Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Italy in new migrant boat standoff with Malta

July 13, 2018

Italy on Friday urged Malta to go to the aid of an overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of migrants, only hours after the Italian president intervened to end a dispute within the ruling coalition over rescued immigrants.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

 Diciotti ship of the Italian Coast Guard, with 67 migrants on board rescued 4 days ago by the Vos Thalassa freighter, enters the Sicilian port of Trapani, southern Italy, Thursday, July 12, 2018

There have been two similar stand-offs with Malta since Italy’s new populist government, which pairs the far-right League party with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, took power on June 1.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also leader of the League, said Italy would not take in the migrants because they were Malta’s responsibility. Malta, a small island nation, has generally refused to take in large numbers of boat migrants.

Italy has seen more than 650,000 arrivals on its shores since 2014.

“Since this morning a large boat with 450 illegal immigrants on board has been in waters patrolled by Malta, which has taken responsibility for it,” Salvini wrote on Facebook.

The boats also often carry refugees, as did one with some 30 Syrians who were picked up by the Italian coast guard earlier on Friday. They were taken to the island of Lampedusa.

Salvini added: “But hours later no one has moved, and the boat is again heading toward Italy … This boat cannot and must not arrive.”

Minutes later, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who is a member of 5-Star, also urged Malta to act.

“According to the maritime law, it’s Malta that must send its own ships and open its own ports,” he said on Twitter. “Our coast guard can act, if needed, in support, but Malta should immediately do its duty.”

A spokesman said the Maltese government is following developments, but had no further comment. The large boats are particularly dangerous because they have often capsized in the past, trapping hundreds of people below deck as they sink.


Since taking office, Salvini has led a high-profile campaign to shut humanitarian rescue ships out of Italy’s ports, a move supported by 5-Star. But the League leader’s hardline immigration stance rankled his coalition allies this week.

On Thursday, Salvini had refused to allow 67 migrants brought by the country’s coast guard to a Sicilian port to disembark — even though Toninelli, who oversees the coast guard, had told them they could.

Making a rare foray into day-to-day politics, President Sergio Mattarella contacted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte late on Thursday to express his concern about the plight of migrants on the coast guard vessel.

After receiving Mattarella’s phone call, Conte, an academic who is close to 5-Star but not a member of either party, ordered the migrants be allowed off the ship. Salvini said he had learned of the president’s move with “regret and amazement”.

Now Salvini and Toninelli, whose parties were rivals before the March national elections, appear to be on the same page again.

The League and 5-Star have pledged to crackdown on migration even though arrivals from Libya, where people smugglers operate with impunity, are down more than 85 percent this year.

Though arrivals have plummeted, people are still dying at sea. In the past four weeks, since charity boats have been locked out of Italian ports, more than 600 people, including children, have drowned or gone missing at sea, the International Organization for Migration estimates.

Additional reporting by Chris Scicluna in VALLETTA; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Catherine Evans



The Associated Press

July 13 at 1:35 PM

ROME — The Latest on the migrant crisis in Europe (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

Germany says a change to the European Union military mission in the Mediterranean should only happen after talks at the European level.

Italy’s populist government has launched a crackdown on migration and is seeking to renegotiate the mandate of Operation Sophia to prevent migrants rescued at sea from being brought to Italy.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Friday that “if there is to be a change to the Sophia mandate then it should be discussed at the European level.”

Seibert said Operation Sophia is also meant to help train the Libyan coast guard to patrol its own coastline, calling this “a very sensible mission.”

He added: “It’s important that as part of this mission innumerable lives have also been saved.”


5:50 p.m.

Italy is insisting Malta must rescue 450 migrants at sea and give them safe harbor.

Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli has tweeted that a boat with 450 persons has been navigating for hours in Malta’s search-and-rescue area in the Mediterranean. He said “under the law of the sea, it’s Malta which must dispatch its own boats and open up” its port.

Toninelli says Italy’s coast guard can help if needed but “Malta must immediately do its duty.”

Malta didn’t immediately respond to Italy’s appeal.

Image may contain: 1 person

Matteo Salvini

Italy’s right-wing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, says his country can no longer offer safe harbor to “fake” asylum-seekers rescued at sea.

Numbers of rescued migrants have sharply declined this year, but in recent years some 600,000 migrants arrived in Italy after rescue from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats. The majority were denied asylum.


