The latest local news

Puerto Ricans call for resignation of governor after Hurricane Maria supplies found in warehouse

WQAD News -

(CNN) -- Puerto Ricans poured into the streets of San Juan on Monday calling for the resignation of Gov. Wanda Vázquez.

The protests come days after Hurricane Maria supplies were found in a warehouse over the weekend in the city of Ponce, on Puerto Rico's southern coast. They included numerous pallets of water and other boxes with emergency supplies. The discovery took place as the US territory struggles with tremors and aftershocks from a December earthquake.

Protesters were seen Monday banging pots outside the governor's mansion in San Juan.

Vázquez took to Twitter hoping to quell the outrage among citizens.

"I respect the constitutional right of citizens to demonstrate," she said. "There is no need for the use of the shock force at this time."

The protests were reminiscent of what took place in Puerto Rico last summer when protesters filled the street demanding the resignation of then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who resigned in August.

Warehouse supplies distributed Monday

Officials in Puerto Rico began distributing the Hurricane Maria supplies Monday, according to Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The supplies were sent to the 18 municipalities included on the White House's disaster declaration, Reyes said.

"Most of the water here and baby formula is outdated. There are cots, camping stoves, blue tarps," Reyes said. "The expired items will be disposed of."

While the supplies were reported to be from Hurricane Maria, Reyes could not confirm the purpose of the supplies, saying he did not want to speculate because there was no inventory for the items.

Protestors demand the resignation of Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced during new protests in front of the Governors mansion on January 20, 2020 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Residents are protesting after a warehouse full of relief supplies, reportedly dating back to Hurricane Maria in 2017, were found having been left undistributed to those in need. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

Puerto Rico will investigate mismanagement

Vázquez fired three officials within 24 hours of the supplies being found.

Carlos Acevedo, the director of Puerto Rico's Office of Emergency Management, was dismissed Saturday. Acevedo was replaced by Nino Correa, the governor said.

Sunday, Vázquez announced the dismissal of her secretary of family services, Glorimar Andújar, and secretary of housing, Fernando Gil-Enseñat.

Vázquez on Monday referred the investigation into the warehouse to the island's Department of Justice.

Reyes said he does not know whether the items in the warehouse were originally intended for the victims of Hurricane Maria and was unaware the items were in the warehouse because he retired in December 2017, months after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island.

"The Puerto Rico Management Agency shouldn't have had warehouses to store items," Reyes said.

December's earthquake has left more than 8,000 people living in outdoor shelters in the cities of Yauco, Peñuelas, Guánica, Guayanilla and Ponce. Some of those displaced are residents who are too afraid to return home for fear a wall or roof will collapse.

5-year-old Illinois boy asked for bedding on birthday, donated to kids in need

WQAD News -

(CNN) -- While most kids would ask for the hottest toys for their birthday, five-year-old Tyler Sliz from Libertyville, Illinois, asked for something unexpected -- bedding... yes, like blankets, pillows and sheets.

In a video to guests of his birthday party, which took place last October, Tyler asked for bedding so he could donate it to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization that builds, assembles and delivers beds to children in need.

"He told all of the guests that if they brought anything else, he wouldn't play with it," Tyler's mom, Jackie, told CNN.

Family and friends arrived with bags of blankets, pillows and sheets in hand. Two guests gave Tyler money, but even that he used to buy more bedding, Jackie said.

The Sliz family initially learned of Sleep in Heavenly Peace through their church St. Joseph Catholic Church. Tyler wanted to help build beds, but his young age didn't allow that.

"[Building beds] was something Tyler was wanting to do because he really likes carpentry work and working on projects with his dad," Jackie said. "But to build the beds, you have to be 12 years old."

So instead, Tyler turned to donating bedding and what started out as a small birthday request has grown. Tyler's cause even caught the attention of Illinois Rep. Mary Edly-Allen, who gave Tyler a check, according to his dad, Brad. Tyler, of course, used the check buy more bedding. Since his birthday, Tyler has helped donate 125 pieces of bedding to Sleep in Heavenly Peace and more donations and checks keep coming in, Brad said.

Tyler has even made his cause into a family-wide project. In October, four generations of the Sliz family participated in a build day.

"Jackie and I got to sand down a bunch of raw lumber. Tyler helped assemble the bolt bags with his grandparents and his great-grandmother. That was fun," Brad said.

