The United States says all eligible young children separated from their families have been reunited with their parents. The families were separated as a result of the country’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
As of Thursday morning, 57 children under the age of five had been reunited with their parents, the Trump administration said in a statement.
The administration said another 46 children under the age of five remain separated from their families because of safety concerns and other issues.
Between May and June of this year, about 2,300 children were separated from their families at the United States’ border with Mexico. The zero-tolerance policy required adults to be sent to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Children traveling with them were sent to centers run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The families are mostly from Central American countries. They crossed through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.
On June 20, Trump signed an executive order to end the practice. The order came after many news reports showed emotional images of young children at the border crying for their parents.
The Trump administration was under a federal court order to reunite all of the more than 100 children under the age of five with their separated families. The order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU.
ACLU lawyers said Thursday, “If in fact 57 children have been reunited because of the lawsuit, we could not be more happy for those families. But make no mistake about it: the government missed the deadline even for these 57 children."
The court-ordered deadline was July 10. Federal officials had difficulty trying to meet the tight, two-week deadline set by the federal judge.
Officials said current systems were not set up to reunify parents with their children. They were set up to deal with children who cross the border illegally without family.
Government officials say 46 of the young children were not eligible to be reunited with their parents. They said some of their parents had already been deported. Nine parents were being kept for other offenses. One parent could not be found. In other cases, officials said the adults had criminal histories, including child cruelty and human smuggling.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has been charged with care for the children. The Homeland Security Department oversees detention of adult immigrants. And the Justice Department manages the immigration courts.
The Trump administration faces a second deadline on July 26. They are to reunite more than 2,000 older children with their families.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news reports. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
eligible - adj. able to be chosen for something
tolerance - n. willingness to accept
custody - n. the state of being kept in a proson or jail
deport - v. to force a person to leave the country
smuggle - v. to move (someone or something) from one country into another illegally and secretly
China Urges US Companies to Lobby Officials over Trade
China is urging American companies to tell the U.S. government to protect their interests.
At issue is a Trump administration plan for 10-percent tariffs on Chinese products entering the United States. Those imported goods are worth about $200 billion.
“We hope U.S. firms can do more to lobby the U.S. government and work hard to defend their interests,” said a spokesman for China’s commerce ministry. He told reporters in Beijing that foreign businesses operating in China would suffer in a trade war.
The statement is the latest move in growing trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. The spokesman noted that the two sides are not in talks to end the dispute.
The proposed new U.S. tariffs follow the Trump administration’s decision to require taxes on $50 billion in Chinese goods.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration has urged China to end unfair trade, open its market and take part in true market competition.
Instead of dealing with U.S. concerns, China has begun to take steps against American products, Lighthizer said. “There is no justification for such action," he added.
The proposed new taxes come just days after the administration ordered 25 percent tariffs on more than 800 Chinese products. Those imported goods are worth about $34 billion. The administration blamed what it believes are China’s unfair trade actions and failure to protect intellectual property rights.
A short time later, the Chinese government ordered an equal amount of taxes on U.S. goods.
Christine McDaniel is a senior research fellow at George Mason University in Virginia. She told VOA that the administration's strategy of tariffs and investment restrictions could be costly to U.S. manufacturers and citizens alike.
"A tariff is a tax and … American manufacturers are simply tied to suppliers from outside the U.S. for their competitiveness,” she said. “So when we tax those imports, we’re taxing American manufacturers…and that heavily handicaps our own manufacturers."
McDaniel said the longer the tariff battle lasts, the greater the effect will be on both economies. She added trade actions against China would be more effective if they were done at the same time as actions by America's allies.
McDaniel said that she expects China to slowly move away from state-owned businesses and use more free market rules, but predicts that will take time.
U.S. lawmakers have generally expressed support for the Trump administration’s latest move against China. But the move brought criticism from Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Ryan said he opposes the tariffs and “they are not the right way to go." China is one of many countries that use unfair trade rules, but tariffs are not the right way to solve the problem, he added.
