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‘This is shameful’: Trump DOJ guts asylum protections for members of families threatened with violence

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“Barr has announced that a gang’s threat to torture or kill you or your family doesn’t constitute a foundation for seeking asylum.”

In a decision immigrant rights advocates said could have horrific consequences for thousands of people fleeing violence in Central America, Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that being an immediate member of a persecuted family is not sufficient grounds to seek asylum in the United States.

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According to immigration experts, Barr’s move rewrites years of law and represents the Trump administration’s latest far-reaching assault on asylum protections.

“This is a continuation of an attack on Central American asylum seekers,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “In Central America, gangs will attack one family member but threaten another family member.”

As the New York Times Migrants are eligible for asylum in the United States if they can prove they were persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, or what immigration laws describe as “membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Mr. Barr’s ruling concluded that the immigration appeals court ‘erred’ in finding that a migrant’s family qualified as a persecuted social group.

Federal law allows the attorney general to overrule the decisions of the immigration appeals board, which is part of the Justice Department. But like many of the Trump administration’s recent attempts to restrict migration to the United States’ southwest border, Mr. Barr’s ruling was expected to be challenged in the wider court system, immigration advocates and lawyers said.

“In this latest assault on asylum, the administration has taken the absurd position that families are not recognized within societies as distinct groups,” Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, said in a statement. “This is shameful.”

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Observers pointed out that Barr’s decision appeared to leave an exception for members of wealthy or politically connected families.

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Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) slammed Barr’s ruling in a tweet late Monday.

“AG Barr has announced that a gang’s threat to torture or kill you or your family doesn’t constitute a foundation for seeking asylum,” said Merkley. “Trump’s determination to slam the door on refugees with a credible threat on their lives violates our moral responsibility.”

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) also decried Barr’s decision, calling it “another cruel attempt to prevent vulnerable families from seeking asylum.”

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“Many of the families fleeing Central America have been victims of gang violence,” tweeted the CHC, “and have seen their loved ones murdered, tortured, or raped.”

Barr’s move comes just days after President Donald Trump’s “most extreme run at an asylum ban” was temporarily halted by a federal judge after rights groups sued.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, some Trump administration officials are pushing to slash U.S. refugee admissions to zero in 2020.

“The president and some of his senior advisers simply don’t want refugees to come to the United States, whether through the resettlement program or as asylum-seekers,” Scott Roehm, director of the Center for Victims of Torture’s Washington, D.C., office, said in a statement. “This is not about safety, or security, or economics; it’s xenophobia-fueled politics.”

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‘Don’t let him rewrite history’: GOP ex-congressman slams Trump for painting fewer than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths as a victory

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At Wednesday's coronavirus task force press conference, President Donald Trump reiterated his claim that if fewer than 100,000 Americans die from COVID-19, it will be a victory for him.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) had none of it.

He ignored the warnings. He ignored the scientists & doctors. He refused to prepare. He lied about the virus. This country wasn’t ready. People got sick. People died. People lost their jobs. Because he cared more about himself than the country.

Don’t let him rewrite history. https://t.co/9snqoJ1VQI

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Wisconsin GOP plots to strip Democratic governor of more power — a day after forcing voters to stand outside in a pandemic

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This week, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature have faced national fury after their successful lawsuits blocking Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from delaying the election and extending absentee voting.

But just one day after tens of thousands of voters were forced to stand in public lines and risk COVID-19 exposure just to exercise their constitutional right to vote, the Wisconsin GOP found yet another way to weaponize the pandemic for partisan gain.

According to Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Republicans in the legislature have slipped a provision into the state's relief bill authorizing unemployment disbursement under the federal CARES Act, that would allow the state's Finance Committee to make budget cuts without input from Evers — stripping him of power at exactly the moment when the public would be looking to the governor for help.

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CDC quietly deletes hydroxychloroquine guidance as study hyped by Trump comes into question

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday quietly removed bizarre guidelines for using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus. The unproven treatment has been repeatedly hyped by President Donald Trump in spite of the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The CDC published "highly unusual" dosing guidance based on "unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science" last month amid pressure on federal health officials from Trump, Reuters reported. The agency now appears to have quietly removed those guidelines from its website this week.

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