President Obama has pledged to modify his enforcement of immigration laws following a wave of protests against record deportations. The number of undocumented immigrants sent abroad under Obama’s watch is set to reach two million. At a White House meeting on Friday, Obama told immigration activists he would direct the Department of Homeland Security to help find an approach that acts “more humanely.” The changes reportedly include halting deportations for most people never convicted of crimes, and focusing on those with criminal records or who are deemed a danger to public safety. Obama has long maintained he has done all he can on immigration reform within the confines of the law, and that Congress will have to overcome Republican obstruction in order to bring additional change. But the White House apparently changed its mind after a flood of criticism in recent weeks that brought Obama the moniker of “deporter-in-chief.” Top Democrats have also started pressuring Obama amidst concern Latino voters will stay home in the coming midterm elections.
A group of Haitians and their advocates have filed a new class action lawsuit against the United Nations for the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed more than 8,000 people. The disease strain has been traced to U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal deployed after the January 2010 earthquake. The U.N. rejected a formal petition for compensating the victims last year. Federal prosecutors in New York recently sided with the U.N.’s claim to immunity from legal redress.
A new United Nations report has called for independent probes of a series of drone attacks that have killed civilians around the world. Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, identified 30 drone strikes – most of them by the U.S. – in which civilians were killed, badly injured or threatened. They include a U.S. drone strike on a wedding party in Yemen that killed as many as 12 civilians in December. While drone strikes in Pakistan appear to have declined, strikes in Yemen increased and civilian casualties tripled in Afghanistan last year.
And hundreds of farmworkers and their supporters have wrapped up a five-state, nine-day march in their latest effort to improve conditions at the fields and farms serving major food companies. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ “Now is the Time” march focused on urging the food giants Publix and Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program, which ensures improved wages and working conditions for farmworkers in the companies’ supply chains. The march set off from Florida, reaching as far north as Ohio before returning home for an overnight vigil on Saturday outside a Publix store in the town of Lakeland.