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Migrants Encounter Snafus With New US Asylum Policy

Scheduling glitches led an immigration judge to deny the Trump administration’s request to order four Central American migrants deported because they failed to show for initial hearings Wednesday in the U.S. while being forced to wait in Mexico.

The judge’s refusal was a setback for the administration’s highly touted initiative to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.

One migrant came to court with a notice to appear on Saturday, March 30 and said he later learned that he was supposed to show up Wednesday. He reported in the morning to U.S. authorities at the main crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.

“I almost didn’t make it because I had two dates,” he said.

Similar snafus marred the first hearings last week when migrants who were initially told to show up Tuesday had their dates bumped up several days.

Judge Scott Simpson told administration lawyers to file a brief by April 10 that explains how it can assure migrants are properly notified of appointments. The judge postponed initial appearances for the four no-shows to April 22, which raised more questions about how they would learn about the new date.

Government documents had no street address for the four men in Tijuana and indicated that correspondence was to be sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Simpson asked how the administration would alert them.

“I don’t have a response to that,” said Robert Wities, an attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At least two others were given notices to appear Tuesday but, when they showed up at the border, were told by U.S. authorities that they were not on the schedule that day. Their attorneys quickly got new dates for Wednesday but Mexico refused to take them back, forcing them to stay overnight in U.S. custody.

Laura Sanchez, an attorney for one of the men, said she called a court toll-free number to confirm her client’s initial hearing Tuesday but his name didn’t appear anywhere in the system. Later, she learned that it was Wednesday.

Sanchez said after Wednesday’s hearing that she didn’t know if Mexico would take her client back. Mexican officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Homeland Security Department representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

The snafus came two days before a federal judge in San Francisco hears oral arguments to halt enforcement of the “Migration Protection Protocols” policy in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

The policy shift, which followed months of high-level talks between the U.S. and Mexico, was launched in San Diego on Jan. 29 amid growing numbers of asylum-seeking families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt.

Families are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court and stay until their cases are resolved, which can take years. The new policy aims to change that by making people wait in Mexico, though it is off to a modest start with 240 migrants being sent back to Tijuana from San Diego in the first six weeks. U.S. officials say they plan to sharply expand the policy across the entire border.

Mexican officials have expressed concern about what both governments say is a unilateral move by the Trump administration but has allowed asylum seekers to wait in Mexico with humanitarian visas.

U.S. officials call the new policy an unprecedented effort that aims to discourage weak asylum claims and reduce a court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.

Several migrants who appeared Wednesday said they fear that waiting in Mexico for their next hearings would jeopardize their personal safety. The government attorney said they would be interviewed by an asylum officer to determine if their concerns justified staying in the U.S.

Some told the judge they struggled to find attorneys and were granted more time to find one. Asylum seekers are entitled to legal representation but not at government expense.

U.S. authorities give migrants who are returned to Mexico a list of no-cost legal providers in the U.S. but some migrants told the judge that calls went unanswered or they were told that services were unavailable from Mexico.       

A 48-year-old man said under the judge’s questioning that he had headaches and throat ailments. The judge noted that migrants with medical issues are exempt from waiting in Mexico and ordered a medical exam.

 

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Migrants Encounter Snafus With New US Asylum Policy

Scheduling glitches led an immigration judge to deny the Trump administration’s request to order four Central American migrants deported because they failed to show for initial hearings Wednesday in the U.S. while being forced to wait in Mexico.

The judge’s refusal was a setback for the administration’s highly touted initiative to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts.

One migrant came to court with a notice to appear on Saturday, March 30 and said he later learned that he was supposed to show up Wednesday. He reported in the morning to U.S. authorities at the main crossing between San Diego and Tijuana.

“I almost didn’t make it because I had two dates,” he said.

Similar snafus marred the first hearings last week when migrants who were initially told to show up Tuesday had their dates bumped up several days.

Judge Scott Simpson told administration lawyers to file a brief by April 10 that explains how it can assure migrants are properly notified of appointments. The judge postponed initial appearances for the four no-shows to April 22, which raised more questions about how they would learn about the new date.

Government documents had no street address for the four men in Tijuana and indicated that correspondence was to be sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Simpson asked how the administration would alert them.

“I don’t have a response to that,” said Robert Wities, an attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At least two others were given notices to appear Tuesday but, when they showed up at the border, were told by U.S. authorities that they were not on the schedule that day. Their attorneys quickly got new dates for Wednesday but Mexico refused to take them back, forcing them to stay overnight in U.S. custody.

Laura Sanchez, an attorney for one of the men, said she called a court toll-free number to confirm her client’s initial hearing Tuesday but his name didn’t appear anywhere in the system. Later, she learned that it was Wednesday.

Sanchez said after Wednesday’s hearing that she didn’t know if Mexico would take her client back. Mexican officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Homeland Security Department representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday.

The snafus came two days before a federal judge in San Francisco hears oral arguments to halt enforcement of the “Migration Protection Protocols” policy in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

The policy shift, which followed months of high-level talks between the U.S. and Mexico, was launched in San Diego on Jan. 29 amid growing numbers of asylum-seeking families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Mexicans and children traveling alone are exempt.

Families are typically released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court and stay until their cases are resolved, which can take years. The new policy aims to change that by making people wait in Mexico, though it is off to a modest start with 240 migrants being sent back to Tijuana from San Diego in the first six weeks. U.S. officials say they plan to sharply expand the policy across the entire border.

Mexican officials have expressed concern about what both governments say is a unilateral move by the Trump administration but has allowed asylum seekers to wait in Mexico with humanitarian visas.

U.S. officials call the new policy an unprecedented effort that aims to discourage weak asylum claims and reduce a court backlog of more than 800,000 cases.

Several migrants who appeared Wednesday said they fear that waiting in Mexico for their next hearings would jeopardize their personal safety. The government attorney said they would be interviewed by an asylum officer to determine if their concerns justified staying in the U.S.

Some told the judge they struggled to find attorneys and were granted more time to find one. Asylum seekers are entitled to legal representation but not at government expense.

U.S. authorities give migrants who are returned to Mexico a list of no-cost legal providers in the U.S. but some migrants told the judge that calls went unanswered or they were told that services were unavailable from Mexico.       

A 48-year-old man said under the judge’s questioning that he had headaches and throat ailments. The judge noted that migrants with medical issues are exempt from waiting in Mexico and ordered a medical exam.

 

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US Negotiators to Visit China Next Week for New Round of Trade Talks

China says a high-ranking U.S. delegation will travel to Beijing next week to resume negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing trade war between the world’s two leading economies.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng announced Thursday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit the Chinese capital next Thursday and Friday, March 28 & 29, followed by a trip to Washington in early April by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The trade war between the United States and China began last year when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to compel Beijing to change its trading practices.

China has retaliated with its own tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports. The Trump administration is also pushing China to end its practice of forcing U.S. companies to transfer their technology advances to Chinese firms.

Trump had initially imposed a deadline of March 2 for both sides to reach a deal before imposing a hike in tariffs from 10 to 25 percent, but delayed the increase late last month citing “substantial progress” in the negotiations. But Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly cancelled tentative plans to visit Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida next month to sign a final deal, a sign that the talks have stalled.

Trump issued a warning Wednesday that U.S. tariffs could remain in place for a “substantial period” to ensure that Beijing lives up to any agreement.

 

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US Negotiators to Visit China Next Week for New Round of Trade Talks

China says a high-ranking U.S. delegation will travel to Beijing next week to resume negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing trade war between the world’s two leading economies.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng announced Thursday that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will visit the Chinese capital next Thursday and Friday, March 28 & 29, followed by a trip to Washington in early April by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The trade war between the United States and China began last year when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to compel Beijing to change its trading practices.

China has retaliated with its own tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports. The Trump administration is also pushing China to end its practice of forcing U.S. companies to transfer their technology advances to Chinese firms.

Trump had initially imposed a deadline of March 2 for both sides to reach a deal before imposing a hike in tariffs from 10 to 25 percent, but delayed the increase late last month citing “substantial progress” in the negotiations. But Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly cancelled tentative plans to visit Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida next month to sign a final deal, a sign that the talks have stalled.

Trump issued a warning Wednesday that U.S. tariffs could remain in place for a “substantial period” to ensure that Beijing lives up to any agreement.

 

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Taiwan Leader Visits Pacific Allies, to Stop in Hawaii 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen left Thursday on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Pacific that will end with a stopover in Hawaii.

Taiwan has struggled to shore up its dwindling roster of allies as countries are choosing instead to establish relations with Beijing, which considers the self-governing island part of Chinese territory.

Tsai will visit Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported.

The agency said she will transit through Hawaii on March 27 on her way back from the Marshall Islands, but did not give further details.

Only 17 mainly small, developing countries still recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. The island split from mainland China amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has recently ratcheted up its rhetoric around “re-unifying” democratically governed Taiwan with Communist Party-ruled mainland China.

China is particularly sensitive to cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. When the latter approved the sale of $330 million of military equipment to Taiwan last September, China warned of “severe damage” to bilateral relations.

Ahead of a similar stopover in Hawaii in 2017, China demanded that the U.S. bar Tsai from transiting through in order to “avoid sending any erroneous messages to the Taiwan independence force.”

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Taiwan Leader Visits Pacific Allies, to Stop in Hawaii 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen left Thursday on a tour of diplomatic allies in the Pacific that will end with a stopover in Hawaii.

Taiwan has struggled to shore up its dwindling roster of allies as countries are choosing instead to establish relations with Beijing, which considers the self-governing island part of Chinese territory.

Tsai will visit Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported.

The agency said she will transit through Hawaii on March 27 on her way back from the Marshall Islands, but did not give further details.

Only 17 mainly small, developing countries still recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. The island split from mainland China amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has recently ratcheted up its rhetoric around “re-unifying” democratically governed Taiwan with Communist Party-ruled mainland China.

China is particularly sensitive to cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. When the latter approved the sale of $330 million of military equipment to Taiwan last September, China warned of “severe damage” to bilateral relations.

Ahead of a similar stopover in Hawaii in 2017, China demanded that the U.S. bar Tsai from transiting through in order to “avoid sending any erroneous messages to the Taiwan independence force.”

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Labrador Retriever Most Pup-ular US Dog Breed for 28th Year

Labrador retrievers aren’t letting go of their hold on U.S. dog lovers, but German shorthaired pointers are tugging on the top ranks of doggy popularity, according to new American Kennel Club data.

Labs topped the list for the 28th year in a row. Yet there’s been plenty of movement over time on the purebred pup-ularity ladder. 

Here’s a look at the 2018 rankings being released Wednesday. 

Top top 10

After Labs, the top five breeds nationwide are German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs. Rounding out the top 10 are beagles, poodles, Rottweilers, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers.

Labs smashed the record for longest tenure as top dog back in 2013. Fans credit the Lab’s generally amiable nature and aptitude in many canine roles: bomb-sniffer, service dog, hunters’ helper, dog-sport competitor and patient family pet. 

At No. 9, the German shorthaired pointer notched its highest ranking since getting AKC recognition in 1930. These strikingly speckled hunting dogs are also versatile — some work as drug — and bomb-detectors — and active companions. 

“I think people are learning about how fun the breed is,” says AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter. 

The suddenly ubiquitous French bulldog remains the fourth most popular breed for a second year, after surging from 83rd a quarter-century ago.

The numbers

The rankings reflect a breed’s prevalence among the 580,900 puppies and other purebred dogs newly registered in 2018 with the AKC, the country’s oldest such registry.  Some 88,175 of these dogs were Labs. 

AKC says registrations, which are voluntary, have been growing for six years.

Estimates of the total number of pet dogs nationwide range from about 70 million to 90 million.

The consistent fave

Beagles, now No. 6, can boast they’re uniquely beloved. No other breed has made the top 10 in every decade since record-keeping began in the 1880s. 

Why? “They’re a good general family dog,” lively, friendly, relatively low-maintenance and comfortable with children, says breeder Kevin Shupenia of Dacula, Georgia. Beagles also work sniffing out contraband meat and plants at airports, detecting bedbugs in homes and doing their traditional job: hunting rabbits. 

“They have a sense of humor, and they’re just characters,” Shupenia says. 

The rarest of them all

The most scant breed was the sloughi (pronounced SLOO’-ghee). The greyhound-like dog has a long history in North Africa but garnered AKC recognition only three years ago. It replaces the Norwegian lundehund in the rarest-breed spot. 

How did doodles do?

Wonder where goldendoodles, puggles, or cockapoos stand? You won’t find these and other popular “designer dogs” among the 193 breeds recognized and ranked by the AKC.

That’s not to say they never will be, if their fanciers so desire. New breeds join the club periodically, after meeting criteria that include having at least 300 dogs nationwide and three generations. 

Meanwhile, designer and just plain mixed-breed dogs can sign up with AKC to compete in such sports as agility, dock diving and obedience. 

The whys, pros and cons of popularity

Many factors can influence a breed’s popularity: ease of care, exposure from TV and movies, and famous owners, to name a few. 

Popularity spurts can expand knowledge about a breed, but many people in dogdom rue slipshod breeding by people trying to cash in on sudden cachet. 

Elaine Albert, a longtime chow chow owner and sometime breeder, is glad the ancient Chinese dog is now 75th in the rankings, after leaping into the top 10 in the 1980s. Albert recalls that she and other chow rescue volunteers were swamped as people gave up dogs with temperament and health problems, which she attributes to careless breeding.

“I certainly wouldn’t want (chows) to be number one, ever,” says Albert, of Hauppauge, New York. “They belong where they are…. They’re not for everybody.”

On the other hand, aficionados of rare breeds sometimes worry about sustaining them.  

The purebred debate 

Some animal-welfare groups feel the pursuit of purebred dogs puts their looks ahead of their health and diverts people from adopting pets. Critics also say the AKC needs to do more to thwart puppy mills.

The club says it encourages responsible breeding of healthy dogs, not as a beauty contest but to preserve traits that have helped dogs do particular jobs. 

 

 

                

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Labrador Retriever Most Pup-ular US Dog Breed for 28th Year

Labrador retrievers aren’t letting go of their hold on U.S. dog lovers, but German shorthaired pointers are tugging on the top ranks of doggy popularity, according to new American Kennel Club data.

Labs topped the list for the 28th year in a row. Yet there’s been plenty of movement over time on the purebred pup-ularity ladder. 

Here’s a look at the 2018 rankings being released Wednesday. 

Top top 10

After Labs, the top five breeds nationwide are German shepherds, golden retrievers, French bulldogs and bulldogs. Rounding out the top 10 are beagles, poodles, Rottweilers, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers.

Labs smashed the record for longest tenure as top dog back in 2013. Fans credit the Lab’s generally amiable nature and aptitude in many canine roles: bomb-sniffer, service dog, hunters’ helper, dog-sport competitor and patient family pet. 

At No. 9, the German shorthaired pointer notched its highest ranking since getting AKC recognition in 1930. These strikingly speckled hunting dogs are also versatile — some work as drug — and bomb-detectors — and active companions. 

“I think people are learning about how fun the breed is,” says AKC spokeswoman Brandi Hunter. 

The suddenly ubiquitous French bulldog remains the fourth most popular breed for a second year, after surging from 83rd a quarter-century ago.

The numbers

The rankings reflect a breed’s prevalence among the 580,900 puppies and other purebred dogs newly registered in 2018 with the AKC, the country’s oldest such registry.  Some 88,175 of these dogs were Labs. 

AKC says registrations, which are voluntary, have been growing for six years.

Estimates of the total number of pet dogs nationwide range from about 70 million to 90 million.

The consistent fave

Beagles, now No. 6, can boast they’re uniquely beloved. No other breed has made the top 10 in every decade since record-keeping began in the 1880s. 

Why? “They’re a good general family dog,” lively, friendly, relatively low-maintenance and comfortable with children, says breeder Kevin Shupenia of Dacula, Georgia. Beagles also work sniffing out contraband meat and plants at airports, detecting bedbugs in homes and doing their traditional job: hunting rabbits. 

“They have a sense of humor, and they’re just characters,” Shupenia says. 

The rarest of them all

The most scant breed was the sloughi (pronounced SLOO’-ghee). The greyhound-like dog has a long history in North Africa but garnered AKC recognition only three years ago. It replaces the Norwegian lundehund in the rarest-breed spot. 

How did doodles do?

Wonder where goldendoodles, puggles, or cockapoos stand? You won’t find these and other popular “designer dogs” among the 193 breeds recognized and ranked by the AKC.

That’s not to say they never will be, if their fanciers so desire. New breeds join the club periodically, after meeting criteria that include having at least 300 dogs nationwide and three generations. 

Meanwhile, designer and just plain mixed-breed dogs can sign up with AKC to compete in such sports as agility, dock diving and obedience. 

The whys, pros and cons of popularity

Many factors can influence a breed’s popularity: ease of care, exposure from TV and movies, and famous owners, to name a few. 

Popularity spurts can expand knowledge about a breed, but many people in dogdom rue slipshod breeding by people trying to cash in on sudden cachet. 

Elaine Albert, a longtime chow chow owner and sometime breeder, is glad the ancient Chinese dog is now 75th in the rankings, after leaping into the top 10 in the 1980s. Albert recalls that she and other chow rescue volunteers were swamped as people gave up dogs with temperament and health problems, which she attributes to careless breeding.

“I certainly wouldn’t want (chows) to be number one, ever,” says Albert, of Hauppauge, New York. “They belong where they are…. They’re not for everybody.”

On the other hand, aficionados of rare breeds sometimes worry about sustaining them.  

The purebred debate 

Some animal-welfare groups feel the pursuit of purebred dogs puts their looks ahead of their health and diverts people from adopting pets. Critics also say the AKC needs to do more to thwart puppy mills.

The club says it encourages responsible breeding of healthy dogs, not as a beauty contest but to preserve traits that have helped dogs do particular jobs. 

 

 

                

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