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Boy sings 'Coco' song at late baby sister's altar in emotional viral video

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 3:17 AM

WATCH: Boy Sings "Coco" Song At Baby Sister's Altar

A Texas boy is reminding people that love lives on forever, no matter what.

Alex Deais, 4, of San Antonio said goodbye to his 4-month-old baby sister, Ava Lynn, last May. For her first birthday, he sang a special song for his sister, which his mother, Stephanie Deais, caught on camera.

>> Read more trending news 

The emotional video shows Alex strumming a tune on his plastic guitar while he sings “Remember Me” from the movie “Coco.” He didn’t know he was being recorded because he was facing a photo of his sister.

>> Watch the video here

Ava Lynn’s first birthday would have been Dec. 30.

Happy Birthday to my angel, Ava Lynn. I can't believe you're already ONE! Mama and Baba love you so very much and miss you just as much. I think of you every moment of my existence. I feel you in my heart and soul. I wish I was holding you in my arms watching you take your first steps. I wish we were having a huge party with all of our family and friends. All I can think about everyday is what new thing you'd be learning. If you would've said your first word already, and then go on to argue with your mom that you said "Baba" before "Mama" . I wish for so many things to be different. It doesn't feel fair and it never will. I was supposed to have forever with you. But maybe God needed you more. Maybe heaven needed an angel. And hard to argue with that, because who better than you? I love you forever Ava Lynn ❤️🌻

A post shared by Samir Deais (@samirdeais) on

Alex’s parents posted the video to Twitter, where it has been viewed more than 1 million times.

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Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at border were detained together

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:52 PM

Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images
Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)(John Moore/Getty Images)

Before the Trump administration started separating parents and children caught illegally crossing the border, immigrant families were held together in two facilities in South Texas

>> Read more trending news

Human rights activists were outraged by the Obama administration’s decision to lock up the families, calling the practice inhumane and psychologically harmful. Immigrant watchdogs, meanwhile, argued that the family detention centers helped deter illegal immigration and protect national security.

At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, women and children lived 12 to a building, complete with bunk beds. From their barracks, they could walk a short distance to a library, chapel and medical and dental clinics. There was also a “city park” with a soccer field, volleyball court and playground. Children attended school for four hours a day.

Erika Cisneros is one of the more than 100 attorneys, paralegals and other volunteers who recently streamed into South Texas to help the immigrant families. She objects to separating the children from their parents, and said she is particularly worried about the long-term psychological impact on the boys and girls. 

Watch Video from Inside the Border Protection's Processing Detention Center in Texas

“You have innocent young children who didn’t choose, didn’t make that decision to come with their parents. Their parents brought them,” said Cisneros, an immigration attorney based in Moultrie, Georgia. “These kids are being traumatized.”

>> Related: How to help immigrant children separated from families

President Donald Trump addressed the issue Monday at the White House during a meeting with the National Space Council, emphasizing border security and repeating his call for a merit-based legal immigration system.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said. “It won't be. If you look at what's happening in Europe, if you look at what's happening in other places, we can't allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch.”

In 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution visited that facility in Dilley and another one in Karnes City, Texas, and interviewed some of the detainees and the pro bono attorneys from Georgia who were helping them. 

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Immigration: Trump administration defends 'zero tolerance' policy (live updates)

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:22 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:22 PM

Watch Video from Inside the Border Protection's Processing Detention Center in Texas

White House officials pushed back Monday against critics of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The policy has led to the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

>> Read more trending news

Update 6:00 p.m. EDT June 18: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, during a briefing Monday afternoon, said there’s nothing new about the current policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border

"This entire crisis is not new, Nielsen said, pointing to "loopholes" in federal immigration laws from the past, but that could change this week with the introduction of several immigration measures in the U.S. House and Senate, including one from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz is expected to introduce the “Protect Kids and Parents Act,” according to news reports. The measure would double the number of federal immigration judges from 375 to 750. It would authorize new temporary shelters to better accommodate families. 

