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CPB announces 2 more adult migrant deaths at border
By Danielle Haynes
June 4, 2019
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Customs and Border Protection did not release the names of the two migrants who died, nor the cause of their deaths. File Photo by Natalie Krebs/UPI | License Photo

June 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced two more Central American migrant deaths, bringing the number of migrants who died at the southwestern border over the weekend to three.

CPB said a 33-year-old Salvadoran man died Sunday and a 40-year-old Honduran woman died Monday while in U.S. custody. The agency withheld their names until next of kin could be notified.

CPB said agents apprehended the Salvadoran man near the border in Roma, Texas. The agency did not say whether the man was in the United States legally or not.

Within 12 minutes of his arrest, the man appeared to have a seizure, at which time a CPB medic provided medical care until an ambulance could arrive and transport him to a hospital. Hospital officials declared him dead.

"On behalf of the men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we extend our deepest condolences to those who are just learning of the tragic death of their loved one," CPB acting Commissioner John Sanders said.

CPB said the Honduran woman collapsed early Monday shortly after arriving at the Eagle Pass South Station in Texas. She allegedly illegally crossed the border earlier that morning.

Agents offered her medical care until an ambulance arrived and transported her to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

"This tragedy marks the second time in less than 36 hours that a person has died immediately following their perilous migration from their home in Central America, though Mexico and across our southwest border," Sanders said.

The two deaths come days after another Salvadoran migrant died four days after CPB agents released her from custody to a hospital. The transgender woman, Johana Melinda Leon, 25, complained of chest pains before she was transported to Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.

The cause of her death has not been determined.



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Trump calls off tariffs after Mexico vows to tighten borders
08 June 2019
Roberta Rampton, Diego Oré

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The United States and Mexico struck a deal on Friday to avert a tariff war, with Mexico agreeing to rapidly expand a controversial asylum program and deploy security forces to stem the flow of illegal Central American migrants.

U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to impose 5% import tariffs on all Mexican goods starting on Monday if Mexico did not commit to do more to tighten its borders.

In a joint declaration after three days of talks in Washington, both countries said Mexico agreed to immediately expand along the entire border a program that sends migrants seeking asylum in the United States to Mexico while they await adjudication of their cases.

Trump said Mexico had agreed to take strong measures to “reduce, or eliminate” illegal immigration from Mexico.

However, the deal fell short of a key U.S. demand that Mexico accept a “safe third country” designation that would have forced it to permanently take in most Central American asylum seekers.
“The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” Trump said in a tweet on Friday evening.

Frustrated by a recent surge of migrants that has overwhelmed U.S. resources on its southern border, Trump had used the threat of tariffs to pressure Mexico into making concessions.

He has made hard line efforts to reduce illegal immigration a cornerstone of his presidency and it is certain to be a key issue in his re-election bid next year.

But business groups and even some close Republican allies were unhappy with the prospect of tariffs on the top U.S. trade partner, saying they would damage the economy.

Duties on Mexico would also have left the United States fighting trade wars with two of its three largest trading partners, and would further unnerve financial markets already on edge about a global economic slowdown.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in Washington his team had also resisted U.S. requests to send deported Guatemalans to Mexico. He said he was satisfied with the deal.
“I think it’s a fair balance because they had more drastic measures and proposals at the start and we reached some middle point,” he said, emphasizing the importance to Mexico of having kept safe third country out of the deal.

He also highlighted U.S. support in the agreement for a Mexican proposal to jointly address underlying causes of migration from Central America.

The asylum program to be expanded is commonly known as Remain in Mexico, and currently operates in the border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ciudad Juarez.

Under the new deal, returned asylum seekers will spend long periods in Mexican cities such as Reynosa on the Texas border, where drug cartels frequently kidnap migrants.

The program was challenged in court earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other rights groups which say it puts asylum seekers in danger and violates U.S. and international law.

While a federal judge ruled to halt the policy, a U.S. appeals court overturned the decision, allowing the policy to continue as the legal challenge is ongoing. Through June 5, 10,393 mostly Central Americans have been sent back to Mexico since the program started in January.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the group would continue to press its legal challenge to the policy.

Under the deal, Mexico will also increase its efforts to stop illegal migrants from Central America traveling through Mexico to the United States. Those measures will include deploying the militarized National Guard security force to its southern border.

Ebrard said the National Guard deployment would start on Monday.

The two countries will continue discussions, to be completed in 90 days, on further steps, according to the declaration.

U.S. border officers apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest monthly level since 2006. Trump, who has called the surge in migrants an “invasion,” had threatened to keep raising duties up to 25% unless Mexico addressed the problem.

Mexico had prepared a list of possible retaliatory tariffs targeting products from agricultural and industrial states regarded as Trump’s electoral base, a tactic China has also used with an eye toward the Republican president’s 2020 re-election bid.

The United States slapped tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion in Chinese imports last month, prompting Beijing to levy its own tariffs on $60 billion in American goods.

Trump said on Thursday he would decide later this month whether to hit Beijing with tariffs on an additional list of $300 billion in Chinese goods.

Economists have said that two trade disputes could damage supply lines and pinch consumers at a time when the global economic expansion that followed the 2008 financial crisis has started to sour and the risk of recession has risen.

Even the United States, one of the more solid performers on the economic stage, would not be immune to the downdraft.

The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday that job growth slowed sharply in May and wages rose less than expected, raising fears that a loss of momentum in economic activity could be spreading to the labor market.



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U.S. court rules against Trump administration in immigrant teen abortion case
Mica Rosenberg
14 June 2019

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FILE PHOTO: Abortion rights activists during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo - RC186F726170

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that the U.S. government cannot deny access to abortions for unaccompanied immigrant minors in federal custody, delivering a blow to a Trump administration policy.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court decision that found the government cannot unduly burden the ability of a woman to obtain an abortion under established Supreme Court precedent.

The case involves the intersection of two divisive social issues on which Republican President Donald Trump has taken a hard line: abortion and immigration.

It began with a 17-year-old girl, whose name and nationality were not disclosed and was called “Jane Doe” in legal papers. She came to the United States alone in 2017 and was placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and houses immigrant children.

