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Trump Administration Prevents Migrant Asylum Court Injunction From Taking Effect



UPDATE: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily STAYED a federal court injunction of the Trump administration’s policy to keep migrants in Mexico as they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration asked an appeals court Friday to let it continue returning asylum seekers to Mexico, hours before a U.S. judge’s order was set to go into effect blocking the unprecedented change to the U.S. asylum process.

Judge Richard Seeborg’s ban was set to go into effect at 5 p.m. Pacific time, but the government has now asked an appeals court to keep the policy in place while it is litigated. It’s unclear when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would rule on the government’s request.

Either way, immigration attorneys who had argued the policy was putting the lives of asylum seekers at risk by forcing them to wait in violence-plagued Mexico said the ruling was already having an effect.

Since the judge issued his order, immigration officials stopped returning asylum seekers south of the border after they attended their hearings in the United States.

“I haven’t heard of anyone who’s been sent back since the judge’s order on Monday,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Judy Rabinovitz.

The order marked another defeat to President Donald Trump’s intent to radically alter U.S. immigration policies. Families seeking asylum typically have been released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court.

The new policy started in January at the nation’s busiest border crossing in San Diego and the government was starting to expand it.

At a hearing in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, Nicolas Palazzo, an attorney for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, told a judge that his Salvadoran client feared returning to Mexico.

In similar cases in San Diego, Department of Homeland Security attorneys said authorities would interview the asylum seeker to determine if fears of Mexico were credible enough to avoid going back. But attorneys on Wednesday assured a judge that the man would remain in the United States, signaling a change ahead of Friday afternoon’s ban.

The Mexican government says more than 1,300 people were returned to Mexico under the program.

If the policy remains blocked, it’s unclear whether asylum seekers will have to wait until their next hearing date in U.S. courts to return to the United States, or if they will be allowed to simply appear at a border crossing before then, Rabinovitz said.

The order came after a lawsuit by 11 Central Americans and legal advocacy groups who argued the lives of asylum seekers were being put at risk by forcing them to stay in Mexico, where crime and drug violence are prevalent.

The judge agreed, saying the policy lacks sufficient protections to ensure migrants don’t face “undue risk to their lives or freedom.”

After the ruling, Trump tweeted that the ruling was “unfair to the U.S.”

The Trump administration says the policy responds to a crisis at the southern border that has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants. Growing numbers of families are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Attorneys representing asylum seekers say the government is ignoring the law to try and simply stop immigrants who have a legal right to be in the United States.

“These people are facing very serious dangers in Mexico — including the danger that they just might be sent back to their home country,” Rabinovitz said. “That’s not the way we should be treating asylum seekers. …. We’re glad the court is standing up to the Trump administration and saying ‘no, you’ve got to follow the law.’”

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration is asking an appeals court to let it continue returning asylum seekers to Mexico to await court hearings while it challenges a San Francisco judge’s order that would block the policy.

The government requested a stay with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent the lower court order from taking effect Friday afternoon.

Judge Richard Seeborg ruled Monday in favor of civil liberties groups to halt the practice while their lawsuit moves forward challenging the policy. His order will take effect at 5 p.m. Friday unless a stay is issued.

Seeborg said the policy violates U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate dangers migrants face in Mexico.

The government says Seeborg’s order is erroneous and endangers the public during a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Breaking Now

House Democrats Subpoena Full Mueller Report, and the Underlying Evidence




WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee formally issued a subpoena on Friday demanding that the Justice Department hand over to Congress an unredacted version of Robert S. Mueller III’s report and all of the evidence underlying it by May 1.

The subpoena, one of the few issued thus far by House Democrats, escalates a fight with Attorney General William P. Barr over what material Congress is entitled to see from the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation. The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, asked for all evidence, including summaries of witness interviews and classified intelligence.