"[Tyler] is just a ray of joy," said Dan Harris, co-president of Sleep in Heavenly Peace Libertyville chapter. "Everybody in the chapter loves hearing about Tyler and seeing him drop off the bedding."

Sleep in Heavenly Peace has 183 chapters in 44 states and three countries, according to its website. But the Libertyville chapter focuses on providing beds to children 3 to 17 years old in the Lake, McHenry and Cook counties in the Chicago metro area.

"The one place kids go for refuge is their bed," Harris said. "Parents have to sometimes choose between having food on their table or heating their homes or a having a bed. So we make it easier for children to have a bed and we give the child something of their own."

Tyler has already surpassed his initial goal of 100 pieces of bedding, but he said he's not stopping there.

His next goal? To fill "my whole houseful" with bedding to donate, Tyler said excitedly.

Navy to name new aircraft carrier for African American WWII hero

WQAD News -

(CNN) -- The US Navy will name a new aircraft carrier after Doris "Dorie" Miller, a decorated African American World War II veteran who defended Pearl Harbor during the 1941 attack on the Hawaii naval base, making it the first aircraft carrier to be named after an African American.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the slain civil rights leader.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun aboard the battleship USS West Virginia "until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship," according to a Navy biography, which said he "had not been trained to operate" the weapon. Miller said he believed he shot down a Japanese plane during the attack, the biography said.

The following year, Miller received the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Navy, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.

"Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation," Modly said. "His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today."

The aircraft carrier to be named after Miller will also be the first one named after an enlisted sailor, Modly added.

Miller fought in the Pacific Theater until November 1943, when the ship he was assigned to was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo. He was listed as missing for a year and a day before being presumed dead on November 25, 1944, according to his biography.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller also received the Purple Heart Medal and the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, according to the Navy. In 1973, a Knox-class frigate was named in honor of Miller, but was later decommissioned in the 1990s.

Eleven aircraft carriers are currently in the Navy's fleet. The most recent one, the USS Gerald Ford, was commissioned in 2017 and is the Navy's most expensive warship.

In the Kitchen with Fareway: Chicken Curry and a Coconut Rice Power Bowl

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois--- Whitney Hemmer from Fareway Food Stores showed us how to make a very unique dish Tuesday, January 21.

Chicken Curry and Coconut Rice Power Bowl 

Makes 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

 

Ingredients

For coconut rice:

-1 cup water

-¾ cup full fat coconut milk

-1 tsp. brown sugar

-1 cup long grain rice

- Salt, to taste

 

For chicken:

-1 pound chicken breast, cut into cubes

-1 Tbsp. curry powder

- Salt and pepper, to taste

 

For sauce:

-¼ cup honey

-1 Tbsp. mustard

-2 Tbsp. oil

-¼ tsp. onion powder

-½ tsp. cornstarch

-2 tsp. water

-1½ tsp. curry powder

-¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

 

For the power bowl:

-2 cups chopped kale

-1 sweet potato, cubed and roasted

 

Directions

In a saucepan, bring water, coconut milk and brown sugar and salt to a boil. Add rice. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Season chicken with curry powder, salt and pepper. Add a small amount of oil to a large sauté pan and sauté for 5–10 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken cubes) or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan.

Combine sauce ingredients and add to the same pan you cooked the chicken in. Bring to a simmer, then add chicken back to the pan. Cook for 5–10 minutes or until flavors have joined.

To assemble: mix kale with coconut rice and divide among four bowls. Top with chicken, sauce and roasted sweet potatoes.

Nutrition information per serving: 606 calories; 21.5 g fat; 9.9 g saturated fat; 76.5 mg cholesterol; 153.6 mg sodium; 68.2 g carbohydrate; 5.3 g fiber; 21.2 g sugar; 34.8 g protein

Moline wants your thoughts on what art to bring downtown

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois-- The City of Moline is developing a Master Art Plan for the downtown and riverfront area. City and community leaders at looking at different art forms to add to the area, from sculptures to murals to performance art.

"[We want to] engage the community in really participating and deciding what that future looks like," says Alexandra Elias, the CEO and president of Renew Moline. "What is public art in Moline? There are many ways you can do public art."

This week, the city has hired consultants from Ohio-based 'Designing Local' to start those conversations. They'll be at the Public Art Steering Committee Tuesday, Jan. 21.

