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US issues new rules restricting travel by pregnant foreigners, fearing the use of “birth tourism”

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The Trump administration will implement a new policy Friday to make it more difficult for foreign nationals to travel to give birth on US soil to ensure their children become American citizens, a practice commonly known as “birth tourism.”

The new rules will be effective January 24, according to a State Department cable obtained by CNN, which was sent on Wednesday to embassies around the world.
The White House announced Thursday that the State Department “will no longer issue temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) visas to aliens seeking to enter the United States for ‘birth tourism.'”
Consular officers were told they can’t directly ask a woman if they are pregnant, according to the cable.
“You must not ask a visa applicant whether they are pregnant unless you have a specific articulable reason to believe they may be pregnant and planning to give birth in the United States. You should document any such reason in your case notes,” reads the cable. “You must not, as a matter of course, ask all female applicants (or any specific sub-sets of applicants) whether they are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.”
Visitors to the US will be denied temporary visas if it’s found that the “primary purpose” of travel is for obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States, according to an amended State Department regulation to be published Friday.
CNN reported earlier this week that this policy was expected to be announced soon. A State Department official told CNN that the rule change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks.
According to the rule, the State Department does “not believe that visiting the US for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship” for a child “is a legitimate activity.”
The rule is specific to “B nonimmigrant” visas, which are obtained for temporary visitors for business or tourism.
Additionally, the regulation requires that visa applicants who seek medical treatment in the US must demonstrate their arrangements for treatment and establish their ability to pay all associated costs.
“This is the first recognition that it’s not OK to use a visitor visa for the purposes of ‘birth tourism,’ so it has a symbolic strength in that respect, at the same time it’s not a very effective way at going after the ‘birth tourism’ industry,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.
The regulation presents are multiple challenges, according to Pierce. It puts consular officers in a “very awkward position of having to decide whether or not they believe someone is imminently going to give birth,” she said.
Pierce also pointed out that most people don’t admit that they are intending to use a visa for the purposes of gaining citizenship for a child, she said.
In addition, these types of visas are granted for up to 10 years, so someone could apply to come to the US way before becoming or intending to become pregnant, said Pierce.
“A much more effective way to go after this would be to go after the industry itself,” she said.
While the US government does not specifically track ‘birth tourism,’ the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes annually the number of births in the US to foreign women who reside overseas.
There have been around 10,000 such births every year for the past few years, according to CDC data.
The State Department estimates thousands of children are born in the US to these types of business and tourist visa holders annually, however the department acknowledged its “challenging” to come up with precise estimates.
The US has also sought legal action against people thought to be capitalizing on the ‘birth tourism’ industry.
Last year, the Department of Justice charged three people with running “birth tourism” companies that catered to Chinese clients in Southern California — the first time that criminal charges had been filed in a US federal court over the practice.
The charges stemmed from a 2015 raid of dozens of “maternity hotels,” often upscale apartments, where mothers-to-be paid between $15,000 and $50,000 to give birth in the US, according to a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement statement at the time.
On Thursday, acting ICE Director Matt Albence said his agency would continue to prosecute and investigate “birth tourism” cases, as they’ve previously done, but didn’t comment on any future plans.
“The investigations that we conduct now are the same ones we conducted under the Obama administration, Bush administration, I was hired under the Clinton administration. The laws generally haven’t changed with what we do,” he said, reiterating that State Department handles issuing visas.
“If we have information on groups or intel with regard to people that might be coming, trying to exploit those regulations, we certainly share that information and work closely,” he said.
The White House said Thursday the new rule will close a “glaring immigration loophole” and protect the US from the national security risks created by this practice.
By obtaining a child’s US citizenship through “birth tourism,” foreign nationals are able to help that child “avoid the scrutiny, standards, and procedures” would normally be undergone, if someone seeks to become a US citizen through the naturalization process, according to the State Department.
In 2018, President Donald Trump vowed to end birthright citizenship by executive order, though lawmakers immediately pushed back against his comments.
Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress said, the rule “encourages” officials to use their authority “to discriminate on the basis of gender and age by denying a visa based on the possibility that a person might give birth in the United States.”
“By creating a ‘rebuttable presumption’ for people deemed by a single consular officer to potentially give birth while in the United States, the rule would almost certainly make it far harder for women, especially women of color, to come to the United States on tourist or business visas. The bill is only the latest effort by this White House to reshape immigration policy to harm women,” he added in a statement.
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Crime