The bill would mandate that immigrant families remain together, unless there’s criminal conduct or a threat to the children, and it would require that asylum cases are heard within 14 days of application.  

Update 5:35 p.m. EDT June 18:  The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, addressed the growing backlash over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy at the southern U.S. border, which is separating undocumented children from their parents. Nielsen defended the policy and urged 

Congress to fix the system and close the loopholes.

Update 5:30 p.m. EDT June 18: Two more first ladies have weighed in on the widening controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern U.S. border. Michelle Obama retweeted comments Laura Bush made that Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter also released a statement Monday, according to The New York Times. "The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents' care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country," Carter said.

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT June 18: The Department of Health and Human Services has released photos of the “tent city” in the Texas border outpost of Tornillo, just outside of El Paso, where the U.S. government is sending children separated from their parents at the border. There are already dozens of children at the facility, according to news reports.

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT June 18: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, called Monday for the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amid the ongoing debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

The demand came one day after Nielsen said in a tweet that, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Nielsen echoed President Donald Trump’s claims that a law is behind the recent spike in separations of migrant children and their parents at the border.

“We will not apologize for enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” Nielsen said. “We are a nation of laws. We are asking Congress to change the laws.”

However, as Harris and numerous fact checkers have noted, there is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.

Harris said in a statement Monday that Nielsen’s “misleading statements ... are disqualifying.”

“We must speak the truth,” Harris said. “There is no law that says the Administration has to rip children from their families. This Administration can and must reverse course now and it can and must find new leadership for the Department of Homeland Security.”

Update 2:30 p.m. June 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that President Donald Trump is telling an “outright lie” when he claims that Democrats are behind the recent surge in separations of children from their parents on the border.

“This is not happening because of the 'Democrats' law,' as the White House has claimed,” Clinton said. “Separating families is not mandated by law at all.”

 

Clinton, who ran as a Democrat against Trump during the 2016 presidential election, also appeared to chastise U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cited a Bible verse last week while justifying the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

“Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity,” Clinton said. “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say, ‘Let the children suffer.’”

 

Update 2 p.m. EDT June 18: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged President Donald Trump to end the policy that’s allowed authorities to separate migrant children from their parents on the border, writing Monday on Twitter that "children shouldn't be used as a negotiating tool.”

“(Trump) should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers,” he wrote.

 

The president has repeatedly called for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to address illegal immigration after falsely claiming that the party is behind laws that mandate the separation of child from parent at the border. No such law exists. 

Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, ran against Trump in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination.

>> Laura Bush, Melania Trump speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

In an op-ed published Sunday by the Washington Post, former first lady Laura Bush called the Trump administration policy “cruel.”

"I live in a border state," Bush wrote. "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."

First lady Melania Trump has also criticized the policy, telling CNN in a statement through her spokeswoman that “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

Update 12:46 p.m. EDT June 18: President Donald Trump again accused Democrats of obstructing efforts to deal with illegal immigration and the separation of children and parents at the border, telling reporters Monday that “we’re stuck with these horrible laws” because Democrats refuse to sit down with Republicans.

There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border.

“We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world,” Trump said. “Nobody has such sad, such bad – and in many cases, such horrible and tough – you see about child separation. You see what’s going on there.”

 

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said.

 

Update 12 p.m. EDT June 18: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said authorities don’t want to separate children from their families but that officials have a duty to prosecute people who illegally cross the border.

“When we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals and (our) social programs,” Sessions said Monday during the National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in New Orleans.

 

He framed the issue as a debate over “whether we want to be a country of laws or whether we want to be a country without borders.”

“President Trump has said this cannot continue,” Sessions said. “We do not want to separate parents from their children. If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices. We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally.”

Sessions’ arguments echoed those of President Donald Trump, who has blamed Democrats for passing laws that he said led to the separations.

There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier Monday that officials will not apologize for enforcing immigration laws.

