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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Colombia Becomes Hub for African Migrants Trying to Reach U.S. - The New York Times

The ‘Luxury Route’ to the U.S. for African Migrants

Several people in an airport lounge.
A group of African migrants at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, Colombia.

"Colombia’s main airport has become a hub for migrants heading to the U.S. in greater numbers. Some have been stranded for weeks, or forcibly turned back.

As record numbers of people cross into the United States, the southern border is not the only place where the migration crisis is playing out.

Nearly three thousand miles to the south, inside Colombia’s main international airport, hundreds of African migrants have been pouring in every day, paying traffickers roughly $10,000 for flight packages they hope will help them reach the United States.

The surge of African migrants in the Bogotá airport, which began last year, is a vivid example of the impact of one of the largest global movements of people in decades and how it is shifting migration patterns.

With some African countries confronting economic crisis and political upheaval, and Europe cracking down on immigration, many more Africans are making the far longer journey to the U.S.

The migrants in Bogotá come mainly from West African countries such as Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone, though some are from as far east as Somalia.

People going up and down stairs and escalators.
African migrants waiting at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá for a flight to El Salvador, part of their journey toward the United States.

They are bound for Nicaragua, the only country in Central America where citizens from many African nations — and from Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela — can enter without a visa. Experts say the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, loosened visa requirements in recent years to compel the United States to lift sanctions on his authoritarian government.

To reach Nicaragua, migrants embark on a journey of several stops, flying to hubs like Istanbul, then on to Colombia, where many fly to El Salvador and then to Nicaragua. (There are no direct flights between Colombia and Nicaragua). Once there, they head northward again, by land, toward Mexico and the U.S. border.

The trip, which has been called by airline employees “the luxury route,’’ bypasses the dangerous jungle pass linking South and North America called the Darién Gap.

Last year, 60,000 Africans entered Mexico on their way to the United States, up from fewer than 7,000 the year before, Mexican authorities reported. (Overall crossings at the Southern border declined at the beginning of this year, but ebbs like those are not uncommon and can be affected by the season and other factors.)

Among those disembarking recently at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá on a flight from Istanbul was Djelikha Camara, 24, who had studied engineering in Guinea, but said she wanted to leave because a military coup in 2021 had plunged the country into crisis.

She had seen the trans-Atlantic journey advertised on social media, she said, and thought, “I want to try it.”

A daily flight from Istanbul to Bogotá, on Turkish Airlines, has become the most popular route for African migrants trying to reach Nicaragua, airline officials say. But other trans-Atlantic routes — from Spain and Morocco, with stops in Colombia or Brazil — have also boomed. Officials say travel agents in Africa buy tickets in bulk that they resell at a profit.

They advertise online, including in WhatsApp groups like one in Guinea with thousands of members called “Let’s Leave the Country.”

People sleeping and kneeling in prayer.
Travelers from Africa sleeping or kneeling in Muslim prayer in a corner of Bogotá’s airport. Some spend days in the airport before they can continue to their next destination.

Colombia’s migration director, Carlos Fernando García, said large numbers of Africans began appearing in Bogotá’s airport last spring after the government suspended transit visa requirements for citizens of several African countries to stimulate tourism.

In 2023, more than 56,000 people from Africa transited through Colombia, according to migration data. Authorities would not provide data from previous years but immigrant groups say last year’s figure is a huge increase and fueled primarily by migrants.

While flying is less dangerous than traversing a brutal jungle, migrants at Bogotá’s airport have also faced ordeals.

Some have had to wait for connecting flights scheduled days after they arrived. Others have been stranded after discovering that El Salvador, the next country on their itinerary, charges people from Africa a $1,130 transit fee.

The airport has no beds or showers for migrants. The only food and water is sold at pricey cafes.

There have been flu outbreaks. A woman went into labor. In December, two African children were found in a bathroom after being abandoned by travelers who were not their parents.

Mr. García said airlines were responsible for passengers in the airport between flights, not the government. “It’s private companies that are failing in their duty,” he said, “In their rush to make money, they’re leaving passengers stranded.”

Turkish Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.

