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US sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sue

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The United States began sending Central American families seeking asylum back to Mexico this week, a Mexican immigration source said on Thursday, while U.S. human rights groups sued the Trump administration, saying the policy puts migrants in danger.

Five families with a total of 16 people, including children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, according to a person who works in migration for the Mexican government, who asked not to be named.

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In late January, the United States began sending non-Mexican migrants who had crossed at the U.S. border with Mexico back to Mexico to wait as their asylum requests are processed, a program called Migrant Protection Protocols. But until this week, only individual adults had been sent back, not children in family groups.

Rights groups say the program endangers asylum seekers by forcing them to remain in regions of Mexico experiencing record levels of violence.

“Both the U.S. and Mexican governments know that the border area is unsafe for women and children,” Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), said in a statement on the decision to return the families to Mexico.

“The U.S. government knows full well that asylum-seeking families are no threat to this nation.”

Sixty-three people have returned to Mexico so far under the program, the government source said.

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Two shelters in Tijuana said they had received the families. They asked not to be named to avoid revealing their location.

The American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant rights groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of 11 anonymous asylum seekers on Thursday. The groups asked a U.S. judge to revoke the policy and order the government to bring the migrants back to the United States while their cases are processed.

The 11 asylum seekers from Central America were returned to Mexico since Jan. 30 to wait out their immigration cases, and now fear for their lives, according to the complaint.

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    The plaintiffs include a lesbian who said she was raped because of her sexual orientation and was forced to flee Honduras after her partner’s family threatened to kill them.

    The lawsuit alleges the policy endangers migrants and violates U.S. immigration and administrative law, as well as universal norms of international law.

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A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said the government would defend the policy in court.

“Congress has explicitly authorized the Department of Homeland Security to return aliens arriving from a contiguous foreign territory to that territory during that alien’s immigration court proceedings,” said Steven Stafford of the DOJ.

In another sign of the political tension over immigration, the White House on Thursday said U.S. President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for his promised wall on the Mexican border when he signs a bill to avert another government shutdown.

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Mexico’s National Migration Institute and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City, Mica Rosenberg in New York and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; writing by Julia Love; editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Rosalba O’Brien


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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George Conway: Even if the White House is telling the truth — we’d have no reason to believe them

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Republican lawyer George Conway tweeted Sunday night that even if the story the White House is spinning about President Donald Trump's trip to Walter Reed makes perfect sense, there's no reason to believe them.

https://twitter.com/gtconway3d/status/1196202741552599040

The tweet shared a Washington Post report from Karen Tumulty who further explained the sentiment.

"It's a good bet he White House is not telling the truth when it claims Trump was at Walter Reed 'to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam,'" Tumulty tweeted. "We know this because — well because those people lie about pretty much everything."

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‘I’m very upset’: Furious Texas rancher says Trump is ‘secretly’ trying to steal land to build ‘the wall’

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Ranchers in Laredo, Texas, are furious as they're learning President Donald Trump is stealing their land away to build the "wall," he says, has already been built.

During a campaign stop in Louisiana Thursday, Trump said that his wall is "going up faster than anyone thought possible." But when probed about it, Trump's own top border official confirmed none of the wall has been built, in fact, all that has been built replaced existing structures.

Only four miles of the area where the Trump "wall" is going is owned by the federal government already. So, the White House is now calling land-owners on the Texas border to beg them to cooperate with their landgrab.

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Mike Pence distances himself from his own top adviser after she refuses to lie for Trump

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Vice President Mike Pence's top adviser, Jennifer Williams, seems to be enduring retaliation from her employers after cooperating with subpoenas from the House impeachment inquiry this week. Williams spoke to the committee behind closed doors, and her testimony has was released Saturday.

President Donald Trump attacked her as a "Never Trumper" on Twitter Sunday, despite her work for the Trump adminsitration.

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