There will also be other chances to give input this week. A survey and interactive map to give feedback is currently online.

People working on this project say art can add to the city culturally and socially.

"I think there are also pretty special areas in downtown that we can also capitalize on to use art to attract more people and make everyone feel like they belong in that space," Elias says. "That's really the point of the plan."

The consultants will be back in town in April to move forward with what art to bring in and how it will be paid for, whether publicly, privately or through grants.

WQAD Sports January 20th

WQAD News -

  •  Galesburg bests Rock Island in Western Big 6 showdown
  • Iowa ranked 19th in AP Top 25
  • Iowa's Luka Garza and C.J. Fredrick B1G honors
  • Illini ready for road battle with Purdue
  • Ferentz high on new starting quarterback Peitras
  • VanHyfte commits to Eastern Illinois

YOUR HEALTH: What can be done when the medicines you need make you even sicker?

WQAD News -

PALO ALTO, California – One medical center has developed an innovative program that uses new technology, genetics, and other tools to personalize care.

For Debbie Spaizman, it means actually getting the help she needs.

She needed surgery, but she hesitated due to how she reacted to pain medication.

"My head would spin.  I really was foggy, and I had itching all over my body," she explained.

"I had no pain relief at all.  I thought twice about having the surgery."

To get answers, Debbie enrolled in the HumanWide Project at Stanford Medical School.

The study flips the model on healthcare by personalizing treatment.

That includes a deep dive into pharmacogenics.

"Pharmacogenomics specifically tests for genes that look at the rate in which we metabolize drugs," said Dr. Megan Mahoney, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.

"It can determine the dosing of medications and also predict any side effects."

That means our genes can play a big role in how we respond to medicine.

And so, with a quick swab of the cheek, Debbie finally got answers.

"The result of the test showed that I'm a slow metabolizer.   Drugs will stay in my system longer than they will for someone else."

With that, a plan started to come together for Debbie.

"We were able to identify the class of opioids that would work for her based on her pharmacogenomic make-up and then she was able to go through with the surgery," said Dr. Mahoney.

Debbie is grateful.

"It was life changing for me."

And she's not the only one.

"25% of patients had a change in their dose of medication based on the pharmacogenomics test," said Dr. Mahoney.

It's an approach that Debbie calls an "absolutely game changer."

Stanford is not the only one paying attention to pharmacogenics.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs is making a big push to personalize medicine for its vets.

The program will enroll those with a history of cancer, but will also inform doctors how patients will metabolize other medicines they need.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

Farm equipment dealers see flat sales season due to rough 2019

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – Farm equipment sales ended 2019 on a flat note according to the Association of Equipment Manufactures.  This comes after farmers had a rough year due to flooded fields and a late harvest.

At the 25th Annual QC Farm Show farmers say they don’t want to invest in large equipment that cost six figures due to their low yields last season.

“The weather was probably the biggest reason for the flat year last year,” says Mark Seipel, a salesperson for Montag Manufacturing.

Some farmers walking around the QC Expo Center are interested in buying, but most say they are just looking.

“It’s mainly just to see what’s new,” says David Dvorak, a West Liberty farmer. “I’m not in the market for any big-ticket items.”

“The farmer leaders the way, we just follow,” says Joe O’Connell, with O’Connell Farm Drainage Plows Inc. “When they’re in tough times it converts for the rest of us (farm equipment dealers).”

O’Connell says he and his company come to the QC Farm Show to gauge their year.  He says he has a lot of people talking, but no one’s committing, which means there’s interest but there’s no money.

And with a wet 2019 behind them, farmers are gearing up with hopes of a better season this year.

“As opportunities get tighter on the farming end, they start looking for opportunities to be more efficient,” says Seipel.

The QC Farm Show goes until Tuesday, January 21st.

Two people were killed and five injured in a Texas club shooting Sunday night

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Two people were killed and five injured after at least one person opened fire inside a Texas club Sunday night, police said.

Police received calls of shots fired around 8 p.m., San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said in a news conference. There seemed to be some kind of altercation inside the club between individuals or a group, McManus said, and that’s when the shots were fired.

Police are looking for one suspect, he said, adding that it’s still unclear whether the shooting was indiscriminate or targeted.

“I’m confident that we will identify the individual and have that person in custody sooner than later,” the chief said.

One 21-year-old male was found dead inside the club. Another victim died after being found in critical condition.