Avianca, a Colombian airline that operates several routes used by African migrants headed to Nicaragua, said it was obliged to transport passengers who met travel requirements.

In Bogotá’s airport, migrants are largely kept out of view of other passengers.

Mouhamed Diallo, 40, a journalist who taught university courses in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, said he had spent two days in the arrivals area, before being allowed into the departures section the day of his next flight — to San Salvador, El Salvador.

“I found someone who left yesterday, ” he said. “He had been there 12 days.’’

Many Africans using this route are educated professionals like Mr. Diallo with siblings in the United States and Europe who help pay for their tickets.

Mr. Diallo said he left Guinea because he felt unsafe following the military coup. He is Fulani, the majority ethnic group in the country, and supported an opposition leader who had gone into exile, he said.

“Your leader go out, you go out,’’ he said. “If you don’t, you end up in prison.”

Some migrants have found themselves trapped in the airport.

Kanja Jabbie, a former police officer from Sierra Leone, said he paid $10,000 to travel to Nicaragua. But he learned of the transit fee El Salvador requires only after he arrived in Colombia.

He had no cash, he said, and no way to get it. There is no place to receive wired funds in the terminal, or even an A.T.M.

“I am stuck,” said Mr. Jabbie, 46, who spent three days wandering the terminal, surviving on tea.

The fee, which El Salvador imposed last fall, calling it an “airport improvement fee,” has been a main cause for the backlog of passengers in the Bogotá airport, according to airline officials. Nicaragua also charges a fee, a smaller one, for people from Africa. Neither government responded to a request for comment.

The area around Gate A9, where daily flights leave to San Salvador, is filled with migrants.

People sleep in a corner, or kneel in Muslim prayer, using airplane blankets. Laundry hangs on luggage.

A pregnant woman from Guinea sat at the gate one January afternoon. Asked why she left, she produced a photo showing her face, badly beaten. She pulled back a sleeve to reveal a scar.

“I am here to save my life — my life and my baby. I am hiding from my husband,” said the woman, who asked to to go by only her first initial, T, for her safety. “Hopefully I can reach the U.S.”

She had arrived in Bogotá four days before. Her Avianca flight to El Salvador left that day, but she was bumped off.

“I don’t know why,” she said.

Airport and airline employees who said they were not authorized to speak publicly said passengers sometimes complained about migrants who had not been able to bathe for days.

In response, Avianca’s cabin crew will repeat the company motto: “The sky belongs to everyone.”

Migrants often fall sick after being stuck in close quarters, airline workers said, and some seem fragile. Last spring, on a flight from Madrid to Bogotá, a man from Mauritania died of a heart attack.

Since December, when the two migrant children were left behind in the airport, Colombian authorities have taken a tougher stance.

Airlines are required to verify that children are traveling with adults who are their parents and Colombian authorities are pressing them to permit aboard only people who have a connecting flight within 24 hours.

Migration officers have also started rounding up migrants whose tickets have expired, who linger in the airport for more than a day or who come from a handful of African countries from which Colombia still requires a transit visa. They are putting them on flights back to Istanbul.

Mr. Jabbie, the policeman from Sierra Leone, was among them.

At least one episode turned violent. This month, three women from Cameroon resisted and were dragged screaming through the airport by migration officers and the police and were struck repeatedly with a Taser, they said.

“When we collapse, they put us on the plane,” said Agnes Foncha Malung, 29.

Ms. Malung, who braids hair for a living, decided to leave her homeland with two friends, she said, after some relatives’ homes were burned down amid clashes between English- and French-speaking factions in Cameroon.

The women were held in Bogotá’s airport for several days over what migration authorities told them were visa issues before they were deported.

Ms. Malung, speaking by phone from Cameroon, said the three were sharing a rented room until they figured out their next move.

She said she paid $11,500 for the trip. “It cost me a lot,’’ she said.

Migration authorities did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the incident.

Still, many African migrants have managed to make it to the United States. Mr. Diallo, the journalist, arrived in New York’s La Guardia Airport — his ninth airport in 17 days — on a cold January day.

He had traveled through Central America and Mexico in smugglers’ vehicles, he said, and sat shivering all night in Arizona before he was picked up by the U.S. Border Patrol and requested asylum.

