AP News in Brief: 08-03-21

  • In this Thursday, June 10, 2021, file photo, a pair of migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico to Yuma, Ariz., to seek asylum. The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups say they are ending settlement talks with the Biden administration over a demand to lift a pandemic-related ban on families seeking asylum in the United States. The breakdown comes three days after two nongovernmental organizations said they were halting work with the administration to identify particularly vulnerable migrants stuck in Mexico for exemptions to Title 42, named for a 1944 public health law. The administration has denied many families and nearly all single adults an opportunity to seek asylum on grounds of preventing spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

Children stopped at border likely hit record-high in July

SAN DIEGO — The number of children traveling alone who were picked up at the Mexican border by U.S. immigration authorities likely hit an all-time high in July, and the number of people who came in families likely reached its second-highest total on record, a U.S. official said Monday, citing preliminary government figures.

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The sharp increases from June were striking because crossings usually slow during stifling — and sometimes fatal — summer heat.

U.S. authorities likely picked up more than 19,000 unaccompanied children in July, exceeding the previous high of 18,877 in March, according to David Shahoulian, assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security. The June total was 15,253.

The number of people encountered in families during July is expected at about 80,000, Shahoulian said. That’s shy of the all-time high of 88,857 in May 2019 but up from 55,805 in June.

Overall, U.S. authorities stopped migrants about 210,000 times at the border in July, up from 188,829 in June and the highest in more than 20 years. But the numbers aren’t directly comparable because many cross repeatedly under a pandemic-related ban that expels people from the country immediately without giving them a chance to seek asylum but carries no legal consequences.

$1T infrastructure bill gets first action as senators dig in

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought to speed up consideration of a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package Monday, promising that Democrats would work with Republicans to put together amendments for consideration this week. GOP senators cautioned that they need time to digest the massive bill.

Formally called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the proposal clocked in at some 2,700 pages after a hurry-up-and-wait rare weekend session. The final product, unveiled late Sunday, was intended to follow the broad outline a bipartisan group of senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House. Schumer has said a final vote could be held “in a matter of days.”

“Let’s start voting on amendments,” Schumer said as the Senate opened work on Monday. “The longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we will be here.”

A key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of the president’s infrastructure plan. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels — one of the most substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband and the electric grid in years.

The Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has sided with those voting to allow debate to proceed, but he has not signaled how he will ultimately vote. He described the bill Monday as a “good and important jumping off point” for a robust, bipartisan amendment process. He warned Democrats against setting “any artificial timetable.”

In heat emergency, southern Europe scrambles for resources

ATHENS, Greece — A heat wave baking southeast Europe has fueled deadly wildfires in Turkey and threatened the national power grid in Greece as governments scrambled Monday to secure the resources needed to cope with the emergency.

Temperatures reached 45 C (113 F) in inland areas of Greece and nearby countries and are expected to remain high for most of the week.

Battling deadly wildfires along its coastline for a sixth day, Turkey broadened an appeal for international assistance and was promised water-dropping planes from the European Union. The fires have been blamed for the deaths of eight people in recent days.

The help for residents in Turkey’s fire-ravaged areas couldn’t come soon enough. At the coastal village of Bozalan, resident Esra Sanli looked over at the blaze.

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“It’s burning. It’s obviously burning. There’s no plane, there’s no helicopter, there are no (access) roads,” she said, sobbing. “How is this going to be extinguished? How?”

By wire sources

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