The girl, who was in the United States illegally, obtained an abortion after suing the administration in federal court. But the Supreme Court last year allowed the litigation to continue in lower courts to determine the fate of other detained immigrants in similar situations.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement in March 2017 announced that shelters were “prohibited from taking any action that facilitates an abortion without direction and approval from the Director.” Scott Lloyd, who had become the agency’s director that month, then denied every abortion request presented to him during his tenure even when the pregnancy resulted from rape, according to the appeals court ruling. Lloyd left his post at the end of 2018.

“The policy functions as an across-the-board ban on access to abortion,” the appeals court ruling said.
The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

In the 2018 fiscal year, there were almost 50,000 unaccompanied minors referred to the refugee office’s network of some 100 shelters around the United States.

Minors from countries other than Mexico or Canada who cross the border alone stay in federal care until they can be released to sponsors in the United States or until they turn 18 and are transferred to immigration detention. In fiscal year 2017, the only year for which data is available, 18 pregnant unaccompanied minors in the refugee office’s custody requested abortions, according to the court ruling.

The Trump administration could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court but Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative Trump appointee who participated in the case when he served on the D.C. Circuit, would likely be recused. That would leave the court split 4-4 along ideological grounds.

Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Will Dunham



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Record number of African migrants coming to Mexican border
16 June 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Undaunted by a dangerous journey over thousands of miles, people fleeing economic hardship and human rights abuses in African countries are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers, surprising Border Patrol agents more accustomed to Spanish-speaking migrants.

Officials in Texas and even Maine are scrambling to absorb the sharp increase in African migrants. They are coming to America after flying across the Atlantic Ocean to South America and then embarking on an often harrowing overland journey.

In one recent week, agents in the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector stopped more than 500 African migrants found walking in separate groups along the arid land after splashing across the Rio Grande, children in tow.

That is more than double the total of 211 African migrants who were detained by the Border Patrol along the entire 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border in the 2018 fiscal year.
“We are continuing to see a rise in apprehensions of immigrants from countries not normally encountered in our area,” said Raul Ortiz, head of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector.

The immigrants in Texas were mostly from the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. Cameroonians have also been traveling up through Mexico and into the U.S. in larger numbers and seeking asylum at ports of entry.

On recent Saturday in Tijuana, there were 90 Cameroonians lined up to get on a waiting list to request asylum that has swelled to about 7,500 names. Also on the waiting list are Ethiopians, Eritreans, Mauritanians, Sudanese and Congolese.

Cameroonians generally fly to Ecuador because no visa is required and take about four months to reach Tijuana. They walk for days in Panama through dense forest, where they are often robbed and held in government-run camps. They come from Cameroon’s English-speaking south with horrifying stories of rape, murder and torture since late 2016 by soldiers of the country’s French-speaking majority, which holds power.

A few days after the big groups of African immigrants were apprehended in Texas, federal officials dropped off dozens of them in San Antonio. Officials in the Texas city sent out a plea for French-speaking volunteers for translating work “and most importantly, making our guests feel welcome.”

Many were bused to Portland, Maine, about as far as one can get from the Mexican border and still be in the continental United States. Word has spread among migrants that the city of 67,000 is a welcoming place. Somali refugees were resettled in Portland in the 1990s.

A total of 170 asylum seekers arrived in recent days. Hundreds more are expected in an influx that City Manager Jon Jennings called unprecedented. With one shelter already full, a basketball venue called the Portland Exposition Building was converted into an emergency shelter.

Portland officials tweeted Thursday that rumors some of the migrants are carrying the Ebola virus “are patently false,” and said that as asylum seekers, they are in the United States legally.

On Thursday afternoon, families in the Expo chatted in French and Portuguese as children kicked a soccer ball near rows of cots. One of the men, 26-year-old Prince Pombo, described himself as a pro-democracy activist and said he had fled his native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, because of political oppression. He went to neighboring Angola, then flew to Brazil. There, he met a local woman and they had a baby they named Heaven. Now 16-months old, she giggled as she played with her mother in the Expo. Pombo said his journey from Congo to America took three years.

More migrants are on the way. Mexico is on pace to triple the number of African immigrants it is processing this year, up from 2,100 in 2017.

Mbi Deric Ambi, from Cameroon, is among them. In a recent interview in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, Ambi said he was waiting for a document from the Mexican authorities that would allow him to proceed north to the U.S. He traveled overland through South and Central America after flying to Ecuador, one of the few countries that do not require visas of Cameroonians.

Ambi is from the English-speaking part of Cameroon, which has been oppressed by the French-speaking majority. Human Rights Watch says 1,800 people have been killed and half a million have fled their homes in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon since late 2016. A United Nations official says 4.3 million people need humanitarian assistance.

“We don’t have jobs in the English part, the educational system is poor, they are looking at us as dogs,” Ambi said as a crowd of migrants jostled outside an immigration center in Tapachula, waiting for their names to be called to collect their travel document. Ambi has been waiting every morning for six weeks.

“We just have to be patient, because there is nothing we can do,” he said.

The explosion in immigration to the United States from sub-Saharan Africa coincides with a steep drop in the migration flow across the Mediterranean to Europe after European countries and two main embarkation points — Turkey and Libya — decided to crack down. From Jan. 1 to June 12, only 24,600 migrants arrived in Europe by sea, compared to 99,600 over the same period in 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.

But IOM spokesman Joel Millman doubts the migrant path for Africans has swung over from Europe to America.

Pombo, who was a teacher in Congo, learned in an internet search and by asking around that Portland is good place for migrants. He said his next step is to start rebuilding a life for himself and his family.
“I’d like to feel safe. I’d like to build a decent life,” he said. “I need to start again.”

Selsky reported from Salem, Oregon. AP reporters Elliot Spagat in Tijuana, Maria Verza in Tapachula, Mexico, contributed to this report.



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Overcrowding, abuse seen at Mexico migrant detention center
17 June 2019
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This June 1, 2019 photo, shows the Siglo XXI migrant detention center in Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico. As of late April there were more than 2,000 migrants in Siglo XXI, according to the commission, over double its 960 capacity. (AP Photo/Pedro Giron)

TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — The 36-year-old Cuban mechanic’s eyes glazed over as he recalled his time at the Siglo XXI holding facility: 50 people sleeping in 9-by-12-foot pens, feces overflowing the latrines, food and water always scarce.

