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This Teenager Escaped Repression in West Africa. ICE Claimed He Was an Adult, and Jailed Him Anyway.

Top Stories - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 05:03

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/GettyThis story also appears at Documented, a non-profit news site devoted solely to covering New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives. Subscribe to their newsletter here. From the moment Mahmoud* was detained at the border, he told federal authorities he was 17 years old. He told them at the Border Patrol station. He told them at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement adult detention facility where he was held in Port Isabel, Texas. “They asked me for documents that prove I’m 17 years old and I provided all those documents,” he told Judge Frank Pimentel in the Port Isabel, Texas immigration court. “I’m assuming the government must have some basis for concluding that he is older than that,” Pimentel responded. The attorney for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the judge the birth year they had would make Mahmoud 25 years old. “I’m sure [ICE deportation officers] would have looked into that already,” the ICE attorney said. ICE spent the next four months fighting to keep him in adult detention. Two years later, Mahmoud can hardly speak about the experience. “It was hard for me in there,” he said.  In detention, he could barely sleep and often woke up crying. “He wasn’t able to be his young self in detention,” said Carina Patritti, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society who has represented Mahmoud. “He had to grow up quickly.”Mahmoud says he gave ICE and CBP agents a copy of his birth certificate immediately after he was detained at the border. He fled his home country in West Africa at age 17 after the government targeted him due to his political participation. He quickly gathered some documents and clothing and flew to Brazil. From there, he traveled up to the US-Mexico border and crossed with a group of men from his country. Border Patrol agents found the group and arrested them. In the station, the agents put Mahmoud in a room with a French-speaking translator on speakerphone, he said. The agents asked Mahmoud about his age. He presented them with a copy of his birth certificate and a few other documents and spent the night at the station.“They continued to ask me. I told them again, I am 17,” he said in an interview. Eventually they hurried him into a van and drove him to the Port Isabel Detention Center, a detention facility for adults. Mahmoud says he told ICE and CBP agents repeatedly that he was 17 years old throughout his detention. Under the Flores settlement, a lawsuit from 1997, the U.S. government is only allowed to detain people under the age of 18 for 20 days, and only in facilities with higher standards of care than adult immigration detention centers. Mahmoud was held for about four months in a privately run facility for adults. Asylum seekers often flee in haste, grabbing what documents or valuables they can find before pushing towards the U.S.. Federal agents scrutinize their documents to spot fakes and catch people trying to game the system. Various branches of the Department of Homeland Security have entire units dedicated to detecting fraudulent documents. This scrutiny is partially due to the fact that minors are allotted more chances to file for asylum and have more freedoms in captivity. “Since 1997, there have been numerous developments affecting DHS’s and ORR’s age determinations, but there remains no real procedure by which conflicting evidence regarding age may be weighed by a neutral and detached decision maker,” said Carlos Holguín, general counsel at the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, the civil-rights legal organization that brought the Flores case to court. Federal policy dictates that if a “reasonable person” would conclude that an immigrant detained by ICE is an adult, despite their claims to be a minor, then the government will “treat the person as an adult for all purposes.”ICE didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a court hearing, Mahmoud said that while traveling with a group of migrants through Panama, they had been stopped by border agents. “They were taking all the minors, keeping them and asking them questions,” he told Judge Pimentel, so he’d said that he was 25. “All right, well again, I don’t know anything about that. What we have to do now is to schedule your case for a hearing,” Pimentel responded. In a later hearing, the judge pushed back against ICE’s claims about Mahmoud’s age. “I respect the fact that [ICE agents are] making immediate type decisions and don’t always have the information at hand at the time. But the court is not going to base its determination of the respondents age on how the respondent looks to the court,” Pimentel said. He asked the ICE attorney to produce evidence to support their claim that Mahmoud was older than he said he was. The ICE attorney said that they reached out to the government of his home country—which Mahmoud was fleeing—to verify his birth certificate was genuine. They hadn’t received a response yet, but the Department of Homeland Security’s position on his age remained that Mahmoud “is not a juvenile and we would like to proceed as such,” the attorney said. Judge Pimentel asked the ICE attorney for more evidence to support their claim about his age and postponed the hearing for about two weeks. Mahmoud was silent during the exchange.The judge later added, “At some point, if I don’t get any answer, then we’ll be here until the summertime when at your claim, you turn 18, and then it won’t be an issue anymore.” Denise Slavin, a retired immigration judge, explained that immigration judges—who are employees of the Department of Justice, rather than part of the independent judicial branch of the government—don’t have jurisdiction over where detainees are held. “They can tell them what court their case will be in but not where they’re held,” she said.After the hearing, ICE agents took Mahmoud to get a dental examination to prove his age. The exam showed he was likely 16 to 22 years old, according to the court recordings. ICE released him to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees unaccompanied minors, about four months after he entered the Texas facility. Mahmoud was transferred to a facility in Chicago where he was finally able to call his father. There, he saw a counselor three times per week and was able to go outside. “I had no one in detention,” he said. Mahmoud was released from ORR custody and was allowed to move in with his cousin in the Bronx. His case was transferred to the New York City immigration court, where he was able to find a lawyer, and together they’re fighting for his asylum claim. He is enrolled at a high school in the Bronx for 10th grade and wants to go to college to become an accountant. “The only thing that makes me happy is to think about my opportunity to study here,” he said. “No one can stop me to study here, not like in my country.”Sometimes thoughts of his journey and imprisonment creep back into his mind. But he doesn’t talk about his experiences with any of his friends or at home; he just tries to forget. *This story uses a pseudonym to protect the subject’s identity. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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Russia says no plans to install new missiles unless U.S. deploys them

