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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

Democrats Brace for a Narrower Path to Challenge New Voting Laws

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday involving Arizona voting laws appeared to limit the options for voting rights groups to mount legal challenges to restrictive new measures being passed in Republican-controlled states.

Voting rights activists, on the defensive this year in the face of a wave of restrictive new voting laws, grappled on Thursday with new guidance from the Supreme Court signaling that the challenge will be even steeper now for opposing these laws in court.

The 6-to-3 ruling established a series of “guideposts” for what could potentially constitute a violation under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, appearing to limit one of the few paths Democrats and activists have for mounting legal challenges to new measures currently being proposed and passed in Republican-controlled states.

“The test is more difficult to meet than Congress intended when it passed the act and that is necessary to meet the moment, in terms of the number of states and local governments out there designing racially discriminatory electoral rules,” said Chad Dunn, the co-founder of the Voting Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a former election lawyer. “So on that point, I think the dissenting justices got it exactly right: The test is too restrictive.”

There are other legal avenues to challenge restrictive voting laws besides the Voting Rights Act, including under the First, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. But the act has been paramount in helping to rein in laws that could disproportionately affect communities of color, and the decision could threaten some of the legal strategies that voting rights groups and election lawyers have been drafting to challenge some of the new laws.

Mr. Dunn noted that the court’s decision on Thursday did not invalidate or significantly hollow out Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. “I do think the test will work to stop a lot of discriminatory electoral practices,” he said. “And that part is good news.”

President Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” in the court’s ruling and said it would cause “severe damage” to the federal government’s ability to protect voting rights. He again urged Congress to enact new protections for voting.

“The court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’s ability to repair the damage done today,” Mr. Biden said. “It puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”

At least three major cases involving Section 2 claims are in the federal court system, according to a database of election litigation maintained by Ohio State University. One of those cases is a lawsuit that the Justice Department filed last week against Georgia, claiming that the state’s new omnibus voting law, S.B. 202, is racially discriminatory in both its intent and its impact.

While the case was brought under Section 2, some election lawyers said that it was unlikely to be derailed by the court’s decision on Thursday.

“There’s two ways to prove a Section 2 case — you can show there’s purposeful discrimination, or you can show that the law at issue had a discriminatory effect,” said Tom Perez, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former chief of the civil rights division of the Justice Department. “The court narrowed the effects test. The purpose claims are unchanged, and the Georgia case is a purpose case. The Georgia cases that were recently filed, they include claims of intentional discrimination and they include constitutional claims.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold two Arizona voting restrictions indicated that paths to challenging similar laws will be narrower.
Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Republicans said the court’s ruling would serve as a green light for G.O.P. state legislators to pursue addition restrictions on voting.

“Rhetorically, it will provide them a shield to say, ‘What we’re doing is perfectly legitimate, the Supreme Court lets us do it,’” said Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a veteran Republican election lawyer. “What’s important to look at in that opinion is what the court looks at in the usual burdens of voting. You have to be halfway informed about where your polling precinct is. If a bunch of people can’t figure out where their voting precinct is, that doesn’t mean you have to lesson common-sense protections to help them.”

The conservative Heritage Foundation, which along with its political arm, Heritage Action, has for years advocated making voting harder, said that states should follow Arizona’s lead in enacting tougher voting laws.

Garrett Bess, the vice president of Heritage Action, called the Supreme Court’s decision “an enormous win for election integrity and voter confidence.” He added: “State officials across the country should take note and work to enact similar policies in their states.”

Since the November election, at least 22 new laws in 14 states have been enacted that impose new restrictions on voting, alarming Democrats and voting rights groups who say the measures are a threat to one of the pillars of democracy. So far, Democrats have had little recourse as states like Georgia, Florida and Iowa pass new laws, other than to file lawsuits and mount aggressive voter education campaigns on the issue.

The two provisions of Arizona law at the core of the Supreme Court decision on Thursday were increasingly common restrictions on voting that have appeared in other states. One law banned third parties from helping voters in dropping off their absentee ballots, a process Republicans derisively refer to as “ballot harvesting” but that is designed to help older, sick or otherwise disabled voters with handling their ballot. The other law canceled all votes cast in person at the wrong precinct.

At least 22 states have passed or introduced a law restricting ballot collections, according to a database maintained by the Voting Rights Lab, a liberal-leaning voting rights group. And one of the provisions in Georgia’s law would bar any voter from being allowed to vote provisionally at the wrong precinct before 5 p.m.

