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Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants’ Asylum Claims

The Trump administration unveiled new rules on Thursday to sharply limit migrant asylum claims by barring individuals who cross the U.S. southern border illegally from seeking asylum. 

Immigrant advocates denounced the move, saying it violated existing U.S. law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not. 

The regulations released Thursday, in conjunction with an order expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, would effectively ban migrants who cross the U.S. border with Mexico illegally from qualifying for asylum.

Once the plan goes into full effect, migrants entering at the U.S. southern border would be eligible for asylum only if they report at official ports of entry, officials said. 

More resources, staffing

“What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel … asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner,” a senior administration official told reporters in a news briefing Thursday, on condition of anonymity. 

The Trump administration has already made it more difficult for migrants to qualify for asylum in the United States. 

Administration officials have said existing U.S. asylum rules encourage illegal immigration and bog down legitimate claims. 

In June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an appellate decision that sharply narrowed the circumstances under which immigrants can use violence at home as ground for U.S. asylum. 

Sessions, who resigned at Trump’s request this week, also instructed immigration judges and asylum officers to view illegal border-crossing as a “serious adverse factor” in deciding a case and to consider whether applicants could have escaped danger by relocating within their own countries. 

Trump made his hard-line policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, sending thousands of U.S. troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to caravans of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States. 

Currently, U.S. asylum rules do not bar people who enter the country without authorization, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs the U.S. immigration system, specifically allows people who arrive in the United States, whether or not they do so at a designated port of entry, to apply for asylum. 

Court challenge appears likely

The administration’s plan, which invokes the same authority Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court. 

The move would largely affect migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — who cross the U.S. border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their home countries. 

“The vast majority of aliens who enter illegally today come from the Northern Triangle countries,” the regulation’s text says. “Channeling those aliens to ports of entry would encourage these aliens to first avail themselves of offers of asylum from Mexico.” 

Immigrant advocates denounced the administration’s move as unlawful, and said the plan to funnel migrants to ports of entry was just a way to cut asylum claims overall. 

“Congress has directly spoken to this question as to whether individuals can be rendered ineligible for asylum if they cross between ports of entry and has specifically said people are eligible regardless of where they cross,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Ports of entry … are overcrowded,” said Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES, a Texas-based immigrant defense group. “Asylum-seekers have been left to camp out for days and weeks on bridges at the border, when they should be guaranteed a right to enter the country for a fair hearing.” 

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Trump Administration Moves to Curb Migrants’ Asylum Claims

The Trump administration unveiled new rules on Thursday to sharply limit migrant asylum claims by barring individuals who cross the U.S. southern border illegally from seeking asylum. 

Immigrant advocates denounced the move, saying it violated existing U.S. law that allows people fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to apply for asylum regardless of whether they enter illegally or not. 

The regulations released Thursday, in conjunction with an order expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, would effectively ban migrants who cross the U.S. border with Mexico illegally from qualifying for asylum.

Once the plan goes into full effect, migrants entering at the U.S. southern border would be eligible for asylum only if they report at official ports of entry, officials said. 

More resources, staffing

“What we are attempting to do is trying to funnel … asylum claims through the ports of entry where we are better resourced, have better capabilities and better manpower and staffing to actually handle those claims in an expeditious and efficient manner,” a senior administration official told reporters in a news briefing Thursday, on condition of anonymity. 

The Trump administration has already made it more difficult for migrants to qualify for asylum in the United States. 

Administration officials have said existing U.S. asylum rules encourage illegal immigration and bog down legitimate claims. 

In June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an appellate decision that sharply narrowed the circumstances under which immigrants can use violence at home as ground for U.S. asylum. 

Sessions, who resigned at Trump’s request this week, also instructed immigration judges and asylum officers to view illegal border-crossing as a “serious adverse factor” in deciding a case and to consider whether applicants could have escaped danger by relocating within their own countries. 

Trump made his hard-line policies toward immigration a key issue ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, sending thousands of U.S. troops to help secure the southern border and repeatedly drawing attention to caravans of Central American migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States. 

Currently, U.S. asylum rules do not bar people who enter the country without authorization, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs the U.S. immigration system, specifically allows people who arrive in the United States, whether or not they do so at a designated port of entry, to apply for asylum. 

