wyldraven
wyldraven
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Welcome
Within the pages of my journal you will find mostly rants and commentary on topics of concern to me. Currently, those would include the illegal occupation of Iraq, human rights, the threat of theocracy, and the U. S. Presidency of Barack Obama.

If these things interest you as well, read on. If you wish to engage in attack debate, simply move on. I won't respond to you. If you are interested in honest debate, and have an open mind, then I welcome you.

Oh, and one more thing. I believe Bush 43 was the worst president ever to hold that office in the history of the United States. I am unashamed of that opinion.

Truth
If your actions harm no one, then they are ethical. The reverse is not necessarily true.

Motto
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood




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Trump, GOP to Huddle as Outrage Builds Over Border Policy

WASHINGTON  Republicans on Capitol Hill frantically searched on Tuesday for ways to end the administration’s policy of separating families after illegal border crossings, ahead of a visit from President Trump to discuss broader immigration legislation.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, announced they were introducing bills to stop the practice amid a public outcry over the administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal crossings.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced legislation that the White House said it was reviewing, and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also introduced a measure.

Both bills were offered as alternatives in case broader GOP immigration legislation heading for a vote this week fails, as is likely. “This becomes a backup proposal,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.

Trump’s meeting late Tuesday with House Republicans comes as lawmakers in both parties are up in arms after days of news reports showing images of children being held at border facilities in cages and an audio recording of a young child pleading for his “Papa.”

The issue boiled over Tuesday at a House hearing on an unrelated subject when protesters with babies briefly shut down proceedings.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, teared up as he pleaded with Republicans on the panel to end what he called “internment camps.”

“We need you, those children need you and I am talking directly to my Republican colleagues we need you to stand up to President Donald Trump,” he said.

Under the current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution  a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May.

The House is already embroiled in an election-year struggle over immigration legislation that threatens to hurt Republicans in November.

Democrats have seized on the family separation issue. And now, Republicans are increasingly joining them in their call to stop separating families.

“While cases are pending, families should stay together,” tweeted Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tough re-election battle. He introduced his own bill to speed up court proceedings to no more than 14 days. “Children belong with their families.”

Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton called for an immediate end to the “ugly and inhumane practice” of separation. “It’s never acceptable to use kids as bargaining chips in political process.” Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts said he was “against using parental separation as a deterrent to illegal immigration.”

“The time is now for the White House to end the cruel, tragic separations of families,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

From afar, ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted, “The administration’s current family separation policy is an affront to the decency of the American people and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded. The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now.”

The Trump administration insists the family separations are required under the law. But after signaling Monday that it would oppose any fix aimed solely at addressing that issue, the White House said Tuesday it was reviewing the emergency legislation being introduced by Cruz to keep migrant families together.

The senator’s bill would add more federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families, speed the processing of asylum cases and require that families that cross the border illegally be kept together, absent criminal conduct or threats to the welfare of any children.

At a White House briefing Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared, “Congress alone can fix it.” That line has been echoed by others in the administration, including Trump, who has falsely blamed a law passed by Democrats for the “zero tolerance” approach to prosecutions of families crossing the border.

Two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the Freedom Caucus, said he’s skeptical that even a full-throated endorsement from Trump will be enough to get the compromise bill through the House.

The compromise bill shifts away from the nation’s longtime preference for family immigration to a new system that prioritizes entry based on merits and skills. It beefs up border security, clamps down on illegal entries and reinforces other immigration laws.

To address the rise of families being separated at the border, the measure proposes keeping children in detention with their parents, undoing 2-decade-old rules that limit the time minors can be held in custody.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is reworking the family separation provision in the compromise bill, a GOP aide said Tuesday.

Faced with the prospect of gridlock in the House, senators appear willing to take matters into their own hands.

John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican leader, said Senate Republicans are working on language to address the family separations that could receive a floor vote, potentially as part of a spending bill package.

“I don’t think the answer to family separation is to not enforce the law. I think the answer to family separation is: Don’t separate families while you’re enforcing the law,” Cornyn told reporters. “It’s all within our power, and people have to overcome their desire to preserve an issue to campaign on.”

GOP senators including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine also said they’ve been discussing family separation legislation.

The administration, meanwhile, is hoping to force Democrats to vote for the bills or bear some of the political cost in November’s midterm elections. Democrats brushed aside that pressure.

“As everyone who has looked at this agrees, this was done by the president, not Democrats. He can fix it tomorrow if he wants to, and if he doesn’t want to, he should own up to the fact that he’s doing it,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

___

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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Peter Ustinov

"The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."


Margaret Thatcher

"I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end."


James Thurber

"I loathe the expression "What makes him tick." It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm."


Luis Bunuel

"I'm still an atheist, thank God."


Papa! Papa! Audio of Children at Border Stokes Rage Over Separation

BROWNSVILLE, Texas—An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a U.S. immigration facility took center stage Monday in the growing uproar over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.

“Papa! Papa!” one child is heard weeping in the audio file that was first reported by the nonprofit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press.

Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week. She did not provide details about where exactly it was recorded.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the audio but said children taken into custody by the government are being treated humanely. She said the government has high standards for detention centers and the children are well cared for, stressing that Congress needs to plug loopholes in the law so families can stay together.

The audio surfaced as politicians and advocates flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border to visit U.S. immigration detention centers and turn up the pressure on the Trump administration.

And the backlash over the policy widened. The Mormon church said it is “deeply troubled” by the separation of families at the border and urged national leaders to find compassionate solutions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, reversed a decision to send a National Guard helicopter from his state to the Mexican border to assist in a deployment, citing the administration’s “cruel and inhumane” policy.