2:15 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says that Turkish coast guard helicopters have rescued 34 migrants who were stranded on a small island in the Aegean Sea.

Anadolu Agency said the group, which included at least five children, was trapped on Bogaz Island between the Turkish coastal resort of Cesme and the Greek island of Chios on Friday.

The migrants were evacuated to a parking lot for trucks near Cesme were medical teams were on standby.

Anadolu said the coast guard was also searching for another migrant who was reported missing by the group. There was no further information on the migrants or how they got stranded.


1:30 p.m.

Italian prosecutors are investigating alleged threats by migrants against a tugboat crew who rescued them in the sea off Libya.

An Italian coast guard vessel brought back 67 migrants Thursday night to Trapani, in western Sicily.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said a Sudanese and a Ghanaian among the migrants allegedly tried to hijack the tug so it wouldn’t return them to Libya, where migrants have been tortured in crowded detention centers.

Salvini had demanded the migrants not be allowed to disembark.

After President Sergio Mattarella expressed humanitarian concerns Thursday, authorities gave docking permission. Young children and women, including an injured woman, were among the migrants rescued on Sunday by the Italian tug.

The tug’s captain, saying the migrants were rebelling, asked Italy’s coast guard to take the migrants.


Seeking asylum does not make illegal entry into America legal

July 12, 2018

It sounds like a pitch that only the most craven coyote smuggler would make: If you make it into the United States, you are lawful. Yet, that seems to be the claim by various activists and politicians as our immigration debate continues to divide to the furthest extremes. The latest iteration came from CNN political analyst and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, who insisted on air that people brought by coyotes over the border are doing something perfectly legal under federal law, since most seek asylum. The greatest danger from such statements is not the risk of misleading viewers but misleading immigrants who take such statements as an accurate description of the law.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has repeatedly declared, “An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.” When asked if she meant everyone here illegally, both those who entered illegally and those who have remained illegally such as overstaying a visa, Harris responded, “Two obvious points. It is a civil violation, it’s not a crime. Period, full stop. And the second point is that there is a whole community that is being vilified because of this misinformed, misdirected term ‘illegal alien.’” She added, “It’s actually ignorant and we can’t afford to run our country that way. So they are not criminals.”

By Jonathan Turley

Image may contain: one or more people

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan similarly stated, “Simply being in this country without documentation is not a crime,” adding that the “Supreme Court has said that.” That representation was declared “mostly true” by Politifact In reality, it is mostly false and highly dangerous for those who believe it. This growing mantra is often sustained by the careful parsing of terms. For example, Politifact quoted Nancy Morawetz, professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law, as saying, “Being present in the U.S., that status, is not a crime.” However, people do not simply materialize within the United States. There remains the question of entry. Illegal entry into the United States has been prosecuted as a criminal matter for decades, though the percentage of cases handled criminally versus civilly has fluctuated with different administrations.

Indeed, if it were true that illegal entry was not a crime, the entire Trump administration enforcement program — and thousands of such cases under President Obama — would have been struck down months ago. In fact, the government can charge illegal entry, even for first offenders, as a crime under 18 U.S.C. 3559 with up to six months imprisonment. Subsequent offenses or reentries, which are very common, can be charged as a felony with up to two years imprisonment under 8 U.S.C. Section 1325.  Nonviolent offenders who were removed before their prison sentences were served can be imprisoned for up to ten years after a subsequent illegal entry.

It also is not true, as suggested by both Sheehan and Politifact, that the Supreme Court has declared undocumented status to be a purely civil matter. They are referring to United States v. Arizona, in which the Supreme Court stated that, “as a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.” The court, however, was speaking of a state law allowing police to arrest anyone on suspicion that they are “removable from the United States.”

That would include people who entered legally but overstayed their visas or their once-lawful status. The court was not saying that someone who enters illegally cannot, by definition, be charged criminally or that illegal entry is not a crime. Indeed, the court said that it did not have to “address whether reasonable suspicion of illegal entry or another immigration crime would be a legitimate basis” for such arrests by state officers, distinguishing the crime of illegal entry from the removable violations addressed in the decision.

