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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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Obama’s pivot on oil draws fire from left

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President Obama unveiled plans Tuesday to open swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to new oil and gas exploration, enraging Democrats and environmentalists who had cheered him just two days earlier for blocking drilling elsewhere.

The Interior Department’s five-year lease plan would allow drilling in three areas off the coast of Alaska and one in a portion of the Atlantic for the first time in nearly four decades.

The shift in policy, gas prices being at new lows, is dramatic for Obama, who’s been seeking to burnish his legacy as a president who has worked to stop climate change.

 

The plan angered green groups who have supported Obama’s decision to restrict other areas from drilling, and raises questions about whether the administration will eventually approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Interior Department is portraying the plan as one that seeks to balance environmental stewardship with expanding the U.S.’s energy sources.

“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

She also noted that the plan prohibits drilling in some areas and that the administration could close off additional areas going forward.

“Here is what this plan is not — it’s not final,” she said.

The five-year plan determines what areas will be on the auction block for oil and gas exploration between 2017 and 2022. Jewell said 2021 is the earliest she expects a lease sale to happen.

The plan was released days after the administration moved to declare the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) off-limits to oil and gas development.

A focus of the plan is development in the Gulf of Mexico, where 10 lease sales are proposed. It includes a new approach to hold two annual sales in the western and central Gulf, as well as a portion of the eastern Gulf.

The move allows for industry for invest more in the Gulf, one of the most productive basins for oil and gas.

While the plan opens up new areas for drilling, it is tightly controlled.

Only one sale each will be allowed in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet areas of Alaska, according to the proposed plan. New development in the Pacific Ocean is excluded from the plan.

“We know the Arctic is an incredibly unique environment, so we’re continuing to take a balanced and careful approach to development,” said Jewell. “At the same time, the president is taking thoughtful action to protect areas that are critical to the needs of Alaska Natives and wildlife.”

Four of the five areas deemed off-limits by Obama on Tuesday had previously been excluded from the 2012-2017 lease sales. Those include the Barrow and Kaktovik whaling areas in the Beaufort Sea, and 25-mile coastal buffer in the Chukchi Sea.

The proposed plan, and more protections for ANWR, have Obama in a stand-off with the Alaskan congressional delegation.

“This administration has effectively declared war on Alaska,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said on Monday.

In the Atlantic, the proposal will open the door to oil and gas development along the coasts of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia.

Democrats from Eastern states piled on the administration for floating open areas in the Atlantic.

“If drilling is allowed off the East Coast of the United States, it puts our beaches, our fishermen and our environment on the crosshairs for an oil spill that could devastate our shores,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said.

It’s not the first time Obama has proposed opening up the Atlantic. He floated oil and gas development in the region for the 2012-2017 plan but scrapped the notion after BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

A 50-mile coastal buffer zone would be required for lease sales in the Atlantic.

Green groups criticized Obama’s move in the Atlantic, arguing it goes against his record on global warming.

“Unfortunately, the administration’s five-year plan amounts to climate denial,” said Stephen Kretzmann of Oil Change International. “The administration needs to harmonize all of its policies with climate science, not just some of them.”

Source:The Hill

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