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US unwinds Trump’s policy of waiting in Mexico for asylum seekers

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US unwinds Trump's policy of waiting in Mexico for asylum seekers

 

By releasing a group of asylum-seekers into the United States, ending their long wait in Mexico and unravelling one of the signature immigration policies of former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration moved to restore the asylum system to the way it worked for decades on Friday.

The first of an estimated 25,000 asylum seekers with active cases in the “Remain in Mexico” programme who will now wait for their court hearings in the U.S. instead of south of the border are the 25 people who arrived. U.S. authorities, fearful of a migrant influx, are urging people not to come to the border and to register on a U.N. website. Friday was introduced by the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Before travelling to their final destinations in the U.S. to stay with relatives, friends or sponsors, the new arrivals were taken to San Diego hotels to quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden is fulfilling his promise to end a policy that Trump said was critical to reversing an asylum-seeker surge that peaked in 2019. The programme, officially known as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” altered the way the U.S. government traditionally treated people as they sought protection from violence and persecution. In Mexican border cities, it exposed them to violence and made it difficult to find lawyers and communicate about their cases with the courts.

Questions about Biden’s changes were unanswered, including how Central Americans who returned home would get back to the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s also unclear how long it will take, with the oldest going first, to work through all the cases.

At the border, there was some confusion as well. At the crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, about 100 people gathered Friday, sharing rumours and hoping to glean information about when they would be allowed to enter the United States while their cases are decided by the courts.

Michael Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which plays a critical support role, said the U.S. is expected to release 25 individuals a day in San Diego who were forced to wait in Mexico. At the San Diego border crossing, authorities can process up to 300 a day, but Hopkins said it was not known when the target of 25 a day would change.

People were also expected to be allowed into the country in Brownsville, Texas, starting Monday, and in El Paso, Texas, next Friday.

The International Migration Agency, U.N. The migration agency is checking asylum seekers in Mexico for COVID-19 and quarantining those with 10 days of positive results. In San Diego, even asylum-seekers who have tested negative will be quarantined in U.S. hotels for seven days. Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines Centers.

A San Diego Rapid Response Network coalition of nongovernmental groups will provide hotel rooms, arrange transportation, and conduct health screenings, Hopkins said. Jewish Family Service will buy bus or plane tickets if asylum-seekers can’t afford them and winter clothes if needed.

“We’ll make sure they are healthy and in good shape to travel,” Hopkins said in an interview.

About 70,000 asylum-seekers have been part of the Remain in Mexico programme since it started in January 2019. Those whose cases were dismissed or denied are not eligible to return to the country, but U.S. officials have not ruled out some form of relief later.

The Biden administration, which stopped enrolling new arrivals on its first day, said last week that asylum-seekers with active cases would be released in the United States with notices to appear in immigration courts closest to their final destinations. It brought huge relief to those who are eligible, while U.S. and U.N. officials urged against a rush to the border.

Edwin Gomez, who said his wife and 14-year-old son were killed by gangs in El Salvador after he couldn’t pay extortion fees from his auto repair shop, was eager to join his 15-year-old daughter in Austin, Texas. She already won asylum and is living with family.

“Who thought this day would come? ” Gomez, 36, said Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico, at a border crossing with San Diego. “I never thought it would happen.”

Across the border from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, Enda Marisol Rivera of El Salvador and her 10-year-old son have been braving below-freezing temperatures this week, snuggling under piles of donated blankets in their makeshift tent of tarps. Their propane gas stove froze, she said. Despite the added hardship from the Arctic blast that hit Texas and northern Mexico, Rivera was in good spirits.

Rivera and her son are among about 850 migrants living in the tent camp in a sprawling park just south of the Rio Grande in the Mexican city of Matamoros who applied for asylum and were told to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court dates. Many in the camp turned down offers this week to be transferred to city shelters, fearing they would lose their chance at being allowed into the United States if they didn’t stay close to the border.

Rivera was hopeful she would be allowed to come to the United States, where she could live with her sister in Los Angeles as her case wound through immigration court.

“We have faith in God that we will be allowed in,” she said Wednesday. “We have already spent enough time here.”

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Douglas County School Board to vote on mask mandate in schools

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Douglas County School Board to vote on mask mandate in schools

The new school board overseeing the Douglas County School District will meet Tuesday to decide whether to end the mask requirements inside schools.

The resolution that the Board of Education will consider states that the district will not mandate masks in schools unless they are required by federal, state or local laws or public health orders. The school board will also not set a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students or district staff, according to the resolution.