Four people were transported to local hospitals by the San Antonio Fire Department, spokesman Joe Arrington told CNN. Three of the victims had life-threatening injuries.

The last victim arrived at the hospital themselves, Arrington said.

The police chief said officials are still looking into the incident and that the “investigation is not nearly complete.”

2 Honolulu police officers were shot and killed when they answered a call for help. Then the house they responded to went up in flames

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Two Honolulu police officers were shot and killed when they responded to a call for help Sunday in Waikiki.

Following the shooting, a fire broke out at the home the officers had been called to. Three people, including the suspect, remain unaccounted for in the fire.

The chaotic crime scene drew the response of local police and fire as well as multiple other agencies, including the FBI and ATF.

Now the Honolulu Police Department and the community are mourning their slain officers and searching for the remains of the suspect.

A call for help

A woman called 911 Sunday morning around 9 a.m. HST and “said she needed help,” according to Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard.

When officer Tiffany Enriquez arrived at the address in a Waikiki neighborhood, a woman who had been stabbed in the leg had already been found by another officer.

Enriquez and two other officers walked down the driveway of the home where the stabbing took place. As they walked, the suspect — identified by police as Jerry Hanel — began shooting at them, Ballard said during a Sunday night press conference.

Enriquez, a 7-year veteran officer with the department was killed in the shooting, according to Ballard.

Ballard said that after Enriquez was shot, more officers began to show up at the home.

Hanel allegedly opened fire on the second group of officers to arrive, striking Kaulike Kalama, a 9-year veteran with the force, Ballard said.

As more officers rushed to the house, “thick black smoke” started to pour out of the home, Ballard said.

Possible ammunition in the home

Firefighters arrived on the scene as flames engulfed the house and licked at other homes, but they were held back by police out of concern for their safety.

Ballard explained that it sounded as though ammunition in the home was being set off by the fire.

“If they had gotten hit by one of those stray rounds, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night,” Ballard said.

Seven homes were destroyed in the blaze and several other homes sustained fire and smoke damage, according to Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves.

Neves said at the press conference that he wasn’t sure how many people had been displaced in the fire.

Even though authorities opened a shelter to house the displaced residents, none of them needed aid and said they could stay with family and friends, Neves said.

As of Sunday night, the fire had been completely extinguished. Both the fire department and police department continue to investigate the scene.

Three unaccounted for in fire

Police are looking for three people that are unaccounted for — the suspect and two adult women, Ballard said.

Ballard told reporters that the police department will not stop searching for Hanel until they are able to confirm that his remains were in the fire.

Hanel is believed to be in his 60’s, according to Ballard.

Honolulu Police have opened an investigation into two counts of first degree murder, one count of second degree assault and multiple accounts of first degree attempted murder against Hanel, Ballard said.

It could take several days to process the scene, which includes recovering the bodies of those unaccounted for after the fire, the chief said.

The woman who was stabbed was taken to Queens Medical Center for treatment, Ballard said. She was unsure of the woman’s condition.

‘They were like my kids’

Both slain officers had worked directly with Chief Ballard over the years, she said through tears.

Enriquez and Kalama were assigned to District 6 Waikiki with the Honolulu Police Department, Ballard told reporters.

“They were like my kids they were with me for five years,” she said. “I knew each one of them very personally.”

“You know everyday, everyday men and women in blue get up and put on their uniforms and go to work,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said. “Officer Enriquez and Kalama put on their uniforms this morning and they didn’t get home.”

Ballard said the entire department and community is grieving along with the families of the officers she met at Queens Medical Center, where they had been taken for treatment.

The chief struggled with how to describe how the families were feeling when asked by a reporter. “They left in the morning alive and they come to the hospital and find out that their loved ones are no longer around. Very emotional, very emotional,” Ballard said.

A state in mourning

News of the officers’ deaths was met with an outpouring of condolences statewide.

Governor David Ige tweeted, “Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning.”

Democratic Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard also tweeted about the tragedy, saying, “They paid the ultimate price.”

“Today the city and county of Honolulu and the people of Oahu, almost a million strong, lost two members of their family and we’re grieving,” Mayor Caldwell said. “This is a family and people are grieving”

A dentist was filmed extracting a tooth while on a hoverboard. He was found guilty on 46 counts

WQAD News -

(CNN) — A dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, has been convicted on dozens of charges after he was filmed extracting a patient’s tooth as he stood on a hoverboard, according to the Alaska Department of Law.

