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Friday, July 20, 2018

A government lawyer acknowledged Monday that the Trump administration will miss its first court-imposed deadline to reunite about 100 immigrant children under age 5 with their parents. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian said during a court hearing that federal authorities reunited two families and expect to reunite an additional 59 by Tuesday’s deadline. She said the other cases are more complicated, including parents who have been deported or are in prison facing criminal charges, and would require more time to complete reunions. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who ordered the administration to reunite families separated as part of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, said he will hold another hearing Tuesday morning to get an update on the remaining cases. He said he was encouraged to see “real progress” in the complicated reunification process after a busy weekend when officials from multiple federal agencies tried to sync up parents and children who are spread across the country. STORY FROM LENDINGTREE Crush your mortgage interest with a 15 yr fixed “Tomorrow is the deadline. I do recognize that there are some groups of parents who are going to fall into a category where it’s impossible to reunite by tomorrow,” he said. “I am very encouraged by the progress. I’m optimistic.” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who leads a lawsuit against the federal government, sounded more skeptical. When asked by the judge if he believed the government was in full compliance of the court order, Gelernt said there was much more work to be done. “Let me put it this way: I think the government in the last 48 hours has taken significant steps,” he said. “We just don’t know how much effort the government has made to find released parents. I don’t think there’s been full compliance.” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, based in San Diego. (Photo: U.S. District Court) The difficulty in reuniting the first 100 children shows the challenge that lies ahead as the Trump administration braces for another deadline in two weeks to reunite nearly 3,000 older children – up to age 17 – with their parents. The process is complicated because of all the different situations that emerged over the weekend. The government initially identified 102 children under age 5 who needed to be reunited but removed three children from that list because investigations into their cases revealed that those children came with adults who were not their parents, Fabian said. Twelve parents were found to be in federal and state custody on criminal charges, making a reunification impossible since the government can’t transfer minors to state and local prisons to protect the well-being of the child. Nine parents were deported, and the government established contact with only four of them, Fabian said. Four children had been scheduled to be released from government custody to relatives who weren’t their parents, leading the government to question whether to allow that process to be completed or to redirect the child back to a parent. Gelernt said he understood many of the hurdles but urged the judge to force the government to scrap its time-consuming investigation into every single case and start a 48-hour clock to reunify families that remain separated by Tuesday. Sabraw said he would decide that during Tuesday’s hearing. Fabian said one of the silver linings of the busy weekend is that her office worked closely with its challengers at the ACLU to share information on each child’s case, to ensure that representatives from immigration advocacy groups and volunteer organizations could be present during each reunification. Gelernt said they’re doing that to help the parents, who are often released from custody with no money and nowhere to go. Fabian said that coordination has led to a more formalized process between government agencies and with the immigrants’ lawyers that should make reunifications go more smoothly in the coming weeks. “I think this process over the weekend helped us see what information, and in what form, is the most useful to share,” she said. “I’d like to make that as efficient a process as possible.” -

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

After uncle’s execution, what’s next for Kim Jong Un?

Photo, Yonhap via AFP, Getty Images

 BEIJING — A stooped figure in handcuffs, condemned by a military tribunal, then taken for immediate execution Thursday, Jang Song Thaek is now vilified as “traitor” and “human scum” in North Korea, where until recently he counted as its second-most-powerful figure.

The dramatic downfall of Jang, the uncle and apparent mentor of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, surprised even veteran observers of the brutal regime founded by Kim’s grandfather. Many analysts agree Kim Jong Un, 30, is trying to consolidate his rule, but the wider implications for this tightly sealed state remain as tough to fathom as ever, they said.

In the South Korean capital of Seoul on Friday, security ministers quickly convened a meeting to discuss “analysis and predictions,” reported the Yonhap news agency. Pyongyang has regularly threatened South Korea and its main ally the USA, which maintains thousands of troops there.

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North Korea watchers worldwide are likewise scrambling to make sense of Kim Jong Un’s move against the husband of his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, sister of Kim’s father Kim Jong Il, the nation’s previous ruler.