At the border, an estimated 80 people pleaded guilty Monday to immigration charges, including some who asked the judge questions such as “What’s going to happen to my daughter?” and “What will happen to my son?”

Attorneys at the hearings said the immigrants had brought two dozen boys and girls with them to the U.S., and the judge replied that he didn’t know what would happen to their children.

Several groups of lawmakers toured a nearby facility in Brownsville, Texas, that houses hundreds of immigrant children.

Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said the location was a former hospital converted into living quarters for children, with rooms divided by age group. There was even a small room for infants, complete with two high chairs, where two baby boys wore matching rugby style shirts with orange and white stripes.

Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. One cage held 20 youngsters.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility, which is divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children.

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the U.S., Border Patrol officials say they must crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others trying to get into the U.S. illegally.

“When you exempt a group of people from the law … that creates a draw,” said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol’s chief agent there.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters during a tour of San Diego immigration detention facilities with Rep. Juan Vargas and other House Democrats, said family separation is a “heartbreaking, barbarian issue that could be changed in a moment by the president of the United States rescinding his action.”

“It so challenges the conscience of our country that it must be changed and must be changed immediately,” she said during a news conference at a San Diego terminal that is connected to the airport in Tijuana, Mexico by a bridge.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced late Monday that he was introducing emergency legislation intended to keep immigrant families together.

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” Cruz said. “This must stop.”

President Donald Trump emphatically defended his administration’s policy Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he declared. “Not on my watch.”

___

Snow reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Mike Melia in Boston contributed to this report.

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Unapologetic Trump Digs In on Immigration Despite Outrage

WASHINGTON  An unapologetic President Trump defended his administration’s border-protection policies Monday in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Trump declared the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp” on his watch.

Images of children held in fenced cages fueled a growing chorus of condemnation from both political parties, four former first ladies and national evangelical leaders. The children are being held separately from parents who are being prosecuted under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings.

“I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” Trump said Monday as his administration rejected criticism that the policy has resulted in inhuman and immoral conditions.

Trump pointed to more lenient policies under past administrations that had not charged all migrants who had crossed illegally.

“We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans. “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards.”

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants, in part because regulations prohibit detaining children with their parents since the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

The policy change was meant to deter unlawful crossings  and Sessions issued a warning last month to those entering the U.S. illegally that their children “inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions.”

The current holding areas have drawn widespread attention after journalists gained access to one site Sunday. At a McAllen, Texas, detention center hundreds of immigrant children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

Administration officials said they do not like the family separations either  calling it the result of legal loopholes  but insist migrants who arrive illegally simply won’t be released or loosely kept track of.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump declared. “Not on my watch.”

Sessions, on Monday, echoed the administration’s defense of the zero tolerance policy, and called on Congress to act.

“We do not want to separate parents from their children,” he said. “If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices.”

Mindful of the national outcry, lawmakers in both parties rushed Monday to devise a targeted legislative fix.

GOP senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, said they were considering legislation that would keep migrant families together; provide additional judges so detained families would face shorter waiting periods; and provide facilities for the families to stay.

Graham said he talked Mondayto about 40 senators, including Democrats, but not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s a concept it seems everybody is jumping on board,” he said.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she had the backing of the Democratic caucus for a bill would that prohibit the separation of migrant children from their parents, with exceptions for findings of child abuse or trafficking.

But the White House signaled it would oppose any narrow fix aimed solely at addressing the plight of children separated from their parents under the immigration crackdown. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump’s priorities, like funding a border wall and tightening immigration laws, must also be fulfilled as part of any legislation.

“We want to fix the whole thing,” she said. “We don’t want to tinker with just part of it.”

The national debate over the family separation policy comes as Republican lawmakers are growing ever more concerned about negative effects on their re-election campaigns this fall. Trump is to travel to Capitol Hill Tuesday for a strategy session on upcoming immigration legislation.

Underscoring the sensitivity of the issue, language curbing the taking of immigrant children from parents held in custody will be added to the House’s conservative immigration bill, a House GOP aide said Monday, A similar provision is already in a compromise GOP immigration measure between party conservatives and moderates, with the House expected to vote on both late this week.

The administration is hoping to force Democrats to vote for the bills or bear some of the political cost in November’s midterm elections.

White House officials have privately embraced the border policy as a negotiating tactic to win votes for legislation to fulfill the president’s pledge to build a border wall and to tighten the nation’s immigration laws.

Trump’s commitment to the current policy showed no sign of faltering as voices of outrage and condemnation grew louder and more diverse.

In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker reversed a decision to send a state National Guard helicopter to the southern border, citing what he called the administration’s “cruel and inhumane” policy of separating children from their parents.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, a longtime Trump ally, called the policy “disgraceful.” Several religious groups, including some conservative ones, have pushed to stop the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents. The Mormon church said it was “deeply troubled” by the separation of families and urged national leaders to find compassionate solutions.

Former first lady Laura Bush called the policy “cruel” and “immoral,” and said it was “eerily reminiscent” of the U.S. internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans joined Democrats in calling for an end to the separations. Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton called for an immediate end to this “ugly and inhumane practice,” adding, “It’s never acceptable to use kids as bargaining chips in political process.” Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts said he is “against using parental separation as a deterrent to illegal immigration.” And GOP Rep. Mike Coffman warned, “History won’t remember well those who support the continuation of this policy.”

___

Kevin McGill reported from New Orleans. AP writers Alan Fram, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Catherine Lucey in Washington, Nick Riccardi in Denver and Nomaan Merchant in McAllen, Texas, contributed.

