"Remain In Mexico" Returns | Crooked Media
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December 03, 2021
What A Day
"Remain In Mexico" Returns

In This Episode

  • More cases of the omicron variant have been identified in the U.S., and the Biden administration announced a new plan to make at-home rapid tests covered by private health insurance, launch family vaccination clinics, extend the federal mask mandate on public transportation, and more.
  • Mexico agreed to allow the U.S. to restart the controversial “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy that was put into place by President Trump. The policy requires asylum seekers at the Southern border to stay in Mexico as they wait for immigration hearings.
  • And in headlines: MLB owners and players failed to reach a deal on a new work agreement, former Ohio Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade was charged with murder for the shooting of Casey Goodson Jr., and Congress approved a short-term spending bill to fund the government until mid-February.


Show Notes:


  • New York Times: “Why Didn’t the U.S. Detect Omicron Cases Sooner?” –  https://nyti.ms/3Igjjj6
  • Washington Post: “Biden pledges to fight new variant ‘with science and speed,’ as omicron cases multiply and winter outlook worsens” – https://wapo.st/3rLKXib





Gideon Resnick: It is Friday, December 3rd, I am Gideon Resnick


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we’re hoping that gas prices continue to decline until they are negative numbers.


Gideon Resnick: Right. It won’t be fair until I get paid to go on a long drive, because driving is hard.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I believe a gas station should have to compete for access to my car.


Gideon Resnick: Sunoco outbid Mobil. We want to see it. On today’s show, the U.S. restarts a controversial policy where some asylum seekers at the southern border have to stay in Mexico while their case is pending. Plus, Congress funds the government at the last moment again.


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, more news on what we know and do not know about the Omicron variant. Let’s start with this announcement from the White House.


[clip of President Biden] Health insurers must cover the cost of at-home testing so that if you’re one of the 150 million Americans with private health insurance, next month your plan will cover at-home tests. Private insurers already cover the expensive PCR test and that you get at the doctor’s office, and now they will cover at-home tests as well.


Priyanka Aribindi: That was President Biden at the National Institutes of Health yesterday. Gideon, can you take us through everything else he was talking about?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so some of this is new and some of it we’ve heard before, in fact, quite a few times. But what Biden is talking about in that clip is this new plan that would allow for at-home rapid tests to hypothetically be more widely available to people at home. Specifically, in January, people could get reimbursed for the purchase of these tests through their private health insurance. Again, as a lot of public health experts have argued, why these wouldn’t be just fully subsidized at this point is kind of beyond me.


Priyanka Aribindi: Really does not make sense, but fine.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And there were a lot of immediate questions about making this a kind of onerous task for people, including having to submit receipts. As we’ve talked about here before, you know, the access to you and the actual use of rapid testing in the U.S. has been pretty bad for a while. They’re free in the U.K., they cost about a dollar in Germany. I’m almost certain I paid about $40 dollars for one at some point.


Priyanka Aribindi: They’re expensive.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, sneaky expensive. Especially if you think about it, you know, in terms of a family or a company or any large group having to do it. Yeah. And under this new policy, reimbursement is apparently not going to be retroactive.


Priyanka Aribindi: Cool. That’s great. Fine. All right. What else did Biden have to say?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot of it was this continued push for vaccinations and boosters. He announced a campaign to reach out to the 100 million or so people who haven’t received a booster yet. And as we’ve been talking about this over the course of the last couple of weeks and months, Priyanka, the administration’s tone about boosters is pretty dramatically different. It has like, gotten more forceful, particularly in light of Omicron. Biden also mentioned the launch of family vaccination clinics that would allow for, as it sounds, people of all ages within a family to go and get vaccinated.


Priyanka Aribindi: That sounds very convenient and lovely. There was some news in there for travelers too, right? What is he saying for, you know, those of us who are on planes and doing that kind of thing?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So Biden extended that mask mandate for people on public transportation—that covers planes, airports, etc. It was supposed to end in January, but that now goes through at least March 18th.


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it.


Gideon Resnick: And then at least one other travel piece of all of this, there is a requirement now that inbound international fliers test negative for the coronavirus within a day before their flight. That also applies if you are fully vaccinated, and it also applies if you are a returning U.S. citizen.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I still don’t get why you aren’t required to show your vaccine card to, like, get on a plane or things like that. But sure, this testing requirement sounds great. This is all happening as the new Omicron cases have been found in the U.S.. Can you tell us a little more about what we’ve learned there?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So this is happening kind of quickly. We mentioned on yesterday’s show that the first ID’d case was a person who flew from South Africa to San Francisco on November 22nd. But then yesterday, Minnesota health officials identified another person who apparently developed quote unquote, “mild symptoms” on November 22nd as well. They said that person had attended an anime convention in New York City. He had been vaccinated and received a booster in early November, actually.


