Officials announced last week that the number of people arrested crossing the Mexico border into the United States has fallen to the lowest level in seventeen years.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, in March there were fewer than 17,000 arrests of undocumented migrants, the least since 2000.
Speaking to Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated that the decline was “no accident” as he credited President Donald Trump. Mr Kelly, who is a retired Marine general, testified about the figures to the Senat Homeland Security Committee. He told the panel, “we’ve seen an absolutely amazing drop in the number of migrants coming out of Central America that are taking that terribly dangerous route from Central America to the United States.” He went on to say that “March marks the fifth straight month of decline and is estimated to be approximately 71% lower than the December 2016 total – 58,478,” noting however that “…while this recent decline in illegal migration is good news, we must ensure that the security of our southern border remains a priority to protect the nation from terrorists and other criminals.” Senator John McCain asked if Mr Kelly’s agency was receiving help from Mexican officials, with Mr Kelly stating that the US was receiving “a huge amount of co-operation from the Mexicans,” citing “very, very good relationships with the Mexicans, both on their southern border where they stopped 160,000 illegal immigrants from Central America last year.”
According to data released by US Customs and Border Protection, in February 23,589 immigrants were apprehended at the border.
Also last week, the US government began accepting bids from contractors to build a prototype for a border wall. President Trump has pledged to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the 3,200 km (2,000 mile) border with Mexico. Last week at th hearing, Mr Kelly told the Senate committee that “it is unlikely that we will build a physical wall from sea to shining sea,” adding that sensors, drones and other technology will fill in gaps where the wall will not be present and that “physical barriers do work if they’re put in the right places.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is opting a low-key approach to dealing with United States President Donald Trump – seeking to avoid clashes while indirectly signalling the two leaders’ difference to a domestic audience.
Insiders have acknowledged that the cautious strategy could anger progressives whose support helped bring Mr Trudeau to power in 2015, however they say that for now, he has no choice but to maintain a low key approach, as Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the US and could suffer if it were to be targeted by Trump’s administration.
While Mr Trudeau maintained a close friendship with former President Barack Obama, Canadian prime ministers have not always had close ties with US presidents. Insiders however have noted that few in Ottawa have experienced anything like Mr Trump. While Canada regards the US as its closest ally, Mr Trudeau has yet to visit Washington to meet with Mr Trump. According to people familiar with the matter, a visit tentatively scheduled at the beginning of this month was cancelled after a shooter killed six Muslims in a Quebec mosque. No new date has been set.
According to Michael Kergin, a former Canadian ambassador to Washington, Mr Trudeau’s caution has been wise, stating “he’s been playing it pretty well by restraining the temptation to be publicly critical of the president.” Kergin went on to say that Mr Trudeau was also right not to follow British Prime Minister Theresa May in rushing to Washington to push for closer ties only to watch President Trump make an unpopular move on immigration after she left.
Mr Trudeau however has taken indirect shots – when Mr Trump signed orders banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries, Mr Trudeau tweeted that Canada was open to those fleeing war. Furthermore, while his chief spokeswoman blasted US network Fox News late last month for a tweet falsely claiming that the Quebec gunman was of Moroccan origin, she said nothing publicly when Trump’s spokesman said that the attack on Muslims showed why it was important to suspend immigration from Muslim nations. This approach however has angered many in Canada, including the opposition New Democrats, who have called on the Prime Minister to denounce Mr Trump’s “racist” immigration policy. In turn, members of Mr Trudeau’s team have acknowledged that over time, the Liberals could lose support before a 2019 election if the prime minister is deemed not tot be standing up for Canadian values, such as inclusiveness.
Over the past weekend, millions of protesters took to the streets of cities in the United States and around the world to rally against the new US President Donald Trump.
Larger numbers of demonstrators than expected turned out for the more than 600 rallies that were held worldwide. The aim was principally to highlight omen’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.
The biggest rally held in the US was in the capital Washington, where city officials estimated that more than 500,000 people attended the protest. This figure far exceeded the 200,000 that had been originally expected by organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. By most estimates, it also surpassed the crowd at Friday’s presidential inauguration. The protesters in the nation’s capital heard speeches from actresses Scarlet Johansson, America Ferrera, as well as from Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem and Michale Moore, amongst others. A planned march to the White House proved impossible as the entire route was filled with demonstrators.
Large crowds were also reported at other US protests. So many turned out in Chicago – some 150,000 – that a planned march had to called off and the event declared a rally. Streets were also overflowing in Los Angeles. Huge crowds were also reported in New York, Seattle, Boston and Miami, some of the venues for about 300 nationwide protests.
