Capital Punishment and Guatemala

Grind for July 29th
“I went from being the Terminator to being the Governator.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s About Time

The Headline

Federal government to resume executions

The Grind

The US Justice Department will resume executing criminals on death row after a 16-year hiatus, announced Attorney General William Barr.

“Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals,” said Barr. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law – and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Executions will begin in December, starting with five individuals convicted of rape or murder:

— Daniel Lee Lewis, for killing 3 people

— Dustin Lee Honken, for killing 5 people

— Lezmond Mitchell, for killing a 63-year-old woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter

— Wesley Ira Purkey, for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl and murdering an 80-year-old woman

— Alfred Bourgeois, for molesting and killing his 2-year-old daughter

There are currently 2,673 inmates on death row in the United States.

The Details

Capital punishment in the United States was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1972 and then reinstated it in 1988. Of the 78 people to receive death sentences since 1988, only 3 have been executed.

The last federal execution occurred in 2003 when officials killed Louis Jones, a Gulf War veteran who kidnapped and murdered a 19-year-old soldier.

Today, the US is one of 54 countries worldwide to use the death penalty and is the only developed Western nation to use it regularly. Inside the US, the death penalty is legal in 29 states.

Since 1976, the state of Texas has carried out the most executions (561) followed by Virginia (113) and Oklahoma (112).

The upcoming executions will be conducted using Pentobarbital, a sedative that slows body systems to the point of death.


The Headline

Trump Administration considers travel ban on Guatemala

The Grind

Federal officials are considering a travel ban on Guatemala after the South American nation backed out of an immigration deal with the US.

The threat against Guatemala is similar to the pressure campaign Trump waged against Mexico in order to force it to do more to reduce illegal migration into the United States.
Mexico capitulated to the threats in mid-June, agreeing to improve border security and hold more asylum seekers in Mexico in order to avoid tariffs.

“If Guatemala doesn’t take significant action to help protect our borders, then we will, of course, look at all manner of solutions to the serious crisis we face,” said a White House official, “whether it’s a travel ban, significant actions on remittances, and/or tariffs.”

The Details

A tax on Guatemalan remittances could devastate the country’s economy. In 2018, Guatemalans living abroad sent $9.5 billion to family and friends back home (12% of GDP).

For the travel ban, White House officials are looking at the same strategy Trump used in 2016 when he banned travel from several Muslims nations.

Like the first ban, any action against Guatemala is certain to trigger a legal battle.

“There will be lawsuits because the standard for a travel ban is that you have to show that the entry of law-abiding Guatemalans would be detrimental to the interest of the United States,” says Leon Fresco, an attorney who worked for the Office of Immigration Litigation during the Obama Administration.

“And the president is not going to be able to show that law-abiding Guatemalans doing trade and commerce in the United States are in any way detrimental to the interest of the United States. There is no security threat of any kind from Guatemala to the United States.”

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