Top Stories - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 04:44

Russia will not deploy new missiles as long as the United States shows similar restraint in Europe and Asia, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Sunday, after Washington's withdrawal from a Soviet-era arms pact. The United States formally left the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia earlier this month after accusing Moscow of violating the treaty and deploying one banned type of missile, allegations the Kremlin denies. Russia has also pulled out of the deal, but Shoigu said it had no plans to deploy new missiles.


'Nightmare' as Egypt aided China to detain Uighurs

Top Stories - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 01:04

Abdulmalik Abdulaziz, an Uighur student, was arrested and handcuffed by Egyptian police and when they removed his blindfold he was surprised to see Chinese officials questioning him in custody. "They never said their names or mentioned who they were exactly," said Abdulaziz, 27, who spoke to AFP helping to uncover new details of the 2017 arrests of over 90 Uighurs from the mostly Muslim Turkic minority. Abdulaziz, like most swept up in the three-day crackdown in the first week of July 2017, was an Islamic theology student at Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's most prestigious educational institution.


Man charged after New York scare over rice cookers

Top Stories - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 01:03

A young homeless man has been charged with placing false bombs, police said Saturday, after three empty rice cookers caused major commuter disruption in New York. Larry K. Griffin II, 26, was arrested by the New York Police Department and charged with three counts of placing a false bomb, according to a statement released Saturday. Parts of the city were alerted for two hours Friday morning as three suspicious objects were found: two near the World Trade Centre in the Fulton Street subway station, and one in the Chelsea district further north.


Fears in US of bad peace deal with the Taliban

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 21:21

An Afghanistan peace agreement that the US seems close to reaching with the Taliban has prompted worries that President Donald Trump's desire to quickly withdraw US troops could further plunge the country into civil war. Trump said Friday he was pleased with talks on ending the war, 18 years after the September 11, attacks that prompted the US invasion of Afghanistan in the first place. In recent days several US officials have suggested that an accord could be imminent in discussions with the Taliban in Qatar.


Woman thought she had kidney stones, gave birth to triplets

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 21:06

A South Dakota woman who recently gave birth to triplets says she didn't find out about her pregnancy until she went to the hospital with what she thought were kidney stones.


Client says Arizona massage therapist's 'cuddling' session turned sexual

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 18:56

A Phoenix woman's complaint says a "cuddling" session with a massage therapist turned sexual.