Rushes of similar legislation have followed Supreme Court rulings on voting laws in the past. After the Court upheld an Indiana voter identification law in 2008, numerous other states, including North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania, sought to pass similar laws.

Jen Jordan, a Georgia state senator who is seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, said the ruling on Thursday would make it more difficult to bring legal challenges against the state’s new voting law, known as S. B. 202, because it would be necessary to prove that Georgia Republicans intended to make it harder for people of color to vote, rather than that being the effect of the new law.

“It’s very difficult to gather enough evidence or appropriate evidence to show actual intent,” she said, “and that seems like the only way you can do it now under the V.R.A.”

Even as some voting rights groups noted that it was not a worst-case scenario ruling, Democrats around the country were quick to deride the decision by the Supreme Court, which broke down along the court’s 6-3 ideological divide, and vowed to redouble their efforts to pass federal voting legislation.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision reinforces what we already know: Voting rights are under assault in America and we must act with the fierce urgency of now to end the era of voter suppression once and for all,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat who is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Author: Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Obamacare Is Here to Stay. Brace for New Health Care Battles.

Obamacare Is Here to Stay. Brace for New Health Care Battles.

Efforts to move toward universal health coverage are complicated, with potentially high costs, difficult policy trade-offs and the risks of industry opposition.

Even policies with widespread support in Congress could face intense lobbying campaigns from opponents who fear additional government intervention and loss of revenue. One example is a proposal to eliminate surprise medical billing. It enjoyed bipartisan political support but faced an avalanche of industry opposition. Its success was not assured, but it passed in December.

Just this week, Senate leadership is considering a legislative package that could include an expansion of Medicare to cover more middle-aged Americans and to provide dental, vision and hearing benefits. The provision would be costly, and will probably face resistance from health industries. Other ideas, like President Biden’s campaign proposal of a government-run “public option” that Americans would have the choice to purchase, are at the earliest stages of conception.

And the post-Obamacare dream of many progressives, “Medicare for all,” continues to divide the party. Such a policy would face fierce opposition from hospitals, doctors and insurers, who already have an advocacy group to combat further government involvement in health care.

The Affordable Care Act still has holes that have proved challenging to fix. The 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld the individual mandate also made the law’s Medicaid expansion provisions optional. Twelve states do not participate in that program, leaving millions of low-income Americans without coverage. Generous incentive payments included in the most recent stimulus package have not been enough to convince any of the holdout states to join.

Some political voices are still calling for the end of Obamacare, but they are growing rarer. In 2012, nearly every leading Republican politician expressed disappointment or anger at the first Supreme Court decision upholding the core of the law. On Thursday, few commented.

Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who once helped drive a government shutdown demanding an Obamacare repeal bill, issued a statement that reiterated his objections to the law. Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri who had helped bring the suit as his state’s attorney general, said in response to a reporter’s question that the Supreme Court had made its stance clear. (He did tweet about another Supreme Court case decided Thursday.)

Author: Margot Sanger-Katz and Sarah Kliff
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

With Homicides Rising, Cities Brace for a Violent Summer

With Homicides Rising, Cities Brace for a Violent Summer

Superintendent David Brown, the head of the Chicago Police Department, noted that the four deaths were the fewest in a decade, but said it was too soon to celebrate. “It’s a long summer,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.

Given the high numbers in 2020, no rapid decrease should be anticipated this year — the hangover from any significant crime wave continues after the peak is reached, the police and criminologists said.

“Even though the pandemic is receding, it casts a really long shadow, along with the social unrest related to policing,” said Max Kapustin, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Cornell University who studies crime.

Overall crime figures were down during the coronavirus pandemic. Rape, robbery and petty thefts — which constitute the vast bulk of the numbers — tend to be crimes of opportunity, and with people staying home and businesses shuttered, there were far fewer chances. Those numbers should rebound as life across the United States returns to more normal patterns, analysts said.

Homicides were a notable exception, however, with almost every major city in the United States seeing large increases in 2020. In Chicago and several other cities, last year was the worst year for killings since the mid-1990s.

Homicides in Portland, Ore., rose to 53 from 29, up more than 82 percent; in Minneapolis, they grew to 79 from 46, up almost 72 percent; and in Los Angeles the number increased to 351 from 258, a 36 percent climb, according to statistics analyzed by Jeff Asher, a former crime analyst for the New Orleans Police Department.

Those increases have continued in many cities this year.

Homicides in Philadelphia are up almost 28 percent, with 170 through May 9, compared with 133 in the same period last year; in Tucson, Ariz., the number jumped to 30 from 17 through May 13, an increase of 76 percent.

