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Trump orders migrants entering US irregularly to be turned back

United States President Donald Trump has said he will invoke a statute in light of the coronavirus pandemic to block undocumented migrants from entering the US either from the northern or southern border, saying the crossings “threaten to create a perfect storm”. Trump made the announcement at a news conference on Friday, in which he also…

Trump orders migrants entering US irregularly to be turned back

United States President Donald Trump has said he will invoke a statute in light of the coronavirus pandemic to block undocumented migrants from entering the US either from the northern or southern border, saying the crossings “threaten to create a perfect storm”.
Trump made the announcement at a news conference on Friday, in which he also announced that the US and Mexico would restrict non-essential travel across their shared border in an effort to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. 
Immigrants rights groups immediately condemned the move, saying it fuels “anti-immigrant sentiment”.
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Any migrants entering the country through irregular routes along the land borders would immediately be turned backed under the measure, instead of being processed by US authorities. 
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Friday that Mexico will allow the US to return Mexican and Central American migrants caught trying to enter the US through unofficial routes. 
Ebrard, however, said Mexico will not permit the US to send back migrants detained on the joint frontier who are not Mexican or Central American.
Around 120 migrants from the region are detained at the border every day, he said.
The new policy is set to go into effect Friday at midnight. 
Agreement with Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced on Friday an agreement in which undocumented migrants crossing the border between the US and Canada will be returned to authorities from the country from which they crossed. 
Trudeau called it an exceptional measure that will protect Canadians amid the pandemic.
There is a long-standing agreement between the US and Canada that requires those seeking asylum to apply in the first country they arrive in.

Experts raise doubts over Mexico preparations for coronavirus

Under that agreement, if an individual crossed from the US at a legal Canadian port of entry, he or she would be returned and told to apply in the US. However, if the person requests asylum on Canadian soil at a location other than an official crossing, the process is allowed to go forward. 
In most cases, refugees are released and allowed to live in Canada, taking advantage of social welfare benefits.
Many migrants cross the border into Quebec from Champlain, New York at Roxham Road, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Montreal. 
Canadian Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said about 45 to 50 have been crossing irregularly each day, but on Thursday just 17 crossed. The government earlier announced that anybody crossing would have to be quarantined for 14 days. 
Trudeau also further confirmed that all non-essential travel between Canada and the US will end at midnight Friday. The two countries announced the measure earlier this week. 
‘Stoking anti-immigrant sentiment’
Trump was slammed by immigrant rights groups and advocates over the move on Friday. The US president has been accused of “fuelling bigotry” for repeatedly calling COVID-19, the “Chinese virus”, despite World Health Organization guidance to not tie the virus to groups of people, locations or certain ethnicities.
Following his decision on Friday, many also accused him of tying the virus’s spread to irregular immigration, despite there being no evidence to support his assertion.
“Fueling xenophobia or stoking anti-immigrant sentiment by calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” or linking this health crisis to immigrants at the border is deliberately hateful,” tweeted US Congresswomen Veronica Escobar.
“History shows that scapegoating of groups, especially in times of crisis leads to violence. We’ve seen far too much of that during your presidency. Stop it,” she added.

History shows that scapegoating of groups, especially in times of crisis leads to violence. We’ve seen far too much of that during your presidency. Stop it. Help us lead Americans out of this crisis instead of putting targets on their backs.
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) March 20, 2020

In announcing the measure, Trump said that border agents have been dealing for decades with “unscreened, unvetted and unauthorised entries from dozens of countries”.
“But now it’s with the national emergencies and all of the other things that we’ve declared, we can actually do something about it,” he said.
Immigrants rights advocate Julissa Arce Raya, tweeting after the announcement, said that Trump “is attempting to use a global pandemic – the virus already spreading within the borders of the United States – as a pretext to fulfill his most anti-immigrant promises”. 