Seth Lookhart was convicted on 46 felony and misdemeanor counts in Anchorage Superior Court on Friday by Judge Michael Wolverton, who called the evidence presented by the state during a five-week bench trial “overwhelming,” the Department of Law said in a news release.

A lawsuit filed by the state in 2017 charged Lookhart with “unlawful dental acts,” saying his patient care did not meet professional standards.

Lookhart, the lawsuit said, “performed a dental extraction procedure on a sedated patient while riding a hoverboard,” filmed the procedure and then sent it to several people.

In at least one conversation, Lookhart joked that performing oral surgery on a hoverboard was a “new standard of care,” the lawsuit said, citing phone records.

Lookhart was also charged with medical assistance fraud for billing Medicaid for procedures that were either unnecessary or not properly justified and theft of $25,000 or more by diverting funds from Alaska Dental Arts, among dozens of others.

The evidence indicated Lookhart “believed that he could get away with his fraud indefinitely, and that he believed his scheme was foolproof,” Judge Wolverton said, according to the Department of Law’s news release. That evidence “was often supported, and often in excruciating detail, by Lookhart’s own texts, photos and videos.”

An attorney for Lookhart, who had pleaded not guilty on all counts, declined to comment Sunday.

He’s expected to be sentenced on April 30.

‘It’s crazy!’ hoverboard patient said

The Alaska Department of Law thanked several of Lookhart’s former patients who testified during the trial, including the patient whose tooth was removed while Lookhart was filmed on the hoverboard.

Veronica Wilhelm testified she did not consent to being filmed while sedated nor to having her tooth taken out while Lookhart was on the hoverboard, CNN affiliate KTUU reported last month.

Wilhelm didn’t even know about the video until she was contacted by investigators, she said.

“I would’ve said ‘hell no!’ No, that’s unprofessional,” she testified, per KTUU. “It’s crazy.”

Stockler apologized to Wilhelm in court on his client’s behalf.

“It’s unacceptable and be assured that when I agreed to represent him I got in his face and told him what I thought about him for doing this,” he said.

According to KTUU, Wilhelm addressed Lookhart and told him she thought he “could’ve made better choices.”

Dust storms and golf ball-sized hail are battering southeastern Australia

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Parts of southeastern Australia are being pelted by hailstones the size of golf balls, big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms.

The hailstorms arrived in the national capital Canberra on Monday afternoon, covering the ground with white balls of ice and leaves that have been stripped from trees. People ran for cover, and drivers pulled off the road to try and find underground parking for fear of hailstone damage.

The hail stopped after about 15 minutes, but the hailstones, measuring about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide, were enough to break windows and injure scores of birds, said Tom Swann, a researcher at the Australian Institute based in Canberra. He found an injured cockatoo that “screeched horribly” and took it to the vet, where there was a “steady stream of injured birds coming in.”

“Someone behind us at the vet brought in another galah, another brought a currawong, another a crow,” he told CNN.

The hailstorm is now headed east toward the coastal cities of Sydney, Wollongong, and Newcastle, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. The bureau warned that the cities could see “damaging winds (possibly destructive), large hailstones (possibly giant) and heavy rainfall.”

The hailstorm comes less than 24 hours after massive dust storms swept through New South Wales late Sunday afternoon, blanketing entire towns and blacking out the sun.

Images from the ground showed huge, rolling clouds of dust, at least ten stories high. The dust storm moved fast, engulfing neighborhoods in minutes and obscuring what previously was a blue sky.

The dust storms first hit the town of Narromine, in the center of the state, before moving east to the town of Dubbo and then south to the town of Parkes, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

The storm wasn’t just tall, it was long — videos show a dust storm that appears to stretch for miles, surrounding the perimeter of Narromine.

Residents from Dubbo and Parkes described the sky turning orange as the dust storm approached, and posted videos showing the sky completely black only minutes later as the storm fully descended on the towns.

The dust storms were likely kicked up by ferocious winds in the area — wind gusts measured up to 95 kilometers per hour (59 miles per hour) in Parkes and 107 kph (66.5 mph) in Dubbo, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. The state has been suffering from drought for several years, meaning the land is parched and the soil loose — making it easier for dust to be whipped up into the air.