In her exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Powers insisted that those who actually cross illegally with a coyote are, by law, here legally so long as they claim asylum: “Right, so it’s not illegal to come to the country to seek asylum, which is what most of these people are doing. A lot of Republicans have (said) it is illegal unless you’re at a port of entry (but) that’s absolutely not true. Section 208 of the [Immigration and Naturalization Act] says quite clearly that you can come anywhere. It specifically says you do not have to come to a port of entry and these people don’t even know where a port of entry is anyway. They are being brought by coyotes mostly and brought to the border so they’re not doing anything illegal to start with.”

In fairness to Powers, Section 208 of the INA allows asylum claims to be made at any time, including as a criminal defendant for illegal entry. That does not mean that anyone claiming asylum automatically has legal status; that deals with your filing of a claim, not the legality of your entry or ultimate status.  It is not illegal to seek asylum. It is illegal to do so without entering through a port of entry without documentation. (Notably, even when treated through a civil removal proceeding, it remains an unlawful entry).

Coyotes are generally smugglers hired not to bring people “to the border” but across the border. While a few people “don’t even know where a point of entry is,” they are stationary and found on all of the main roads leading into the country. In addition, while rising, filings for asylum are not “what most of these people are doing.”  There were 408,870 illegal entries in fiscal year 2016 and 303,916 for 2017; in 2016, asylum applications reached 116,000 – around 30 percent. Moreover, the number of accepted asylees tends to run about 20,000 per year. Among those applying, a huge percentage never complete their paperwork and only around 20 percent of applications are granted.

Many people are deported without hearings under a 1996 statute used extensively by the Obama administration and, now, the Trump administration. These people are captured within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entry. If they claim asylum, they can appeal to an immigration judge who must rule within seven days. In 2013, 44 percent of all 438,000 removals from the United States were done through the expedited process. That was before Trump. Even if a person is one of the minority who asserts asylum and completes the application, the government can still pursue criminal charges; if the asylum application is rejected as meritless or unsupported, they can be prosecuted or deported.

There are good faith positions on both sides of the immigration debate. Whether it is the president or the press, however, it does a great disservice to citizens and non-citizens alike to exaggerate or misrepresent the law governing illegal entry into this country. The undocumented individuals making this perilous journey should not be misled into believing that just entering the country makes them “perfectly legal,” even if they claim asylum. That does not mean President Trump’s policies are correct or fair. But spinning the law, so popular with some, is downright perilous for others.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

EU ministers meet amid tensions over migrant response

July 12, 2018

Interior ministers from 28 European nations meet Thursday as they face intensifying pressure to introduce new policies to stem migrant arrivals, in their first meeting after Austria took the EU helm.

The meeting in Innsbruck will focus in particular on coming up with a common migration plan, with Austria expected to push to change the EU‘s migration policy so it is no longer possible to make asylum requests on European soil.

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP | German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (R) and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini give a statement on July 11 ahead of the European Union interior and justice ministers conference.

Although the number of migrants fleeing war and poverty has fallen sharply since a 2015 peak the issue is a thorny one in Europe and a key topic for the six-month presidency of Austria, where a conservative-far right coalition took power last December.

Austria’s hardline interior minister Herbert Kickl, of the far-right FPOE party, told journalists earlier this week that he would propose asylum requests be made in refugee camps outside Europe to “a sort of mobile commission”.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, beard and closeup

Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl

Only exiles from countries that directly border the European Union would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory.

Kickl is likely to join forces with his Italian counterpart Matteo Salvini, also deputy prime minister and leader of the far-right League party.

Salvini has banned NGO rescue boats that pick up migrants in the Mediterranean from docking in Italy, accusing them of aiding human traffickers to bring migrants to Europe.

In Innsbruck, which has been described as an informal meeting, he is expected to ask nations not to send ships on international missions to Italian ports.

The issue of migration and asylum rights in Europe has raised tensions among the EU’s 28 member states.

Austria currently holds the rotating EU presidency, which gives it the opportunity to chair meetings and set agendas.

Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday he hopes to reach an agreement with Italy by the end of the month on the vexed topic of returning migrants there from Germany.

A migrant deal with Rome is central to the compromise German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached with Seehofer to end a row over immigration within their coalition that has threatened to bring down the government.

Salvini said he and Seehofer shared a “common objective: fewer landings, fewer deaths, fewer migrants in Italy as well as in Germany”.

But the Italian minister said he expected to see more action to toughen the EU’s external frontiers before agreeing to any deal to take back migrants.