“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates. It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”

Mr. Nadler’s deadline falls a day before Mr. Barr is scheduled to testify publicly before the Judiciary Committee in what is expected to be an explosive session where Democrats plan to excoriate Mr. Barr’s handling of the report and Republicans will urge their colleagues to accept that there was no criminality and move on.

Mr. Barr released to Congress and the public a redacted copy of the more than 400-page report on Thursday. Though the redactions were less extensive than some Democrats feared, the Justice Department had blacked out sections of the report that it said contained classified material, secretive grand jury testimony or information that would affect investigations still underway.

Democrats have been threatening to issue a subpoena for weeks, and the Justice Department on Thursday sought to head off the subpoena with a pledge to share more information with Congress.

Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter that the department would allow the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the heads of their judiciary and intelligence committees, to view a fuller version of the report beginning next week. But he said even that copy would still have secretive grand jury information blacked out because of legal requirements.

Given the sensitive nature of the information, Mr. Boyd wrote, “all individuals reviewing the less-redacted version” must agree to keep the newly unredacted information confidential.

Mr. Nadler rejected the proposed accommodation as insufficient on Friday. He has repeatedly asked the Justice Department to join him in requesting that a court unseal the grand jury information, in particular, for Congress to review privately. Mr. Barr has so far rejected that request.

“I am open to working with the department to reach a reasonable accommodation for access to these materials,” he said, “however I cannot accept any proposal which leaves most of Congress in the dark, as they grapple with their duties of legislation, oversight and constitutional accountability.”

(Reporting by Washington Post)

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Judge Rejects Anti-Vaxxer Lawsuit Against New York City’s Vaccine Mandate




A state judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by anti-vaccination parents who sought to lift New York City’s new measles vaccination mandate, as parts of the metropolis continue to face an outbreak.

“A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire,” Judge Lawrence Knipel wrote in his ruling. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”

Five anonymous parents in Brooklyn filed the lawsuit earlier this week against the city health department for ordering the mandatory vaccinations in parts of the borough amid a growing outbreak of the measles virus concentrated in the Williamsburg area. The lawsuit said the city’s response is “irrational,” and that the spread of the virus does not pose a clear danger to public health.

Knipel ruled that the city’s decision to require measles vaccinations during the outbreak is supported by “largely uncontroverted” evidence.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot issued the emergency order on April 9, requiring everyone who lives and works within four Brooklyn ZIP codes to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine if they hadn’t already gotten it. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in misdemeanor punishments, including criminal fines or imprisonment.

The city has already issued summons to three people who refused the mandate and face $1,000 in fines.

As of Wednesday, the measles outbreak has infected at least 329 people since October, mostly children from Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, according to Barbot. Many Orthodox Jewish people believe vaccinations go against Jewish or Talmudic law, resulting in low vaccination rates for some communities.

Barbot praised the decision to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in a statement to HuffPost that it “will protect New Yorkers from a very dangerous infection with potentially fatal consequences.”

She added that officials “do not want to issue violations but will continue and hope that New Yorkers make the best choice for their families, their neighbors and their own health ― to get vaccinated.”

(Reporting by HuffPost)

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Court Rulings

Federal Appeals Court Backs California Laws To Protect Immigrants




SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday kept in place three California laws intended to protect immigrants, continuing the state’s efforts to be a national leader in opposing Trump administration policies.

The court upheld lower court rulings denying the Trump administration’s request to block law enforcement from providing release dates and personal information of people in jail, as well as to throw out a law barring employers from allowing immigration officials on their premises unless the officials have a warrant.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected U.S. District Judge John Mendez’s reasoning last year for denying a portion of the third law, which requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held. It ruled that the section requiring the state to review circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of detainees puts an impermissible burden on the federal government.

But the appellate panel said Mendez can consider rejecting a preliminary injunction for that section on other legal grounds.

The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states’ rights “continue to thrive.”

“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.

California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while the administration argued the state is allowing dangerous criminals on the streets.

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