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Supreme Court assesses president’s power to fire housing agency head

Mr. Nielson said that the logic of the party position would undermine much of the federal government.

“The Social Security Administration, the Office of the Special Counsel, the Federal Reserve, the civil service will all be under constitutional attack,” he said, “and this is just the beginning.”

Justice Elena Kagan developed this point in an exchange with David H. Thompson, a shareholder lawyer. The Social Security Administration, she said, “has been headed by a single commissioner since 1994 and since then it issues 650,000 decisions each year, or around 17 million decisions.

“Are we really going to reverse all these decisions?” she asked.

Mr. Thompson replied that the agency’s actions, unless they are subject to the limitation period, “should be void.”

He said the housing agency’s actions crossed a line. “Businesses have been nationalized,” he said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. questioned this claim. Government assistance during the housing crisis “has been a lifeline for your clients,” he said, adding that he had done recent financial research.

“I checked this morning,” the Chief Justice said, “and Fannie Mae was trading at $ 2.69 and Freddie Mac was trading at $ 2.56,” he said, “and your shares are not worthless.

Hashim M. Mooppan, a federal government attorney, said the housing agency, acting as a conservative, had the right to restructure its financial obligations. “That’s what restaurateurs do day after day,” he said.

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US border agency agrees with 2 Americans detained for speaking Spanish

Two women who were detained in a small town in Montana after a border patrol officer overheard them speaking Spanish at a convenience store settled for an undisclosed amount after filing a customs and protection lawsuit. US borders, the Montana ACLU said Tuesday.

The women, Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez, were held for approximately 40 minutes on May 16, 2018, after a border patrol officer overheard them speaking Spanish as they lined up to buy milk and eggs in a Town Pump convenience store in Le Havre, Mont., a town of nearly 10,000 people about 35 miles south of the Canadian border.

As he stood behind the two lined up women, Border Patrol Officer Paul O’Neill was greeted by Ms Hernandez. He commented on his accent and asked the women where they were from. After responding that they were from Texas and California, Mr. O’Neill asked for their ID and the two women gave him their valid state-issued driver’s licenses.

In a video of the meeting filmed by the women, one of them asked why Mr. O’Neill had asked for identification.

“The reason I asked you for your ID,” replied Mr. O’Neill, “is because I came here and saw that you speak Spanish, which is very unknown. here.

Other border patrol officers quickly arrived, along with Mr O’Neill’s supervisor, according to the lawsuit. Ms Suda asked the supervisor if she and Ms Hernandez would have been detained if they spoke French. “No,” he replied, “we don’t do that.”

Ms Suda, who was born in El Paso, Texas, and Ms Hernandez, who was born in El Centro, Calif., Both grew up speaking Spanish and were residing in Le Havre at the time of the incident.

In 2019, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the women, alleging that a border patrol agent singled them out for speaking Spanish and relied on that as a “power of attorney for the race”. Lawyers representing Ms Suda and Ms Hernandez also said the detention violated the Fourth Amendment and women’s right to equal protection.

Since the incident, Ms. Suda and Ms. Hernandez have left Le Havre out of fear for the safety of their families and because of “local backlashes,” said Caitlin Borgmann, executive director of the ACLU Montana.

Lawyers representing O’Neill did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the regulations did not mean he was held responsible for the incident. Border Patrol officers “are trained to apply US laws consistently and fairly, and they do not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” the agency said. .

“CBP is committed to fair, impartial and respectful treatment of all members of the business and the traveling public, and commemorated its commitment to non-discrimination in existing policies,” the agency said.

In a statement released by the ACLU, Ms. Suda said she hoped the meeting would prompt U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reassess her conduct.

“We have stood up to the government because speaking Spanish is no reason to be racially profiled and harassed. I am proud to be bilingual and I hope that following this affair, CBP is carefully reviewing its policies and practices, ”said Ms. Suda. “No one else should ever have to go through this again.”

This was not the first time that she and Ms Hernandez had come under suspicion of border patrol officers.

In February 2018, an agent overheard Ms Suda and Ms Hernandez speaking Spanish in a bar in Le Havre. The agent sent a picture of them to other agents in a message saying, “There are two Mexicans at the bar.” An officer receiving the message then replied that Ms Suda and Ms Hernandez were friends of his wife.

Hispanic residents make up about 4% of Le Havre’s population, while white residents make up about 80%, according to census data. In Montana, almost 4% of people speak a language other than English at home.

In a video the ACLU obtained during the investigation, a supervisor of US customs and border protection told agency investigators he saw “nothing harassing” about the incident of May 2018. Le Havre is a small town, he noted, where “nobody really has much to do”.

“If there’s someone speaking Spanish here,” the supervisor says, “all of a sudden you have five agents swarming like, ‘What’s going on? So Havre is a bit like that.