Kickl told the European Parliament on Monday that the Innsbruck meeting would be the first time “we will talk more concretely about the issue of disembarkation platforms” outside the EU for migrants rescued in international waters.

But European nations are divided on the feasibility and legality of these “platforms”, which several countries like Morocco and Tunisia have already said they would not host.




Italy downplays German promises for migration deal

July 12, 2018

German Interior Minister Seehofer said he was confident Berlin and Rome would reach an agreement to return migrants by the end of July. But Italy wants a broader EU border security deal first.

But Italy’s Matteo Salvini said a broader strategy to protect Europe’s borders was needed first.

Matteo Salvini & Horst Seehofer, Deutschland

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday that he is optimistic about reaching a deal with Rome to return migrants to Italy by the end of July, but his Italian counterpart, Matteo Salvini curtailed the suggestion — saying a broader strategy to protect Europe’s borders was needed first.

After the two met in Austria ahead of an informal summit of EU interior ministers, Salvini said that he and Seehofer had a “common objective: fewer landings, fewer deaths, fewer migrants in Italy as well as in Germany.”

Salvini added the caveat, however, that “before accepting a single immigrant in Italy, we want Europe to protect its external borders. When that becomes a reality we can talk about all the rest.”

Image may contain: 1 person, beard and closeup

Matteo Salvini

Calls for Seehofer to step down

As the leader of the far-right Lega party, Salvini is known for his vitriolic statements about immigration, including calling migrants “smugglers, slaveholders and terrorists” in a spat with an Italian priest who preached against intolerance.

Seehofer, too, has come under fire for some inflammatory rhetoric, including commenting yesterday that he was celebrating his 69th birthday as exactly 69 refugees were being deported back to Afghanistan.

One of those refugees, 23-year-old Jamal Nasser Mahmoudi, committed suicide in Kabul on Wednesday shortly after arriving back in his native country after eight years in Germany.

Although the Interior Ministry issued a statement calling the man’s death “deeply lamentable,” Seehofer has been facing calls from governing coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD) to step down.

“An Interior Minister so lacking in humanity damages our democracy to which we owe so much,” said the SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. Several other prominent party members joined this chorus, saying Seehofer’s recent attempts to sow discord in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet over migration show that he is not fit for office.

When asked by a reporter to respond to the calls he step down, Seehofer replied, “I have nothing to say to that because I don’t understand them.”

He added that state officials in Hamburg, not the federal Interior Ministry, decided to deport the man who had been convicted of theft, attempted bodily harm, resisting law enforcement officials and violation of the narcotics act.

es/sms (AFP, dpa)

Italy Wants To Bar Entry To All Migrants Ships

July 8, 2018

Italy wants to prevent ships operating for “international missions” from bringing migrants rescued off Libya to Italian ports, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday.

“On Thursday, I will put on the European table at Innsbruck a demand to close Italian ports to ships of international missions,” Salvini said on his Twitter account, referring to a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town next week.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini

“Unfortunately, Italy’s governments over the past five years signed accords allowing all boats to bring their migrants in Italy,” he said.

Italy’s new coalition government has set a goal of zero arrivals, and Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, has already banned boats chartered by charities to enter Italian ports.

The French rescue ship Aquarius and the German boat Lifeline were forced to divert to Spain and Malta respectively last month.

The Innsbruck meeting will be the first of EU justice and interior ministers under the new Austrian presidency of the EU.

Salvini did not name any of the several missions currently patrolling the Mediterranean, but typical among them is the Sophia, EU’s anti-trafficking operation set up in 2015 to fight human trafficking.

It is under Italian command with headquarters in Rome.

Another is the Mediterranean maritime border patrol mission Triton, launched in 2014 by Frontex to fight human trafficking. It uses NATO ships in some of its operations.

Overnight Saturday, 106 migrants arrived in the eastern Sicilian port of Messina after they were rescued Thursday off of Libya by the Irish naval vessel Samuel Beckett.

For the time being, Italy must still accept migrants rescued by its own coast guard or by cargo ships asked to intervene by the Italian coast guard.

Since the start of the year, 16,687 migrants have arrived in Italy including some 11,000 from Libya, or 80 percent fewer than last year over the same period, according to Italian interior ministry figures out Thursday.


Dems seek to one-up each other with Trump attacks

July 5, 2018

Democratic lawmakers considering a presidential run in 2020 are sharpening their attacks on President Trump as they compete over who can land the toughest blows.

