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Drop In Mexican-Born Immigrants Attributed To Hostility Here, Opportunity There

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New Census figures show the number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States dropped more last year than at any point in the past decade, a plunge that came as the Trump administration took power and made the deportation of unauthorized immigrants a top priority.

The number of U.S. residents — legal and undocumented — born in Mexico has dropped slowly since a peak of 11.7 million before the Great Recession, to 11.3 million in 2017, but the decline of 300,000 between 2016 and 2017 is rare.

The sudden plunge seems to be an acceleration of a long-term trend of native Mexicans returning to their homeland. The results have been tough for Mexico: Among its challenges are schools jammed with English-speaking, often American-born children brought by parents who either were deported, feared deportation or saw more opportunity and less hostility south of the border.

“It could be new opportunity or that the U.S. has made them feel less welcome. I suspect it’s both,” said Andrew Selee, president of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

The last time there was a drop of this magnitude in the Mexican-born U.S. population was between 2007 and 2008, when the Great Recession started and the federal government began cracking down on illegal immigration using the Secure Communities program. That year, the number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States dropped by about 326,000.

Last year, border states and those dependent on immigrant farm labor took the biggest hits in the loss of Mexicans: California lost more than 137,000 Mexican immigrants, and Texas lost more than 55,000. Other states losing more than 10,000 Mexican immigrants were Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington state.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center of Immigration Studies, which favors lower levels of immigration, said it’s hard to tell what caused the decline. “If it is due to increased enforcement deterring some people from coming here illegally, that could be beneficial. If it prevents them from undertaking a dangerous journey that could cost them their life savings and result in their being harmed or even killed, that is a good thing.” 

Large Drop in Mexican Immigrant Population
The population of Mexican-born immigrants dropped by more than 300,000 between 2016 and 2017, the largest drop in a decade.
Year One-year change in
Mexican immigrant population
2011 – 38,484
2012 – 109,245
2013 21,603
2014 129,512
2015 -71,191
2016 -69,618
2017 -303,767
States with largest drops in Mexican immigrant population, 2016-2017
State One-year change in
Mexican immigrant population
Percentage
change
California – 137,352 -3%
Texas – 55,232 -2%
New York -27,196 -11%
Washington -12,711 -5%
Georgia -12,303 -5%
Florida -12,109 -4%

Sources: U.S. Census American Community Survey and Stateline analysis

Many farmworkers in upstate New York, especially single men, left after the 2016 presidential election raised tension, recalled Luis Jimenez, a dairy farmworker from Mexico who volunteers with the “Alianza Agricola” (Spanish for the Agricultural Alliance), a group of farmworkers advocating for more immigrant rights in New York.

“Some people went back rather than wait to be arrested and deported,” Jimenez said. “Those of us with wives and children mostly decided to stay. It’s a hard choice. It’s dangerous either way. If you go back there’s crime and kidnappings and the schools are not as good, so for now we’re staying for our children’s sake.”

The Mexican government, which interviews returning citizens at the border, has not seen evidence that 300,000 people moved back between 2016 and 2017, said Carlos Hernandez, a statistical technician at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico. It’s possible that, because of backlogs in U.S. immigration courts, some have been arrested but not yet deported, he said. “[If] thousands of migrants are detained, but they have not been deported, that could explain the reduction,” Hernandez said.

Nationally, evidence shows that children of immigrants have faced growing hostility in U.S. schools, and that may be driving some parents to move with their children to Mexico even if they’re not forced to do so by deportation or job loss in today’s immigration crackdowns, said Patricia Gándara, the co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and a professor at the university who studies education.

In a study to be published soon, Gándara and the Civil Rights Project surveyed schools in a dozen states and found the most hostility to immigrant children in the South. Southern states passed a wave of anti-immigration bills in the early 2010s that caused some Hispanic communities to pack up and leave.

“Our researcher heard literally thousands of stories about children crying in school or just not showing up,” Gándara said. “They may be afraid to leave home, thinking their parents could be taken away.”

Tens of thousands of American-born children are enrolling every year in Mexican public schools, Gándara said. And Selee said the number of American children living in Mexico likely has reached more than half a million.

“These are our children,” Gándara said. “They grew up here or were born here, and now they end up in Mexico, a place they may never have seen before. It might be voluntary or involuntary — there could be one deportation but the entire family follows because that’s their livelihood.”

Arrests and deportations of unauthorized immigrants have increased under the Trump administration but are still down from the peak of crackdowns under the Obama administration, in part because of local sanctuary policies that have held down immigration arrests.

The Trump administration has reversed some Obama-era protections for those without criminal convictions and conducted high-profile raids and arrests intended to sow fear even in sanctuary cities.

At the same time, Mexico has boosted wages and agreed to let unions negotiate for workers in a bid to lure back former residents.

