Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is stepping down. The news was announced by President Trump on Twitter Sunday evening. CNN is reporting Trump ousted Nielsen following months of reported tensions between the two. Nielsen oversaw Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy and came under fire by Democrats for lying to Congress about the policy, as well as for withholding information on children who died in U.S. custody. In June of last year, Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “It is deeply alarming that the Trump Administration official who put children in cages is reportedly resigning because she is not extreme enough for the White House’s liking.” Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will become the acting head of Homeland Security. On Friday, Trump withdrew nominee Ronald Vitiello to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, indicating he wasn’t “tough” enough for the role.
Meanwhile, immigration and civil rights groups are urging Fortune 500 companies not to hire former Trump administration officials who were involved in separating migrant families. A letter signed by 41 groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, reads, “They should not be allowed to seek refuge in your boardrooms or corner offices. Allowing them to step off of the revolving door and into your welcoming arms should be a non starter.”
The government said Friday it could take as long as two years to reunite children who were separated from their families at the southern border as part of Trump’s family separation policy. The Trump administration admitted earlier this year they failed to keep proper records on which children in its care had been separated from their parents. Last month, the judge overseeing a lawsuit on behalf of separated families expanded the case to include any children who were separated from their parents as early as July 2017, nearly a year before the policy officially took effect, potentially adding thousands of children to the 2,700 cases previously identified. The ACLU, which brought the class-action suit against the government, said a two-year wait could be “devastating” and that the group would challenge the administration’s plan in court.
In New York, police arrested and charged a man Friday for threatening to assault and murder Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar. Fifty-five-year old Patrick Carlineo Jr., a vocal Trump supporter who told investigators he “loves the president” and “hates radical Muslims in our government,” called Omar’s office and delivered an expletive-laden rant, saying, “Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she’s a f**ing terrorist? I’ll put a bullet in her f**ing skull.”
Congressmember Omar is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress last November and is the only congressmember to wear a hijab. In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, “The political environment, led by an Islamophobe in the White House, has normalized hate speech and emboldened bigots in their actions. The rising threat of Islamophobia and white supremacy must be taken seriously.”
One day after the arrest, President Trump mocked Congressmember Omar during a Saturday address before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. Trump pretended to thank Omar, before quickly adding, “Oh, I forgot. She doesn’t like Israel. I’m so sorry.” Trump’s comments refer to recent accusations of anti-Semitism against the congressmember, charges she and her supporters vehemently reject, and largely fueled by conservatives and pro-Israeli groups and lawmakers. Trump also attacked migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
President Donald Trump: “Congress must end catch and release so that illegal border crossers can be quickly and safely returned to their home. Get out! Sorry. Get out! Sorry. Can’t handle it. And I told my people yesterday, 'Our country's full.’ We’re full. Our system’s full. Our country’s full. Can’t come in. Our country is full. What can you do? We can’t handle any more. Our country is full.”
During his speech, Trump also boasted of the United States’ recent recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory, and his decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Activists from the progressive Jewish, anti-occupation group If Not Now disrupted Trump’s speech. Ten members of the group chanted, “Jews are here to say the occupation is a plague. Jews are here to say white nationalism is a plague.”
A Mexican man died last week while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Florence, Arizona, according to officials. Fifty-four-year-old Abel Reyes-Clemente was found unconscious and not breathing after being transferred from a Maricopa County jail to an ICE processing center in February. Reyes-Clemente was in jail on a misdemeanor conviction. He was put under observation after showing flu-like symptoms and died just two days later.
In Yemen, local authorities reported at least 13 civilians, including at least seven children, were killed after an air raid on a warehouse in the capital Sana’a on Sunday. Another 100 were reportedly injured. Houthi rebels say the Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a weapons storage site that was located close to homes and a school.
The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians and sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 10 million people facing famine. Last week, congressmembers in the House joined their colleagues in the Senate to back a War Powers Resolution calling for an end to U.S. support for the war. President Trump is expected to veto the resolution.
On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, if re-elected. He made the comments on Israeli television just days before Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, pitting the embattled prime minister against his former army chief of staff, Benny Gantz. Palestinian officials and Palestinian residents of the West Bank condemned the remarks, which many say were made as an appeal to right-wing voters. This is activist Mohammed Zughayer from the group Youth Against Settlements.
