Amy Coney Barrett’s First Supreme Court Cases May Involve Border Wall Funding, Asylum Policies

The Supreme Court has agreed to review a pair of cases involving President Trump’s immigration policies – including challenges to border wall funding and asylum policies. The cases could potentially represent the first involving Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The Court announced Monday that they would hear a challenge to the administration’s use of Pentagon money to build the southern border wall. They also agreed to review an appeal of a ruling that blocked a policy sending asylum applicants to Mexico while their cases proceed through American courts. “The cases are expected to be heard sometime after the anticipated confirmation of President Trump’s third justice, Amy Coney Barrett,” The Hill reports. Supreme Court to take up President Trump’s border wall spending and asylum enforcement.@PeteWilliamsNBC joins us to discuss. Watch NOW: — NBC News NOW (@NBCNewsNow) October 19, 2020 RELATED: Trump Campaign Threatens To Mention Hunter’s Emails At Debate As Media Asks Biden About Milkshakes Supreme Court To Hear Border Wall, Asylum Cases Support Conservative Voices! Sign up to receive the latest political news, insight, and commentary delivered directly to your inbox. A federal appeals court in June ruled that $2.5 billion meant for a Pentagon counterdrug program was improperly diverted to build over 100 miles of the wall at the southern border. The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the case early next year, though as NBC News reports, “if Joe Biden wins the election, the federal government would probably stop construction anyway.” NEW: The Supreme Court grants three new cases: – A challenge to the funding for Trump’s border wall.– A challenge to Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.– A case about cops entering a home without a warrant when pursuing a suspect. — SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) October 19, 2020 They will also hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling on its “remain in Mexico” policy, a policy that returned asylum-seekers to Mexico as they waited for their court hearings to take place. The policy, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center writes, “has proven effective in stemming the flood of illegal crossings at our southern border.” BREAKING: The Supreme Court agrees to review a Trump administration policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for U.S. court hearings. More than 60,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico under the policy. — The Associated Press (@AP) October 19, 2020 RELATED: Steve Bannon – If Trump Loses To Biden, He’ll Run Again in 2024 Amy Coney Barrett’s First Cases? The two cases “are likely to present the first major legal confrontation over Trump immigration policy to the 6-3 conservative majority court,” The Hill writes. A vote to approve Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd. The republican-led U.S. Senate judiciary committee scheduled an October 22 vote to advance conservative appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court to the full senate for confirmation, rejecting democratic objections. — ANews (@anewscomtr) October 16, 2020 Barrett’s nomination is expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee panel and move to the full Senate for approval sometime during the week of October 26th – just days before the election.

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Non-Essential Travel Restrictions Between Canada and US Extended Until At Least Nov. 21

A U.S. and a Canadian flag flutter at the Canada-United States border crossing at the Thousand Islands Bridge, which remains closed to non-essential traffic to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lansdowne, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Reuters/Lars Hagberg/File Photo) WASHINGTON, Wash.—Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair confirmed the news today on Twitter. Incidental travel—vacations, day trips and cross-border shopping excursions—has been forbidden since March in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country, including trade shipments and cross-border workers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the restrictions won’t be lifted until there’s clear evidence the pandemic is easing in the United States.

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Myanmar Workers Detained in China After Motorcycle Rally For Aung San Suu Kyi

