Cities brace for ICE deportation raids as Trump threats spread fear

Political News Cities brace for ICE deportation raids as Trump threats spread fear

danielfela/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Major cities across the U.S. on Thursday were bracing for sweeping deportation raids this weekend, the second time in less than a month that Trump administration insiders have signaled roundups were imminent.

The raids were intended as an unprecedented show of force against undocumented immigrants by President Donald Trump, who last month tipped his hand when he vowed on Twitter that “millions” would be deported.

While administration officials have called that estimate an exaggeration, they confirmed there are 2,000 people in as many as 10 cities who have been identified as a top priority for deportation — many of them families.

Those raids were called off last month after Trump gave Democrats two weeks to change the nation’s laws that guarantee the right for people to apply for asylum.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said “there may be some possibilities for what we can do” but that it would take some time. She called targeting non-criminal families “heartless” and said it was up to Trump’s supporters to press him to abandon his plan.

“I’m going to appeal to people of faith, the faith-based organizations to appeal to the president … they put him in office and they have a better voice for this,” she told reporters.

The New York Times first reported that officials were planning to launch raids early Sunday.

The large-scale operation would be a departure from past practices, in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has focused its resources on rounding up people with criminal records who “pose a threat to public safety.” This approach would include families and send ICE officers to people’s homes.

ICE has declined, however, to comment on the timing of any raids.

“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” according to a statement.

John Cohen, a former senior official at the Homeland Security Department and ABC News contributor, said launching deportation raids at people’s homes would consume the agency’s resources.

“What people need to understand is that every ICE agent used in this operation will not be available to go after criminal aliens, gang members, terrorists” or other priorities, he said.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, said the group is already aware of two families who encountered ICE agents in the last week, including one case in which a dozen agents arrived at a home. Cabrera said no one was detained in those incidents because they knew they did not have to open the door.

He said CHIRLA attorneys, who are prepared to post bail and offer representation for immigrants who are taken into custody, are activating a rapid response network and will be on watch for increased ICE activity over the weekend.

Immigration advocates in Chicago were doing the same.

“We’re here today because the Trump administration is threatening our communities again,” said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, president of the board for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “We are also here today because we will not allow that to happen and we are ready, we are ready to defend each other and defend our communities and we are organized.”

Senate Democrats on Thursday proposed legislation that they said would provide alternatives to migrant detention at the border.

“Donald Trump and some of his right wing allies in media would have you believe these are all hardened criminals. They’re not. They’re simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Mark Morgan, who recently was leading ICE until being put in charge of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said enforcing the nation’s immigration laws matter.

“We’re trying to send a message to the family units that ‘don’t come here and don’t put your life at risk, your children’s life at risk,'” he told ABC News last month.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

At newest emergency center for migrant kids, contractor vows better treatment

U.S. NEWS At newest emergency center for migrant kids, contractor vows better treatment

kodda/iStock(CARRIZO SPRINGS, Texas) — Kevin Dinnin has made a living managing disaster response efforts around the world. But his most recent focus — the crisis at the southern U.S. border — has him fed up.

“I hate this mission,” Dinnin said. “I hate it with a passion.”

Dinnin is head of BCFS Health and Human Services, a company that runs temporary shelters for migrant children who either arrive at the border alone or are separated from relatives the Trump administration determines do not meet the standard of a legal guardian. The government relies on contractors like BCFS to care for the estimated 12,500 “unaccompanied” migrant children in government custody scattered in shelters across the U.S.

Dinnin ran the now-closed Tornillo shelter, which folded shop last January amid fierce political protests and allegations that the government wasn’t moving children fast enough into sponsor homes. He now runs Carrizo Springs, an apartment complex that once housed oilfield workers but is now where some 200 undocumented children are being cared for.

The House Oversight Committee is demanding to see government contracts with three for-profit contractors. Dinnin’s firm is not one of them.

“The Committee is investigating the Trump Administration’s rapidly increasing use of for-profit contractors to detain tens of thousands of immigrants, including a troubling series of reports of health and safety violations and the dramatically escalating and seemingly unchecked costs to U.S. taxpayers for these contracts,” Chairman Elijah Cummings and subcommittee chairman Jamie Raskin, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to the contractors.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders calls these shelters “racist child prisons.” Dinnin says the company works hard to ensure the children are cared for.

But he’s also quick to call out the government for not being prepared to manage such a large-scale humanitarian crisis at its border — specifically U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes kids coming across the border, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with custody and placing the children with longer term sponsors.

“The influx of May overwhelmed frankly CBP and HHS,” Dinnin said. “They were not prepared for that number of kids.”

It’s not the first time the system for unaccompanied migrant children has been pushed to the breaking point. During the surge of migrants in 2014, the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement completely ran out of space and couldn’t accept more children.

“This program failed children that year,” said Mark Weber, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs.

While HHS has operated near capacity during the recent influx this past year, Webber insists the agency never stopped accepting kids picked up by Border Patrol. Homeland Security, however, said some 2,500 children piled up at border facilities this May while HHS struggled to find placements at specific shelters based on age and gender.

Relief for migrants in U.S. custody has come from the overall declining trend in southern crossings, likely the result of scorching summer heat and ramped up enforcement efforts by Mexico. Facilities across the country have now reduced the average time a child is expected to spend in custody by more than half, according to HHS.

As the number of migrants crossing the southern border has fallen by nearly 30 percent in recent weeks, case workers are better able to handle the number of children sent to them by Border Patrol.

The total number of minors in HHS care dropped from 13,500 at the end of June to just under 12,500 this week.

But staff at Carrizo Springs is prepared for another influx, if needed.

The gated campus sits off a dirt road on the outskirts of town. On a plot of land formerly used for oil workers, government contractors have now built a small town for kids that could house nearly a thousand more if needed. Currently, just over 200 kids reside in the dorm rooms.