Western states such as California, a “sanctuary state,” have broken new ground in protecting the undocumented as much as possible. But many immigrants thought they were singled out for extra harassment as “payback” for those policies through targeted raids and arrests, according to a working paper for the UCLA study.

Western farmers have long depended on immigrant labor, much of it from Mexico, said Cory Lunde, a director at the Western Growers Association, which represents farms in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. In recent years farmers have seen their workforce drop by 15 to 30 percent, Lunde said. Many growers are combatting labor shortages by increasing automation, he said.

Historically, the decrease does not approach the scale of two watershed mass deportation events that each returned as many as a million or more Mexican-Americans to Mexico: mass repatriations during the Depression in the 1930s, and the derogatorily named Operation Wetback program in the mid-1950s.

In Georgia, a state dependent on labor-intensive crops like Vidalia onions and blueberries that can’t be harvested by machine, farmworkers from Mexico migrate from Florida to pick onions in the spring and blueberries in the summer.

But because of two consecutive bad years for blueberries, many stopped coming, and that may have contributed to Georgia’s drop in Mexican immigrants, said Andy Lucas, a program specialist at the Georgia Farm Bureau. There were scattered reports of labor shortages this spring as onions were being picked, he said.

Georgia farmers know how much they need immigrant labor, Lucas said.

“There’s a lot of loyalty and trust in this business,” Lucas said. “You don’t go out and plant a blueberry bush or put an onion in the ground without knowing where the workers are going to come from — you’d be foolish.”

The largest drops in the Mexican-born population were in cities and suburbs, though rural areas also were affected. The Migration Policy Institute’s Selee said Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston had the largest drops among cities.

Mexican immigrants remain by far the largest immigrant group in the nation at 11.3 million, with immigrants from China a distant second at 2.8 million and India third at 2.6 million.

“It’s a significant drop, but it is still the largest immigrant group,” Selee said. “It’s still a quarter of the immigrant population, down from a third a decade ago, but it’s a very significant group. And if you count second-, third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans, it’s huge.”

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U.S. Charges Chinese Tech Giant Huawei, Top Executive

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is filing charges against Chinese tech giant Huawei.

A 13-count indictment was unsealed Monday in New York charging Huawei, two of its affiliates and a top executive at the company.

The charges include bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

A separate case filed in Washington state charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1. Prosecutors allege she committed fraud by misleading American banks about Huawei’s business deals in Iran.

Prosecutors charge Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies.

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24 Million Mortgage And Bank Loan Documents Leaked Online

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A trove of more than 24 million financial and banking documents, representing tens of thousands of loans and mortgages from some of the biggest banks in the U.S., has been found online after a server security lapse.

The server, running an Elasticsearch database, had more than a decade’s worth of data, containing loan and mortgage agreements, repayment schedules and other highly sensitive financial and tax documents that reveal an intimate insight into a person’s financial life.

But it wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone to access and read the massive cache of documents.

It’s believed that the database was only exposed for two weeks — but long enough for independent security researcher Bob Diachenko to find the data. At first glance, it wasn’t immediately known who owned the data. After we inquired with several banks whose customers information was found on the server, the database was shut down on January 15.

With help from TechCrunch, the leak was traced back to Ascension, a data and analytics company for the financial industry, based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company provides data analysis and portfolio valuations. Among its services, the Ascension converts paper documents and handwritten notes into computer-readable files — known as OCR.

It’s that bank of converted documents that was exposed, Diachenko said in his own write-up.

Sandy Campbell, general counsel at Ascension’s parent company, Rocktop Partners, which owns more than 46,000 loans worth $4.4 billion, confirmed the security incident to TechCrunch, but said its systems were unaffected.

“On January 15, this vendor learned of a server configuration error that may have led to exposure of some mortgage-related documents,” he said in a statement. “The vendor immediately shut down the server in question, and we are working with third-party forensics experts to investigate the situation. We are also in regular contact with law enforcement investigators and technology partners as this investigation proceeds.”

An unspecified portion of the loans were shared with the contractor for analysis, the statement added, but couldn’t immediately confirm how many loan documents were exposed.

TechCrunch has learned that the vendor is New York-based company OpticsML. Efforts to reach the company were unsuccessful. Its website is offline and its phone number was disconnected from service.

In a phone call, Campbell confirmed that the company will inform all affected customers, and report the incident to state regulators under data breach notification laws.

From our review, it was clear that the documents pertain to loans and mortgages and other correspondence from several of the major financial and lending institutions dating as far back as 2008, if not longer, including CitiFinancial, a now-defunct lending finance arm of Citigroup, files from HSBC Life Insurance, Wells Fargo, CapitalOne and some U.S. federal departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Some of the companies have long been defunct, after selling their mortgage divisions and assets to other companies.