The ACLU also discovered that Mr. O’Neill was a member of the “I’m 10-15” Facebook group, which included “obscene images of Hispanic lawmakers and threats against members of Congress.”

The local Havre area office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had 175 officers in fiscal 2018, has jurisdiction over 456 miles of the border area.

In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that agents in the Le Havre area had violated the Fourth Amendment and “lacked reasonable suspicion” when they arrested five Hispanic men in 2004.

Ms Borgmann said the 2018 incident involving Ms Suda and Ms Hernandez was not just an example of a ‘bad apple’ but also of a systemic problem within the Le Havre area.

“I hope that it is recognized as a result of this trial and the courage of these women to come forward,” she said, “that this is ingrained behavior and must be to cease.

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At least 140 drown in worst shipwreck of 2020, UN agency says

At least 140 people drowned when a boat carrying migrants sank off the Senegalese coast over the weekend in this year’s deadliest shipwreck, the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, said on Thursday. United.

The boat had left Mbour, a coastal town in western Senegal, on Saturday with around 200 migrants, bound for the Canary Islands. But it caught fire hours later and capsized in the Atlantic Ocean near Saint-Louis, on Senegal’s northwest coast, the agency said.

The Senegalese and Spanish navies, along with nearby fishermen, managed to rescue 59 people and recover the remains of 20 others, according to the International Organization for Migration, which cited the information.

The organization said it was deeply saddened by the sinking, which came after four ships carrying migrants sank in the central Mediterranean last week and another sank in the English Channel.

“We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle the trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth,” said Bakary Doumbia, the agency’s head of mission in Senegal, in a statement.

“It is also important that we advocate for improved legal channels to undermine the business model of traffickers and prevent loss of life,” he said.

The sinking came as the number of migrants making the dangerous sea crossing from West Africa to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, has increased dramatically in recent weeks, according to the International Organization for Migration.

About 11,000 migrants have reached the Canary Islands this year, up from 2,557 in the same period last year, the agency said. At least 414 people have died along the route, up from 210 last year, the organization said.

Dame Mbengue told Senegalese media that he was one of the migrants on board the boat when the engine caught fire. The crew managed to control the flames, he said, before the fire spread to the gasoline cans, causing a major explosion.

He said he jumped into the ocean and grabbed a can that floated in the water until he was rescued by passing boaters.

Macky Sall, the President of Senegal, written in French on Twitter, “It was with great emotion that I learned of the explosion, on the high seas, of the engine of a boat carrying young compatriots.

António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said he was horrified to learn of the sinking.

“Anyone looking for a better life deserves security and dignity”, he said on Twitter. “We need safe and legal roads for migrants and refugees.”

The UN agency said that in September alone, 14 boats carrying 663 migrants – including 42 children – had left Senegal for the Canary Islands. About a quarter of the boats sank or reported other problems.

Earlier this month, the Senegalese army said it had intercepted two long canoes, called pirogues, loaded with 186 migrants trying to reach Spain.

Benjamin N. Lawrance, a history professor at the University of Arizona who has worked with West African migrants, said poverty and high unemployment have driven many people to leave West Africa for Europe, often in small fishing vessels which are not seaworthy.

In Senegal, a poor country of 14 million people, fishing stocks collapsed, decimating the regional economy, after the country ceded fishing rights to vessels from China and the European Union, a- he declared.

If local fishing waters were open to West African fishermen, part of the migration to the Canary Islands would decrease, he said. Many shipwrecks in the region, he said, affect only a few people and seldom attract international attention.

“Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence, and we only know of the particularly tragic ones,” he said. “But there are so many who are missing.”

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Biden, an Amtrak evangelist, could be a lifeline for a rail agency in crisis

WASHINGTON – Joe Biden said he likes ice cream, aviators and Amtrak. But if he is elected president, his love for the railway company can be put to the test.

Amtrak is facing a crisis. The coronavirus has led many cyclists to abandon trains, causing huge drops in income. The agency has reduced its services to the heart of America. It laid off more than 2,000 workers. If it doesn’t get $ 2.8 billion in emergency funding by December, 2,400 more employees could lose their jobs, Amtrak officials warn. Large-scale projects across the country, including those in New York and New Jersey, are facing delays.

Meanwhile, Congress has blocked approval of any further relief, despite bipartisan support for the rail agency.

But as Mr Biden – a longtime Amtrak pilot and perhaps its most famous lawyer – heads for election day, rail supporters want to know more about the Democratic presidential candidate and former vice -President over what a potential Biden administration would do to resolve it.

“The Amtrak Joe Biden loves may be largely gone by the day of the grand opening,” said John Robert Smith, former chairman of the board of directors for Amtrak. “The VP must make a statement.”