Women slept in hallways or in the dining hall among rats, cockroaches and pigeon droppings, as children wailed, mothers reused diapers and guards treated everyone with contempt.
“They threw us in there like little animals,” a Honduran woman said.

Many migrants who cross into southern Mexico end up in Siglo XXI, Spanish for “21st century,” said to be the largest immigration detention center in Latin America. Located in the city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, it’s a secretive place off-limits to public scrutiny where cellphones are confiscated and journalists aren’t allowed inside.

The Associated Press was denied access, and the National Immigration Institute, which oversees the facility, did not respond to requests for comment. But about 20 people interviewed by AP including migrants, officials and rights workers who’ve been inside, described it as sorely overcrowded and filthy, and alleged repeated abusive treatment by agents tasked with running it.

Washington has demanded Mexico slow a migratory surge of mostly Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence but also Cubans, Haitians and Africans , and President Donald Trump has said threatened tariffs on Mexican imports may be revived if it doesn’t get results. As President Andrés Manuel López Obrador puts in motion a still-vague plan to crack down in response, observers fear an already overtaxed Mexico is woefully unprepared for the prospect of more arrests.

“If more people are detained, there is not the corresponding infrastructure to handle it,” Edgar Corzo of the governmental National Human Rights Commission said

Thursday during a tour of southern Mexico ahead of an anticipated, 6,000-strong National Guard deployment to help police immigration.

As of late April there were more than 2,000 migrants in Siglo XXI, according to the commission, over double its 960 capacity. Hundreds were moved to an improvised camp and that was down to 1,230 as of last week, Corzo said. Another facility in Tuxtla Gutierrez with a capacity of 80 was holding 400.

“I cannot imagine putting 100 more or hundreds more at the Siglo XXI. ... The migratory stations are not prepared to respond to greater capacity because they have been overwhelmed,” Corzo said.

Most of those interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. But from them a picture of the hermetic Siglo XXI emerges.

It’s a prisonlike compound with 16- to 30-foot (5- to 10-meter) walls, control towers, security cameras and high-ceiling caged areas where guards patrol above the migrants. There is a punishment cell called “the well” which the government has promised not to use, though the Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Center, one of the few NGOs allowed inside, has not been able to verify that.

Crossing through the barred entryway, one emerges onto a patio and a sort of loading dock where people come and go on buses. Migrants arrive after being swept up in raids or tricked into thinking they’re just going to have their documents checked, several ex-detainees said. Shoelaces, belts and phones are taken away, though extra food, a cigarette or a phone call can be obtained — if you can pay for it.

The U.N. refugee agency and other organizations criticized detention centers in Mexico even before the current crisis, saying migrants are held in substandard conditions and regularly extorted. They have called for detentions to be the exception, and to be completely eliminated for minors. Yet children continue to fill up the centers, even after a girl died in Mexico City under unclear circumstances.

A 29-year-old Honduran woman named Graciela said she didn’t sleep at Siglo XXI for fear of rumors that her 7- and 9-year-olds could be taken from her. Agents pressured her to accept deportation, but she refused. The kids were scared.

“They said to me, ‘Let’s go!’ ‘Why are we here?’” said Graciela, who was now free and waiting for her refugee claim to be processed. “Sometimes we all cried.”

Julio, a 15-year-old Cuban, was separated from his parents though they were all within Siglo XXI.
“I panicked,” his mother said of her fear during a detainee riot. “I cried, I begged them to tell me if he was OK, but nothing. I went five days without seeing him.”

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard acknowledged recently that migration facilities in the south have long been neglected and are “well below standards.” Then-immigration commissioner Tonatiuh Guillén, who resigned Friday at López Obrador’s request, allowed in a recent interview that “they have a very severe model of control.”

López Obrador says human rights continue to be the cornerstone of his immigration policy, and officials are studying options for building new and more open facilities.
Migrants at Siglo XXI quickly learn there are two ways out: Deported by bus, or released with papers documenting a refuge request. But even that’s no guarantee. The mechanic said agents tore up his asylum document in front of him for no apparent reason.

The federal government has also acknowledged that the National Migration Institute is one of Mexico’s most corrupt institutions. More than 600 employees have been purged and new agents have sent to Siglo XXI, though details are unknown.

Salva Lacruz of Fray Matias said Siglo XXI remains in “negligent, irresponsible and racist” hands, and in disregard of directives from Mexico City.
In their desperation some detainees recently found a third way out: Rioting and escaping.

More than 600 migrants overwhelmed guards and fled Siglo XXI in April. Migrants allege the escape was encouraged — the mechanic said some cells were unlocked that day — though authorities deny that. The incident elevated tensions including disputes between migrants and fears among the workers.

Cubans were blamed and targeted for reprisals, according to Eliezer Pino, Jonathan Eduardo Merrero, Yunier Rives, Yasiel Rodríguez, Danilo Claro and Eduardo Martínez, who agreed to speak by name collectively figuring there’s safety in numbers. All born in Cuba, they said they were plucked from the crowd, taken behind buses and beaten.

Pino said he was kicked by six agents and punched in the eye. His only offense, he said, was yelling “We want out!” and moving toward the door with others.

They were transferred in a group of about 30 that night to a highway immigration checkpoint where they spent the next 45 days in similar conditions, not allowed outside, rarely able to bathe and getting almost no sleep because the lights and a loud television were always on.

“They told us, ‘You’re dog food,’” Pino said.
“It was torture, a hell,” Martínez said.

They were also cut off from the outside world. Rodríguez said relatives back in Cuba went so long without news, they thought he was dead: “They even held a wake for me.”

Some gave in and agreed to be deported. The six Cubans held out and were released after filing asylum requests with the help of Fray Matias, though they are barred from leaving Tapachula.

Since January, Mexico has detained over 74,000 migrants and deported over 53,000. Raids have continued with support from military and police who’ve been there for weeks, and at least some of them are now patrolling with National Guard insignia.

NGOs applaud certain improvements such as the closure of five small stations where abuses were documented and the top-level acknowledgments of deficiencies.
But with Mexico already overwhelmed, Enrique Vidal Olascoaga of Fray Matias warned of possible “hot deportations” — kicking out migrants as soon as they cross, without evaluating whether they have a need for refuge.

