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Trump Builds Suspense Over Supreme Court Pick, but Battlelines Are Already Drawn

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President Donald Trump once again kept Americans in suspense over his Supreme Court pick, promising a reality-show style big reveal at a White House event on Monday night.

All the major broadcast networks plan to break into regular programming to cover the announcement, giving the president the same primetime platform to build public support for his choice as he had for Neil Gorsuch, selected just 10 days after Trump took office.

Trump himself has indicated that his selection is down to four prospects: Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit; Raymond Kethledge, on the 6th Circuit; and Thomas Hardiman, on the 3rd Circuit.

“I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice – Will be announced tonight at 9:00 P.M.,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning.

Trump kept his choice of Gorsuch under wraps until the last minute, save for just a few outlets that reported correctly on his pick. That day, a CNN news crew caught Hardiman at a Pennsylvania gas station, apparently en route to D.C., leading to speculation that he was the choice. After Gorsuch was announced, there was suspicion that Hardiman made the trip to serve as a kind of decoy.

Trump’s choice is widely expected to solidify the court’s conservative bloc, igniting a summer-long confirmation battle that will play out on the airwaves. Interest groups are already scheduling time for spots in support or against the choice.

Demand Justice said last week that it planned to spend $5 million on ads in opposition. The group already has created a web video warning of Trump’s pick, and is already running spots in Maine and Alaska focusing on Roe v. Wade. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are potential swing votes in the coming Senate confirmation battle.

The conservative group Judicial Crisis Network said it already has purchased a seven-figure ad-buy to support Trump’s nominee, in a spot that warns that “extremists will lie and attack” the choice. The group’s Carrie Severino said they spent $10 million on the campaign for Gorsuch, and indicted they would be prepared to spend a similar amount if necessary to win the confirmation of the next justice.

A half-hour after Trump is scheduled to appear with his choice in an East Room ceremony, Demand Justice, MoveOn, Indivisible, and People for the American Way will gather at the Supreme Court for a rally in opposition.

Public interest groups have been combing the records of the candidates for any signs of their positions on LGBT rights, free speech, health care, and abortion — views that will certainly come up at confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh has the longest record, including a recent opinion where he weighed in on one of the raging debates over the internet, net neutrality.

He opposed the FCC’s decision in 2015 to impose a set of robust net neutrality rules on internet service providers, writing that it should be up to Congress. He also wrote, “Supreme Court precedent establishes that internet service providers have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial discretion over whether and how to carry internet content.”

The appeals court, though, upheld the net neutrality rules, but the Trump-era FCC has since repealed most of them. Still, Hardiman’s decision could be a factor if some kind of challenge eventually makes its way to the high court.

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ICE Faces Migrant Detention Crunch as Border Chaos Spills Into Interior of the Country

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Migrants were temporarily held by Customs and Border Protection in an enclosed area beneath the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Tex., on March 29. (Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times)

Federal immigration authorities faced with overburdened detention centers are scouring the country to find space to house migrants as the crush of asylum seekers that has overwhelmed the Southwest border spreads deep into the nation’s interior.


With mounting federal initiatives to hold more and more migrants in custody, officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees long-term detention centers for migrants, are looking for additional space that can be rented inside existing jails, as well as fast-tracking the deportations of current detainees and releasing as many migrants as possible into the country to make room for newcomers.

In one initiative examined earlier this year, Department of Homeland Security officials looked at housing migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which has a dormitory facility that has been used in the past to hold asylum seekers. The proposal to house migrant children from the Southwest border there has not gained traction, perhaps because of the optics of housing young people adjacent to terrorism suspects, according to one official who had seen the proposal but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

While there were no “immediate” plans to house migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, the Defense Department is attempting to identify military bases that might be used for that purpose, a department spokesman, Tom Crosson, said on Monday.

Much of the administration’s focus in recent months has been on the Southwest border, where the surge of migrant families seeking asylum has overwhelmed short-term holding facilities and left people languishing there for longer periods of time. But authorities already are confronting the next phase of detention, the long-term facilities in the interior of the country where many of the incoming migrants will eventually be transferred, and these also appear to be bucking under pressure.

Populations in the long-term detention facilities have grown markedly under President Trump, both because of increasing border crossings and his administration’s aggressive moves to arrest more undocumented immigrants in the interior of the country. ICE is currently housing 50,223 migrants, one of the highest numbers on record, and about 5,000 more than the congressionally mandated limit of 45,274.

