certain restrictions where appropriate. As teachers are vaccinated and schools move ahead with responsible reopening plans, in-person instruction is sensible, particularly given its own public health benefits. But lifting mask restrictions isn’t — despite the claim that individuals can make responsible choices. It sends a spring break-like message that the pandemic is no longer a serious threat when it is. Just ask the colleagues, friends and families of the 26 Maryland residents who died from the coronavirus on Saturday alone. Or perhaps those of the 8,000 Marylanders who lost their own battles with COVID-19 during the past year. It’s not over until it’s over.
That’s not a fun message. That’s not a good time to think about. It’s not a party on the beach and it’s definitely not the return to normal that all of us crave. But this is a serious business ... Sorry, but the moment to celebrate the end of the pandemic has not yet arrived.
The Washington Post on the continuing coronavirus threat:
Spring seems just around the corner, 121 million doses of vaccine have been administered, and Americans are eager to get back to normal after a year of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. President Biden recently raised the prospect of a festive Independence Day. What could go wrong?
Hopefully, nothing will. But there are dark clouds amid the rosy scenarios. The big decline in viral spread evident in January and early February has stalled. The pandemic’s winter surge tapered off into a stubborn plateau in the national rate of new daily infections, which has been running at about 53,000 on a seven-day average. That is well above the troughs of last summer and autumn. Lurking in the background is the B.1.1.7 variant, which is about 50 percent more transmissible and possibly more lethal; it now appears to be igniting fresh outbreaks in some states. Anthony S. Fauci, the president’s medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated that this variant may now comprise 20 to 30 percent of all U.S. infections, setting the table for sudden spikes like those already seen in Britain and Europe.
In the past week or so, cases started climbing again in 14 states.
The spikes and plateau suggest the pandemic is not over yet, and the virus could flare anew. The worst-case scenario would be a fourth wave, requiring widespread return to closures and restrictions. That is not a certainty. The rollout of vaccines continues to build a firewall against the pandemic. The vaccines appear to work well against the B.1.1.7 variant. Nearly 24 percent of the U.S. population has now received at least one dose, and 13 percent has received two. Among the elderly — the most vulnerable part of the population — 68 percent of those over 65 years old have received at least one dose, and 40.8 percent have received two.
But as Dr. Fauci pointed out, this is an inflection point, and it is “quite risky to declare victory before you have the level of infection in the community to a much, much lower level than 53,000 cases per day.” Decisions in many states to reopen businesses, especially bars and restaurants, and to drop mask mandates, are misguided and premature, and could trigger a surge in cases.
If you want a pleasant summer, keep your guard up and mask on during the last miles of the long journey to normal.
The South China Morning Post on U.S.-China relations:
Diplomatic niceties were never going to be a hallmark of the first high-level meeting of Chinese and American officials since Joe Biden became United States president. The ill-tempered start to the two days of talks in Anchorage, with rhetorical sniping and accusations, was to be expected after four years of the disruptive policies of Donald Trump’s administration.
Nor was a breakthrough likely, with so many disputes and differences. But that does not mean the coming together of the nations’ most senior foreign policy representatives was a failure; that they were willing to sit at the same table and constructively lay out grievances and identify where they were able to work together proves Beijing and Washington seek more constructive relations.
Ties have not been so broken since formal diplomatic relations were established in 1979. That was evident in the undiplomatic language used by both sides before the talks began.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country would not shy away from contentious issues like Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks and economic coercion that he claimed were a threat to global stability.
Politburo member Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat and President Xi Jinping’s most senior foreign policy adviser, hit back by accusing Washington of violating human rights in its own country and around the world.
But such posturing and rhetoric for the benefit of domestic audiences subsided as talks began, the attention turning to laying out positions. ...
Anti-Chinese sentiment runs deep in the US and there is no likelihood under Biden that trade and technology measures imposed by Trump are going to be eased soon.