In tweets and speeches in recent days, would-be Democratic candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) have all slapped Trump in a series of tweets and speeches, often times name-checking him.

Image may contain: 4 people, eyeglasses

“I think they’re trying to out-trump Trump while trying to out Trump each other,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns and has noticed the uptick in anti-Trump rhetoric. “It’s open season on who can jab the hardest and best.”

It’s an effort to rally a Democratic base at its wit’s end with Trump amid the controversy on family separations, the Supreme Court pick that some progressives fear could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and ongoing concerns about the president dismantling Obama-era policies.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement as a pivotal Supreme Court vote has only intensified passions and rhetoric on the left, signaling what is likely to become the most negative presidential campaign season yet.

That many Democrats think Trump is vulnerable given the enthusiasm of the Democratic base is another factor. A number of Democrats feel confident they can defeat him in a general election, despite the repeated reminders from Trump allies of how his opponents repeatedly underestimate him.

“Everybody sees this as the jackpot,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a communications professor at Boston University who served as a political media consultant. “Donald Trump is the man they love to hate and because of that, everybody ramps up the strategy of who can hate him the most.”

Harris took to Twitter this week to warn her followers about Trump’s intention to nominate someone who will overturn Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court.

“What this is really about is punishing women for wanting to control their bodies, their lives, and their futures,” she wrote.

In a tweet that went viral last weekend with more than 65,000 likes on Twitter, Harris also wrote, “Years from now, people will ask us where we were in this moment. We don’t want the answer to be how we felt. We want the answer to be what we did.”

On her Twitter account, Warren name-checked Trump a couple of times this week.

She said Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees “was hand-picked by right-wing extremists who want to criminalize abortions,” adding that that’s “#whatsatstake here.”

She also urged supporters to join her at a Families Belong Together march, adding “We’ll show @realDonaldTrump that the power is with the people.”

Gillibrand also weighed in on the family separation issue and the Supreme Court issue, urging her supporters to “take @realdonaldtrump at his word.”

But in her most popular tweet this week, she wrote: “I know how hard things feel now, but we’ve faced challenges before and have overcome them. If you keep fighting for justice, we will win. If you do the work and keep believing, we will win.”

Late last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also took to Twitter to call out the president. “Trump’s pathological dishonesty is undermining American democracy, is setting a terrible example for our children and is isolating us from our democratic allies around the world,” Sanders wrote.

Democratic strategist Jim Manley said it’s appropriate for potential candidates to take a more aggressive stance against Trump.

“Trying to stay above the fray is no longer an option,” he said

In past cycles, opponents often preferred more veiled swipes until the final stretch of the campaign. Manley and other political strategists expect a slugfest from the beginning this time.

“Anyone thinking of running needs to recalibrate,” Manley said. “Putting your head in the sand isn’t the smart way to go.”

Trump, not surprisingly, isn’t letting his opponents go unanswered. The White House directly targeted Harris and Warren earlier this week on Twitter.

.@SenKamalaHarris, why are you supporting the animals of MS-13? You must not know what ICE really does,” the White House’s Twitter account tweeted on Monday afternoon. It included a link to ICE “to help you out.”

The White House account tweeted the same message to Warren.

Harris immediately pounced on the White House tweet by emailing fundraisers.

“A few moments ago, this White House used its official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account to launch a completely false attack on me,” the email reads before asking for “$10 or more right now to help us fight back.”

She also responded to Trump on Twitter.

“As a career prosecutor, I actually went after gangs and transnational criminal organizations. That’s being a leader on public safety. What is not, is ripping babies from their mothers,” the senator wrote.

As of Tuesday afternoon, in a sign of the competition already gripping Democrats, a source close to Harris noted that Warren had not yet responded to Trump.


Thousands Gather in Cities Across U.S. to Protest Trump Immigration Policies

July 1, 2018

‘Families Belong Together’ event demands reunification of families separated by now-reversed administration policy

Thousands of people in New York march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Thousands of people in New York march in support of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Thousands gathered in cities across the U.S. to protest the Trump administration’s now-reversed policy of separating migrant families at the U.S. border.

Organizers of the Families Belong Together march called for a large gathering in Washington, D.C., and expected further protests in hundreds of cities. Tweets highlighted gatherings in Sacramento, Calif., Carlsbad, N.M., Boston, New York and other cities large and small. Protesters were demanding the reunification of families seeking asylum that were separated at the U.S. border during the short-lived policy.

