Tag Archives: border

Travel HELL: Tourists face 7-HOUR queues in border chaos amid new green & amber list rules

The travel industry, one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, has criticised the Government’s latest plans to reopen travel.

Airlines accused the Government of a “double standard” in its approach to international travel, with decisions on travel strict when rules at home are relaxed, and cases are rising rapidly.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said that the UK’s COVID-19 infection rates were rising while much of Europe’s remained lower.

She said: “We cannot understand why the Government is going to allow people to go to a nightclub – without a mask or social distancing – and yet is not comfortable with people going to the beaches of Europe, where the infection rates are lower than in the UK.

“Yet again we see this double standard where travel is treated differently to the domestic economy.”

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This post originally posted here Daily Express

Taliban claims capturing key Afghan border crossing with Pakistan

Group says it has captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak along the frontier with Pakistan, continuing its sweeping gains.

The Taliban says it has captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak along the frontier with Pakistan, continuing sweeping gains made since foreign forces stepped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Afghan interior ministry on Wednesday, however, insisted the armed group’s attack had been repelled and government forces had control.

But Pakistani authorities confirmed to Al Jazeera that they have sealed their side of the country’s border crossing with Afghanistan at the Chaman-Spin Boldak frontier.

“The Taliban presence can be seen at Afghan border along with Pakistan in Chaman and no Afghan [government] forces are there at the Afghan border side,” local administration official Arif Kakar told Al Jazeera.

Taliban claims capturing key Afghan borderPeople cross the Pakistan-Afghan border in Chaman, Pakistan [File: Akhter Gulfam/EPA]

Kakar confirmed that Pakistan was not currently allowing any goods or people to cross the border at Chaman-Spin Boldak, which is one of the two main border crossings between the South Asian countries.

A video shot by a local witness and seen by Al Jazeera showed the Afghan government flag on the Spin Boldak side of the crossing had been replaced by the white flag of the Taliban, which refers to Afghanistan as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The social media was also abuzz with pictures of Taliban fighters looking relaxed in what appeared to be the frontier town.

The taking of Spin Boldak would be the latest in a string of border crossings and dry ports seized by the Taliban in recent weeks, with the group looking to choke off much-needed revenue from the government in Kabul while also filling their own coffers.

Its seizure follows days of heavy fighting across Kandahar province, where the government was forced to deploy commandos to prevent the fall of the provincial capital even as the group inched closer to taking the frontier crossing.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured traders and residents there that their “security is guaranteed”.

But Afghan officials insisted they still had control.

“The terrorist Taliban had some movements near the border area … The security forces have repelled the attack,” interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told the AFP news agency.

Residents disputed the government’s claims.

“I went to my shop this morning and saw that the Taliban are everywhere. They are in the bazaar, in police headquarters and custom areas. I can also hear the sound of fighting nearby,” said Raz Mohammad, a shopkeeper who works near the border.

Trucks carrying goods destined to Afghanistan wait for clearance at the Pakistani side of the Pakistan-Afghan border in Chaman, Pakistan [File: Akhter Gulfam/EPA]

With the United States just weeks away from wrapping up its final withdrawal from Afghanistan, the group has swept through much of the country, and the government now holds little more than a constellation of provincial capitals that must largely be resupplied by air.

The Spin Boldak border crossing is one of the most strategically valuable for the Taliban. It provides direct access to Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where the group’s top leadership has been based for decades, along with an unknown number of reserve fighters who regularly enter Afghanistan to help bolster their ranks.

Hours after the crossing fell, an AFP reporter on the Pakistani side saw about 150 Taliban fighters riding on motorcycles, waving their flags, as they demanded to be allowed to cross into Afghanistan.

Balochistan is a favoured destination for fighters regularly heading for medical treatment and hosts many of their families.

An important highway leading from the border connects to Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi and its sprawling port on the Arabian Sea.

Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhtar in Quetta, Pakistan

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Why Are Republican Governors Sending National Guard to the Border?

So, governors are doing what? Over the last month, 8 Republican state governors have sent (or said they’ll send) armed personnel to the Texas-Mexico border.

Who are these “armed personnel”? It differs state to state. Arizona, South Dakota, Iowa and Arkansas are sending National Guard troops, while Ohio, Nebraska and Florida are sending their Highway Patrol troopers or other state law enforcement agents. Texas has sent both.

But wait. Only two of those states border Mexico. When he announced his National Guard deployment, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he hoped the move would help “reduce the adverse impact of illegal immigration on Arkansas.” But states like Arkansas and Iowa are affected minimally by unauthorized immigration. If it helps to explain why all these Republican governors are taking action, it should be noted that some are facing reelection and need to lock down the Trump wing of their party’s base, while more than one is eying a potential presidential run in a few years.

How did this all start? In early March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’d send 500 members of the Texas National Guard to the border; later, in May, he announced hundreds more from the state’s Department of Public Safety. Then, in early June, Abbott and Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey sent a letter to all 48 other states requesting reinforcements.

How bad is the border problem? In a press conference in May, Abbott claimed that Biden’s “open-border policies” had led to an increase in fentanyl crossing the border, as well as unauthorized crossings by migrants. (Fentanyl seizures along the southern border have been rising since 2016.) This year, Customs and Border Protection has already crossed the 20-year watermark for arrests on the border. In the first half of 2021, Border Patrol apprehended over 900,000 people, more than in the entirety of 2019 during the last significant uptick in migration. But more apprehensions does not necessarily mean there are more individuals crossing into the U.S. (more on that later).

Can officers from Nebraska or Iowa actually arrest unauthorized immigrants in another state? It remains unclear. State police and National Guard—from any state, under any orders—have zero jurisdiction to enforce federal immigration policy. Only CBP (on the border) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (in the interior) can do that. So there’s a strong legal argument that a Florida Highway Patrol officer taking someone into custody for crossing the border illegally could be guilty of false arrest or unlawful detention.

The National Guard has been sent to the border before, right? Yes, and their troops have essentially done busy work. In 2018, Arizona National Guard members deployed on the border were literally tasked with mucking out manure from the stables that held Border Patrol’s horses. At other times, they’ve helped train local law enforcement or erect barriers. When Ohio’s governor sent Highway Patrol to the border this week, he said they would assist in “border surveillance” efforts.

What’s different now? There’s one big difference: In the past, the federal government has commanded National Guard troops to the border—not just under President Donald Trump but also Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and even Joe Biden. This time, however, it’s individual state governors sending them.

Do National Guard members report to their governor, or the president? Both, actually. State National Guard members have two commanders: their governors and, above that, the U.S. president.

So who’s paying for this? Normally, when Washington requests National Guard members at the border, Washington pays. Otherwise, state taxpayers are on the line for funding their National Guard and law enforcement like highway patrol. Texas has offered to reimburse at least some states who send law enforcement through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a preexisting resource-sharing agreement between states. But also, in a bizarre and unprecedented turn of events, a billionaire Republican megadonor from Tennessee has paid for some of the deployment. Willis Johnson, through the Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation, donated $ 1 million directly to the state of South Dakota to fund National Guard troops on the border.

Is that even allowed? A state lawmaker says it’s legal, but security experts have called the moved unethical and dangerous. “You certainly don’t want our national security priorities up to the highest bidder,” Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight told the Washington Post.

OK. But why is this all happening in the first place? Governors Abott and Doucey might genuinely feel that their states are in crisis. But yes, there are politics: The Republican Party’s midterm strategy is clearly going to be hammering Biden on his, in their words, “open-border policies.” Positioning truckloads of cops and National Guard on the border certainly helps create the appearance of crisis.