Rain brought some relief Sunday evening, washing away the dust in Dubbo and Parkes. It was especially welcome for these drought-stricken towns, which have only seen light sprinklings of rain since 2017; as the rain fell on Sunday, children ran outside to celebrate, cheering and whooping.

The rain was also a relief for firefighters in the state, battling the worst blazes the country has seen in decades. Rain had fallen on most firegrounds in the state in 24 hours, said the New South Wales Rural Fire Service on Friday.

But the rains weren’t enough to put out the flames, and likely won’t be enough to end the drought. Some have warned that as long as the drought continues, dust storms could continue happening with increasing frequency.

The dust storm on Sunday was the second one in central New South Wales in a week; another giant dust storm hit the town of Forbes, south of Dubbo, last Thursday, Nine News reported.

Symptoms of climate change

The wildfires and dust storms have been exacerbated by extreme heat and drought — which experts say are symptoms of Australia’s climate crisis.

Australia’s bush has been drying out since January 2017 — the worst drought on record. New South Wales has received less than 5 inches (25 millimeters) of rain each year for the past three years, which has never happened before.

The drought has hit rural towns hard. The town of Murrurundi, northwest of Sydney, has not seen significant rain in three years. Water is supplied to towns by trucks that make 10 to 20 trips a day; if the trucks stopped, the town would be completely dry in three days.

The drought has worsened natural phenomena like Sunday’s dust storm — and has also devastated livelihoods. Cattle and sheep farmers have seen their lands turn cracked and bone-dry in recent years, and many are struggling to keep their livestock alive.

“It’s not just dry on the surface,” said cow farmer James Galbraith. “It’s dry right the way down. So what we’re seeing are trees suffering as well as pastures. For us farmers, we’re just holding on.”

Many have pointed to this disastrous weather as a sign that Australia urgently needs climate action. Tens of thousands of people participated in protests around the country earlier this month, calling on the government to do more to combat the climate crisis.

Travel ban expansion could include immigration restrictions on additional countries, sources say

WQAD News -

(CNN) — The Trump administration drafted plans to renew and expand its travel ban list to include immigration restrictions on seven additional countries, according to sources familiar with the process.

Unlike the travel restrictions currently in place, the new rules could limit certain immigrant visas from the additional countries, said a US government official — essentially creating a partial immigration ban.

Not all of the restrictions are uniform, said the official, adding that the proposal limits some immigrant visas from one country and other visas from another.

The plans, which are still under review, are based on interagency input from the departments of Homeland Security and State, as well as the White House, according to the official. President Donald Trump will make the final decision on changes to the ban.

The anniversary of the first travel ban — a Jan. 27, 2017 executive order signed by Trump that suspended refugee resettlement and barred nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries — comes at the end of the month.

According to the administration, the restrictions are used to encourage countries to comply with US national security requirements, such as sharing information with US agencies..

“This is the stick,” to get countries to comply, the official said regarding the new restrictions.

Another source told CNN that the administration is focused on immigrant visas because of the difficulty in removing someone from the US who holds a green card or becomes a US citizen if derogatory information surfaces after someone travels to the US.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Friday that the US is establishing criteria that all foreign governments must satisfy to assist in vetting foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States.

“For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats,” he said in prepared remarks for a Homeland Security Experts Group event.

The White House did not respond to request for comment. The Department of State declined to comment.

BuzzFeed first reported on plans to restrict certain immigrant visas on seven additional countries.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the third version of the travel ban after the previous iterations were challenged in court. The current policy restricts entry from seven countries to varying degrees: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with Venezuela and North Korea. Chad was removed from the list last April, after the White House said the country improved security measures.

When asked about the travel ban on Wednesday, Wolf said the administration “continues to look at that.”

“It’s under review every six months. We continue to do that. We’ve done that for the past three years, every six months. This is part of the process,” he added, declining to provide a timeline for an announcement.

Restrictions are imposed because a country does an inadequate job of sharing information, or otherwise poses an elevated public safety or national security risk, according to Wolf.

In October, CNN reported that Trump administration officials were discussing adding more countries to the travel ban list, two sources said. At the time, fewer than five countries were under consideration, an official said.

The goal, the official said, is to “bring governments into compliance by using the power of access to the United States.” The travel restrictions would be tailored to the countries, if they’re added, and not impose a ban on them altogether, the official noted at the time.

Pages

Subscribe to Danville Telco aggregator - The latest local news