After being released with a date in immigration court, he traveled to the Bronx to join his brother. He has been staying in his cramped apartment, he said, and helping at hisconvenience store.

Asked if he would send his wife and children on the same route, Mr. Diallo said, “No, never.”

“Never in my life,” he added. “I have traumatism.”

Reporting was contributed by Genevieve Glatsky and Federico Rios from Bogotá, Colombia; Ruth Maclean from Dakar, Senegal; Mady Camara from Dakar, Senegal; and Safak Timur from Istanbul. Simón Posada contributed research from Bogotá."

Colombia Becomes Hub for African Migrants Trying to Reach U.S. - The New York Times

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Long Covid May Lead to Measurable Cognitive Decline, Study Finds

Long Covid May Lead to Measurable Cognitive Decline, Study Finds

“People with long Covid symptoms scored slightly lower on a cognitive test than people who had recovered. But long Covid patients who eventually got better scored as well as those whose symptoms did not last long.

A person wears a mask over their head with several wires attached to it, which lead to a small device that resembles a video game controller, held in a researcher's hands.
A long Covid patient with cognitive challenges prepared for a neurofeedback therapy session in Massachusetts in June.Brian Snyder/Reuters

By Pam Belluck

Pam Belluck has been covering long Covid since the condition first emerged.

Long Covid may lead to measurable cognitive decline, especially in the ability to remember, reason and plan, a large new study suggests.

Cognitive testing of nearly 113,000 people in England found that those with persistent post-Covid symptoms scored the equivalent of 6 I.Q. points lower than people who had never been infected with the coronavirus, according to the study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

People who had been infected and no longer had symptoms also scored slightly lower than people who had never been infected, by the equivalent of 3 I.Q. points, even if they were ill for only a short time.

The differences in cognitive scores were relatively small, and neurological experts cautioned that the results did not imply that being infected with the coronavirus or developing long Covid caused profound deficits in thinking and function. But the experts said the findings are important because they provide numerical evidence for the brain fog, focus and memory problems that afflict many people with long Covid.

“These emerging and coalescing findings are generally highlighting that yes, there is cognitive impairment in long Covid survivors — it’s a real phenomenon,” said James C. Jackson, a neuropsychologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

He and other experts noted that the results were consistent with smaller studies that have found signals of cognitive impairment.

The new study also found reasons for optimism, suggesting that if people’s long Covid symptoms ease, the related cognitive impairment might, too: People who had experienced long Covid symptoms for months and eventually recovered had cognitive scores similar to those who had experienced a quick recovery, the study found.

In a typical I.Q. scale, people who score 85 to 115 are considered of average intelligence. The standard variation is about 15 points, so a shift of 3 points is not usually considered significant and a shift of even 6 points may not be consequential, experts said.

“The issue is: Are people able to function in their routine capacity in whatever they are doing? And this is not really answered by 3 points more or less,” said Dr. Igor Koralnik, the chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who was not involved in the study.

He added: “The determination of X points on an I.Q. scale is less important than the people’s perception of their cognitive difficulties.”

Still, Dr. Jackson, the author of a book about long Covid called “Clearing the Fog,” said that while cognitive tests like the one in the study “identify relatively mild deficits,” even subtle difficulties can matter for some people. For example, he said, “if you’re an engineer and you have a slight decline in executive functioning, that’s a problem.”

The study, led by researchers at Imperial College London, involved 112,964 adults who completed an online cognitive assessment during the last five months of 2022. About 46,000 of them, or 41 percent, said they had never had Covid. Another 46,000 people who had been infected with the coronavirus said their illness had lasted less than four weeks.

About 3,200 people had post-Covid symptoms lasting four to 12 weeks after their infection, and about 3,900 people had symptoms beyond 12 weeks, including some that lasted a year or more. Of those, 2,580 people were still having post-Covid symptoms at the time they took the cognitive test.

The researchers noted that they relied on self-reported symptoms, rather than diagnoses of long Covid, and that the demands of taking a cognitive test might have meant that participants in the study were not the most seriously impaired.