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Doubts Loom Over Colombia Peace Deal With Hawks Election

BOGOTA, Colombia  Uncertainty loomed over Colombia’s fragile peace deal on Monday with the victory of one of its most hawkish critics in a bruising presidential runoff that laid bare deep divisions in the South American nation as it emerges from decades of bloody conflict.

Ivan Duque, a law-and-order disciple of a powerful former president, won Sunday’s vote with a commanding 12-point lead over rival Gustavo Petro, a former rebel and ex-Bogota mayor.

On the campaign trail, Duque repeatedly vowed to roll back benefits inscribed in the deal, such as demanding that rebel commanders behind scores of atrocities first confess to their war crimes and compensate victims before they are allowed to take up the congressional seats they have been promised in the accord.

But once he takes office in August from the peace deal’s architect, President Juan Manuel Santos, Duque is likely to tread softer if he wants to broaden his base of support and unite the country, analysts said.

“Ironically, he has a chance to make the accords stronger by providing something the peace process has lacked from the outset: a national consensus,” said Michael Shifter, a longtime observer of Colombia and president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

This year’s elections were the safest in generations, a testament to how far the country has already come in putting Latin America’s longest-running conflict behind it. Not a single act of violence affected the campaign.

In the final stretch before the vote, as victory seemed within reach, the pro-business Duque was already moderating some of his proposals, including a call to overturn a negotiated amnesty for rebels involved in drug trafficking. He also stressed that rank-and-file guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia would have his full support in making their transition to civilian life.

While Santos didn’t endorse any candidate and has feuded with Duque’s mentor, former President Alvaro Uribe, throughout his eight years in office, two of Santos’ advisers on the peace process have quietly migrated to the Duque camp in recent months, which is likely to make for a smoother transition.

“This is the opportunity that we have been waiting for,” the 41-year-old Duque said in his victory speech, playing up his youth  he is the youngest Colombian president ever elected in a popular vote  and pledging “to turn the page on the politics of polarization, insults and venom.”

His biggest challenge will be reining in the pressure from conservative allies. As a senator Duque earned a reputation for being a thoughtful, cordial adversary who frequently stretched his hand across the aisle, but some of his prominent backers are outright hostile to the FARC. Hours after his victory, congresswoman Maria Fernanda Cabal blasted on social media: “The FARC lost. Colombia won!”

One unknown is how much influence Uribe will wield. Duque was elected to Colombia’s Senate in 2014 barely two months after returning to Colombia from Washington, where he had worked for more than a decade at a development bank, thanks to Uribe’s endorsement. Throughout his presidential campaign, he was dogged by accusations that he would be little more than a puppet for Uribe, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. Though praised for weakening the FARC and drawing record foreign investment, Uribe has also been blamed for the military’s killing of thousands of civilians who were falsely accused of being rebels.

“He will have to make some adjustments to the accord, if only to placate Uribe and other hard-liners and avoid being labeled a traitor,” Shifter said. “But these could be relatively modest and not put the entire peace effort at risk.”

It’s also not clear how much leeway there is to make changes to the 310-page accord that put a formal end to a conflict that caused more than 250,000 deaths. Colombia’s constitutional court has declared some aspects of the agreement irreversible. For Duque to prevail in his call for substantive “corrections” that deliver “peace with justice,” he’ll likely need to build political support in Congress that he currently lacks to pass a constitutional reform.

Among the rebels there is concern  and some goodwill.

The FARC has already accepted changes to the accord once before, after the original deal was rejected by voters led by Uribe in a referendum. After Sunday’s election victory, ex-guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono immediately congratulated Duque and said Colombians should work together because “the road of hope is open.”

“The truth is we’re worried,” said Elkin Sepulveda, who joined the FARC at 15 and is now trying to launch an organization to help ex-combatants disabled during the conflict. He’s living in a rural camp in northern Colombia where some 200 rebels are catching up on their studies and learning new skills needed to reintegrate into civilian life.

Even before the election, implementation of the accord had been slow going and rebel commanders have complained that the recent arrest of a former rebel peace negotiator on U.S. drug charges could lead some of the 7,000 fighters who’ve surrendered their weapons to join dissident rebel factions or criminal gangs that have proliferated in former FARC-dominated areas.

“We hope that the next government complies with the peace accords,” said Virginia Lobo, a FARC militant living in the same camp. “Nobody wants to return to war.”

In addition to dealing with the rebels, Duque will have to contend with a weak economy, a migration crisis spurred by neighboring Venezuela’s collapse and a boom in illegal coca crops that has tested traditionally close relations with the U.S.

As part of the peace process, Santos had been betting heavily on a coca crop substitution program that has so far failed to reduce the supply of cocaine, leading the Trump administration to warn last year that it could decertify Colombia as a partner in the war on drugs. Last week, the government said the amount of land dedicated to coca production surged 23 percent last year, to 180,000 hectares, a level unseen in decades.

In March, Duque said he’d bring back a controversial aerial coca eradication program that Santos ended over health concerns. In his victory speech on Sunday, he said the rise in coca production threatens Colombia’s national security.

“Duque has the opportunity to be sort of like Nixon going to China,” said Bernard Aronson, who was the Obama administration’s special envoy to the Colombia peace talks. “I think he’s smart enough to know that not to pursue a pragmatic route could start his presidency off with a big crisis.”

___

Associated Press writer Manuel Rueda in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.