Court challenge appears likely

The administration’s plan, which invokes the same authority Trump used to justify his travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority nations, is likely to be quickly challenged in court. 

The move would largely affect migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — who cross the U.S. border with Mexico to flee violence and poverty in their home countries. 

“The vast majority of aliens who enter illegally today come from the Northern Triangle countries,” the regulation’s text says. “Channeling those aliens to ports of entry would encourage these aliens to first avail themselves of offers of asylum from Mexico.” 

Immigrant advocates denounced the administration’s move as unlawful, and said the plan to funnel migrants to ports of entry was just a way to cut asylum claims overall. 

“Congress has directly spoken to this question as to whether individuals can be rendered ineligible for asylum if they cross between ports of entry and has specifically said people are eligible regardless of where they cross,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Ports of entry … are overcrowded,” said Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES, a Texas-based immigrant defense group. “Asylum-seekers have been left to camp out for days and weeks on bridges at the border, when they should be guaranteed a right to enter the country for a fair hearing.” 

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6 States OK ‘Marsy’s Law’ Protections for Crime Victims

The official website of the campaign supporting Amendment 6 in Florida featured a white-and-purple layout, filled with endorsements from local politicians and filmed testimonials from crime victims, who say their personal tragedies could have been prevented by the proposed legislation. The website was identical to others supporting Amendment 4 in Georgia, Question 1 in Nevada, and State Question 794 in Oklahoma.

The campaigns all linked back to the website for Marsy’s Law for All, a nonprofit organization driving what it calls the victims’ rights movement. It recruits and funds local efforts to incorporate Marsy’s Law, a controversial set of protections for crime victims, into state constitutions.

Six states had Marsy’s Law amendments on their ballots Tuesday, all of which passed. Five of these states now will alter their constitutions to include proposed changes that critics say are overly broad and harmful.

Marsy’s Law encompasses a number of provisions based on the idea that victims should have equal rights to those of the accused in criminal proceedings. This includes requiring victims to be notified of proceedings involving their case and the release or escape of the accused; to be heard at plea or sentencing hearings; to obtain reasonable protection from the accused, and to be guaranteed a meaningful role in the criminal justice system.

Critics say the protections hamper the justice system through their vague wording, while undermining due process by pitting defendants’ rights, which are meant to protect defendants from the state, against those of victims. Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes Marsy’s Law, calling it “poorly drafted” and “a threat to existing constitutional rights.”

Marsy’s Law for All national communications adviser Henry Goodwin told VOA News he had never heard a good example of a victim’s rights undermining a defendant’s rights.

“The justice system is very adept at balancing rights within the system,” Goodwin said. “You know, the victim’s rights which Marsy’s Law advocates are complementary to defendant’s rights. We’re not seeking to undermine or take anything away from defendants. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Marsy’s Law for All was formed in 2009 by Dr. Henry Nicholas, a former Broadcom CEO recently estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $3 billion. Marsy’s Law is named for his sister Marsalee, who was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

After successfully spearheading a 2008 campaign to bring Marsy’s Law to California, Nicholas decided to form a national organization with the goal of bringing the amendments to all 50 states, and eventually the U.S. Constitution. Since then, Marsy’s Law amendments have passed in Illinois, the Dakotas and Ohio.

The movement, on a state and national level, is funded by Nicholas’ personal wealth. The six campaigns backing Marsy’s Law this November all received the vast majority of their money either directly from Nicholas or from Marsy’s Law for All, which Goodwin confirmed to VOA News is entirely funded by Nicholas. In total, the six campaigns amassed a war chest of $60 million. Roughly $30 million was spent in Florida alone.

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6 States OK ‘Marsy’s Law’ Protections for Crime Victims

The official website of the campaign supporting Amendment 6 in Florida featured a white-and-purple layout, filled with endorsements from local politicians and filmed testimonials from crime victims, who say their personal tragedies could have been prevented by the proposed legislation. The website was identical to others supporting Amendment 4 in Georgia, Question 1 in Nevada, and State Question 794 in Oklahoma.

The campaigns all linked back to the website for Marsy’s Law for All, a nonprofit organization driving what it calls the victims’ rights movement. It recruits and funds local efforts to incorporate Marsy’s Law, a controversial set of protections for crime victims, into state constitutions.

Six states had Marsy’s Law amendments on their ballots Tuesday, all of which passed. Five of these states now will alter their constitutions to include proposed changes that critics say are overly broad and harmful.