"We have to do our job," she said.

 

Original report: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy on Monday, writing in a series of tweets that children are being used “by the worst criminals on earth” to get into America as critics slammed the policy for separating children from their parents.

“Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump wrote. “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.”

 

The president pointed to a rise in crime in Germany as an example of the chaos caused by illegal immigration, writing in a tweet that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture.”

   

However, Germany’s internal ministry reported last month that criminal offenses in the country were at their lowest since 1992, according to Reuters.

This spring, the Trump administration ordered prosecutors to charge every person illegally crossing the border. Children traveling with the adults have been separated and placed in detention centers, prompting protests nationwide.

The president has blamed Democrats for not fixing the law that allows for the separations.

“Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration,” the president wrote. “Change the laws!”

     

Despite his claim that Democrats are at fault for the situation, The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration “put the policy in place and could easily end it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Smooth criminal? Michael Jackson's former elephant briefly escapes Florida zoo enclosure

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 8:35 AM

Fast Facts about Elephants

On Sunday afternoon, Ali the African elephant briefly wandered through an open gate into a contained courtyard behind the giraffe and elephant night house, according to press release from Florida's Jacksonville Zoo.

>> Watch the news report here

He was quickly returned and secured in a holding enclosure, the zoo said.

There were no guests, staff members or animals, including Ali, injured during the incident, according to the zoo.

The zoo said incident was a result of human error. When the elephant keepers realized Ali was not in his holding yard, they called a “code-red."

>> Read more trending news 

While no guests were in danger, any time an animal is not where it is supposed to be, established safety protocols go into effect, according to the release.

Ali was donated in 1997 from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, according to the zoo.

>> See the zoo's Facebook post here

What do you do when an elephant ends up in a yard he’s not supposed to be in? You moonwalk him back to his proper...

Posted by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Sunday, June 17, 2018
Michael Jackson - A Timeline

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Puerto Rico still needs help: List of volunteer opportunities, charities

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 1:06 PM

Puerto Rico Death Toll Nearly 5,000 High Post-Maria, Study Says

Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, is estimated to have resulted in up to 5,000 fatalities in its aftermath.

Maria caused the longest blackout in U.S. history, leaving the entire island of 3.3 million people, including those in hospitals and nursing homes who relied on respirators, without power. 

>> Read more trending news 

"Indirect deaths resulting from worsening of chronic conditions or from delayed medical treatments may not be captured on death certificates," Harvard University researchers said in a May 2018 study, which contended that the official government death toll of 64 is a "substantial underestimate."

Related: Study: Puerto Rico death toll 4,600 higher post-Maria

According to the study, this makes Hurricane Maria more than twice as deadly as Hurricane Katrina. 

Following the Harvard report, more than 400 pairs of empty shoes were placed outside the capital building in San Juan, part of a growing memorial to the hundreds of people presumed dead during or in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told CNN there would be “hell to pay” if officials do not release the updated death toll.

Related: Puerto Rico’s empty shoes: Public demands transparency in Hurricane Maria death toll

The Category 5 storm hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in mid-September and eventually downgraded to a Category 4, but not before it plowed through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, flooded the streets, collapsed homes and left the entire territory without power.

Though it’s been several months since the disaster, the U.S. territory could still use your help. Here are some ways to give assistance to Puerto Rico.

Related: Volunteer trip to Puerto Rico reveals an island still recovering from Hurricane Maria

Support Puerto Rico tourism

Tourism makes up 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product. While many resorts and attractions are still struggling to reopen their doors to tourists, about 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s hotels and restaurants officially began serving customers again in April. Many resorts, including the Dorado Beach Resort, which is a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort are set to open in October.

Tourists walk along San Sebastian street on April 18, 2018 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico as a major failure knocked out the electricity in Puerto Rico that day, leaving the entire island without power nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria destroyed the electrical grid. It could take up to 36 hours to restore electricity to nearly 1.5 million affected customers. Tourism is one way to support Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from Maria. (Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)(Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

"Tourism dollars means that more than 50,000 people will keep their jobs and businesses will keep running," New York Magazine reported.