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.


Gideon Resnick: Then yesterday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul advised that everybody at that convention go get a test. What’s more is, she said later in the day, there were five or so other cases identified in New York State so far.


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.


Gideon Resnick: So officials really—yeah—really do think that these numbers are going to go up in most places.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yikes.


Gideon Resnick: Then Colorado health officials identified their state’s first case too—that was a woman who had apparently gone on a recent trip to southern Africa. For more on how and why these cases are being discovered, like the pace that they are in the U.S. versus elsewhere, there’s a really good New York Times story on it that we can link to.


Priyanka Aribindi: And that is great. I will be checking it out because I have a lot of questions.


Gideon Resnick: Me too.


Priyanka Aribindi: The other big part of this is that, again, it’s going to take scientists some time to figure out whether all these mutations on the variant make it more transmissible or better at evading natural protection or protection from vaccines. Have we found out more on that yet?


Gideon Resnick: Yes and no, I would say.


Priyanka Aribindi: Great.


Gideon Resnick: COVID cases overall in South Africa, where the variant was first identified, had basically tripled in just about three days and the positivity rate is over 22%.


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.


Gideon Resnick: So in early November, it was at just about 1%. So that’s what people are looking at and being concerned about, is a pretty sizable jump. It’s not really clear just yet that that is all Omicron, but South African scientists and public health officials quoted in this Washington Post article that were going to link to said: if it is out competing Delta, that means it is pretty damn transmissible.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that does not sound good. Then what do we know about whether Omicron can evade protection?


Gideon Resnick: OK, so one other thing we learned yesterday, South African scientists monitoring Omicron said in a forthcoming study that they are seeing a lot of reinfections among people who had previous COVID infections. In fact—


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh wow, OK.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, people are about three times more likely, they said, to get re-infected by Omicron than any other variant before. However, one of the scientists also noted that prior infection should still prevent worse health outcomes. So a lot still to learn. It really is happening like, quite quickly. We will keep you updated, especially as the U.S. is not even over Delta yet.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you know, I’m not on the show every day, but I will be listening every day for the updates because I, for one, would like to know.


Gideon Resnick: I’m trying to keep my head on straight. We’ll see.


Priyanka Aribindi: Aren’t we all? There is also some news today on immigration that we want to bring to all of you. Yesterday, Mexico agreed to allow the U.S. to restart the highly controversial “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy that was put into place under President Trump.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, this has been talked about quite a bit before, but remind us about the policy. What does this actually mean?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So the Remain in Mexico policy requires asylum seekers who are coming to the U.S. via the land border between the U.S. and Mexico to agree to stay in Mexico as they wait for their immigration hearings. As I was saying, the policy was originally introduced by President Trump in January of 2019, and illegal border crossings did fall after this policy was put into place. But it has been described as extremely dangerous and inhumane by immigration advocates as well as U.S. officials. Asylum seekers became the victims of terrible violence, sexual assault, and they lived in awful, unsanitary conditions while they were forced to wait in Mexico. They also had very limited access to lawyers and information about their immigration cases.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and so Biden came into office promising different immigration policies than Trump. So how is this happening in this administration?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. So it actually turns out that Joe Biden suspended this policy on his very first day in office. The only reason it’s back now is because of a court order. So after Biden originally got rid of this policy, Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit that forced it to be put back in place if and only if Mexico allowed it, which Mexico agreed to yesterday with a few concessions that we’ll talk about in just a minute.


Gideon Resnick: Got it.


Priyanka Aribindi: But the Biden administration is still trying to end the policy. A motion is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the White House says that if the appeals court sides with them, they will end the program once again immediately.


Gideon Resnick: OK, got it. And so is the way this policy is being applied, has been applied, under Biden any different than it was before.


Priyanka Aribindi: So it appears that it will be. It hasn’t started being applied quite yet, but this time around, there have been a lot of discussions between the U.S. and Mexico. Back when Trump did this in 2019, it was under the threat of increased tariffs on Mexico. So very different vibe around this, much more collaborative between the two countries. According to Biden administration officials, some of the major changes were actually ones that Mexico called for, like for the U.S. to improve humanitarian conditions. These include completing cases within six months so they don’t just sit there and pile up, sometimes for years. Also, everyone who’s subjected to this policy will be vaccinated against COVID-19.