“Migratory flows do not diminish through the art of magic,” Olascoaga said, “and in the short term are only achieved through massive detentions and deportations.”
Some who passed through Siglo XXI said the experience, while awful, changed nothing regarding their need to flee their homes.

Yanel, a 21-year-old Honduran, said she was terrified during two weeks there with her 2-year-old daughter. But what she left behind was worse: A husband belonging to the violent Barrio 18 gang who beat her so badly she nearly miscarried.
Siglo XXI “is worth it,” Yanel said, “if they give you papers.”

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in Tapachula, Mexico, contributed to this report.



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Attorneys: Texas border facility is neglecting migrant kids
21 June 2019


Protesters hold an inflatable doll in the likeness of President Donald Trump outside of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, Sunday, June 16, 2019, in Homestead, Fla. A coalition of religious groups and immigrant advocates said they want the Homestead detention center closed. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago. Lawyers warn that kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station.

The bleak portrait emerged Thursday after a legal team interviewed 60 children at the facility near El Paso that has become the latest place where attorneys say young migrants are describing neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government.

Data obtained by The Associated Press showed that on Wednesday there were three infants in the station, all with their teen mothers, along with a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and a 3-year-old. There are dozens more under 12. Fifteen have the flu, and 10 more are quarantined.

Three girls told attorneys they were trying to take care of the 2-year-old boy, who had wet his pants and had no diaper and was wearing a mucus-smeared shirt when the legal team encountered him.
“A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, ‘Who wants to take care of this little boy?’ Another girl said she would take care of him, but she lost interest after a few hours and so I started taking care of him yesterday,” one of the girls said in an interview with attorneys.

Law professor Warren Binford, who is helping interview the children, said she couldn’t learn anything about the toddler, not even where he’s from or who his family is. He is not speaking.

Binford described that during interviews with children in a conference room at the facility, “little kids are so tired they have been falling asleep on chairs and at the conference table.”

She said an 8-year-old taking care of a very small 4-year-old with matted hair couldn’t convince the little one to take a shower.
“In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention, I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” said Holly Cooper, who co-directs University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth.

The lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families. The lawyers negotiated access to the facility with officials, and say Border Patrol knew the dates of their visit three weeks in advance.

Many children interviewed had arrived alone at the U.S.-Mexico border, but some had been separated from their parents or other adult caregivers including aunts and uncles, the attorneys said.

Government rules call for the children to be held by the Border Patrol for no longer than 72 hours before they are transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services, which houses migrant youth in facilities around the country.

Government facilities are overcrowded and five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by Customs and Border Protection. A teenage mother with a premature baby was found last week in a Texas Border Patrol processing center after being held for nine days by the government.

In an interview this week with the AP, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders acknowledged that children need better medical care and a place to recover from their illnesses. He urged Congress to pass a $4.6 billion emergency funding package includes nearly $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children.

He said that the Border Patrol is holding 15,000 people, and the agency considers 4,000 to be at capacity.
“The death of a child is always a terrible thing, but here is a situation where, because there is not enough funding ... they can’t move the people out of our custody,” Sanders said.

The arrival of thousands of families and children at the border each month has not only strained resources but thrust Border Patrol agents into the role of caregivers, especially for the many migrant youth who are coming without parents.

But children at the facility in Clint, which sits amid the desert scrubland some 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of El Paso, say they have had to pick up some of the duties in watching over the younger kids.

A 14-year-old girl from Guatemala said she had been holding two little girls in her lap.
“I need comfort, too. I am bigger than they are, but I am a child, too,” she said.

Children told lawyers that they were fed oatmeal, a cookie and a sweetened drink in the morning, instant noodles for lunch and a burrito and cookie for dinner. There are no fruits or vegetables. They said they’d gone weeks without bathing or a clean change of clothes.

A migrant father, speaking on condition of anonymity because of his immigration status, told AP Thursday that authorities separated his daughter from her aunt when they entered the country. The girl would be a second grader in a U.S. school.

He had no idea where she was until Monday, when one of the attorney team members visiting Clint found his phone number written in permanent marker on a bracelet she was wearing. It said “U.S. parent.”

“She’s suffering very much because she’s never been alone. She doesn’t know these other children,” said her father.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, whose district includes Clint, said “tragic conditions” playing out on the southern border were pushing government agencies, nonprofits and Texas communities to the limit.
“This latest development just further demonstrates the immediate need to reform asylum laws and provide supplemental funding to address the humanitarian crisis at our border,” he said.

Dr. Julie Linton, who co-chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Immigrant Health Special Interest Group, said CBP stations are not an appropriate place to hold children.
“Those facilities are anything but child friendly,” said Dr. Julie Linton. “That type of environment is not only unhealthy for children but also unsafe.”

The Trump administration has been scrambling to find new space to hold immigrants as it faces criticism that it’s violating the human rights of migrant children by keeping so many of them detained.

San Francisco psychoanalyst Gilbert Kliman, who has evaluated about 50 children and parents seeking asylum, says the trauma is causing lasting damage.
“The care of children by children constitutes a betrayal of adult responsibility, governmental responsibility,” he said.
Burke reported from San Francisco. Mendoza reported from Santa Cruz, California.



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US border chief quits amid outcry over child detainees
June 25, 2019
View attachment 8535
A temporary facility set up to hold immigrants is pictured at a US Border Patrol Station in Clint, Texas. (AFP)
  • John Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas
  • Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone
WASHINGTON: The acting commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection agency announced his resignation on Tuesday amid a public outcry over alarming detention conditions of migrant children in Texas.

John Sanders, appointed to the post just two months ago, said in a letter obtained by several US media outlets that he planned to step down as acting CBP chief on July 5.

Sanders’ departure coincides with the revelation of unsanitary detention conditions for children at an overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, a sign of the increasing strain on resources due to soaring numbers of arrests at the US-Mexico border.

The conditions at the center in Clint were described by a team of lawyers, doctors and others who visited the facility about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of El Paso.
Nearly 250 children were transferred out of Clint on Monday but a CBP official said Tuesday that some 100 were being sent back there.

“The three-year old before me had matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants, and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue,” wrote Clara Long, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who accompanied the team.

“His only caretaker for the last three weeks in a United States Border Patrol chain-link cage and then a cell... his 11-year old brother,” Long said.

