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Biden administration warns of disruption at border if judges halt asylum rule
Law Firm News | 2023/11/10 16:04
The Biden administration on Tuesday urged an appeals court to allow sweeping new asylum restrictions to stay in place, warning that halting them would be “highly disruptive” at the border.

The government is urging a panel of judges in Pasadena, California — two appointed by President Bill Clinton and one by President Donald Trump — to overturn a July ruling that sought to block the new asylum restrictions. The new restrictions made it far more difficult to qualify for asylum if a migrant didn’t first apply online or traveled through another country, such as Mexico, and didn’t seek protection there. They have remained in place during the appeal.

Although the judges didn’t rule immediately and gave no indication how they were leaning, the arguments occurred against a backdrop of Senate Republicans seeking to legislate far-reaching changes to asylum eligibility as part of President Joe Biden’s request for military aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Courts blocked similar measures under Trump but the Biden administration says its approach differs because it is coupled with new legal pathways to enter the country and creates exceptions. However, advocates represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and National Immigrant Justice Center argue that they are recycled Trump-era policies that violate U.S. law allowing people to seek asylum no matter how and where they arrive.

A mobile app introduced in January allows asylum-seekers to make 1,450 appointments per day at official border crossings with Mexico, while the Biden administration has allowed up to 30,000 a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to pursue asylum if they apply online with a financial sponsor and arrive at an airport.

Those new pathways represent “a very significant difference” from Trump policies, said Brian Boynton, a Justice Department attorney. Boynton also noted that 12% of the 57,700 asylum-seekers who were subject to the new rule through September avoided it by proving “exceptionally compelling circumstances,” including “acute medical emergency,” “imminent and extreme threat to life or safety” or being a victim of human trafficking.


Sen. Menendez enters not guilty plea to a new conspiracy charge
Law Firm News | 2023/10/27 21:26
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez returned to Manhattan federal court Monday to challenge a new criminal charge alleging that he conspired to act as an agent of the Egyptian government when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Not guilty,” Menendez, 69, said when Judge Sidney H. Stein asked him for a plea to the charge. It was his first appearance before Stein, who is expected to preside over a trial tentatively scheduled for May.

Stein said the plea was the sole purpose for the hearing and adjourned the proceeding after less than five minutes. The New Jersey Democrat left the courthouse minutes later without speaking to reporters waiting outside. At an arraignment before a magistrate judge last month, Menendez was released on a $100,000 bond.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Menendez repeated his claim that the new charge “flies in the face of my long record of standing up for human rights and democracy in Egypt and in challenging leaders of that country.”

He again called it “as outrageous as it is absurd” and said he has been loyal only to the United States his entire life.

“The facts haven’t changed. The government is engaged in primitive hunting, by which the predator chases its prey until it’s exhausted and then kills it. This tactic won’t work,” he said. “I will not litigate this case through the press, but have made it abundantly clear that I have done nothing wrong and once all the facts are presented will be found innocent.”

Menendez was forced to step down from his powerful post leading the Senate committee after he was charged last month. Prosecutors said the senator and his wife, Nadine Menendez, accepted bribes of cash, gold bars and a luxury car over the past five years from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for a variety of corrupt acts.

The other defendants entered not guilty charges to a superseding indictment last week. The senator was permitted to delay his arraignment so he could tend to Senate duties. He has said that throughout his life he has been loyal to the United States and that he will prove he is innocent.


Judge blocks 2 provisions in North Carolina’s new abortion law
Law Firm News | 2023/10/02 21:50
A federal judge on Saturday blocked two portions of North Carolina’s new abortion law from taking effect while a lawsuit continues. But nearly all of the restrictions approved by the legislature this year, including a near-ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy, aren’t being specifically challenged and remain intact.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles issued an order halting enforcement of a provision to require surgical abortions that occur after 12 weeks — those for cases of rape and incest, for example — be performed only in hospitals, not abortion clinics. That limitation would have otherwise taken effect on Sunday.

And in the same preliminary injunction, Eagles extended beyond her temporary decision in June an order preventing enforcement of a rule that doctors must document the existence of a pregnancy within the uterus before prescribing a medication abortion.

Short of successful appeals by Republican legislative leaders defending the laws, the order will remain in effect until a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a physician who performs abortions challenging the sections are resolved. The lawsuit also seeks to have clarified whether medications can be used during the second trimester to induce labor of a fetus that can’t survive outside the uterus.

The litigation doesn’t directly seek to topple the crux of the abortion law enacted in May after GOP legislators overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. North Carolina had a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks before July 1, when the law scaled it back to 12 weeks.

The law, a response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade, also added new exceptions for abortions through 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies. A medical emergency exception also stayed in place.

On medication abortions, which bill sponsors say also are permitted through 12 weeks of pregnancy, the new law says a physician prescribing an abortion-inducing drug must first “document in the woman’s medical chart the ... intrauterine location of the pregnancy.”

Eagles wrote the plaintiffs were likely to be successful on their claim that the law is so vague as to subject abortion providers to claims that they broke the law if they can’t locate an embryo through an ultrasound because the pregnancy is so new.


Writers’ union reaches tentative deal with Hollywood studios to end strike
Law Firm News | 2023/09/26 22:55
The union representing screenwriters reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios to end a historic strike after nearly five months, raising hopes that a crippling shutdown of movie and television filming could be near an end.

Actors remain on strike, but the deal with writers might help them find a resolution soon as well.

The Writers Guild of America announced the deal Sunday in a joint statement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group that represents studios, streaming services and production companies in negotiations. The agreement must be approved by the guild’s board and members before the strike officially ends. That could happen this week.

The pact “was made possible by the enduring solidarity of WGA members and extraordinary support of our union siblings who joined us on the picket lines for over 146 days,” the guild said in an email to members.

In a longer message from the guild shared by members on social media, the writers were told the strike is not over and no one was to return to work until hearing otherwise, but picketing was to be suspended immediately.

The three-year contract agreement emerged after five marathon days of renewed talks by WGA and AMPTP negotiators, who were joined at times by studio executives. The terms were not immediately announced. The deal to end the last writers strike, in 2008, was approved by more than 90% of union members.

Media and entertainment companies got a small boost from the news. Shares in Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, Disney and Netflix all rose about 2% or less on Monday.


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