Mohammed Zughayer: “It is clear for the world that there is no real partner for peace that Mahmoud Abbas is calling for through negotiations. The Israeli occupation and Netanyahu and his coalition with the extreme right want to form a big government for settlers that will implement the plan of the century that is led by the American President Donald Trump.”
Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law.
In Libya, government officials say 21 people were killed in recent days as fighting intensified near the capital Tripoli. Last week, a renegade army commander of the Benghazi-based Libyan National Army ordered his forces to advance on the capital in an attempt to topple the country’s U.N.-backed government, the Government of National Accord, or GNA. General Haftar said the LNA carried out airstrikes on Sunday and that his forces had seized an airport near the capital. GNA’s armed forces announced a counteroffensive to defend Tripoli. The U.S. has pulled some of its troops from Libya, and the United Nations is warning that thousands of civilians would be displaced from the escalation in violence, while others would be trapped amid the fighting and cut off from emergency services.
In Sudan, protesters say security forces unleashed tear gas and stun grenades on crowds who have been demonstrating outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum—which is also the residence of President Omar al-Bashir. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets since Saturday in one of the largest anti-government protests since the popular uprising demanding al-Bashir’s resignation began in December. At least five people were reportedly killed across the country over the weekend, and at least 50 people have been killed since December, according to rights groups. The government has also been accused of jailing hundreds of activists and critics of the president, and of shutting down press outlets and barring foreign reporters from covering the protests. Reports on the ground say some soldiers sided with protesters this weekend, signaling a possible loss of military support for the embattled al-Bashir, who has been in power for three decades. His current term is due to end in 2020.
The Trump administration designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization Monday. The move is the latest in the White House’s efforts to isolate Iran after the U.S. withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the country last year despite widespread international condemnation. Iranian officials have warned the designation would destabilize the region and draw a retaliatory response from Iran, which could designate the U.S. military as a terrorist group.
In Washington state, Motel 6 is settling a lawsuit for $12 million that accused the budget hotel chain of violating anti-discrimination and privacy laws by handing over personal information of hotel guests to ICE. Hotel managers gave personal data, including names, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers, of thousands of guests to immigration officers between 2015 and 2017, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Immigration officials were able to scrutinize the lists for “Latino-sounding names,” leading to multiple arrests, detentions and deportations.
In Massachusetts, the president of Hampshire College, Miriam Nelson, stepped down Friday, after months of student protests against cuts in the school’s staff and budget. In January, Nelson announced Hampshire College would not admit a full class in the fall, as well as a plan to merge the school with a “strategic partner,” leading many to fear the school may either close or lose its independence. Student organizers from the group Hamp Rise Up have been calling on Nelson, as well as other officials and board members, to step down following a vote of no confidence from students. Fundraising campaigns have been set up to keep Hampshire College running in the face of losses from tuition for the coming school year.
American Airlines announced it is extending a cancellation on some of its flights into early June due to the continued removal of the Boeing 737 MAX from service. The cancellations will affect 90 flights a day. Southwest Airlines, which also flies Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, took similar measures last month.
The ongoing disruption in air travel comes as Boeing apologized last week for the fatal crashes of two MAX 8 aircraft in recent months—last month’s Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610 in October—which together killed nearly 350 people. The first American wrongful death lawsuit has been brought, and faulty software is believed to be have played a role in both crashes.
And in New York City, activists from over 30 groups took over the prestigious Whitney Museum Friday to call for the removal of Vice Chair Warren Kanders, CEO of tear gas manufacturer Safariland, from the museum’s board. The protest launched a 9-week series of actions organized by Decolonize This Place. Democracy Now! spoke to one of the activists at Friday’s action.
Marz Saffore: “My name is Marz Saffore, and I’m with MTL+ Collective and Decolonize This Place. Today we’re here for week three of the 'Nine Weeks of Art and Action' at the Whitney Museum, demanding the removal of Vice Chairman Warren Kanders. Warren Kanders is the CEO of Safariland, an international weapons manufacturer who manufactured the tear gas used against migrant families at the border, water protectors in Standing Rock, black folks in Ferguson, Palestine, Oakland, Turkey, Egypt, and the list goes on.”