Underscoring that, a bipartisan group of 17 American senators said they planned to introduce a resolution “condemning the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on democracy and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong”. The previous day, three Republican senators reintroduced a bill that, if approved, would revoke the permanent normal trading status between the US and China. ...
Beijing has its bottom lines, but it knows the value of ensuring relations with its biggest trading partner do not founder. Biden is also mindful of that, which is why relative calm quickly descended on the Anchorage talks after their tempestuous start. By their conclusion, the language was more considered, with both sides saying they had been useful, although disagreements remained. Yang said the discussions had been candid, constructive and helpful, similar to the assessment of Blinken.
As State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out, conversation is better than confrontation. But such dialogue has to be carried out with mutual respect and requires compromise. Differences run deep and some of those issues may never be adequately settled.
In the meantime, though, the sides have rightly realised that the way forward for now lies in finding common ground and exploring the possibility of working together on issues of shared interest. Climate change was agreed to as being one such area, while Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan were also mentioned.
Biden has made climate change a priority and he plans an international summit next month. It would be impractical to leave China out of such a meeting. By inviting Xi, the opportunity would be presented for the Chinese and American leaders to hold their first face-to-face talks, whether in-person or by video. Such a chance cannot be missed.
There is also every need to get people-to-people relations back on track. Students, academics, researchers, scientists and journalists were affected by Trump’s policies. Such interactions are the bedrock of relations and must be resumed as normal.
High-level dialogue like that in Anchorage is important, but so, too, is quiet diplomacy. Now there is every need for the communication to continue at all levels, to build trust and understanding. The conversation may sometimes be angry and emotional, but it is still better than no conversation at all.
The New York Times on racism against Asian Americans in the U.S.:
The grim reality of modern American life is that each new mass killing leads to a fevered study of motives and meaning. Was the latest shooter motivated by racism, misogyny, religion, revenge or some combination thereof? Those are not questions that members of a healthy society should routinely be forced to ask or answer.
After eight people — including six people of Asian descent and seven women — were shot to death in Georgia this week, a deputy sheriff chalked the killings up to the suspect’s confessed “sex addiction,” adding that “yesterday was a really bad day” for the alleged shooter. That diagnosis was met with the skepticism it deserved: The same deputy promoted the sale of anti-Asian T-shirts that referred to the coronavirus as an import from “Chy-na.”
It’s difficult to disentangle the vile pathologies that lead a man to take so many innocent lives. It’s also impossible to ignore the context in which the murders were committed and the impact that the tragedy has had on communities across America. In an analysis of nearly 4,000 hate-related incidents targeting Asian-Americans documented this year and last, nearly 70 percent of the victims were women, according to a report by the group Stop AAPI Hate. New York was the second state behind California in the total number of incidents documented by the group.
After a year of vitriol and violence against Asian-Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s long past time to admit that the country has a problem. “The Asian-American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored,” Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, told a congressional hearing on Thursday. It was the first such hearing on anti-Asian discrimination in three decades.
A year ago this month, after the pandemic had already established a beachhead in the United States, this board wrote that there was a long history of diseases triggering waves of violence — against Jews during the Black Death right through the animus linked to Ebola, SARS and Zika. “Chinese-Americans and other Asians lumped together with them by racists are being beaten, spat on, yelled at and insulted from coast to coast, driving some members of the maligned minority to purchase firearms in the fear of worse to come as the pandemic deepens,” the board wrote.
The president then was Donald Trump, who spent his term exploiting anti-immigrant hostility for political gain. He seized every opportunity to cast the pandemic in bigoted terms, portraying China in particular as the villain. Mr. Trump said “China virus” again this week during a Fox News interview on the very night of the Georgia shootings.
It’s impossible not to acknowledge the nation’s history of maltreatment of Asian-Americans, nor how it has manifested over the past year — from political stump speeches, to xenophobic merchandise, to the rise in hate crimes. It falls to Americans living in the shadow of this history to demand more from ourselves — more compassion, more dignity, more grace — as we work to heal our society of its many ills.