Alleged pension fraud: EFCC files fresh charge against Maina’s son, Faisal

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Friday, filed an amended three-count charge against Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed, former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team.
The charges which were read to Faisal before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, bordered on money laundering and false declaration of assets.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the amended three-count charge.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Faisal, alongside his father, was arraigned, on Oct. 25, 2019, by the EFCC on a three-count charge bordering on money laundering.

At the resumed hearing on Friday, Mohammed Abubakar, counsel to the EFCC, told the court that though the matter was slated for continuation of cross examination of second prosecution witness, the commission had an amended charge dated Jan. 22 and filed the same day.

Adeola Adedipe, counsel to Faisal, however, objected to the application.

READ MORE: Getting a senator as surety is difficult for me – Maina begs court

Adedipe noted that though the prosecution deserved the right to amend the charge, such amendment must be prescribed by the leave of court as provided by Section 218(2 ) of ACJA.

“The order of court is not approppriately endorsed on the purported amended charge. So it may not be useful for today’s hearing,” he argued.

Abubakar, however, countered Adedipe’s argument.

According to him, I submit that counsel misconceived the intent and purpose of Section 218(2) of ACJA because it does not make it mandatory for prosecution to first obtain leave of court before filing an amended charge.

“The counsel has jumped the gun because the issue of endorsement can only come after the amendment,” he remarked.

Justice Abang, who noted that the drafter of Section 218(2) of ACJA might have created the controversy, granted the anti-graft agency’s prayer.

“Section 281(2) is not clear on whether it is the judge or registrar that will endorse the note of order of amendment.

“However, there is no dispute to right of prosecution to file an amended charge at anytime.
“In the light of this, the leave is hereby granted to the prosecution to file an amended charge.
“And the amended charged filed on Jan. 22 is deemed to be properly filed,” he held.
Abang said since the problem on who signs the amended charge was caused by drafter of ACJA, he ordered the prosecution to endorse it in the open court.
According to the judge, the defendant will not be prejudiced if the court asks the prosecution to endorse the note of order of amendment in the open court.

The EFCC lawyer then sought that the amended charge be read to defendant.
Afer Faisal pleaded not guilty to the charges, his lawyer, Adedipe, pleaded with the court to allow him continue to enjoy the bail terms graciously granted to him by the court on Nov. 26, 2019.
He argued that the defendant had complied with the bail conditions initially granted him.
“The defendant came from his house today and was equally accompanied by the surety in compliance with court order,” he said.


Abubakar did not raised objection to the request.
Justice Abang, therefore, granted Adedipe’s prayer, “the defendant shall remain on the subsisting bail order granted on Nov 26, 2019 by this honourable court.”
Abang adjourned the continuation of trial and cross examination of PW2 untill Feb. 27; March 18, March 19, March 20 and March 30.

NAN reports that Faisal was, on Nov. 26, admitted to a bail in the sum of N60 million, with a surety in the like sum, who must be a member of House of Representatives.
he three-count charge reads: “That you, Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina (alias Alhaji Faisal Abdullahi Farms 2) between Oct. 2013 and June 2019 within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court did operate an anonymous account No: 1017558607 (Alh Faisal Abdullahi Farms 2) in a commercial bank by concealing your true identity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 11(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 11(4) of the same Act.

