AP News in Brief 01-22-18

Deportation fears have legal immigrants avoiding health care

MIAMI — The number of legal immigrants from Latin American nations who access public health services and enroll in federally subsidized insurance plans has dipped substantially since President Donald Trump took office, many of them fearing their information could be used to identify and deport relatives living in the U.S. illegally, according to health advocates across the country.

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Trump based his campaign on promises to stop illegal immigration and deport any immigrants in the country illegally, but many legal residents and U.S. citizens are losing their health care as a result, advocates say.

After Trump became president a year ago, “every single day families canceled” their Medicaid plans and “people really didn’t access any of our programs,” said Daniel Bouton, a director at the Community Council, a Dallas nonprofit that specializes in health care enrollment for low-income families.

The trend stabilized a bit as the year went on, but it remains clear that the increasingly polarized immigration debate is having a chilling effect on Hispanic participation in health care programs, particularly during the enrollment season that ended in December.

Bouton’s organization has helped a 52-year-old housekeeper from Mexico, a legal resident, sign up for federally subsidized health insurance for two years. But now she’s going without, fearing immigration officials will use her enrollment to track down her husband, who is in the country illegally. She’s also considering not re-enrolling their children, 15 and 18, in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, even though they were born in the U.S.

No deal reached, as moderates search for shutdown solution

WASHINGTON — Restive Senate moderates in both parties searched for a solution to a partisan stalemate as they raced toward a late-night showdown vote and their last chance to reopen the federal government before hundreds of thousands of federal workers were forced to stay home Monday.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they were pursuing a deal to end the rare closure, prompted Friday by a messy tussle over immigration and spending. There were no indications that a firm agreement had been reached, or that leaders of either party or the White House were on board. A stopgap spending measure was slated for a vote on Monday after midnight, but Democrats have so far refused to go along with the temporary fix.

Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats were bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they would ultimately buckle. The White House and GOP leadership said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, indicated that Republican leaders were skeptical that Democrats would budge. Asked whether he thought the government would be closed Monday, he said, “Right now, yes, I do.”

California highway swamped by deadly mudslides reopens

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A coastal California highway swamped by deadly mudslides reopened Sunday after a nearly two-week closure that caused traffic headaches across the region, state officials said.

Traffic began moving again on U.S. 101 in Santa Barbara County shortly after noon, according to Jim Shivers, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. Officials had promised a day earlier that the highway would be open again in time for the Monday morning commute.

All lanes were inundated Jan. 9 when a powerful storm brought down boulders and trees from hillsides in Montecito made bare by last month’s wildfires. At least 21 people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged. A 17-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl remain missing.

Crews worked around the clock clearing drainage areas, stabilizing embankments and repairing guardrails and signs. They also cleaned and swept the highway.

During the U.S. 101 shut down, Amtrak added additional cars to its route between Santa Barbara and points east as travelers increasingly relied on rail service to get around the closure.

Jordan urges Pence to ‘rebuild trust’ after Jerusalem pivot

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s king appealed Sunday to Vice President Mike Pence to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pence tried to reassure the monarch that the U.S. was committed to restarting peace efforts and to a two-state solution, if both sides agree. Such a caveat deviates from long-standing U.S. support for that approach as the only possible outcome of any peace deal.

Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem last month infuriated the Palestinians, who seek the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as a future capital. They accused the U.S. of siding with Israel and said Washington can no longer serve as a mediator.

Jerusalem is the emotional centerpiece of the long-running conflict, and Trump’s policy shift set off protests and condemnation across Arab and Muslim countries.

It posed a dilemma for Abdullah, a staunch U.S. ally who derives his political legitimacy in large part from the Hashemite dynasty’s role as guardian of a key Muslim site in Jerusalem. Any perceived threat to Muslim claims in the city is seen as a challenge to Jordan, where a large segment of the population is of Palestinian origin.

Droves fill pope’s final Mass in restive Latin America trip

LIMA, Peru — More than 1 million people turned out Sunday for Pope Francis’ final Mass in Peru, giving him a warm and heartfelt farewell that contrasted sharply with the outcry he caused in neighboring Chile by accusing sex abuse victims of slandering a bishop.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who publicly rebuked the pope on Saturday for those remarks, joined the pontiff and dozens of fellow bishops on a tented altar at a Lima airfield to celebrate the Mass. The crowd of 1.3 million people reported by the Vatican was the largest of Francis’ weeklong, two-nation visit.

Francis tried to move beyond the scandal Sunday, joking with cloistered nuns that they were taking advantage of his visit to finally get out and get a breath of fresh air. And he denounced a corruption scandal in Latin America that has even implicated his Peruvian host, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who recently survived an impeachment vote by lawmakers.

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In his homily Francis referred to the “grave sin of corruption,” that kills the hope of people, urging Peruvians to have hope and show tenderness and compassion.

Thousands lined the streets as his black papal Fiat made its way to the airport, where a children’s choir sang in farewell as Francis boarded a plane to head back to Rome.