So, is there a crisis, or not? Immigration advocates like to say that “crisis” is a political term—partisans use it when it’s useful. Right now, we are seeing a higher number than we’ve seen in the last 20 years of CBP “apprehensions”—i.e., people who CBP officers have come across on the border and detained. And people are crossing in higher numbers on parts of the border unused to heavy traffic, too. Specifically, Texas’s Rio Grande Valley has become a much more popular location to cross the border than it has been before. This puts a lot of strain on unprepared local resources.

Why are more people crossing the border? It might sound confusing, but actually they’re not. Even though apprehensions are way up, the actual number of unique individuals crossing the border is believed to be much lower. Not everyone who crosses the border gets caught or apprehended, but many of the people who attempt to cross the border try and get caught multiple times (CBP calls this “recidivism”). And experts suggest we may be seeing the highest-ever recidivism rate this year.

Why are there so many repeat crossers right now? The simple answer is Title 42. That’s an obscure public-health measure that the Trump administration used to shut the border to asylum-seekers when the Covid pandemic started. Biden has kept Title 42 mostly in place. Before that, people seeking asylum in the U.S. were generally permitted to remain in the country (often in detention) as they awaited the outcome of their asylum case in court. But under Title 42, all of them have been apprehended and either returned to Mexico or summarily “expelled” to their home country without any legal proceedings. Thousands of the people returned to Mexico have decided simply to try to cross again.

So the border isn’t “open”? Like Trump, Biden has kept the door almost entirely closed on asylum, with only a sliver of people making it in.

What’s all the ruckus from Republicans about then? While recidivism accounts for a significant portion of the high number of apprehensions, even when you account for repeat crossings, there are many more people trying to cross the border at this moment than any time in the past decade besides 2019. So it is an increase, just not an unprecedented one—especially when compared to the far greater numbers of annual apprehensions made in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Why are more people coming to cross the border? Is that because of Biden? Biden took office with a more welcoming rhetoric towards migrants, and that may very well have encouraged some people to attempt to cross the border. But the current uptick in the number of people arriving actually began months before Biden became president, and there are, of course, many factors: Multiple hurricanes ravaged Central America in November; the Covid pandemic has intensified poverty and gangs’ efforts at extortion; cartel violence in Mexico is at record-high levels; and political crisis in Haiti has erupted in street violence, to name a few of the “root causes.”

How will this all end? Eventually, the National Guard members will be sent home. It’s unclear when exactly that will be. Some that Trump deployed in 2020 are still at the border. The Guard sent by the federal government will likely be recalled as soon as the number of people crossing goes down. Increases in migration tend to be seasonal, and as we get to the hottest months of summer, it will likely decrease. Also, Biden is expected to phase out Title 42 over the coming weeks and months, which will allow for many waiting at the border to enter the country lawfully. As for the additional state officers sent to the border, the decision for when they will go home will be made by the Republican governors who sent them.

Chaos above Black Sea: Russian jets intercept ‘US spy plane’ – warned away from border

The Russian Su-30 fighters intercepted the US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon multi-mission maritime patrol plane over the waterway, Russia’s National Defense Control Center reported this morning. Russian radar stations had detected what they described as an “aerial target” approaching Russia’s state border.

The fighters, from the Black Sea Fleet’s quick reaction alert naval aviation and air defense forces, were scrambled to investigate, the statement explained.

The National Defense Control Center added: “The crews of the Russian fighters identified the aerial target as a Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft, and shadowed it over the Black Sea.”

The statement insisted the aircraft, which belonged to the United States, was “not allowed to violate Russia’s state border.”

Separately, Russia is tracking a Spanish naval ship in the Black Sea, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Wednesday, with both Ukraine and NATO countries both holding military drills in the area.

The ministry said the Spanish ship had entered the Black Sea on Wednesday to take part in the Sea Breeze 2021 military drills, which started late last month in the Black Sea and southern Ukraine and involve more than 30 countries.

