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By Suzanne Gamboa and Gwen Aviles

Democrats poised to hold committee positions in Congress that will give them jurisdiction over agencies in charge of keeping immigrants in custody, especially children, said Thursday they plan to step up scrutiny of immigration detention next year.

Democrats won control of the House in November’s elections, which means the party’s House members shift into chairmanships of committees and subcommittees in the next Congress that starts in January.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a California Democrat who is likely to chair the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Homeland Security. Roybal-Allard is now the subcommittee’s ranking member, the spot reserved for the most senior member of the minority party.

On her list of things to get done are providing better access to legal counsel, using alternatives to detention particularly for families, ensuring that immigration facilities are more regularly inspected and more funding for the hiring of social workers to work with unaccompanied child migrants, she said.

“Mainly it’s going to be oversight, pushing for fairness and justice for these immigrants,” Roybal-Allard said.

Although illegal immigration has dropped significantly in recent years, the Trump administration has stepped up immigration detention, including holding parents and children from Central America who have been more likely to cross the border and surrender to law enforcement authorities and request asylum.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut is likely to become the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. She is the ranking Democrat on that subcommittee right now. She pledged to “get accountability for the taxpayers’ dollars” being spent to hold immigrant children in tents in Tornillo, Texas.

She criticized a White House request for another $190 million for the unaccompanied children program to be added to the spending bill that Congress is negotiating, which she said would prolong the detention of immigrant children that is already averaging about 70 days.

“I will do everything I can to prevent them from getting one more nickel,” DeLauro said.

Congress is trying to finish up the spending package this year and there is debate over how much will be spent on immigration enforcement, including immigration detention and the border President Donald Trump’s had promised to build at Mexico’s expense.

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Justin Trudeau: Activist CONDEMNS PM after fresh controversy – 'I want man-to-man apology'



CANADA Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced more controversy after a black student and activist claimed he was a victim of racial profiling before a meeting with the politician.

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Prosecutors broke law in deal with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein



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By Sarah Fitzpatrick, Tom Winter, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Rich Schapiro

A Florida judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors, led by a man who is now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, broke the law when they signed a plea agreement with financier Jeffrey Epstein without notifying his sex abuse victims.

Epstein, 66, reached a nonprosecution deal in 2008 with then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta’s office to halt a federal sex abuse probe involving more than 30 teenage girls. Epstein could have faced a possible life sentence. Instead, he pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail and paid settlements to victims.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page ruling, said prosecutors violated the victims’ rights by not informing them of the deal and instead sending a letter counseling them to have “patience.”

“Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [nonprosecution agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,” Marra wrote. “When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading.”

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta at an event in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 6, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP file

A Department of Labor spokesperson released a statement following the judge’s ruling.

“For more than a decade, the actions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in this case have been defended by the Department of Justice in litigation across three administrations and several attorneys general,” it read. “The office’s decisions were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures. This matter remains in litigation and, thus, for any further comment we refer you to the Department of Justice.”

In his ruling, Marra said Epstein and others operated an international sex ring.

“Epstein and his co-conspirators knowingly traveled in interstate and international commerce to sexually abuse Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and others, they committed violations of not only Florida law, but also federal law,” Marra wrote.

“In addition to his own sexual abuse of the victims, Epstein directed other persons to abuse the girls sexually…Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”

A lawyer for Epstein did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Justice Department has opened a probe into how federal government lawyers handled the case, an official confirmed with NBC News earlier this month.

Brad Edwards, who represented several victims, applauded the ruling.

“Today’s order represents long-overdue vindication for all of the victims of Mr. Epstein and his co-conspirators,” Edwards said. “Unfortunately, this decision also highlights the failure of the United States Government to acknowledge its obvious wrongdoing. Rather than work to correct the injustices done to the victims, the Government spent 10 years defending its own improper conduct.”

Lawyer Jeffrey Herman, who also represented women alleging they were abused by Epstein, called Mara’s ruling a “step in the right direction.”

Epstein — a wealthy money manager who was friends with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Great Britain’s Prince Andrew — has been dogged for years by allegations that he sexually abused dozens of teenage girls at his Palm Beach mansion and elsewhere in the early 2000s.

In December, he struck a last-minute deal to avoid a civil trial that would have allowed some of his victims to finally testify against him in open court.

The deal included a financial settlement, the details of which were kept confidential, NBC Miami reported. It also included an apology from Epstein to Edwards, who had accused Epstein of trying to ruin his reputation as retaliation for having represented the accusers.

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IRS agent admits giving Michael Cohen’s financial records to Stormy lawyer



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By Andrew Blankstein and Tom Winter

Federal prosecutors say an IRS investigator in California has admitted leaking confidential details of financial transactions by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to Michael Avenatti, lawyer for Stormy Daniels.

John C. Fry has been charged in federal court with searching for and disseminating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions.

Federal officials say they found telephone records that indicate Fry placed a phone call from his personal cell phone to that of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti the day before Avenatti released details of Cohen’s financial transactions, and the day after.

Via Twitter, Avenatti disseminated information about Cohen’s receipt in 2017 of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company founded by a Russian billionaire, as well as payments to a Cohen company called Essential Consultants from other firms who do business with the federal government, including AT&T and aircraft manufacturer. The

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office announced after Avenatti’s disclosure that it would be investigating the source of his information.

Fry, 54, is an investigative analyst with the law enforcement arm of the IRS, the Criminal Investigative Division. He has worked for the IRS since 2008.

According to the complaint, he conducted numerous searches related to Cohen, and downloaded five SARs, including one related to a bank account for Essential Consultants.

The federal complaint says Fry verbally admitted providing the information to Avenatti when he was confronted by federal agents.

In a statement, Avenatti told NBC News, “I have done nothing wrong and did not violate any law whatsoever, just like reporters don’t violate the law when they do their jobs.”

Sarah Fitzpatrick contributed.

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