President Trump backed down Thursday from his plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, after the White House struggled to overcome a Supreme Court ruling saying the administration’s justification for its inclusion “appears to have been contrived.” Instead, Trump said he was issuing an executive order to gather information about people’s citizenship status from federal agencies.
President Donald Trump: “I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country. They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately.”
Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, tweeted, “Trump ordering Commerce Dept to still collect citizenship data means GOP can try to draw districts based on citizenship rather than total population in 2021. GOP gerrymandering guru said this would be 'advantageous to Republicans & Non-Hispanic Whites.'” Census officials have estimated 6.5 million people will not respond to the census if the citizenship question is added, affecting everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding.
The fight over the 2020 census came as immigrant communities brace for raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting at least 2,000 people in homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. New Orleans was among the cities targeted for ICE raids this weekend, but the city’s mayor said enforcement will be temporarily suspended as Tropical Storm Barry approaches. Ahead of the planned raids, immigrant rights groups have been ramping up efforts to make sure affected communities know their rights. This is Tessie Borden of CHIRLA—the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Tessie Borden: “So, immigration raids in our community are something that’s very traumatic, and so when they announce them ahead of time, I think part of the intent is to sow chaos in our community. Part of the intent is to try to confuse people, to scare them, to put them on edge.”
The ACLU is suing the Trump administration, arguing that the raids violate the constitutional right of immigrants to a court hearing before deportation. And mayors across the country have also been standing up to ICE, in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere. After headlines, we’ll host a roundtable discussion with immigration activists from different cities preparing for raids.
In New York—one of the cities targeted for this weekend’s expected ICE raids—hundreds of immigration activists protested outside the annual conference of Amazon Web Services to protest the tech giant’s ties to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. Amazon’s servers host databases that allow the agencies to track immigrants and carry out deportations. Dozens of protesters made it inside the conference, where they repeatedly disrupted a keynote address by Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels.
Protester 1: “Amazon, how much longer will you have blood on your hands? I am complying. I’m complying.”
Protester 2: “Cut ties with ICE! Cut ties with ICE! Cut ties with ICE!”
After one year and 100 days behind bars, prominent Latino journalist Manuel Duran was released Thursday from an ICE jail in Alabama. Duran was arrested last year while covering a protest against immigrant detention outside a county jail in Memphis. Duran, who was born in El Salvador, is a well-known reporter on Spanish-language radio stations who also runs the online site Memphis Noticias. Duran was held behind bars for 15 months on a 12-year-old pending deportation order, but last week a federal appeals court ordered an immigration court to reopen his claim that he is eligible for asylum.
Louisiana has declared a state of emergency and ordered some Gulf Coast communities to evacuate, as Tropical Storm Barry churns offshore in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of its expected landfall Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm has flooded parts of Louisiana and threatens to cause an already-engorged Mississippi River to overtop levees. The river, which is usually at six to eight feet in midsummer, is now at 16 feet due to record flooding this year. New Orleans is only protected to a river level of 20 feet. The National Weather Service expects the Mississippi to approach that level today, marking one of the highest river levels seen in the city in decades. Meanwhile, activists are demanding the immediate evacuation of the more than 65,000 prisoners in the path of the storm throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
In the Persian Gulf, tensions are running high after Britain’s government accused Iran’s Navy of unsuccessfully trying to block passage of a British commercial ship through the Strait of Hormuz—a charge Iran denies. British authorities say the Iranian warships were stopped only after a U.K. navy vessel issued “verbal warnings.” This comes after police in Gibraltar say they arrested the captain and chief officer of a detained Iranian oil tanker accused of violating European Union sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
French lawmakers on Thursday approved a digital services tax on internet giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, prompting threats of a new trade war by the Trump administration. Supporters of the 3% tax argue U.S. companies largely avoid paying taxes by setting up headquarters in EU countries with extremely low tax rates on corporate profits. The Trump administration says it has launched an investigation and is considering punitive tariffs in retaliation.
In New York, serial child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein asked a federal judge Thursday to release him on bail while he awaits trial on sex trafficking charges. Epstein, who has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan since his arrest Saturday, offered to put up his $77 million New York City mansion and private jet as collateral. He also offered to pay for security guards in his home and to pay for electronic monitoring. If the deal is approved, Epstein would await his trial in the same Manhattan townhouse where he allegedly raped teenage girls from at least 2002 to 2005. Epstein’s bid for bail came as at least a dozen new women came forward to say they were sexually abused by Epstein in the past.
In Chicago, federal agents arrested R. Kelly Thursday night after a U.S. attorney brought a 13-count indictment against the musician, charging him with obstruction of justice, child pornography and other sex crimes. R. Kelly had been free on a $1 million bond as he faces other charges brought by Illinois prosecutors, including 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault involving four women and girls, three of whom were under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged crimes.
An Air Force general nominated by President Trump to be the next vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is facing allegations of sexual misconduct. The Associated Press reports that an unnamed senior military officer accused General John Hyten of making a series of unwanted sexual advances and touching in 2017 while she was one of his aides. The officer says that when she rebuffed General Hyten’s advances, he tried to derail her military career. Unnamed Air Force officials told The Wall Street Journal that an internal investigation found no evidence of sexual misconduct by General Hyten. The Senate has yet to schedule a hearing for his confirmation.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill limiting the use of solitary confinement in the state’s prisons. The new law prohibits the use of solitary except when there is “reasonable cause to believe that the inmate or others would be at substantial risk of serious harm as evidenced by recent threats or conduct.” The New Jersey law also carves out special protections for LGBTQ, disabled, elderly, young or disabled prisoners. It also caps the number of consecutive days prisoners can be held in solitary confinement at 20. In 2011, a United Nations expert on torture called on the U.S. and other nations to ban solitary confinement except in very exceptional circumstances, saying the practice could amount to torture.
The American Federation of Teachers is suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, charging the Education Department is illegally and unconstitutionally failing to administer a student loan forgiveness program for millions of public service workers. The program, passed by Congress a decade ago, promises to cancel the student loan debts of qualifying government or nonprofit workers who make loan payments for 10 years. More than a million people signed up, but Department of Education figures show just 1% of applications for debt forgiveness have been approved.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to investigate abuses committed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in his campaign against drug dealers, including widespread accounts of extrajudicial killings and other gross human rights violations. By the Philippine government’s own estimate, police have killed 6,600 people since Duterte’s inauguration three years ago. Human rights groups say the true toll could top 27,000. President Duterte has repeatedly boasted that he has personally murdered drug dealers. President Donald Trump has expressed admiration for Duterte, saying he’s done an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
This week, a funeral was held for the youngest victim of the Philippine drug war: 3-year-old Myca Ulpina, who was shot dead by police June 29 at her home near Manila. This is activist Rubylin Litao of the anti-drug-war group Rise Up for Life.
Rubylin Litao: “And here, another 3-year-old victim. They say it’s a collateral damage, but we say it’s not, because she was killed because of this war on drugs.”