The vast majority of the participants were white, and more than half were female. There were more people from affluent areas than from economically struggling areas.

The test, which the researchers developed and have used in previous studies of patients with brain injuries, Covid and other conditions, consisted of eight tasks designed to evaluate skills such as spatial planning, verbal reasoning and word definitions, along with several aspects of memory.

The senior author of the study, Paul Elliott, an epidemiologist and public health specialist, said the assessment, called Cognitron, has been consistent with other cognitive scales. He also said that, as an online test rather than an in-person or paper assessment, it is useful for studying large numbers of people. He said that the team took the statistical results from the test and computed how they would translate to a standard I.Q. scale.

Professor Elliott noted that the study measured performance at only one point in people’s lives, and that the I.Q. computations were averages for the different groups, so they may not have reflected individual results. He also said it was impossible to know if other stresses in people’s lives, not just Covid, had contributed to their test performances.

The lowest scores were generally seen in people who had infections earlier in the pandemic, before vaccines and antiviral treatments were available. People who were vaccinated performed somewhat better than those who were not. People who were infected more than once scored only slightly lower than those who were infected a single time.

Most study participants, including those who had developed long Covid, had not been hospitalized for their infection, meaning they had a manageable or mild illness during that initial stage. Still, as in other studies, outcomes were worse for people who had been hospitalized. The 228 participants in the study who spent time in intensive care units scored the equivalent of 9 I.Q. points lower than people who had not been infected.

An encouraging signal from the study was that brain fog and other long Covid cognitive problems do not have to be permanent. Professor Elliott said that “someone who had persistent symptoms that resolved, even if it lasted more than a year” showed test scores that “looked like people who had a short-duration illness.”

However, even people whose symptoms lasted only a short time scored lower than uninfected people. Dr. Koralnik said it was striking that “those who got Covid and recovered, they were still not entirely the same as those who never got Covid.”

Professor Elliott said the participants who were still struggling with long Covid symptoms, like brain fog, exhibited difficulties on tests of executive function skills like planning and focusing, and had problems “forming new memories, rather than forgetting” existing ones.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development at the V.A. St. Louis Health Care System and a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who co-wrote an editorial about the study, said the findings raise many questions: How significant are the real-life effects of the small cognitive deficits identified? Do they raise people’s risk of dementia later in life? What other factors might affect Covid patients’ cognitive scores?

Dr. Jackson said that overall, the fact that cognitive scores showed some deficit in patients with lingering symptoms is concerning, but should also “validate many people with long Covid whose cognitive complaints have been dismissed.”

Pam Belluck is a health and science reporter, covering a range of subjects, including reproductive health, long Covid, brain science, neurological disorders, mental health and genetics. More about Pam Belluck

Haitian Asylum Seekers Take Biden Admin to Court for Racial Discrimination, Rights Violations | Democracy Now!

Haitian Asylum Seekers Take Biden Admin to Court for Racial Discrimination, Rights Violations | Democracy Now!

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Latest on Trump, Biden and Gaza Protest Vote - The New York Times

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Biden Confronts Protest Votes as He and Trump Win Easily

'President Biden faced his most significant challenge in Michigan from those opposed to his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Republican infighting in the state did not involve Donald J. Trump, who coasted to victory.

  1. Queens, N.Y.

    President Biden returning to Washington after a day in New York on Monday.

    Bonnie Cash for The New York Times
  2. Dearborn, Mich.

    A polling site at at Oakman Elementary School  on Tuesday.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  3. National Harbor, Md.

    Donald J. Trump during his appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference  on Saturday. 

    Doug Mills/The New York Times
  4. Dearborn, Mich.

    A demonstrator outside a polling site on Tuesday, urging voters to cast an ‘uncommitted’ ballot.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  5. Detroit, Mich.

    A voter checking in with poll workers on Tuesday.

    Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
  6. Centennial, Colo.

    Nikki Haley at a campaign event on Tuesday. 

    Matthew Defeo for The New York Times
  7. Dearborn, Mich.Voters casting ballots in the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

  8. Dearborn, Mich.

    Casting a ballot in the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  9. Dearborn, Mich.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times


President Biden won Michigan’s Democratic primary election on Tuesday but was facing opposition over his support for Israel as it wages war in Gaza, with a substantial percentage of voters casting ballots for “uncommitted” as part of a protest movement against him.