(More to follow)

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Author: Ciaran McGrath
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: World Feed

Biden allies brace for GOP attacks when southern border reopens

The White House is expected to reopen the U.S.-Mexico border in the coming weeks, and even President Joe Biden’s allies are worried he’s not ready for the logistical and political impact, including an avalanche of Republican attacks that will follow.

In a series of phases, the Biden administration is expected to lift the public health authority, Title 42, invoked by former President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic. Trump cited the risk of spreading coronavirus to argue that the government needed to quickly kick out migrants arriving at the border without allowing them to seek asylum. The phased-in approach means Biden could first end the practice of turning away families and then, later this summer, for single adults, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Given the country’s reopening and Biden’s promise for a fair and humane immigration system, immigrant advocates say the move is long overdue. But administration officials and immigration experts expect that lifting the order will result in a spike in the number of migrants arriving at the border — at least in the short term.

Even with the phased-in approach, a sharp increase in migrants poses a major challenge for the administration over how to handle their arrival — hold them in detention centers or release them as they await their court proceedings, which can take years given a long backlog of cases. And Republicans plan to highlight any increase in migrants or delays in processing them in campaign ads, mailers and debates in races all over the country as part of a long-planned strategy to use immigration to try to retake Congress in the midterm elections next year.

“The administration is repeating the mistakes of 2015 by underestimating the power of a border security argument,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group. “And, as a result, they run the risk of losing the moderate voters who said, ‘You know what, I want a more rational approach to immigration, but still one that keeps us safe.’”

53 percent of voters say they are less likely to support Democrats for Congress because of the increase in migrants at the border, according to a new poll by the National Republican Senate Committee and the Republican Governors Association. 23 percent say they’re more likely.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn described the expected lifting of Title 42 as “dangerous” following other border policies that she said have already contributed to an increased number of migrants along the border.

“As Republicans at the local, state, and federal level are stepping up to lead our nation through this growing crisis, Americans are taking note — voters across the country have rejected Biden’s failed leadership at the border,” she said.

Immigrant advocates and public health experts for months have said the politics around lifting Title 42 is irrelevant: Use of the order is unlawful, inhumane and not justified by public health.

“If the Biden administration believes there’s another rationale for denying asylum seekers the right to a hearing, then they need to invoke that. But they cannot use Title 42 as a pretext to regulate migration flows,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

“That’s a political position, not a legal position,” said Gelernt, who is the lead lawyer in the ACLU’s case challenging the legality of the U.S. using Title 42 to expel families.

But Democrats acknowledge that the politics surrounding the likely move are tricky, at best.

A former Obama immigration official who is close to the Biden administration acknowledged Biden is vulnerable on the border. “His immigration number is low, there’s no doubt about it,” the person said. But in order for it to drag his overall approval rating down, the person said, lifting Title 42 would need to lead to “visual chaos on the border.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who has been critical of the Biden administration’s immigration policy, said he’s looking forward to seeing the border closure lifted for nonessential travel, which has crippled towns along the Mexican and Canadian borders accustomed to tourism, but knows there will be major challenges with lifting Title 42.

Lifting the rule is “going to provide another incentive and the drug cartels are going to start saying [to potential migrants]: ‘Hey, you can come in,’” Cuellar said, adding that Border Patrol agents and law enforcement along the border have told him they expect it to be lifted soon and are prepared to handle a new rush of migrants coming to seek asylum.

“It’s kind of a double edged sword,” the Texas border Democrat said.

Biden has vowed to create a fair and humane immigration system but his aides have found that quickly reversing Trump’s policies can create logistical — and political — problems. Record numbers of unaccompanied children at the border led to enormous attention on immigration at the start of his presidency. However, in recent weeks, the border has been overshadowed by other issues, including Biden’s spending plans and voting restriction laws pushed in several states.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on Title 42 except to say the administration is working to rebuild the dilapidated asylum system and to process certain groups of people, including those who had been forced to wait in Mexico for their cases to be heard under a separate Trump-era policy.

