SAN DIEGO — The Trump administration wants up to two years to find potentially thousands of children who were separated from their families at the border before a judge halted the practice last year, a task that it says is more laborious than previous efforts because the children are no longer in government custody.
The Justice Department said in a court filing late Friday that it will take at least a year to review about 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into government custody between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018 — the day before U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw halted the general practice of splitting families. The administration would begin by sifting through names for traits most likely to signal separation — for example, children under 5.
The administration would provide information on separated families on a rolling basis to the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to reunite families and criticized the proposed timeline on Saturday.
“We strongly oppose a plan that could take up to two years to locate these families,” said Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney. “The government needs to make this a priority.”
Sabraw ordered last year that more than 2,700 children in government care on June 26, 2018 be reunited with their families, which has largely been accomplished. Then, in January, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s internal watchdog reported that thousands more children may have been separated since the summer of 2017. The department’s inspector general said the precise number was unknown.
The judge ruled last month that he could hold the government accountable for families that were separated before his June order and asked the government submit a proposal for the next steps. A hearing is scheduled April 16.
Sheer volume makes the job different than identifying children who were in custody at the time of the judge’s June order, Jonathan White, a commander of the U.S. Public Health Service and Health and Human Services’ point person on family reunification, said in an affidavit.
White, whose work has drawn strong praise from the judge, would lead the effort to identify additional families on behalf of Health and Health and Human Services with counterparts at Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. Dr. Barry Graubard, a statistics expert at the National Cancer Institute, developed a system to flag for early attention those most likely to have been separated.
The vast majority of separated children are released to relatives, but many are not parents. Of children released in the 2017 fiscal year, 49 per cent went to parents, 41 per cent to close relatives such as an aunt, uncle, grandparent or adult sibling and 10 per cent to distant relatives, family friends and others.
The government’s proposed model to flag still-separated children puts a higher priority on the roughly half who were not released to a parent. Other signs of likely separation include children under 5, younger children travelling without a sibling and those who were detained in the Border Patrol’s El Paso, Texas, sector, where the administration ran a trial program that involved separating nearly 300 family members from July to November 2017.
Saturday marks the anniversary of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute every adult who enters the country illegally from Mexico. The administration retreated in June amid an international uproar by generally exempting adults who come with their children. The policy now applies only to single adults.
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A 15-year-old up-and-coming hockey player who was tragically killed last March will be honoured during Saturday’s OHL priority selection draft.
Roy Pejcinovski was the star goalie for the Don Mills Flyers at the time of his death and wore number 74. He will be drafted with pick number 74 in the fourth round.
His mother and sister were also murdered in an alleged violent domestic attack.
Police have charged Cory Fenn, 29, with three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his romantic partner Krassimira Pejcinovski, 39, Roy, and daughter Venallia Pejcinovski, 13.
Pejcinovski’s 16-year-old sister was not home at the time of the alleged attack.
“Roy was a very special young man loved by his family, friends, and teammates,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch in a news release. “The sadness from this devastating loss was shared around the hockey community.”
“It’s only fitting that Roy be remembered among his peers with his name forever listed as a 2019 OHL Priority Selection pick,” Branch added.
Vas Pejcinovski and his surviving daughter started a memorial fund that aims to honour the lives of his former spouse and two children, although it was not clear where the money would go.
The OHL priority selection draft is expected to begin at 9 a.m.
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‘Our country is full’: Trump says migrants straining system
CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) — Declaring “our country is full,” President Donald Trump on Friday insisted the U.S. immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border.
Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometre) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.
“There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said at the briefing, adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. … We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.”
As Air Force One touched down in the state, California and 19 other states that are suing Trump over his emergency declaration to build a border wall requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project. But Trump, who ratcheted up his hard-line immigration rhetoric in recent weeks, declared that his move, which included vetoing a congressional vote, was necessary.
Also on Friday, House Democrats filed a lawsuit preventing Trump from spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border. Congress approved just under $1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer an additional $6.7 billion to wall construction.
AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Mexico mirage
WASHINGTON (AP) — Giving himself credit for tough diplomacy, President Donald Trump is describing a burst of activity by Mexican authorities to keep Central American migrants from getting to the U.S. border.
That’s an apparent mirage as Trump retreats from his latest threat to seal off the U.S. from Mexico.
Trump was wrong when he said last week that Mexico was doing “NOTHING” about migrants coming north. It markedly tightened migration controls during the Obama administration and detained over 30,000 foreigners in the first three months of this year.
