Juneteenth celebrations take on new significance; Australia says China involved in cyberattacks; Anti-poverty program in Indonesia also helps save forests

Juneteenth celebrations take on new significance; Australia says China involved in cyberattacks; Anti-poverty program in Indonesia also helps save forests

The World staff

The sun rises on the Lincoln Memorial on Juneteenth — the day celebrating the emancipation of African American slaves more than a century and a half ago, in Washington, DC, June 19, 2020.


Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Today is Juneteenth, a 155-year-old holiday celebrating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. This year, Juneteenth has taken new significance amid protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the US that sparked a global movement. Weeks of demonstrations and mounting demands to end police brutality and racial bias are expected to animate rallies today in cities across the US, but also Canada and elsewhere around the world.

Though it is not a federal holiday, Juneteenth is recognized in 47 US states and the District of Columbia as an official state holiday or observance. Texas became the first state to recognize the holiday in 1980. But many African American communities have been celebrating it since 1865.

Union dockworkers at nearly 30 ports along the West Coast planned to mark the occasion today by staging a one-day strike. But much of the focus of the annual observance will take place online — with lectures, discussion groups and virtual breakfasts — to help safeguard minority communities especially hard-hit by the pandemic.

Listen to The World today for a conversation with Mona Boyd, an African American who has spent the past 30 years living in Accra, Ghana, where she just returned from a Juneteenth celebration.

Also: ‘Willful amnesia’: How Africans forgot — and remembered — their role in the slave trade

What The World is following

China said Friday it has charged two detained Canadians for suspected espionage. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 soon after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei chief financial officer, in Vancouver on a US warrant. The indictments could result in life imprisonment.

Australia suggested today that China was the chief suspect in a number of cyberattacks on the Australian government. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a “sophisticated state-based actor” had spent months trying to hack essential service providers and critical infrastructure operators and all levels of the government. China has dismissed the accusation.

From The WorldAnti-poverty program in Indonesia also helps save forests, study shows

Sumbanese villagers work on a field seeding peanuts in Hamba Praing village, Kanatang district, East Sumba Regency, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia, Feb. 23, 2020.


Willy Kurniawan/Reuters 

Helping Indonesia’s poorest people could save the nation’s forests, too, a new study shows. Indonesia is one of the most rapidly deforested places on Earth, and nearly 10% of the population lives below the poverty line.

These struggles are not separate, conflicting issues — but deeply intertwined — the study from Science Advances says. The study shows that where people received services from a national anti-poverty program, 30% fewer trees were cleared — and about half of the saved forests were old-growth.

SCOTUS ruled in favor of DACA. A permanent solution is still needed, advocates say.

Thursday’s much-anticipated ruling ended a yearslong legal battle around how the Trump administration ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and provides some relief to the more than 650,000 DACA recipients in the country. But advocates say there’s still a long road ahead in the fight for more permanent protections for DACA recipients.

Morning focus

Among the many celebrations today for Juneteenth, here’s something special from Yo-Yo Ma and Rhiannon Giddens.

There are so many stories made invisible: too-often-violent histories hidden beneath the surfaces of our cities, our institutions, our music. It’s our job to make them visible. I’m honored to mark #Juneteenth with a new song by @RhiannonGiddens. #blacklivesmatter #songsofchange pic.twitter.com/RraYnGiwzT

— Yo-Yo Ma (@YoYo_Ma) June 19, 2020In case you missed itListen: US Supreme Court issues ruling on DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters celebrate outside the US Supreme Court after the court ruled in a 5-4 vote that President Donald Trump’s 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was unlawful, in Washington, DC, June 18, 2020.


Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

In a much-anticipated decision issued Thursday morning, the US Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration’s attempt to cancel Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. And, a new study shows how an anti-poverty program has an unexpected benefit when it comes to saving Indonesian forests. Also, farmers in China turned to livestreaming to sell off their produce during the coronavirus lockdown. It turns out the technique worked so well that some farmers are planning to continue with the online trend.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

The World staff

Amanda McGowan

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Listen to the story.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents look at migrants who crossed illegally into El Paso, Texas, to turn themselves in to ask for asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Sept. 18, 2019.


Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters 


On Thursday, the Trump administration issued a proposal that would dramatically reshape the asylum system in the United States.

The proposal includes a number of changes that would make it more difficult for applicants to gain asylum in the US — including changing which applicants would get asylum hearings in the first place. 

Applications based on people fleeing gangs, terrorists, “rogue” government officials or “non-state organizations” would no longer be recognized, meaning that those fleeing persecution from organizations like ISIS would not qualify for protection.

Last July, the Trump administration established another set of rules — requiring migrants fleeing their homelands to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through. 

Related: Pandemic disrupts remittances, leaving immigrants’ families without lifelines 

Currently, asylum claims have essentially been halted by border closures after Donald Trump declared a public health emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Luis Cortes-Romero is an immigration lawyer in Seattle. He spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about the potential impact of the proposal. 

Marco Werman: How sweeping of a change is this, Luis, to our existing asylum system? And what was your reaction to the proposal?

Luis Cortes-Romero: This is a humongous structural change to the already very limited rights that asylum-seekers have. It does a lot to turn away recent arrival asylum applicants but also does a lot to erode the rights for people who are already in the United States who may want to seek asylum in the future.

Related: Greece’s new asylum law ‘poses continuous traps’ for refugees 

So, what are the details? How exactly would these proposed changes make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the US?

It provides a lot of barriers and hurdles to even apply, and it makes it significantly easier and streamlined in order to deny their application. Let me give you some examples to be concrete: One of the things the proposal does is makes it so that anybody who has spent more than 14 days in any other country before coming to the United States … would be banned then from applying for asylum here. So, that applies to a lot of the Central American migrants or people who come from South America, [for] whom oftentimes, it takes them a month to get here.

Related: Migrants struck in Panama rainforest amid coronavirus

Right — I was going to say, if you’re on foot, 14 days — that’s pretty much that, right?

Yes, that’s that. It becomes a nonstarter for a lot of the migrants. Moreso for the recent arrivals, there’s an initial process called a credible fear process, where an officer will just determine kind of at first glance whether you have a credible fear of being persecuted in your country, and if so, then you can go ahead and apply for asylum with an immigration judge and the immigration court. The standard to be able to pass a credible fear interview is now significantly higher. And then even if you make it, the immigration judge now has the authority to completely deny your application without even a hearing if the immigration judge sees that he’s not likely or she’s not likely to grant the application.

Related: How the US immigration system nearly tore this LGBTQ couple apart  

We also need to discuss DACA here — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors to remain here to study or work. If the Supreme Court rules against DACA — we’re still waiting for some decision — could these new changes impact DACA recipients who try to seek asylum in the US?

One-hundred percent. If the Supreme Court strikes down DACA, what the heads of the Department of Homeland Security have made clear is that they do plan to place DACA recipients into removal proceedings, the process it takes for someone to be ultimately deported. That typically goes with a hearing before an immigration judge. The one lifeline that DACA recipients could have had to try to save themselves in removal proceedings is now being not only structurally changed but gutted from all its due process rights. So, ultimately, the consequence will be that once DACA recipients are placed in removal proceedings, the ability to fight your case to stay here now is significantly diminished from an already limited basis.

Related: Trump ended DACA. This woman is suing to stop him.

You yourself are a DACA recipient. You were also part of the legal team that argued to the Supreme Court for DACA’s continuation. How are you seeing this raft of restrictions once you look at the sum total?

Certainly, it’s going to be met with a lot of legal challenges because the fundamental notion that the United States has is the ability to be heard and the ability to have a fair proceeding. So, we think there’s going to be a lot of legal challenges, you know, challenging the stripping away of the basic due process rights that asylum-seekers might have, which ultimately may include DACA recipients in the future.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.