A legal showdown over a 23-year-old Seattle man threatened with deportation to Mexico after he was granted protected status for having entered the U.S. as a child may become an early test of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

While the U.S. claims Daniel Ramirez Medina admitted in custody to being a gang member, his lawyers contend he was falsely accused and is being unlawfully detained amid recent sweeps by agents across at least a half-dozen states that have netted some immigrants with no criminal records. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in Seattle federal court.

Medina is among 1.4 million undocumented immigrants with permission to stay in the U.S. under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, which provides work permits to children brought into the country illegally.

President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s struggling with what to do about people in that program. He’s suggested previously that he is considering leaving it in place.

Medina was apprehended Feb. 10 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Justice Department on Thursday re-asserted its claim that he must undergo deportation proceedings despite twice receiving permission to stay in the U.S. under DACA, which is also known as the “Dreamer” program. The government claims Medina’s case isn’t unique and doesn’t signal new immigration policy under the Trump administration, since Medina admitted to “gang activity.”

—Bloomberg News


Amanda Knox writes about non-sexual relationship with female inmate

SEATTLE — Amanda Knox — who spent four years in an Italian prison after being wrongly convicted for the murder of her roommate in Perugia, Italy — has written a nicely subtle piece about non-sexual prison relationships.

Appearing this week in Vice, the piece titled “What Romance in Prison Actually Looks Like,” is among several myth-busting articles about love the site published during the week of Valentine’s Day.

In it, Knox writes about the relationship she had with a fellow inmate she calls “Leny” during the last year of her four-year stay in the Capanne prison.

“Every day, Leny watched me jog around the yard. She told me she was a lesbian and I told her I was straight,” she said.

Knox writes that Leny, who had transferred to the prison and was lonely, was persistent in trying to be friends. Because she initially did not ask Knox for anything, nor ask about the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, Knox let her guard down.

While some prison relationships involve people who are “gay for the stay,” Knox writes, that is by no means the truth for all. Many relationships in prison are intimate but non-sexual bonds that meet the nearly universal human need for companionship.

“Contrary to what you might guess,” she writes, “many prison relationships aren’t about sex — just like most relationships outside of prison.”

Knox’s controversial and internationally followed conviction in the 2007 murder of Kercher was reversed in 2011. She was re-convicted in 2013 and then acquitted a final time by an Italian court in 2015.

——The Seattle Times


Convicted ‘Dance Moms’ star allowed to travel overseas

PITTSBURGH — “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller, a convicted felon, was allowed to travel to England on business Thursday over the objections of federal prosecutors.

Miller, who pleaded guilty to concealing assets from bankruptcy court and smuggling money into the country, is free pending the outcome of an unusual sentencing procedure in which the first day of the hearing was held Jan. 20 and the conclusion will be Feb. 24.

She had asked permission to fly to London this week, where she is apparently filming a movie, and to travel to Newcastle, England, next Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office objected on the grounds that defendants who have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing should only be allowed to travel internationally under “extraordinary” circumstances because of the chance that they won’t come back.

But Miller, who is from Penn Hills, Pa., but lives in Los Angeles, said she’s been traveling throughout her case, before and after she pleaded guilty, because her livelihood depends on it.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted her request for this trip but said in the future she has to file her travel plans at least two weeks in advance.

Miller faces a possible prison term of 24 to 30 months in federal prison, which is what prosecutors want.

But she and her lawyers are arguing for probation.

—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Archbishop of Havana meets with Ladies in White leaders

MIAMI — For the first time since being appointed nearly 10 months ago to the highest Catholic post in Cuba, Havana Archbishop Juan de la Caridad Garcia Rodriguez met privately with two representatives of the Ladies in White Movement, a civic organization of female family members of political prisoners.

Movement leader Berta Soler and Maria Cristina Labrada asked the archbishop to issue a public statement of solidarity on behalf of the Catholic Church. They also asked him to advocate for an end to repression carried out by the Raul Castro government against activists across the island.

“The request was for him to make a pronouncement before the Cuban government, that the Catholic Church not be silent, and that it was very important for violence to cease and there be religious freedom,” Soler told el Nuevo Herald via telephone from Havana. Soler said she was hopeful because the archbishop was “very receptive” and said he would transmit the information to the Cuban government, although he could not guarantee a response.

The Catholic Church has had an important role as an intermediary between the opposition, civil society, and Castro’s government. A similar meeting in 2010 between representatives of the Ladies in White and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, resulted in the release of political prisoners jailed during the so-called “Black Spring” in 2003.

Soler and Labrada told Garcia Rodriguez that members of their Ladies in White group can no longer attend Mass because they are systematically detained by police. The group had taken to marching peacefully for human rights along Fifth Avenue following church services at the Santa Rita Church in Miramar, a suburb of Havana.

Several members also reported that they were forced to abandon the movement after government agents threatened them with the imprisonment of their relatives.

—El Nuevo Herald

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