Cuba Calls for Massive Twiting and Web Forum againt US Blockade

The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) today called for a world message action through Twitter and a forum debate via Internet to reject the economic, commercial and financial blockade the United States imposed on the island almost six decades ago.

These activities will be held on Monday, September 17, between 10:00 and noon, local time in Cuba, under the title 'The world against the blockade'.

The initiative to invite Internet users to reject a siege condemned in the five continents is part of the event 'Tenemos Memoria (We have Memory): Solidarity vs. Blockade and Terrorism', taking place from September 4 to October 6.

This event also takes place in the context of preparations for a new vote, on October 31, at the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution aimed at demanding the lifting of unilateral and extraterritorial measures applied by Washington to suffocate the Caribbean nation.

Since 1992, the international community has strongly supported similar texts at the General Assembly, the main UN deliberative forum, claiming that in the last three years, 191 of 193 member states of the multilateral organization have supported it.

Some few days ago, the Cuban government published its annual report on the impact of the U.S. blockade on many sectors of society and its extraterritorial scope, a siege to which damages are valued at $933.6 billion USD, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold on the international market.

Official sources denounced here the U.S. pressures to try to minimize votes in favor of the draft resolution similar to that adopted in the last 26 years by the Assembly plenary session.

The administration of President Donald Trump, since he took office in January 2017, has worsened the application of a blockade that Washington has never left aside, not even in 2015 and 2016, when his predecessor, Barack Obama, admitted the failure of that policy and promoted a bilateral approach in search for the normalization of relations with Cuba.

Another feature of the new U.S. government is the escalation in its aggressive diplomacy, which includes threats within the UN to those who do not join their positions of imposition, unilateralism and hegemony, scenario present in issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Published in Cuba

UN's Day of Abolition of Slave Trade Comes Amid Ominous Times

The Transatlantic slave trade is regarded by Pan-Africanists as the Maafa, a Swahili term meaning “great disaster.”

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition as decreed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco. Its purpose is to pay homage to those who were enslaved for hundreds of years as part of European colonization in the Western Hemisphere, as well as freedom fighters who heeded the call to freedom.

RELATED: Britain's Loan to Pay Off Slave Owners 'Not Repaid Until 2015'

Regarded by Pan-Africanists as the Maafa, a Swahili term meaning “great disaster,” it is estimated that between 1525 and 1866, some 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the so-called “New World,” the Caribbean, North and South America, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

Even before reaching the new world, it must be noted that the conditions aboard the slave ships were so horrific that it is estimated that 1.5 million enslaved Africans died before ever reaching the shores of the Americas.

Each year Britain goes to great lengths to celebrate its passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act on Mar. 25, 1807.

It didn't take into account the geopolitical shift spawned by the Haitian Revolution, which, after 13 years of warfare, prevailing against a number of European superpowers, including the brunt of Napolean's army, became the first Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere on Jan. 1, 1804.

It certainly didn't take into account the fact that British taxpayers were paying off slavery debt, the compensation afforded to former slave-owners as part of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, until 2015.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Center for Reparations Research, Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the Caribbean Community's Reparations Commission and vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), called the British government "immoral " for denying reparations to Caribbean communities.

"For me it is the greatest act of political immorality, to be told consistently and persistently to put this in the past and yet Her Majesty's Treasury has released the relevant information to suggest that it is just two years ago that this bond was being repaid," Beckles said. 

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The International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade comes amid ominous times, times that call into question and reminds the international community of the ongoing legacies of the slave trade and European colonization in the Western Hemisphere.

Britain, for its part, has been threatening to deport and has denied public services, to scores of older Caribbean-born residents who migrated to Britain between the 1940s and 1970s. Having destroyed thousands of landing slip cards and other immigration documentation of the so-called Windrush Generation residents in 2010, these older residents are now experiencing difficulties with their residential status.

The records were destroyed in 2010 when Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May was serving as Home Secretary. The move came despite warnings that it would make it hard to verify the records of Caribbean-born residents.

Speaking about the database destruction, Sir Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said some government ministers described May's tenure at the Home Office as being “almost reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”

African-descendants, or people who identify as Black in Brazil, the country that received the largest number of enslaved Africans, are 23.5 percent more likely to be killed than any other ethnic group in the country according to the study titled, “2017 Violence Atlas.” Brasil de Fato reported that for every 100 murders in Brazil, 71 are Black people.

