The U.S. at a glance ...
The U.S. at a glance
Travel ban battle: The Trump administration this week suggested it wouldn’t immediately appeal a ruling on its controversial travel ban to the Supreme Court, and would instead wait to see if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would revisit the case with a larger panel of judges. Last week, a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit upheld a temporary nationwide halt to the ban, which suspends the nation’s refugee program and travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, until its constitutionality is decided. The ruling led Trump to tweet “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” But a judge from the Seattle-based appeals court then requested that the case be submitted to a wider vote of 11 judges—also known as an en banc panel. The Department of Justice indicated it would wait to see if that request is granted before launching an appeal. Trump also said he was considering signing a new, more limited, immigration order.
Dam scare: Emergency crews raced to repair the Oroville Dam this week as it came close to collapse— threatening to swamp the homes of about 188,000 residents in a catastrophic flood. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated when the dam’s emergency spillway—designed to slowly release excess water from the Lake Oroville reservoir—developed a 200-foot-long, 30-foot-deep gash. With new storms approaching and the reservoir’s water levels already high from record-setting rains, fears grew that the spillway could crumble and unleash a 30-foot wall of water on communities. Officials lifted the mandatory evacuation when the lake’s water level dropped and the hole was plugged, but cautioned residents to stay alert. In 2005, environmental groups warned that the spillway was unsafe and should be armored with concrete; they were overruled by federal officials.
$21.6 billion wall: President Trump’s promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico will cost an estimated $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to build, according to a leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report. Trump had previously said the wall would cost $8 billion; the latest estimate was calculated by a group commissioned by DHS Secretary John Kelly before he requests taxpayer funds from Congress. Under the DHS plan, fences or walls would be built to bridge the remaining 1,250 miles of the 2,000-mile border that currently lie uncovered—starting with sections near San Diego; El Paso, Texas; and the Rio Grande Valley. A growing number of Republican lawmakers oppose the project, arguing that a physical barrier would be too expensive and wouldn’t stop illegal immigration. Trump tweeted that the price would come “WAY DOWN!” once he got involved “in the design.”
Voter fraud conviction: A Mexican woman living legally in Texas was sentenced to eight years in prison last week for casting illegal votes in elections in 2012 and 2014. Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, was brought to the U.S. as an infant and later became a permanent resident, marrying an American with whom she had four children. Ortega applied to vote in the Fort Worth area, and said that since there was no box for “permanent resident,’’ she checked off a box saying she was a citizen. Ortega said she then cast votes for two Republicans: Mitt Romney in 2012 and Attorney General Ken Paxton in 2014. Ortega said she didn’t understand the difference between the rights granted to citizens and to legal residents. Her case marked a rare conviction for voter fraud, and her sentence was much harsher than a previous fraudulent ballot case in Fort Worth, in 2015, which ended with probation.
New York City, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta
Deportation raids: At least 680 people have been arrested by federal immigration authorities conducting deportation raids across the country— detaining people at their workplaces and outside their homes and panicking immigrant communities in major cities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the raids were routine, and that many of those arrested had histories of violent crime. But a quarter of those sw ept up had no prior convictions. Immigration officials said most of those detained were classified as “criminal aliens”—which the Trump administration is now defining to
include people who have entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed their visa. That could apply to all 11 million of the nation’s undocumented immigrants. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said the Trump administration was trying to look “tough on criminals—when in reality, they’re breaking up families.”
Trump meets Bibi: President Trump backed away from America’s commitment to the twostate solution this week as he held his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that it was up to the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a peace deal that both parties like. “I’m looking at two states and one state,” said Trump in a press conference, adding: “I could live with either one.” Trump urged Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”—a reference to Israel’s controversial construction work in the occupied territories. Netanyahu said a two-state solution was possible only if Palestinians recognized Israel’s legitimacy and let Israel keep security control of the West Bank. Trump expressed confidence he could work out a peace deal despite the failure of previous presidents, saying, “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.” A visibly uncomfortable Netanyahu responded, “Let’s try.”