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White House defends immigration policy as outrage grows over children

Thompson Reuters

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WAHINGTON — The White House on Monday defended its hardline immigration policy at the US-Mexico border as furor grew over the separation of immigrant parents and children, including video of youngsters sitting in concrete-floored cages.

President Donald Trump says he will not allow the United States to become a ‘migrant camp’ as his administration faced a barrage of criticism for separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Democrats blasted such treatment as ‘barbaric,’ while a few of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans also voiced concern as the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives moved toward voting later this week on two pieces of immigration-related legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, appointed by Trump, told reporters at a White House briefing that the administration was only strictly enforcing the law.

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“This administration did not create a policy of separating families. … What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,” she said.

The outcry over the detained children resulted from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which provides for the arrest of all adults caught trying to enter the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum.

While parents are held in jail, their children are sent to separate detention facilities, some in remote locations. Video footage released by the government showed migrant children held in wire cages, sitting on concrete floors.

An audio recording said to capture the sounds of immigrant children crying in a detention facility was circulating online. Reuters could not independently verify its authenticity.

Trump administration officials say the zero-tolerance policy, which was not practiced by the two previous presidents, is needed to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.

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But Democrats and some Republicans have admonished the administration for dividing nearly 2,000 children from their parents between mid-April and the end of May.

“The increasing number of children being ripped away from their parents is sickening,” said Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. “Yet the president and his administration continue to perpetuate falsehoods and blame others for their own cruelty.”

After visiting an immigration detention center in San Diego, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: “Our message to Mr. Trump is, stop this inhumane, barbaric policy.” Pelosi also called on Nielsen to resign from her post over the dispute.

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167 people killed in India monsoon floods

Gorkha Post

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NEW DELHI — At least 167 people have been killed and more than one lakh people forced to live in relief camps across the Indian state of Kerala after monsoon floods badly hit the state.

While torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslips have cut off vast swathes of land in the state, the Kochi International Airport has been shut till Aug 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations.

Tens of thousands of people in the state have been stranded by extensive flooding as the death toll from the torrential monsoon continues to climb, according to officials.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said 167 people have died in the state — more than 100 of them in the last 36 hours — and issued a fresh rain alert for the battered state.

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Rescue efforts have been progressing on a war footing and Mr Vijayan’s office said he had spoken to PM Modi again this morning. Four aircraft and three Coast Guard ships have been brought in to rescue people marooned in areas cut off by vast stretches of water.

The state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter that 25 boats with members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were sent to Pathanamthitta, central Kerala, and all the boats, including fishing boats, would be used to expedite rescue operations in flooded areas.

he further warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. “The Centre has sanctioned more men and material,” Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.

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