Ryan is retiring at the end of his term in January 2019. He is a member of Trump’s Republican Party.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, another Republican, said in a statement the administration’s decision “appears reckless and is not a targeted approach.”
Hatch is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He also is retiring at the end of his term.
But other Republicans support the president's move. Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett said China will lose a trade war “because right now we are importing about $5 of Chinese goods for every $1 we send to China. If they want to play this game, the Chinese economy will be hurt more."
Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey predicted that “the Chinese government will be hurt… Where will they find markets like the U.S.? They are not going to find as many in the EU or anywhere else for their products."
A high-level administration official said a final decision on the proposed tariffs will be made later this year.
I’m Susan Shand.
This story was based on reports from Reuters news agency and VOA News. Susan Shand adapted the stories for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
tariff – n. a tax on imported or sometimes exported goods
firm – n. a business or company
lobby – v. an organized group of people who work together to influence government decisions that relate to a particular industry, issue
fellow – n. someone appointed to a position in which he or she receives financial aid and is offered a chance to carry out research
strategy – n. a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time
handicap – v. a problem, situation, or event that makes progress or success difficult
reckless – adj. not showing proper concern about the possible bad results of your actions
approach – n. a way of dealing with something : a way of doing or thinking about something
Citizenship of three young cave survivors shines light on plight of stateless persons
national July 13, 2018 01:00
By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE lack of Thai citizenship of three youth footballers who were saved from the Tham Luang cave has highlighted the hidden problems of stateless people.
The Interior Ministry and the Children and Youth Department have confirmed that three of the 13 survivors from the Chiang Rai cave are stateless persons. Authorities have promised to provide them legal assistance in the nationality verification process and if there were no complications in their documents all of them will have Thai nationality within six months.
Ekkapol Chantawong, Phonchai Khamluang, and Adul Sam-on, three survivors from the Tham Luang cave, are among 500,000 stateless persons in Thailand who have to endure limitations in many aspects of their life as they are denied some rights and opportunities.
It was also disclosed that many stateless persons have to wait for a decade to get Thai citizenship because of the slow verification process.
Surapong Kongchantuk, a prominent activist on human rights and nationality issues, said that although the Thai government has provided basic rights to all persons in Thailand, ensuring compulsory education and healthcare, stateless persons still face many complications in their lives.
“Theoretically, all people must be under the care and protection of being a citizen of at least one state, but in reality there are more than 500,000 persons in Thailand who do not have any nationality, even though they are born and raised in Thailand,” Surapong said.
He said the lack of citizenship means that stateless persons are denied access to many fundamental rights such as travelling abroad, getting higher education or employment in some careers, so they do not have many opportunities to improve their lives.
According to Surapong, stateless persons can ask for nationality verification at their local administrative organisation to acquire Thai citizenship. They must provide proof of their birth and lineage and that they were born to a Thai national parent. Ethnic minorities born in Thailand are eligible to get Thai nationality.
Otherwise, they can submit a bachelors degree or diploma or ask for a special grant from the Thai government to get Thai nationality, he said.
Nevertheless, he said the procedure to verify and seek Thai nationality is slow and complicated because local administrative organisations often do not have enough staff to deal with the overwhelming number of requests for nationality verification. Some people have to wait for more than 10 years to get Thai nationality and receive a Thai citizen ID card. Legal Status Network Foundation chairman Santiphong Moonphong also said that due to the complications and the long period of time it takes to get Thai nationality, many youths who do not have citizenship lose opportunities.
Santiphong said he hoped that the nationality status of three survivors from the Tham Luang cave would bring the problems of stateless persons to public attention and get prompt solutions from the government.
Safety measures for tourists ‘in urgent need of upgrade’
business July 13, 2018 01:00
By WICHIT CHAITRONG,
Expert says Phoenix boat tragedy in Phuket requires independent inquiry, not finger pointing.