The Department of Homeland Security referred questions about Title 42 to comments Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made earlier this week. In an interview with CBS, Mayorkas reiterated that Title 42 is “not an immigration policy” and its use is determined by the Centers for Disease Control.

“It’s driven by what is in the best public health interest of the American people,” Mayorkas said.

Border agents have expelled migrants more than 867,000 times using Title 42 since March 2020, according to figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Immigration experts, however, have made clear that the 867,000 number is not necessarily individual migrants; There has been a high rate of recidivism, which is when migrants are expelled and then try to cross again into the U.S.

In May, the most recent statistics available, more than 180,000 migrants were apprehended along the border with 112,302 expelled under Title 42, according to CBP. Of those, 38 percent were individuals who had already attempted to cross at least once in the previous 12 months. The average one-year reencounter rate was 15 percent for fiscal years 2014 through 2019, CBP said.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration was more vocal in its discussions around immigration — holding regular media calls to discuss the spike in the number of migrants arriving at the border. In early April, for example, the White House organized a media call with administration officials to discuss CBP’s monthly release on numbers of apprehensions. Since then, CBP has released April and May apprehension numbers in the late afternoon without a press call to roll out the details.

Republicans, however, have made sure to highlight the monthly topline numbers without mentioning that a majority of migrants apprehended are being quickly expelled under the Trump-era order. And with an eye on 2022, they are likely to make an even greater push as soon as Biden lifts the order, according to interviews with more than half a dozen political operatives involved in midterm elections.

“If Biden and Harris lift the highly effective Title 42 restrictions entirely, which have already been rendered far less effective since they took office, then expect a tsunami of illegal migrants, and perhaps at the worst time of summer heat,” said Steve Cortes, a former Trump campaign aide who remains close to the former president. “It could be substantially worse than it already is now.”

In recent weeks, Republicans have stepped up their attacks, traveling to the border, writing letters and calling for investigations. The RNC purchased a mobile billboard to highlight the increase in migrants to coincide with Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to the border last week. The NRSC ran one of its few ads so far against Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) arguing his votes don’t match his tough talk against Biden’s immigration policy. And the National Republican Congressional Committee has targeted a trio of House Democrats in border states, Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Tom O’Halleran of Arizona.

Republicans say they have already seen some success — believing immigration played a role in flipping the mayoral seat in Hidalgo County, home of McAllen — and they are buoyed by new polling showing Biden receives some of lowest marks on the issue.

Trump first cited the little-known and sweeping Title 42 statute in March 2020, directing federal officials to expel migrants who crossed the northern and southern borders instead of detaining and processing them — an effort that was said to be aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus in holding facilities.

Biden continues to turn away most of the migrants encountered at the border, including single adults and most families, but has made exceptions for unaccompanied children to stay for humanitarian reasons.

Democratic lawmakers and public health experts have urged the administration to rescind the policy, arguing that migrants could be tested and isolated when they enter the country to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Even immigrant advocates who support Biden accuse the administration of continuing the use of Title 42 to restrict immigration, a charge the administration denies.

The Biden administration is also navigating whether or not to pursue a phased-in approach given that there isn’t a public health justification for letting in families and not single adults.

“There is no public health rationale for distinguishing between single adults and families,” said Eleanor Acer, senior director of the refugee protection program at Human Rights First.

Lifting Title 42 for families and keeping it in place longer for single adults, Acer said, would disproportionately impact African asylum seekers, many of who are not traveling with their families given the long distances from their home countries, and LGBTQ asylum seekers who may be traveling alone or with people not recognized as their family by the Department of Homeland Security.

In the end, Acer said, advocates support the administration’s discussions around improving the immigration system, but that doesn’t mean they can keep Title 42 in place while they figure it out.

“Yes, they want to further improve the asylum system,” she said. “But you can’t simply stop upholding our existing laws because you want to make some systems stronger and you want to staff them better and get them moving quickly.”