RELATED: Britain's Loan to Pay Off Slave Owners 'Not Repaid Until 2015'

According to Dina Alves, a lawyer and researcher of race, gender, and class, the staggering numbers are conclusive in determining that Brazil is a “genocide project” of Black people. She added that “it's not by chance that most people who die are Black, that the majority of those incarcerated are Black people. It's the state that kills when police kill.”

With the majority of Brazil's prison population being Black men, Rio de Janeiro's Public Defender's office reported earlier this month that a prisoner had died every two days during the first four months of 2018. The majority of the deaths, a total of 55 from January to April, have been attributed to infectious diseases, substandard hygienic conditions and the lack of healthcare professionals operating in the prison system.

The international day also comes amid an alarming practice that has been identified in recent months which is slave trades taking place in North African countries such as Libya amid a surge in migration from African countries into Europe using illegal and exploitive smugglers promising to take the asylum seekers into Europe using dangerous routes and boats.

Reports late last year revealed that migrants were being sold into slavery, for as low as US$400, to perform excruciating labor. Reminiscent of the auctions during the transatlantic slave trade period, migrants are priced based on their physical capabilities. Many are left broken, mentally and physically, as a result of their forced servitude, the report states.

In 2017 survivors of Libya’s slave trade testified to the United Nations on their horrific experiences. Victims reported that they were sold into slavery to pay off debts to their smugglers or to those from whom they borrowed while trying to stay afloat in the African country after their funds ran out.

Most migrants are no longer reaching their final destination, many are dying at sea, and as a result, many are opting to repatriate to their home countries empty-handed.

Meanwhile concerns are growing over modern-day slavery practices in which migrant workers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other developing countries suffer from abuse and exploitation in terms of wages and labor rights in oil-rich nations in the Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which has been under fire over treatment of migrant workers employed for projects relating to the World Cup 2022. 

Some of those practices also exist in North American countries where immigrants from Central and South America suffer labor abuse at the hands of big corporations in industries like agriculture.  

Meanwhile, in the United States, a national prisoner strike is taking place to protest “modern slavery” conditions. Inmates are refusing to work, holding sit-ins and going on hunger strike from Aug. 21, the 47th anniversary of the murder of Black Panther member, George Jackson, by correctional officers in San Quentin, until September 9, which marks the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising for humane conditions and fundamental sociopolitical rights.

Every day, over 800,000 inmates are forced to work in different industries in the United States. In an industry that rakes in two billion U.S. dollars per year, prisoners in the state of Louisiana receive just four cents per hour.

A shortlist of companies profiting from prison labor include Microsoft; American Airlines; Starbucks; BP; Victoria Secret; Walmart; and McDonald's.

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Humanitarian Ship seeks European Port for Rescued Migrants

More than 650,000 migrants have come to Italy’s shores since 2014, but the numbers of new arrivals have plunged over the past year, with Rome encouraging the Libyan coastguard to carry out most of the rescues.

Human rights groups called on European governments on Sunday to tell a charity ship where it can dock and let more than 140 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark in safety.

RELATED: Spain Takes in Drifting Migrant Ship Aquarius as UN, EU Slam Italy Over Refusing It

The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), rescued 141 people in two separate operations off the Libyan coast last week.

The boat had just started heading north on Sunday toward Europe when Libyan coastguards called it back to pick up 10 migrants spotted aboard a small fiberglass boat.

As that rescue was underway, SOS Mediterranee and MSF asked for guidance on where to take those they had saved.

“What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse,” said Nick Romaniuk, search and rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee.

SOS Mediterranee and MSF accused the Libyan coastguard on Sunday of endangering lives by not telling the Aquarius there were boats close to it that were in distress. They also said other ships in the area had apparently ignored the migrants.

“Ships might be unwilling to respond to those in distress due to the high risk of being stranded and denied a place of safety,” said Aloys Vimard, MSF’s project coordinator on board the Aquarius. “Policies designed to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs are resulting in more suffering and forcing those who are already vulnerable to take even riskier journeys to safety.”

The Aquarius has operated in the central Mediterranean since early 2016 and says it has helped more than 29,000 people in distress, many of them African migrants, who, until this summer, were brought swiftly to Italy without any incident.

