SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge who has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s scorn on Tuesday urged a quick trial for a Mexican man who had been shielded from being deported from the U.S. and claims he was wrongly expelled.
Juan Manuel Montes, 23, is the first known participant in the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to be deported under Trump, according to supporters.
The government has approved nearly 1.8 million DACA permits, including renewals, since President Barack Obama introduced them in 2012 for immigrants who came to the country as young children and performed well.
The administration says Montes left the U.S. voluntarily, causing the loss of his protected status.
Montes’ case doesn’t address the program’s legal or policy merits, focusing instead on a dispute about what happened to Montes on the night of Feb. 18.
The judge made clear from the outset that the crux of the case was whether agents wrongly captured and deported him or if he left on his own.
Montes said he finished dinner with a friend and was seeking a ride home in the California border town of Calexico when a Border Patrol agent stopped him.
When Montes failed to produce identification, he says agents questioned him for two hours in a building and drove him after midnight to the border with orders to walk into neighboring Mexicali, Mexico, without giving him any paperwork.
Both sides agree on what happened next: Montes tried to return to the United States the following night by jumping the border fence in Calexico, was caught by Border Patrol agents and deported to Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security said it has no record that authorities deported Montes two nights earlier and insists that he crossed into Mexico voluntarily, violating a provision of the protective program that requires advanced permission to leave the country.
The judge proposed a trial in four to six weeks, a highly ambitious schedule that appeared to catch attorneys from both sides off guard.
Montes’ attorneys said they would be interested in interviewing Border Patrol agents and witnesses and reviewing any surveillance video before trial. A government attorney said he wanted to interview Montes.
Curiel ordered the two sides to return to his courtroom Wednesday to discuss how to get the case to trial.
Curiel previously approved a settlement in a separate case for Trump to pay $25 million to end lawsuits alleging fraud at his now-defunct Trump University. As the Republican presidential front-runner last year, Trump suggested that the Indiana-born jurist’s Mexican heritage prevented him from being impartial.
Montes, who came to the United States when he was 9, graduated from high school in 2013 and pursued a welding degree at a community college, according to his lawsuit. He then worked two years picking crops in California and Arizona.
He qualified for the DACA program in 2014 and renewed his status for two years in 2016. He currently lives in Mexico.
The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on DACA’s future, allowing the program to continue but saying its fate is undecided. Several state attorneys general are threatening a legal challenge.
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Nine Florida police officers have been suspended after driving at very high speeds during a trip to a police dog competition.
Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens read a statement saying he’s embarrassed and disappointed in the conduct of his K-9 officers, who were suspended Tuesday for a day or two.
The Ledger reports that the officers were investigated after a tipster told the department about Lakeland police vehicles speeding on Interstate 10 on their way home from the United States Police Canine Association Regional Field Trials in the Florida Panhandle.
The vehicles’ own video showed the officers reached speeds up to 101 mph (162 kph) on highways with a 70 mph (112 kph) speed limit during the February road trip.
Information from: The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), http://www.theledger.com
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — How do you top the celestial event of a lifetime? By getting engaged, totally.
That’s what one South Carolina lawmaker did during Monday’s total solar eclipse. State Rep. Micah Caskey, 36, told The Associated Press that he started planning two months ago to pop the question to his girlfriend Erin Harris during the eclipse’s totality, when the moon moved directly in front of the sun.
“I saw a video about how cool the total solar eclipse was going to be, and it just made sense to do it then,” he said.
So, while celebrating the event on Lake Murray with friends, the West Columbia Republican dropped to one knee after the skies darkened, and popped the question. Caskey said he waited until about halfway into the full eclipse so Harris wouldn’t miss out on one event due to excitement over another.
“I tried to wait until about a minute into when totality had started, because I was worried she would start crying and miss getting to see the whole thing,” he said.