Former President Donald J. Trump was also victorious in the Republican primary, coasting past former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina to continue his undefeated primary streak. The Associated Press called both races as final polls closed at 9 p.m.

Long before the final votes had been tallied in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary race, organizers of a protest movement against President Biden’s support for Israel had declared victory, dancing to the tunes of traditional Palestinian music at a Lebanese restaurant in Dearborn, the center of the state’s Arab American community.

“This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement,” said Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for Listen to Michigan, a group that sprang into existence three weeks ago urging voters to cast their ballots for the “uncommitted” option in the state’s primary instead of Mr. Biden.

Christine Zhang
Feb. 27, 2024, 11:53 p.m. ET

With nearly all of the vote estimated to be counted in Dearborn, “uncommitted” now has received around 56 percent of the vote, with President Biden at about 40 percent.

When Tuesday began, Mohanad Gazzaley, 18, was not registered to vote, and he had not previously heard of the campaign to vote “uncommitted” in protest of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. Then, standing on the stoop of his parents’ home in Hamtramck, a Detroit suburb, he talked in the early afternoon with a canvasser from the Detroit chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

An hour later, Mr. Gazzaley was registered to vote, and he emerged from Hamtramck City Hall with two friends — also 18-year-old first-time voters — whom he had brought with him.

Former President Donald J. Trump won Michigan’s Republican presidential primary election on Tuesday, moving closer to a general election rematch against President Biden.

Mr. Biden easily won his own primary, though he faced a groundswell of opposition from voters who are protesting his staunch support for Israel and its military campaign in Gaza by casting ballots not for another candidate, but for “uncommitted.” The Associated Press called both contests as soon as final polls closed at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:47 p.m. ET

President Biden did not mention the “uncommitted” vote or the organized protest of his Gaza policy in a statement on Michigan’s results released by his campaign. “I want to thank every Michigander who made their voice heard today. Exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy is what makes America great,” Biden said.

Michael Gold
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:42 p.m. ET

Donald Trump called into the Michigan G.O.P. watch party after the race was called. According to a transcript provided by his campaign, he thanked the party’s chairman, Pete Hoekstra, and predicted a big victory in November. “We win Michigan, we win the whole thing,” Trump said.

Christine Zhang
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:23 p.m. ET

Initial vote tallies from Dearborn, the city with the highest percentage of Arab American voters in the state, have been posted. ‘‘Uncommited” is leading there by far, with more than 73 percent of the total vote reported so far — 1,828 votes to President Biden’s 599.

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:16 p.m. ET

With 22 percent of Democratic primary votes counted, the “uncommitted” vote totals in Michigan have far surpassed the numbers that it received in the party’s last three presidential primaries, when “uncommitted” garnered around 20,000 votes in each of those years. The category currently has about 30,000 votes.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:00 p.m. ET

It’s been an hour since all the polls closed in Michigan and the Democratic primary was called for President Biden — and there still has not been a statement from the president. In each previous primary, the Biden campaign trumpeted its victory within minutes of the race being called in his favor. But with a sizable protest vote against his Israel policy tonight in Michigan, Biden has been quiet so far.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:53 p.m. ET

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, on CNN, said the strength of the “uncommitted” campaign was “not a surprise to me.” “It’s not just the Arab American and Muslim community,” she added. “It’s young people who want to be heard and have the same concerns.”

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:47 p.m. ET

Results are still coming in in Michigan, but Layla Elabed, the campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, sent out a memo calling the movement “victorious” and suggested that the group might protest President Biden at the Democrats’ nominating convention in August. “Our delegation plans to hold the Democratic nominee accountable to our community’s antiwar agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago,” she wrote. “See you there.”