Airbnb announced in May that, for the next three months, it will be donating any fees from booked trips to recovery organizations, such as All Hands Volunteers.

And while you’re in Puerto Rico, be sure to visit the farmers markets, which have suffered from buyer loss due to post-hurricane island flight.

Related: Hurricane season is officially here. How much damage will 2018 bring?

Your Puerto Rican adventures can do some good, too.

"Rappelling down San Cristobal Canyon supports conservation efforts in the area, a snorkeling trip to a coral reef or mangrove forest might include collecting data on local flora and fauna, and nighttime kayaking to the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay helps fund initiatives to reduce light pollution," Travel and Leisure reported, adding that most tours are under $15 and can be booked online.

You can also plant trees while in the area by signing up with Para La Naturaleza in Cabo Rojo or Barranquitas, or help clean up the coast and help the ecosystems in Manatí.

Related: FEMA tells Southeast to prepare for 2018 hurricane season

The official Islands of Puerto Rico website says, "Thank you in advance for your interest in visiting Puerto Rico and supporting our recovery by simply vacationing on the island."

Donate money

You can donate funds to a variety of nonprofits and aid organizations working to help Puerto Rico recover. Here are some reputable sites to consider giving monetary donations to:

  • Google.org: Google has committed to matching up to $2 million in donations made between June 8-20 in this campaign heralded by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Your full donation goes directly to one of the charities listed on the official website. Many on the list are also mentioned below.
  • Save the Children: Emergency relief and help for children directly affected by the hurricane.
  • Mercy Corps: Long-term local solutions.
  • Heart to Heart International: Medical care.
  • Hispanic Federation: Provides grants to support more than 70 aid/recovery nonprofits in Puerto Rico.
  • Project HOPE: Medical care.
  • Water Mission: Safe and clean water system restoration.
  • Direct Relief: Health care safety net.
  • First Book: Books and educational resources for children affected.
  • Global Giving: Emergency supplies plus long-term recovery assistance.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Rebuilding and repair.
  • Mission 500: Security company working to serve communities in crisis; holding service trip in the fall.
  • UNICEF: Emergency relief and help for children affected.
  • Amigos de Los Animales: Animal rescue.
  • All Hands: Structural recovery.

Charity Navigator can be used to learn more about the organizations before donating. Note that sending money via text message may seem convenient, but according to The Associated Press, that’s not the case. Charities often have to wait on phone companies to release the money.

Related: How dangerous is a hurricane? Understanding hurricane categories

Volunteer
  • Connect Relief: Food distribution and home reconstruction.
  • Join Mission 500: Security industry professionals interested in assisting families during a service trip from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.
  • All Hands: Gutting, mucking, debris removal, mold sanitations, cement roofing via computer-generated imagery. Two-week volunteer commitments in Barranquitas and Yabucoa available.
  • Para La Naturaleza: Cleaning and taking care of ecological gardens; helping endangered species.
  • Visit Rico: Farming, agriculture experts .
  • Amigos de los Animales: Help local animal shelters find homes for abandoned cats and dogs. Volunteers can also help clean shelters and photograph animals for the organization’s website.
  • Instituto Nueva Escuela: Help paint schools, repair playgrounds and mentor children affected by school closings and budget cuts post-Maria.
  • Americas for Conservation and the Arts: Social media experts, digital and web-proficient workers to help with volunteer coordination.
  • Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen: Help cook and package fresh meals from one of the #ChefsForPuertoRico kitchens to deliver to the territory’s recovering communities.
  • Explora PR: Adventure travel company with internship and volunteer opportunities geared toward outreach, summer camps, camps for children with autism spectrum disorder and more.
  • Vamonos: Student-focused tour operator with volunteer opportunities related to service in orphanages, foster homes, soup kitchens, construction, environment, schools and more.

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