“Children at Clint told us they don’t have regular access to showers or clean clothes, with some saying they hadn’t been allowed to bathe over periods of weeks and don’t have regular access to soap,” she said.

Speaking on CNN on Tuesday, Long said “the situation is dire.”
“And it’s not just Clint,” she said.

Sanders has led CBP since April, when President Donald Trump tapped CBP chief Kevin McAleenan to replace Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

In a message to staff, Sanders did not give a specific reason for quitting and officials told The Washington Post and The New York Times it was not clear if his resignation was directly related to the handling of underage migrants at the border.

Trump told reporters Tuesday he did not ask Sanders to step down but “knew there were going to be changes there.”

US law requires unaccompanied minors to be returned to their parents or transferred to Health and Human Services facilities within 72 hours.

But many of the children held by the Border Patrol in Clint had been there for three or four weeks, according to the team which visited the facility on June 17.
“The Border Patrol claims that high numbers of border arrivals are causing these delays as they wait for space to open up in the somewhat more child-friendly detention centers and shelters,” said HRW’s Long.

Arrivals of undocumented migrants at the southern US border have surged in recent months, with 144,000 people taken into custody in May alone. CBP deputy commissioner Robert Perez said more than 100,000 were children and families.

“Everybody understands it is not the Border Patrol’s job to take care of children,” said Warren Binford, a Willamette University law professor who visited the Clint facility.

“They are as upset as we are that these children are being put into their care because they don’t have the ability to care for them,” Binford said on MSNBC.
“These children need to be with their families.”

Perez, the CBP deputy commissioner, made the same complaint recently at a panel discussion in Washington.
“We are a border security agency now being called upon to deal with things we’re not designed for,” Perez said.

Trump, asked about conditions at the detention centers, said he was “very concerned” and urged Democrats to approve $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian funding for the southwest border.

He said “bad people” were using children to take advantage of lax US immigration laws. “It’s a form of slavery what they’re doing to young children,” he said.
Trump also said Mexico “for the first time in 50 years is helping us” prevent border-crossing.

“So I just want to thank Mexico,” said the US leader, who had threatened steep tariffs on Mexican goods unless the government did more to slow migration.

After a week of tense negotiations, Mexico agreed to reinforce its southern border with 6,000 National Guardsmen and expand its policy of taking back migrants while the US processes their asylum claims. Mexico has also deployed 15,000 troops to the US border.

“They’ve done a great job,” said Trump. “Hopefully they can keep it up.”



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Judge bars Trump from using $2.5B to build border wall
29 June 2019

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday prohibited President Donald Trump from tapping $2.5 billion in military funding to build high-priority segments of his prized border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. in Oakland acted in two lawsuits filed by California and by activists who contended that the money transfer was unlawful and that building the wall would pose environmental threats.
“All President Trump has succeeded in building is a constitutional crisis, threatening immediate harm to our state,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in one lawsuit.

Speaking Saturday at a press conference marking the end of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Trump called the decision “a disgrace.”
“So we’re immediately appealing it and we think we’ll win the appeal,” he went on to say. “There was no reason that that should have happened. And a lot of wall is being built.”

The decisions are in line with Gilliam’s ruling last month that blocked work from beginning on two of the highest-priority projects — one spanning 46 miles (74 kilometers) in New Mexico and another covering 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma, Arizona.

But the fight is far from over. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to take up the same issue of using military money next week.

At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from military and other sources to begin construction of the wall, which could have begun as early as Monday.

Trump declared the emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House that led to a 35-day government shutdown.

The president identified $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.

The judge Friday didn’t rule on funding from the military construction and Treasury budgets.

In the second suit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the judge determined that the use of the $2.5 billion for two sectors of the wall was unlawful, although he rejected environmental arguments that wall construction would threaten species such as bighorn sheep.



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Donald Trump signs $4.6 billion border aid bill
02 July 2019
By Daniel Uria
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President Donald Trump signs a bill for border funding in the Oval Office at the White House on Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 2(UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a bill providing $4.6 billion in funding to the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday.

The version of the bill, which originated in the Senate, includes nearly $3 billion to provide humanitarian aid and increase security measures at the border.

"Now what we want to do is we have to do another bill for border security and all of this will go away," Trump said after signing the bill.

The House sent the bill to Trump's desk on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially said Democrats would not engage in negotiations on the Senate version of the bill.

Prior to the Senate vote, the House passed a different version of the bill with a greater focus on protecting migrant children.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at the time called the House bill "a go-nowhere proposal filled with poison-pill riders which the president would veto."

After the Senate bill reached the House, Pelosi said the chamber would "reluctantly" approve the measure as a way to "get resources to the children fastest."



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Facebook posts put Border Patrol on defensive at rough time
an hour ago
03 July 2019

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, is escorted back to her vehicle after she speaks at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, about what she saw at area border facilities Monday, July 1, 2019. (Briana Sanchez/El Paso Times via AP)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Before the rise of social media, Border Patrol agents gathered in parking lots at the end of their shifts for what was known as “choir practice” — a chance to share what they saw that day and anything else on their minds.

T.J. Bonner, who led the National Border Patrol Council during much of his 32-year career as an agent, recalled the defunct tradition while trying to explain a secret Facebook group for agents that included sexually explicit posts about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and questioned the authenticity of a recent photo of a father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande.

“That outlet faded away and was replaced by social media, where people thought they had a safe place they could vent and process,” said Bonner, whose career ended in 2010 and who does not belong to the group. “That would explain some of the callous comments. The vile stuff? There’s no excuse. I’m certainly not going to try to defend it.”

Billed as “fun, serious and just work related,” the group boasts about 9,500 members. “We are family, first and foremost,” it states, according to ProPublica, which reported its existence on Monday, igniting a fierce outcry.

A former agent who belongs to the group said Tuesday that members had to provide the administrator with their graduating class number from the Border Patrol Academy and have a current member vouch for their credentials. The agent, who retired last year in San Diego, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared a public backlash.

The agent likened the forum to a bar where agents would gather after work and swap stories. He said any agent active on Facebook would have likely received an invitation to join.

Some posts were graphic, doctored images of Ocasio-Cortez, including one that shows a smiling President Donald Trump forcing her head toward his crotch, according to screenshots obtained by ProPublica. Other comments refer to Ocasio-Cortez and fellow Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas as “hoes,” and one member encouraged agents to throw a “burrito at these bitches.”