Author: Neil MacFarquhar
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Ronaldo to the rescue: Portugal superstar saves Andrea Pirlo and Juventus with late brace to keep Champions League chase alive

Ronaldo to the rescue: Portugal superstar saves Andrea Pirlo and Juventus with late brace to keep Champions League chase alive

On the day their rivals Inter were crowned champions, Cristiano Ronaldo kept Juventus’ hopes of finishing in the top four alive by sinking Udinese with a late double that could have saved under-pressure manager Andrea Pirlo’s job.

Reports before kick off claimed that Pirlo could be fired if he failed to win at the Stadio Friuli, and Nahuel Molina’s goal after 10 minutes threatened to derail the visitors’ quest for a consolatory Champions League place, as well as the 2006 World Cup legend prospects of seeking a new employer by the turn of the week.

Argentina international Rodrigo De Paul caught the Old Lady napping with a quick free-kick which sent compatriot Molina down the right flank, unleashing a vicious strike that sneaked past Wojciech Szczesny despite the Poland goalkeeper managed to apply a touch to it.

Taking their lead down the tunnel at half time, Udinese started strongly again after the interval with Tolgay Arslan hitting just wide.

When Ronaldo had a weak attempt smothered easily, Juventus looked as though they might never find a way through. 

But the Serie A top scorer always does, with De Paul going from assist hero to zero by putting an elbow on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s free-kick in the box. 

After CR7 smashed the resulting penalty past Simone Scuffet, who was starting his first game for Udinese since 2018, the visitors went for the jugular.

In the 89th minute, Ronaldo met an Adrien Rabiot cross at the back post and headed in to trigger a passionate sprint from Pirlo down the touchline in celebration, as Juve finished 2-1 winners, leaving them joint second with Atalanta and AC Milan.

“This victory arrived with determination and fight. We once again made life complicated for ourselves but we wanted to bring home the result right to the end and that’s what is important,” Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia.

“It was particularly crucial considering the results from this afternoon. This is a group that’s strong: it wants to fight for its targets and we never lacked that.

“Sometimes the attitude during the game was not worthy of Juventus, but the final embrace was a show of our unity. Now we need to continue with this spirit.

“I thought it’d be a bit less stressful and emotional, but when you win games like this at the end, it gives you the energy to keep going.”

“There’s fatigue, both physical and mental, so when you’re used to challenging for the [Italian title] Scudetto and not the Champions League, something changes. We have adapted – it’s a struggle, but we need to get there.”

Pirlo gave credit where it was due to his former manager, Antonio Conte.“I congratulate Inter and the boss for this deserved title,” he said, discussing the runaway leaders who have won the league with four matches to spare.

“Now we need to change because we want to be the champions again. One era ends after [Juve won] nine consecutive Scudetti – another will now begin and we aim to be back there.”

Udinese director Pierpaolo Marino was less cordial, alleging that Juventus chief Fabio Paratici tried to “intimidate” and “influence” the referee.

“I am angry because my team put in a great performance and I am here to protect their hard work,” he raged.

“The Ronaldo free-kick that led to the penalty should’ve been a free kick in Udinese’s favor instead.

“I am a veteran of football, so I’ve seen before those who cling to complaining over the lack of first-half stoppages to intimidate the referee.

“Then after that, the referee can give a penalty for a free kick that was non-existent. It’s [Juventus winger] Juan Cuadrado who fouls [defender] Jens Stryger-Larsen, not the other way round.

“It was a blatant error and cannot be ignored. I believe the referee was influenced by this verbal assault at half-time by the Juve directors, staff, coaches and players.

“The way they were behaving, it was as if they’d lost because there weren’t 40 seconds of stoppages.

“This sort of thing belongs to football of another era. I spoke out against it then and I’ll speak out against it now.”
Also on rt.com Ronaldo and Pirlo will BOTH be at Juventus next season, says Pavel Nedved

Author: RT
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Rui Patricio injury: Wolves star leaves field in neck brace after horror collision

Rui Patricio injury: Wolves star leaves field in neck brace after horror collision

Former England goalkeeper Rob Green was co-commentating on the match on the radio in the UK and gave his opinion on the incident.

“Even if it was the impact on the head, the whiplash through the neck and the damage that can be done can be quite great,” Green said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“They have to make sure his welfare is taken care of before they move him.

“They already had one serious head injury this season. If there’s a club that’s depserate to get this right after what happened to Raul Jimenez, it’s Wolves.