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25,000 Have Fled Fighting in Yemen, U.N. Says

SANAA, Yemen—The U.N. spokesman said on Monday that tens of thousands of residents have fled the fighting along Yemen’s western coastline where Yemeni fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition are engaged in fierce battles with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General, told reporters on Monday that about 5,200 families, or around 26,000 people, have fled the fighting and sought safety within their own districts or in other areas in Hodeida governorate.

“The number is expected to increase as hostilities continue,” he said.

Emirati troops, along with irregular and loyalist forces in Yemen, have been fighting against Houthis for Hodeida since Wednesday. Coalition warplanes rained missiles and bombs on Houthi positions near Hodeida airport, in the city’s south.

The offensive for Hodeida has faced criticism from international aid groups, who fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the city’s port and potentially tip millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

Dujarric also said that U.N. Special Envoy in Yemen Martin Griffiths will be giving a briefing to the Security Council from Sanaa. Griffiths arrived on Saturday and aims at avoiding an all-out-assault in Hodeida.

The campaign to seize control of Hodeida threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation, as Hodeida’s port is the country’s main entry point for most humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, witnesses said that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have shelled a village in the center of the country, killing at least eight civilians and wounding 15.

Residents said that the rebels bombarded the Haglan Maris village late Sunday, and that most of the dead belong to one family. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of security fears.

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Trump Directs Pentagon to Create Space Force

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—Vowing to reclaim U.S. leadership in space, President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space.

Trump envisioned a bright future for the U.S. space program, pledging to revive the country’s flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars. The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want “China and Russia and other countries leading us.”

“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,” Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. “The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”

Trump had previously suggested the possibility of creating a space unit that would include portions equivalent to parts of the Air Force, Army and Navy. But his directive will task the Defense Department to begin the process of establishing the ‘Space Force’ as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces. He said the new branch’s creation will be overseen by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said. He added: “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.”

The president also used the White House event to establish a new policy for reducing satellite clutter in space. The policy calls for providing a safe and secure environment up in orbit, as satellite traffic increases. It also sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, to avoid collisions and spacecraft breakups.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the recently revived space council, as well as several Cabinet members, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, retired astronauts and scientists.

The council’s executive secretary, Scott Pace, told reporters before the meeting that space is becoming increasingly congested and current guidelines are inadequate to address the challenge.

___

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

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Why All Americans Should Have an Account at the Fed

A radical proposal could be the answer to securing Americans’ financial futures; a new study shows that the most effective way to convince people of something is through charts; meanwhile, youngsters resist dissidence for a number of reasons, but one of the most impactful might surprise you. These discoveries and more below.

Give Everyone Government Bank Accounts
A radical new idea from two former Obama officials could revolutionize the way Americans manage their money.

Canada’s Best Weapon in a U.S. Trade-War: Invalidating U.S. Pharma Patents
As the US-Canada trade war heats up, Canada finds itself in an asymmetrical battle, vastly overmatched against a country with an order of magnitude population advantage.

We Wont Stop Filming, We Wont Stop Writing
The Knesset could act not just against the press, but against human rights groups and Palestinians, the last witnesses for the prosecution against the occupation.

No Such Thing as Socialist Zionism
The historic contradictions of the Zionist left are being played out in the death throes of Meretz, writes Tony Greenstein.

Charts Change Hearts and Minds Better Than Words Do
People believe the craziest things.

The Next Trend In Travel Is & Dont.
Tourism can destroy environments and drive out local residents. Its time to rethink the purpose of travel.

The Age Gap in Religion Around the World
Recent surveys have found that younger adults are far less likely than older generations to identify with a religion, believe in God or engage in a variety of religious practices.

Another Reason Young Americans Dont Revolt Against Being Screwed
The Internet creates fears, lowers self-esteem, and divides millennialsall of which weakens their capacity to resist injustices.

The Fight for the Right to Be Cremated by Water
“Aquamation,” a greener form of body disposal, is gaining acceptance in America. But some powerful groups are fighting to stop it.

Who Are LGBTQ Americans? Heres A Major Poll On Life, Sex, and Politics.
BuzzFeed News and Whitman Insight Strategies conducted one of the most comprehensive national polls to date on how LGBTQ Americans live in 2018.

Hundreds of Israelis Demonstrate Against Home Sale to Arab Family
The town’s mayor joined protest, saying that ‘the residents of Afula don’t want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it’s their right. This is not racism.’

Truthdig is running a reader-funded project to document the Poor Peoples Campaign. Please help us by making a donation.


Randy K. Milholland

"Ah, sweet alcohol. Like a true friend, you replace the anger with better, louder anger."


Francois de La Rochefoucauld

"A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire."


Richard P. Adler

"All television is children's television."


Graffito

"Is there life before death?"


Et Tu, Bernie?

There are two versions of Bernie Sanders. There is the old Bernie Sanders, who mounted a quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination as a democratic socialist who refused corporate cash and excoriated corporate Democrats. And there is the new Bernie Sanders, who dutifully plays by the partys rules, courts billionaires, refused to speak out in support of the lawsuit brought against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for rigging the primaries against him and endorses Democratic candidates who espouse the economic and political positions he once denounced.

Sanders metamorphosis began in December 2015 when he saw the groundswell of support for his candidacy and thought he could win the nomination. He dropped the fiery, socialist rhetoric that first characterized his campaign—he had given whole speeches on democratic socialism shortly after he announced his candidacy in May 2015. He hired establishment Democratic Party consultants such as Ted Devine, who, ironically, played a role in the creation of the superdelegates that helped fix the nomination victory of Hillary Clinton. He would spend tens of millions of the some $230 million he raised during the campaign on professional consultants. When it was clear he would lose, Sanders and his influential campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, began coordinating closely with the Clinton campaign. By May of 2016, Sanders had muted his criticisms of Clinton and surrendered to the Democratic Party machine. He has been an obedient servant of the party establishment ever since.