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:45 p.m. ET

The percentage of “uncommitted” voters in the Democratic primary is sitting at about 15 percent. Expect that share of the vote to increase. Very few votes are in from Wayne County, which includes Detroit, Dearborn and most of the state’s Arab American population. And there are few votes from Ingham County, which includes East Lansing, home to Michigan State University.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:44 p.m. ET

“Uncommitted” will win delegates to the Democratic convention if it passes 15 percent in Michigan congressional districts. It is not unprecedented for uncommitted to win convention delegates. In 2012, Barack Obama lost dozens of delegates to uncommitted slates in Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland and other states. Those delegates came to the convention free to vote for any candidate. They all ultimately cast votes for Obama.

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:43 p.m. ET

A spokeswoman for Nikki Haley, Olivia Perez-Cubas, issued a statement drawing parallels between Haley’s standing against Trump, whom she currently trails in Michigan by over 30 points, and the protest vote against President Biden that she framed as a sign of Biden’s “weakness.” “What was once a beacon for the conservative cause, the Michigan Republican Party is now fractured and divided,” she said. “So long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, Republicans will keep losing to the socialist left.”

Jazmine Ulloa
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:40 p.m. ET

Nikki Haley says the Michigan results tonight show the weaknesses of both Trump and Biden. “Let this serve as another warning sign that what has happened in Michigan will continue to play out across the country,” she said. 

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:40 p.m. ET

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan released a statement on the primary results that does not mention the “uncommitted” effort or the war in Gaza. “I appreciate every Michigander who participated and made their voice heard,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Michigan is proud of its rich diversity of backgrounds, ideologies and cultures. This is what makes us stronger and always has.”

Chris Cameron
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:39 p.m. ET

In 2008, over 238,000 votes were cast for “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary after Barack Obama and others removed their names from the ballot, because the state had jumped ahead of the national party's calendar.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:30 p.m. ET

The results of tonight’s Michigan primaries demonstrate the enduring weakness both Biden and Trump have within their own parties, with substantial numbers of Democrats and Republicans voting against them even as they close in on the nominations.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:11 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

At the Listen to Michigan watch party, supporters are cheering as Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for the group, announces that “uncommitted” has already topped 11,000 votes — roughly Donald Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a target that organizers said they wanted to surpass. “This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement,” Alawieh said.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:59 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Organizers and supporters of the “uncommitted” protest movement in Michigan have gathered at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn to watch the results come in. Layla Elabed — the campaign manager for the group organizing the effort, Listen to Michigan — tells the audience that they are sending a message to President Biden that “Palestinian life is valuable and we demand a permanent cease-fire now.”

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:25 p.m. ET

Monica Otlacan, 45, became a U.S. citizen last month after moving from Romania in 2011. She thought she would be more excited to finally cast a ballot in a U.S. election. “I’m not happy with what I have to choose from,” Otlacan, an accountant, said. She decided to vote for Nikki Haley because she opposed Trump’s immigration and abortion policies and was against Biden’s support for welfare.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:22 p.m. ET

As the Michigan Democratic primary results trickle in, expect the “uncommitted” percentage to grow as more ballots are counted from Wayne County. The state’s biggest county, Wayne County includes Detroit and Dearborn — where many of the state’s Arab American voters live — and often takes longer to report results than other corners of Michigan.

Chris Cameron
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:05 p.m. ET

Most polls have now closed in Michigan. Voters still in line may vote, and a few counties in the Central time zone will remain open for another hour.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 7:51 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Samih Zreik, 80, cast a protest vote for “uncommitted” here in Dearborn, Mich., where many Arab Americans live. Zreik said he had a message for President Biden: “Cease-fire, cease-fire, cease-fire.” Without peace in Gaza, he said, he would stay home in November rather than vote for the president, even if that meant a victory for Donald Trump, whom he abhors.

A circuit court judge on Tuesday ordered Kristina Karamo, the deposed leader of the Michigan Republicans, to abandon her efforts to cling to power. But what that means for Saturday, when Ms. Karamo had pledged to hold a dueling presidential nominating convention, remains unclear.

“I have to comply with the judge’s orders,” she told reporters after the court hearing, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 7:31 p.m. ET

Greg Hazergian, 40, a cardiologist from Northville, Mich., said Trump “is as much of a jerk as he is narcissist” — but he voted for him anyway, because he prefers Trump’s economic policies. Hazergian, who voted for Trump in 2020, said he “has some good stuff that he does; he just needs not to speak.” He doesn't believe there is evidence that Trump has done anything wrong, and said that if he were convicted, it would be “a political scam.”

