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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

India trims perks for U.S. staff in dispute over envoy’s New York arrest

Arshack, lawyer of Khobragade, speaks to Reuters TV in front of the Indian Consulate building in New York

– India took retaliatory measures against the United States on Wednesday in a dispute over an Indian diplomat who complained of being stripped and forced to undergo “cavity searches” while in U.S. detention.

The measures included a revision of work conditions of Indians employed at U.S. consulates and a freeze on the import of duty-free alcohol.

Devyani Khobragade, a deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on December 12 on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper, an Indian national. She was released on a $250,000 bail.

India has responded furiously to what it considers the degrading treatment of a senior diplomat by the United States, a country it sees as a close friend.

In an email to colleagues, Khobragade complained of “repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing” and being detained in a holding cell with petty criminals despite her “incessant assertions of immunity”.

The email, reported in Indian media and confirmed as accurate by the government, caused outrage in India. With a general election due soon, politicians are determined not to be seen as soft on such an issue or unpatriotic.

Daniel Arshack, Khobragade’s lawyer in New York, said India has now appointed her to its permanent mission at the United Nations in a move that Arshack maintained gives her full diplomatic immunity from prosecution “for acts before or after the appointment.”

The U.S. prosecutor in New York could not immediately be reached for comment on whether the U.S. government would accept this move, or whether, as India maintains, the appointment would allow the charges to be cleared up quickly.

On Tuesday, authorities removed concrete security barriers that were used to prevent vehicles from driving at high speed near the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. The barriers would offer some protection against a suicide-bomb attack.

The U.S. Justice Department has confirmed that Khobragade was strip-searched. A senior Indian government source confirmed that the interrogation also included a cavity search.

“It is no longer about an individual, it is about our sense of self as a nation and our place in the world,” Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told parliament, whose usually fractious members showed rare unity on the issue.

Khurshid said work conditions of Indians employed in U.S. consulates would be investigated to root out any violations of labor laws, adding that there would be a freeze on the duty-free import of alcohol and food for diplomatic staff.

Several politicians argued that India provides too many perks to U.S. consular staff. Khurshid reined in some of these on Wednesday, saying passes giving such staff access to airport lounges had to be turned in by Thursday.

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Supporters of a right-wing opposition party held a small protest near the U.S. embassy on Wednesday. About 30 demonstrators, some wearing masks of President Barack Obama and sarongs made from the U.S. flag, demanded an apology.

“It was very good that the government removed the barriers yesterday. Until the USA says sorry, we should not give any security at all to the Americans,” said protester Gaurav Khattar, 33.

The U.S. State Department said it has told the Indian government it expects India to protect its embassy and stressed it does not want the incident with the diplomat to hurt ties.

The embassy did not respond to requests for information about what action would be taken to replace the barriers. The compound has several other layers of security and is protected by a high wall.

Status-conscious Indian dignitaries are often able to skip security checks and deal with legal problems discreetly in India. Less delicate handling abroad can be a shock.

A series of incidents in which politicians and celebrities have been detained or frisked at U.S. airports has heightened sensitivities about what is seen as harsh treatment abroad.

Shah Rukh Khan, one of Bollywood’s best-loved actors, was detained at White Plains airport near New York City last year and at the Newark, New Jersey airport in 2009. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked on board a plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2011.

The Khobragade case is the latest concerning the Indian elite’s alleged exploitation of their domestic workers, both at home and abroad.

Another official at India’s consulate in New York was fined almost $1.5 million last year for using her maid as forced labor. Last month, the wife of a member of parliament was arrested in Delhi for allegedly beating her maid to death.

India says Khobragade’s former housekeeper left her employer a few months ago and demanded help to obtain permanent resident status in the United States. She is thought to be in the United States but her whereabouts are not known.

One Indian government minister, Shashi Tharoor, has argued that it is not reasonable to expect diplomats from developing countries to pay the U.S. minimum wage to domestic staff because the envoys themselves earn less than that.

BY SHYAMANTHA ASOKAN AND FRANK JACK DANIEL

(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani in New York; Editing by Jackie Frank and Will Dunham)

Source: Reuters

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