To prosecute migrants, ‘you have to take the children away’: Trump

Demonstrators listen to Rev. Al Sharpton speak during a press conference in front of the US Capitol to call on the Trump administration to stop separating children from their families at the US border. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2018
0

To prosecute migrants, ‘you have to take the children away’: Trump

  • Donald Trump: “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.”
  • A chorus of critics — rights groups, Christian evangelicals, former US first ladies and some within the president’s own Republican party — are demanding an immediate end to the family separations.

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended the “zero tolerance” policy leading to thousands of migrant families being split on the US border as the only effective way to fight illegal immigration.
“I don’t want children taken away from parents,” he told a gathering of small business owners, before adding: “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.”
“We don’t have to prosecute them, but then we are not prosecuting them for coming in illegally. That’s not good.”
US officials say more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents or guardians since early May, when the administration announced its push to arrest and charge anyone illegally crossing the US-Mexico border, regardless of whether they were seeking asylum.
Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated from them.
A chorus of critics — rights groups, Christian evangelicals, former US first ladies and some within the president’s own Republican party — are demanding an immediate end to the family separations.
But a defiant Trump has vowed America will not become a “migrant camp.”
“We don’t want people pouring into our country,” he told Tuesday’s gathering. “We want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit.”
Hammering home the need to combat smugglers who he said “game the system,” Trump accused the media of helping human traffickers.
“Those who apply for asylum legally at ports of entry are not prosecuted. The fake news media back there doesn’t talk about that,” he charged.
“They are fake,” he said. “They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe.”
Trump was headed later Tuesday to Congress to huddle with Republican lawmakers, many of whom are deeply uncomfortable with the separation policy.
The president has accused Democrats of provoking the crisis by blocking legislation to combat illegal immigration.
“We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families all together and bring them back to their country,” he said.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is expected to consider two immigration bills.
One is a hard-line measure favored by conservatives, and the other a compromise bill — which the White House has signalled has Trump’s support — that would end family separations, protect so-called Dreamer immigrants brought to the country as children, pay for boosted border security and curtail legal immigration.
Tuesday’s Republican huddle will be closely watched, in part to see whether any lawmakers directly confront the president.
Several House Republicans face tough re-election fights in November, and some may worry that public outrage over the family separations could hurt their chances.
Democrats say the crisis is of Trump’s own making, and accuse him of using children as pawns.


Regional ‘burqa ban’ up for vote in Switzerland

Updated 3 min 6 sec ago
0

Regional ‘burqa ban’ up for vote in Switzerland

  • Switzerland’s government last year opposed an initiative aimed at creating a nationwide burqa ban

GENEVA: A second Swiss canton will vote Sunday on whether to introduce a regional “burqa ban,” a controversial law that would prohibit all face-covering garments in public spaces.
The ballot in northeastern St. Gallen is to be held as voters across the country also determine whether a moratorium on genetically modified crops should become a full-out ban.
St. Gallen is expected to follow the example of the southern canton of Ticino, where a law was introduced two years ago which appeared to be aimed at burqas and other Muslim veils.
A text stipulating that “any person who renders themselves unrecognizable by covering their face in a public space, and thus endangers public security or social and religious peace will be fined” was adopted by lawmakers in St. Gallen late last year.
That law passed the regional parliament with support from the populist right and center parties — but the issue is being put to the people after the Green Party and Young Socialists demanded a referendum.
The text, first drafted following uproar in the canton over a girl who wore a full-face veil to school, is problematic, according to Fredy Fassler, a socialist in charge of security and justice in St. Gallen.
It does not define when a woman wearing a burqa constitutes a danger, and critics “worry the sanctions will be unpredictable and arbitrary,” he told daily newspaper Le Temps.
Switzerland’s government last year opposed an initiative aimed at creating a nationwide burqa ban, saying it should be up to the regions to determine if such measures are appropriate.
All Swiss voters will eventually cast ballots on the issue after the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party gathered the 100,000 signatures needed to put any subject to a referendum as part of Switzerland’s famous direct democratic system.
At the national level, the Swiss will vote Sunday on two schemes linked to agriculture and food security, urging a shift toward more environmentally friendly and Swiss-based food production.
The “Fair Food” and “Food Sovereignty” initiatives appear set to fail and are opposed by the canton of Bern, which warns they could send prices skyrocketing and might violate Switzerland’s international trade obligations.
Stefan Legge, an international trade expert at the University of St. Gallen, agreed with the government’s opposition to the initiatives.
“The agricultural lobby is trying hard to isolate itself from the rest of the economy and international competition,” he said.
The “Food Sovereignty” initiative, which has the backing of Switzerland’s powerful farmers’ union, calls for a range of measures, including turning a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMO) into a total ban.
That moratorium was introduced after a 2005 referendum and has been extended three times to date. It is due to expire in 2021.
Polls indicate people widely oppose GMO use in the country, but despite early signs of support, the initiative looks doomed to fail, according to a survey published this month by the Tamedia group.
Observers put the initiative’s shrinking popularity down to another element baked into the text: the call for imports to be limited to food produced under the same social and environmental norms as those applicable in Switzerland.
“No serious analyst can say it is the GMO ban that is sinking the initiative,” Michelle Zufferey of the Uniterre union said.
She pointed out that the GMO aspect had barely been mentioned.
“It is the fake arguments about massive price hikes and a lack of choice and about efforts to isolate Switzerland that have hurt our initiative,” she insisted.
Swiss President Alain Berset himself warned in a recent interview with Le Temps that if the initiatives were to become law, it would “lead to a price hike.”
“For now, unfortunately, everyone cannot afford organic,” he said.
He also warned that “imposing Swiss standards on imported food goods would violate agreements reached with our trading partners as well as World Trade Organization rules.”