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Trump Administration Gearing Up to Expedite Initial Screenings of Immigrants Seeking Asylum

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli has directed officers to interview detained immigrant

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Asylum officers usually wait about 48 hours to interview and hear the case of an immigrant. VOA

The Trump administration is gearing up to expedite initial screenings of immigrants seeking asylum, moving to interview immigrants within one calendar day.

Asylum officers usually wait about 48 hours to interview and hear the case of an immigrant who has been detained after crossing into the United States.

However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli has directed officers to interview detained immigrant within one calendar day. The news site Buzzfeed, which said it had obtained a copy of the directive released to CIS employees, first reported the policy change Monday.

VOA confirmed the report Monday night.

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The Trump administration is gearing up to expedite initial screenings of immigrants seeking asylum. Pixabay

“As part of our efforts to make the expedited removal process more efficient and effective, USCIS is modifying the consultation period to better align with today’s operational realities,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spokeswoman Jessica Collins told VOA.

Though Collins did not say when the new set of directives would begin, she said, “This will help make the entire expedited removal process more expeditious and help prevent bottlenecking in the system.”

The Buzzfeed report said advocates believe the move is expected to give “immigrants less time to prepare for their interviews or recover from dangerous journeys.”

The credible fear interview (CFI) is an initial screening where immigrants must show there is a compelling chance they will be persecuted or can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, according to the USCIS .

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“But by law, asylum-seekers have a right to ‘consult with a person or persons of [their] choosing’ before a CFI. Hard to do that within 24 hours,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, shared on Twitter.

In the meantime, USCIS has updated their website to show the change.

“USCIS requires a wait of at least one full calendar day after the applicant arrives at the detention site before conducting the credible fear interview, in order to give the applicant time to contact a consultant,” the website shows — a change from “USCIS requires a wait of at least 48 hours … in order to give the applicant time to recover from the journey.” (VOA)

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Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

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Trump, Sales, Vaping
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

Also Read- US Officials Identify ‘Strong Culprit’ in Vaping Illnesses

“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

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Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)