A news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in Border Patrol custody in May elicited a response from one member, “If he dies, he dies.” Another member posted a GIF of the “Sesame Street” character Elmo with the quote “Oh well.”

The posts threaten to tarnish the Border Patrol’s image at one of the most challenging times in its 95-year history. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost called the posts “completely inappropriate” and “offensive” and vowed to hold employees accountable.

“Most importantly, the words of these few individuals directly undermine public trust in the Border Patrol and the dedication and compassion with which the rest of you undertake your duties each and every day,” Provost wrote to staff.

George Allen, who retired in 2017 after a 31-year career, most recently as an assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona, sector, said he had heard of the group, which is named “I’m a 10-15,” a reference to the agency’s internal code for “aliens in custody.” Although he was not a member, he belongs to another Facebook forum
where the group has occasionally been mentioned.

“I’ve heard other agents talk about it,” Allen said. “The ones that talk about it talk about it in a negative manner. Some of the posts really bash the older agents.”
The political fallout revived criticism of the agency’s culture, which was a subject of extensive news coverage after a string of migrant deaths in Barack Obama’s presidency but faded from public view after Trump took office.

The National Border Patrol Council, an early supporter of Trump’s presidential bid whose leader, Brandon Judd, advises the White House on immigration, said Monday that it “strongly condemns” the posts and that they do a “great disservice to all Border Patrol agents, the overwhelming majority of whom perform their duties honorably.”

The union produces a radio show, “The Green Line,” that mixes discussions about border security with shoptalk and freewheeling news commentary. The hosts alternate between workplace gripes like radios that don’t work in remote areas and topics in the news. They have called the Black Lives Matter activists “domestic terrorists” and Mexico “a corrupt country.”

Gil Kerlikowske, who was commissioner of parent agency U.S. Customs and Border Protection from 2014 to 2017, riled the union by recruiting Mark Morgan from the FBI to be the first outsider to run the Border Patrol. Morgan was ousted during Trump’s first week in office but impressed Trump as a television commentator and was recently named acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, with union support this time.

“Changing culture is pretty difficult,” Kerlikowske said. “You can change the behavior to some extent. You can punish, suspend people. You can terminate people.”



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Mexico's new National Guard was created to fight crime, but now it's in a face-off with migrants
July 7, 2019
Anthony Esposito

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Members of the Mexican National Guard are seen at the U.S. and Mexico border to stop migrants from crossing into the United States, as seen from Anapra, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - A convoy of Mexican state and municipal police trucks roared along the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez to confront cartel gunmen, past National Guardsmen patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande River for migrants trying to cross into the United States.

“We should be with them, not here. We’re soldiers,” one of three guardsmen in a green camouflage uniform grumbled to himself within earshot of a Reuters reporter. He was frustrated that orders kept him from going to back up police in the shootout with gangsters.

The National Guard is a new security force that was created by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to bring down record homicide rates. But now it has been tasked with patrolling the border to placate President Donald Trump, who has demanded Mexico stem the flow of U.S.-bound Central Americans that pass through the country or risk tariffs on Mexican goods.

If the deployment of some 21,000 National Guard troops at Mexico’s northern and southern borders can reduce the flow of migrants, Lopez Obrador will have successfully kept Trump’s tariffs at bay and averted opening up another front in the global trade war.

But using almost a third of the National Guard’s total ranks for migration duties means fewer security forces to tackle one of Mexico’s most pressing issues, spiraling violence, which last year cost a record 33,000 lives. Those numbers continued surging in the first six months of Lopez Obrador’s term in office, which began in December.

In Juarez, where drug cartel murders are especially acute, many people wish the troops were helping fight crime instead.

The city across the border from El Paso, Texas has long been synonymous with cartel warfare, which pushed the murder rate to 244 per 100,000 residents by March 2011, according to data compiled by Juarez-based advocacy group Mesa de Seguridad y Justicia.

With help from civil society groups and businesses, the city made hard-won gains to restore security, and by late 2015 the murder rate had been cut to 21 per 100,000, the group says, citing numbers from the attorney general’s office it corroborates independently.

Now, crime is climbing back towards levels last seen in the darkest days of the drug war, with homicides growing fivefold in the last three years to 107 per 100,000.
“Murders, kidnappings, extortion have taken a back seat so the Mexican army can patrol the border,’ said Juan Hernan Ortiz, director of Citizens for Better Government, a watchdog organization in Juarez that keeps tabs on the local government.

The Mexican government did not respond to requests for comment on the criticism.

The National Guard in Juarez, mostly made up of active-duty soldiers equipped with ballistic helmets, body armor and assault rifles, is identifiable by small arm bands emblazoned with the letters GN, for the Spanish words for National Guard.

“We have the army dressed up as the National Guard making sure migrants don’t reach the United States while the city is headed towards a much larger crisis of violence,” said Ortiz.

The police convoy that raced by the National Guardsmen was heading to free a 53-year-old American man kidnapped by members of the Assassin Artists cartel. A car chase through the streets of Juarez led to a shootout near the Zaragoza border bridge, said the attorney general’s office of Chihuahua state. The American was freed, four kidnappers were arrested, another was killed and two policemen were wounded.

Visibly vexed at not being able to take part in the rescue, the three guardsmen remained at their post on the lookout for migrants as one cop car after another, sirens blaring, zipped past them toward the scene of the gunfight.

Along this stretch of frontier the Rio Grande River is parched dry. Reuters reporters saw a steady trickle of women, children and men walking along the U.S. side of the riverbed, out of the guardsmen’s jurisdiction and into the United States, where waiting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents took them into custody.

Facing accusations the troops had been heavy-handed in their efforts to deter migrants from crossing the northern border, Lopez Obrador said on June 25 the National Guard does not have orders to detain migrants.

The guardsmen themselves, who are posted in groups at specific points along the border or patrol the frontier in military vehicles mounted with heavy weapons, say they do not detain migrants but are there to advise them not to cross into the United States.

Still, Reuters witnessed at least three adults and four children being detained as they tried to cross into the United States after Obrador made his statement.

Among them was 23-year old Honduran Lixa Garcia, who was traveling with her two daughters aged 4 years and 10 months, when she was detained mere feet from crossing into El Paso and handed over to Mexican immigration authorities, who will decide if they are deported to Honduras.

