The Latest: 100s of protesters gather at Senate building
Thursday, June 28
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on immigrant parents and children separated at the U.S. border (all times local):
Hundreds of people have gathered at a Senate office building to protest the Trump administration’s now-rescinded policy of separating migrant families at the southern border.
Many protesters in the atrium of the Hart Senate building wore foil blankets similar to those given to migrants housed at U.S. detention facilities.
Protesters loudly chanted “What do we want? Free families” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York joined with the protesters and pumped their fists. At one point, Merkley donned a foil sheet as he gave a TV interview.
Winnie Wong, political adviser for the liberal National Women’s March, said the protest would translate into “the energy we will need to see to at the ballot box in November.”
The total number of migrant children in the care of the federal Health and Human Services department is up slightly since last week.
An HHS spokesperson said Thursday the department has 11,869 children in its care currently. That’s about 70 more children than HHS officials reported on Wednesday of last week.
The numbers show that there doesn’t appear to be much progress reuniting children separated from their parents despite a recent court order.
Most of the children arrived at the southwest border unaccompanied, a recurring migration problem year after year.
The latest HHS numbers don’t provide a breakdown of the children separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers this Tuesday that number was 2,047.
A federal judge in Chicago has ordered the immediate release from detention of a 9-year-old Brazilian boy who was separated from his mother at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Judge Manish Shah said Thursday that Lidia Karine Souza can have custody of her son, Diogo, who has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago. The mother, who has applied for asylum, was released from an immigrant detention facility in Texas June 9.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children with their families within 30 days, or 14 days in the case of those younger than 5.
Since her release, Souza has moved in with relatives outside Boston. She was allowed to visit Diogo on Tuesday, their first meeting since May.
Hundreds of people have gathered for a rally outside a federal courthouse in South Texas to protest the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents.
Thursday’s rally organized by the ACLU and other groups drew busloads of people to the courthouse in Brownsville where judges hear immigration cases involving those who are seeking asylum or have entered the country illegally.
Many are holding placards with slogans like “First we march then we vote” and “Families belong together.”
Actor Jay Ellis, who appears on the HBO show “Insecure,” told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that “we see our own loved ones” in the images of families “dragged through courts and onto buses and into these detention centers.”
The rally comes two days after a federal judge ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children with their families within 30 days, or 14 days for those younger than 5
Federal officers arrested eight protesters while trying to reopen a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Portland that has been closed for more than a week because of a round-the-clock demonstration.
The names of those arrested and the charges they face were not immediately available Thursday.
Federal Protective Service spokesman Rob Sperling says officers moved in at dawn and unblocked the entrance to the facility. Employees are likely to return to work next week.
There were no reports of injuries.
The Oregon protesters want to abolish the immigration and customs agency and end the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
About 100 people protesting a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house detainees at a jail in western Michigan shut down a government meeting and police say seven were arrested for blocking traffic after the meeting.
The Grand Rapids Press reports Karla Barberi raised the issue at Thursday’s Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting. She’s a volunteer organizer with immigrant rights group Movimiento Cosecha GR.
Board Chairman Jim Saalfeld called for deputies to remove Barberi after she refused to sit, but she wasn’t removed.
The meeting was suspended. Police blocked traffic as protesters marched, but those arrested refused to leave the streets.
The contract includes allowing the county jail to charge the federal agency for each day it holds a person with a detainment request.
A Brazilian woman seeking asylum in the U.S. says she is hopeful a federal judge will order the release of her 9-year-old son from detention in Chicago.
Lidia Karine Souza was separated from her boy, Diogo, at the U.S.-Mexico border in May. Diogo has been held at a government-contracted shelter for four weeks. Souza was released from a Texas detention facility June 9.
A lawyer on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to secure Diogo’s release. Judge Manish Shah said Thursday that he needs to give the case more thought and should rule later in the day.
After the hearing, Souza told reporters she’s confident the lawsuit will succeed, but that the wait is “heartbreaking.”