And it’s not evident now that Mexico has suddenly cracked down as a result of his threat, “apprehending everybody” and making “absolutely terrific progress” in just a matter of days, as Trump put it Friday. Mexico’s apprehensions of foreigners have not surged.
During his visit to the border in Southern California on Friday, Trump denounced a landmark immigration case he blamed on “Judge Flores, whoever you may be.” The case in question was named for Jenny Flores, a migrant teenager from El Salvador in the 1980s, not a judge.
Boeing cutting production rate of troubled 737 Max jet
Boeing will cut production of its troubled 737 Max airliner this month, underscoring the growing financial risk it faces the longer that its bestselling plane remains grounded after two deadly crashes.
The company said Friday that starting in mid-April it will cut production of the plane to 42 from 52 planes per month so it can focus its attention on fixing the flight-control software that has been implicated in the crashes.
The move was not a complete surprise. Boeing had already suspended deliveries of the Max last month after regulators around the world grounded the jet.
Preliminary reports into accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered an anti-stall system that pushed the plane’s nose down. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control over the automated system.
In all, 346 people died in the crashes. Boeing faces a growing number of lawsuits filed by families of the victims.
Job gain points to a US economy slowing but hardly stalling
WASHINGTON (AP) — A month ago, many economists fretted that the 10-year U.S. expansion looked wobbly. But after the government reported Friday that hiring rebounded in March, the economy suddenly looks sturdy again.
Growth has weakened since last year to something closer to the modest pace that has prevailed for most of the nearly decade-long expansion. The jolt from the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts and greater government spending last year has faded. And the global economy has swiveled from a driver of the U.S. economy to a headwind.
Yet last month’s solid job gain of 196,000 may also help undercut any lingering fears that a recession might arrive over the next year or so. The economy’s slow but steady pace of growth is likely to keep inflation low and perhaps sustain the expansion, which is set to become the longest on record in July.
By historical measures, the expansion has fallen short of the sometimes-explosive growth that businesses and workers enjoyed in the past but that often led to financial bubbles or economic excesses — and eventually a recession.
“Lacklustre means that you’re not overheating,” Josh Wright, chief economist at recruiting software maker iCIMS, said of the current expansion. “It’s more stable, and we’ll have fewer imbalances. It looks like we’ll be able to prolong this recovery even further.”
Trump sidelines immigration nominee for ‘tougher direction’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The notice to Congress from the White House was met with confusion: Why would President Donald Trump withdraw his nominee to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
Longtime border official Ron Vitiello appeared to be cruising toward confirmation. One Senate committee had endorsed his nomination and a second was likely to follow suit despite opposition from some Democrats and a union representing some agency officers.
No one in the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration agency, had been notified about the intention to remove Vitiello from consideration, according to people familiar with the decision. Officials at Homeland Security and congressional aides thought it must have been a paperwork error made by the White House personnel office that would be resolved quickly.
Turns out, it wasn’t a mistake. It was just another day in the Trump administration.
The president on Friday confirmed he had pulled the nomination, even as he called Vitiello a “good man.”
Jury rejects Harry Reid lawsuit against fitness band maker
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A jury in Las Vegas flatly rejected former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s lawsuit against an exercise band maker he blamed for injuries — including blindness in one eye — he suffered when the stretchy device slipped from his grasp and he fell face-first a little more than four years ago.
After eight days of testimony, the eight-member civil trial jury deliberated about an hour before declaring that Reid never proved the first of 10 questions they were asked to decide: that the device Reid used that day was a TheraBand made by Ohio-based Hygenic Corp.
Jurors never saw the actual device because Reid’s adult son, attorney Leif Reid, disposed of it soon after Harry Reid was injured.
Reid and his wife, Landra Gould, weren’t in the courtroom when the verdict was read. The 79-year-old former Democratic Party leader used a wheelchair throughout the two-week trial, following treatment for pancreatic cancer and back surgery.
Their lawyer, James Wilkes II of Tampa, Florida, said he respected the Nevada jury’s decision. “I may not agree with the outcome, but I agree with the way we got there,” Wilkes said.
Ex-convict charged with pretending to be long-missing boy
CINCINNATI (AP) — A 23-year-old ex-convict accused of pulling a cruel hoax by pretending to be a long-missing Illinois boy was charged Friday with making false statements to federal authorities.
The FBI said Brian Rini had made false claims twice before, portraying himself as a juvenile sex-trafficking victim.
The Medina, Ohio, man was jailed in Cincinnati on Thursday, a day after telling authorities he was 14-year-old Timmothy Pitzen, who disappeared in 2011 at age 6. The FBI declared Rini’s story a hoax after performing a DNA test.