Author: Anita Kumar and Sabrina Rodriguez
Read more here >>> Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Spain enforces stricter entry rules – FCDO warns some tests ‘not accepted’ at the border

SPAIN has ramped up its entry requirement for unvaccinated Britons requiring them to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. According to a new Foreign Office warning, some tests are now no longer accepted. What are the new rules?

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

3 dead, 2 missing after group of tubers go over Duke Energy dam near North Carolina-Virginia border

EDEN, N.C. — Three people are dead and two others — including a 7-year-old boy — are still missing after a group on inflatable tubes went over a Duke Energy dam along the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina, authorities said.

The Rockingham County Sheriff’s office said nine people went tubing Wednesday evening on the Dan River but at some point, several of the tubes came untied and some floated over the Duke Energy dam around 7 p.m.

Authorities said a Duke Energy Plant employee called 9-1-1 on Thursday afternoon to report some people may be in danger on the river,

Four of the nine were found by construction workers around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. They were “hanging onto various items,” according to the construction workers.
The rescued tubers were taken to a hospital for treatment.

On Friday, authorities identified the survivors as Rueben Villino, 35, of Eden, his son, 14-year-old Eric Villino, his daughter, 18-year-old Irene Villino and Karlos Villino, 14, of LaPorte, Indiana.

Three bodies were found Thursday night, according to the Rockingham County Emergency Services Director Rodney Cates. Numerous rescue boats and helicopters from the North Carolina Highway Patrol and AirLife out of Virginia joined the search.

The three people found dead were identified as Bridish Crawford, 27, of Eden, the mother of some of Rueben Villino’s children, Antonio Ramon, 30, of Eden, and 14-year-old Sophie Wilson, of LaPorte, Indiana.

“We’re going to stay positive that we can do a rescue rather than a recovery,” Cates said about the two remaining missing tubers. They are looking for 30-year-old Thressa Villino, the sister of Rueben Villino and 7-year-old Isiah Crawford, who is the son of Crawford.

Officials resumed the search for the two others Friday morning. The investigation runs from Rockingham County all the way to the Virginia borderline.

“We have done both an air and water search at this time. We’ve had an aircraft that has flown the river. They flew 6 miles into Virginia, they came back widened their perimeter and flew the ground area adjacent to the river,” Cates said.

Officials said all the people were related and were visiting family in the area.

Tubing is a “regular activity” in the area, but people are discouraged to tube near the dam considering there is a “pretty steep drop” over the dam, authorities told ABC News.

There are warning signs posted on the river near the dam, authorities said,

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Texas Says It Will Build Border Wall With Mexico

McALLEN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Thursday that the state would build a border wall with Mexico, providing few specifics about construction that would extend one of former President Donald J. Trump’s favored projects.

It is unclear if the state has the authority to build a wall in an attempt to deter immigrants, a majority of whom have been fleeing poverty and violence from Central America.

Speaking at a meeting with state law enforcement officials in Del Rio, a small border city that has seen a large influx of immigrants since President Biden took office in January, Mr. Abbott said he expected to announce more details about the wall next week.

Mr. Abbott explained that he would start by setting up barriers to identify people trying to cross the border and by deploying additional law enforcement agents to assist the Border Patrol. He has blamed the increase in migrant crossings on Mr. Biden’s unwinding of Mr. Trump’s restrictive border rules.

“It is out of control and a change is needed,” he said. “Some of these border barriers will be built immediately.”

Then the governor revealed, to thundering applause, that Texas would also build a border wall.

“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” Mr. Abbott said, adding, “Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”

In March, Mr. Abbott put into action what he called Operation Lone Star, which allows the deployment of hundreds of agents and resources along the southwestern border to combat the smuggling of human beings, drugs and guns, said Victor Escalon, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety. But deciding to build a border wall may be a first for a state executive.