Though not all files contained the highly sensitive and personal data points, we found: names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and bank and checking account numbers, as well as details of loan agreements that include sensitive financial information, such as why the person is requesting the loan.

Some of the documents also note if a person has filed for bankruptcy and tax documents, including annual W-2 tax forms, which are targets for scammers to claim false refunds.

But the database stored documents in a random order, and were not easily followable or presented in an easy to read or formatted way, making it difficult to follow from one document to another, said Diachenko.

We verified the authenticity of data by checking a portion of names in the database with public records.

“These documents contained highly sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers, names, phones, addresses, credit history and other details which are usually part of a mortgage or credit report,” Diachenko told TechCrunch. “This information would be a gold mine for cyber criminals who would have everything they need to steal identities, file false tax returns, get loans or credit cards.”

Although the documents originate from these financiers, one bank — Citi, which helped to secure the data — said it had no current relationship with the company.

“Citi recently became aware that a third party, with no connection to Citi, was storing certain mortgage origination and modification documents in an unsecure online environment,” said a Citi spokesperson. “These documents contained information about current or former Citi customers, as well as customers from other financial institutions. Citi notified law enforcement, initiated a thorough forensic investigation and worked quickly to ensure the information could no longer be publicly accessed.”

Citi confirmed that “third party is a vendor to a company that had purchased the loans and we have found no evidence that Citi’s systems were compromised.”

The bank added that it’s working to identify potentially affected customers.

Dozens of other companies are affected, including smaller regional banks and larger multinationals.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson said the data was obtained by Ascension from other entities that purchased Wells Fargo mortgages. HSBC said it was investigating if any of its customers’ data, including past customers, and confirmed it had “no vendor relationship with Ascension since 2010.” When reached, CapitalOne did not comment at the time of publication. A Housing and Urban Development spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. The department is currently affected by the ongoing government shutdown. If anything changes, we’ll update.

It’s the latest in a series of security lapses involving Elasticsearch databases.

A massive database leaking millions of real-time SMS text message data was found and secured last year, as well as a popular massage service and, most recently, AIESEC, the largest youth-run nonprofit for working opportunities.

Updated at 5pm ET: with comment from HSBC and additional details regarding OpticsML.

Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755–8849. You can also send PGP email with the fingerprint: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

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Brandon Truaxe, Founder of Deciem Skin Care Company, Is Dead At 40

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Brandon Truaxe, the former CEO and founder of the skin care company Deciem, has died at age 40.

An executive at the company confirmed Truaxe’s death in an email to Vox, which also obtained the email sent by acting CEO Nicola Kilner to Deciem’s staff.

“I can’t believe I am typing these words. Brandon has passed away over the weekend. Heartbroken doesn’t come close to how I, and how I know many of you will be feeling,” read the email, which also indicated that the company’s “offices, warehouses, factories and stores” would all be closed Monday to “take the time to cry with sadness, smile at the good times we had, reflect on what his genius built and hug your loved ones that little harder.”

A spokesperson for the Estée Lauder Cos., a minority investor in Deciem, told HuffPost: “Brandon Truaxe was a true genius, and we are incredibly saddened by the news of his passing. As the visionary behind Deciem, he positively impacted millions of people around the world with his creativity, brilliance and innovation. This is a profound loss for us all, and our hearts are with Nicola Kilner and the entire Deciem family.”

Representatives of Deciem did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, but they did post a heartfelt message about Truaxe on their Instagram page.

“Thank you for every laugh, every learning and every moment of your genius. Whilst we can’t imagine a world without you, we promise to take care of each other and will work hard to continue your vision. May you finally be at peace. Love, (forever) your DECIEM,” they wrote.

The Toronto-based company, nicknamed “The Abnormal Beauty Company,” was called Deciem after Truaxe’s intention to launch 10 lines under the brand’s umbrella, though the brand has now exceeded that. Arguably its most famous line, The Ordinary, has gone on to achieve near-cult status for its affordable prices and ubiquity. The line is currently sold at Sephora.

As for Truaxe, he has had a multitude of highs and lows with the company. On the heels of a near-rave review in The New Yorker in early 2018, Truaxe began to appear erratic on social media and use the company’s pages to post bizarre messages and videos. By the end of the year, Estée Lauder took legal action against him, and Truaxe was ousted by a judge as CEO. Kilner has been the acting CEO ever since. Additionally, Truaxe was issued a restraining order by several executives at Estée Lauder.

While the cause of Truaxe’s death is currently unknown, a report published in Canada’s Financial Post in December 2018 indicated that he’d been previously hospitalized for mental health issues several times and had problems with drug use. 

The response on social media has been widespread, as many fans of his skin care brand mourn his death:

This article has been updated with comment from Estée Lauder Cos. and a message posted by Deciem.

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