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Immigrant whose daughter pleaded with Pope Francis for help has first California hearing

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A Mexican immigrant to the United States whose daughter asked Pope Francis for help in stopping her father’s deportation attended his first hearing before an immigration judge in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Judge Rose Peters made no rulings at the brief hearing and postponed the proceedings against Mario Vargas-Lopez, 45, until March 22. Vargas-Lopez’s attorney, Alex Galvez, is seeking to have the case put on an indefinite hold citing his client’s good conduct since his release from a Louisiana detention center in 2014.

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“The family represents struggles that other families are going through. They are heroes and a lot of people are looking up to them,” Galvez said shortly before the hearing.

Galvez said the proceedings could last as long as three years, during which Vargas-Lopez is set to remain free.

Vargas-Lopez was arrested in Tennessee in September 2013 on a drunk driving charge and served a six-month sentence. Upon his release he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held in a Louisiana detention facility.

He was later freed on bond just three days after his then 10-year-old daughter, Jersey Vargas, delivered her message to the pope. He was later reunited with his family in Los Angeles.

Jersey Vargas was part of a group from Southern California who traveled to Vatican City in 2014 to deliver letters to the pope from children of undocumented parents, according to “The Tidings,” a publication linked to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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She was able to speak briefly with the pope and told him, “My father is suffering,” according to the publication. The delegation hoped to convince the pope to discuss immigration reform in a subsequent visit with then President Barack Obama.

Jersey Vargas, now 13, said before Thursday’s hearing, “I’m trying to be strong for my family. I’m concerned.”

“I hope everything is going to be okay,” she added.

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The proceedings come just weeks after Republican Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States. Trump ran on pledges to get tough on immigrants, including plans to build a wall on the border of Mexico and the United States.

(Reporting by Olga Grigoryants in Los Angeles; Writing by Curtis Skinner; Editing by David Gregorio)

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England pubs reopen on US Independence Day — after first nationwide closure since 1665’s Great Plague

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The streets of Soho filled with merry drinkers in London on Saturday and the pubs of Manchester were packed as England's hospitality sector returned from a three-month coronavirus hiatus.

"It feels amazing," said Leo Richard Bill, a soldier, after getting through the door of one of London's buzziest restaurants on the Thames River's popular south bank.

"It’s been what, like three months since... me and everyone else haven’t been able to get outside and have a good time. So yeah, it feels good to get amongst it," he said.

Parts of London and other cities, deserted during lockdown, sprang to life as people dressed up and came out for "Super Saturday" -- the day England's hospitality sector reopened for the first time since March.

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2020 Election

Trump’s angry words and Coronavirus surge darken Independence Day weekend in America

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The United States marked an unusually somber Independence Day on Saturday, with President Donald Trump bashing domestic opponents and China -- but praising the country's coronavirus response, despite a record surge in cases.

Across the country, virus fears dampened or nixed Main Street parades, backyard barbecues and family reunions on a day when Americans typically celebrate their 1776 declaration of independence from Britain.

Instead of adopting a unifying tone, Trump -- facing a tough re-election and eager to mobilize his political base -- railed against protesters demanding racial justice after unarmed African American George Floyd was killed by a white police officer.

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2020 Election

‘Spoiler’ Kanye West mocked for running for president against his pal Trump: ‘2020 never fails to disappoint’

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President Donald Trump appears to have lost the support of one of his most well-known Black supporters as Kanye West announced on Saturday that he is running for president.

“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” West posted on Twitter, with the hashtag #2020VISION.

The musician was mocked for his presidential bid, here's some of what people were saying:

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