Sanders was always problematic. His refusal to condemn imperialism and the war industry—a condemnation central to the message of the socialist leader Eugene V. Debs—meant his socialism was stillborn. It is impossible to be a socialist without being an anti-imperialist. But at least Sanders addressed the reality of social inequality, which the Republican and Democratic establishment pretended did not exist. He returned political discourse to reality. And he restored the good name of socialism.

Weaver and Clintons campaign manager, Robby Mook, built a de facto alliance in the weeks leading up to the convention. As the convention was about to begin, WikiLeaks exposed the Clinton campaigns nonaggression pact with the Sanders campaign. Many Sanders delegates, by the time they arrived in Philadelphia in July 2016 for the convention, were enraged at the theft and fraud orchestrated by the DNC. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair and the architect of the theft, stepped down. Some DNC staff members were fired.

Sanders delegates were deluged on the eve of the convention with messages from the Sanders campaign to be respectful, not to disrupt the nominating process and to support Clinton, messages that often turned out to have been written by Clinton staffers such as Mook and then sent out under Sanders name. Sanders was a dutiful sheepdog, herding his disgruntled supporters into the embrace of the Democratic Party machine.

The scope of fraud in the primaries was breathtaking. Donna Brazile, who took over the DNC after Wasserman Schultz was removed, later revealed the existence of a joint fund-raising agreement among the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Clinton would control the partys finances, strategy, and all the money raised, Brazile wrote. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

Sanders, although he knew by September 2016 that the process was rigged, said nothing to his supporters. He was tacitly complicit in the cover-up. It was left to one of the architects of the fraud, Brazile, to reveal the scam. But by then it was too late.

Sanders capitulation in the face of the overwhelming evidence of the rigging of the nomination process was political and moral cowardice. He missed his historical moment, one that should have seen him denounce a corrupt, corporate-dominated party elite and walk away to build a third-party candidacy. Sanders will never recover politically. To see the future, he has only to look at the campaign events he held on behalf of Clinton after her nomination. His crowds dwindled from thousands to a few hundred after he endorsed Clinton. Data collected by Harvard Harris Poll charted the downward spiral of his favorability ratings as he became more and more obsequious to the Democratic Party establishment. His 2020 campaign for the presidency will be a pale reflection of 2016. His political revolution slogan has been exposed as another empty public relations gimmick.

If we are to defy corporate power, which is vicious when it feels threatened, we need leaders with the fortitude to withstand the onslaught. Debs never sold out. He was sent to prison in 1919 and ran for president in 1920 from his prison cell. If we are not willing to pay this price we better not play the game.

There is but one thing you have to be concerned about, and that is that you keep foursquare with the principles of the international Socialist movement, Debs said in a June 16, 1918, speech in Canton, Ohio, that led to his being sentenced to 10 years in prison on a charge of violating the Espionage Act. It is only when you begin to compromise that trouble begins. So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what others may say, or think, or do, as long as I am sure that I am right with myself and the cause. There are so many who seek refuge in the popular side of a great question. As a Socialist, I have long since learned how to stand alone.

Those who support Sanders’ capitulation, including his high-priced establishment consultants, will argue that politics is about compromise and the practical. This is true. But playing politics in a system that is not democratic is about becoming part of the charade. We need to overthrow this system, not placate it. Revolution is almost always a doomed enterprise, one that succeeds only because its leaders eschew the practical and are endowed with what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr calls sublime madness. Sanders lacks this sublime madness. The quality defined Debs. And for this reason Sanders is morally and temperamentally unfit to lead this fight.

I never had much faith in leaders, Debs said. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and misrepresentatives of the masses—you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.

Heather Gautney, the author of Crashing the Party: From the Bernie Sanders Campaign to a Progressive Movement and an associate professor of sociology at Fordham University, has detailed the numerous ploys used by the Democratic Party establishment to deny Sanders the nomination. These tactics included the party elites’ appointment of 718 superdelegates—Democratic senators, governors and members of Congress, party officials, dozens of registered lobbyists or shadow lobbyists and wealthy corporate donors. More than 400 were pledged to Clinton before Sanders announced his campaign. The party also banned those who were registered as independent voters from voting in many primaries, although the taxpayers pay for the primaries. It orchestrated the theft of the vote in caucuses such as Nevadas. And it limited the number of debates to deny exposure to Sanders. Brazile passed on the CNN debate questions in advance to the Clinton campaign.

Over a third of under-30 voters—Sanderss core constituency—werent registered to any political party, Gautney writes in an article in The Guardian. And when they got to the polls they were turned away. In the New York primary, she notes, between 3 and 4 million unaffiliated voters were disenfranchised due to a statute that required changing ones party affiliation 25 days prior to the previous general election.

The Democratic Party in New York in the upcoming primary requires unaffiliated voters to register as Democrats 11 months before the primary, a condition that will cripple the progressive candidacy of Cynthia Nixon for governor. Sanders, bowing to the demands of the party elite, has refused to endorse Nixons bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gautney calls the system broken, but it works exactly as it is designed to work. The Democratic Party elites have been refining the mechanisms and exclusionary rules since the presidential election, along with purging the party of progressives, to ensure that an insurgent candidate like Sanders will never get close to the nomination. Sanders, no doubt, thinks he can overcome these obstacles by being obedient to the party hierarchy. This is a terrible miscalculation.