Marsy’s Law encompasses a number of provisions based on the idea that victims should have equal rights to those of the accused in criminal proceedings. This includes requiring victims to be notified of proceedings involving their case and the release or escape of the accused; to be heard at plea or sentencing hearings; to obtain reasonable protection from the accused, and to be guaranteed a meaningful role in the criminal justice system.

Critics say the protections hamper the justice system through their vague wording, while undermining due process by pitting defendants’ rights, which are meant to protect defendants from the state, against those of victims. Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union opposes Marsy’s Law, calling it “poorly drafted” and “a threat to existing constitutional rights.”

Marsy’s Law for All national communications adviser Henry Goodwin told VOA News he had never heard a good example of a victim’s rights undermining a defendant’s rights.

“The justice system is very adept at balancing rights within the system,” Goodwin said. “You know, the victim’s rights which Marsy’s Law advocates are complementary to defendant’s rights. We’re not seeking to undermine or take anything away from defendants. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Marsy’s Law for All was formed in 2009 by Dr. Henry Nicholas, a former Broadcom CEO recently estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $3 billion. Marsy’s Law is named for his sister Marsalee, who was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

After successfully spearheading a 2008 campaign to bring Marsy’s Law to California, Nicholas decided to form a national organization with the goal of bringing the amendments to all 50 states, and eventually the U.S. Constitution. Since then, Marsy’s Law amendments have passed in Illinois, the Dakotas and Ohio.

The movement, on a state and national level, is funded by Nicholas’ personal wealth. The six campaigns backing Marsy’s Law this November all received the vast majority of their money either directly from Nicholas or from Marsy’s Law for All, which Goodwin confirmed to VOA News is entirely funded by Nicholas. In total, the six campaigns amassed a war chest of $60 million. Roughly $30 million was spent in Florida alone.

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Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways Expects to Get Aviation License Next Week

Vietnam’s new carrier Bamboo Airways expects to finally get an aviation license next week and start flying within weeks, the chairman of its parent firm said on Thursday.

The airline had to delay its maiden flight on Oct. 10 because it didn’t receive a license in time.

“Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved the proposal from the Ministry of Transport to issue the license to the airline,” Trinh Van Quyet, chairman of FLC Group, told Reuters by phone.

“We will launch our first flight within 45 days after receiving the license,” Quyet said. “Receiving the license would allow Bamboo to start services.”

Bamboo Airways would be Vietnam’s fifth airline after Vietnam Airlines, budget operator Jetstar Pacific Airlines, budget carrier Vietjet Aviation and Vietnam Air Services Co.

Bamboo Airways signed a provisional deal to buy 20 Boeing 787-9 wide-body jets worth $5.6 billion at list prices in July, as well as a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for up to 24 A320neo narrow-bodies in March.

Last week, Vietjet signed a $6.5 billion agreement to buy 50 Airbus A321neo jets, part of aggressive investment in the airline’s fleet, which has provided lucrative business for both European aerospace group Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing.

 

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Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways Expects to Get Aviation License Next Week

Vietnam’s new carrier Bamboo Airways expects to finally get an aviation license next week and start flying within weeks, the chairman of its parent firm said on Thursday.

The airline had to delay its maiden flight on Oct. 10 because it didn’t receive a license in time.

“Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved the proposal from the Ministry of Transport to issue the license to the airline,” Trinh Van Quyet, chairman of FLC Group, told Reuters by phone.

“We will launch our first flight within 45 days after receiving the license,” Quyet said. “Receiving the license would allow Bamboo to start services.”

Bamboo Airways would be Vietnam’s fifth airline after Vietnam Airlines, budget operator Jetstar Pacific Airlines, budget carrier Vietjet Aviation and Vietnam Air Services Co.

Bamboo Airways signed a provisional deal to buy 20 Boeing 787-9 wide-body jets worth $5.6 billion at list prices in July, as well as a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for up to 24 A320neo narrow-bodies in March.

Last week, Vietjet signed a $6.5 billion agreement to buy 50 Airbus A321neo jets, part of aggressive investment in the airline’s fleet, which has provided lucrative business for both European aerospace group Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing.

 

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Google Reforms Sexual Misconduct Rules

Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

CEO Sundar Pichai spelled out the concessions in an email sent Thursday to Google employees. The note of contrition came a week after the tech giant’s workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest management’s treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving men. The protest’s organizers estimated about 17,000 workers participated in the walkout .

“Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared,” Pichai wrote in his email. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.” Pichai’s email was obtained by The Associated Press.

Google bowed to one of the protesters’ main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional under the new policies. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after the complaints of its women employees prompted an internal investigation concluding its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counseling.

The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct, requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in their annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more difficult to get promoted.

The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men’s exploitation of their women subordinates in business, entertainment and politics — a movement that has spawned the “MeToo” hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.

Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of Google’s Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Like its Silicon Valley peers, Google has already openly acknowledged that its workforce is too heavily concentrated with white and Asian men, especially in the highest paying executive and computer programming jobs. Women account for 31 percent of Google’s employees worldwide, and it’s lower for leadership roles.

Critics believe that gender imbalance as created a “brogammer” culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google will now require at least one woman or a non-Asian ethnic minority to be included on the list of candidates for executive jobs.

Google isn’t addressing another one of the protesters’ grievance because it believes it doesn’t have merit. The protesters demanded that women be paid the same as men for doing similar work, something that Google has steadfastly maintained that it has been doing for years.

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Google Reforms Sexual Misconduct Rules

Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.

CEO Sundar Pichai spelled out the concessions in an email sent Thursday to Google employees. The note of contrition came a week after the tech giant’s workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest management’s treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct involving men. The protest’s organizers estimated about 17,000 workers participated in the walkout .

“Google’s leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you’ve shared,” Pichai wrote in his email. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It’s clear we need to make some changes.” Pichai’s email was obtained by The Associated Press.

Google bowed to one of the protesters’ main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional under the new policies. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after the complaints of its women employees prompted an internal investigation concluding its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment

Google will also provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counseling.

The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct, requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in their annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more difficult to get promoted.

The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men’s exploitation of their women subordinates in business, entertainment and politics — a movement that has spawned the “MeToo” hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.

Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of Google’s Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Like its Silicon Valley peers, Google has already openly acknowledged that its workforce is too heavily concentrated with white and Asian men, especially in the highest paying executive and computer programming jobs. Women account for 31 percent of Google’s employees worldwide, and it’s lower for leadership roles.

Critics believe that gender imbalance as created a “brogammer” culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google will now require at least one woman or a non-Asian ethnic minority to be included on the list of candidates for executive jobs.

Google isn’t addressing another one of the protesters’ grievance because it believes it doesn’t have merit. The protesters demanded that women be paid the same as men for doing similar work, something that Google has steadfastly maintained that it has been doing for years.

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Tesla Says Robyn Denholm of Telstra to be new Board Chair

Tesla said Thursday that its new board chair replacing Elon Musk will be Robyn Denholm of Australia’s Telstra.

 

The appointment to the full-time position takes effect immediately though Denholm will leave Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecoms company, after a six-month notice period. Denholm already is on Tesla’s board.

 

Musk agreed to vacate his post as board chairman as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators of a lawsuit alleging he duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

 

The settlement in late September with the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Musk to remain CEO of Tesla but required him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.

 

Apart from appointing a new chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board. The aim is to provide stronger oversight to match Tesla’s growing stature and market value.

 

The charismatic, visionary Musk has strived to turn Tesla into a profitable, mass-market producer of environmentally-friendly electric cars. But his impulsive streak caused him trouble when he tweeted in August that he had “funding secured” for taking Tesla private.

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Tesla Says Robyn Denholm of Telstra to be new Board Chair

Tesla said Thursday that its new board chair replacing Elon Musk will be Robyn Denholm of Australia’s Telstra.

 

The appointment to the full-time position takes effect immediately though Denholm will leave Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecoms company, after a six-month notice period. Denholm already is on Tesla’s board.

 

Musk agreed to vacate his post as board chairman as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators of a lawsuit alleging he duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

 

The settlement in late September with the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Musk to remain CEO of Tesla but required him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.

 

Apart from appointing a new chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board. The aim is to provide stronger oversight to match Tesla’s growing stature and market value.

 

The charismatic, visionary Musk has strived to turn Tesla into a profitable, mass-market producer of environmentally-friendly electric cars. But his impulsive streak caused him trouble when he tweeted in August that he had “funding secured” for taking Tesla private.

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