Mr. Abbott’s announcement was quickly criticized by immigration advocates, who said it would most likely face legal challenges.

“There is no substantive plan,” said Edna Yang, co-executive director of American Gateways, an immigration legal aid and advocacy group in Texas. “It’s not going to make any border community or county safer.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas tweeted, “To be clear, this is an attempt to distract from his governing failures while targeting vulnerable immigrants.”

Mr. Trump made the border wall a signature campaign promise and often pressed his homeland security officials to speed the construction of the project, waiving federal contracting and environmental laws in the process.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but he instead redirected billions from Defense Department funds that were initially meant for anti-narcotics or construction programs. His administration eventually built more than 450 miles of new wall, primarily in areas where dilapidated barriers once stood. Most of the construction was in Arizona, where migrants already struggle through rough terrain to cross the border, rather than in South Texas, an area prone to illegal crossings.

Private landowners in South Texas emerged as an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s construction, with many resisting the administration’s efforts to seize their land through eminent domain. And then Mr. Biden suspended construction of the wall on his first day in office, part of a series of actions to roll back Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.

The Biden administration and Mr. Abbott have clashed over how to handle the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border in recent months. The administration was unable to redirect federal funds designated for disaster aid to assist in border processing when Mr. Abbott refused to provide his consent.

At the time, Mr. Abbott said that the federal government, not Texas, was responsible for asserting control over the border.

When the migrant children filled detention facilities run by the Border Patrol, the Biden administration responded by opening temporary facilities in a Dallas convention center, a San Antonio sports arena and other vacant sites around the country. While Vice President Kamala Harris was in Guatemala this week, she discouraged potential migrants from traveling to the border, telling them, “Do not come.”

The Biden administration still uses a pandemic emergency rule, known as Title 42, that empowers border agents to rapidly turn away most single adults and many families crossing the border into the hands of Mexican authorities. Mr. Biden has exempted unaccompanied minors from the policy, which prevents most other migrants from having a chance to apply for asylum.

Some families, however, have been able to cross into Texas because of a change in Mexican law that barred the detention of small immigrant children, and a lack of shelter capacity south of the border. Instead of detaining those families, U.S. authorities release many into Texas communities.

Author: Edgar Sandoval and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Gov. Abbott says he’ll share plans next week for Texas

share plans next week for Texas

DEL RIO, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’ll share plans next week for the state to build a wall along the Mexico border, but he offered no other specifics about how the project would proceed.

This particular announcement drew a standing ovation and cheers Thursday evening from the crowd gathered at Abbott’s border security summit in Del Rio. He also discussed several other initiatives he said would “secure the border and restore order.”

Abbott held up a stack of papers and told the crowd Texas lawmakers allocated $ 1 billion in the latest budget to fund border security efforts. He also announced the formation of a new governor’s task force on border and homeland security, which he said will meet every two weeks to come up with “every solution to make your border safer.”

That task force, Abbott explained, would include members of his office, the attorney general’s office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the state commissions on law enforcement and jail standards.

Abbott invited local landowners like John Paul Schuster to the summit as well. He said he encounters migrants on his ranch in Kinney County, 25 miles from the border, almost daily in recent weeks.

“The other day at the house was a gentleman, he was by himself. He was dirty. He had been traveling through the brush,” Schuster explained. “As he approaches the house, there he is got a long sleeve hoodie on jeans and a backpack. Okay, good guy or bad guy? What’s in that backpack?”

“You only got just five or six seconds to make that decision. Good guy. Bad guy. Yeah. Are they gonna stop and talk to me? Are they gonna keep coming at me?” Schuster said, adding he and his wife carry a gun almost all of the time, even at home at the dinner table.

“I don’t want to have to kill somebody, and I don’t want to,” Schuster said, tearing up.

Ahead of the governor’s summit, he said the government needed to come up with a better plan to help.

“I don’t ask a lot of the government, I work hard, we work hard, pay our taxes, that’s justifiable. But we need help,” Schuster said.