In state after state, as Gautney details, Sanders was systematically robbed. And he and any other insurgent can expect the same treatment in 2020. Yes, the party formed a tripartite Unity Reform Commission with representatives from the Clinton campaign and the Sanders campaign to review the rules. But the Unity Reform Commission is cosmetic. It cannot make changes to DNC rules, only recommendations, which have to be approved by the rules and bylaws committee and the DNC members. The rules and bylaws committee and the DNC are stacked with lobbyists, consultants, establishment and Clinton loyalists, and people, like Brazile, who rigged the election against Sanders. They retain control over any changes to the rules. The public has no say. There is not one Sanders supporter on the committee. The final recommendations submitted by the commission said nothing about the chief source of corruption that grips the Democratic Party—corporate and billionaire money. It didnt mention campaign finance reform. Any attempt at reform is meaningless until corporations and billionaires stop bankrolling the party.

The Democratic Party is neither democratic nor in any real sense a political party. It is a corporate mirage. The members of its base can, at best, select preapproved candidates and act as props in a choreographed party convention. Voters have zero influence on party politics.

Ill never forget watching the primary votes being counted for Michigan, one of the key states that decided the 2016 election,” Gautney wrote in The Guardian. “Sanders pledged delegate count—which reflected the number of votes he received from rank-and-file Democrats—exceeded Clintons by four. But after the superdelegates cast their ballots, the roll call registered Clinton 76, Sanders 67. 

In Indiana, Sanders won the vote 44 to 39, but, after the super delegates had their say, Clinton was granted 46 delegates, versus Sanders 44, she wrote. In New Hampshire, where Sanders won the vote by a gaping margin (60% to 38%) and set a record for the largest number of votes ever, the screen read 16 Sanders, 16 Clinton. 

Sanders, who calls himself an independent, caucuses as a Democrat. The Democratic Party determines his assignments in the Senate. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who oversees Wall Street campaign donations to Democratic candidates, offered to make Sanders the head of the Senate Budget Committee if the Democrats won control of the Senate, in exchange for the Vermont senator’s support of Clinton and the hawkish, corporate neoliberal Democratic candidates running for the House and Senate. Sanders, swallowing whatever pride he has left, is now a loyal party apparatchik, squandering his legacy and his integrity. He routinely sends out appeals to raise money for party-selected candidates, including the 2016 Democratic senatorial candidates Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, Ted Strickland in Ohio and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada. Sanders made a blanket endorsement of every Democrat running in the 2017 election, including the worst corporate Democrats.

There was about $6 million left from the Sanders campaign, and it was used to form an organization called Our Revolution in August 2016. The organization was set up ostensibly to fund and support progressive candidates. It was soon taken over by Weaver, who ensured that it was not registered as a political action committee (PAC), a group that can give money directly to campaigns. It was set up as a 501(c)(4), a group prohibited from having direct contact with candidates and giving donations directly to candidates. The 501(c)(4) status allowed it to take and mask donations from wealthy donors such as Tom Steyer. Sanders decision to quietly solicit contributions from the billionaire oligarchs who funded the Hillary Clinton campaign and control the Democratic Party betrayed the core promise of his campaign. Yet, even as he created a mechanism to take money from wealthy donors he continued to write at the bottom of his emails Paid for by Bernie Sanders, not the billionaires.

Eight of the 13 staffers of Our Revolution resigned in protest. The organization is now adding a PAC.

Meanwhile, the DNC rules and bylaws committee has recommended a rule that any candidate in a primary be required to demonstrate he or she is a faithful Democrat. This loyalty test, intentionally vague, gives the DNC, which will consider the rule change in August, the power to disqualify candidates and block them from appearing on the ballot. If the party elites feel threatened, they can nuke any candidacy, including one mounted by Sanders, before it even begins.

The Democratic Party elites in an open process and without corporate backing would not be in power. They are creations of the corporate state. They are not about to permit reforms that will see themselves toppled. Yes, this tactic of fixing elections and serving corporate power may ensure a second term for Donald Trump and election of fringe candidates who pledge their loyalty to Trump, but the Democratic elites would rather sink the ship of state than give up their first-class cabins.

The Democratic Party is as much to blame for Trump as the Republicans. It is a full partner in the perpetuation of our political system of legalized bribery, along with the deindustrialization of the country, austerity programs, social inequality, mass incarceration and the assault on basic civil liberties. It deregulates Wall Street. It prosecutes the endless and futile wars that are draining the federal budget. We must mount independent political movements and form our own parties to sweep the Democratic and Republican elites aside or be complicit in cementing into place a corporate tyranny. Sanders wont help us. He has made that clear. We must do it without him.


Hundreds of Children Wait in Cages in Texas Warehouse

McALLEN, Texas—Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait away from their parents in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.

The U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that’s divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children. The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stay on around the clock.

Reporters were not allowed by agents to interview any of the detainees or take photos.

Nearly 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy, which directs Homeland Security officials to refer all cases of illegal entry into the United States for prosecution. Church groups and human rights advocates have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents’ arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone. A group of congressional lawmakers visited the same facility Sunday and were set to visit a longer-term shelter holding around 1,500 children  many of whom were separated from their parents.

“Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatized,” said Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who was denied entry earlier this month to children’s shelter. “It doesn’t matter whether the floor is swept and the bedsheets tucked in tight.”

In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the U.S., Border Patrol officials argue that they have to crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others.

“When you exempt a group of people from the law … that creates a draw,” said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol’s chief agent here. “That creates the trends right here.”