And last week, Brigadier-General Vicente Antonio Hernandez, who heads the National Guard’s operations in Mexico’s southern states, said 20,000 migrants had been “rescued” since May 17, a euphemism for detained.

Some business and industry leaders in Juarez said that with nearly 80% of Mexican exports destined for the United States they support the deployment of National Guard troops to the northern border if that keeps Trump’s tariff threats on ice.

“What I care about is that the agreement is met so we’re not subject to tariffs. Regardless of whether the (National Guard) is effective or not, if it is part of the agreement, they have to be there,” said Pedro Chavira, head of manufacturing industry chamber INDEX in Juarez.

Mexico struck a deal on June 7 with the United States to avert the tariffs, setting the clock ticking on a 45-day period for the Mexican government to make palpable progress in reducing the numbers of people trying to cross the U.S. border illegally. Under that deal Mexico agreed to send National Guard troops to the border.

Trump seems happy, at least for now, praising Mexico for its efforts and saying tariffs are off the table.

But, in Juarez doubts remain that containing migration is the right priority for Mexico’s newest fighting force in a city sinking deeper into lawlessness.

“That’s a political play to appease the United States and it’s not a job the National Guard should be doing,” said Isabel Sanchez Quirarte, who heads the Mesa de Seguridad y Justicia advocacy group.

“They should be doing crime prevention work,” she said.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Ciudad Juarez; Additional reporting by Rebekah F Ward and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City;editing by Ross Colvin



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ICE prepared to deport 1 million immigrants, enforcement leader says
July 8, 2019
By Daniel Uria

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Top U.S. immigration official Ken Cuccinelli said Sunday that ICE is prepared to deport 1 million undocumented immigrants with pending removal orders. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

(UPI) -- The head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said immigration authorities are prepared to carry out deportations of about 1 million people.

Appearing on CBS News' Face the Nation, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said Immigration and Customs Enforcement is prepared to carry out mass deportations as stated by President Donald Trump as recently as last month.

"They're ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders," Cuccinelli said.

Trump delayed a 10-city ICE raid planned for the end of last month but said deportations would take place if Democrats weren't able to successfully negotiate changes to immigration policies including asylum practices and "loopholes" for migrants to enter the United States.

Then-Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Mark Morgan also said at the time that he still has the "green light" to carry out deportations.

Cuccinelli said the details of the deportations, including how many undocumented immigrants are deported will be determined at ICE's discretion.

"They've been all the way through the due process and have final removal orders. Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort ... is really just information kept within ICE at this point," he said. "The pool of those with final removal orders is enormous."

Also Sunday, Acting Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on ABC News' This Week that he did not accept reports of unsanitary conditions, overcrowding and lack of food and water at a U.S. Border Patrol station in Texas.

"We have no evidence that children went hungry," said McAleenan. "Police station cells are not a good place for children, as I've said dozens of times."

Last month 200 children were removed from the Clint Border Patrol station in El Paso Count, Texas after the office of Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, sent a letter to immigration authorities based on the report from the Human Rights Watch that children had lived in the Clint short-term facility for up to four weeks, well above the 72 hours maximum limit set by U.S. law.

McAleenan said Sunday that food and water supplies at the station were "adequate" and that migrants in holding centers had access to showers and clean living facilities.

"I'm not denying that there are challenging situations at the border, I've been the one talking about it the most," he said.

He added the Department of Homeland Security had been facing and "overflow situation" with hundreds of children crossing every single day and that the agency had reduced the number of children in its custody to 350 from 2,500 at the beginning of June.



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Trump drains US spending in Europe to pay for wall with Mexico
By: Joe Gould , Sebastian Sprenger , and Valerie Insinna  

The White House is being criticized for a plan to move Pentagon spending meant to deter Russia to the U.S.-Mexico border wall project. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary suggested European allies replenish the $771 million meant to shore up Europe’s defensive posture against Russia to fund President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

The announcement is sure to jar European allies, where NATO members have nervously watched the president’s on-again, off-again commitment to the alliance. And it could deal a blow to the narrative among allies that Trump’s boisterous rhetoric should be taken with a grain of salt, given that money has kept flowing from Washington despite trans-Atlantic disagreements.

Half of the $3.6 billion for the border wall would come from dozens of U.S. military construction projects, and the other half would come from projects in Europe and the Pacific. In Europe, there were roughly 40 projects, including training facilities for special forces in Estonia and aviation infrastructure in Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.

Trump is gambling that Congress and allies will eventually restore the money used for the wall, he originally said Mexico would pay for. Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggested that European nations should consider funding projects in their countries.

“The message that I’ve been carrying, since when I was acting secretary to today, has been about the increase in burden sharing,” Esper told reporters in London late on Thursday.

“So part of the message will be ‘Look, if you’re really concerned then maybe you should look to cover those projects for us’ because that’s going to build infrastructure in many cases in their countries,” he added.

As it stands, the maneuver will weaken NATO efforts to deter Russia, feed growing doubts that America would come to Europe’s defense and undermine extensive plans to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, according to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“If you looked at the state of the alliance, you could say the bad news was the president’s rhetoric was problematic for alliance unity, but the administration’s growing investment suggested on a sub-political level the alliance was getting stronger,” Daalder said Thursday. “I can no longer make that argument because we’ve just [signaled] we’re going to cut back on that investment.”

“There may be a good burden-sharing argument to be had, and that reinforcing NATO forces to the east is a shared obligation,” Daalder said, “but the way to do that is to sit down and decide what projects we’ll do, how we’ll do it together and who’ll pay for it―and we did, but now we’re reneging on that deal.”

On Thursday, Trump’s political opponents highlighted how the move follows his recent decisions to hold up $250 million in military aid to Ukraine and to abruptly cancel his trip to Poland to deal with Hurricane Dorian, sending Vice President Mike Pence in his place. Trump had been scheduled to attend an event last weekend remembering the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, which led France and Britain to declare war two days later.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he found it “galling and appalling” that Trump had secured multiple wins for an “American foe,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, in just two weeks.

“President Trump is, yet again, putting Vladimir Putin before the security of the American people and our allies,” Schumer said. “Cutting the funding used to reinforce our trusted European allies against Russian aggression in order to advance the president’s politically motivated vanity project — that he promised Mexico would pay for — is outrageous, wrong and weakens our national security. Congress will not stand for the president usurping our exclusive power of the purse.”