However, when a populist government took office in Rome in June, it immediately shut its ports to all NGO boats, accusing them of encouraging illegal immigration and helping human smugglers — charges the charities deny.

In June, the orange-hulled Aquarius picked up 629 migrants, including scores of children and seven pregnant women, but first Italy and then Malta refused to let it dock, provoking a row within the heart of the European Union over immigration policy.

Spain eventually agreed to take in the boat, but there was no indication of where the Aquarius might head on Sunday, with Malta immediately refusing it access and Italy saying at the weekend it would not be welcome at any of its ports.

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UN human rights chief: Trump's attacks on press 'close to incitement of violence'

Exclusive: Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who steps down this month, says US president’s rhetoric echoes that of the worst eras of the 20th century.

Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is “very close to incitement to violence” that would lead to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked, the outgoing UN human rights commissioner has said.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, is stepping down this month as UN high commissioner for human rights after deciding not to stand for a second four-year term, in the face of a waning commitment among world powers to fighting abuses.

Zeid said the Trump administration’s lack of concern about human rights marked a distinct break with previous administrations, and that Trump’s own rhetoric aimed at minorities and at the press was redolent of two of the worst eras of the 20th century, the run-up to the two world wars.

In an interview with the Guardian, he singled out the US president’s repeated designation of the press as “the enemy of the people”.

“We began to see a campaign against the media … that could have potentially, and still can, set in motion a chain of events which could quite easily lead to harm being inflicted on journalists just going about their work and potentially some self-censorship,” Zeid said. “And in that context, it’s getting very close to incitement to violence.”

He said it would be up to a court but determine whether Trump was actually guilty of incitement depending on the circumstances, if say, a journalist was stabbed while covering a rally. He said Trump’s example was already being followed elsewhere, giving license to authoritarian leaders to crack down on the media in ways they had not previously dared to. Zeid pointed to the Cambodian leader, Hun Sen, who he said had used similar language when he closed down independent media organisations.

“The US creates a demonstration effect, which then is picked up by other countries where the leadership tends to to be more authoritarian [in] character or aspires to be authoritarian,” he said.

Zeid has also taken on the Trump administration over its policy of separating children from their parents in migrant families arrested at the border, and Trump’s own long history of rhetoric aimed at minorities.

“When language is used in a way that focuses on groups of people who have traditionally suffered a great deal from bigotry and prejudice and chauvinism, it harked back to a period not too long ago in the 20th century when feelings were stoked, directed at a vulnerable group for the sake of political gain,” he said, adding that he was referring in particular to the 1930s and the period before the first world war.

Zeid began his tenure as UN human rights commissioner in 2014 during the Obama administration and said his contacts with the state department dropped off significantly after Trump took office in January 2017.

“The Trump administration seems to have separated itself from previous administrations in its upholding of human rights globally,” Zeid said. The administration’s failure to appoint an ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, before withdrawing from the council altogether, he added, was “illustrative of the lack of any deep commitment to the human rights”.

Zeid has been an unspoken critic of governments around the world for their human rights records, but his tenure as high commissioner has coincided with the catastrophic failure of the UN Security Council to halt mass killings in Syria or Yemen, and the relegation of human rights as a priority at the UN in general, where it accounts for just 3% of overall spending.

A pivotal moment came in March when Zeid was blocked from even addressing the Security Council on human rights in Syria, where more than half a million people have been killed in seven years of violence.

Russia and China were adamantly opposed but the French delegation was confident it had the nine votes necessary for the session to go ahead.

However, with less than a minute to go and Zeid primed to speak, the ambassador from the Ivory Coast informed his French counterpart he had changed his mind and would abstain. The session was called off. The Ivorean government insisted that its diplomat, Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, had acted without its permission. Western diplomats became convinced that Tanoh-Boutchoue, who had previously served as ambassador to Moscow, had come under pressure from Russia to switch his vote, but the mystery was never resolved. The 67-year-old diplomat died in New York of a sudden illness, said to be a heart attack, a month after his controversial abstention.

Zeid said he never understood the machinations behind the vote, but said it reflected a broader trend.

“It tells me more about the weakening influence of the western powers that they could not secure nine votes for a briefing on human rights in Syria,” he said. “If you are discussing Syria in the security council and you are not discussing gross human rights violations, what are you discussing? The latest arts and crafts fair in Damascus? It’s ridiculous.”

