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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, which means they take over leadership of committees and subcommittees in the next Congress, which opens in early January.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, who as the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations’ subcommittee on Homeland Security is in line to become its chairwoman.

On her to-do list: provide better access to legal counsel; use alternatives to detention, particularly for families; ensure that immigration facilities are more regularly inspected; and secure more funding for the hiring of social workers to work with unaccompanied child migrants.

“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, D-Conn., the incoming chair of the House Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Services, pledged to “get accountability for the taxpayers’ dollars” that are being spent to hold unaccompanied immigrant children in tents in Tornillo, Texas.

She criticized a White House request for another $190 million for the program to be added to the spending bill that Congress is negotiating, which she said would prolong the detention of immigrant children beyond the current average of 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 wall that President Donald Trump has promised to build at Mexico’s expense.



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Florida officials demand answers on DHS plan to send asylum-seekers to Democratic counties

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By Dareh Gregorian

Florida officials are demanding answers about a Department of Homeland Security plan to send 1,000 “unlawful immigrants and asylum-seekers” a month to two heavily Democratic counties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and a close ally of President Donald Trump, called the plan “not acceptable,” and said it might not be enacted.

“I’m going to be addressing this,” he told reporters on Friday.

“Nothing’s concrete,” DeSantis said. “This is not something that came down from the White House. This was something that came out of the agencies.”

An official with Customs and Border Protection, the DHS agency that local law-enforcement says told them the asylum seekers would be brought to the state within weeks, told reporters Friday there may have been some miscommunication, and no such move was imminent.

The agency acknowledged Friday it is looking at releasing immigrants in communities along the northern border and on the coast, where there is already a border patrol presence.

On Thursday, CBP had declined comment on the plan, referring questions to Homeland Security, which did not respond to questions from reporters — or area lawmakers.

In a letter to acting DHS boss Kevin McAleenan on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he was told about the plan “to transport approximately 500 migrants per month from El Paso, Texas, to both Broward and Palm Beach Counties for release pending an asylum hearing” from local law-enforcement.

“Does the Department intend to transport migrants currently in custody at the southern border to states that do not share a border with Mexico?” Rubio asked, referring to the entrants as “unlawful immigrants and asylum-seekers.” “If so, why?”

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Brexit LIVE: 'Stop Boris!' Remainers draw up plot to block no deal Brexit

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SEVEN Tory Ministers including former Home Secretary Amber Rudd are ready to block Boris Johnson’s bid to take the UK out of the EU without a Brexit divorce deal if he becomes Conservative Party leader, in a move which could ignite civil war in the Conservative Party.

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Hundreds of migrants detained in Texas to be flown to San Diego

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By Phil Helsel

Hundreds of detainees from immigration agency facilities in Texas and elsewhere will be flown to San Diego for processing, it was reported Friday, as authorities struggle to handle an influx of migrants entering the country.

Three flights a week carrying about 130 people a flight would arrive in the San Diego area from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Customs and Border Protection Interim Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison said Friday, according to NBC San Diego

Those people would come from facilities overwhelmed by a high number of immigrants, including those who are claiming asylum, but officials in Southern California are not expecting any unaccompanied minors, the station reported.

The federal border protection agency is calling the surge in migrants fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — a region sometimes called the Northern Triangle — a humanitarian and border security crisis.

“We’re in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and the numbers in Texas are staggering so the BP is helping out in those sectors to more efficiently process these folks,” an unidentified CBP official said, referring to the Border Patrol, according to Reuters.

The announcement comes as two Department of Homeland Security officials said the DHS is laying the groundwork for a plan to transport recent border crossers by plane to cities around the country and release them after processing.

Florida officials expressed anger on Thursday after learning the Trump administration was planning to release hundreds of migrants each month in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Beyond South Florida, DHS is considering other areas around the country where immigrants can be released, the two officials told NBC News.

It was not immediately clear if the flights from Texas to San Diego were part of that DHS plan.

Also on Friday, Customs and Border Protection warned people against trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States, calling crossings with small children an “alarming trend” that has resulted in deaths.

The agency said in a statement that since Oct. 1, 2018, there have been 10 water-related deaths in the Del Rio Sector, which covers parts of the Texas border.

On May 1, three people drowned, including a 10-month-old boy and a 7-year-old boy, when a raft carrying nine people capsized, sending everyone aboard into the water, CBP said.

Border Patrol agents rescued a man who was trying to cross the river with a 3-month-old boy strapped to his chest Thursday, the CBP said. The baby suffered water in his lungs and nearly drowned, the agency said.

“It’s disturbing what is taking place on our borders and witnessed by our Border Patrol agents every day,” Del Rio Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Randy Davis said in the CBP statement.

“This trend is not without tragic consequences,” he said. “Border Patrol agents are rescuing people, but have also had the grim task of recovering deceased bodies including children as young as 10-months-old from the Rio Grande River.”

Reuters contributed.

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