“The (b)oard recommends, regardless of vaccination status, personal and parent choice with respect to whether or not children should wear face coverings while at school, while also allowing for appropriate and necessary accommodation of students with disabilities…,” reads the resolution.

The school board meeting starts at 5 p.m. and at least two hours of public comment scheduled. The board is not expected to vote on no-masks until around 8:10 p.m., according to the agenda.

The meeting comes a month after four new conservative members — all against mask mandates — were elected to the school board last month. They hold the majority on the seven-member board.

However, a federal judge blocked a mask exemption from Douglas County’s new health department in October, saying it violated the rights of students with disabilities, so it’s unclear what effect a vote in favor of ending the mandate will immediately have.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking inside school buildings for students and staff. The agency discovered that counties without face-covering requirements saw larger increases in COVID-19 cases in children after the start of school during the 2021-22 year, according to a Sept. 24 study.

Colorado saw a rise in COVID-19 cases among students after school returned in the fall, most notably among those — ages 5 to 11 years old — who were not eligible for a vaccine until November. Infections among children recently declined, but public health officials have warned that they could increase again as the holidays approach.

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DeVante Parker’s return can add another dimension to Dolphins’ offense

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DeVante Parker’s return can add another dimension to Dolphins’ offense

Before Sunday’s 20-9 victory over the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker had only played in one game over the previous two months with hamstring and shoulder issues.

He was away for a key stretch during Miami’s seven-game losing streak that included losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, and then he missed the first four of the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak going into the bye week.

Now, after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the offense found somewhat of a groove without him, his reinsertion into the lineup can bring an added dimension to the Dolphins.

Playing 71 percent of offensive snaps against the Giants, Parker caught all five passes thrown his way in his return for 62 yards. He made acrobatic sideline catches for first downs on both the touchdown drive at the end of the first half and a key fourth-quarter drive in sealing the win.

“It feels good being back on the field with my teammates,” Parker said in a web conference on Monday. “I’m just glad I was able to be a part of the win. I just wanted to help us get a W, and that’s what I did.”

Having Parker and his ability to make contested, possession-type catches against cornerbacks on the outside gives Tagovailoa that option, expanding on what he’s been able to do with Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Mack Hollins and others.

“It creates a lot of defensive issues outside,” said co-offensive coordinator George Godsey on Tuesday. “He does a great job blocking in the run game. He’s got a lot of experience to help out the guys in the meeting room. … Having his experience and productivity out there is definitely a helpful thing for the whole unit.”

Tagovailoa enjoyed being able to throw it up to Parker when in single coverage to allow him to go up and get the ball.

“DeVante adds another vertical stretch for us offensively,” Tagovailoa said after Sunday’s win, “and he makes tough catches when you need him to, so really glad to have him back.”

Tagovailoa and Parker have established chemistry on back-shoulder throws on the sideline in their season-plus together that has been interrupted multiple times by injuries to each.

“You just throw it to the guy and let him catch it because he’s done that and he’s proven that in his career,” Godsey said. “There’s a lot of evidence on tape of guys that have his ability to just get up there and catch the ball, whether it’s behind them, in front of them, a jump ball. As many times as we can get the ball in his vicinity, we like it.”

Added Parker: “Any time you see any of us receivers out there pressed against someone, you assume they’ll want to go to you. It’s a one-on-one matchup. You just want to go to that.”

His presence, while it means targets getting further split, can also free up other Dolphins pass catchers.

“When he’s going, everybody is feeding off of him, everybody is feeding off his energy and it drives everyone else to play better, as well,” said fellow receiver Isaiah Ford. “He’s a special player. He has extremely good body control, ball skills and everything like that.”

And Parker is also coming back to a renewed Tagovailoa.

“He has a lot more confidence, and you see it in his throws,” Parker said. “The one-on-one coverage, he goes to it. That’s what we like to see. Just the confidence in him. That’s good for the team.”

Baker nominated

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker was named the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.

One of the first recurring events Baker established after he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 was a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. Born on Christmas Day himself, he hosts the event for children as a birthday gift and even made sure the event could be held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.

When a residential building collapsed in Surfside in June, Baker partnered with a minority-owned small business food truck to provide meals to first responders aiding in the recovery efforts. After an earthquake hit Haiti in August, Baker helped transport donation items to Haiti and supported a call for action for the public to deliver goods needed by the country.

When he was drafted in 2018, Baker established the Expand the Land Foundation to inspire youth and provide mentorship and programming in his hometown of Cleveland.