Zeid’s has often been a lonely voice. Hopes that the current secretary general, Antonio Guterres, would be more outspoken on human rights than his predecessor, have been dashed, a western diplomat at the UN said.

“There is a complete separation of what Zeid said and what the secretary general says, and his impact has been reduced because of that,” the diplomat said. “And there a broader problem of the ability of human rights abuses to shock and lead to a change of policy. That link has been broken. Actors who should have listened to Zeid, have not.”

Zeid said he came to the decision early on in his tenure to speak out on human rights abuses irrespective of the political circumstances. He attributed his approach in part to his first major foreign mission as a UN official in his early 30s, when he witnessed first hand UN dithering and timidity during the fall of the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, and the subsequent slaughter of some 8,000 men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops.

“We felt that there were periods of silence and that was painful for the UN and the UN was not respected ultimately by the parties to the conflict and therefore we saw the disasters that came from it,” Zeid said. “And … if the UN is not respected, the UN is rolled over to my mind. You don’t earn anyone’s respect by being silent.”

Zeid’s advice to his successor, Michele Bachelet, who has been both a political prisoner and president in her native Chile, is to stay courageous and not to run for a second term.

“I would be very suspicious of any commissioner seeking a second term because I’d wonder what deals are being struck and if they’d been struck they’ve been struck on the back of victims,” he said.

The job of bearing witness to crimes against humanity also takes an emotional toll. Zeid recalled a trip to Mexico to speak to the families of 43 students who were abducted and presumed murdered by a criminal gang in 2014.

“I was listening to mothers and fathers, siblings, speak of those who were disappeared and presumably killed. After that, I had a series of interviews and I wasn’t in the right emotional state to actually give the interview because there was something deep within me where I felt I was a fraud,” Zeid said. “That given the enormity, the colossal nature of their suffering … with us they wanted salvation … they want an end to suffering. They want us to do something that is many respects almost impossible to do. That is where most of the pressure comes from in this job.”

 

  • Published in World

ICE denies hunger strike by immigrants at Texas detention center

(Reuters) - A group of immigrant fathers, recently reunified with their sons and detained in Texas, have gone on a hunger strike to demand their release, an immigrant rights group representing them said on Thursday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said there had not been a hunger strike by residents of the Karnes County Residential Center, about 51 miles (82 km) southeast of San Antonio.

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“On Aug. 2, a small group of fathers and their children (fewer than 50 total) staged a brief sit-in and expressed their concerns about their immigration cases,” ICE said in a statement. The residents “appreciated the information and dispersed.”

It was not immediately clear how many fathers were in the group.

The immigrants said they were being held at the detention center with no notification from authorities on their immigration status, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) said.

Fathers had staged sit-ins, children were refusing to take part in school activities, and some fathers had started a hunger strike, RAICES spokeswoman Jennifer Falcon said on a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“The dads are on a hunger strike and they are refusing to obey any directions from ICE and GEO guards,” she said, referring to private contractor GEO Group Inc (GEO.N) which runs the center. The hunger strike was said to have begun on Wednesday.

GEO did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked later to respond to the ICE statement, Falcon told Reuters: “There’s definitely a strike.”

She added that the group had audio recordings of the fathers saying they were on hunger strike.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made a hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and has promised to keep immigrants targeted for deportation locked up “pending the outcome of their removal proceedings.”

Some 2,500 children were separated from their parents as part of a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration that began in early May. Many of them had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally, while others had sought asylum. The U.S. government said last week it had reunited just over half of them.

Fathers at the Karnes center said they were misled into agreeing to deportation as a condition of seeing their children again, RAICES said. Others said they had not been given the opportunity to apply for asylum.

A federal judge in San Diego indefinitely suspended deportations last month.

  • Published in World

Nikki Haley calls Human Rights Council UN's 'greatest failure' in bid to justify US exit

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has launched another attack on the UN human rights body, calling it a failure for listing such countries as China and Cuba among its members. She had no qualms about Saudi Arabia, though.

Haley was speaking at the Heritage Foundation think tank, explaining the reasons for the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, which had drawn almost unanimous condemnation, on Wednesday. She singled out Cuba, China and Venezuela as the countries whose presence supposedly tarnishes the council's credibility.