As voting was underway in Michigan, Nikki Haley was delivering her closing pitch to voters further west in Colorado, which votes next week on Super Tuesday.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters packed into aircraft hangar near Denver on Tuesday, Ms. Haley once more urged Republicans to abandon former President Donald J. Trump, calling him a self-involved and unstable leader who could not win in November.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:55 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Mike Herman, the precinct chairman for the polling place at McDonald Elementary School in Dearborn, Mich., stepped outside around 6:45 p.m. to collect a delivery: a sheaf of applications to register to vote. He had nearly run out, with more than 300 people in this heavily Arab American neighborhood having voted so far — twice the number Herman had expected. “We were down to our last 10,” he said. 

Zach Johnk
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:52 p.m. ET

Under Michigan’s Democratic primary rules, candidates can receive delegates by earning at least 15 percent of the vote in a specific congressional district. Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for Listen to Michigan, the group behind the “uncommitted” campaign, said that the group was seeing strong turnout in the 12th Congressional District and now believed the effort to protest Biden over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war could earn it at least one delegate. “We are confident,” he said.

Jazmine Ulloa
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:37 p.m. ET

As voting in Michigan was underway, Nikki Haley was in Denver, holding a rally in the Super Tuesday state. Flanked by military planes, Haley reiterated that the Republican National Committee should not be paying Donald Trump’s legal fees. “If there is a resolution on whether the RNC funds are going to pay for legal fees, we deserve to see how every national committee member votes,” she said.

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:13 p.m. ET

A circuit court judge in Michigan just ordered Kristina Karamo, the embattled former state Republican Party chairwoman at the center of a two-month leadership fight, to stop her attempts to hold onto power. The ruling comes four days before Karamo was scheduled to hold a statewide presidential nominating convention in Detroit, conflicting with the party’s now-official convention in Grand Rapids.

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

The campaign to vote uncommitted did not persuade Ali Abbas, 44, of Dearborn, Mich., who voted for President Biden despite misgivings about Middle East policy. “He’s not perfect but I don’t want to embarrass him. He’s a good man.” Another voter, Danii Hassan, had not heard about the uncommitted effort. “Why would you go to vote and then not choose someone?” said Hassan, a 30-year-old mother of three.

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:29 p.m. ET

Julie Ebert, 56, a Republican and a construction equipment sales rep, voted for Nikki Haley — and very much not for Donald Trump — in Rockford, Mich., today. “I don’t like the way he represents women,” she said of Trump. “I like Nikki because of the way she does.”

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:14 p.m. ET

Mike Stanton, a 64-year-old Republican and mechanical engineer, cast his ballot in Rockford for Donald Trump. “I was living a lot better when he was in office," Stanton said. “The world was safer then. On his watch, we were in a better spot.” He added, “Can I blame it all on Biden? Absolutely not.” But he pointed out how much inflation had eaten away at his salary in recent years, and how many foreign policy challenges the country faces. “It’s cut and dried in my mind,” he said.

Maggie Astor
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:50 p.m. ET

A new report from the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute and Loyola Marymount University found a total of 142 Black L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials nationwide — less than 6 percent of the number that would mean representation equal to their share of the population. Nearly 75 percent of candidates interviewed for the report said they had faced homophobic or transphobic attacks during their campaigns.

While activist groups have urged Democrats in Michigan to cast ballots for “uncommitted” to object to President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, the idea of casting a protest vote against a shoo-in nominee is nothing new. In past uncompetitive presidential primaries, the typical protest vote has been about 7 percent.

The protest vote in presidential primaries

Percent of vote going to “uncommitted” or to minor candidates in party primaries where an incumbent president ran without major competition

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:25 p.m. ET

Lon Herman, 73, was among those volunteering with the Democratic Socialists of America in Hamtramck, Mich., in favor of a protest vote today against President Biden over the war in Gaza. But if the choice were between Biden and Trump? “The Palestine issue would basically be a wash, so I’d have to hold my nose and vote for the Democrat, as I usually do,” he said.

