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Judge tells US to pay costs of reuniting immigrant families

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A U.S. judge in California on Friday ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to pay the costs of reuniting immigrant parents with children separated from them by officials at the U.S.-Mexican border, rather than forcing the parents to pay.

The U.S. government is working to reunite around 2,000 children with their parents, who were detained and separated as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to deter illegal immigration.

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“It doesn’t make any sense for any of the parents who have been separated to pay for anything,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who last month ordered that the children be reunited with their parents by July 26, said at a hearing in San Diego.

The government missed a deadline this week for getting the youngest of the children back with their parents.

Trump has made his hardline immigration policies a central part of his presidency. His administration adopted the family separation policy as part of its effort to discourage illegal immigration, but Trump bowed to intense political pressure and abandoned the policy on June 20.

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued the administration over the family separations, said at the hearing that immigrant parents had been told by immigration officials they had to pay for their travel. One parent was initially asked to pay $1,900 to be reunited with a child, according to ACLU court papers.

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Trump administration lawyer Sarah Fabian called the judge’s order on paying for the reunifications “a huge ask on HHS,” referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fabian said those decisions were handled at the field level, adding that HHS, which houses the detained children, had limited resources.

“The government will make it happen,” Sabraw responded.

The judge also agreed to impose timelines on the government for reporting details about its reunification efforts.

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The administration has said its initial reunifications were slowed by the need for DNA testing and criminal background checks on parents, and to determine their fitness to care for their children.

In a filing with the court, HHS official Chris Meekins said the administration had streamlined its vetting procedures to comply with a July 10 court order, but that the swifter process could put children at risk.

Adults are no longer being DNA tested to verify parentage, Meekins said, and background checks are not being performed on adults who will be living with the children. Meekins said that, while abbreviated vetting speeds up the reunification process, it also “materially increases the risk of harm to children” and could result in children being placed in abusive environments or with adults who are not their parents.

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The government said it intends to identify between six and eight locations where all reunifications will take place. The government’s filing did not say whether it intends to release families after reunification, deport them or keep them together in detention.

Reporting by Tom Hals; Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, Reade Levinson in New York and Marty Graham in San Diego; Editing by Will Dunham

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘Manic, unhinged and unnerving’: MSNBC host warns that Trump’s erratic behavior has ‘crossed the threshold’

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MSNBC guest host John Heilemann warned on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s behavior has been “manic, unhinged, and unnerving” in recent days — and some fear it will only get worse.

Heilemann was filling in for Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House.”

He noted at the top of the show that Trump’s behavior has driven a consensus this week that he’s even less even-keeled than usual — which is saying a lot.

“The world is reeling and offering a collective judgment of O-M-G and W-T-F,” Heilmann said. He then played a clip of Trump’s bizarre, belligerent, and blatantly racist comments. He claimed that “no one can be trusted,” that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal,” and that he is “the Chosen One.”

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Bolsonaro’s ‘disastrous’ policies on Amazon led to fires, say observers

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"We must stand together behind the Indigenous communities and leaders across the Amazon region—from Brazil to Ecuador and beyond. For them the Amazon is more than the lungs of the world, it is their home."

The Amazon is burning and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is to blame.

That's the general consensus from observers and green groups who say the right-wing firebrand's anti-environmental policies shoulder the lion's share of the responsibility for thousands of fires across the rainforest, known as the world's lungs

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Trump is going off the rails because he fears prosecution if he loses re-election: MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika

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President Donald Trump's recent outbursts have been triggered by his all-consuming fears about the economy tanking his re-election chances, according to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

The president's behavior has been even more erratic than usual this week, the "Morning Joe" hosts agreed, and they believe he's worried about his sagging poll numbers and a possible recession on the horizon.

"That 'genius' is at a 36 percent now," Scarborough said. "You've actually been saying for the past week or two that you believe that even his more unbalanced behavior that's been noted by The Atlantic, and it's been noted by Jonathan Lemire and the Associated Press, and it's been noted by Gene (Robinson), and it's been noted by conservatives.

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