More than 900 Myanmar migrant workers in China were detained for 12 hours by local police after they staged a motorcycle rally Friday to demand that they be allowed to vote for leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party in national elections next month, a Myanmar state government official said. Police in Ruili, a Chinese border town across the Shweli River from Myanmar, were still holding three leaders of the rally, which saw 904 migrant workers, wearing T-shirts, caps, and headbands with National League for Democracy (NLD) logos, in a procession along the border for more than three hours. The migrant workers, who demonstrated out of discontent because they cannot vote in the upcoming election due to their semi-legal status, were confined in a jail in Ruili before all but three workers identified as organizers of the rally were released, said Soe Nyunt Lwin, planning and finance minister for Shan state on the Myanmar side of the border. “The Muse district administrator informed me early this morning that they had been released,” Soe Nyunt Lwin told RFA. Muse is the main Myanmar border town with China. “No matter which party they are supporting, they are our citizens, so we tried to secure their release as soon as we heard about them,” he said, adding that the three rally organizers will be held in jail for 15 days. [embedded content] Myanmar permits its overseas citizens and migrant workers to vote at embassies, where voting has already begun for the Nov. 8 elections. Other Myanmar nationals living in China will be able to cast ballots there on Oct. 10-11. But unlike Myanmar’s workers in other destination countries like South Korea and Japan, most Myanmar workers in Chinese border towns are “negotiated laborers” who do not hold full legal visas that allow them to cross the border freely until the fixed-term document expires. Coronavirus restrictions further complicate travel. “We want to be able to vote, but because we are abroad, we don’t have the chance to vote,” said a migrant worker released from jail who gave his name as Ko Kyaw. “We are willing to cast our votes though we live far away from our homes [in Myanmar].” If the migrants return to Myanmar to vote, they will have trouble returning to their jobs in Ruili because of  COVID-19 restrictions there, he said. “That’s why we are calling for an opportunity to vote in Ruili,” Ko Kyaw said. 'Rules are very solid' Strict curbs on civil liberties rule out political rallies in China’s one-party state, but Chinese authorities have tightened regulations on public gatherings as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, especially in border towns. The Shan state government secured the release of migrant workers through Myanmar Consul General Tun Aung Kyaw in Yunnan’s capital Kunming, who sent a letter to officials in Ruili’s External Affairs Department requesting their release, Soe Nyunt Lwin said. Chinese authorities, meanwhile, are still holding 200 motorbikes and the immigration documents of those who participated in the rally. Soe Nyunt Lwin said Myanmar authorities will talk with Chinese regional authorities to find a way to allow the workers to temporarily cross the border into Myanmar to vote and return to their jobs in China without any problems. RFA contacted Tun Aung Kyaw’s office in Kunming and the Chinese Embassy in Yangon by phone and email for an update, but not one responded. Hla Kyaw Zawl, the daughter of a former exiled Burmese communist general and an observer of Chinese-Myanmar relations, said Myanmar migrant workers violated China’s COVID-19 restrictions by rallying in large numbers. “Myanmar citizens in China may have the motivation to show their support for the NLD party, but the rules are very solid here,” she said. “They issued a lockdown order in Ruili for seven full days recently and screened everyone, including Myanmar citizens, for the virus for free.” In September, Chinese authorities tested the more than 200,000 people living in Ruili for the virus after two Myanmar workers who had been crossing the border illegally were found to be COVID-positive. “They are working very hard to contain the infection,” Hla Kyaw Zawl said. “Myanmar migrant workers got arrested because they don’t comply with the rules here.” NLD spokesman Monywa Aung Shin said he hoped that authorities would make arrangements so the migrant workers could be able to vote with absentee ballots. “It is good that they showed their support for the NLD by holding a rally,” he said. “We learned that there are NLD supporters there,” he said. “We are working with local authorities to collect their advance votes in the border town of Muse.” Myanmar migrant workers in Ruili told RFA that there are more than 100,000 Myanmar nationals working in both Ruili and Jiegao. Reported by Thet Su Aung and Thiha Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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Myanmar’s Second Wave of Coronavirus Takes Toll on Under-60 Population