The charge should send a message about the damage such false claims can do, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman.
“It’s not OK to do it because of the harm that it causes, the pain, for the family of that missing child,” Glassman said.
7 who accused Cosby of sex abuse settle defamation suits
Seven women who said Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago and then labeled them liars by denying it have settled defamation lawsuits against the imprisoned actor.
Court documents filed Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts, show a settlement has been reached since Cosby went to prison last fall in a separate Pennsylvania sex assault case. Cosby, 81, is serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence.
Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, said Cosby did not authorize the settlement reached between the women and American International Group Inc., and “vehemently denies the allegations.”
“Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone. He is not paying anything to anyone, and he is still pursuing his counterclaims. AIG decided to settle these cases, without the knowledge, permission and/or consent of Mr. Cosby,” Wyatt said in a statement.
Courts had ruled that AIG had to pay for Cosby to defend the defamation lawsuits as part of his coverage. Cosby had homeowners and other coverage through AIG.
Fans mourn grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain 25 years after death
SEATTLE (AP) — On the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, dozens of people left flowers, candles and handwritten messages at a Seattle park near the house where the Nirvana frontman killed himself.
Cobain, whose band rose to global fame in the city’s grunge rock music scene of the early 1990s, was 27 when he died April 5, 1994, in his home in a wealthy neighbourhood near Lake Washington.
Fans trekked Friday to nearby Viretta Park, leaving memorials on benches, where flowers mixed with handwritten phrases like “thank you for your art” and “find your place.”
In an essay on the Crosscut news website, Cobain biographer Charles R. Cross wrote that few Seattle musicians “have been as tied to Seattle in the mind of the popular zeitgeist as Kurt Cobain.”
Nirvana’s breakthrough album, “Nevermind,” was released in 1991. Featuring the hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the album went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.
Duke’s Williamson wins AP men’s college player of the year
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Just about everything Zion Williamson did at Duke created a highlight or headline in a spectacle of a season.
The soaring dunks.
The open-court moves more nimble than his 6-foot-7, 285-pound frame should allow.
Even the freak occurrence of one of his feet tearing through its shoe in a fall to the court.
Handling all that attention became maybe the biggest lesson for the freshman, who quickly became the face of college basketball and the game’s biggest star in years — then fittingly finished as The Associated Press men’s player of the year.
The Associated Press
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Traumatic brain injuries, spinal fractures and internal bleeding are among the litany of ailments described in a mounting number of lawsuits against a man accused of killing 10 people and injuring 16 others in a van attack in Toronto last year.
Lawyers involved in the suits against Alek Minassian believe the cases, which the court is working to pull together in one large proceeding, will take years to come to a resolution.
On April 23, 2018, police allege Minassian drove a white Ryder rental van south along Yonge Street in the city’s north end, hopped the curb and deliberately mowed people down.
While Minassian’s criminal case slowly makes its way through the system – his trial on 10 first-degree murder charges and 16 attempted murder charges has been scheduled for February 2020 – the 26-year-old already faces four civil suits, with more expected.
The lawsuits, from the families of one person who died and three who were injured, are seeking millions of dollars from Minassian and Ryder Truck Rental Canada, alleging the devastating injuries and deaths on that day were due to an intentional act by Minassian and negligence on his and the rental company’s part.
The unproven civil suits will be fought in the trenches of insurance law.
“This is going to drag on for a long, long time,” said Gus Triantafillopoulos, who represents the family of Anne Marie D’Amico, a young woman who died that day and whose family filed a $1-million suit in January against Minassian and Ryder.
Triantafillopoulos said if the family receives any money through the civil proceedings it will all be donated to the Anne Marie D’Amico Foundation, which supports women who are victims of violence.
The first suit related to Minassian was filed in November 2018 by Amir Kiumarsi, a chemistry instructor with Ryerson University who is seeking $6 million dollars in damages.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury and several skull fractures, spinal fractures, traumatic internal injuries including a displaced kidney and numerous other injuries throughout his entire body, the claim says.
“These injuries have been accompanied by severe physical pain, suffering and a loss of enjoyment of life,” the claim alleges, noting that his future holds “numerous surgical and medical assessments, treatments and procedures.”
Since Kiumarsi filed his suit, the court is in the process of getting all the cases on one track, documents show.
Another suit was filed in mid-January by Amaresh Tesfamariam and her family, who are seeking $14 million. Tesfamariam has a complete spinal cord injury, multiple spinal fractures, rib fractures and a traumatic brain injury.