Agents running the holding facility  generally known as “Ursula” for the name of the street it’s on  said everyone detained is given adequate food, access to showers and laundered clothes, and medical care. People are supposed to move through the facility quickly. Under U.S. law, children are required to be turned over within three days to shelters funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Padilla said agents in the Rio Grande Valley have allowed families with children under the age of 5 to stay together in most cases.

An advocate who spent several hours in the facility Friday said she was deeply troubled by what she found.

Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, met with a 16-year-old girl who had been taking care of a young girl for three days. The teen and others in their cage thought the girl was 2 years old.

“She had to teach other kids in the cell to change her diaper,” Brane said.

Brane said that after an attorney started to ask questions, agents found the girl’s aunt and reunited the two. It turned out that the girl was actually 4 years old. Part of the problem was that she didn’t speak Spanish, but K’iche, a language indigenous to Guatemala.

“She was so traumatized that she wasn’t talking,” Brane said. “She was just curled up in a little ball.”

Brane said she also saw officials at the facility scold a group of 5-year-olds for playing around in their cage, telling them to settle down. There are no toys or books.

But one boy nearby wasn’t playing with the rest. According to Brane, he was quiet, clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mother’s ID card.

“The government is literally taking kids away from their parents and leaving them in inappropriate conditions,” Brane said. “If a parent left a child in a cage with no supervision with other 5-year-olds, they’d be held accountable.”

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Rescue Ships Spotlight Europes Migrant Debate

VALENCIA, Spain—Ships in the Aquarius aid convoy docked Sunday at the Spanish port of Valencia, ending a weeklong ordeal for hundreds of people who were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea only to become pawns in Europe’s fight over immigration.

The Italian coast guard vessel Dattilo was the first of the three boats bearing the 630 migrants to touch land just before 7 a.m. Sunday. The 270 migrants on board soon began to disembark after medical staff had made a preliminary inspection.

The rescue ship Aquarius came in four hours later with another 106 migrants. Aid workers awaiting their arrival clapped and cheered as the first migrants walked down the gangway. Another Italian navy ship, the Orione, came in shortly after 1 p.m.

The Aquarius, operated by the aid groups SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders, was stuck off the coast of Sicily on June 9 when Italy’s new populist government refused it permission to dock and demanded that Malta do so. Malta also refused.

After days of bickering and food and water running low on the ship, Spain stepped in and granted the rescue boat entry. The 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) journey across the Mediterranean from Sicily to Valencia took nearly a week.

David Noguera, the head of Doctors Without Borders in Spain, said he was glad Spain allowed the migrants in but he’s worried that more European nations will close their ports to those rescued at sea in the future.

“I have mixed feelings,” Noguera told The Associated Press as the first boat arrived. “I am happy that the journey (for the Aquarius migrants) is over  a journey that was too long  and I am worried for the situation in the Mediterranean and the closing of European ports.”

The migrants were met by emergency workers, health officials, Red Cross volunteers and psychologists at the city’s marina. Each were assigned to a translator and authorities worked to determine their identities before they were sent to welcome centers. The first migrant was a 29-year-old man from South Sudan.

Valencia emergency official Jorge Suarez said some of the migrants were in a state of shock.

“They are very shaken,” Suarez said. “Put yourself in their position, you get off a ship and the first people who greet you are wearing masks.”

He said an examination of the 130 migrants from the Dattilo did not reveal any serious health problems but many passengers showed signs of exposure to high temperatures at sea.

Spanish authorities are examining the migrants on a case-by-case basis to see who may qualify for asylum.

Due to their ordeal, the migrants from the Aquarius have been granted special authorization to remain in Spain for 45 days before they must begin resolving their legal situation.

“We have to strike a balance between our sensibilities and humanity and our respect for the law,” said Spain’s migration minister, Magdalena Valerio.

“These people could not be left adrift in the Mediterranean, where they would face death,” she told Spanish radio Cope. “(The EU) must recognize that it needs an immigration policy that these times require.”

The migrants reportedly include 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and as many as seven pregnant women. After Spain invited the Aquarius to land, Italy sent the Dattilo and Orione to help transport the migrants.

Meanwhile, several hundred more migrants were aboard an Italian coast guard vessel off Sicily on Sunday. The passengers came from a series of rescues in recent days, including ones carried out by cargo ships that the Rome-based coordination center asked to aid migrant boats in distress.

They also counted 41 migrants who were taken aboard a U.S. Navy vessel on June 12, survivors of a sunken dinghy. A private aid ship said it couldn’t assume the unexpected passengers from Trenton because Italy wasn’t assigning it a port within its navigational capacity.

The rescued people stayed on the Navy boat for several more days before being transferred to the Italian coast guard vessel on Sunday morning.

The destination wasn’t immediately announced, but the coast guard said it wouldn’t dock until at least Tuesday.

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, thanked Spain for taking in the migrants who reached Valencia and said he wished the country would take in “66,629 more.”

Salvini, who heads the right-wing League party, said that if France, Malta and Portugal also open their ports to migrants rescued from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, “we’ll be happier.”

The refusal by Italy and Malta to allow the Aquarius to dock has reignited a continentwide battle over how to handle immigration.

Under the EU’s asylum laws  currently the subject of a major political dispute and under revision  migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe. In practice, the policy has placed a heavy burden on Italy and Greece, where hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers have arrived in recent years.

Spain’s new Socialist government has taken up the cause of the migrants to demonstrate its commitment to protecting human rights.

But overall, the European Union’s 28 members have not agreed in the least how to handle the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe. The issue has put strong domestic pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, created a spat between France and Italy, and prompted eastern nations like Hungary and Poland to refuse to take in any migrants.

