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Appeals court lets Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers stand

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A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday the controversial White House policy known as “Remain in Mexico” can continue while litigation over the policy plays out in federal courts.

The policy, officially called Migration Protection Protocols, requires some Central Americans who are seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings.

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A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the program April 8, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later put that order on hold later that month pending the Trump administration’s appeal. Tuesday’s decision means the program will continue and that hundreds — if not thousands more asylum seekers — will be sent back pending future hearings.

The program began in California in January and was expanded to the El Paso ports of entries in March. Lawyers, faith-based groups and non-profit organizations in El Paso have since highlighted the significant impact the policy has had on being able to provide adequate representation to their clients, who they said are hard to track down in Mexico because shelter space is limited there and it’s often unclear where their clients are staying from one day to the next. Lawyers also say their clients face threats and have expressed fear of living in border cities that are prone to violence.

In Ciudad Juárez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, there were more than 150 reported homicides in April and a more than 470 since January. The monthly total is the highest since the tail-end of the drug war that claimed thousands of lives from 2008 to 2011.

Linda Rivas, the managing attorney at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center who represents some of the migrant families, said last week one of her clients was kidnaped in Ciudad Juárez recently.

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“’You all come to steal our jobs’ was one of the statements that was made while he was held captive,” she told reporters. “Another [client was told] ‘If I ever see you cross here again I am going to kill you.’”

May is also off to a violent start as the killings in Ciudad Juárez have included three Honduran migrants, Mexican media reported earlier this week.

The judges took the violence into account in their decision but said they believed the Mexican government was doing its best to quell the violence.

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“The plaintiffs fear substantial injury upon return to Mexico, but the likelihood of harm is reduced somewhat by the Mexican government’s commitment to honor its international law obligations and to grant humanitarian status and work permits to individuals returned under the MPP,” the filing states. “We are hesitant to disturb this compromise amid ongoing diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Mexico.”

The ruling also states that “the public interest favors the ‘efficient administration of the immigration laws at the border.’”

More than 3,200 migrants have been returned to Mexico, CBS News tweeted earlier this week.

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The case in California was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies on behalf of 11 asylum seekers that had been returned to Mexico after the program was first launched. In a statement Tuesday the rights group said the ruling isn’t ideal but said they were hopeful the program would ultimately be blocked because of doubts about its legality that are raised in the ruling.

“Notably, two of the three judges that heard this request found that there are serious legal problems with what the government is doing, so there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Disclosure: Southern Poverty Law Center has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Accused child molester Roy Moore defends Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I too was the object of false allegations’

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Accused child molester Roy Moore on Wednesday came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Moore's remarks came after The New York Times published accounts from a new book, which found that two of Kavanaugh's accusers were credible.

In a statement to the press, Moore defended Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I too was the subject of false allegations, but unlike Justice Kavanaugh and others who have suffered the ire of the left, I filed suit against my accusers and their conspirators," Moore said. "For over two years, I have not seen nor been able to question any of those who went on national television tol tell their false stories just 32 days before the election in December 2017, and ironically I have been sued for defamation for merely denying their false and malicious accusations."

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Trump says ‘many options’ on Iran response

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US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he has "many options" in addition to military strikes against Iran and that details of newly announced sanctions will come within 48 hours.

Asked by reporters about a possible US attack on Iran, Trump said "there are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that."

He explained that by "ultimate option" he meant "war."

Trump said that the specifics of sanctions he announced earlier would be made public "over the next 48 hours."

US ally Saudi Arabia says Iran was behind a missile or drone attack setting ablaze major oil facilities last weekend.

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Bermuda braces for Hurricane Humberto

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Residents of the tiny British archipelago of Bermuda battened down the hatches on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Humberto, a major category 3 storm packing fierce winds and punishing rain.

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Center put the center of the storm about 225 kilometers (140 miles) west of Bermuda at 1800 GMT, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour.

The core of the large storm was expected to pass to the northwest of Bermuda later in the day or overnight, dumping as much as 15 centimeters (six inches) of rain. A heightened storm surge is possible.

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