In Chicago, a large crowd gathered in Daley Plaza downtown with signs saying, “Keep families together,” “No child should be kept in a cage” and “Immigrants make America great.” Some took aim at the Trump family, with one reading, “Separate Trump from Ivanka instead.” Other demonstrators danced with young children as musicians played drums and horns in the 93-degree heat.

Esther Nieves, 57 years old, of the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, said her parents were Puerto Rican immigrants who came to Chicago in the 1950s. She said it is important to remember all Americans are immigrants, except Native Americans. “We are angry at what the president has done,” said the nonprofit consultant. “We need to show the alternate face of the U.S.”

Ms. Nieves was joined by her 27-year-old nephew, Steven Torres, a fourth-generation Mexican-American who said he is disheartened by the president’s policies. He said he traveled from St. John, Ind., to “support the cause against breaking up families.” Mr. Torres, who works as a special-education teacher in a public school, said of family separation, “God forbid that happens to an American somewhere else.”

Nicole Miano, 37, from East Garfield Park, came to Daley Plaza with her young son, daughter, sister-in-law and two nieces. She said, as a Christian, she believes the Bible teaches to welcome the foreigner and the stranger.

Ms. Miano said she was in favor of immigration reform, but “this is not the reform we need. We don’t take it out on children, on the most vulnerable.” She said she brought her young children to teach them that “I want my children to know if they have any kind of power, the most powerful thing is to use it for people who don’t.”

Chicago police estimated more than 50,000 people participated in the rally and then marched through downtown. “The March was over one mile long,” said Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. There were no arrests, he said.

Earlier this month, President Trump directed his administration to try to detain asylum-seeking families together, a reversal after weeks in which he insisted he had no choice but to separate children and adults who cross the border illegally.

In Washington, thousands of people gathered for a march that wound from Lafayette Square, near the White House, past the Trump International Hotel and ending at the Justice Department. Police declined to provide a crowd estimate.

Marchers Protest Immigration Policy

Demonstrators gathered in cities across the U.S. to protest the Trump administration’s now-reversed policy of separating illegal immigrant adults and children while the adults are in detention.

 Demonstrators march in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago call for the elimination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
 A crowd gathers near the White House to protest a now-reversed policy that separated children and adults who entered the U.S. illegally. Rallies across the U.S. called for illegal immigrant families to be reunited, a process that is under way.
 A woman in New York takes part in the ‘Families Belong Together’ march.
 Protesters gather at Daley Plaza in Chicago to protest President Donald Trump and U.S. immigration policies.
 Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) joins the protest against immigration policies at City Hall Plaza in Boston.
 A man wears a shirt that reads ‘Yes, I really do care,’ a reference to a Zara jacket recently worn by first lady Melania Trump as she visited a children’s shelter in Texas, at the rally in Boston.
A crowd gathers near the White House to protest a now-reversed policy that separated children and adults who entered the U.S. illegally. Rallies across the U.S. called for illegal immigrant families to be reunited, a process that is under way.
1 of 7

President Donald Trump wasn’t in Washington on Saturday. He was at his golf club in New Jersey, where he was expected to interview candidates for the Supreme Court opening created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.

Ashlynn Polanco, 25, said she came to the Washington protest because the families crossing the southern border reminded her of her own.

“My mom was an immigrant, undocumented. She traveled to the U.S. from Nicaragua, because her country was stuck in a really bad civil war,” Ms. Polanco said. “She traveled here with my brother as a one-year-old. So she would have been in the exact same place that these kids and families are in now if she had come 20 or 30 years later.”

Protestors shouted chants, sang songs and toted signs as they traveled the route. Some hurled obscenities and chanted “Shame!” as they passed the Trump hotel, while others dotted the Justice Department building with signs and posters.

“It’s really hard to sit at home with all this crazy stuff going on,” said Sarah Forman, an attorney in Washington who attended Saturday’s rally with her two children, Donald and Benjamin, as well as her mother, Mary. Ms. Forman said she hoped to set an example for her children by attending the protest.

“Benji was asking if they were going to come and get him and so I think coming out to something like this shows them we’re not alone,” she said.

Mark Blacknell, an attorney, also attended Saturday’s rally with his two children. He said the stories about children separated from their families were especially difficult to hear as a father.

