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GENEVA, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - The UN human rights office called on the Trump administration on Friday to overhaul its migration polices and find alternatives to detention, saying children should never be held in custody, even with their parents.

The United States has faced fierce criticism for separating more than 2,300 children from their families in order to prosecute their parents for crossing the border illegally.

US President Donald Trump backed down Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep families together in detention during immigration proceedings.

"While we acknowledge the US government's decision not to continue separating children from their parents, we understand that the practice now will be to detain the children with their parents," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva briefing Friday.

"We have said time and again the children should never be detained in relation to their or their parents' migration status. It is never in the best interests of the child for them to be detained," she added.

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children sparked worldwide anger.

The United States must revamp its migration policies and provide community-based solutions and other alternatives to detention, which uphold migrants' rights, Shamdasani said.




WASHINGTON, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump said on Friday Republicans in Congress should drop their efforts to pass comprehensive immigration legislation until after the November elections.

"Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - Days after insisting that Congress act immediately, President Donald Trump is telling Republicans to "stop wasting their time" on immigration until after the November elections.

In Friday morning tweets, Trump says Democrats have "no intention" of supplying the votes necessary to pass legislation on the issue and says "We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"

Trump had travelled to Capitol Hill as recently as Tuesday to sell GOP lawmakers on embracing immigration bills pushed by House leadership and to take action to halt the separation of migrant families at the border.

Republican leaders delayed a vote Thursday on what was billed as a compromise measure to fund border security and address legal status for young immigrants brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children, as they try to win more support for the bill.



No case to defend

By the Gazette Editorial Board

Nikkei Haley, the US envoy to the UN stood at the State Department in Washington to announce that the US had decided to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). She accused it of hypocrisy and bias against Israel. Yet, she did not mention the fact that the US was unable to tolerate the council's recent criticism of Trump's economic and immigration policies that violated basic principles of human rights.

Haley described the council as a "cesspool of political bias", a metaphor she used to confirm what she had said, a year earlier, about the Council's need to address its "bias against Israel".

The fact is that by definition, the US, especially under the Trump Administration, has always shown nothing but political bias to Israel. What should we say about the repeated US vetoes against Security Council resolutions that condemn Israel's malpractice in Palestine and its use of excessive force against the Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border since March? Moreover, the US has been keen on several occasions to block efforts to adopt sanctions against Israel.

What about Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem against the will of the international community? Has the US not turned a blind eye to Israel's expansionist plans and persistent building of illegal settlements that violate international law?

The US decision to quit the Council is fully comprehensible in the light of the fact that the UNHRC had condemned Israel in 45 resolutions since 2013. Such condemnation was fully justified given Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Business-minded Trump has been straightforward about his advocacy of Israel's interests. So, the decision to withdraw from the council fits well within the US-Israel relationship.

The decision highlights the inconsistency of US policy, coming as it does in the wake of the UNHRC chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein’s harsh criticism of Trump's policy of separating children from parents that illegally cross the border from Mexico. Some medical experts in the US say that the policy amounts to child abuse.

Although Trump has issued an executive order ending the family separation policy, he has generally shown a racist face in dealing with immigrants since he assumed office. He had to modify several of his contested immigration-related executive orders by virtue of court rulings.

The US might have certain valid reservations about the performance of the UNHRC. But, the deficiencies which the US has pointed at are part and parcel of an overall weakness of the ageing UN organisations that have failed in recent years to address imbalances in the world order whether related to conflicts, trade, poverty or commitment to agreements and charters.

That being said there was no need for Nikki Haley to imply that the US had a moral case to defend when it decided to turn its back on the UNHRC.


WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 (News Wires) - First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to the US-Mexican border Thursday, as her husband's administration seeks to quell a firestorm over migrant family separations.

President Donald Trump first announced the trip by his wife, who was touring a non-profit social services center for migrant children, before heading to a customs and border patrol processing center, according to a statement from her office.

The first lady landed in McAllen, Texas under a heavy downpour, her motorcade driving through deep water as it headed for the Upbring New Hope Children's Shelter, a federally-funded facility that houses around 60 children from Honduras and El Salvador, ages five to 17.

Her visit comes a day after Trump, in a stunning about-face, took executive action to end the practice of separating migrant families at the border, the result of a "zero tolerance" policy towards illegal border crossers.

Images and recordings of wailing children detained in cage-like enclosures has ignited global outrage, and Melania Trump herself had called for a political compromise to end the separations.

"This was 100 percent her idea. She absolutely wanted to come," Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director, told reporters travelling with her to Texas.

"She wanted to see everything for herself," Grisham said. "She supports family reunification. She thinks that it's important that children stay with their families."

Despite Trump's executive order, there was no immediate plan in place to reunite the more than 2,300 children separated from their families since early May.

"The executive order certainly is helping pave the way a little bit, but there's still a lot to be done," Grisham said.

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2018 (Reuters) - The missile engine test site that President Donald Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had committed to destroy is a major facility in the western part of the country that has been used for testing engines for long-range missiles, according to a US official.

Trump told reporters after their June 12 summit that Kim had pledged to dismantle one of his missile installations, which would be North Korea’s most concrete concession at the landmark meeting in Singapore.

However, the president at the time did not name the site.

A US official identified it on Wednesday as the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, saying North Korea “has used this site to test liquid-propellant engines for its long-range ballistic missiles.”

Pyongyang has said its missiles can reach the United States.

“Chairman Kim promised that North Korea would destroy a missile engine test stand soon,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no immediate word on the exact timetable, and North Korea has not publicly confirmed that Kim made such a commitment.

CBS News was the first to identify the site, which is the newest of North Korea’s known major missile testing facilities.

Although Trump has hailed the Singapore summit as a success, skeptics have questioned whether he achieved anything, given that Pyongyang, which has rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, appeared to make no new tangible commitments in a joint written declaration.

The US-based North Korea monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis at the end of last week there had been no sign of any activity toward dismantling Sohae or any other missile test site.

The US official said: “The United States will continue to monitor this site closely as we move forward in our negotiations.”

What little is known about the Sohae site, located in Tongchang-ri, has been pieced together from analysts’ assessments and the North Korean state news agency KCNA.

It was reported to have been established in 2008 and has research facilities nearby for missile development as well as a tower that can support ballistic missiles. The site is mainly used to test large Paektusan engines built for long-range missiles such as the Hwasong-15.

North Korea has spent considerable effort and resources to develop the site as a “civilian space programme” facility, denying that it has a military application, said Jenny Town, a research analyst at the 38 North.

“Presumably, if North Korea does destroy the Sohae facility, they are also signaling that they are willing to stop satellite/rocket launches this time around as well, a point that has derailed negotiations in the past and is a significant new development,” she said.

North Korea has other missile testing facilities but the shutdown, if it happens, would be significant, analysts said.

“The missile testing is not just done in Tongchang-ri so it does not necessarily mean all ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) will be disabled. But the most well-known one is this, so there is a great symbolic meaning if this is shut down,” said Moon Hong-sik, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy in South Korea.

North Korea announced ahead of the Singapore summit the suspension of its ICBM testing and also closed its nuclear bomb test site. US officials, however, have cautioned that such actions are reversible.

Asked on Wednesday whether North Korea has done anything toward denuclearisation since the summit, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters: “No, I’m not aware of that. I mean, obviously, it’s the very front end of a process. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.”

Yang Uk, senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum, agreed that a shutdown of the Sohae testing site would be a symbolic gesture rather than a move to technically disable its missile capabilities.

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