Migrant Caravan Spooks Trump and Threatens Trade, SCOTUS Protects Trigger-Happy Cops (Again), Iranians Love Fake McDonalds: Reason Roundup

Plus: Market doesn't react well to looming trade war and bikini-barista suit explores meaning of "anal cleft."



Migrants marching toward U.S. border want asylum. A group of Central American migrants marching toward the U.S.-Mexico border has presented the perfect fodder for President Trump's warnings about border security and alt-right fears about hordes of invading brown people. On Tuesday morning, the president warned on Twitter that a "caravan of people from Honduras" was "heading to our 'Weak Laws' Border" and "Congress MUST ACT NOW!"

A few details about the migrant "caravan":

  • It was organized by immigration advocacy group Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
  • The journey began near the Guatemalan border on March 25 and will span some 2,000 miles by the time they reach the U.S. border, the stated destination.
  • The group says members will be applying for asylum.

Without directly mentioning the migrant situation, Mexico Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete tweeted on Monday that he had spoken to Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Homeland Security secretary, and they had "agreed to analyze the best ways to attend to the flows of migrants in accordance with the laws of each country."

What does this have to do with trade? From Reuters:

Mexico must walk a delicate line with the United States as the countries are in the midst of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) along with Canada. At the same time, Mexican left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has an 18-point lead ahead of the July 1 election, according to a poll published on Monday. A Lopez Obrador victory could usher in a Mexican government less accommodating toward the United States on both trade and immigration issues.

Trump—who mentioned NAFTA in his Tuesday morning tweet—has been calling on Mexican authorities to stop the Central American group before they reach the U.S. border. But if the Central Americans entered Mexico legally, they are generally allowed to go around the country at will and Mexican authorities can't legally stop them. The Mexican Senate's Human Rights Commission Chair is urging the country to protect the migrants' rights.

Many of the migrants are from Honduras, "which which has high levels of violence and has been rocked by political upheaval in recent months following the re-election of U.S.-backed president, Juan Orlando Hernández in an intensely disputed election," reports Reuters.

Maria Elena Colindres Ortega, a member of caravan and, until January, a member of Congress in Honduras, said she is fleeing the political upheaval at home. "We've had to live through fraudulent electoral process," she said. "We're suffering a progressive militarization and lack of institutions, and … they're criminalizing those who protested."

A border patrol chief in the Rio Grande Valley told the news agency they weren't worried: "Not to be flippant, but it's similar numbers to what we are seeing every day pretty much."


A Monday Supreme Court ruling shields an Arizona cop from being sued by a woman he shot (reversing the Ninth Circuit's decision). Police were called to the scene because a woman was allegedly hacking at a tree with a knife. When they arrived, they found Amy Hughes in her front yard with her roommate. She was holding a kitchen knife. All three officers drew their guns. When Hughes was ordered to drop the knife and didn't, one of the officers filed multiple shots at her.

Hughes lived, and sued for $150,000 in damages. "The court's decision came without ordering full briefing or argument, a rare step indicating that the majority thought the case easy to decide," notes NPR. The court's (short, unsigned) opinion said it wasn't even clear that the officer was guilty of excessive force, but even if he was he couldn't be held liable in civil court because he has qualified immunity, since shooting Hughes didn't violate "any clearly established statutory or constitutional right" that "a reasonable person could have known" about.

"Evidently, the right not to be gunned down by the police is not nearly specific enough for the Court to take notice," Above the Law Executive Editor Elie Mystal writes.

We can't hold cops accountable for their actions, because right now it is perfectly legal for cops to shoot you for any reason or no reason at all. Prosecutors aren't willing to stop them, judges aren't willing to stop them, and politicians are certainly not willing to stop them. The Supreme Court… they don't even want to HEAR it. They don't even want to argue about it anymore. If a cop shoots you, the Supreme presumption is that you deserved it — and even if you didn't, your life is not protected by "clearly established law."

I don't know what set of facts could convince the current Court to break qualified immunity, the majority doesn't even seem to be intellectually curious about the facts. They're more worried about the keeping state actors free from civil liability than they are about stopping the killings and brutality.

Judge Sotomayor did write a dissent, signed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warning that the majority decision sent the message that cops can "shoot first and think later."


How bootleg fast food conquered Iran (Mash Donalds, anyone?). "Forty years ago, opening KFC franchise in Tehran was a sign of progress. Today, it's against the law," reports Atlas Obscura. But even after religious clerics took control, "most Iranians maintained an appreciation for Western culture, whether that meant banned literature or McDonald's-style burgers. If there was one thing the government couldn't suppress, it was taste. "

These days, knock off fast food franchises bearing similar names—Pizza Hot, Mash Donalds, Sheak Shack, Kentucky House—and logos, and menus (to an extent) of American fast-food counterparts are popular.

In the end, the restaurant owners play a balancing act: imitating Western chains enough to draw Iranians who want to try those brands, but not so closely that the government accuses them of corrupting and Westernizing the country.


  • President Trump "joined his personal attorney on Monday in asking a federal judge to order into arbitration a lawsuit" filed by Stormy Daniels, "a move that would put the proceedings behind closed doors rather than in front of a jury."
  • Immigration judges now have case quotas.
  • The stock market is not reacting well to a looming U.S.-Chinese trade war.
  • The Washington city of Everett argues that "anal cleft" is easy to define in an appeal on a federal injunction to block the city's attempted dress code for bikini baristas.
  • Reality Winner, who leaked national Security Agency docs to the media in 2017, is looking forward to subpoenaing documents from the CIA, Homeland Security, and security firms targeted by Russian hackers.
  • The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from anti-abortion activists over a ban on releasing videos they secretly recorded with Planned Parenthood officials and other abortion providers in 2014 and 2015.
  • "A case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens to [allow] worldwide damages for infringement of U.S. patents," warn the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the R Street Institute.