“It hits you in a real gut-punch, emotional way,” he said. “I think even if I wasn’t a parent, it’s hard to look at any family and imagine them torn apart.”

Write to Shayndi Raice at and Joe Barrett at

Ocasio-Cortez wants to be president, mom says

June 28, 2018

Insurgent Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to take her budding political career all the way to The White House, her mother told The Post on Wednesday.

“Her aspiration is to be the president,” Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, 55, said at the candidate’s childhood home in the Bronx.

“She has been thinking about politics since she was a teenager. She would read historical and political books old and new. She would engage in political discussions passionately.”

Blanca, a 55-year-old secretary for a school in Florida, spent a few days campaigning with her daughter. She said Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory over Congressman Joe Crowley was like “fighting Goliath.”

“It’s just incredible,” the proud mom said. “I believe she would do it but so soon — it was shocking.”

Blanca discussed how the family struggled to make ends meet and explained her daughter’s appeal as a candidate.

“She is fighting for our community,” Blanca said. “She is fighting for the working class. She is fighting for immigrants.”

“We can relate to that. We are working class. We did struggle. We know what struggle means.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a favorite to beat Republican candidate Anthony Pappas in November.

FILED UNDER          

Illegal immigrant parents not facing U.S. prosecution for now

June 26, 2018

Parents who cross illegally from Mexico to the United States with their children will not face prosecution for the time being because the government is running short of space to house them, officials said on Monday.

Migrant children separated from their parents remains a simmering issue.

President Donald Trump’s administration has vowed to prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally but its policy of separating immigrant children from parents met fierce international criticism so it is now trying to keep detained families together while the parents await trial.

That has created logistics problems of how to house those families, and the Customs and Border Protection agency is now not referring new cases for prosecution, CBP officials said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was not dropping its policy of “zero-tolerance” of illegal immigration but it needed a “temporary solution” until it can house migrant families.

Image result for sarah sanders, photos

Sarah Sanders

“This will only last a short amount of time, because we’re going to run out of space, we’re going to run out of resources in order to keep people together. And we’re asking Congress to provide those resources and do their job,” Sanders told reporters.

A source at the CBP said it expects to soon resume the referrals for prosecution and is still sending for prosecution those adults who are caught crossing illegally and do not have children with them.

Trump faced a global outcry this month, including sharp criticism from some inside his Republican Party, over migrant children being separated from their parents.

He formally ended the policy of separating families last Wednesday, but the administration has yet to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents and it is not clear how it will house thousands of families while parents are prosecuted.

The U.S. military has been asked to prepare to house up to 20,000 unaccompanied child migrants on its bases.

Maxine Waters

Representative Maxine Waters has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration. GETTY IMAGES

Although Republicans control both chambers in Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party over immigration matters have hit prospects for a speedy legislative fix to the border crisis.

Mark Meadows, leader of a conservative faction among Republicans in the House of Representatives, said on Monday he expected that an immigration bill being worked on by Republicans would fail.

A group of Republican and Democratic senators huddled late on Monday to see whether they might be able to come together on legislation establishing a protocol for treating immigrant families as their pleas for asylum or other protections from deportation are considered.

But after the meeting, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said “Nothing’s going to happen this week,” on legislation in the Senate.

With Congress out of session next week for the July 4 public holiday, that would mean the Senate could not debate a bill until at least the following week.


Trump has expressed frustration at U.S. immigration laws and reiterated on Monday that people should be turned away at the border. Democrats have accused him of wanting to circumvent the U.S. constitution’s guarantee of due process for those accused of crimes.

“We want a system where, when people come in illegally, they have to go out. And a nice simple system that works,” Trump told reporters.

The immigration crisis has triggered new political tension, and Trump lashed out at a Democratic congresswoman who had urged Americans to confront members of his inner circle in public places.

The lawmaker, Maxine Waters, told a crowd in her home state of California on Sunday that a Virginia restaurant’s refusal to serve White House press secretary Sarah Sanders should be a model for resisting Trump.

“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Waters said.

“And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.”

Trump fired back on Monday, calling Waters “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted at a Mexican restaurant in Washington by protesters yelling: “Shame! Shame!”

House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called for cooler heads on both sides.

Image result for Nancy Pelosi, photos
File Photo — Nancy Pelosi

“Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable,” she said. “As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney and Clarence Fernandez


Pope Francis Unhappy With Macron, Donald Trump, Giuseppe Conte?