Columbia experienced one of the longest periods of totality in the country — more than two minutes of total darkness — as the moonshadow raced across 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina and out to sea. As it turned out, Caskey quickly got an enthusiastic “yes!” from his bride-to-be, and the happy couple didn’t miss the show.
Harris, 29, is from Columbia and is an importer of Italian wines, Caskey said. As for a wedding date, they aren’t necessarily planning their nuptials around any other celestial circumstances, though that could change.
“We’re not really looking at the astronomical calendar for planning the wedding,” he said, “but who knows?”
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/
MILFORD, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan woman says her son is among the missing sailors after a collision between a warship and an oil tanker in Southeast Asia.
April Brandon tells Detroit-area TV stations that she was visited by two officers Monday at her home in Milford in Oakland County. She says her son, Ken Smith, is a “great kid” who is among many family members to serve in the Navy.
The USS John McCain collided with an oil tanker off Singapore.
Brandon says her son wanted to serve his country. She says the 22-year-old Smith grew up in Novi, Michigan, but moved to Norfolk, Virginia, as a teen with his father.
Brandon says Smith’s long-term goal was to develop video games.
BEIJING (AP) — A prominent Chinese human rights campaigner pleaded guilty to inciting subversion of state power on Tuesday, saying he had used social media to inspire distrust in the Chinese government, in the latest trial in a sweeping crackdown on independent lawyers and rights activists.
Parts of the trial of Jiang Tianyong were broadcast on the social media account of Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in the central province of Hunan, an unusual move for such a politically sensitive case. Prosecutors said he had used social media platforms to denigrate the government and judicial authorities and incited others to subvert state power, including fabricating claims that a lawyer had been tortured in custody. Rights groups said the trial was a sham.
Jiang was filmed saying he had used Twitter and Sina Weibo and interviews with overseas media to spread anti-government messages among the public.
“I wanted to … mislead internet users into hating our country’s current social system and into sharing my own sense of dissatisfaction with society, in order to inculcate hopes of changing the current social order with the goal of subverting our country’s current social order,” Jiang said in the footage. He wore a short-sleeved white shirt and sat alone in the middle of the court.
Jiang is one of the last lawyers and activists detained in relation to a crackdown that began in July 2015 to go on trial. Critics say the campaign is aimed at snuffing out any potential opposition to the ruling Communist Party.
In remarks available to watch on video on the court’s Sina Weibo microblog account, Jiang said he felt remorse for his “criminal behavior” and that he deserved “whatever punishment I get.”
“I also hope that those so-called human rights activists and lawyers who hold the same ideas as I used to can learn lessons from my case and from today’s trial,” he said. “Don’t do things like this; these kinds of things do cause serious damage to our country, our society and hurt our families.”
Frances Eve, a Hong Kong-based researcher at the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, called Tuesday’s hearing “a pre-written piece of theater” and said that “as expected under the circumstances, Jiang confessed at the end.”
“He was held in a secret location for six months and never given access to the lawyers hired by his family. Any confession under these circumstances wouldn’t hold up in a truly independent court,” Eve said.
Courts in China are controlled by the Communist Party and convictions are virtually assured. Human rights groups and victims say the extraction of coerced confessions, sometimes through the use of physical and psychological torture, is common, despite being banned by Chinese law.
Jiang was taken away by state security agents in November and in March purportedly gave an interview to a state newspaper and was shown on state TV saying that he had made up a story about a lawyer, Xie Yang, being tortured. Jiang’s wife and rights groups said the supposed confessions were false, and his legal team questioned how reporters were able to meet with Jiang when his relatives and lawyers were not.
Xie was released in May after pleading guilty to charges of incitement to subversion and disturbing legal proceedings, and telling the same court he hadn’t been tortured or forced into giving a confession. Xie’s wife, who fled to the U.S., called the trial a sham and the U.S. State Department said Xie’s confession “appeared to be given under duress.”
Jiang was a lawyer who took on politically sensitive cases, and defended blind activist Chen Guangcheng and followers of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual group. He was disbarred in 2009, and became an activist and helped publicize the plight of lawyers arrested in the crackdown that began in July 2015.
