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Trump sends immigration plan to Congress, mum on H1-B visas



New York, Oct 9, 2017: US President Donald Trump has sent a new 70-point enforcement plan to Congress proposing the stiffest reforms ever offered by an administration, but kept mum on the H1-B visas.

Trump’s request for sweeping immigration reforms unveiled by the White house Sunday night would continue to allow the spouses and children of immigrants to get green cards or permanent resident status but not their brothers, sisters and parents.

“The goal of the merit-based system that awards green cards based on factors like education, employability and English language proficiency is “to promote assimilation and financial success,” the White House said.

A merit-based system is likely to benefit India if the national quotas limiting green cards to about 20,000 per country per year are also done away with and they are awarded purely on merit.

Because of the large number of highly qualified Indians, for most of the professionals from the country there is a 11-year wait to get green cards and a merit-based system could cut down the delay. Professionals from all countries except India and three others do not have to wait for their green cards.

Trump’s package of wide-ranging proposals made to keep his election promise of getting tough on immigration faces stiff opposition in the Congress from Democrats and some Republicans and is unlikely to pass in the near future.

The request to Congress for legislation formalises the immigration reform plan he announced in August.

The proposals sent on Sunday deal only with permanent immigration and with illegal immigration, and not with the temporary H1-B visas given to professionals and advanced degree-holders from US universities.

India has expressed concern over the future of H1-B visas because Trump had said during his election campaign that he would limit them because he asserted they affected the employment prospects of Americans.

When External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month, she raised the H1-B visas.

So far the H1-B system has been functioning without any changes and the immigration service is processing applications at the same levels as before.

One of the items in the proposal that concerns Indians is the future of those brought in illegally by their parents as children and have grown up here.

It is estimated that there about 7,500 Indians in this category referred to as “Dreamers”.

Former President Barack Obama issued a presidential order allowing the “Dreamers” to remain in the US and to work.

Trump is rescinding the order and asking Congress to pass a law to allow them to stay on.

Yet another issue that concerns India is that of illegal immigrants and criminals whom the US wants to deport, but New Delhi has refused to accept some of them because of what it says are inadequate proof of their identity and Indian citizenship.

Trump wants Congress to enact laws to circumvent court rulings against indefinite detention of criminals who cannot be deported and allow the government to keep them in custody.

Three other major requests from Trump include funding the building of a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants, tightening standards for admitting asylum-seekers, and enabling the “prompt” deportation of unaccompanied minors and families illegally entering the country.

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the ‘Dreamers’ if they begin with a list that is anathema to the ‘Dreamers’,” Democratic leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, said.

Explaining the request for a merit-based immigration system, the White House said they were to “establish a point-based system for awarding green cards that protects US workers and taxpayers, encourages assimilation, and ensures the financial self-sufficiency of newcomers”.

Administration officials who briefed reporters by phone, pointed out that the US was the only major industrialised country that did not have a merit-based immigration system.


Top tech firms halt Hong Kong’s requests for users” data

Twitter said in an earlier statement that it has “grave concerns and is committed to protecting the people using our services and their freedom of expression”.




San Francisco, July 7 : Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Twitter and Telegram have said they will not process official requests from the Hong Kong authorities to hand over user data for the time being, in the wake of China imposing a controversial new National Security Law in Hong Kong.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, WhatsApp decided to pause the review of Hong Kong government requests for user data “pending further assessment” of China”s national-security law for territory.

Facebook is “pausing” such reviews “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts,” a WhatsApp spokeswoman was quoted as saying in the report.

Google and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect.

Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

Dubai-based Telegram Group said in a statement that it doesn”t intend to process “any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city.”

A company spokesperson said it “has never shared any data with the Hong Kong authorities in the past.”

The people in Hong Kong fear that the new law can send them to jail on the basis of their social media posts and messages.

After China imposed a controversial new National Security Law in Hong Kong, tech giants now face a free speech test in the country.

The new law requires local authorities to take steps to supervise and regulate the city”s internet.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube currently operate freely in Hong Kong, unlike China where the great Firewall has censored the US tech giants in mainland China.

Twitter said in an earlier statement that it has “grave concerns and is committed to protecting the people using our services and their freedom of expression”.

The Hong Kong government last week said the US has no right to intervene in the city”s internal affairs, after the American Senate unanimously passed a punitive sanctions bill in reaction to the controversial new National Security Law imposed by China.

The national security law, which Beijing put into effect and made public last week on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong”s handover from British to Chinese rule, criminalises a wide range of behaviour and acts under four categories of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign power.

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7 killed in Karachi rain

The provincial disaster management authority of Sindh province, where Karachi is located, issued a warning of urban flooding in parts of the city and other areas.




Pakistan Rains Flood
Pakistan Rains (File Picture)

Karachi, July 7 : At least seven people were killed and several others injured in Pakistan’s Karachi city in separate rain-related incidents.

After weeks of extremely hot weather, the residents of Karachi on Monday found solace when the first monsoon rain in the ongoing summer season hit the port city of over 20 million people, but at the same time the unfortunate incidents of electrocution, roof collapse and uprooting of trees and billboards claimed seven lives, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), rainfall up to 43 mm was recorded in the city, and it wreaked havoc in the areas where it was coupled with heavy winds.

Rescue teams said that the rainwater inundated several low-lying areas of the city, creating trouble for the residents.

Road traffic was also disrupted in several areas after rainwater submerged highways and other roads.

Electric poles also uprooted in several areas of the city, resulting in hours-long suspension of electricity supply.

The provincial disaster management authority of Sindh province, where Karachi is located, issued a warning of urban flooding in parts of the city and other areas.

The authority said heavy rainfall is expected in the province due to the monsoon and the residents and concerned departments of the urban areas should remain alert and take necessary precautionary measures during the forecast periods to avert any unfortunate incident.

The PMD forecast more rains on the same pattern in the city for the next two days.

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Situation ‘really not good’ as new COVID-19 cases break records: Fauci

The worst-hit states due to the fresh outbreak are California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.




Anthony Fauci

Washington, July 7 : America’s top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci warned “the current state is really not good” due to the fresh spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“We had been in a situation (where) we were averaging about 20,000 new cases a day,” Xinhua news agency quoted Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as saying on Monday.

In a livestream with Director of the US National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, Fauci said a series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up, in the sense of getting back to some form of normality, has led to a situation where the country now has record-breaking cases.

He said the average age of people getting infected now is 15 years younger than it was a few months ago, but young people must understand they are not “in a vacuum”.

“Innocently, they could infect someone who’d infect someone, and then all of a sudden someone’s grandmother or grandfather, or aunt who”s getting chemotherapy for breast cancer gets infected.

“You’re part of the propagation of the pandemic so it’s your responsibility to yourself, as well as to society, to avoid infection,” Fauci added.

The US currently accounts for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities at 2,935,008 and 130,277, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

The worst-hit states due to the fresh outbreak are California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

Nearly two dozen states have paused their reopenings to combat the virus spread while others have taken extra measures to keep it out of their borders, said a CNN report.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory that requires people arriving from eight states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for two weeks.

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