1967 Ferves Ranger Auction Far Exceeds Expectations

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 18:10

While small in size, this off-roader fetched a huge amount. Monterey Car Week always has some surprises. While there are the planned “surprise” reveals of concept cars by automakers, what’s far more shocking is when a vehicle that seems fairly interesting sparks a bidding war. That’s exactly what happened with this 1967 Ferves Ranger when it crossed the block as the first lot on August 16, fetching $175,000.While that’s a considerable amount for a little off-roader, consider this: official estimates were that it would sell at $30,000 to $40,000. It more than quadrupled those expectations. Not bad for a vehicle that borrowed heavily from the Fiat 500 and 600.The Italian micro off-roader is full of personality. When it was revealed in 1966 at the Turin Motor Show, the little thing caused quite the stir. Designed by Carlo Ferrari, its name is actually an abbreviation of Ferrari Special Vehicles, something you might not imagine as a connection. There’s little doubt that pedigree played into the inflated bidding war on Friday.A rear-mounted engine in the Fevres Ranger produces 18-horsepower, which was sourced from the Fiat 500. This example was a two-wheel-drive model, which is a popular option. Today, it’s believed only about 50 Fevres Rangers have survived.Another big winner on Friday was a McLaren F1 with LM factory modifications, such as an unrestricted V12 engine and aero body kit. It sold for a spectacular $18 million. It was a record amount for a McLaren at auction, which was impressive, despite the supercar not hitting the estimated range of $21-$23 million.The sale of the 1965 Ford GT Competition Prototype Roadster for $7.65 million caused quite the stir.It just goes to show that with auctions pretty much anything can happen, especially with cars that are offered with no reserve. Surely more surprises are coming this weekend, and we’ll keep you posted with highlights.Image credit: RM Sotheby’s Read More * Check Out The Sights At Monterey Car Week * Monterey Car Week Auctions Live Stream


Mom aims head-on at a tanker to kill herself, sons. When truck dodges, she doubles back

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 17:25

Police say a Gainesville, Florida, mom of two young boys told a friend she was going to kill herself and her sons by crashing her car with everyone inside.


Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Permit Employment Discrimination Against Transgender Workers

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 17:12

DOJ argued that Title VII does not protect transgender people


Patterson Fire is fully contained, while Cottage Fire is nearly so

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 16:56

Firefighters in California have mostly contained two of the wildfires threatening parts of Northern California this week, according to Cal Fire.


The car was moving when the woman fell onto I-95. Police want to know how it happened

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 14:49

After a night out at a popular Brickell bar, a woman fell out of a moving car on Interstate 95 near Little Haiti early Saturday, police say.


‘A good 100 kills would be nice.’ Another Florida man arrested for mass shooting threats

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 14:48

In the weeks following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Florida has seen a fair share of mass shooting threats — from Walmarts to schools.


Yemen rebel drone attack targets remote Saudi oil field

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 13:04

Drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia's sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a "limited fire" in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry. The attack on the Shaybah oil field, which produces some 1 million barrels of crude oil a day near the kingdom's border with the United Arab Emirates, again shows the reach of the Houthis' drone program. Shaybah sits some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory, underscoring the rebels' ability to now strike at both nations, which are mired in Yemen's yearslong war.


Migrant children have been molested in federal care, according to families, and the government could end up paying $200 million for it

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 12:38

Migrant families are suing the government for millions of dollars after their children were allegedly hurt or molested while in federal care.


Shell workers in Pennsylvania say they were told to either attend a recent Trump event, or not get paid

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 12:10

Workers at a new Shell plant in Pennsylvania were told they had to attend a speech by President Donald Trump in order to get paid.


Small plane makes emergency highway landing in Croatia

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 11:59

A small plane made an emergency landing Saturday on a main highway in Croatia after its engine failed, surprising drivers but causing no injuries. The pilot of the single-engine Cessna 150 said he had a choice either to land on a field or on the highway after the engine malfunctioned. A video from the scene made from a driving car showed the plane landing heavily on the highway, swaying left and right with one wing apparently scraping the road before stopping on the emergency lane near a metal barrier.


