• iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two prominent international refugee advocates said that the U.S. may be overlooking key facts about the flow of immigrants across the southern border that has caused a sharp political debate.For one, people trying to cross into the U.S. to claim refugee status due to violence in their own country have a "legal right" to seek asylum, Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.Families fleeing violence in Central America or elsewhere "have the legal right and the international legal right to seek asylum here, and -- and we have to do that, we have to have that due process,” Miles said.Appearing with Miles was David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, who said that it is also important to keep in mind that the flow of refugees is "a global crisis" and that most of those fleeing their homes are ending up in poor countries, not rich nations like the U.S. “[It’s] not just that this is a global crisis -- one in every 110 people on the planet are driven from their homes by violence, by persecution -- but it's also a time to remember that the vast bulk of those people are in poor countries, not in rich countries,” Miliband said. "They're in countries like Ethiopia, like Bangladesh, which has received 700,000 refugees this year; Colombia has received 600,000 Venezuelans this year.""Countries like the U.S. have only 1 percent of the world's refugees," Miliband said. "And there are some lessons about the way families are helped in poor countries that actually should be learned in the rich countries, too."The IRC chief also noted that despite the red-hot debate in the U.S. over people trying to immigrate from Central America, the numbers are down from the recent past. "There are about half as many people coming from Central America to the U.S. as were coming 20 or 30 years ago," Miliband said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • U.S. Senate(WASHINGTON) --  A senator who is a leading GOP critic of President Donald Trump said the president has “unfortunately” redefined the Republican Party.Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, in an appearance on "This Week" Sunday, was responding to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who noted that Trump has "consolidated his hold over the Republican Party, the Republican electorate.""Has he redefined it?" Stephanopoulos asked."Unfortunately, yes," Flake replied. "When [former House Speaker] John Boehner said the other day, 'This is the president’s party,' he was speaking the truth."Flake continued that the recent loss of Republican Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary in South Carolina "clarified something if it wasn’t clarified before. You can’t, as a Republican these days, stand in ... opposition to some of the president’s policies or, or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. That’s the reality and then we’re seeing that played out."Sanford, who had been critical of Trump, lost in an upset in the GOP primary for his seat on June 12. The day of the election, Trump tweeted that voters should reject Sanford in favor of his challenger. Flake also said on "This Week" that he hopes Trump is challenged in the 2020 primary for the Republican presidential nomination."I’ve said many times I hope that somebody does [run] in the Republican primary just to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative or Republican, that we believe in limited government, economic freedom, free trade, immigration," Flake said. "I hope that somebody does that."The Arizona senator was also critical of Congress for failing to push for policies not supported by the president, such as on trade."We [in Congress] ought to more jealously guard our institutional prerogative," Flake said. "I think in this crisis we're in, I think the judiciary has stood up well. The press has stood up well in terms of institutions."But the response of Congress "has been lacking," the senator said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • U.S. House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- A top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said President Donald Trump is using "inhumane" immigration policies to "gin up" his base."It's wrong to separate babies, to use cruel, inhumane policies in order to gin up your political base,” Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago told “This Week” Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “[But] it seems like it’s working because 90 percent of Republicans now have a favorable opinion of this president and support him.” "He doesn’t use it as immigration policy; he doesn’t use it as border control policy. He uses it as an issue in order to energize his political base for the midterm elections," Gutierrez said.
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  • Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's former Homeland Security adviser said he wishes Attorney General Jeff Sessions "hadn’t invoked the Bible" in discussing the administration's separation of migrant families as part of its "zero tolerance" immigration policy. The former White House adviser, Tom Bossert, an ABC News contributor, told Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday, "I wish the Attorney General hadn't invoked the Bible."Bossert was referring to Sessions' quoting a Bible verse on June 14 to defend the Trump administration's policy of separating parents and children who enter the U.S. illegally. The verse cited by Sessions suggests a religious rationale for obeying a government's laws. "Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes," the attorney general said in comments that sparked a backlash on social media.Bossert suggested on "This Week" that instead of citing the Bible, the administration should take a compassionate and broader approach that addresses the reasons why families are fleeing violence in some Central American countries.Bossert said it's time to pray for everyone affected including migrant children, their families and U.S. border agents.In addition, he said the U.S. needs to invest in countries such as Guatemala that are racked by violence to help stem the flow of refugees and migrants.