China anoints Xi as new leader

Updated 16 November 2012
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China anoints Xi as new leader

BEIJING: China’s all-powerful Communist Party unveiled yesterday a new seven-man leadership council steered by Xi Jinping to take command of the country for the next decade.
After striding out in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as the party’s new general-secretary, succeeding President Hu Jintao, Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a “better life” for the nation’s 1.3 billion people.
Xi’s long-expected ascent to the apex of national politics was confirmed when he emerged onto the stage in front of the other six members of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, after a week-long party congress.
Xi, 59, has an impeccable political pedigree as the son of a lieutenant to revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. He will formally replace Hu as state president when the rubber-stamp legislature confirms the appointment in March.
“We are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels,” Xi said in his first address to the nation, standing in front of his colleagues on the new committee — all men, who all bar one wore red ties.
The new committee has been slimmed from nine members to seven, a change analysts said would ease decision-making at the consensus-driven heights of the Communist Party as China faces rapid change on a host of fronts.
“Under the new conditions, our party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the party that need to be resolved,” Xi said, highlighting graft and alienation from citizens.
“We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole party must stay on full alert.”
Xi appeared confident and far more relaxed than his stiff predecessor Hu, starting out with a disarming apology for the speech’s late start and then talking about ordinary people in plain language.
Some users of the nation’s popular Twitter-like microblogs welcomed the speech, with its lack of Communist jargon or mention of socialist heroes, as a refreshing departure.
“I hope the new crop of leaders will not disappoint the people’s hopes, will innovate and reform, and courageously strive to create a democratic and constitutional new nation,” wrote one user.
Xi’s standing at the top of China’s opaque power structure was consolidated with his appointment as chief of the nation’s vast military as head of the Central Military Commission.
Hu’s predecessor Jiang Zemin had clung on to that job for two years after relinquishing the presidency, preventing him from taking full control of China.
In second place in the new Politburo Standing Committee was current Vice Premier Li Keqiang, whose promotion puts him in line to be appointed premier in charge of the nation’s day-to-day economic administration in March.
The spectacle marked the climax of years of jockeying within the secretive party, which brooks little dissent to its monopoly on political power but which has had to take new account of the public’s demands in the age of social media.
Analysts said that despite calls from Xi, Hu and others for reform, the new leadership line-up appeared to have a conservative slant, but also stressed that continuity and stability reigned supreme in the communist system.
“I think that this is the result of compromise and consensus among different groups,” Chinese University of Hong Kong associate professor Tsao King Kwun said.
The process was essentially finalized Wednesday when the party ended its week-long congress by announcing a new 200-strong Central Committee.
The seven men who hold innermost power are tasked with addressing a rare deceleration of economic growth that threatens the party’s key claim to legitimacy — continually improving the livelihoods of the country’s people.
China also bubbles with localized unrest sparked by public rage at corruption, official abuses, and the myriad manifestations of anger among the millions left out of the country’s economic boom.


No clear US plan yet on how to reunite children with illegal immigrant parents

Updated 38 min 13 sec ago
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No clear US plan yet on how to reunite children with illegal immigrant parents

  • More than 2,000 minors have been separated from their families since early May
  • In May, the Department of Justice adopted the zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted

MCALLEN, Texas: Trump administration officials say they have no clear plan yet on how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border since the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted.
“This policy is relatively new,” said Steven Wagner, an acting assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services “We’re still working through the experience of reunifying kids with their parents after adjudication.”
Federal officials say there are some methods parents can use to try to find their children: hotlines to call and an email address for those seeking information. But advocates say it’s not that simple.
In a courtroom near the Rio Grande, lawyer Efren Olivares and his team with the Texas Civil Rights Project frantically scribble down children’s names, birthdates and other details from handcuffed men and women waiting for court to begin. There are sometimes 80 of them in the same hearing.
The Texas Civil Rights Project works to document the separations in the hopes of helping them reunite with the children.
They have one hour to collect as much information as they can before the hearing begins. The immigrants plead guilty to illegally entering the US, and they are typically sent either to jail or directly to an immigration detention center. At this point, lawyers with the civil rights group often lose access to the detainees.
“If we don’t get that information, then there’s no way of knowing that child was separated,” Olivares said. “No one else but the government will know that the separation happened if we don’t document it there.”
Olivares has documented more than 300 cases of adults who have been separated from a child. Most are parents, but some are older siblings, aunts, uncles or grandparents. Some are illiterate and don’t know how to spell the children’s names.
More than 2,000 minors have been separated from their families since early May. The children are put into the custody of the US Department of Health and Human Services with the aim of keeping them as close to their parents as possible and reuniting the family after the case goes through the courts, said Wagner.
But it’s not clear that’s working.
According to Olivares, the agency is generally “very willing to help,” often helping to find a child even if there’s a misspelling in the group’s records. But if a child has been transferred out of a government shelter — including if the child has been deported — agency representatives won’t give any information.
“Sometimes the parent gives us contact information for a relative,” Olivares said. “If they have the phone number right and the phone number is working ... we call that number and sometimes we’re able to locate that relative and ask them what they know.”
In May, the Department of Justice adopted the zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted. Children can’t be jailed with their parents. Instead, after the adult is charged, children are held briefly by Homeland Security officials before being transferred to Health and Human Services, which operates more than 100 shelters for minors in 17 states.
The department has set up new facilities to manage the influx of children, and Wagner said they were prepared to expand as more children come into custody.
The children are classified as unaccompanied minors, a legal term generally used for children who cross the border alone and have a possible sponsor in the US willing to care for them. Most of the more than 10,000 children in shelters under HHS care came to the US alone and are waiting to be placed with family members living in the US
But these children are different — they arrived with their families.
“They should just give the kids back to their parents. This isn’t difficult,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gelernt represents a Brazilian asylum seeker in a closely watched lawsuit that seeks a nationwide halt to family separation. The woman, identified as Mrs. C in court documents, was split from her son for nearly a year after entering the country illegally in August near Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
On Tuesday, Olivares’ team had seven people left to interview with five minutes left. They took down just the names, dates of birth, and countries of origin of the children.
“One woman (said), ‘What about me, what about me?’” Olivares said a few hours later. “She wanted to give us information because she realized what we were trying to do.”