The targeted projects in Poland illustrate how the seemingly disparate list of smaller construction plans — a runway here, an ammo-storage bunker there — is actually part of a larger strategy, coordinated with NATO, to strengthen Europe’s defensive posture along the eastern front. Putting anything about a “rail extension and rail head” on the table — some line items named — could jeopardize ongoing plans for a cross-border transportation network capable of delivering heavy weaponry deep into Poland.

Such a staging area is envisioned by NATO officials near the country’s town of Powidz. Defense News previously reported that the site’s rail connectivity is vital to the alliance’s plan for a major ground-forces hub.

“Until the railhead is developed, it will be a limiting factor,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, told Defense News earlier this year as the Trump administration made a previous attempt to siphon funds away from Polish rail work.

Notably, the Pentagon’s list also curtails funding meant for storage facilities where the service could pre-position “deployable airbase systems,” or DABS. The Air Force had planned to build such warehouses — which would store vehicles, temporary housing and other equipment needed to whip up an expeditionary airfield — at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Sanem, Luxembourg; and Royal Air Force Fairford, England. All have been deferred.

During a July interview, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein pointed to “base-in-a-box” concepts like DABS as an example of how the Air Force could better disperse operations in Europe, as well as other regions such as the Asia-Pacific and Africa.

The delayed programs were largely chosen either because they were upgrades or replacements to existing facilities, a senior defense official told reporters in a Pentagon briefing Wednesday, or because their contract award dates are not scheduled for a year or more.

“We remain committed to supporting our allies and partners,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. “The affected projects are still authorized and important but have been identified as having delays that would allow their deferment without immediate impact to our mission.”

One official from an allied nation whose project is listed said the U.S. State Department privately communicated that it would work to secure other unspecified funds to avoid construction delays, and that there was no request for it to replace any of the diverted funding. That official expressed frustration at the administration’s mixed messages.



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Pentagon to keep 5,500 troops at Mexico border
AFP, Washington
Wednesday, 11 September 2019


US soldiers install barb wire by the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas state, US, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico.
(File photo: AFP)

The US Defense Department said on Tuesday that it would keep up to 5,500 troops deployed at the Mexican border for the coming year to help fight illegal immigration.

A week after announcing it would divert $3.6 billion in funds for the construction of an anti-migrant wall on the frontier, the Pentagon said it had also approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to maintain a troop presence as well.

“DoD will provide up to 5,500 personnel to provide infrastructure support; operational support; detection and monitoring support; and air support,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell.

The deployment, which began nearly a year ago, was approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper for the coming fiscal year beginning October 1.
Currently around 2,900 soldiers and 2,000 reservists are operating at the border.

Mitchell said using military personnel to bolster a civilian operation to detain tens of thousands of people attempting to enter the country illegally each month had no significant impact on the US military’s combat readiness.

“These missions can be supported with manageable impacts to readiness, and are contingent on the availability of funds and the continued statutory authority to provide such support,” he said.

President Donald Trump has made halting undocumented immigration a key thrust of his administration.

The diversion of billions of dollars of Pentagon funds - already allocated for some 127 projects - to border wall construction was justified under a controversial emergency declaration by Trump.

The Trump administration declared a national emergency in February of this year after Congress repeatedly denied the president funding for the construction of a border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for.

On Tuesday, senior Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer announced that the party would soon introduce a resolution to terminate the emergency declaration, which would block the use of the funds on border wall projects.

“The president’s national emergency declaration was, and is, an outrageous power grab by a president who refuses to respect the constitutional separation of powers,” Schumer said.



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Lawmakers examine migrant deportations, consumer protections in hearings Thursday
Oct. 17, 2019
Lawmakers-examine-migrant-deportations-consumer-protections-in-hearings-Thursday - Copy.jpg

Migrant children, part of a caravan traveling to the United States, are seen near a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on November 27, 2018. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Congress will hold two key hearings Thursday on Trump administration policy -- involving the deportations of ill migrant children and families and consumer financial protections.

Both hearings, which come amid a House impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump, will feature testimony from administration leaders -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence, Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Kathleen Kraninger.

Albence and Cuccinelli, both acting directors, will testify before the House oversight committee's civil rights and liberties subcommittee about the administration's decision to deport critically ill children and their families. The hearing will start at 10 a.m. EDT.

In August, the administration quietly decided to shut down the medically deferred action program, which exempted migrant families and their critically ill children from deportation while receiving crucial medical care in the United States. The program was ended without an announcement or time for public comment.

Hundreds of medical exemption applications were denied after the change and migrants and medical officials testified in the House last month, saying the administration chose to kill a life-saving program.

A week later, the Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to the committee saying it was resuming "consideration of non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis." House lawmakers said, however, the administration has since refused to produce requested documents or make agency officials available to answer questions about the policy and its reversal.

Thursday, lawmakers will seek to learn how the administration will process medical requests going forward and whether Citizenship and Immigration Services will apply new standards or restrictions on migrant families seeking critical U.S. care.

Consumer financial protection
Kraninger will testify before the Senate banking committee to detail the bureau's fall status report, which provides an overview of initiatives Kraninger has put in place since taking over the CFPB last December.

The report, which was released ahead of Thursday's hearing, also covers a review of consumers' access to financial services and products, plans for rule-making analysis of consumer complaints and an overview of supervisory and enforcement actions. It covers the bureau's actions between October 2018 and the end of March.

"The bureau is considering further prioritization and planning of the bureau's rule-making activities, both with regard to substantive projects and modifications to the process that the bureau uses to develop and review regulations," the report states.

Kraninger presented the report in the House on Wednesday, where lawmakers questioned her about the CFPB's failure to protect American consumers from threats by debt collectors and its handling of student loans.

Kraninger says in the report, titled "Semi-Annual Report Spring 2019," that the bureau is seeking the most effective means to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act, an Obama-era law that put substantial safeguards in place after the 2009 financial crisis, and other consumer protection statutes.

"I am committed to strengthening the consumer financial marketplace by providing financial institutions clear 'rules of the road' that allow them to offer consumers a range of high-quality, innovative financial services and products," she wrote.