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A sweaty volunteer took off the fake fur head of her full-body, polar bear outfit as a friend and fellow protester handed her a drink of water.It was 80 degrees and terribly humid in the nation’s capital last week as a few hundred activists stood and chanted outside a public comment hearing to oppose a new law directing oil exploration in the northern tip of Alaskan wilderness.The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hearing in Washington, D.C., was the last of a series of meetings the bureau held throughout the spring giving people an opportunity to express thoughts and concerns about the government’s plans to lease part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas developers.With the 60-day public comment period now closed, the bureau will move forward with the rest of its required environmental impact study, which it hopes to have done by the end of the year.Typically these studies take two to three years at minimum. The fast-pace is a clear sign the government is quickly ticking through its processes in order to fast-track lease sales down the road. The BLM got serious blowback from environmental activists, Native American leaders and concerned citizens for only holding limited public comments hearing, exclusively in Alaska and Washington, D.C., though proponents of the drilling and the bureau say the process has been robust and there will be more time for public feedback later.Representatives from groups like Defenders of the Wilderness and the Center for Biological Diversity held signs at the protest last week in the shape of all 50 states. Each sign had a number, most totaling in the thousands, representing the written comments sent into the bureau opposing the drilling plans from each state.“This is actually not so much of a democratic process as it is, in their mind, an eventuality of development circumventing our human rights,” Dana Tizya-Tramm of the Vuntut- Gwich’in first nation told ABC News in Washington.The notice from the BLM for the public comment period, also known as the public “scoping” period, said explicitly that when the period wrapped the bureau could move forward with plans to lease at least two 400,000-acre plots in the ANWR’s coveted Coastal Plain, as dictated by the tax law passed by Republicans last year. Still, members of the Gwich’in tribe in northern Alaska and their partners vow to keep fighting.“We are the first nations of this area. We have been living and subsisting off of this land and the animals for thousands and thousands of years. This area is sacred to us. It's not right to sell it out to oil and gas companies for greed,” Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, told ABC News outside the BLM hearing in Washington.The Gwich’in refer to themselves as the caribou people. For thousands of years their survival in the outer stretches of Alaska and the Arctic has been linked to the porcupine caribou herds that traverse, and specifically nurse their young, in the exact location on the water now slated for oil development.The 1.5 million-acre segment of the larger refuge, which has been designated for oil leasing, lies along the coast. The caribou come there to escape inland mosquitoes and enjoy nutritious ground. Many experts say the caribous will avoid man-made construction, leaving the herds’ and Gwich’in fate unknown should the leasing and development go into effect.The push-back from scientists, environmentalists and some of these native tribes in the region comes at no surprise. As President Donald Trump acknowledged in the days after the Republican tax bill passed, Republican leaders have been trying for decades to move forward with plans to look for fossil fuels in this protected area, but have consistently faced heavy opposition. Polling has shown that while many Alaskans favor drilling, most are against it nationwid
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- S.A. had been waiting decades to bring her daughter and now her grandson to the U.S., where she is a legal resident, from her native El Salvador, where she escaped violence and poverty.Through a special immigration program, she was finally close to her dream.In February 2017, she made a final payment of $2,500 to the U.S. for her family's flights. They were told by authorities they would be given final documentation and a plane ticket to travel in two weeks time -- but months went by, and nothing ever came.Without notifying them, President Trump's administration had already frozen the program just days into his term, even as it solicited and collected thousands of dollars from S.A. and others like her who had been granted conditional approval, according to a new lawsuit that argues the administration broke the law and was driven by "racial animus against Latinos."For S.A., the news was as shocking as it was devastating: "It hurts me every day that we are apart." The Central American Minors program, which reunited children and other eligible family members with parents legally residing in the U.S., was one of Trump's early targets as he sought to crack down on legal immigration. Designed during the Obama administration to avoid the scenes at the U.S.-Mexican border that have gripped the nation this week, its termination is now being blamed by some for worsening the migrant crisis and possibly sending more children north."Ending this did exacerbate the situation on the border ... When the program shut down, now these individuals have no choice but to remain in daily danger or to try come to the United States by land," said Linda Evarts, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project, which helped to bring the case.The administration's "unprecedented, unexplained, and unsupported secret shutdown" of the program is also under fire for how it was carried out, with little to nothing communicated to recipients months after the decision was seemingly made and no real explanation ever given.On the cusp of being reunited, it's now left families -- like S.A., who asked to go by her initials out of fear for her safety and that of her family in El Salvador -- out of options and money.Crying, she told ABC News in an interview, "I plead to the president to find it in his heart to consider us ... I'm asking for compassion from the president."Central American Minors ProgramIn 2014, more than 50,000 minors reached the southern U.S. border seeking asylum from the violence wracking three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The largest wave yet of child migrants, it forced the Obama administration to take a multi-pronged approach: sending millions more in aid to the three countries; detaining families who had crossed the border illegally, until a court ordered them to stop two years later; and creating a path for children to come here legally.That path became the Central American Minors, or CAM, program, which allowed parents lawfully present in the U.S. to apply for refugee resettlement or a temporary status called parole for their children and other eligible family members -- the child's other parent or caregiver or the child's own child, the parent's grandchild."When I heard about the CAM program on the news, I was filled with joy at the possibility of being reunited with my family," S.A. said in her sworn statement as part of the lawsuit, adding in her interview with ABC News that she and her daughter finally had hope that her daughter could "come here for a better future for herself and her son."In total, the U.S. received more than 14,000 applications from children and other family members.Families had to prove their relations through a DNA test, applicants had to be interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, and applicants had to meet the definition of a refugee -- someone outside the U.S. who is fleeing persecution due to race, religion, n
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