Gideon Resnick: Wow.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Mexico also called for quote “vulnerable people” to be exempt from the new asylum policy—that includes unaccompanied minors, pregnant people, disabled folks and more. And they are seeking funding from the U.S. for shelters and other organizations that support the migrants who will be waiting in their country. All of these conditions and concerns were accepted by the U.S., and in addition to this, the U.S. and Mexico will be working on a joint program in Central America to address some of the root causes of migration and the reasons that people are seeking asylum.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so what has the activists’ response generally been to this? They’ve been pretty rightfully unhappy with a lot of the administration thus far.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So I mean, obviously there are updates here to how this policy will hopefully be applied, but critics really are not satisfied by this. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas set himself back in October that quote, “There are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix.” So between activists and the administration, nobody really wants this. This isn’t the ideal for anybody. But this also comes as reporting reveals that despite Biden’s campaign promise to end the detention of immigrants who are facing deportation in private jails, that still has not happened. So even when states move to prohibit this, ICE just moves detainees to other states, oftentimes further away from their families. So there is a lot on this front that people are very rightly not happy about.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, definitely. And so when is this policy actually going to start to go into effect?


Priyanka Aribindi: So next week, starting Monday, asylum seekers who arrive at the border will start being returned to a border city in Mexico, and there are plans to do the same in three other cities very shortly. We will have more on this very soon, but that is the latest for now.


Gideon Resnick: Let’s get to some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Former Ohio Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Meade was charged with murder yesterday for the shooting of Casey Goodson Jr.. Goodson, a Black man, was in the doorway of his grandmother’s home in Columbus last December, when Meade shot him six times. He was 23-years old. The US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio initially said the shooting was justified, but has since recanted his statements based on lack of evidence. Meade faces up to 15 years in prison and two charges of murder, as well as one count of reckless homicide. He plans to plead not guilty at his initial hearing today. Meanwhile, jury selection began earlier this week in the trial of Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright. Potter said that she mistook her handgun for her taser when she fatally shot Wright, a 20-year old Black man, in April. She is being charged with two counts of manslaughter, and her trial is set to begin next week.


Priyanka Aribindi: Just really horrible stories and really, really young people.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: Congress scrambled and voted to fund the government right before a crucial deadline, again. The House of Representatives swiftly approved a short-term spending bill yesterday afternoon to fund the government until mid-February. The Senate passed the measure last night too, right at the eleventh hour. That is because a small group of conservatives opposed President Biden’s vaccine-or-testing requirements for private companies with at least 100 employees and threatened to delay a vote. But in the end, Senate leaders negotiated an agreement to break the logjam. This temporary legislation now buys lawmakers more time to get a deal on a full-year funding bill.


Gideon Resnick: Can’t wait.


Priyanka Aribindi: Can’t wait.


Gideon Resnick: I simply cannot wait to hear about that once more. We love it over here.


Priyanka Aribindi: Will we ever be funded. Aren’t we always kind of like running on these like temporary stop-gaps?


Gideon Resnick: Is money real? Do we need to do this? Who’s to say? Planned Parenthood’s Los Angeles branch said on Wednesday that the info of about 400,000 patients was compromised after a hacker gained access to its network. My lord.


Priyanka Aribindi: That is so bad. That it’s really bad.


Gideon Resnick: That is so bad, and so many. The organization launched an investigation after finding suspicious activity in its system, and it found that it quote, “unauthorized individual” access to its network in October. The hacker installed ransomware and withdrew files that included confidential patient information, such as their home addresses, medical records, prescriptions and more. It just gets worse. The digital attack on the reproductive health care group comes at a politically contentious time as the Supreme Court debates the right to an abortion. Planned Parenthood L.A. sent out letters on Wednesday notifying the affected patients of the incident, but a spokesperson said that there’s no evidence that the breach data was quote, “used for fraudulent purposes.” The investigation is still ongoing, and the hacker has not been identified yet.


Priyanka Aribindi: Major League Baseball is facing its first work stoppage in 26 years. MLB owners and players failed to reach a deal on a new work agreement. Their old agreement expired 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday—very dramatic timing—and this triggered a lockout, meaning owners literally locked players out of club facilities. If they want to shower, they have to do it at home where the shampoo isn’t free. This is the ninth work stoppage in baseball history and the first since 1994, when a players strike cut the season short, resulting in the World Series being canceled. Now, both sides have two months before spring training begins to resolve their differences over pay structures and other issues. Even MLB’s website was affected by the work stoppage. Early yesterday, it said quote, “You may notice that the content on the site looks a little different than usual. Until a new agreement is reached, there will be limitations on the type of content we display.” Some of those limitations include not posting images of players, so sadly fans will have to go to Instagram to find thirst-traps of baseballs many shaggy headed hunks.