The lawsuit argues Diogo is not an unaccompanied minor and should be returned to his mother.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says he would vote against the nomination of Lynn Johnson as assistant Health and Human Services secretary for family support because of concern over how her past policies as a state child welfare official could bear on her handling of the situation of thousands of children in detention at the border.
The position includes heading the department’s Administration for Children and Families and the Office of Refugee Settlement, which has custody over the children being held near the U.S.-Mexico border who were separated from their parents seeking asylum.
Wyden is a Democrat and said Thursday that Johnson, who headed Colorado’s child welfare program, “green-lighted a law allowing foster kids to be placed in juvenile detention facilities.”
Wyden made the statement at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nominee for new IRS commissioner. Wyden is the senior Democrat on the panel.
The committee had been scheduled to vote on the nominations of Johnson and three other officials, but not enough senators were present.
A federal judge in Chicago has declined to rule immediately on the release of a 9-year-old Brazilian boy who was separated from his mother at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Another judge on Tuesday ordered the government to reunite more than 2,000 immigrant children with their families within 30 days, or 14 days for those younger than 5.
The same day, lawyers for Lidia Karine Souza filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to demand the release of her son, Diogo.
Judge Manish Shah said Thursday that he would “like to give it some thought” but he could issue a ruling later in the day.
Diogo has spent four weeks at a shelter in Chicago. Souza has applied for asylum and was released from a facility in Texas June 9.
Federal officers in Portland have moved to reopen a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office that has been closed for more than a week because of an occupation by activists.
Federal Protective Service spokesman Rob Sperling said in a statement that law enforcement began clearing a camp of demonstrators at dawn Thursday. Media reports say officers took some protesters into custody.
There have been no reports of violence.
The group rallying under the moniker Occupy ICE PDX began its round-the-clock demonstration June 17. Protesters want to abolish the agency and end the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
Officials closed the office a few days into the occupation because of safety concerns.
On Monday, they warned protesters to stop blocking entrances.
A group of Democrats in Congress is proposing legislation directed at giving lawmakers more access to government shelters housing immigrant children.
Democrats have pushed for more access to facilities holding immigrants, especially after the Trump administration started to broadly separate families crossing the southern U.S. border.
In some cases, they’ve been turned away from facilities they have tried to visit or denied access to immigrants being held.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon co-sponsored the proposal released Thursday.
The bill would require “immediate access” for any member of Congress to a federal facility unless national security restrictions applied.
Castro and Wyden say they want to ensure that children “already suffering trauma” are being treated humanely.
Washington state authorities have ordered protesters to dismantle their tent structures outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where detainees from the southern border crisis are being held.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports that Tacoma police issued the 24-hour notice requiring the protesters to dismantle any structures they erected that are in violation of Tacoma Municipal Code, including tents, canopies, gazebos, sunshades, tarps and temporary restroom facilities.
Since Saturday, people have gathered to protest the federal government for detaining migrants — separating them from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border — while the adults await immigration processing.
On Tuesday, there were 160 protesters, including 10 people were arrested in a confrontation with Tacoma police officers.
A spokesman for the protesters says they won’t move and called the order a scare tactic.
Lawyers for a Brazilian immigrant plan to go forward with an emergency hearing in federal court in Chicago to get the woman’s 9-year-old son back.
Lidia Karine Souza has been separated from her son since they illegally crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in late May. The hearing is set for Thursday.
She says she has filled out 40 pages of documents but that officials are setting more requirements, telling her the rules have changed.
She searched for weeks to find Diogo after the two were separated at the border in late May. She was released June 9 from a Texas facility.
Souza’s attorneys on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to demand her son be immediately released.
He has spent four weeks at a government-contracted shelter in Chicago, much of it alone in a room, quarantined with chicken pox.
See AP’s complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration
Man charged with hate crimes in Virginia attack due in court
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — An Ohio man accused of driving a car into a crowd of protesters in Virginia during a white nationalist rally will make his first court appearance this week on federal hate crime charges.