Hundreds of strangers queue for El Paso shooting victim’s funeral after husband feared no one would show up

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 11:41

Just about every morning for the past two weeks, Antonio Basco has risen before dawn to buy as many floral bouquets as he can fit in his car and carried them to a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in El Paso.He places the flowers one by one around the white wooden cross for Margie Reckard, his wife. This is his solemn ritual, born of grief and unmooring: tending her garden.“She loved any kind of flowers. I could walk down the street and find flowers that had been run over a thousand times, and she would think it looked like a million dollars,” Mr Basco said on Friday morning.Soon after, the La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Centre in El Paso would be spilling over with bouquets, as hundreds of strangers came to pay their respects to Ms Reckard at her visitation and prayer service.Mr Basco had invited the public to the service this week, worried that he would have to bury his partner of 22 years alone.Ms Reckard, one of the 22 people killed in the attack on 3 August, has children, but Mr Basco has no direct relatives.When Perches Funeral Homes, which was handling Ms Reckard’s arrangements, learned of Mr Basco’s intentions, it extended an open invitation to the service on its Facebook page.The response was unimaginable. The funeral home received about 10,000 messages and tributes, and more than 900 floral arrangements.Perches Funeral commented that the funeral was to be relocated to a larger venue "due to the overwhelming response of the community". They sat along the front of the chapel, below the stained-glass windows, on every table in the foyer, in the fellowship hall and on the staircase. They were sent from across America. New Hampshire. Oregon. Kentucky.Some came from Dayton, Ohio, the site of a mass shooting less than a day after the attack in El Paso.And crowds filled the centre to capacity. Hundreds stood in a line snaking around the church and on the blocks beyond.“This is amazing,” Mr Basco said as he walked down the centre aisle, surveying the unfamiliar faces.“You took a stranger off the street,” he added, and showed him love.Victor and Mary Perales from El Paso said they had come to support Mr Basco because they knew something about sudden loss: their oldest son died unexpectedly two years ago.Mr Perales wrote a letter to give to Mr Basco offering his condolences but also offering friendship.“We know how hard it was for us, and we were surrounded by family. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to go through this alone,” said Victor Perales, a retired truck driver. “I said we are going to this funeral to give him a hug and let him know we can be his family.”The moment Alicia Solomon Click heard about Mr Basco, she knew she was taking a road trip. The professional singer drove six hours from Sante Fe, New Mexico, and had stood for two hours in the visitation line.“I am here to tell Mr Basco for every crazy nut there are thousands of us that love him,” said Ms Solomon Click.For part of the service, a mariachi band played as Mr Basco and Ms Reckard’s relatives greeted and hugged guests.Mr Basco met some of his wife’s relatives for the first time. When a performer began singing “Amor Eterno”, or Love Eternal, much of the church sang along.“This was an assault on all of us,” Fred Valle said of the shooting. “You don’t have to know him to feel for him.”Before bishop Harrison Johnson delivered the eulogy, he looked out into the standing-room-only sanctuary and turned to Mr Basco. “Look at all the friends you have now,” the bishop said, to thunderous applause.He preached from Matthew 14:22. Faith will get you through anything, he assured the crowd, even something as evil as the Walmart massacre. He talked about a united El Paso that was not defined or divided by colour — a direct answer to a racist attack.“Whatever you do, do not stop walking through the storm,” he said. “Don’t stop because you will walk out of the storm.”Ms Reckard’s children and grandchildren also attended the service. Her oldest son, Dean, described her as loving and kind.“She would have been overwhelmed to see all the love El Paso showed her,” he said.Mr Basco and Ms Reckard met more than two decades ago at a bar in Nebraska. He was immediately smitten.“I took one look at her eyes, and it was over with,” Mr Basco said before the service Friday, tears welling.They settled in El Paso about nine years ago, although their hobby was visiting places by train.Ms Reckard, who was a grocery store cashier in Nebraska, had several health issues, including Parkinson’s disease.Mr Basco worked at a rodeo at one point but now runs a car wash business. He was outside fixing his truck when Ms Reckard left for Walmart that Saturday morning.“She was a lady,” he said, “and she was the love of my life.”Mr Basco said that when he wants to feel closest to his wife, he heads to the makeshift memorial and talks to her. Sometimes he returns at night and sleeps next to the cross, hardly visible among the piles of flowers and mementos.The New York Times


Roller coaster malfunction causes cars to collide; multiple kids taken to hospital

Top Stories - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 11:08

Five people were taken to the hospital Friday night after malfunctioning roller coaster failed to stop in Ocean City, Maryland.


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