Trump Is Exploiting Coronavirus to Hurt Immigrants. He is attempting to use a global pandemic—the virus already spreading within the borders of the United States—as a pretext to fulfill his most anti-immigrant promises. Latest for @crookedmedia https://t.co/zNqn958Rr0
— Julissa Arce Raya (@julissaarce) March 20, 2020

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Judge orders DHS to stop holding illegal immigrant families in hotels

A federal judge late Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop using hotels to hold illegal immigrant children and families nabbed at the border during the coronavirus pandemic, ruling that the conditions aren’t good enough. Judge Dolly M. Gee, an Obama appointee to the bench, said a decades-old agreement about how illegal immigrant children are…

Judge orders DHS to stop holding illegal immigrant families in hotels

A federal judge late Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop using hotels to hold illegal immigrant children and families nabbed at the border during the coronavirus pandemic, ruling that the conditions aren’t good enough.

Judge Dolly M. Gee, an Obama appointee to the bench, said a decades-old agreement about how illegal immigrant children are to be treated sets standards, and the hotels don’t meet those standards.

“The court finds that these conditions are not adequately safe and do not sufficiently account for the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in detention,” wrote Judge Gee, who more than any other individual save President Trump is responsible for writing the rules of the modern immigration system.

The government is using the hotels as a stopgap measure to keep migrants for about five days before they are expelled back to their home country under the public health emergency.

Some 660 children ages 10 to 17 have been housed in 25 hotels across three states.

Judge Gee said those hotels run the risks of spreading coronavirus to the children, with housekeeping and other staff coming and going.

She said the children should instead be sent to government-run shelters for illegal immigrant children — the very shelters the government, under court pressure, has tried to empty out to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“This court is sensitive to the exigencies created by COVID-19 and recognizes that the pandemic may require temporary, emergency modifications to the immigration system to enhance public safety,” she wrote. “But that is no excuse for DHS to skirt the fundamental humanitarian protections that the Flores Agreement guarantees for minors in their custody, especially when there is no persuasive evidence that hoteling is safer than licensed facilities.”

The Flores Agreement is the court-imposed settlement that governs the treatment of illegal immigrant children. Originally, it only applied to children who showed up at the border without a parent, but under a Judge Gee order in 2015, it now also applies to those who arrive with parents, too.

That sparked the family migrant surge that saw hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants jump the border last year — and saw some children die in the attempt.

The Trump administration this year triggered part of public health law, Title 42, that allows immediate expulsion of unauthorized border crossers.

The administration had argued that people subject to that weren’t part of the Flores Agreement.

Judge Gee rejected that attempt to draw a distinction.

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China

China orders closure of US consulate in Chengdu |NationalTribune.com

China has ordered the United States to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, retaliating against Washington’s move earlier this week to shut down the Chinese consulate in the city of Houston. The Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday the Chengdu mission’s closure was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures…

China orders closure of US consulate in Chengdu |NationalTribune.com

China has ordered the United States to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, retaliating against Washington’s move earlier this week to shut down the Chinese consulate in the city of Houston.
The Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday the Chengdu mission’s closure was a “legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable measures by the United States”. 
“The current situation in China-US relations is not what China desires to see,” it said in a statement, adding that “the US is responsible for all this”. 
“We once again urge the United States to immediately retract its wrong decision and create necessary conditions for bringing the bilateral relationship back on track.”
It did not say when the consulate must be vacated, but Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-owned Global Times newspaper, said the notice period was 72 hours. “It means US Chengdu consulate will be closed Monday morning,” he wrote on Twitter.  
The tit-for-tat moves come amid a dramatic escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. On Tuesday, Washington gave Beijing 72 hours to close its mission in Houston, Texas, alleging the theft of intellectual property and espionage – a claim the Chinese side called “malicious slander”.
Ties have also deteriorated over a number of issues, ranging from the new coronavirus pandemic to Beijing’s trade and business practices, and its territorial claims in the South China Sea to its clampdown in Hong Kong and the far western region of Xinjiang. 