In 2016, President Obama’s last year in office, the average daily population of immigrants in detention dipped to 34,376.

A detention crunch that homeland security officials described as already dire threatened last week to become worse with the announcement by Attorney General William Barr that the administration would soon begin mandatorily detaining additional asylum seekers, a move that, if implemented, could put thousands more in custody each month.

“It’s clear that all of our resources are being stretched thin. The system is full, and we are beyond capacity,” said Kevin K. McAleenan, the new acting homeland security secretary, speaking to reporters at a news conference on the border.

Despite its potential impact on the already congested detention system, a D.H.S. press officer said the agency supported Mr. Barr’s order on the detention of asylum seekers because it might discourage migrants from crossing the border to begin with.

Immigrant advocates said the detention crunch has been self-imposed by the administration and its policies.

Under President Trump, ICE agents have been encouraged to arrest anyone living in the country without legal status, regardless of their criminal record, whereas the previous administration put a priority on arresting and deporting undocumented migrants who were considered dangerous.

The Trump administration has also expanded collaboration with local sheriff’s departments to gain easier access to anyone in criminal custody who is also suspected of immigration violations. It has once again expanded the use of workplace raids — officials carried out the largest one in a decade earlier this month in Texas. And it has scaled back the use of humanitarian parole, which once allowed many asylum seekers to roam freely and work with temporary permits while they waited for their cases to be resolved.

The result is an increasingly congested system of long-term detention centers around the country, with officials signaling the need for more resources to house more detainees, while immigrant advocates argue that there are humane and effective alternatives to detention.

“We have to remember that it is a choice to jail asylum seekers, and it is a choice that is at odds with international human rights norms,” said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Ms. Altman pointed to case management programs that have been used in the past to ensure that immigrants show up for court. Studies have shown that the programs are both cheaper than detention and have a proven track record of near universal court compliance.

To address the current crush of detained migrants, ICE officials are working urgently to both expand the current system and to purge it of anyone possible, according to two officials at the Department of Homeland Security who spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal operations. That effort involves scanning the records of the detained population to find anyone who is ready to be deported immediately, and to identify anyone who qualifies for humanitarian parole and can be released to make room for others.

Another idea, drafted in a memo from Mr. McAleenan in his new capacity as the acting homeland security secretary, would ask the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to dedicate most or all of its resources toward processing the cases of detained immigrants — temporarily pausing the court proceedings of anyone who has already been released into the country. The memo has not yet been sent, according to the official who disclosed it.

Officials in Washington have also suggested to ICE field offices around the country that they begin to release immigrants who have been granted bond by judges but have not yet paid them — presumably because they cannot afford to — in order to make more room.

Many of these measures aimed at clearing out space could face opposition from the White House, since they run contrary to the very policies that are creating the problem — President Trump’s often-stated desire to end what he calls “catch and release” of migrants at the border.

Meanwhile, authorities are struggling to identify new locations where migrants can be held in detention. The military awarded a $23 million contract in February to build a “contingency mass migration complex” at Guantánamo, a plan that would expand the existing facility to house 13,000 migrants and 5,000 support staff in tents. That project appears intended primarily to accommodate a crush of migrants that might accompany a new crisis in the Caribbean, though it could theoretically be used to house Central Americans.

In recent months, ICE has also signed or expanded a series of contracts, procuring nearly 3,000 additional beds to house migrants in state and local prisons and jails across the country. Staff have been moved to run the new facilities, but that has further stretched resources at existing detention centers, making it harder to keep cases moving on track.

Medical providers at some ICE facilities have also complained about not having enough resources to maintain minimum requirements, and the officials who spoke on background said that some ICE detention centers had been forced to lower their populations recently because they did not have enough staffing to meet medical standards.

Watchdog groups that favor less immigration detention are warning that slapdash efforts to expand the ICE system could leave detainees at risk.

“You don’t have to take my word for it. Their own inspector general has looked into this and expressed concerns about oversight, conditions, inspections, contracting,” said Mary Small, policy director of the Detention Watch Network, referring to reports that have documented a long history of inadequacies with health care, sanitation, the use of force and legal access inside detention centers. “Whether by systematically overcrowding the existing system or rapidly expanding it, it’s logical to expect to exacerbate all of the underlying problems,” Ms. Small said.