An initial appearance and arraignment are scheduled Thursday for James Alex Fields Jr.
Fields was indicted last week on 30 federal charges stemming from the Aug. 12 attack that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured many others who gathered to protest the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
The 21-year-old Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, had already been charged with murder and other counts under Virginia law.
The rally drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville, where officials had planned to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Nikki Haley calls U.N. report on poverty in U.S. ‘misleading and politically motivated’
FROM FACEBOOK: Sandusky police investigating after 5 people shot outside the Milan Road Bar and Grill. One person lifeflighted. More than 65 shots fired, detectives say.
Point: Offshore Energy Is Critical to Future Energy Security
February 02, 2018 by Erik Milito
Offshore development plays a critical role in U.S. energy security, supplying more than 1 million barrels of oil per day for the last 20 years. And that’s with 94 percent of federal offshore acreage closed to exploration. Imagine how much more natural gas and oil we could develop if additional coastal resources were accessible.
If the Trump administration’s proposed offshore expansion becomes reality, we won’t have to imagine. The estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas awaiting discovery on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf could be recovered and injected into our economy. Opening additional areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and lead to production gains of more than a million barrels of oil equivalent per day — further reducing supply from overseas sources.
Critics are portraying the Interior Department’s proposal to make additional offshore areas available for leasing as unique. In reality, it’s keeping offshore resources locked away that makes the United States an outlier. China and Russia are active in the Arctic, and nations like Canada, Brazil, Cuba, the Bahamas and Nigeria are all moving forward with offshore exploration in the Atlantic — while our own Atlantic energy potential is sidelined.
It’s been more than 30 years since the U.S. has conducted seismic research — which helps locate offshore resources — in the Atlantic. With today’s cutting-edge exploration technology and advanced production methods, resource potential in the Atlantic could be even more abundant than estimated. When modern technology was deployed in the Gulf of Mexico, the true amount of recoverable oil resources was revised upward by almost 40 billion barrels compared to calculations made in 1987.
Technological innovations have also advanced offshore safety. In fact, offshore development is safer than ever thanks to those advances, combined with rigorous safety standards. After the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon incident, the industry coordinated with federal regulators to launch a comprehensive safety review. More than 100 industry standards were created or strengthened to improve safety and environmental performance, and we launched the Center for Offshore Safety to ensure continual safety improvements and systematic monitoring.
Decades of energy development in the central Gulf of Mexico, near thriving ports and active military bases, confirm that operations can safely coexist with military activity. Under longstanding practice, the Department of Defense coordinates with the Interior Department to ensure that energy activities follow any necessary stipulations. That same coordination will be just as effective in the eastern Gulf and in the Atlantic.
Previous Pentagon assessments found that energy development would be compatible with military operations in 89 percent of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and 95 percent of the Atlantic, albeit with some restrictions on permanent surface structures. The point is that the Defense Department takes the lead in determining guidelines for energy development near its operations, and we should keep all options on the table while that process plays out in the planning phase.
Energy development also safely coexists with tourism and fishing industries. Just ask people who would know: Gulf Coast officials. Citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy notes that “roughly half of the jobs in commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf exist in states where there is also oil and gas production.”
The sentiment is bipartisan. As longtime, former Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu stated in 2017 congressional testimony: “You can have a coast that is a working coast for fisheries, commercial, recreation, eco-tourism, barges, ships, tourism, hotels — we have it all.” It’s noteworthy that the most vocal support for offshore energy comes from states where it’s actually underway.
Although the United States leads the world in production and refining of natural gas and oil today — delivering major economic benefits to consumers and manufacturers — energy policy must be focused on tomorrow. Government projections show natural gas and oil will supply an estimated 60 percent of U.S. energy needs in 2040, and worldwide energy demand will jump almost 30 percent in the coming decades. Eighty percent of U.S. voters support increased domestic natural gas and oil production, and responsible offshore development represents one of the best untapped opportunities to safeguard future energy security.
About the Author
Erik Milito is director of Upstream and Industry Operations at the American Petroleum Institute.
