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US allows hundreds of Somalis to stay until at least March 2020

The homeland security department renewed, but did not redesignate, temporary protected status for Somalis

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “US allows hundreds of Somalis to stay until at least March 2020” was written by Amanda Holpuch in New York, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th July 2018 21.32 UTC

Nearly 500 Somalis who escaped terrorism and drought will be allowed to remain in the US until at least March 2020, the US homeland security department announced on Thursday.

Concerns had been raised that the administration would cancel the temporary protected status (TPS) program for Somalis because of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and the decision to end TPS status for more than 428,250 others. But the DHS granted them permission to stay temporarily, owing to the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions” in Somalia.

This decision is a relief for TPS holders such as Yasir, who fled Somalia after being kidnapped and tortured by the al-Qaida-affiliated extremist group al-Shabaab. “I’m scared of going back to Somalia and being killed by al-Shabaab,” Yasir told the Guardian.

Yasir, 29, said that in 2008, he was walking in Mogadishu when two men came up behind him and hit him. He was knocked unconscious. He woke up in a room with the two men, who he said identified themselves as members of al-Shabaab and tried to coerce him into joining their group.

“They told me if I don’t work with them, they will kill me and they know where I live,” Yasir said.

He went into hiding while he tried to find a way out, occasionally dressing in women’s clothes and covering his face in disguise.

An aunt eventually gave him money so he could pay someone to get him out. He doesn’t know how long it took him to get to the US, which he did by traveling through several countries before crossing the border in 2009.

“I was happy to be alive,” Yasir said. “I was happy to be somewhere where justice means something.”

He lived in the US undocumented until 2012, when Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was redesignated for Somalia. TPS protects foreign nationals already in the US when civil unrest, violence or natural disasters erupt in their home country.

TPS can either be redesignated, which allows a new group of people to apply for it; renewed, with allows people who already have it to stay longer; or terminated, which typically gives people more than a year to find a way to stay in the US or leave.

The homeland security department renewed, but did not redesignate, TPS for Somalis on Thursday. The homeland security department said in a statement it made this decision because the “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that support Somalia’s current designation for TPS continue to exist”.

With TPS, instead of living in the shadows, Yasir was able to work, get a driver’s license and open a bank account.

He is now married to a US citizen and has a seven-year-old American son. He said he doesn’t know what has happened to his family and friends in Somalia, and whether they are dead or alive.

“I’ve seen countries losing TPS and I’ve been scared I’m going to lose mine and be deported back home,” Yasir said.

The Trump administration has unleashed a torrent of measures to slow immigration and remove people from the US, including terminating TPS for six of the 10 countries covered by it when he took office.

This has left more than 428,250 people from countries including Nicaragua, El Salvador and Sudan forced to find a way to stay in the US or return to their home country as early as December of this year.

TPS has been extended for more than 8,100 people from South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The president insulted the largest Somali American community, in Minnesota, two days before being elected president. “Everybody’s reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,” Trump said at a rally in November 2017.

Despite the escalating conflict with al-Shabaab, and the terrorist group’s targeting of people who return to the country, the US has dramatically increased deportations there since late 2016. In fiscal year 2016, 198 Somalis were deported, rising to 521 in 2017.

And in December, more than 90 Somali men and women were held shackled on an airplane for nearly 48 hours during a failed attempt to deport them from the US that went as far Dakar, Senegal, before returning to the US.

There have been bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate to encourage the homeland security department to redesignate and extend TPS for Somalia. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, sent a letter on Monday to the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, urging them to extend the protection. The senators wrote: “Conditions in Somalia remain dire, and armed conflict continues to be a threat to the Somali people.”

  • Yasir’s name has been changed to protect his identity

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Trump Administration Wants California To Pay Back Billions For Bullet Train

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration plans to cancel $929 million in U.S. money for California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion it’s already spent.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announcement Tuesday came after threats from President Donald Trump to make California pay back the money awarded to build the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The project has faced cost overruns and years of delays.