Jiang was initially charged with subversion of state power, but it was downgraded to the lesser charge of incitement, which is often punished with time served while under investigation. A sentence will be announced at a later, unspecified date.
Vaguely defined subversion-related charges are frequently leveled against rights activists and perceived political foes of the Communist Party.
Jiang’s friend, former lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, said that Jiang’s case was being dealt with much faster than that of other lawyers, such as Wang Quanzhang, who has been detained since 2015.
Liu said the unusual broadcasting of clips of the case on Sina Weibo meant there was an expectation Jiang would admit guilt.
Despite it being billed as an “open” trial by the court, Liu said a lawyer had applied to attend the hearing but was refused, and that authorities had blocked off the roads surrounding the court.
Diplomats from the embassies of the U.K., Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Germany had sought to attend Jiang’s trial, but were prevented from getting even close to the courthouse because of the sealed-off roads, a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
AP writer Gillian Wong and news assistant Fu Ting contributed to this report.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The giraffes ran in circles. The flamingos huddled together. And the rhinos just looked confused.
At the Nashville Zoo, visitors watched and recorded how the animals behaved when the sky turned dark during Monday’s total solar eclipse. And there was plenty to see when the moon slipped in front of the sun.
The only trouble was with 7,000 visitors and lots of noise — drowning out the zoo animals, crickets and cicadas — zookeepers still have to figure whether the strange behavior was from the eclipse or the people there to watch the show.
The zoo project was one of many science experiments planned for the eclipse. Citizen-scientists and their more professional counterparts loaded up on pictures, video, data and just weird experiences as the eclipse’s shadow crossed the United States, especially paying attention to the edges flaring out of the darkened sun.
Telescopes on the ground, a fleet of satellites and astronauts in space watched the eclipse unfold. High-altitude balloons were released across the country, carrying experiments and providing live video.
Now scientists have to figure out what it all means.
“The balloon footage live was fantastic,” said Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University, who headed the balloon project. “You could really see the sunset effect, the shadow come across.”
For the National Solar Observatory’s Citizen CATE project, everyday people were given telescopes and camera equipment and trained to record the eclipse as it moved from Oregon to South Carolina.
“It was really successful,” said Matt Penn, an astronomer who ran the project.
Skies were clear in at least 50 of the 70 sites, including the first and last locations on the coasts, he said. By the end of Monday night, Penn hoped to have a 70-minute movie stitched together.
“We captured the right images of the science that we wanted,” he said.
Astronomers concentrated on the plumes from the sun’s polar region to help understand why the solar wind speeds up so much, Penn said. The sun’s upper atmosphere, called the corona, or crown, was the focus of astronomers’ attention. It’s easier to study when the sun is blocked.
Honor S. Hare, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, was at an elementary school in Adairville, Kentucky, overseeing the observations there.
“It has been a great opportunity and I have learned so much,” she said.
At the Nashville Zoo, the giraffes were the stars. Especially 6-month-old Mazi and 3-year-old Nasha.
“They’re crazy running around,” said Nate Zatezalo, who came from Cleveland, where he volunteers at the zoo there.
During the full eclipse, all four giraffes ran. That’s not unusual for the two juveniles who scamper at twilight after the crowds leave. But the father giraffe, Congo, “usually doesn’t do anything other than being the dad” and is regal and above it all, said zoo volunteer Stephan Foust. But even the above-it-all dad got in on the running during darkness.
Zookeepers reported that before totality the orangutans climbed to the highest heights they’ve ever gone.
Teresa Morehead of Indianapolis came to the zoo to help track the animals on an app called iNaturalist.
She staked out the giraffes and rhinos. The rhinos wandered a bit, seeming to head to bed.
“I was surprised to the see they were running,'” she said, although noting that they seemed more confused than anything.
AP video journalist Kristin Hall contributed from Nashville.