Counterpoint: Expanding Offshore Drilling Is Dangerous and Unwise
February 02, 2018 by Marissa Knodel
Four days into the new year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled a plan to open more than 90 percent of federal offshore waters to new oil and gas development, affecting virtually every mile of coastline along the continental United States and Alaska.
The single largest expansion ever proposed, this Draft Proposed Program calls for auctioning off ocean territories of the National Outer Continental Shelf in pieces, with 47 lease sales proposed from 2019 to 2024. This is more than quadruple the number of lease sales offered in the current program, finalized under the Obama administration and designed to remain in effect until 2022.
To hear drilling proponents tell it, the Trump administration’s bid to discard the existing plan in favor of this sudden and dramatic offshore drilling expansion is a “responsible” move geared toward “energy dominance.” Yet elected officials, business owners, fishing industry representatives, recreationalists, environmental advocates and coastal residents are already uniting in opposition to this proposal, which is widely interpreted as reckless and short-sighted.
More than 300,000 Americans have already submitted comments opposing expanded offshore drilling, pointing out that it jeopardizes community health and safety and locks us into fossil fuel reliance for decades. Anyone who recalls the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico knows that by the time a rig explosion has claimed lives and a toxic plume has oiled a coastline, it’s too late to reverse course. Meanwhile, this aggressive new leasing plan is moving ahead in tandem with a push to roll back safety regulations enacted in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon, specifically to prevent a repeat scenario.
While drilling proponents like to play up hypothetical benefits like low oil prices and job creation, it should be clear by now that offshore drilling is not an economic boon. Every coastal community in America can reap economic benefits from healthy ocean ecosystems, fishing, recreation and tourism. Dirty, polluting oil rigs only threaten these economic drivers provided by nature.
Federal fossil fuel development ultimately racks up more public costs than benefits, putting taxpayers on the hook for decommissioning oil rigs and oil spill cleanups. Transitioning away from fossil fuels is a wiser economic choice in the long run. Even today, the Department of Energy’s own analysis shows there are more job opportunities and new employment potential in the clean energy sector than in the fossil fuel industry.
New offshore energy development also introduces troubling implications for national security. For one, it can hamstring military readiness by installing drilling rigs in strategically important areas. The Pentagon and NASA have long expressed reservations about offshore Atlantic energy development, which would interfere with existing naval operations and other defense programs.
In a broader sense, extracting and burning offshore oil reserves will only exacerbate climate change, which is increasingly understood to be a national security matter. As the planet warms, intensified drought, wildfires, sea level rise, and erratic growing seasons will all bring destabilizing effects.
Clean and renewable energy sources, on the other hand, are more climate-friendly and resilient, since pricing and supply aren’t tied to the volatile global oil market.
Rather than pursue this irresponsible path toward climate disruption, the United States should be working with other nations to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and develop the renewable energy technologies of the future. This plan not only wastes valuable time but also leads us toward perilous consequences. The Department of Interior itself estimated a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill occurring from just one lease sale in the Chukchi Sea of the Alaskan Arctic, where the nearest Coast Guard base is 1,000 miles away.
In addition to catastrophic oil disasters like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, small yet toxic spills occur on a daily basis. In the Gulf of Mexico, more than 10,000 spills have been recorded this decade, its waters blighted by 27,000 abandoned, leaky wells. Nor is government equipped to respond: Government Accountability Office reports show that Interior and its Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement have failed in their mandates to foster a culture of safety and compliance in offshore oil and gas development.
Interior’s reckless new offshore leasing proposal threatens our marine and coastal environments, economies, national security and climate, all for the benefit of an unsustainable industry. The bid to expand offshore drilling while simultaneously rolling back critical offshore drilling safety regulations is not only extraordinarily dangerous, it’s antithetical to the entire mission of the federal agency – which is to manage responsibly our public ocean waters on behalf of the American people.
About the Author
Marissa Knodel is an associate legislative counsel with the Policy & Legislation team at Earthjustice in Washington.