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Children not exempt from Trump’s toughest asylum policy, officials say

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Following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to go forward with its toughest asylum policy to date, officials from the Department of Justice and Homeland Security on Friday detailed how they would begin enforcement, including by turning back children who arrive at the southern border without their parents.

The new policy would make asylum seekers ineligible if they passed through another country on their way to the United States and did not first seek asylum there. The officials said they will return immigrants who arrived in the U.S. on or after July 16 to their home countries if they cannot prove they sought asylum elsewhere.

Immigration and human rights advocates have decried the policy, claiming it is in violation of the international right to claim asylum regardless of how one arrives in the country where they are seeking protection. Those arguments are still playing out in lower courts, which could ultimately end in the policy’s reversal.

Even if asylum seekers are denied protection by another country, they are still eligible to apply in the United States, a DHS official said, if they can prove they tried to seek it elsewhere.

The officials said unaccompanied migrant children are awarded some additional protections, but will not be exempt from the rule.

Some exceptions do apply. For example, if an asylum seeker can prove to U.S. authorities that he or she has a fear of torture if returned home, they would be allowed to seek protection under the Convention Against Torture in the United States. Immigrants can also appeal their deportation decisions to an immigration judge.

The Trump administration has said the new policy is necessary to weed out asylum claims that are not likely to end in a favorable decision in court. Currently, the majority of initial claims for asylum are accepted but then ultimately denied by a judge. Due to a court backlog of over 400,000 asylum claims, many asylum seekers live in the United States for years before their court date or do not show up for their hearing.

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Trump asks Supreme Court to block House subpoena for his financial records

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WASHINGTON — Lawyers for President Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to put a hold on a subpoena from a House committeeseeking eight years of his financial documents.

The case may produce the first action by the justices on the growing number of legal battles over access to Donald Trump’s financial secrets. A lower court order upholding the subpoena takes effect on Nov. 20. So unless the Supreme Court acts quickly, the president’s accounting firm, Mazars, will be required to turn the material over.

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The Trump legal team told the justices in a court filing on Friday that if the lower court rulings are allowed to stand, any committee of Congress could subpoena any personal information it wants from a president.

“Given the temptation to dig up dirt on political rivals, intrusive subpoenas into personal lives of presidents will become our new normal in times of divided government — no matter which party is in power,” Trump’s team said.

The House Government Oversight committee issued the subpoena in April, ordering the accounting firm to turn over Trump-related financial documents covering 2011 through 2018. The committee said it acted after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified that “Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

House Democrats said they need the documents to investigate whether the president accurately filled out required financial disclosure forms. But the Trump lawyers said the congressional subpoena power is limited to material needed to legislate, not to conduct criminal-style investigations. A federal judge and the Washington, D.C., court of appeals rejected the president’s efforts to stop the subpoena.

Lawyers for the House have argued that the subpoena presents no threat to the president’s ability to carry out his duties, because it is directed to his accountants doesn’t require him to do anything. In dissents, two appeals court judges said they disagreed. “The subpoena in substance targets his records,” said Gregory Katsas and Karen Henderson of the D.C. appeals court.

On Thursday, the president’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to grant their appeal in a separate case challenging a subpoena for his tax returns and other business records from the Manhattan district attorney. The Trump lawyers because a president cannot be indicted while in office, he is immune from any part of the criminal justice process.

While the two cases present different legal issues, the court could decide to consider them together. There is no deadline for the court to act.



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Highlights from Yovanovitch's impeachment testimony

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Watch highlights from day two of the public hearing of President Trump’s impeachment inquiry, featuring former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

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GOP endanger two reps in new map. Dems say it’s not enough.

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North Carolina legislators on Friday passed a new set of Congressional maps that would endanger two Republican representatives in next year’s election, after a court said last month their existing district maps were a partisan gerrymander that violated the state’s constitution.

Democrats say the proposed map — which is expected to give Republicans an 8-5 advantage over Democrats in the purple state — favor Republicans too much and should be tossed.

“The congressional map passed by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature simply replaces one partisan gerrymander with a new one,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that announced a legal challenge to the remedial maps.

Holder chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, whose sister group, the National Redistricting Foundation, is supporting a group of North Carolina voters challenging the maps in court.

The maps passed Friday created two new Democratic-leaning districts around Greensboro and Raleigh. In the current map, the cities were split into different districts, diluting the urban, Democratic voters between more rural, red districts. Republican Reps. George Holding and Mark Walker will face much tougher re-elections under the new maps.

New Congressional map passed by North Carolina’s legislature.Sate of North Carolina

The maps were approved by the state Senate on Friday without a single Democratic vote, Republicans said.

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“The Democrats who sued to prohibit partisan redistricting have demanded their preferred partisan outcomes in exchange for voting to support new Congressional maps,” state Sen. Ralph Hise, a Republican who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections, said in a statement. “Such brazen hypocrisy is astounding.”

Democrats criticized the redistricting process.

“It’s important to understand that Republicans redrew the maps in the absence of a court order,” Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson said Friday night.

Earlier this year, a state court threw out state legislative maps and dictated rules for the the legislature’s redistricting process. It limited the use of data and outside experts and demanded the process take place in the public eye.

The resulting maps earned some bipartisan support, but when the Congressional districts were challenged with the same court shortly afterward, the court issued a preliminary injunction asking for new maps. The injunction did not order the same narrow process.

Democrats allege the Republicans took advantage of that.

“They got to use all their old tricks. The product was a fundamentally partisan process,” said Jackson, who represents Mecklenberg, North Carolina.

During the livestreamed map drawing process, Hise could be seen leaving the room frequently and returning with specific changes, leading many to believe Republicans were discussing maps behind closed doors in pursuit of partisan advantage.

Pat Ryan, a spokesman for the Republican state Senate President Phil Berger, said Democrats were seeking their own unfair advantage, so the GOP did not use their proposed changes in the Congressional maps.

“They had a predetermined partisan outcome in mind,” Ryan said.

Walker, one of the endangered Republicans, tweeted on Friday that he would still run.

“I love the people of NC and I will keep fighting for them — no matter what liberal attorneys, judicial activists and politicians in Raleigh do in self-interest,” he wrote in one tweet, noting in another that he had run and won with two different district lines since his election in 2014. “We did it with a new district in 2016. We will do it again in 2020.”



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