THE COUNTRY needs to urgently improve safety measures for tourists, and Chinese victims should not be blamed for the July 5 Phoenix tour-boat tragedy in Phuket, according to an academic.
“First, we should not blame Chinese tourists if they are customers of a Chinese nominee tour operator – it could have happened to any nationality,” said Thaweesak Paekratok, assistant professor at Naresuan University’s Engineering Faculty, who is calling for an independent investigation of the incident. Thaweesak is currently leading a team to study the safety of sea diving and jet-ski tours, commissioned by the Thailand Research Fund.
He said that by international standards, the safety and security of Thailand’s tourism industry lagged behind internationally, ranking 118 out of 136 countries last year according to the travel and tourism competitiveness report by the World Economic Forum.
According to the Department of Tourism, the number of foreign tourist casualties in Thailand last year went up 25.12 per cent to 936 and of these 265 were deaths, most of them Chinese. He pointed out that one loophole in the law related to transportation and tour operators. Usually, these companies needed to strictly follow safety guidelines: for example they have to appoint a security officer to oversee inspections of the vehicles, be they boats, trucks or buses, and also take heed of other safety measures. However, it is not clear that tour operators who own or hire tour boats follow such safety procedures, Thaweesak said.
The 105-year old Navigation in the Thai Waters Act is obsolete and ineffective in coping with new types of accidents, as in the Phoenix boat case, he said.
It also appeared that the crew of the Phoenix boat had not been well trained in handling an emergency situation and may not have been able to help tourists evacuate the sinking boat, he added. This demonstrated that the Marine Department had not provided rescue training to private companies, Thaweesak said, adding that government agencies usually organised rescue drills among themselves but that this did not extend to the private sector.
While reports emerged that there were also Chinese crews in the boat, the question is why did the Marine Department let foreign workers work on the Phoenix? he asked.
The warning system usually covers wider areas, but we lack a warning system for specific areas, he said.
Regarding rumours of cheap tour packages, known in Thai as “Tour Soon Rian,” the government can protect tourists by demanding an insurance fee before tourists enter the country. The insurance would cover accidents and other related costs, which could also save the government budget, he said.
Thaweesak suggested that an independent investigation team look at the Phoenix case to ensure that as much as information is collected as possible in order to make tourism safer in the future. So far the investigation was fragmented among state agencies, he said.
Thanapong Jinvong, manager of Road Safety Group Thailand, agreed that people should not rush to blame cheap package tour companies.
“Look at air travel, those who buy cheap tour package do not cause any trouble. Airport authorities will prohibit any aeroplane from leaving the airport when the weather is not safe for flying,” said Thanapong, who is also secretary of Road Safety Policy Foundation.
In this case, we have to look into how the Phoenix was designed and built. Then, why did the Marine Department let the boat leave the port despite warnings of rough seas and bad weather by the Meteorological Department, he said.
Need to overhaul warning system
The warning system should be overhauled as both the Phoenix sinking in Phuket and the case of the 12 boys and their coach trapped in the cave in Chiang Rai, he said.
Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy, Admiral Naris Pratoomsuwan, expressed his concern about effective laws related to disaster prevention.
“By law we cannot order boat operators not to leave port; government agencies can only warn the public about bad weather conditions each day,” he said.
The tragic case of the Phoenix was caused by many factors, including bad weather, inexperience of the boat captain and the condition of the boat itself, he said. Government agencies would have to introduce comprehensive upgrades in safety measures for tourists in order to prevent a recurrence of such an accident, he suggested.
In another development yesterday, Thai and Chinese divers joined forces to retrieve the last of the bodies from the Phoenix, whose sinking claimed 47 lives.
Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the Tourism and Sports Ministry, said the government would pay compensation of Bt1 million for each death and an insurance firm would give an additional Bt1.1 million. He said the tragedy led to a 10-15 per cent fall in hotel bookings.
July 13, 2018