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Senators seek to change immigration law to curb child marriages

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By Dartunorro Clark

Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday to close loopholes in U.S. immigration law that have allowed thousands of minors to be subjected to child marriages.

The move follows a report by Senate Homeland Security Committee that found the federal government approved requests from thousands of men to bring child brides or fiancées into the country over the past decade, in part because the Immigration and Nationality Act doesn’t set minimum age requirements in such visa requests.

Under that law, a U.S. child can petition for a visa for a spouse or fiancé living in another country, and a U.S. adult can do the same for a minor spouse or fiancé living abroad, the report found.

The legislation, introduced by the committee’s chairman, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, would set a minimum age of 18 for spouses or fiancées in visa applications.

“A visa to enter the United States is a privilege, and this straightforward reform will help close a loophole that can lead to the abuse and exploitation of children,” Johnson said in a statement. “I hope my colleagues will join me to advance this commonsense legislation.”

The legislation would not completely end child marriage in the United States because most states allow citizens under 18 to marry, but often with judicial or parental consent. New Jersey and Delaware are the only states that prohibit marriages involving those under the age of 18, having passed bans on the practice last year.

Between 2007 and 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services approved more than 5,500 petitions by adults to bring minor spouses or fiancées into the country, and granted nearly 3,000 requests by minors trying to bring in older spouses or fiancés, the committee’s report said. Girls were the minors in 95 percent of the cases.

The agency also approved petitions for people with significant age differences, the report found. In one case, a 71-year-old U.S. citizen requested a visa for a 17-year-old spouse from Guatemala, and in another, a 14-year-old sought entry for a 38-year-old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both visa requests were granted. The USCIS approved 149 petitions involving a minor with an adult spouse or fiancé who was over 40, the report said.

In reviewing such visa petitions, Citizenship and Immigration Services only considers whether the age at marriage violates the laws “of the place of celebration” or the U.S. state in which the couple plans to live, the report said. But data entry errors and faulty processes at the agency — particularly its reliance on a paper-based immigration benefits system — prevent the applications from getting thoroughly vetted, the report found.

In addition, the State Department, which is responsible for issuing the visas, rarely rejects petitions approved by the immigration agency, the report said.

The findings prompted advocates to demand Congress take action to close the loopholes in the immigration system that allow such child marriages to continue in the United States.

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Politics

Brexit extension EXPLAINED: Which is most likely – two, three months, one or two years?

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MPS have voted to back an extension on Article 50 – effectively asking for a delay to Brexit. But how long could the delay be?

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No deal Brexit plans get MAJOR BOOST – UK agrees £30bn agreement with Iceland and Norway

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THE UK’s Trade Secretary boosted no deal Brexit plans by announcing a new trade agreement with the two Scandinavian countries as the Government looks to secure 39 EU trade deals before Brexit day.

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Booker denounces Trump’s rhetoric as ‘causing pain and fear’

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By Ludwig Hurtado

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said in an interview set to air Monday night that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric “hurts people” and is “causing pain and fear.”

“Racists think he’s racist, and his language hurts people,” the New Jersey senator said when asked by MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews if he believes Trump is racist. “His language is causing pain and fear. The way he’s talking is making people afraid.”

In making the criticism, Booker, who spoke with Matthews while in Davenport, Iowa, referenced an increase in hate crimes around the country, saying, “people are afraid to go worship at a mosque or a synagogue because hate is on the rise, and these hate incidents are rising.”

“We have a president that can’t stand up with any moral authority and remind us that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and it’s despicable,” he added.

Booker’s comments come in the wake of the New Zealand mosque massacre on Friday, in which a white supremacist allegedly killed 50 people. The alleged shooter wrote in an apparent manifesto that he supported Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” although he said he disagreed with his policies.

Trump, who has made inflammatory comments about immigrants, Muslims and white nationalists, condemned the shooting on Friday. But when asked if he believes white nationalist terrorism and violence is a rising concern globally, the president said, said, “I don’t really.” He added that he thinks “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media is working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack in New Zealand. They will have to work very hard to prove that one. So Ridiculous!”

There have been several white nationalist or white supremacist attacks in the U.S. over the past few years, including the massacre of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue last fall and the murder of nine black churchgoers at a congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

At a campaign event in Detroit on Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also condemned Trump’s rhetoric.

“A president who calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, a president who wants to ban all Muslim travel to the United States of America because, the implication being, Muslims are somehow more dangerous or violent than people of other traditions of faith, a president who calls Klansmen, and Nazis and white nationalists ‘very fine people’ is giving permission to others in this country and around the world to commit acts of hatred,” the former Texas congressman said.

Beto O’Rourke speaks with Chuck Todd in Iowa for “Meet The Press.”NBC News

O’Rourke noted that a mosque in his home state was burned to the ground on the day that Trump signed his Muslim travel ban.

“It’s not just the words,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the actions that follow.”

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended Trump during a pair of interviews on the Sunday political talk shows.

“You’ve seen the president stand up for religious liberty, individual liberty,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that. And to simply ask the question, every time something like this happens overseas, or even domestically, to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, it must somehow be the president’s fault,’ speaks to a politicization of everything that I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today.”



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