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Trump’s travel ban is finally getting its Supreme Court showdown

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Donald Trump’s travel ban is officially headed to the Supreme Court for what’s likely to be its final showdown.

The High Court announced that its justices would hear Trump v. Hawaii on Friday afternoon after vacating a lower court’s decision to stay the current version of Trump’s travel ban. Most recently, the famously liberal 9th Circuit court had struck down the ban entirely and set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown.

Trump’s travel ban, which prohibits people from certain Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the U.S., is now in its third version. In September, the administration added Venezuela, Chad, and North Korea to the existing list of Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iran. While multiple lower courts had blocked the two earlier versions of the policy, those were eventually replaced, making a Supreme Court hearing unnecessary.

In early December, the Supreme Court allowed the third version to go into effect — but only until the 9th Circuit completed its ruling on a pending appeal. After that, the justices would decide whether to hear the case again. Previously, in June, the High Court had ruled that travelers from countries named in the ban with ties to the United States would remain unaffected.

When the first ban was officially introduced in an executive order on Jan. 27 of last year, critics and advocacy groups immediately began characterizing it as an unconstitutional Muslim ban, meant to target immigrants and travelers by their place of origin, ethnicity, and religion rather than any security threat they might pose. Throughout all the ban’s iterations and court battles, that fundamental argument has remained the same.

“Every version of the ban has been found unconstitutional, illegal, or both by federal trial and appellate courts,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in a press release on Friday. “The Supreme Court can and should put a definitive end to President Trump’s attempt to undermine the constitutional guarantee of religious equality and the basic principles of our immigration laws, including their prohibition of national origin discrimination.”

And Neil Katyal, a lawyer for those appealing the ban, tweeted:

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Ilhan Omar: No debate on ‘whether Trump is a racist’ | UpFront

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Hers is a remarkable journey: from a refugee camp in Kenya to a state legislature in the United States. In 2016, Ilhan Omar became the first elected Somali-American Muslim lawmaker in the US, the same night that Donald Trump was elected president.

When asked about Trump’s role in the rise of anti-Muslim, far right, white nationalist hate groups in the country, Omar says she would come very short of holding him “exclusively responsible”.

“I think when you … demonise and dehumanise, it is easy for people to commit acts of violence against those individuals because they no longer see them as a person, as someone who has feelings, who’s worthy of respect,” says Omar.

“We are moving away from this idea that we are supposed to be a welcoming nation.”

In this special interview, we speak with Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar about Trump and the rise of Islamophobia in the US.

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Case of botched ICE flight to Somalia signals legal shift on deportations

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The U.S. government’s prospects for deporting 92 people it unsuccessfully tried to fly to Somalia in December are getting murkier.

What’s more, a legal fight over the passengers’ fates — many of whom are from Minnesota — joins a string of recent cases that could stake out a more muscular role for federal courts in blocking deportations. The government has countered that Congress stripped the courts of any say in deportation challenges.

But a Miami federal judge ruled he has the power to keep the 92 Somalis in the United States, and he appears poised to give them time to fight their removals. That’s the latest example of judges reasserting an authority to stay removals, particularly in cases where authorities come for immigrants long slated for deportation but allowed to stay because of conditions in their home country. Just last week, a judge in California blocked the deportations of Cambodians, including at least one from Minnesota, ordered back when that country refused to take deportees.

“It’s really important to make sure the courts have some check on what could be unfettered federal government power over deportation,” said Michele McKenzie of Minneapolis-based nonprofit The Advocates for Human Rights, which has helped with the Somalia case.

In court filings, the government has suggested these judicial decisions will spur a flurry of last-ditch, frivolous court bids to win extra time in the United States. It has noted that some immigrants involved in the recent cases, such as two-thirds of the passengers on the botched flight to Somalia, have criminal convictions, including for murder.

A failed mission

A chartered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flight with the 92 Somalis made it to Senegal back in December. But according to a government account, logistical issues stranded the plane for 20 hours at a Dakar airport and led the agency to return the deportees to Florida.

Attorneys have said 28 of the passengers are from Minnesota. Some have lengthy criminal histories. Others, including a Rochester cardiovascular technician and an Owatonna police officer, built quiet lives after failed asylum claims years ago. ICE detained them amid a return to deporting immigrants to Somalia that began under the Obama administration and ramped up last year under President Donald Trump.

The Miami lawsuit alleges the detainees spent 40 hours sitting shackled on the plane and were struck, kicked, choked and disparaged by guards. Attorneys at the University of Minnesota’s Center for New Americans, the University of Miami and two other organizations argue the failed flight and international publicity surrounding it have made it more dangerous to return the deportees to Somalia. They asked the judge to block a do-over of the flight so the plaintiffs can file new cases in immigration court or with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

In January, attorneys also filed a complaint that said staff at a Florida detention center were abusive and denied plaintiffs enough access to lawyers and medical treatment.

ICE doesn’t comment on pending suits. But in court filings, officials denied the plaintiffs’ allegations, offering testimony from health care providers and saying the detention center segregated some after disorderly behavior, such as assaults on staff.

The government has argued the court has no jurisdiction in the case because the Real ID Act of 2005 placed deportation challenges in the hands of the immigration appeals board.

Judge Darrin Gayles ruled the case’s “extraordinary circumstances” give him limited jurisdiction to ensure due process for the plaintiffs, who might have new arguments for reopening their deportation cases.

Winning reprieves

Gayles will decide this month whether to continue blocking passengers’ deportations and for how long, but his order signaled he is open to giving the plaintiffs until they get a response on bids to reopen their cases.

The courts have also reclaimed a more active role in blocking deportations in recent cases involving Iraqi immigrants in the Detroit area and Indonesian Christians in New Hampshire. In late January, a federal judge in California stayed the deportations of about 90 Cambodian refugees detained nationwide. Linus Chan of the Center for New Americans said these cases are significant at a time of stepped-up enforcement. A district court in the Twin Cities also acted to keep several men off the December flight to Somalia.

The judges are saying you can’t just sit on these orders for five or 10 years and then deport people without giving them a chance to challenge their removals because so much has changed,” Chan said.

Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restricting immigration, said the rulings concern her — the judges are not accountable if those with convictions reoffend during these reprieves — but she believes they will be reversed: “The appeals courts and the Supreme Court are going to get very busy with all this lawfare aimed at undermining enforcement of our immigration laws.”

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Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered Pentagon and White House officials to begin planning a military parade in Washington similar to the Bastille Day parade he witnessed in Paris in July, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

At a meeting at the Pentagon on Jan. 18 that included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford, Trump said he wanted a military parade, the Post reported, citing a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” the military official said, according to the Post. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military,” the official added.

After the Post published its story, the White House issued a statement that said Trump “has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the parade planning was in the “brainstorming” stage and nothing had been decided, the Post reported.

The Pentagon was aware of a request for a parade but was only just starting to explore possibilities, including on timing, a Pentagon spokesman told Reuters.

Trump has said he was impressed by the military parade he watched in Paris on July 14. U.S. and French soldiers marched together to mark 100 years since the United States entered World War One and France’s annual Bastille Day holiday. It included tanks, armored vehicles and a flyover of U.S. and French military jets.

“To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told reporters in September. “We’re actually looking into it.”

The U.S. capital has held large military displays to mark significant occasions, including victories in war, but rolling tanks and marching troops down Pennsylvania Avenue are not typically done on the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

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