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Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 7:45 AM
Updated: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 @ 7:45 AM
OJAI, Calif. — A California dad's heartwarming reaction after his son asked for a doll at the toy store has gone viral.
According to ABC News, Mikki Willis of Ojai recently took his 4-year-old son, Azai, to a toy store to return a duplicate birthday gift. When Willis asked Azai what he wanted in exchange, the youngster picked out a "Little Mermaid" doll.
"Now, how do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?" Willis asks while holding the doll in a video posted to Facebook on Friday.
"Yeah!" Willis and Azai enthusiastically shout in response.
"That's how I feel. ... I let my boys choose their life," Willis adds, referring to Azai and his 1 1/2-year-old brother, Zuri.
"Choose your expression. Choose what you're into. Choose your sexuality. Choose whatever."
The clip ends with a lot of happy shrieks as Willis promises to always love and support his sons.
The footage has gone viral, with more than 13.5 million views by early Tuesday.
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:52 PM
— 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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:22 PM
Updated: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 4:22 PM
— 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.
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.
CRUZ introduces “emergency legislation” to keep families together at the border and provide funding for new immigration judges to expedite court proceedings for asylum cases. Summary from his office: pic.twitter.com/gL5TuLtndi— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) June 18, 2018
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.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen talks with reporters about immigration as the White House holds a press briefing. Watch CNN: https://t.co/UYpqI3w42L— CNN (@CNN) June 18, 2018
Follow live updates: https://t.co/kmJU6aTk01
Watch on Facebook: https://t.co/RhlE0OfLtW pic.twitter.com/LI5pjRNqYp
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.
Health and Human Services just released photos of the "tent city in Tornillo which is located about 40 miles southeast of El Paso. pic.twitter.com/KdBImNhK1s— Patrick Hayes (@KTSMPatrick) June 18, 2018
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.”
We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) June 17, 2018
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.”
INBOX: Kamala Harris calls on Kirstjen Nielsen to resign pic.twitter.com/BmFAGYDPVz— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) June 18, 2018
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.”
JUST IN: "That is an outright lie," Hillary Clinton says of Trump White House saying separation of families at the US border is mandated by law. pic.twitter.com/iTMEmzRzss— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 18, 2018
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.’”
Hillary Clinton: "Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity … [Jesus] did not say, “Let the children suffer.” pic.twitter.com/OTJqShBCAT— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 18, 2018
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.
Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump 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. https://t.co/OOjv0vNeVg— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) June 18, 2018
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.
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.”
Pres. Trump again blames Democrats for his administration's policy of separating migrant families at U.S.-Mexico border.— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 18, 2018
"If the Democrats would sit down instead of obstructing we could have something done very quickly." https://t.co/cHaFzbcp0z pic.twitter.com/1uF4r2PsVC
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said.
President Trump: "The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility... We want safety and we want security for our country. If the Democrats would sit down instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly." pic.twitter.com/7kFkd0iW75— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) June 18, 2018
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.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “We do not want to separate children from their parents. We do not want adults to bring children into this country unlawfully, either, placing those children at risk.” https://t.co/dS9VQjaKLb pic.twitter.com/sxz4RHqiFA— CNN (@CNN) June 18, 2018
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.
“We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job,” says Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on separating families at the border. “This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you.” https://t.co/NdC1STntVi pic.twitter.com/Be3EMqHlWG— CNN (@CNN) June 18, 2018
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.”
Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. 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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
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.”
The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
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!”
Why don’t the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world’s worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
CHANGE THE LAWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder Security and Crime. Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
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.”
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 8:35 AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — 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.
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."
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.
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
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 1:06 PM
— 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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
"Tourism dollars means that more than 50,000 people will keep their jobs and businesses will keep running," New York Magazine reported.
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.
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.
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."
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:
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.