Gideon Resnick: They’re only posting the characters from Backyard Baseball on the website. That’s the only thing that they are allowed to post at this particular moment.


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t even want to check to confirm. Gideon, he’s reporting the news. These are just facts, everybody.


Gideon Resnick: Those are the headlines. We’re going to be back with our segment, The Solution after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday WAD squad, and today we are wrapping up with a segment called The Solution, where we propose a fix to a news story that has created chaos in our world. Guiding us through it, as always, is our head writer Jon Millstein.


Jon Millstein: Hey guys. Thanks very much for trusting me to solve the world’s ills.


Gideon Resnick: That’s what you’re here for.


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly. The celebrity couple most likely to be asked to stop tongue kissing at Applebee’s, actress Megan Fox and rock star Machine Gun Kelly, are in the news again. MGK did an interview on The Tonight Show this Wednesday, where he told Jimmy Fallon about a large number of injuries he’s gotten recently. One of them involves a knife given to him by Blink 182’s Travis Barker.


Gideon Resnick: Sure.


Priyanka Aribindi: Who is either a bad gift giver or a great evil schemer, we will never know. MGK said he was throwing the knife in the air to impress Megan Fox—as one does—a little while ago, and it got stuck in his hand.


[clip of MGK] Because you know how you throw it up and you’re supposed to catch it? I looked at her, I was like, Check this out. And I was like [makes a strange noise].


Jon Millstein: Wow, beautiful, noise. Beautiful noise for TV.


Gideon Resnick: That is the knife-in-the-hand noise, for sure. There’s no other.


Priyanka Aribindi: There’s none other.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Jon Millstein: I like how he says, You know how you do this—when like, no, actually you don’t do this.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’ve never tossed a, I’ve never tossed a knife to impress anyone in my life. We have talked about the whirlwind Goth romance between MGK and Megan Fox before. Last time it involved them giving each other tattoos so there is a general theme of puncture wounds. However, this is the first time that their love has led to extreme bodily harm—at least that we know of. So for the Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox knife-toss story, here is Jon with The Solution.


Jon Millstein: We need to destroy the Zoltar machine that turned a little boy into Machine Gun Kelly before it is way too late. If you all aren’t familiar with Zoltar, he is an animatronic fortune teller from the movie Big, who turned a different little boy into Tom Hanks. Clearly, that machine gave us Machine Gun Kelly. It’s not just his close, style, or general hopping-around-on-a-big piano vibe, it’s also that any adult who developed without the aid of ancient magic would at least have some grip on knife safety—pun very much intended.


Gideon Resnick: Thank you.


Jon Millstein: The grip was what actually let him down this time. That’s why he caught the knife bad. I would put the biological age of MGK somewhere between 7 and 15—maybe years, maybe months. The man could be a huge infant. Breaking Zoltar won’t help but Machine Gun Kelly, but it could help others who are going down his same path in becoming teens or babies in adults’ bodies, who drink poison or light their heads on fire to impress beautiful grown-up actresses. And speaking of grown-up actresses, this brings me no joy because I support Megan Fox and oppose the carceral state, but we need to send police to investigate Fox’s relationship with probable baby Machine Gun Kelly. This woman could be looking at life behind bars. There is a second device we can destroy if we really want to solve this problem, and its name is our damn microphones because with every word we say about MGK, we are giving him more reasons to play with sharp objects and talk about it on TV. And we’re sorry.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I do want to apologize on that front.


Priyanka Aribindi: But we’re never going to stop talking about them. They just keep giving us good content. We can’t not reported it. It’s news.


Gideon Resnick: It’s true.


Jon Millstein: Yeah.


Gideon Resnick: The age gap is more appropriate between baby Kelly and Megan Fox than it is between baby Hanks and that lady in the movie. So I just want to say the charges should be lessened for Megan Fox.


Priyanka Aribindi: And that was The Solution. All right, one more thing before we go: do you have opinions about What A Day. I hope you do, and I hope they are good! Now is your chance to let us know. Leave us a review and tell us what you want to hear. We really appreciate the feedback. We can’t wait to read what you submit. We hope it’s five stars. It better be five stars.


Gideon Resnick: Yes. It better be. And we mean that in a menacing way. That is all for today. And if you’re into reading, and not just negative number gas prices like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And sorry for giving power to Machine Gun Kelly.


Priyanka Aribindi: Are we though?


Gideon Resnick: He’ll soon be Tank Kelly. He’ll soon be like B-52 Bomber Kelly. We don’t know what he’s capable of if we give him more power. I don’t know what a larger weapon is. Grenade launcher Kelly. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.