Congress has control over ICE’s budget for detention, and Democrats have often tried to limit funds in order to rein in the agency’s ability to make arrests indiscriminately. Even before the spike in migrant crossings earlier this year, the agency had been on track to require additional emergency funds this fiscal year in order to keep pace with trends at the southern border. Though the majority of those crossing recently are members of migrant families, who are typically being released into the country rather than detained, tens of thousands of individual adults continue to arrive each month, most of whom will end up in long-term detention centers.

Because most migrant families are being released to await the outcome of their asylum cases, ICE’s three family detention centers are largely empty now. Facilities certified to house families only have a capacity of about 2,500 people, in any case. Currently, 675 members of migrant families are being detained in one of those facilities in Dilley, Tex. A second one in Karnes City, Tex., has been converted to house adults, to help with overcrowding elsewhere. And the third in Leesport, Pa., is empty.

(Reporting by New York Times)

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Northern Ireland Police Arrest Woman For Slaying Of Journalist Lyra McKee

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In this undated family photo made available Friday April 19, 2019, issued by Northern Ireland Police, showing journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed when guns were fired during clashes with police Thursday night April 18, 2019, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Police are investigating the shooting death of 29-year-old McKee, during street violence Thursday night.(Family photo/PSNI via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The Northern Ireland Police Service said Tuesday they have arrested a woman under the Terrorism Act in connection with the slaying of journalist Lyra McKee.


The arrest of the 57-year-old under the Terrorism Act came as an Irish Republican Army splinter group admitted that one of its “volunteers” killed journalist McKee, who was shot dead while reporting on rioting in Londonderry.

In a statement issued Tuesday to the Irish News, the New IRA offered “full and sincere” apologies to McKee’s family and friends.

The group said the 29-year-old journalist was killed during Thursday night’s unrest “while standing beside enemy forces” — a reference to the police.

The IRA and most other militant groups have disarmed since Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord. The New IRA has been formed from splinter groups opposed to the peace process.

Authorities believe one person pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support.

The use of a firearm apparently aimed at police marks a dangerous escalation in sporadic violence that continues to plague Northern Ireland 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. The New IRA group rejects the peace agreement.

The riot followed a pattern familiar to those who lived through the worst years of violence in Northern Ireland. Police arrived in the city’s Creggan neighborhood to search for weapons and dissidents. They were barraged with gasoline bombs and other flying objects before someone wearing a black mask appeared, fired some shots and fled.

No police were struck by the bullets, but McKee — who had been trying to film the riot on her phone — was hit. The journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital in a police car but died.

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Wisconsin Woman Charged With Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS, Pleads Guilty

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin mother of seven pleaded guilty Monday to trying to plan terrorist attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group by distributing information online on how to make explosives and biological weapons.


Waheba Issa Dais (dys) initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of providing material support to terrorists but prosecutors dropped one of the charges in exchange for her guilty plea.

Prosecutors say in court documents that Dais, 46, used hacked social media accounts to discuss possible attacks with self-proclaimed members of the IS. She also tried to recruit IS supporters to carry out attacks and provided them with information on making explosives and poisons, according to the documents.

Authorities never connected her to any attack plots, but U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger noted the seriousness of her actions, saying Dais put a lot of information online with instructions on how to harm people.

“Nobody will ever know what all she could’ve inspired,” said Krueger, who serves in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

In the hacked social media accounts, the FBI said it found conversations where Dais discussed possible attacks with self-proclaimed IS members. In one case, she suggested using the deadly toxin ricin in a government building or a reservoir somewhere in the U.S., according to the FBI’s report. In another instance, she suggested street festivals and summer celebrations as possible targets, the FBI said.

Dais was born in Jerusalem and was married to a U.S. citizen when she arrived in Chicago in 1992, according to the FBI. They divorced in 2003 and Dais remained in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. She was living in Cudahy, a city just south of Milwaukee.

Dais faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 12, although the plea agreement said her punishment could be more lenient because she accepted responsibility for her actions. However, the judge will ultimately decide the sentence.

Also Monday in a separate case, prosecutors announced that a Milwaukee man pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an attempt to provide material support to the IS. In that case, prosecutors said Yosvany Padilla-Conde, a Cuban national, made videos swearing allegiance to the IS and stating his intent to travel with another Wisconsin man to the Middle East.

Padilla-Conde thought he was sending the videos to an Islamic State recruiter, but it was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Padilla-Conde’s co-conspirator, Jason Ludke, was convicted last year and is already incarcerated. Padilla-Conde faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 7.

“These cases demonstrate the continuing and evolving threat posed by foreign terrorist organizations,” Krueger said.

Read the criminal complaint below:

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