FILE PHOTO Los Angeles, California

 

Pointing at the Council's membership criteria as one of its two major problems, along with its supposed bias against US ally Israel, Haley said that since she took office and up until now "its members included some of the worst human rights violators – the dictatorships of Cuba, China and Venezuela all have seats on the Council."

She took particular aim at Venezuela, slamming the council for inviting the Latin American country's President Nicolas Maduro, who she labelled a "dictator," to address the body in 2015. Haley said it was no wonder Maduro received a standing ovation, as "62 percent of Council members were not democracies."

Accusing the Council of being fixated on Israel, Haley argued that it turns a blind eye to the situation in Venezuela, Cuba and China. She also included Zimbabwe, which is not a member of the HRC.

"[The Human Rights Council] has focused its attention unfairly, and relentlessly on Israel meanwhile it ignored the misery, inflicted by regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and China."

She ultimately summed up her opinion of the UNHRC by branding it the UN's "greatest failure."

"Judging by how it has fallen short of its promise, the Human Rights Council is the UN's greatest failure. It has taken the idea of human dignity… and it has reduced it to just another instrument of international politics," she said.

Choosing the "undemocratic" UNHRC members to pick on, Haley preferred to step around Saudi Arabia, another major US ally, and its highly problematic record. The ultra-conservative kingdom has been embroiled in the bloodshed in Yemen, leading the three-year bombing campaign that resulted in numerous civilian casualties and prompted human rights activists to call for Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman's arrests for alleged war crimes.

 
© Fayez Nureldine 

In its recent report, Human Rights Watch said that at least 87 "apparently unlawful" raids were conducted by the Saudi-led coalition since the onset of the campaign that claimed about 1,000 civilian lives, destroying homes and civilian infrastructure. Internally, despite loosening some of its decades-old restrictions and allowing women to drive and go to stadiums, Riyadh continues its crackdown on dissent and is not in a hurry to abolish barriers that impede girls and women from making some basic decisions without the prior consent of a male relative.

The US formally announced its decision to quit the UNHRC in June, dismissing the international body as the "protector of human rights abuses and cesspool of political bias" for its criticism of Israel's clampdown on Palestinians. Its seat was taken by Iceland in a landslide vote in July.

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Migrants In US Custody Describe Life In 'Ice Boxes' And 'Dog Pounds'

During their detention last month in a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Laredo, Texas, Karen and her two young sons were constantly cold. The family, which fled violence in Honduras, slept on a hard floor in a holding cell without mattresses, she said, their clothes still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.

"I can only hold one at a time to keep them warm. Whoever I am not holding is cold," she said in one of more than 200 sworn statements filed this week in a long-running lawsuit challenging conditions for children in immigration custody.

The statements, which were taken in June and July and identify immigrants only by their first names, provide a rare window into life in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. Migrants like Karen and her children who crossed into the United States illegally, as well as those who applied for asylum at the border, are often held in such facilities before being released or transferred to longer-term detention centres.

A nursing mother named Serafin, who said she fled Mexico after a cartel member threatened to rape her and kill her baby, said she was given too little food at a facility in San Ysidro, California.

"I am not producing enough breast milk to feed my baby because I am not eating enough," she said in her statement. "My daughter cries a lot because she is hungry."

A woman named Mayra said her 9-year-old son became fearful after their detention in Nogales, Arizona, where he saw children separated from their parents.

"He saw someone bound with chains and asked me whether I would be chained in the same way," she said. "He wonders when we will get to the United States. I do not tell him that we are already here. He wouldn't believe that the United States would treat us this way."

4ronbkrgFew immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food.

LONG-RUNNING LAWSUIT

The statements were taken by attorneys for plaintiffs in a case brought against the U.S. government in 1985 on behalf of 15-year-old Jenny L. Flores. A 1997 settlement in the lawsuit set standards for humane treatment of children in detention and ordered their prompt release in most cases.

This week, the plaintiffs filed papers alleging that the detention conditions described in the declarations violate the humane treatment standards set out in the settlement, including speedy release of children.

"We now see many in CBP custody for three to six days," up from two to three days in prior months, said Peter Schey, the lead attorney for plaintiffs in the Flores case.

