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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

Woman suicide bomber kills at least 14 at Russian station

Interior Ministry members stand guard in front of the train station where a bomber detonated explosives in Volgograd

1 OF 13. Interior Ministry members stand guard in front of the train station where a bomber detonated explosives in Volgograd December 29, 2013.

CREDIT: REUTERS/SERGEI KARPOV

(Reuters) – A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, killing at least 14 people in the second deadly attack within three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.

The bomber detonated her explosives in front of a metal detector just inside the main entrance of Volgograd station. Footage shown on TV showed a massive orange fireball filling the stately colonnaded hall and smoke billowing out through shattered windows.

“People were lying on the ground, screaming and calling for help,” a witness, Alexander Koblyakov, told Rossiya-24 TV. “I helped carry out a police officer whose head and face were covered in blood. He couldn’t speak.”

A spokesman for Russian investigators said at least 14 people were killed. The regional governor put the toll at 15.

President Vladimir Putin ordered law enforcement agencies to take all necessary precautions to ensure security, his spokesman said. A federal police spokesman said measures would be tightened at stations and airports, with more officers on duty and stricter security checks.

But the attack, just over two months after a female suicide bomber killed six people on a bus in the same city, raised questions about the effectiveness of security measures which the Kremlin routinely orders to be increased after bombings.

It could add to concerns about the government’s ability to safeguard the 2014 WinterOlympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The Games, which open in 40 days’ time, are a major prestige project for Putin, who wants to show how far Russia has come since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Female suicide bombers – known as ‘black widows’ because some are the relatives of dead insurgents – have carried out several attacks claimed by Islamist militants.

Volgograd lies just above Russia’s restive North Caucasus region, a string of mostly Muslim provinces that includes Chechnya, where Russia has fought two wars against separatists in the past two decades.

The region is beset by near-daily violence. Interfax news agency cited a law enforcement source as saying the attacker may have come from Dagestan, the province adjacent to Chechnya that is now the center of the insurgency. The October bus bomber was from the same region.

“EXPECT MORE”

Volgograd is a city of around 1 million people, and a major transport hub in southern Russia, about 430 miles northeast of Sochi, where the Olympics will open on February 7.

Insurgent leader Doku Umarov, a Chechen warlord, urged militants in a video posted online in July to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Olympics. On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in Pyatigorsk, close to the North Caucasus and 270 km (170 miles) east of Sochi.

“We can expect more such attacks,” said Alexei Filatov, deputy head of the veterans’ association of the elite Alfa anti-terrorism unit.

“The threat is greatest now because it is when terrorists can make the biggest impression,” he told Reuters. “The security measures were beefed up long ago around Sochi, so terrorists will strike instead in these nearby cities like Volgograd.”

Volgograd is one of the venues for the 2018 soccer World Cup, another high-profile sports event Putin has helped Russia win the right to stage, and which will bring thousands of foreign fans to cities around Russia.

Sunday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Russia’s heartland since January 2011, when a male suicide bomber from the North Caucasus killed 37 people in the arrivals hall of a busy Moscow airport.

Health Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai said 42 people were wounded and that some would be flown to Moscow for treatment.

Authorities said the woman detonated her explosives after police noticed she looked suspicious and one began to approach her. They said the toll could have been much higher if she had made it into the station waiting hall.

But Filatov said that the widespread practice of placing metal detectors at the entrance of airports and stations risked causing more casualties: “We are creating this danger ourselves by allowing a place for a crowd to gather.”

The Investigative Committee said the bomb detonated with a force equivalent to at least 10 kg (22 lb) of TNT. A human head believed to be that of the bomber was found at the scene, Interfax cited a law enforcement source as saying.

Life News, a Russian website with ties to security agencies, showed graphic photographs of the head, with half the face visible and a tangle of long, matted hair.

The Volgograd station – a Stalinesque architectural monument with a clocktower, spire and martial statues flanking the central entrance where the attack took place – was busier than usual, with people travelling home for the New Year holidays.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Steve Gutterman,; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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