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ICE Raids Roll Out on Smaller Scale While Immigrant Communities and Supporters Mobilize

Jul 15, 2019

Widespread raids by immigration agents did not materialize over the weekend despite threats by Trump. A handful of raids, however, did still unfold across the country, and protesters rallied in support of immigrant communities. Agents in Chicago reportedly arrested a mother and her children only to quickly release them. Arrests were also attempted here in New York City, but migrants reportedly refused to open their doors to agents. On Sunday in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one of the neighborhoods targeted by ICE early Saturday morning, there was a vigil to continue informing the community of their rights. This is Fabiola Mendieta, an organizer with the New Sanctuary Coalition.

Fabiola Mendieta: “We’re here today because we heard what happened yesterday, that ICE came to our neighborhood, and we tried to stand together and say that—tell them a message saying that they’re not welcome here. You’re not welcome in our neighborhood.”

This is New York state Senator Jessica Ramos at another rally in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Sen. Jessica Ramos: “We are the most diverse district in the entire country, and with that comes a huge responsibility for every single section of our neighbors. So, for our undocumented neighbors, we are out here trying to show solidarity, making sure that people understand their rights. … Here in Jackson Heights, we always band together to protect each other. And no one, not even the president of the United States, is going to mess with our neighbors.”

Authorities say more raids are planned this week. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.

Mike Pence Says Jailed Migrants “Well Cared For” After Visiting Texas Facilities

Jul 15, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence defended conditions for detained migrants after visiting two detention facilities in Texas Friday.

Vice President Mike Pence: “Every family that I spoke to told me that they were being well cared for. And different than some of the harsh rhetoric that we hear from Democrats on Capitol Hill, our Customs and Border Protection are doing their level best to provide compassionate care to these families in a manner the American people would expect.”

A tweet from Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey, who covered the visit, described the dire conditions inside one of the facilities: “VP saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete w/no pillows or mats. They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming. CBP said they were fed regularly, could brush daily & recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days.)”

Meanwhile, a new report from the House Oversight Committee, released on Friday, found that at least 18 migrant children under the age of 2 have been separated from their families at the border as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy—this included nine infants under the age of 1.

Trump Launches Racist Attack on Progressive Congresswomen of Color

Jul 15, 2019

On Sunday, Trump unleashed a racist attack on four progressive congresswomen of color, telling them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The tweets were aimed at Congressmembers Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. All four are U.S. citizens, and three of the four were born in the U.S. Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia before coming to the U.S. as a refugee at age 12.

Congressmember Omar fired back at Trump, tweeting, “As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.” She added, “You are stoking white nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”

Trump’s Twitter tirade also named House Speaker Pelosi. He wrote, “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s remarks xenophobic and said that Trump’s tweet “reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”

Trump’s racist attacks come on the heels of a public feud between Speaker Pelosi and the four congressmembers following last month’s passage of the contested border funding bill—opposed by the four. Last week, Pelosi told The New York Times, “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.” AOC tweeted in response: “That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.” She also said in an interview that Pelosi’s “explicit singling out of newly elected women of color” was “outright disrespectful.” Last week, Pelosi told the progressive congressmembers to bring any grievances to her in person rather than express them via Twitter.

Guatemala Cancels Meeting with Trump as Court Halts Contested Migration Deal

Jul 15, 2019

A White House meeting today between Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and President Trump has been canceled as reports emerged of a “safe third country” agreement between the two heads of state. The reported deal would allow the U.S. to send migrants—from any country of origin—to Guatemala instead of processing asylum requests at the U.S. border. “Safe third country agreements” typically mean migrants have to apply for asylum at the first safe country reached instead of the destination. A court in Guatemala temporarily blocked the signing of any such agreement late Sunday following widespread outcry and a request by five former Guatemalan officials to prevent the deal from being enacted.

Labor Sec. Acosta Resigns Amid Epstein Scandal

Jul 15, 2019

Alex Acosta is out as labor secretary amid the fallout from the Jeffrey Epstein case. Trump announced the departure on Friday, saying the decision was Acosta’s. Two days earlier, Acosta continued to defend himself for his plea deal with accused serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, when he was a U.S. prosecutor. Epstein, who is now standing trial in New York on similar charges, received just 13 months in county jail despite being accused of sexually abusing and trafficking hundreds of underage girls.

Trump has tapped Patrick Pizzella as acting labor secretary. Pizzella, the current deputy labor secretary, is known for opposing labor rights. In the 1990s, he worked with disgraced Republican lobbyist—and now ex-convict—Jack Abramoff to deny worker protections in the Northern Mariana Islands.

South Asian Floods Kill Dozens, Displace At Least 1 Million People

Jul 15, 2019

In South Asia, ongoing heavy rain and flooding have killed at least 67 people in Nepal, 25 in India and 14 in Bangladesh. Monsoon rains have affected more than 1 million people in South Asia, including thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees in southern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar—the largest refugee camp in the world.

Tunisia Recovers 82 Missing Bodies from Migrant Shipwreck

Jul 15, 2019

The Tunisian Red Crescent says the bodies of all 82 missing people who were on board a migrant ship that sank off its coast earlier this month have been recovered. The boat was heading to Europe from Libya. Tunisian fishermen initially rescued four of the boat’s passengers, but one later died in hospital. According to the International Organization for Migration, at least 426 people have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, while thousands have been returned to migrant jails in Libya.

Algerians Protest Ruling Government for 21st Straight Week

Jul 15, 2019

In Algeria, protesters took to the streets Friday for the 21st straight week to call for the establishment of independent, civilian-led institutions to oversee upcoming elections.

Radia: “The regime has to fall, and we will build another Algeria, free and independent, an independent justice, an independent regime and an independent president, to build a country with an independent economy. We rule our country. We are the youth.”

Longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April amid the popular uprising. Elections planned for July 4 were canceled after protesters said they would be controlled by the army and politicians from the ruling elite. Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah—who is backed by the military—remains in power despite his mandate having expired last week.

Ecuador: Waorani Win Case to Protect Amazon Against Oil Exploitation

Jul 15, 2019

In Ecuador, members of the indigenous Waorani tribe celebrated as a court upheld a ruling barring the government from selling land in the Amazon to oil companies. The Waorani argued they had not been consulted over the government’s plans to auction off their ancestral lands. The historic ruling could set a precedent for other indigenous groups fighting exploitation of their lands. This is Waorani activist Nemonte Nenquimo.

Nemonte Nenquimo: “And this victory means that our Waorani people and the future generations, the children, our children, will live healthy and without contamination. And that also means to the world that we contribute to the air that you breathe, which is from the Amazon.”

Israeli Army Kills Hamas Member in Gaza Strip

Jul 15, 2019

The Israeli army said it accidentally killed 28-year-old Hamas member Mahmoud al-Adham in the Gaza Strip Thursday. Al-Adham was attempting to turn away two young Palestinians near the Gaza Strip’s separation barrier with Israel when the soldiers shot at him. The killing came amid a fragile truce that was mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the U.N., following a spike in violence in May that killed at least 25 Palestinians.

Somalia Attack Kills 26, Including Beloved Somali-Canadian Journalist

Jul 15, 2019

In Somalia, gunmen killed a reported 26 people after they stormed and took siege on a hotel in the southern port city of Kismayo. The dead include Kenyans, Americans, a Briton and Tanzanians, as well as at least two journalists and a candidate for August’s regional elections.

The victims also included Somali-Canadian journalist and popular social media figure Hodan Nalayeh, who focused on covering the beauty of her native country and its people. She moved back to Somalia just last year after 30 years away. She was pregnant and had two children.

Topics:

New Leak from Ex-U.K. Ambassador: Trump Withdrew from Iran Deal to Spite Obama

Jul 15, 2019

President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to spite President Barack Obama—this according to a newly leaked memo written by former British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch in 2018. Darroch called the move “diplomatic vandalism,” motivated by “ideological and personality reasons.” Darroch stepped down from his position last week amid fallout from earlier leaks in which he called Trump “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent.”

In more news about Iran, Britain has said the oil tanker they seized off the coast of Gibraltar would be released if Iran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria, a violation of European sanctions.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani has reiterated that he is ready to talk if harsh sanctions are lifted and the U.S. agrees to return to the landmark deal, which was deemed to be effective before the U.S. pulled out last year.

House Passes $733B Defense Bill, Aims to Curb Trump’s Ability to Attack Iran

Jul 15, 2019

Back in the U.S., the House voted along party lines to pass the $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act Friday. Twenty-seven Republicans joined with the majority of Democrats to pass an amendment to the act, restricting Trump’s ability to launch a military strike on Iran without the approval of Congress. The Senate rejected such an amendment last month. The Senate and House defense bills must now be reconciled, making the fate of the bipartisan House amendment uncertain.

Tropical Storm Barry Brings Major Flooding, Wrecks Homes & Cuts Power in Louisiana

Jul 15, 2019

Hurricane Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm as it continues its path across Louisiana and neighboring states. Authorities warn the risk of dangerous storm surges and flash flooding remains high, but said the impact could have been much worse. Over 150,000 customers lost power in parts of Louisiana Sunday, while torrential downpours and flooding ruined homes and businesses in some areas.

Noted Union Leader Héctor Figueroa Dies in New York at Age 57

Jul 15, 2019

And celebrated union leader Héctor Figueroa died Thursday at his home in Queens, New York, at the age of 57. Figueroa was the president of local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, representing over 170,000 building cleaners, security guards, doormen and airport workers. Figueroa was instrumental in key labor struggles across the city, including increasing airport workers’ minimum wage to $19 an hour and the high-profile fight for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for fast-food workers, which led to a nationwide campaign. This is Héctor Figueroa speaking at May Day protests in 2017 in New York City.

Héctor Figueroa: “We all know that immigrant rights are worker rights. No more deportations! No more breaking families! We are here, and we are going to stay, are going to fight, because we work really hard! We feed the American public. We take care of their children. We clean their offices. We tend to their seniors. We are the ones who are making America strong! And we are here to stay!”

That was Héctor Figueroa, prominent New York City union leader, who died last Thursday of a heart attack at the age of 57.

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