New US travel ban “psychological terrorism“: Venezuela

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza of Venezuela addresses the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 26 September 2017
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New US travel ban “psychological terrorism“: Venezuela

CARACAS: Venezuela accused the United States on Monday of “psychological terrorism” designed to bring down the government after it was included in a list of eight countries targeted by a travel ban.
In a speech at the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza described US President Donald Trump as acting like “the world’s emperor.”
Amid an escalating war of words, Arreaza said Venezuela would seek dialogue with Washington to “stop the madness and irrationality.”
Last week, he accused Trump of being “racist and supremacist” after Trump told the annual UN assembly that the US was ready to act to restore Venezuela’s democracy.
“As a free people, we are ready to defend our sovereignty, our independence and our democracy in any scenario and in any way,” Arreaza said.
In a short statement to reporters following his speech, he added: “I insist, if they attack us on the ground, we will respond forcefully in the defense of our country and of our people.”
Earlier, his foreign ministry had said that “these types of lists... are incompatible with international law and constitute in themselves a form of psychological and political terrorism.”
Venezuela was added Sunday to a new list of countries targeted by the US ban, due to what it called poor security and a lack of cooperation with American authorities.
The restrictions on Venezuela were limited to officials from a list of government agencies and their families, while full travel bans were placed on nationals from the other seven countries, including Chad and North Korea.
The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro said Washington was using the fight against terrorism for its own political ends.
The foreign ministry statement said the ban was seeking to “stigmatize” Venezuela “under the pretext of combating terrorism, by including it in a unilaterally drawn-up list and accusing other states of being alleged promoters of this terrible scourge.”
It rejected “the irrational decision of the United States government to once again catalog the noble Venezuelan people as a threat to their national security.”
Venezuela has been rocked by months of economic chaos and deadly protests as Maduro tries to consolidate control, including through a new Constituent Assembly that has wrested power from the opposition-dominated legislature.
Most of the nations affected by the ban announced Sunday were part of a measure targeting Muslim countries that Trump authorized shortly after taking office.
Sudan was removed from the original list, after recent praise from US officials for Khartoum’s efforts in fighting terrorism.
The new restrictions replace an expiring 90-day measure that had locked Trump in political and legal battles since he took office in January over what critics alleged was an effort to bar Muslims from the country.


Recording of crying children at US border adds to outrage

Updated 16 min 25 sec ago
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Recording of crying children at US border adds to outrage

  • Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the audio but said children taken into custody by the government are being treated humanely.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas: An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a US immigration facility took center stage Monday in the growing uproar over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.
“Papa! Papa!” one child is heard weeping in the audio file that was first reported by the nonprofit ProPublica and later provide to The Associated Press.
Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week. She did not provide details about where exactly it was recorded.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the audio but said children taken into custody by the government are being treated humanely. She said the government has high standards for detention centers and the children are well cared for, stressing that Congress needs to plug loopholes in the law so families can stay together.
The audio surfaced as politicians and advocates flocked to the US-Mexico border to visit US immigration detention centers and turn up the pressure on the Trump administration.
And the backlash over the policy widened. The Mormon church said it is “deeply troubled” by the separation of families at the border and urged national leaders to find compassionate solutions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, reversed a decision to send a National Guard helicopter from his state to the Mexican border to assist in a deployment, citing the administration’s “cruel and inhumane” policy.
At the border, an estimated 80 people pleaded guilty Monday to immigration charges, including some who asked the judge questions such as “What’s going to happen to my daughter?” and “What will happen to my son?“
Attorneys at the hearings said the immigrants had brought two dozen boys and girls with them to the US, and the judge replied that he didn’t know what would happen to their children.

Several groups of lawmakers toured a nearby facility in Brownsville, Texas, that houses hundreds of immigrant children.
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said the location was a former hospital converted into living quarters for children, with rooms divided by age group. There was even a small room for infants, complete with two high chairs, where two baby boys wore matching rugby style shirts with orange and white stripes.

Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. One cage held 20 youngsters.
More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility, which is divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children.
In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for people trying to enter the US, Border Patrol officials say they must crack down on migrants and separate adults from children as a deterrent to others trying to get into the US illegally.
“When you exempt a group of people from the law ... that creates a draw,” said Manuel Padilla, the Border Patrol’s chief agent there.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters during a tour of San Diego immigration detention facilities with Rep. Juan Vargas and other House Democrats, said family separation is a “heartbreaking, barbarian issue that could be changed in a moment by the president of the United States rescinding his action.”
“It so challenges the conscience of our country that it must be changed and must be changed immediately,” she said during a news conference at a San Diego terminal that is connected to the airport in Tijuana, Mexico by a bridge.  
US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced late Monday that he was introducing emergency legislation intended to keep immigrant families together.
“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” Cruz said. “This must stop.”
President Donald Trump emphatically defended his administration’s policy Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he declared. “Not on my watch.”
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Snow reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Mike Melia in Boston contributed to this report.