When asked about Mr. Biden’s stance on Amtrak’s staff or service cuts, the Biden campaign could not provide specific details. But Matt Hill, a campaign spokesperson, said Mr. Biden had been “a staunch Amtrak pilot and an advocate for his workers throughout his career.”

“A President Biden will stand up for the Amtrak workers,” Hill said.

Amtrak is central to Mr. Biden’s personal and political identity. In 1972, a month before Mr. Biden was sworn in as senator from Delaware, his first wife and baby daughter died in a car accident. He quickly began a decades-long daily ritual of riding the train between Washington and Wilmington to honor his commitment to be home with his children every night, earning him the nickname “Amtrak Joe.”

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As a senator, he was a strong supporter of Amtrak funding. As a presidential candidate, he relied on his love for the rail network to support his image as a common man among voters.

In 1987, Mr. Biden launched his first presidential candidacy from the back of an Amtrak train. Last month, the day after his first debate with President Trump, Mr. Biden chartered an Amtrak train to speak to voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania during his “Build Back Better Express” tour.

Current and retired Amtrak workers have said Mr. Biden’s relationship with train crew during his 30-plus years as a pilot exemplifies his personality.

“Every cafe worker in this hallway knows him,” Gregg Weaver, a retired Amtrak conductor who worked on Mr. Biden’s train route, said in an interview. “He didn’t care if you carried a briefcase or a lunch bucket, he had time for you.”

Amtrak supporters recognize that there is little a presidential candidate can do to strengthen the rail agency and that any financial lifeline for the network must come from the White House and Congress.

But they say the Biden campaign could pressure Amtrak executives to do what some lawmakers and railroad advocates have urged the agency to do: lobby Congress for permission to do so. ” use funds earmarked for capital projects to temporarily save jobs and maintain service.

Amtrak has nearly $ 3.3 billion for capital projects, according to the agency’s August financial report. Rail experts say at least $ 1.4 billion of that money could be reconfigured to support worker wages and rail operations with a congressional waiver.

Amtrak has been reluctant to dip into these funds because executives fear it will delay plans to increase the safety and reliability of rail service. Amtrak currently spends between $ 200 million and $ 250 million per month to support its operations, according to chief executive officer William J. Flynn. In August, the rail agency generated nearly $ 127 million in total revenue, according to an analysis of its financial reports.

Mr Biden could draw attention to Amtrak’s struggles, rail advocates say, by publicly encouraging the agency to reverse its vacation plans and restore daily service on its long-haul routes, a vital transportation link and an economic lifeline for rural communities.

“Speaking now, Biden could lay the groundwork to assure Amtrak the pressure will only increase if Biden wins,” said Ross Capon, transportation consultant and former executive director of the National Railroad Passengers Association.

During the election campaign, Biden did not comment on Amtrak’s decision to cut jobs and cut service.

But in September, he expressed support for the 2,000 workers on leave from Amtrak. “It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten to know the hard-working men and women of Amtrak over the years,” Mr. Biden said on twitter. “I am proud to support them as they face time off due to funding cuts.”

“It is time that we support them,” he added.

Mr. Flynn said in a statement that “delaying capital work” was “not an option” and reallocating capital funds to operating expenses would also result in job losses.

Part of Amtrak’s reluctance to mine its equity may be the uncertain political climate as the Nov. 3 election draws closer, rail experts have said.

“There is a math to be done,” said Jim Mathews, managing director of the Rail Passengers Association. “A Biden administration and a Democratic-controlled Senate would make it much easier to restore that capital funding.”

Amtrak supporters are also seeking more information on the Biden campaign on how the rail agency would behave under his potential presidency. Under Mr. Trump, Amtrak’s budget has been repeatedly strained, but Congress has chosen to keep funding for the agency largely. In February, the White House offered to cut its budget in half.

Mr Biden said his administration would “spark the second great rail revolution” and move to electrification of Amtrak trains.

John D. Porcari, who served as Assistant Secretary of Transportation to President Barack Obama and co-chair of the Biden Campaign Infrastructure Task Force, said Politico This month, a Biden administration could aim to not only restore Amtrak, but expand it, creating new 400-mile corridors that connect small and medium-sized towns where airlines provide limited service. Such an ambitious plan is similar to Amtrak’s 2050 vision.

Congressional aides and railroad advocates note that a plan to strengthen Amtrak has already passed in the House but lacks sufficient support in the Senate. The INVEST Act would increase rail investment by $ 60 billion over five years, including nearly $ 29 billion specifically for Amtrak.

The main sponsor of the law in the House, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, is confident that if Mr. Biden is elected he will work with Congress to give Amtrak a solid future.

“Under a Biden administration, Amtrak’s short-term and long-term needs will finally get the attention they deserve,” said DeFazio. “They don’t call him ‘Amtrak Joe’ for nothing.”