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Trump’s immigration crackdown starts to gain traction

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AFP) — With a little help from the Supreme Court and Mexico, US President Donald Trump’s fitful crackdown on immigration is finally gaining traction.

Trump has spent his entire presidency promising to stop illegal immigration, shut out asylum seekers and wall off the Mexican border.

The far-reaching policies sparked an avalanche of court challenges, complaints from human rights organisations and derision from opposition Democrats ahead of next year’s elections.

Undeterred, Trump has hammered away, making construction of a US-Mexican border wall one of his presidency’s centrepieces — and a key part of his 2020 re-election platform.

And this week he celebrated a string of victories.

The latest boost came Wednesday when the Supreme Court said he could enact severe restrictions on asylum seekers.

The ruling requires would-be refugees to ask for asylum in the first country they visit and only then — if they are rejected — can they attempt to apply in the United States.

The ruling — which has temporary effect while challenges play out in lower courts — shuts out large numbers of people fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. They will now have to apply for asylum in Mexico, rather than head directly to the United States.

Trump’s opponents, as well as dissenting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, say the change upends decades of tradition in which the US, itself founded by waves of often poor immigrants, has welcomed refugees.

But Trump, who argues that economic migrants abuse the system with fraudulent asylum claims, went on Twitter to herald the “BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!”

“The Southern Border is becoming very strong despite the obstruction by Democrats,” he tweeted.

That’s far from all.

In July, the Supreme Court backed Trump’s move to divert billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to pay for extending or rebuilding stretches of wall on the Mexican border. This lets him circumvent fierce resistance to funding in a divided Congress.

The Pentagon also said this Tuesday that the deployment of 5,500 troops on the border — something that was initially highly controversial — was being extended for the coming year.

While Trump exaggerates the amount of wall-building activity there’s no question that momentum is gradually shifting his way.

“The Wall is going up very fast despite total obstruction by Democrats in Congress, and elsewhere!” he tweeted Wednesday.

Perhaps the most significant shift has happened on the other side of the long, rugged frontier, where the Mexican Government has set aside previous hostility to cooperate with Trump.

The change in mood follows threats by Trump to impose trade tariffs on Mexico, even though the two countries are in a free trade agreement together with Canada.

Not that Mexico is entirely happy. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the new US asylum restrictions, which could mean a torrent of new cases for his country, “unprecedented”.

“Of course, we disagree,” he said.

But Mexico appears to have accepted it has no choice but to play by Trump’s rules.

On Monday, Mark Morgan, head of the US border patrol service, welcomed “unprecedented support” from Mexico, which he said has deployed 10,000 troops on its own southern border with Central America and 15,000 on the US border.

Proof that the joint crackdown is having an effect is in the numbers, US officials say.

August detentions of undocumented migrants numbered 64,000, down from 82,000 the previous month and 144,000 in May, Morgan said. Mexico, he said, has apprehended 134,000 people so far this year, compared to 83,000 in all of 2018.

Democrats use the immigration issue to paint Trump as heartless, even racist. But the president feels he’s on the right track.

On Monday, as streams of Bahamians tried to exit islands ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, Trump made clear the United States would eye this latest group of asylum seekers sceptically.

“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in The Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers,” he said.

The language echoed his long-term characterisation of Central American migrants as potential rapists and gang members.

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One-year-old shot by gunmen has no feeling in her legs

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One-year-old shot by gunmen has no feeling in her legs

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

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Mia Dailey, the one-year-old who was shot by gunmen as they slaughtered a man at West Street in downtown Kingston Sunday morning, is responding after surgery, a relative told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“She’s responding, but there is no feeling in her legs,” the relative said.

“The X-ray suggests that there is some injury to her spine, so they are doing further tests to determine the extent of the damage, and they’ve brought in a specialist to consult on the matter.”

Mia, who had been seated on a chair outside her house awaiting her bottle, was shot in her abdomen and spine when gunmen attacked and murdered 43-year-old Andon Robinson, shortly after 7:00 am.

Angry residents who had converged on the crime scene told the Observer that warring factions from Tivoli Gardens and Pink Lane had been the cause of the brazen shooting.

According to them, two men on a bicycle had passed by mere minutes before, returning and pumping several shots into Robinson who was said to be a community handyman known for washing and parking cars.

The residents explained that Robinson had just left a communal restroom in a neighbouring yard when he was attacked.

“The man not even know why him dead, ’cause him a innocent man,” said a young boy who was among the group of residents. “A use him come use the bathroom because him nuh have none over him yard, and the bwoy dem see him and spray him.”

Robinson, in an effort to escape, reportedly ran back into the yard, where Mia had been seated. But the gunmen chased and shot him twice in the back and once in the head before escaping.

Yesterday Mia’s relative who spoke with the Observer said residents are not only concerned about the brutal incident, they are “bitter and want dem pound a flesh because the person who was killed was not a troublemaker. It is said it was a case of mistaken identity”.

Meanwhile, the relative said that Mia’s mom, Avina Jones, is doing okay.

“We’re just praying and hoping for the best,” said the relative, who explained that Mia has two older siblings — a brother and sister.

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Israeli warplanes hit Gaza after Palestinian rocket barrage

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Israeli warplanes hit Gaza after Palestinian rocket barrage

Monday, February 24, 2020

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JERUSALEM, Undefined (AFP) — Israeli aircraft hit what the military said were Islamic Jihad sites in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, after Palestinian militants said they fired a barrage of rockets at Israel.

In a new flare-up a week ahead of a general election in the Jewish state, the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes on “Islamic Jihad terror sites”, a military statement said, without elaborating.

