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The Trump administration announced that it would block nearly all migrants from seeking asylum Monday, in a new rule that legal experts say violates both domestic and international law. The ACLU has already vowed to challenge the rule in court. It would deny asylum to any migrant who failed to apply for protection in another country they passed through on the way to the U.S. border—including children traveling alone. If enacted, it would effectively block people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala from seeking refuge in the United States. Trump announced the plan without Guatemala and Mexico’s agreement.
President Trump doubled down Monday on his attacks against four progressive congresswomen of color, saying, “if you’re not happy here, you can leave.” He was widely condemned for a tweet Sunday that told the congressmembers 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 of whom are U.S. citizens. The four congresswomen spoke out a press conference yesterday. This is Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Despite the occupant of the White House attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world. And that is the work that we want to get back to.”
The House of Representatives is voting today on a resolution to condemn Trump’s attacks. We’ll have more on this story and from yesterday’s press conference after headlines.
Calls are mounting for Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign following a leak of nearly 900 pages of text messages by the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism. The messages reveal sexist, homophobic and violent content exchanged between Rosselló and government officials. In one exchange, the governor jokes about shooting San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and called former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito—who is an ally of Yulín Cruz—a “whore.” Rosselló also took aim at the federally appointed financial oversight board charged with managing the island’s debt crisis, writing, “Dear Oversight Board, Go F*** Yourself,” and made jokes about victims of Hurricane Maria.
Two top officials resigned as the scandal broke, but Rosselló, who is up for re-election next year, is resisting calls to step down. On Monday, Denis Márquez of the Puerto Rican Independence Party introduced formal complaints against the governor and called for his impeachment. Thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets in Puerto Rico.
Rafaela Estevez: “It was time for Puerto Rico to wake up and rise up against the oppressors, and we want to force the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. He does not deserve the job he has, and the people have spoken. Even if the Legislature does not care one dime about the people, they are there because of us. And we are showing them, giving them a lesson that they have to remember we pay their wages.”
On Monday, police in San Juan tear-gassed demonstrators and made multiple arrests. Puerto Ricans also gathered in New York and other cities in support of the island. More protests are planned for today.
In El Salvador, a rape survivor who was jailed and later freed after she had a stillbirth is being retried for aggravated homicide. In 2017, Evelyn Hernández was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “suspected abortion” after her stillbirth. But in December last year, the 21-year-old’s conviction was annulled. El Salvador is one of six countries in Latin America with a total abortion ban.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is rejecting the findings of a recent U.N. report in which human rights chief Michelle Bachelet accuses special forces of carrying out thousands of extrajudicial killings that were “aimed at neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the government.” Nearly 7,000 people were killed over 2018 and 2019, according to the report, though some say that number may be conservative. Witnesses say Special Action Forces regularly target political opponents and critics, often staging the scene after they kill them to implicate them in fabricated drug crimes. Special forces agents have also been accused of sexually assaulting women.
Back in the U.S., activists around the country took to the streets Monday to protest Amazon, coinciding with “Prime Day”—one of the retail giant’s biggest sales days of the year. Activists in Seattle delivered a petition with over 270,000 signatures to Amazon headquarters, calling for them to stop collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and calling out its exploitation of workers and anti-union record. In New York, activists delivered the petition to the home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In Minnesota, workers at an Amazon warehouse—many of whom are immigrants from East African nations—walked out for a six-hour strike and demanded the company implement better working conditions and corporate responsibility policies. In Europe, workers in Germany, Britain, Spain and Poland are also taking part in protests this week, calling for fair wages and working conditions.
A man was fatally shot Saturday after apparently attempting to set deportation buses on fire outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. Sixty-nine-year-old Willem Van Spronsen had protested before against the mistreatment of immigrants at the facility, run by private company GEO Group. Journalist and activist Shaun King called Van Spronsen the “first martyr” in the fight against immigrant detention.
Immigrant rights group La Resistencia said, “[Van Spronsen’s] actions sadly reflect the level of desperation people across this country feel about the government’s outrageous violence against immigrants, which includes the use of detention centers to cage migrants both currently living in the U.S. and those seeking asylum. This death results from the federal government’s unresponsiveness to the anger and despair people feel at the horrors unfolding both at the border and in the interior, and from the inability of officers to de-escalate rather than shooting to kill.”
Tributes are pouring in for Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a prominent African-American historian and civil rights activist whose body was discovered in the trunk of her car in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Friday. Authorities said Monday the cause of death was homicide by asphyxiation, though few other details are known.
Roberts-Joseph founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum and hosted Baton Rouge’s annual celebration of Juneteenth, which she fought to have recognized as a state and national holiday. She also founded a local nonprofit combating drugs and violence.
The NAACP of Baton Rouge wrote in a Facebook tribute, “We lost a Cultural Legend Yesterday! #RIP Sadie Roberts Joseph. From reviving Juneteenth, to the Culture preserved at Her Museum, she was a trendsetter and icon in this City.”
Two of Jefferey Epstein’s accusers faced him in court for the first time Monday, and urged the judge not to grant him bail. Courtney Wild, who says Epstein started sexually abusing her at the age of 14, told the court, “He’s a scary person to have walking the streets.” It was the first time Epstein’s accusers had seen i
Meanwhile, prosecutors revealed investigators discovered “piles of cash,” stashes of diamonds and an expired passport under another name and with a Saudi address when they raided Epstein’s Manhattan mansion last week. On Friday, they accused the serial child sex abuser of possible witness tampering, saying he made payments totaling $350,000 to two people he feared could testify against him in court.
And in Hawaii, hundreds of land defenders are protesting the construction of the contested Thirty Meter Telescope on top of Mauna Kea, which is considered a sacred native site. Activists say the construction of the telescope was approved without consulting the local native community.
Monday morning, protesters chained themselves at the base of the mountain’s road. Imai Winchester, who took part in the action, told NPR that they hope to inform people of the “desecration of our lands, [and] the failure of the state and its agencies to properly manage something that is important.”
The ACLU of Hawaii is warning enforcement authorities must respect the rights of protesters, and has threatened to sue if sound cannons are deployed. More direct actions are planned today and throughout the week.