Globally, protests were also held. Organizers of a London rally stated that between 80,000 and 100,000 people had taken part there. Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol were amongst the other UK cities that held protests. Anti-Trump marches took place earlier in Australia, New Zealand and in several Asian cities. Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Geneva, Budapest, Prague, Paris and Berlin were among the European cities that took part.
Meanwhile, President Trump used his first full day in office to visit the CIA’s headquarters, where he said that he was “1,000%” behind the spy agency’s employees. He began the day with an inter-faith service at Washington National Cathedral before arriving at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. During the election campaign, Mr Trump had sharply criticized the intelligence agencies over their stance on alleged Russian involvement in the presidential election. He also accused the media of being dishonest in its reporting of the size of the crowd at his inauguration on 20 January. The newly sworn in president however did not refer to Saturday’s protests.
The president’s team has also been quick to overhaul the White House website, with the revamp replacing Barack Obama’s policies with Mr Trump’s new agenda. The new administration lists only six issues on the website: energy, foreign police, jobs and growth, military, law enforcement and trade deals. Critics have complained that it made no mention of civil rights, healthcare, climate change or LGBT rights.
United States activists have called for a recount in battle ground states where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, over concerns that the ballot may have been skewed by foreign hackers.
According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, a “growing number of academics and activists” are calling for an audit of the results in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Dr Barbara Simons, an adviser to the US election assistance commission and expert on electronic voting, was quoted as stating “I’m interested in verifying the vote…We need to have post-election ballot audits.” According to a CNN report a group of scientists, including J Alex Halderman, director of the University of Michigan Centre for Computer Security and Society, has privately told the Clinton campaign that it believes there was a “questionable trend.” Data experts are now asking why Mrs Clinton performed worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners. While there has been no evidence found of hacking, experts argue that an independent audit is required. The group of scientists has reportedly informed Mrs Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, that she received 7% fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic voting machines, suggesting that they may have been hacked.
Mrs Clinton admitted defeat just hours after the election on 8 November. She lost to Mr Trump by at least 58 votes in the all-important electoral college tally, which is decided on a state-by–state basis. She did however win the popular vote by at least 1 million ballets. According to the LA Times, California still has to complete its official count, because of its complex electoral laws, however the state has already been called for Mrs Clinton.
During the election campaign, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began an investigation into allegations that Russians had hacked the private email of John Podesta. The hacked communications, which portrayed the Clinton campaign in an unflattering light, were later published by WikiLeaks.
On 21 November, US President-elect Donald Trump outlined his plans for his first day in office, including withdrawing from a major trade accord and investigating abuses of work visa programmes. Also on Monday, he met with Cabinet hopefuls at his Manhattan office tower.
Mr Trump met with Oklahoma Governor May Fallin, Democratic US Representative Tulsi Gabbard and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, however he announced no further appointments, in a move that will keep candidates and the public guessing about the shape of the administration, which will take office on 20 January 2017. Fallin, Gabbard and Perry are just the latest of dozens of officials who have travelled to New York for talks with the Republican president-elect in a relatively open, and unconventional, transition process since his election victory on 8 November. Mr Trump has so far picked two Cabinet members and three top White House advisers, with his aides stating that he was not expected to make further announcements on Monday.
While Mr Trump has not yet held a news conference since getting elected, on Monday evening he issued a video outlining some of his plans for his first day in office, including formally declaring his intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacifi Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which he called “a potential disaster for our country.” The 12-nation TPP is Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature trade initiative and was signed by the United States earlier this year, however it has not been ratified by he US Senate. Mr Trump has disclosed that he would replace the accord with bilaterally negotiated trade deals that would “bring jobs and industry back onto American shores.” He went on to say “my agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first. Whether its producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here on our great homeland, America, creating wealth and jobs for American workers.” There are however growing concerns for the future of the TPP agreement, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe statin on Monday that TPP “would be meaningless without the United States.”
Mr Trump also indicated on Monday that he would cancel some restrictions on producing energy in the United States on his first day in office, particularly shale oil and “clean coal,” which he said would create “many millions of high-paying jobs.”
While eliminating regulations and withdrawing from the TPP were central to Mr Trump’s campaign, he sent mixed messages about his views on visa programmes, including the main H-1B visa for high-tech industry workers. On Monday, he promised to direct the Labour Department to investigate abuses of visa programmes for immigrant works. The main US visa programme for technology workers could face tough scrutiny under the new president. Furthermore, Mr Trump’s proposed attorney general, US Senator Jeff Sessions, has been a longtime critic of the programme.