“That you Faisal Abdulrasheed Maina (alias Alh Faisal Abdullahi Farms 2) between Oct. 2013 and June 2019 within the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court, indirectly controlled an aggregate sum of N58,111,585.00 (Fifty Eight. Million, One Hundred and Eleven Thousand, five Hundred and Eighty Five Naira only) paid through a commercial bank account of Alh. Faisal Abdullahi Farms II, when you reasonably ought to have known fhat the said funds formed part of the proceed of unlawfui activity (to wit: corruption of one Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina who is facing a separate charge) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) and (4) of the same Act.

“That you Faisal Addulrasheed Maina on or about Oct 3, 2019, at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Hon Court knowingly failed to make full disclosure of your assets and liabilities in the Declaration of Assets Form dated Oct. 3, 2019 which you filled at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) office at No. 5, Fomella Street, Wise II , Abuja, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(3)(a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act., 2004 and punishable under Section 27(3)(c) of the same Act.” (NAN)

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FG files fresh charge against Sowore, Bakare

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Sowore

Omoyele Sowore, Convener, #RevolutionNow, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare were, on Thursday, arraigned by the Federal Government before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on fresh charges.
Sowore and Bakare, however, pleaded not guilty to the amended two-count charge brought against them by the office of the Attorney General for the Federation (AGF).

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the charges include: conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and treasonable felony, contrary to Section 41(a) of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which are punishable under the same section of the Act.

At the resumed hearing, Justice Ojukwu struck out the 7-count charge earlier filed against the defendants, following an application by the AGF counsel, Aminu Aliyu, asking for the substitution of the previous charges with the new ones.
Alilu also brought forward the evidence of payment of the N200, 000 fine imposed on the prosecution by the court.

However, when the AGF lawyer told the court that he was in the court with the witnesses to give evidence in the trial, the defence counsel, Abdul Mahmud, raised an objection on the ground that the full statement of the witnesses was yet to be served on them.

Mahmud argued that what prosecution served on them was the summary statement of the four witnesses.

Mahmud stated that the video clips of the witnesses’ statement would be needed to prepare for defence.

He submitted that fundamental rights of the accused must be respected and must be given opportunity to see those evidence.
The lawyer insisted that since the prosecution had the witnesses’ evidence in tape, he demanded that the tape be played in the open court.
The judge, then, asked for a copy of the witness’ statement.

After perusing the summary statement, she directed the prosecution to avail the defence the video clips and electronic materials as requested.
Aliyu in his submission said he would comply with the court’s directive and make them available to the defence team within two weeks.
The AGF lawyer also hinted that the witnesses would be called within five days.

Justice Ojukwu, after taking the arguments, adjourned the matter untill March 11, March 12 and March 13 for definite trial. (NAN)

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Kobe Bryant’s Daughter Gianna, 13, Dead Alongside Father in Calabasas Helicopter Crash

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Kobe Bryant and Daughter

Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna also died in the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed their father.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, nicknamed Gigi, was also on board the private helicopter when it went down on Sunday, reps for the former basketball player told TMZ Sports.

Emergency personnel responded but no one on board survived. Five people are confirmed dead, TMZ reported. The outlet said that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant — with whom he shares all four children — was not onboard.

Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a travel basketball game for Gianna and that the other passengers were another player and their parent.

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

Spokespersons for LA county sheriff’s office and LAPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi | Paul Bereswill/Getty

Earlier this month, the former NBA star — who retired in 2016 — revealed that he had recently started watching basketball all the time because of his 13-year-old daughter.

“Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night,” Kobe told former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the Showtime Basketball podcast All the Smoke.

Kobe and his daughter also attended several Lakers games before the start of the new year, marking the first time he had been to a game since his jersey was retired in 2017.

“We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes,” the five-time NBA champion said of sharing the experience with his daughter.

“It wasn’t me sitting there, you know, as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don’t like that,” he added. “It was her, she was having such a good time.”

-People

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