US arrests religious leaders, activists at border protest

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Pro-migrants activists demonstrate next to US border patrol agents against US migration policies near the US-Mexico border fence at Imperial beach in San Diego county, US, as seen from Playas de Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on December 10, 2018. (AFP)
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A girl waves to a young man watching from Mexican territory who said he was her cousin, as a group of Honduran asylum seekers is taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents after the group crossed the US border wall into San Diego, California, seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (AP)
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A man holds his hands in the air in front of a line of Border Patrol agents during a protest Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, in San Diego. (AP)
Updated 11 December 2018
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US arrests religious leaders, activists at border protest

  • US immigration officials say these claims, most of which are accepted, exploit a legal loophole allowing migrants to enter the United States while they await a court hearing on their asylum case

SAN DIEGO : Kneeling in front of riot police, 32 religious leaders and activists were arrested at the US border fence in San Diego on Monday during a protest to support the Central American migrant caravan.
More than 400 demonstrators, many leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, sought a halt to detention and deportation of migrants and for the United States to welcome the caravan that arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in November.
Singing and praying, religious leaders moved forward in lines of four to six, some wearing T-shirts reading, “Love Knows No Borders.” They were handcuffed and led away by federal agents upon entering a restricted area in front of the fence.
“As a Quaker who believes in our shared humanity...We’re calling on the US to respect the rights of migrants,” said Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, which has run a week of actions to back migrants.
US Border Patrol spokesman Theron Francisco said 31 people were arrested by Federal Protective Services for trespassing and one was arrested by Border Patrol for assaulting an agent.
The arrests marked the second confrontation with US authorities since the caravan reached Tijuana. US Border Patrol agents fired tear gas at migrants on Nov. 25 after they said they had stones thrown at them.
Thousands of migrants are living in crowded shelters and encampments in Tijuana after traveling from Central America to escape poverty and violence. They may have to wait weeks or months to claim asylum at the US border.
Data released on Monday by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed asylum claims at the US-Mexico border rose 67 percent in the 2018 fiscal year from a year earlier.
US immigration officials say these claims, most of which are accepted, exploit a legal loophole allowing migrants to enter the United States while they await a court hearing on their asylum case.
“As the majority of these claims will not be successful when they are adjudicated by an immigration court, we need Congress to act to address these vulnerabilities,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.
Protest leaders said President Donald Trump had portrayed the caravan as a security threat to advance his “anti-immigrant” agenda and further restrict migrants’ ability to seek asylum.
A US judge in November blocked Trump’s proclamation to bar migrants who cross the US-Mexico border illegally from seeking asylum.


Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve

A child plays in a waterfall at Yards Park in Washington, DC, July 19, 2019, as an extreme heat wave hits the region. (AFP)
Updated 36 min 10 sec ago
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Heat and humidity grip East Coast as Midwest gets reprieve

  • Utility companies DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said roughly 500,000 customers are still without power after thousands of power lines were downed in a storm that was worst to hit the region

BOSTON: The East Coast on Sunday sweated through another day of extreme heat and humidity as organizers in Boston canceled a benefit run, Delaware Civil War re-enactors got the day off and the New York Police Department implored residents to take it easy.
“Sunday has been canceled,” the NYPD jokingly tweeted . “Stay indoors, nothing to see here. Really, we got this.”
The central part of the country, meanwhile, enjoyed some relief as a cold front moved steadily southward and eastward across the country, bringing down the temperatures. But the cooler weather settling in Monday and Tuesday is also bringing severe storms packed with powerful winds and heavy rains that have already caused damage in the Midwest. The National Weather Service warns flash flooding might be possible in some areas.
From the Carolinas to Maine, daytime highs reached the upper 90s Sunday. Coupled with high humidity, temperatures felt as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in places.
“There’s no point being out,” Washington, D.C., bus driver Ramieka Darby remarked while taking a quick break amid temperatures of nearly 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius).
Nearby, Jack Ogten was among a steady stream of tourists milling around outside the White House. Undeterred by the stifling heat, the resident of the Netherlands joked he’d lost about 22 pounds (10 kilograms) from sweating after just one day of sightseeing.
In New York City, where all eyes were on the power grid even before the hot weather following a Manhattan blackout last weekend, electricity company Con Ed reported roughly 46,000 customers were without power as of 9 p.m. Sunday because of scattered outages, the vast majority in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Con Ed said it reduced voltage by 8% in those areas to maintain service as repairs are made and asked those customers to turn off non-essential appliances to conserve power.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the “accumulated heat and strain from the past few days has built up in the electrical equipment.”
The city also directed office buildings to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees (26 degrees Celsius) through Sunday to reduce strain on its electrical grid. A day earlier, a commemoration of the 1969 moon landing planned for Times Square and an outdoor festival featuring soccer star Megan Rapinoe and musician John Legend were nixed due to the heat.
In Boston, Sunday’s heat prompted cancelation of the annual Jimmy Fund 5K cancer benefit race as well as a popular Sunday market in the city’s South End. City officials also once again opened up city pools free to residents as the temperature topped 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) for the third consecutive day.
And police in one Boston suburb posted a tongue-in-cheek request on their Facebook page. “Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday,” Braintree police wrote Friday. “Conducting criminal activity, in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous.”
In Pennsylvania, nine firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and six transported to a hospital for treatment while fighting a house fire in sweltering conditions Saturday. Several hundred people were also evacuated from a retirement community Saturday because of a power outage that may have been heat-related.
In New Hampshire, rescue crews helped a 29-year-old hiker late Saturday after he was overcome by the heat in the White Mountain National Forest.
In New Jersey, the Oceanic Bridge over the Navesink River was closed Saturday evening after it got stuck open. Monmouth County officials say heat caused expansion of the metal encasing the drawbridge, which is a popular route for residents and beachgoers.
The heat even prompted Delaware officials to close Fort Delaware State Park, which served as a Union prison camp during the Civil War. Temperatures were simply too high for costumed interpreters who wear wool garb to work safely this weekend, officials said.
The National Weather Service reported high temperatures for July 20 were recorded Saturday at its weather stations in Atlantic City, New Jersey, New York City, Westfield, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Wallops Island, Virginia.
The heat relented early Sunday in the northern reaches of New England.
A Canadian cold front brought thunderstorms Saturday evening that dropped temperatures across northern Vermont and upstate New York. A heat advisory remained in effect for southern sections of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for much of the day, however.
And in many parts of the country, it’s not expected to get much better when the sun goes down: temperatures are expected to remain at or above the high 70s overnight (26 degrees Celsius).
Meanwhile, parts of the Midwest are dealing with the effects of damaging winds and rain that swooped in with the cold front that’s breaking up the heat wave.
In Milwaukee, utility crews restored power to more than 48,000 customers in the eastern part of the state. But around 56,000 customers were still without power Sunday after more than 700 wires, 50 power poles and over 600 trees or branches were taken down in thunderstorms, officials said.
In Michigan, power might not be restored for everyone until Tuesday.
Utility companies DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said roughly 500,000 customers are still without power after thousands of power lines were downed in a storm that was worst to hit the region since 2017.