Immigration will be a top issue at the EU leaders’ June 28-29 summit. In addition, a new populist government in Italy  one whose interior minister has vowed to deport tens of thousands of migrants as soon as he can  will make any compromises on EU migration policy even more difficult.

The warmer weather has caused a spike in migrants taking off from North Africa for Europe. Spain’s maritime rescue service pulled 986 people from 69 small smuggling boats near the Strait of Gibraltar between Friday and Saturday, and also recovered four bodies.

At least 792 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the United Nations. Through the first five months of 2018, some 35,455 migrants reached European shores.

___

Wilson contributed from Barcelona, Spain. Frances D’Emilio contributed from Rome.

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Immigrant Protections Eroded After Trump Took Office

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.

It’s also a situation that has been brewing since the week President Donald Trump took office, when he issued his first order signaling a tougher approach to asylum-seekers. Since then, the administration has been steadily eroding protections for immigrant children and families.

“They’re willing to risk harm to a child being traumatized, separated from a parent and sitting in federal detention by themselves, in order to reach a larger policy goal of deterrence,” said Jennifer Podkul, director of policy at Kids in Need of Defense, which represents children in immigration court.

To those who work with immigrants, the parents’ plight was heralded by a series of measures making it harder for kids arriving on the border to get released from government custody and to seek legal status here.

The administration says the changes are necessary to deter immigrants from coming here illegally. But a backlash is mounting, fueled by reports of children being taken from mothers and distraught toddlers and elementary school age children asking, through tears, when they can see their parents.

About 2,000 children had been separated from their families over a six-week period ending in May, administration officials said Friday.

Among the parents caught up in the new rules is 29-year-old Vilma Aracely Lopez Juc de Coc, who fled her home in a remote Guatemalan village after her husband was beaten to death in February, according to advocates. When she reached the Texas border with her 11-year-old son in May, he was taken from her by border agents, she said.

Her eyes swollen, she cried when she asked a paralegal what she most wanted to know: When could she see her son again?

“She did not know what was going on,” said paralegal Georgina Guzman, recalling their conversation at a federal courthouse in McAllen, Texas.

Similar scenarios play out on a daily basis in federal courtrooms in Texas and Arizona, where dozens of immigrant parents appear on charges of entering the country illegally after traveling up from Central America. More than the legal outcome of their cases, their advocates say, they’re worried about their children.

Since Trump’s inauguration, the administration has issued at least half a dozen orders and changes affecting immigrant children, many of them obscure revisions. The cumulative effect is a dramatic alteration of immigration policy and practice.

The measures require a senior government official to sign off on the release of children from secure shelters and allow immigration enforcement agents access to information about sponsors who sign up to take the children out of government custody and care for them.

The crackdown expanded in April, when the administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy on the border to prosecute immigrants for entering the country illegally in the hopes they could be quickly deported and that the swift deportations would prevent more people from coming.

Parents are now being arrested and placed in quick federal court proceedings near the border. Since children cannot be jailed in federal prisons, they’re placed in shelters that have long existed for unaccompanied immigrant children arriving on the border alone.

The administration insists the new rules are necessary to send a message to immigrants.

“Look, I hope that we don’t have to separate any more children from any more adults,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week. “But there’s only one way to ensure that is the case: It’s for people to stop smuggling children illegally. Stop crossing the border illegally with your children. Apply to enter lawfully. Wait your turn.”

Immigration on the southwest border has remained high since the zero-tolerance policies took effect. Border agents made more than 50,000 arrests in May, up slightly from a month earlier and more than twice the number in May 2017. About a quarter of arrests were families traveling with children.

In addition to those trying to cross on their own, large crowds of immigrants are gathered at border crossings each day to seek asylum. Some wait days or weeks for a chance to speak with U.S. authorities. On a Texas border bridge, parents and children have been sleeping in sweltering heat for several days awaiting their turn.

Under U.S. law, most Mexican children are sent back across the border. Central American and other minors are taken into government custody before they are mostly released to sponsors in the United States.

The arrival of children fleeing violence in Central America is not new. President Barack Obama faced an even larger surge in border crossings that overflowed shelters and prompted the authorities to release many families. Nearly 60,000 children were placed in government-contracted shelters in the 2014 fiscal year.

Obama administration lawyers argued in federal court in Los Angeles against the separation of parents and children and in favor of keeping in family detention facilities those deemed ineligible for release.

Immigrant and children’s advocates said the new measures are not only cruel but costly. They argued that children fleeing violence and persecution in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will continue to come to the United States and remain in government custody longer, costing taxpayers more money.

The government pays more than $1 billion a year to care for unaccompanied immigrant children, Sessions has said.

In May 2014, the average length of stay for children in custody was 35 days. So far this fiscal year, it’s taking 56 days for children to be released to sponsors  in most cases, their own relatives.

Many children were released to sponsors who did not have legal immigration status. That’s yet another concern child advocates now have since the Trump administration is requiring fingerprints of sponsors and their household members and will turn that data over to the immigration agency in charge of deportations.

Advocates say the new information sharing might lead some parents to shy away from sponsoring their own children and ask others to do so, a situation that can lead to cases of trafficking or neglect.

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the immigrant advocacy program at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia, said he’s never worked with immigrants who said U.S. policies influenced their decision to move. They are fleeing violence and persecution, and he doesn’t see that changing even if the government deports parents.

“Look six months out from now,” he said. “Are these moms going to stay in Guatemala? Hell no, they’re going to come back looking for their kids.”

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Doug Larson

"Few things are more satisfying than seeing your own children have teenagers of their own."


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