Palestinian security sources said the Israeli aircraft repeatedly hit a base of the radical group in the north of the coastal strip.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

In what an army spokeswoman said was a separate operation, a military aircraft fired at “Islamic Jihad terror operatives preparing to launch rockets”, from the northern Gaza Strip.

“A hit was identified,” a military statement said.

Islamic Jihad said it carried out yesterday’s rocket fire in response to Israel’s killing of one of its fighters earlier in the day.

“The Palestinian resistance targeted Sunday evening the city of Ashkelon and the Gaza envelope with a number of rockets, as a response to the crime of the Zionist enemy,” it said in a statement.

The rockets set off warning sirens in the southern city of Ashkelon and several other locations, while around 10 were intercepted by the Jewish state’s Iron Dome missile defence system, the Israeli army said.

Others crashed into open fields. There were no reports of serious injuries.

“Twenty launches were identified from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory,” a military statement said.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 but has struck a series of unofficial truce agreements with the Jewish state in the past year.

Yesterday morning, Israel’s army said it had “spotted two terrorists approaching the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip and placing an explosive device adjacent to it”.

“The troops opened fire towards them. A hit was identified,” it said.

Islamic Jihad identified the dead man as Mohammed al-Naem, 27, a member of its armed Al-Quds Brigade forces.

A video later emerged on social media showing a bulldozer approaching a body while a group of young, apparently unarmed men, were trying to retrieve it.

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Gov’t has spent $300 million on markets since 2016

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Gov’t has spent $300 million on markets since 2016

Monday, February 24, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie says the Government has spent over $300 million since 2016 to construct and improve the aesthetics of markets across the island.

He was speaking at a ceremony on the grounds of Hopewell Methodist Church in Hanover on Thursday last, ahead of breaking ground for the rehabilitation of the nearby Hopewell Market.

McKenzie said the Government has been “responding to the cry to improve market conditions” while noting their importance to economic development.

Among the markets constructed are the Falmouth Market in Trelawny and the Port Maria Market in St Mary, which is slated to be open soon.

“This Administration has taken a serious look at markets…we have done work on the Linstead Market. Jointly with the Port Authority of Jamaica, we built a brand new market in the town of Falmouth. When you go up further in the northern part of Trelawny, I opened a brand new transportation and refurbished market in Clarke’s Town,” McKenzie stated.

He also informed that $8.5 million has been spent to complete the Black River Market in St Elizabeth, while $5 million will be made available by the end of February, to commence phase one of repairs to the Santa Cruz Market.

Additionally, $75 million will be spent in the 2020/2021 financial year to construct a market in Negril, Westmoreland.

 

— JIS

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Cornwall Regional to receive ICT devices

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Cornwall Regional to receive ICT devices

Monday, February 24, 2020

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The Universal Service Fund (USF) is providing Cornwall Regional Hospital with information communication technology (ICT) devices and tools to improve the management of health information at that facility.

The entity’s chief executive officer (CEO), Daniel Dawes, made the disclosure at a formal ceremony to announce the increase in bandwidth at the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) and the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals, held last Tuesday at the hospitals’ North Street address in Kingston.

Among the devices to be donated are four tablets and two multifunctional printers.

“We are very pleased that we have been able to facilitate this. It is a thrust of the USF to partner with other government organisations to make sure there is a positive impact in relation to the use of technology for the development of our country,” he said.

Dawes stated that the donation is part of efforts to improve the island’s public health infrastructure.

The Fund plays an important role in providing technological support to the health sector, facilitating broadband access to 60 public health facilities throughout the country at a cost of over US$24,000 per month.

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Schoolboy commended for service to adult club

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Schoolboy commended for service to adult club

Monday, February 24, 2020

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PORUS, Manchester – Porus High School student Dujon Carter came in for special mention recently at the Porus Primary School Parenting Club’s pre-Valentine’s Day tea party.

The 13-year-old grade 8 student was taken by surprise when the club’s vice-president, Dotlyn Parchment, who chaired the afternoon’s proceedings, invited him to the podium to be formally introduced to the guest speaker, Sergeant Patrae Rowe, chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation.

Nonplussed as to what he had done to deserve such an honour, young Carter, after a warm smile and handshake from the policeman, soon learned that he was being commended for his faithful and voluntary service to the parenting club.

The audience heard that although not meeting the criteria to be a member, young Dujon since his attendance at Porus Primary had developed an affinity for the club and though uninvited, had made himself available and handy, particularly at club functions.

His interest in the activities of the club continued after he graduated from Porus Primary and moved on to Porus High School down the road. It was then discovered that Dujon has a special talent of which the club could make good use — he playes the drums.

At the tea party, playing the conga drum, he joined veteran Baptist church guitarist Evadne Wellington to provide musical accompaniment during the club members’ entertainment package of rousing folk songs and a medley of popular R&B hits.

A major concern of the club, since its founding 20 years ago, is the difficulty of getting Porus fathers to become members.

The membership was heartened by Dujon’s natural interest and unsolicited participation, and Vice-President Parchment felt it fortuitous that the guest speaker was a suitable role model and mentor for Dujon and the young people of Porus.

Himself a native of Porus, Rowe had kind words of encouragement for the teen. He referenced his own experience as a boy in Harmons, a poor farming district, living in a home provided by the self-help charity organisation Food for the Poor, sharing ruefully his familiarity with…”sleeping on the floor”.

He recalled being slighted because of his poor circumstance when, as an adolescent, he sought to establish a romantic relationship with a community girl. He said it was whispered that he was not good enough for her and although devastated by her rejection, he said being turned down served to motivate him to make something of himself.

Now a 14-year veteran of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Rowe is well known in the public sphere as a vocal and staunch defender of the welfare and interest of the rank and file members of the JCF, whom he represents as head of the Jamaica Police Federation.

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