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ defense deserves praise for helping turn season around

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ defense deserves praise for helping turn season around

There is often an opportunity that discomfort creates if it is welcomed.

It’s called growth, and that is what we’ve been witnessing from the Miami Dolphins defense the past five weeks, where that unit’s development, and tightening of the screws has helped the Dolphins (6-7) transform from an NFL laughingstock due to their seven straight losses into a franchise deserving some respect.

Tua Tagovailoa’s accuracy, anticipation and pocket presence have allowed the offense become respectable during Miami’s five-game winning streak. But it’s the defense that is doing the heavy lifting once again.

If there’s one thing the 2021 season has taught us is that expecting things to carryover from one season to the next in the NFL is shortsighted.

The slightest alteration of your roster — like a swap from safety from Bobby McCain to Jevon Holland, a change at outside linebacker from Kyle Van Noy to Jaelan Phillips, the absence of an edge setter Shaq Lawson — could drastically alter your team’s chemistry, shift the unit’s strengths and weaknesses, and impact the team’s style of play.

Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer got a crash course on this earlier this season when he tried to run the same scheme that produced one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses in 2020 with different personnel.

While the defensive play-calls might have been similar — if not the same — the execution wasn’t, and the product on the field left plenty to be desired considering the Dolphins sat at the bottom of many important NFL statistical rankings before the wins started piling up.

Then comfort set in, roles were adapted, and the screws tightened. During this five-game winning streak Miami’s defense allowed just four touchdowns, a stretch where Miami’s opponents averaged 11 points per game.

“I feel like we’re back to that level,” Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard said, referring to the sack-producing, turnover-creating unit the Dolphins possessed last season. “I feel like everybody is confident, everybody is having fun.”

But the road back to respectable wasn’t easy, and featured some growing pains.

For instance, Miami’s run defense tightened once nose tackle Raekwon Davis returned from the knee injury he suffered in the season opener. In the nine games Davis has played since his return only three teams have rushed for 100 or more yards against Miami.

As a result, the Dolphins rank ninth against the run now, allowing 103.8 rushing yards per game, heading into this weekend’s bye.

Clamping down against the run set the table for everything else, but Miami had to overcome some injuries, and be patient with its young players’ development to get here.

Howard and Byron Jones, Miami’s two upper-echelon cornerbacks, the talents whose skill-set this defense is built around, were each nursing a groin injury at the same time earlier in the season. Their injuries impacted their performance, and the schemes Miami could run for nearly a month.

It also took Holland, the Dolphins’ 2021 second-round pick, half a season to become comfortable in Miami’s defense. Now the former Oregon standout is one of the team’s top playmakers, and a leader the secondary leans on.

He’s proof that sometimes teams have to wait for young players to blossom.

That seemed to be the case with not just Holland, but Phillips, whom the Dolphins selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The former University of Miami standout struggled to quickly learn everything that came with being a linebacker in Miami’s scheme.

The Dolphins eventually scrapped (or tabled) the outside linebacker role, and began to use Phillips exclusively as a pass rusher. Last Sunday Phillips set a Dolphins rookie record by reaching 8.5 sacks on the season, and seven of them have come in the past five games.

To simplify things for Phillips, Jerome Baker became an edge player, returning to the outside linebacker role he held in his rookie season. That opened the door for Duke Riley to get more playing time at inside linebacker.

Miami’s defense evolved into what it is today through trial and error and ultimately found a formula that works for this unit — not last year’s defense.

Last year the Dolphins defense allowed a touchdown 57.4 percent of the time teams reached the red zone, which ranked Miami seventh in that statistical category.

This year Miami is allowing 50 percent of red-zone opportunities to turn into touchdowns, which ties Miami with Buffalo for fourth in the NFL.

Only Baltimore, New England and New Orleans are better, and that’s good company to keep.

“It’s about trusting the process. Believing in what you’re doing. Believing in the scheme, and believing in the players,” Boyer said. “From the players, from the coaches, even when things haven’t been good. We all understand that we’re approaching things the right way. We’re working the right way. We haven’t always gotten the results we wanted. Just because you work hard, prepare the right way, coaching it the right way, it really comes down to execution on Sundays.”

The evolution will continue as Holland, Phillips and Baker become more comfortable in their new roles.

The hope is that the growth we’ve seen this past month will carry on throughout the final four games of the regular season, and maybe next year’s defense will start out the 2022 season with less discomfort.

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