A resurgence of coronavirus infections in Myanmar has been lethal for younger people in the Southeast Asian country, with 40 percent of those under the age of 60 who have tested positive dying from the highly contagious respiratory illness, a government health official said Thursday. On Thursday, Myanmar registered 4,043 COVID-19 cases, with 222 new infections, and 60 deaths, including 20 new fatalities. The country of 54 million people has had 944 recoveries so far. Myanmar, which shares a long land border with China, initially had a low number of confirmed infections and single-digit deaths from March until mid-August, when the number of COVID-19 cases began to skyrocket. “In the first wave of infections, there were only six deaths, and 80 percent of them were people over 60 years old,” said Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, director of the Central Contagious Disease Prevention and Eradication Department at the Ministry of Health and Sports. “In the second wave, 60 percent of deaths have been people above the age of 60,” she said. “The proportion of people under 60 who have died of the respiratory illness has increased.” Infection rates have accelerated again since Sept. 2, despite stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, and mandatory quarantines for those traveling to other states and regions within the country as well as for those returning to Myanmar from abroad. The number of people who have tested positive for the virus has risen in multiples of tens in less than a month amid the second wave, Khin Khin Gyi said. Higher infection rate All states and regions in Myanmar, except Kayah state in the eastern part of the country, have coronavirus-positive patients, with the majority of them and the highest number of deaths in Yangon region and Rakhine state in the west. “This is the new strain of the virus,” Khin Khin Gyi said. “The infection rate is much higher.” Most of those who are dying of COVID-19 are people with preexisting health conditions, as well as senior citizens, she added. Many people who did not adhere to rules for preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing facial masks and practicing social distancing in public places during the first wave, have contributed to the recent steep infection rate, said Dr. Okka Kyi Win, a general practitioner and resident of Yangon. “People were speculating that the virus had weakened after the first wave, but there is no proof of that,” he said. Journalist Nay Min Kha, who tested positive for the coronavirus and is staying temporarily in a quarantine center in Yangon, said to the best of his knowledge he never came into direct contact with others who tested positive when he was reporting on the spread of the virus and visiting streets and quarters under lockdown. “I don’t know for sure where I got it,” he told RFA. “There are many people I had interacted with who might have been carrying the virus without showing any symptoms, because I had never interacted with any confirmed patients.” Phyo Min Thein, chief minister of Yangon region, said Tuesday that he is confident that the infection rate will be under control within 20 days. Trucks line up at a border crossing between southwest China's Yunnan province and Myanmar's northern Shan state, April 10, 2020. RFA video screenshot COVID restrictions along border Myanmar traders who work in a trading hub along the China-Myanmar border in northern Shan state, meanwhile, expressed concern on Thursday that their business would take a hit due to tighter restrictions on cross-border cargo traffic after two Myanmar citizens tested positive for COVID-19. Chinese authorities locked down the border town of Ruili in southwestern Yunnan province, across the Shweli River from the Myanmar town of Muse, after city administrators announced that the pair of coronavirus-positive migrants, both women, had used unofficial routes to illegally cross between Myanmar and China. “Trucks from Myanmar cannot enter Ruili, while trucks from Ruili cannot cross the border into Myanmar, said Win Aung Khant, chairman of the Shan State Cargo Logistic Entrepreneurs Association. “Only some cargo trucks already loaded in Jiegao on the China side of the border have been allowed to travel to Myanmar,” he said. “At least 90 percent of regular cargo traffic has been stopped,” he added. Tin Ye Win, an officer at the 105-mile border trade zone in Muse township, said that the current lockdown only affects the area between Ruili and Jiegao. “Border traffic has not been completely closed off,” he said, adding that cargo traffic is still going into Jiegao, and trucks already in Jiegao are still entering Myanmar. “[But] it could be problem that cargo is in short supply in Jiegao and the lockdown in Ruili remains in effect,” he said. “It depends on how long the lockdown lasts.” Border trade between China and Myanmar via Muse usually accounts for up to U.S. $15 million a day, but now it only amounts to U.S.$7-8 million because of COVID-19 restrictions, according to Myanmar authorities. Health screenings Earlier this year, Yunnan province officials decided to close the border with Myanmar, forbidding all vehicles except trucks to cross, and to only allow in Myanmar nationals whose identity cards specified that they were from the border town of Muse. Chinese authorities also had restricted their drivers from entering Myanmar and required Myanmar traders in northern Shan state to pay Chinese drivers to transport truckloads of rice and fruit from border crossings to local cargo facilities. The resumption of normal border trade now depends on the results of health screenings in Ruili, where local authorities screened up to a 100,000 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday alone, traders said. Chinese authorities “are screening for the virus everywhere,” said a Myanmar citizen who lives on the China side of the border, but did not want to be identified by name. “They requested that all restaurants and grocery stores close and that people stay home,” he said. “They requested that all crowded places be closed. The main road is open, but most streets are deserted.” Reported by Nay Myo Htun and Kan Thar for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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