Reuters was unable to speak directly to the migrants who gave declarations because they weren't fully identified in the filing, and most of them are still in detention.

CBP referred requests for comment on the migrant statements to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment. In the past, CBP has defended conditions in its facilities.

In a report filed in the Flores case last month, CBP juvenile coordinator Henry Moak Jr. said that the department makes extensive efforts "to ensure all minors in CBP custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors."

He said parents and children he interviewed had "received meals and snacks; had access to drinking water, functioning toilets, and functioning sinks; and were held in rooms that were maintained at an appropriate temperature."

He also noted, however, that CBP should ensure that food was not kept past its expiration date and that custodial data was consistently entered into records.

Moak referred requests for comment to CBP.

'ICE BOXES' AND 'DOG POUNDS'

Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years, including again recently when the government began separating children and parents. The new declarations are remarkable both for the number of detainee voices and the consistency of detail in what they report.

While a few immigrants said that conditions were adequate, most described cold temperatures, too little food, difficult separations from their children and crowded cells without enough sleeping mats. They said latrines were dirty and lacked privacy and that lights stayed on day and night.

James Tomsheck, who served as assistant commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection for internal affairs from 2006 to 2014, told Reuters that the facilities were designed for brief stays.

oejtjgm8Reports of harsh conditions in CBP facilities have surfaced repeatedly for years. (Reuters)

"There is no question that the amount of time persons are being held at these, what are designed to be temporary detention facilities, has become much longer than it was intended."

Detainees refer to some of the facilities as "hieleras," Spanish for "ice boxes" because they are so cold. Larger spaces with indoor fencing are referred to as "perreras" or "dog pounds."

Children in the facilities were often held in separate cells from their parents, according to the statements.

A woman named Leydi, held in Chula Vista, California, described watching young children trying to touch their parents through metal fences.

"The mothers tried to reach their children, and I saw children pressing up against the fence of the cage to try to reach out," she said. "But officials pulled the children away and yelled at their mothers."

John Sandweg, acting director of ICE from 2013 to 2014, said the problems stem from the fact that holding areas were designed to lock up adults for just a few hours while CBP processed paperwork.

"They're inappropriate, frankly, for children," he said.

  • Published in World

US Judge Orders List Of Children Separated From Migrant Parents

Los Angeles: A California judge on Friday gave the US government until the following night to submit a list of children under five separated from their families at the border, a government official said.

US President Donald Trump's administration had asked the court to extend a deadline to reunite some detained children with their migrant parents, arguing it needed more time to perform necessary checks and confirm identities.

Judge Dana Sabraw had issued an injunction on June 26 requiring the government to reunite detained migrant children under the age of five within 14 days and those over that age within 30 days.

More than 2,300 children, around 100 of them under the age of five, were separated from their families as a consequence of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that saw their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum.

Several hundred have already been reunited with their parents, but the government has struggled to keep up, and it admitted Thursday to using DNA tests to determine parentage.

us detention facility rio grande reutersThe separation of children as young as 3 from their parents led to protests and public outcry. 

In total, about 11,800 migrant children are currently detained by US authorities after having crossed the border illegally, but 80 percent of them are teenagers who arrived alone, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has said.

"The judge made it very clear he wasn't going to allow the Trump administration to drag its feet on reunifying these children with their parents," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said of the Friday ruling.

Back to court

The ACLU brought the case that led to Sabraw's injunction on behalf of migrant parents.

But according to a government official, the judge did not formally rule out extending the period, and another hearing will be held on Monday.

In a filing submitted Thursday, the US Department of Justice said HHS was using DNA swab testing to determine parentage.

But it said that even though the department "is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited."

It added that given the possibility of false claims, "confirming parentage is critical to ensure that children are returned to their parents, not to potential traffickers," and that the government also needed to determine whether the adults had a criminal history or could present a danger to their children.

The government did not request a specific new set of deadlines, but instead sought to "prepare a proposal for an alternative timeline."

It also sought relief from a paragraph in the original injunction that prohibits the government from detaining adult migrants without their children, arguing it could be read to require the release of such detainees if they had not been reunified within the time frame set by the court.

President Donald Trump, who has made fighting illegal and legal immigration a central plank of his US-centered policy agenda, reversed his government's "zero tolerance" policy on June 20 following public outcry.

  • Published in World
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