June 26, 2018

Macron to Visit Pope Francis On Migration; Italy PM Giuseppe Conte Apparenty Refuses — What Must God Be Thinking?

On his visit to Italy Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Pope Francis, but not Italian PM Giuseppe Conte, highlighting bilateral strains over the migrant issue while inviting criticism from French secularists.

Image result for Pope Francis, photos, looking to heaven

Macron has called for stronger ties between the state and the Catholic Church, a move critics said blurred a line that has kept French government free of religious intervention for generations.

The issue is particularly sensitive in historically Catholic France, where matters of faith and state were separated by law in 1905 and which is now home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities.

His visit also comes at a time of intense strains between Italy and France over the migrant crisis as the EU heads for a tense summit later this week.

Image result for Pope Francis, photos, looking to heaven

In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis criticized the Trump administration on a number of issues

Macron’s rocky relationship with Italy’s ruling populists worsened this weekend when far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini blasted the French president’s “arrogant” stance on immigration.

Salvini further accused Macron of hypocrisy for criticising his hardline approach while France continues to “push back women, children and men” across the border back into Italy.

Macron, who argues that France has taken in more asylum seekers than Italy this year as the massive influx across the Mediterranean has slowed, hit back: “We won’t take lessons from anyone.”

Image result for Aquarius, ship, photos

NGO migrant resue boat Aquarius

An honorary canon sparks criticism

While in Italy, the 40-year-old centrist French president has also decided to accept being made an honorary canon of St John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, a tradition dating back to the 15th century when the French state and church were indistinguishable.

Several of Macron’s predecessors have declined the title, including Socialists François Mitterrand and François Hollande, in a bid to avoid associating themselves with religious imagery.

France is strictly secular under a landmark 1905 law that separated the state from the church.

It remains one of the country’s most debated rules and was invoked controversially in 2004 to ban religious symbols, including the Islamic headscarf, from schools.

Image result for rubber raft, migrants, drowning, photos

File photo of migrants and refugees from Africa trying to reach Europe

Expecting a president, getting a ‘little priest’

Macron’s decision to accept the honorary canon title has drawn particular scrutiny at home following comments in April in which he said he wanted to “repair” the “bond” between church and state.

One of his leftist opponents, Jean-Luc Melenchon, led criticism of the remarks, saying: “One expects a president, one gets a little priest.”

Macron’s enthusiasm for the church appears to stem in part from his belief that religious leaders have a role to play in helping French society overcome a fractious period riven by economic, ethnic and social tensions.

It might also be an electoral calculation: Catholicism is still France’s biggest religion and many believers worry that France is moving too far from its traditional Christian roots.

“At a time of great social fragility… I consider it my responsiblity to stop the erosion of confidence among Catholics with regard to politics and politicians,” Macron told church leaders in April.

Past tensions

His meeting with Pope Francis will also be an opportunity to soothe diplomatic tensions with the Vatican which emerged under the 2012-2017 presidency of Hollande, a self-described atheist.

The church campaigned against a gay marriage law passed by Hollande and then declined to accept an openly gay career diplomat as France’s ambassador to the Holy See.

Aides to Macron believe the current president and pope share a common vision of a united Europe at a time when anti-EU far-right parties are on the march across the continent.

The Argentine pontiff sent a congratulatory telegram to Macron, a former investment banker, after his election in May last year which urged him to build a “fairer and more fraternal society”.

But they hold different views on the sensitive topic of migration, with Macron repeatedly stating that France “cannot welcome all of the world’s misery” and insisting that economic migrants should be expelled.

Pope Francis insists in his sermons that rich countries must do more to welcome the poor and desperate.

“I don’t think the pope will offer platitudes on the issue of migrants,” Matthieu Rouge, a well-connected bishop in the town of Nanterre west of Paris, told AFP.

Another potential area of disagreement is Macron’s backing for fertility treatment to be extended to all women, including gay couples and women not in relationships.

The move is opposed by Catholic groups in France, which see it as undermining traditional family values because it will lead to children growing up without fathers.

Macron is expected to invite Pope Francis to visit France, as Hollande did in vain, but the pontiff is not expected to make the trip a priority in the short-term.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

See also:

Pope criticizes Trump administration over migrant family separations

Image result for pope francis, disgusted, photos