She cannot move her body below her neck, cannot breathe without a machine, suffers a total loss of independence and a “profound and permanent loss of her cognitive ability,” according to the claim.
Tesfamariam also has loss of short-term memory, depression, anxiety, a “drastic personality change” and cannot communicate properly with others, and cannot return to her work as a nurse, the claim alleges.
The latest suit was filed last week by Catherine Riddell and her family, alleging the “sustained serious and permanent” injuries the woman suffered are the result of negligence on the part of Minassian and the rental company.
Riddell lost consciousness, suffered a brain injury, hurt her head, neck, shoulders, arms, back, legs and arms. She fractured her spine, her ribs, pelvis, scapula and suffered internal injuries including a collapsed lung, the $3.55 million suit alleges.
She lives with headaches, memory loss, difficulty finding words, dizziness, back and neck pain, loss of mobility, nausea, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and depression, her claim alleges, noting that she now faces a life filled with therapy, rehabilitation and medical treatment.
“Her enjoyment of life has been permanently lessened and she has been forced to forego numerous activities in which she formerly participated,” the claim reads.
Minassian does not yet have legal representation in the civil matters and has not responded to the claims, according to the documents. His criminal lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawyers for Ryder, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, detailed the expected complexities in the litigation in an affadavit filed with the court.
It notes that notice has been given for 12 claims and more are expected. There will be numerous parties in the case from families of the dead to the injured and the various defendants. There will be examinations for all plaintiffs, and testimony would be expected from numerous medical experts.
“It would be safe to assume this matter will require a lengthy trial,” said the affidavit.
Kiumarsi’s lawyer, Darcy Merkur, said there will be a slew of arguments brought forward.
“One interesting question is this: is every different person hurt considered a separate accident?” Merkur said. “It’s a legal question, but also a philosophical one.”
The answer to that question will be important to the issue of potential payments, he explained.
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PHOENIX — The announcement Friday of an arrest in the fatal Phoenix road rage shooting of a 10-year-old girl in her family’s driveway was of little comfort to her grieving parents.
Taniesha and Dharquintium Brown, who was also wounded, said they were thankful someone was in custody but that nothing would bring back their daughter, Summerbell. Her death started because of something “senseless,” they said.
“I hope that he suffers as much as we do,” Taniesha Brown said as she stood outside her home, steps away from their car, which had several bullet holes. “Not only did he ruin our lives, he ruined his life as well. He’s going to have to live with this the rest of his life — if he has a conscience.”
Police arrested Joshua Gonzalez after receiving a tip from the public. Gonzalez, 20, was booked into jail on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. He has an “extended criminal history” involving violent crime, said Police Chief Jeri Williams, who declined to disclose details.
Williams credited tips from the public with helping investigators.
“Our investigators were able to really close this case because the community members stepped up,” she said.
Gonzalez was arrested about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the family’s home.
The couple said they were on their way home Wednesday evening after picking their children up from the Boys & Girls Club when they noticed another driver closely behind them. When they pulled into the driveway, Dharquintium Brown went to confront the suspect. Taniehsa Brown said she made eye contact with the driver and that’s when the shooting started.
She saw her husband was bleeding profusely and then looked in the backseat. Their 12-year-old daughter was not injured but Summerbell, who had been sleeping, clearly was.
“All I heard was her gasp out of her sleep. She was just shaking and she was trying to breathe,” Taniesha Brown said. “Then she fell over and that’s when I noticed the bullet hole in her back. She was just gasping for air.”
Paramedics tried to resuscitate her.
“They pronounced her dead at the hospital but I knew she had died right in front of my eyes,” Dharquintium Brown said.
Police have said the suspect believed the family’s car had cut him off.
After the killing, authorities made surveillance video public showing the suspect driving a white pickup truck while following the family’s vehicle.
Police found the pickup truck Thursday with its wheels changed and obtained a search warrant that led to the discovery of a handgun in a garage. Forensic evidence linked the gun to Summerbell’s killing, police spokesman Vincent Lewis said.
Taniehsa Brown believes that Gonzalez altered the car’s appearance because he panicked at finding out there were children in the car.
The family planned to hold a vigil Friday night in front of their home. Summerbell, who also went by Summer, was a fifth-grader who loved dancing, singing and gymnastics. She loved school and made the honour roll every quarter, according to her mother.
“She was a wonderful, wonderful baby,” Taniesha Brown said.
Gonzalez was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Friday afternoon. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
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