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, described the latest escalation as “a blow” to bilateral relations.
“There are about 200 staff working at the Chengdu consulate, including about 50 US officials,” she said. “The consulate is also considered quite an important listening post for the US, when it comes to issues such as Tibet and Xinjiang.”
‘Frankenstein’
Meanwhile, in a significant speech on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took fresh aim at Beijing, saying Washington and its allies must use “more creative and assertive ways” to press the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to change its ways.
Speaking at the Nixon Library in President Richard Nixon’s birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, Pompeo said the former US leader’s worry about what he had done by opening the world to the CCP in the 1970s had been prophetic.
“President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the CCP,” Pompeo said. “And here we are.”
“The truth is that our policies – and those of other free nations – resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that were feeding it,” he continued.

“The freedom-loving nations of the world must induce China to change … in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity.”
Pompeo said “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time” and said the US was perfectly positioned to lead it.
The speech drew sharp criticism from Beijing, with Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, saying Pompeo’s remarks suggested he wants to “launch a new crusade against China in a globalized world”. 
“What he is doing is as futile as an ant trying to shake a tree,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s about time that all peace-loving people in the world stepped forward to prevent him from doing the world more harm.” 

It’s about time that all peace-loving people around the world stepped forward to prevent him from doing the world more harm.
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) July 24, 2020

Also on Thursday, the US Justice Department said it believes the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harbouring a Chinese researcher, Tang Juan, who is accused of lying about her background in the CCP’s military wing on a visa application.
The department announced criminal charges of visa fraud against Tang and three other Chinese researchers. The Justice Department said Tang lied on a visa application last October as she made plans to work at the University of California, Davis, and again during an FBI interview months later.
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China

China says US orders it to close its consulate in Houston

The U.S. on Wednesday ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, citing efforts to protect American intellectual property. The move marks the latest in a series of increasing escalation between Washington and Beijing over trade, human rights, technology and national security. While the Trump administration did not provide details behind the reason it is…

China says US orders it to close its consulate in Houston

The U.S. on Wednesday ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, citing efforts to protect American intellectual property.

The move marks the latest in a series of increasing escalation between Washington and Beijing over trade, human rights, technology and national security.

While the Trump administration did not provide details behind the reason it is closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to action being taken by the White House to end alleged intellectual property theft.

“The United States will not tolerate [China‘s] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated [its] unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

One day prior, the Justice Department accused the Chinese government of running an elaborate cyberhacking operation aimed at stealing secrets from Western companies, including U.S. businesses racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that began in China six months ago.

Federal prosecutors claimed that two Chinese hackers were working with the government in Beijing to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and secrets through a yearslong operation that has recently targeted biotechnology companies, including one in Maryland and another in Massachusetts.

“President Trump has said, ‘Enough, we’re not going to allow this to continue to happen,’ ” Mr. Pompeo said while on an official visit to Copenhagen.

Back in Houston, firefighters responded to calls of papers being set ablaze on the consulate’s property but were denied entry to the grounds, local news reported.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, on Wednesday said the Chinese consulate in Houston is basically a front for a massive spy operation after the State Department ordered the consulate to close.

“So this consulate is basically a front. … It’s kind of [the] central node of a massive spy operation — commercial espionage, defense espionage — also influence agents to try to influence Congress,” Mr. Rubio, the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox Business Network.

Mr. Rubio said the closure was “long overdue” and predicted that China would close one of the United States’ facilities in China as a response.

China has condemned the U.S.’ move to shut down the consulate.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a news conference Wednesday that “the unilateral closure of China’s consulate general in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China.”

He warned of firm countermeasures if the U.S. does not reverse itself. Besides its embassy in Beijing, the U.S. has five consulates in mainland China, according to its website. They are in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang.

At the height of the coronavirus outbreak in China, the U.S. in January closed its consulate in Wuhan and has since decided to not reopen the facility.

• David Sherfinski contributed to this story, which is also based on wire reports.

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