The Trump administration argues California hasn’t provided required matching dollars and can’t complete work by a 2022 deadline.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and California rail officials didn’t immediately comment.

Last week, Newsom said the rail project “as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He wants to refocus on building a line in central California.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Calls For Reconsideration of SCOTUS Verdict In New York Times v. Sullivan

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday urged the court to reconsider its landmark precedent that made it harder for public figures to sue for defamation even as he joined in a decision to end a defamation suit against comedian Bill Cosby.

The 1964 high court ruling in the libel case known as New York Times v. Sullivan has served as a powerful protection for media reporting on public figures. But Thomas, one of the high court’s most conservative justices, said it is not rooted in the U.S. Constitution.

That ruling and the court’s later ones extending it “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Thomas wrote, expressing views that appear to be aligned with those expressed previously by President Donald Trump.

Thomas made the comments in a concurring opinion agreeing with his fellow justices in refusing to consider reviving a defamation lawsuit against Cosby by Kathrine McKee, an actress and former Las Vegas showgirl who said he falsely called her a liar after she accused him of raping her in 1974.

McKee was represented in the case by attorney Charles Harder, who represented Trump in a defamation suit brought against the president by adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which he denies. McKee had appealed a court ruling in Massachusetts that threw out her lawsuit.

In January 2018, Trump called current defamation laws “a sham and a disgrace” following the publication of a book about the White House by author Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which among other things questioned the president’s mental health.

The high court’s unanimous 1964 ruling held that in order to win a libel suit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the offending statement was made with “actual malice,” meaning knowledge that it was false or reckless disregard as to whether it was false.

The case involved a lawsuit against the New York Times, a newspaper that Trump often criticizes for its coverage of him.

Thomas wrote that “we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” referring to the constitutional provisions protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the application of those rights to the states.

“If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we,” Thomas wrote.

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Leaving Neverland: First Trailer For Devastating New Michael Jackson Documentary Released

HBO/Channel 4 production features the testimonies of two men who allege that the singer sexually abused them as children

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Leaving Neverland: first trailer for ‘devastating’ Michael Jackson documentary” was written by Benjamin Lee, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 19th February 2019 19.32 UTC

It’s a documentary Michael Jackson’s estate doesn’t want you to see. But despite legal threats, HBO and Channel 4 will air Leaving Neverland next month.

A new trailer offers a first look at the troubling two-part, four-hour film that premiered at Sundance film festival last month, featuring the testimonies of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them as children.

“He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail,” says Robson in the trailer.

The film shocked critics and audiences when it was shown at Sundance. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called it “devastating” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg praised it as “complicated and heartbreaking”.

“This is not a movie about Michael Jackson,” said director Dan Reed to Variety. “This is not a movie about Michael Jackson abusing little boys. It’s a movie about two families and how two families came to terms with what their sons revealed to them many years after Jackson died.”

Jackson’s estate has already criticised the film in a 10-page letter addressed to HBO’s CEO. It denied the allegations and condemned director Dan Reed for not speaking to anyone in Jackson’s family or legal team. Since the film premiered, some Jackson fans have attacked the director and the two accusers.

“There is also this league of fans who are almost like a cult, and they say very nasty things [about the film] on social media,” Reed said to Vice. “And their words echo the two-decade long rhetoric of the Jackson family and legal team, which is shaming the victims. It happens often in these cases. It’s what they do very aggressively and relentlessly, and I don’t think you can get away with that in 2019 like you could in the past.”

Earlier this month, a Chicago pre-run of an upcoming Broadway show based around Jackson’s music was cancelled because of the Actors’ Equity Association strike reportedly causing delays. Equity has rejected that its “modest” demand was to blame for the cancellation.

“The developmental lab that was scheduled for this production was delayed by 12 working days during the strike,” a spokesman said. “It is difficult to understand how a modest delay in February would impact a run that was scheduled for late October.”

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