Following the summit, Schuster said he was hopeful Abbott’s new proposals would help.

The summit also included county sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges and mayors to talk about how the state is trying to secure the U.S./Mexico border, a press release from Abbott’s office said. It also focused on “collaborative strategies between state government, local city and county officials, law enforcement, and landowners to secure our border communities and ensure a safer future for all Texans.”

Along with Abbott, TDEM Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Military Department Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris and Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw spoke at the Del Rio Civic Center.

The summit came after Abbott made comments to FOX News’ Sean Hannity that he wants to arrest “everybody coming across the border.” Two law enforcement members that confirmed the summit last week to our news partners at Border Report are hoping the summit “sheds light” on Abbott’s comments.

Abbott said Thursday he’ll sign another disaster declaration next week to create this plan.

“What this will do, it will focus on making arrests,” Abbott said. “The Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing against them. We will be arresting a lot more people in the future, so more jail space will be required.”

Abbott made disaster declarations in 34 border counties due to the influx of migrants trying to cross the border. In response, migrant advocates in the Rio Grande Valley issued their own counter-declaration, saying Abbott’s move was “a transparent attempt to distract from his failed leadership,” and unfairly mischaracterized the border communities. It pressed for more support for those communities, not more law enforcement.

Migrant advocates criticize Abbott’s approach, pointing to other Republican state leaders who have tried ramping up enforcement during surges in the past.

“This isn’t a new tactic, necessarily. And Texas governors in the past have also tried to sending National Guard troops or Department of Public Safety officers to the border. We’ve seen little, if any effect of that. Most of the changes in migration flows at the U.S.-Mexico border come either from changes in U.S. federal policy or changes in the degree to which Mexican immigration authorities are enforcing immigration laws in the interior of that country,” Jessica Bolter with the Migration Policy Institute explained.

While Abbott largely pointed the finger at the Biden administration for the current crisis, Bolter explained that’s not the only factor weighing on migrants flocking to our border.

“Their plans to migrate depend much more on the conditions that they’re experiencing in their home, in their home countries, and then what they’re hearing about, whether that’s from smugglers or from others in their social networks, about who’s being able to cross the border at the moment,” Bolter said.

Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement Abbott’s plan is “unlawful” and threatens to harm families at the border, creating trauma for young kids.

“Abbott is also undermining the right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S. Additionally, Abbott’s proposed border wall will harm border communities and the environment,” Huddleston’s statement reads. “In this plan, Abbott is yet again scapegoating immigrants in an effort to distract from his own failures in governing and managing actual crises in Texas — like the historic winter storm that led to the deaths of more than 150 Texans  — with cruel results.”

Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Holiday warning: Ibiza and Mallorca could stay on amber list to avoid border chaos

Some of Britain’s favourite island holiday destinations, including Ibiza and Mallorca, could stay on the list. Travellers returning to the UK from amber list countries must self isolate at home upon return.
Speaking to the Times, one source explained concerns surrounding UK Border controls as the influx of holidaymakers increases.

The insider said: “The Balearics are hugely popular and the Government is worried about opening up too quickly.

“Opening up to the Balearics would mean a huge increase in Brits leaving the UK.

“There are fears that opening up to hugely popular destinations like the Balearics would overwhelm Border Force while the 100 percent passenger location form checks remain in place.”

It follows Spain’s announcement of plans to take part in a pilot test for the European Union’s COVID digital travel certificate.

As of June 7, the nation is set to implement a pilot scheme trialling out the EU’s “digital green pass”.

The document will hold the medical data of those entering or leaving the country.

Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez hailed the move as “great news for the tourism sector in the new stage of hope” that has opened with vaccination.

He added that the creation of the certificate will facilitate mobility among European nations.

He confirmed Spain’s participation in the trial stage in his speech at the opening in Soria of the IV National Fair for the Repopulation of Rural Spain.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed