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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Nationwide outrage and protests are mounting over the Trump administration’s practice of forcibly separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, in violation of international human rights law. On Tuesday, Republican and Democratic governors of eight states—Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Rhode Island, Colorado, New York, North Carolina and Connecticut—said they would either withhold or recall their National Guard troops from the border, in protest of the practice of separating children.
Border Patrol says it has separated more than 2,300 kids in the last two months. The Intercept reports the Trump administration has separated at least 3,700 immigrant children from their parents since October, many of whom have come to the United States seeking asylum. The separated children have been sent to detention facilities in at least 17 states.
The Associated Press reports babies and toddlers are being detained in at least three so-called baby jails in South Texas—in Brownsville, Raymondville and Combes—with a fourth “baby jail” slated to open soon in Houston. The government calls them “tender age shelters.” Many of the children are under 1 year old.
On Tuesday, President Trump continued his xenophobic Twitter rant, tweeting, “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country.” Conservative editor Bill Kristol tweeted, “Trump’s statement that immigrants will 'infest our Country' probably sounds better in the original German.” This is Trump speaking Tuesday.
President Donald Trump: “When countries abuse us by sending their people up—not their best—we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries. Why the hell should we?”
As many are accusing Trump of holding the refugee children hostage to pass funding for his border wall, Trump met with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday. House Republicans are vowing to press ahead with votes this week on two different sweeping anti-immigrant bills. President Trump has indicated he will stop the family separation practice in exchange for $25 billion for Trump’s border wall, a crackdown on asylum seekers and a reduction on visas to the United States. Not a single Republican lawmaker reportedly raised the issue of family separation with Trump during the meeting Tuesday. Democrats are demanding the passage of stand-alone legislation to stop the separation of families or that President Trump stop the practice himself, as it was his administration that enacted the “zero tolerance” policy that began the widespread separation of families.
While Trump left his meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill, Trump was heckled by lawmakers with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who shouted, “Mr. President, don’t you have kids?”
Rep. Juan Vargas: “Mr. President, don’t you have kids? Don’t you have kids, Mr. President?”
They also yelled, “Stop separating children!”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was also heckled Tuesday at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., by protesters who shouted, “Shame on you!”
Protester 1: “How does that make you feel?”
Protester 2: “Shame on you!”
Protester 1: “Shame on you!”
Protester 2: “Shame!”
Protester 1: “Have you listened to it? Do you hear the babies crying?”
The protesters were also yelling, “Have you listened to the audio yet?” and “Do you hear the babies crying?”—references to the audio released by ProPublica in which separated children are crying “Mama” and “Papi” from inside a detention center.
Meanwhile, more than 600 members of the United Methodist Church have filed a formal complaint against fellow church member Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accusing him of child abuse, immorality and racial discrimination for the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their families. Sessions was also heckled while receiving a lifetime achievement award by the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans on Monday by protesters who shouted, “Stop taking kids!”
Protesters: “Stop taking kids! Stop taking kids! Stop taking kids! Stop taking
kids! Stop taking kids! Stop taking kids! Stop taking kids!”
Five protesters were arrested protesting outside the National Sheriffs’ Association convention, while inside Sessions hailed the sheriffs’ association’s “Anglo-American” heritage.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in cities across the country Tuesday—including in San Francisco; New York City; Philadelphia; El Paso, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Portland, Oregon—to denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents. Mental health professionals are also continuing to denounce the practice. This is Kathryn Hampton with Physicians for Human Rights.
Kathryn Hampton: “The negative impact on functioning of children can even continue into adulthood. It can impact their academic achievement. It can have a long-term impact on their ability to have normal attachment to family members and loved ones. And the psychological quality of life is devastated.”
Mexican officials say one of the children who has been separated from her parents is a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome. This is Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski mocking the story of this girl on Fox News. This clip begins with former senior Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas.
Zac Petkanas: “I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage.”
Corey Lewandowski: “Wah, wah.”
Zac Petkanas: “I read about a—did you say, 'Wah, wah,' to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being taken from her mother?”
Corey Lewandowski: “What I said is you can pick anything you want out—”
Zac Petkanas: “How dare you?”
Corey Lewandowski: “—but the bottom line is very clear.”
Zac Petkanas: “How dare you?”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has announced the United States is withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, accusing the council of being biased against Israel.
Nikki Haley: “For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias. Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded.”
The announcement of the withdrawal comes only one day after the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the Trump administration for the “unconscionable” separation of children from their parents. The Trump administration has been threatening for months to withdraw from the human rights body, which has repeatedly condemned Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, including its bloody crackdown against nonviolent protesters in Gaza. This is Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur for extreme poverty, speaking on Democracy Now!
Philip Alston: “If you’ve got eight countries in the entire world who don’t think that Israel should have been condemned for these actions, you need to ask, 'Why are these eight going against all the others?' And those eight consist of the United States, Australia and six other very small countries, very small players. Essentially, all of the countries of Western Europe, all of the United States’ allies joined in the United Nations action in relation to Israel.”
That was Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur for extreme poverty. He is addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday.
In Canada, the Senate has approved legislation to legalize marijuana, meaning Canada will soon become the second country in the world to legalize the drug nationwide. The first was Uruguay. The Guardian reports that nearly 500,000 Canadians have marijuana convictions on their criminal record. Criminal justice activists are advocating for those with prior convictions to be granted amnesty as the new law goes into effect, arguing the outdated marijuana laws had a disproportionate effect on people of color and the poor.
In Yemen, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition says it has seized the airport in the crucial port city of Hodeidah. Hundreds of fighters have been killed, and thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes, since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition launched an all-out offensive against Hodeidah a week ago. International groups have warned the U.S.-backed offensive to seize Hodeidah will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is already experiencing the world’s worst cholera epidemic, with more than 1 million people afflicted and with millions more on the brink of famine.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports rampant sexual abuse in a South Yemen jail controlled by the United Arab Emirates. AP reports that, in March, 15 officers lined up the prisoners in the southern city of Aden and ordered them to undress, before searching their anal cavities, claiming that they were looking for contraband cellphones. The men screamed and cried, and those who resisted were beaten and threatened by dogs. AP reports that hundreds of detainees suffered similar abuse.
And back in the United States, Charleston, South Carolina, has apologized for its role in the transatlantic slave trade. About 40 percent of enslaved Africans forcibly brought to North America were trafficked through Charleston. On Tuesday, the Charleston City Council passed a resolution recognizing that the city flourished and profited at the cost of enslaved people. The council passed the resolution in Charleston’s City Hall—which was built by enslaved people.