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Trump sending National Guard troops to Mexico border, but they won’t have contact with immigrants

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DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called on Congress to tighten loopholes in the immigration system, which she said has made it impossible for the Trump administration to end the so-called catch and release practice whereby immigrants are released from detention while awaiting a trial.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that the Justice Department “fully supports the efforts of the Department of Defense and Homeland Security announced today to secure our border.”

“I will soon be announcing additional Department of Justice initiatives to restore legality to the southern border,” said Sessions.

He said it was “essential” for Congress to pass “clear, fair and effective legislation that ends the illegality and creates a system that serves the national interest.”

No physical contact

The National Guard troops will not have physical contact with immigrants nor will they be responsible for processing them at the border, one of the officials said. Instead, they will be giving customs agents more visibility by providing surveillance by air and through camera monitoring of the border.

President George W. Bush issued a similar policy in 2006, called Operation Jump Start, though a White House official said it is not yet clear how closely the new deployment will mimic that plan.

President Barack Obama also deployed National Guard troops to the border in 2010 to help provide surveillance by air.

 Tennessee National Guard Sgt. Phillip Williams of Gatlinburg stands guard near the Mexican border in Yuma, Arizona, during Operation Jump Start on March 2, 2007. John Partipilo / AP Pool file

Under Operation Jump Start, approximately 6,000 National Guard troops played a support role to customs agents already in the region by aiding in intelligence gathering and the construction of a fence along the border. The National Guard was not involved in apprehending immigrants or using any kind of force against them, unless they were first attacked.

Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have begun to increase in 2018, up from 23,555 in February 2017 to 36,695 in February 2018, the latest month for which statistics are available.

Illegal immigration drastically slowed in the first months of the Trump administration, following sharp rhetoric he used to address the issue on the campaign trail. The increase in recent months has led the president to lash out on Twitter, claiming that caravans of immigrants crossing the border must be stopped and refusing to renew a DACA deal, which would protect immigrants previously brought to the United States as children.

Senior administration officials told reporters on Monday that the administration also plans to send legislation to Congress that will make it harder for immigrants to seek asylum and allow the government to detain those apprehended for longer than current federal court decisions allow.

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SNP outlines when Scotland would hold independence referendum after elections

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SNP John Swinney has outlined when his party would hold a Scottish independence referendum if they won a majority in the next election.

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When culture wars meet the corner office, CEOs walk a ‘tightrope’

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Corporate America is increasingly wading into social and political issues, taking positions on thorny subject like voting rights in ways that would have been unheard of a generation ago.

Despite calls on social media for boycotts, analysts and corporate branding experts say there is little chance that the companies whose CEOs are speaking out against repressive voting laws will lose sales. The issue took on new urgency this week when hundreds of corporate and celebrity signatories put their names to a statement titled, “We Stand for Democracy” that ran in the New York Times and the Washington Post on Wednesday.

“This is an enormous cross section of businesses… and they’re stepping up during a window of jeopardy we’re facing as a country,” said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

“They’re feeling like they have to take a stand,” said Matt Kleinschmit, CEO of Reach3 Insights, a market research firm for brands. “If you’re a CEO today, you have a balancing act, making sure you’re living up to the expectations of your future consumers, without being over the line in areas where your older customers don’t really expect you, as a private company, to be involved in.”

Walker Smith, knowledge lead in the global consulting division of Kantar, says the current moment might be new, but marks the next stage in a long-running evolution of how Americans interact with and respond to brands. In the first half of the 20th century, Smith said, brand messaging focused heavily on the product. After World War II, that started to shift to an emphasis on the buyer, which had evolved to a celebration of individualism and personalization by the end of the 1990s.

Then, after a generation of looking inward, society turned its gaze outward. “The idea of purpose as something that companies should embrace is not a new idea… but purpose has a new edge to it lately,” Smith said.

“There’s a new era of expectations about social values — we call this the era of the public. People expect brands to contribute more to society,” Smith said. As a result, “It’s much more salient to business leaders today than it was before.”

People expect brands to contribute more to society — and, as a result, it is much more salient to business leaders today than it was before.

That means that more brands are willing to address thorny political issues, even when that means provoking the ire of a former president. In a rambling statement that included baseless claims of a stolen election and an excoriation of “woke” politics issued in response to Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, former President Donald Trump called for a boycott of the League, along with “Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck” — all companies that had made statements supporting voting rights or opposing Georgia’s newly implemented law.

But threats to boycott major companies don’t pack the same punch they once did.

“I think the Nike incident with Colin Kapernick emboldened a lot of companies,” said David Bahnsen, chief investment officer at The Bahnsen Group. When it became clear that the sneaker manufacturer — which tapped the former NFL player to be the face of its “Just Do It” campaign in 2018 — had plugged in to a cause much of its customer base supported, that paved the way for others.

The magnitude of the repudiation of state laws that restrict voting is significant, and there is certainly safety in numbers for the businesses that put their names to Wednesday’s statement. “Americans do not have the attention span for 100 companies,” Bahnsen said.

In addition, boycotts that demand big changes to basic consumer habits — say, shopping at Amazon or searching the web with Google — face long odds, Smith pointed out. “Nothing much happens, largely because it’s kind of hard to change people’s buying habits. Convenience is a pretty big driver of brand choice, and habit is the way a lot of brands are purchased,” he said.

Bahnsen noted that some major companies — such as Walmart — are still wary and remaining on the sidelines of the debate. “Nike knew their audience… I’m not sure every company in the Fortune 100 is Nike,” he said.

Corporate chiefs have their personal convictions, of course, but branding experts say it would be naive to believe that there aren’t other factors contributing to this capitalistic calculus. They are canny enough to read the tea leaves and decide that ruffling the feathers of some of their older, more conservative customers will be less disruptive to their bottom line over the long term than alienating the next burgeoning wave of consumers.

“If you’re a CEO today, you’re walking a tightrope, in many respects. You have increasingly vocal expectations from younger consumers that are rapidly gaining economic power. The Generation Z generation, so to speak, is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, and they’re really starting to enter the market from a consumption perspective,” Kleinschmit said. “If you’re a CEO of a major corporation, you’re trying to think about the expectations of that generation and balance that with the expectations of your older customers [who] have lower expectations about the role of the corporate community to bring change.”

A sense of civic duty might also be a motivation. Cohen suggested that CEOs are stepping up because of a lack of leadership from elected officials.

“They’re filling a vacuum. They’re taking the palace of reasonable leaders on the political side,” he said, characterizing corporate resistance to laws that would restrict voting as an explicit repudiation of Trump.

“Most CEOs are intelligent enough, regardless of their predisposition politically, to know damn well this election wasn’t stolen,” Cohen said.

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Helpful as ever! EU shamed after urging member states to block Brexit Britain from accord

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THE EUROPEAN Commission has been shamed after Brussels urged member states to block the UK from the Lugano Convention despite Britain applying for membership last year.

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