“His father and grandfather got rid of a lot of people, but did it in a very quiet manner, not making big news out of it,” said Tong Kim, a North Korea expert at Korea University in Seoul, who expects the aunt, as a direct blood relative, will survive.

Kim Jong Un and his close associates “must have felt intimidated if not threatened, so decided to get rid of Jang first,” Tong Kim said.

“No one can be sure what this young leader may do,” he added, but his priority must be stabilizing the domestic political situation. That leaves little room for the North Korean leader to consider military provocations in the West Sea or another nuclear test, at least for now, Tong Kim said.

Jang Song-thaek is escorted in court on December 12, 2013.  North Korea has executed him, the uncle of its leader Kim Jong Un, after a shock purge, state news agency KCNA announced early on Dec. 13, branding the once-powerful man a "traitor."

Jang Song-thaek is escorted in court on December 12, 2013. North Korea has executed him, the uncle of its leader Kim Jong Un, after a shock purge, state news agency KCNA announced early on Dec. 13, branding the once-powerful man a “traitor.” Yonhap via AFP/Getty Images
A man watches a TV news program being shown at a railway station in Seoul. The report shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, second from right, being escorted by military officers during a trial in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.

A man watches a TV news program being shown at a railway station in Seoul. The report shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, second from right, being escorted by military officers during a trial in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Ahn Young-joon, AP
Military vehicles parade during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27 in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Military vehicles parade during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27 in Pyongyang, North Korea. AP

Jang enjoyed a reputation as an able project and personnel manager, but he belonged to the older generation, while Kim “needs a coalition of younger loyalists,” said Daniel Pinkston, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Seoul.

“North Korea is a centralized, authoritarian dictatorship, and that’s how personnel turnover happens in dictatorships,” he said of Jang’s execution.

Pinkston’s latest visit to North Korea last month confirmed the control the Kim dynasty exerts. “The intensity of the Kim family cult is arguably stronger than it ever was,” he said.

As for foreign relations, in a region long troubled by Pyongyang’s belligerence and “military first” policies, “North Korea has a hostile orientation towards the rest of the world, and I don’t see that changing for now,” Pinkston said.

Even China, the North’s single significant ally and key source of food and fuel, is worried by Kim’s actions, said Cai Jian, a North Korea expert at Fudan University in Shanghai.

“Beijing won’t invite Kim to visit in the short term, because Beijing is not happy about some of his policies,” Cai said. Unlike his father, a regular guest whose visits prompted hope of Chinese-style economic reforms, Kim has yet to visit China during his two years in power.

Several of the charges against Jang, who previously steered economic relations with China, mention a “foreign country” and “show Kim Jong Un doesn’t want to rely too much on China like before,” Cai said. Still, Jang’s removal will “postpone” but not cancel economic co-operation between the two countries, he added.

Although Chinese leader Xi Jinping “gave North Korea more pressure on some issues, China won’t change the policy of supporting Kim Jong Un to maintain strategic balance,” Cai said.

South Korean media have reported that two North Korean vice premiers fled to China after Jang’s downfall, but Cai doubted Beijing would risk further damaging relations with Pyongyang by providing asylum.

China’s stubborn loyalty to its neighbor sparks increasing questions from some of its citizens.

“Kim Jong Un’s regime is so evil, it’s crueler than the fascists,” wrote Liao Rui, a lawyer in southwest Sichuan province, on China’s Twitter equivalent, Sina Weibo. “China unexpectedly still wants to align with this kind of evil regime and support them, (but) sooner or later, they will bite and betray China.”

“Nobody knows what this means for stability in North Korea,” David Straub, director of the Korean Studies Program at Stanford University, told the NK News website. “It could, for a time, mean more stability, it could mean less stability,” he said.

“Sooner or later there will be a dramatic dis-juncture in North Korea — whether it’s for the better or worse, time will tell,” Straub added. “But that kind of regime cannot stay, it is strong but very brittle.”

Contributing: Sunny Yang

Source:Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY

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