Groups sue to block health care requirement for immigrants

Washington — A coalition of immigration advocacy groups and legal organizations on Wednesday mounted the first legal challenge against a sweeping proclamation President Trump issued earlier this month that would allow the government to reject visa applications from immigrants it determines will not be able to pay for health insurance or cover medical costs in the U.S.

The organizations asked the U.S. District Court in Oregon to block the Trump administration from implementing the new policy, which is slated to take effect Sunday. According to an estimate from the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, the new requirements could deny entry to approximately 375,000 would-be immigrants each year.

In their lawsuit, the groups, which include the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Innovation Law Lab and the Justice Action Center, accused the administration of trying to “unilaterally rewrite” the nation’s immigration laws. 

“Based on the latest data, up to an estimated 375,000 immigrants are at risk each year of being banned due to a lack of “approved” health insurance coverage, or close to two-thirds of all qualified immigrant visa applicants, many of whom are people of color,” the groups wrote in their filing. “This is repugnant not only to our values, but also our nation’s laws and Constitution.”

The lawsuit lists as plaintiffs several U.S. citizens sponsoring visas for family members abroad who may be denied entry into the U.S. under the stringent requirements of the president’s proclamation. 

Under the order, State Department consular officers would only accept immigrant visa petitions made abroad if the applicants demonstrate they will have the ability to secure health insurance within a month of their arrival in the U.S. If that’s not possible, then petitioners would need to prove they have the financial resources to pay “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” — a standard not defined in the proclamation.

Although tasked by the order to establish “standards and procedures” for U.S. consular offices to determine whether applicants satisfy the new requirements, the State Department has yet to release public guidance for applicants.

The order, issued late on a Friday evening, is just one of several major policies the administration has rolled out in recent months to overhaul the nation’s legal immigration system and dramatically slash admissions of foreigners looking to move to the U.S. 

In August, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the final version of the long-waited “public charge” rule that would allow the government to deny visas and green cards to people who use or might use certain public benefits like food stamps and government-subsidized housing. The USCIS rule is currently held up in court, while a companion State Department regulation has not been implemented because the agency has yet to clear a new form to be used by visa applicants.

Doug Rand, an Obama White House official who founded a firm to help immigrants navigate the U.S. immigration system, believes the lawsuit is likely to succeed in court, just like the challenges to the “public charge” regulation. 

“It’s pretty clear just from the text of the proclamation that it is highly vulnerable. It was clearly written in haste and without an immense amount for interagency consultation,” he said. 

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U.S. Treasury says no plans to block Chinese listings ‘at this time’: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – The United States does not currently plan to stop Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing a U.S. Treasury official.

“The administration is not contemplating blocking Chinese companies from listing shares on U.S. stock exchanges at this time,” Bloomberg quoted Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley as saying.

Reuters reported on Friday that President Donald Trump’s administration is considering delisting Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges in a move that would be part of a broader effort to limit U.S. investment in Chinese companies.

The Treasury did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

(This story has been refiled to add dropped ‘not’ in first paragraph)

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Iran tried to block British vessel in Strait of Hormuz, U.K. says

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Britain says three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to impede the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz, but Tehran denies it.

The British government said in a statement Thursday that the Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving “verbal warnings” from a U.K. navy vessel, the Montrose, accompanying the commercial vessel British Heritage. The Montrose got between the Iranian vessels and the British Heritage, London said.

The statement added, “We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.” It said Iran’s vessels broke international law.

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But Iran’s Revolutionary Guard denied that there was a confrontation in the strait, saying if it had received orders to seize any ships it would have executed them immediately.

The semi-official Fars news agency carried a statement from the Guard’s navy early Thursday saying, “There were no clashes with alien boats, especially English boats.”

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports no shots were fired and the British Heritage continued on its way through the strait out of the Persian Gulf.

He said the British Heritage is a tanker and the Iranian vessels were fast boats.

A senior U.S. defense official told Martin he expects the British to escort all their tankers in and out of the Gulf.

The incident marked the latest escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf over the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the Trump administration abandoned last year.

Martin notes that Iran threatened to seize a tanker after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar last week. The Iranian vessel was suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of Western sanctions. 

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Facebook’s AI helping block or remove 1 million accounts a day

Zuckerberg supports more internet regulation

Facebook is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to block or remove one million accounts a day that violate its rules against misinformation, hate speech and voter suppression ahead of elections in India.

Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s India managing director and vice president, outlined the social network’s efforts to combat election interference in a blog post Monday. The social network has faced criticism for not doing enough to curb abuses on its platform during the 2016 US presidential election when Russian trolls used Facebook to sow discord.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp, a messaging app that is popular in India, has also been used to spread misinformation during elections in other countries such as Brazil. While it’s unclear how well Facebook’s election integrity efforts are working, the company is trying to show the public and lawmakers it’s doing more to tackle abuse on its platform.

Facebook removes more fake pages and accounts in major crackdown

Advances in AI has helped the world’s largest social network “identify abusive or violating content, quickly locate it across the platform and remove it in bulk,” Mohan said. That helps stop the offensive content from going viral.

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Facebook started planning for elections in India, which begins on April 11, more than 18 months ago. The company requires advertisers who run political ads in India to verify their identity and location. Information about who paid for an ad and the audience it reached is available in a public database. This week, this company is also opening up centers focused on election integrity in Singapore and Dublin and expanded its partnership with third-party fact checkers to combat fake news.

The company also recently launched tools in India to help voters learn about new candidates and share with their friends that they voted.

Last week, Facebook said it pulled down more than 680 accounts in India and Pakistan for “inauthentic behavior,” which means the people behind the accounts misled users about their identities and intentions.

This article originally appeared on CNET, titled, “Facebook’s AI helps block or remove 1 million accounts each day

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