Kellen Browning
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:05 p.m. ET

Kari Lake, a Trump ally running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, just scored an endorsement from Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio, who called her a “battle-tested warrior” in a statement. Lake has been a divisive figure in Arizona, but she earned the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee this month.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 3:55 p.m. ET

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the one Democrat in Michigan's congressional delegation to endorse voting “uncommitted” in today's primary, recorded a robocall sent by the progressive group Our Revolution. “Help protect our democracy by sending a clear message to President Biden. Change course on Gaza,” she says. “Help us win back the trust of the voting coalition who got you elected in 2020.”

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 3:27 p.m. ET

Volunteers with the Detroit chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America are canvassing in Hamtramck, Mich., hoping to persuade voters to cast ballots for ‘uncommitted’ in protest of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. “To see kids dying, it’s just sad,” Mohanad Gazzaley, 18, said from his stoop. He isn’t a registered voter, but would his parents vote? “Yes, 100 percent,” he replied. “I will tell them to.”

President Biden will participate in a round-table discussion next month with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at the union’s national headquarters in Washington, courting the powerful labor group that endorsed him in the 2020 election over Donald J. Trump.

The union announced on Tuesday that Mr. Biden had accepted an invitation to meetwith its top leaders and some of its 1.3 million rank-and-file members on March 12, the latest presidential candidate to take up the group’s offer. The union has yet to issue an endorsement in the 2024 election cycle.

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 2:16 p.m. ET

James DuPree, a 31-year-old independent, said he often leaned Democratic but was upset over the death toll in Gaza. “So there’s no way I can vote for Joe Biden,” he said outside a polling center in Kentwood, Mich. Instead, DuPree voted for Nikki Haley, though not wholeheartedly. It wasn’t long ago, he said, that Haley “couldn’t acknowledge that slavery was the cause of the Civil War.”

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 1:14 p.m. ET

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a co-chair of the Biden campaign, raised expectations for the ‘uncommitted’ vote in the state’s primary today. “I anticipate that we will see a sizable number of people vote ‘uncommitted,’” she said on MSNBC. “There’s a lot of people who are hurting.” Whitmer has said that any ‘uncommitted’ votes will make it more likely that Donald Trump wins in November.

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 1:04 p.m. ET

Pete Hoekstra, whom Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have recognized as the chair of the embroiled Michigan G.O.P., said he didn’t expect a groundswell of late deciders supporting Nikki Haley in today’s primary. “You’re not going to persuade a whole lot of voters,” Hoekstra said, “especially when you’ve got a candidate as well known as Donald Trump on the ballot.”

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 12:44 p.m. ET

At the same time that primary voting is underway in Michigan, rival factions from the state’s fractured Republican Party are in circuit court in Grand Rapids for a hearing to determine which one group holds power. Both are barreling ahead with plans to hold presidential nominating conventions on Saturday, one in Grand Rapids and another in Detroit.

When the initial results from Michigan’s primary begin to trickle in after polls close at 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, expect to see President Biden running up big margins in the Democratic primary.

But Listen to Michigan, the main group behind the push to vote “uncommitted” in the primary — as a protest of Mr. Biden’s Israel policies — cautioned patience on the results as they are reported. The group’s campaign manager, Layla Elabed, said that “uncommitted” supporters were more likely to vote at the polls Tuesday than during the state’s early and absentee voting periods, which will be reported first.

Polls have begun closing in Michigan, where a sizable Arab American community could register their discontent with President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza by voting uncommitted in the Democratic primary.

Tuesday’s voting wraps up at 8 p.m. local time, and a sliver of the state lies in the Central time zone. It comes amid one of the most consequential weeks yet for Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign as he tries to navigate two of the nation’s thorniest political issues: the Gaza war and immigration.

The political spotlight will be on Michigan on Tuesday when voters there cast primary ballots, and then again four days later when Republicans host an additional contest.

The party adopted a novel and somewhat confusing hybrid nominating system this year, which will culminate on March 2 with a statewide nominating convention."

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Latest on Trump, Biden and Gaza Protest Vote - The New York Times