It’s equipped with bunks, classrooms, small soccer fields, a medical center, and dining hall.

A brightly-colored welcome sign that reads “¡¡BIENVENIDOS!!” greets kids that come through the main gate.

In the classrooms, kids are taught to read and speak English as they recite the alphabet and salute the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dinnin takes pride in his work as an emergency manager, while hoping that one day the work he’s doing in Carrizo Springs will no longer be needed.

“We need to figure out a way to appropriately care for kids without opening influx shelters,” he said Wednesday.

That day may soon be coming as the federal government now looks to change how it runs the holding centers. Weber said the agency is looking at five major cities in Texas, Arizona and Georgia to set up permanent intake centers for those kids who end up alone.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Trump expected to end his fight to add citizenship question to census, sources say

Political News Trump expected to end his fight to add citizenship question to census, sources say

liveslow/iStock(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is expected to announce later Thursday he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead take executive action that instructs the Commerce Department to obtain an estimate of U.S. citizenship through other means, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The expected announcement would bring to a close weeks of escalating confusion within the government over his demands that the controversial question be included in the census despite a Supreme Court order that had blocked the move. The White House declined to comment about what exactly the president plans to announce.

As recently as Thursday morning, administration officials had been repeatedly suggested the president would take executive action calling for the question be added to the census. It was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to move forward with that plan.

Attorney General William Barr, who was expected to attend the announcement, will now have to determine a path forward for three separate ongoing court cases the administration is fighting in Maryland, California and New York over the administration’s efforts to add the question to the census.

The Department of Justice declined to comment to ABC News.

The expected announcement follows the government’s acknowledgement in court last week that census forms continued to be printed without the question, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order last month.

In a majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the administration’s previous stated reasoning that it wanted the question added to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, “seems to have been contrived.” However, Roberts also left open the possibility that the question could still be added if the administration presented a rationale that was sufficient.

Following that decision, the Justice and Commerce Departments announced last week that they were dropping any renewed effort to add the citizenship question.

But they reversed course after President Trump tweeted that his administration was “absolutely moving forward” with efforts to include the question, sending DOJ lawyers scrambling to work up a new strategy that they could argue in the ongoing New York, Maryland and California cases.

The Justice Department then made a surprise announcement Sunday evening that it planned to completely replace its legal teams arguing those cases, raising speculation that some of the attorneys involved felt uncomfortable with the administration’s path forward.

In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Attorney General Bill Barr expressed confidence the administration had a legal path to still add the question, and disputed that the swap was a result of any internal objections expressed by the previous legal team.

But in two cases the attempted switch has hit a major roadblock.

Federal judges in both New York and Maryland have denied the government’s attempt to withdraw the previous attorneys, both saying the government has not provided enough information on how a transition between the teams wouldn’t serve to disrupt ongoing legal proceedings.

Immigration and civil rights groups opposing the administration’s efforts have argued that including a citizenship question on the census could reduce response rates in immigrant communities, resulting in federal funding cuts to areas with high minority populations and congressional districts being drawn in a fashion that would politically advantage Republicans.

A Census Bureau report released just last month estimated that adding the question was likely to reduce responses in households with at least one non-citizen by at least 8 percent.

Officials from both the Justice and Commerce departments had previously argued repeatedly in court that the legal issues surrounding the census had to be resolved by the end of June to begin the printing process so forms could be ready for mailing by March.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Disney’s newest Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride will make its debut this winter

Entertainment News  Disney's newest Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge ride will make its debut this winter


Disney(ORLANDO) — Disney has announced opening dates for its newest Star Wars attraction.

The new ride, called “Rise of the Resistance,” will open at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on December 5, which just so happens to be Walt Disney’s birthday. It will be part of Hollywood Studios’ brand new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge section, set to open on August 29.

It will later launch at Disneyland’s own recently opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim, California on January 17. So far, Disneyland’s Galaxy Edge only has one ride: “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.”

According to the official Disney Parks blog, “Rise of the Resistance” will “blur the lines between fantasy and reality.” It begins with guests joining Rey and General Organa at a secret base. Along the way, they will be captured by a First Order Star Destroyer.  The two will then have to break out, avoid Kylo Ren and protect the secret base.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Las Vegas police release 158-page report detailing deadly 2017 concert shooting

U.S. NEWS Las Vegas police release 158-page report detailing deadly 2017 concert shooting

Page Light Studios/iStock(LAS VEGAS) — A new report detailing the handling of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history found a number of ways in which fellow law enforcement agencies may be able to improve upon their own future responses to their own active shooter and mass casualty incidents.

Nearly two years after the shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas that left 58 victims dead, the city’s police department released their definitive review of the incident.

“In our chosen profession of policing, we often cannot control what takes place on the ground that we have been commissioned to protect and serve,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) sheriff Joe Lombardo wrote at the beginning of the report. “However, we always have control over how we respond in the aftermath.”

The 158-page report gives a minute-by-minute account of the attack and the police response, while also illuminating new details of the chaos that unfolded on the ground that night.

Fleeing, confused concertgoers warned police of “an older suspicious white male, wearing dark fatigues and a black backpack, who they thought might have been an additional shooter,” according to the report.

After seeing that man enter a nearby RV, a strike team responded, according to the report, addressing the man in the RV and realizing then “he was not a threat but rather a survivor of the incident.”

That incident was just one of a spectrum of necessary distractions police faced. For nearly three hours after the attack, police dispatch continued fielding frightening new reports of “active shooters” and “shots fired.”

The analysis includes 93 recommendations for law enforcement officials, including increased training and practice drills, the reinforcement of existing protocols, and recommended placement of incident command posts and multi-agency coordination centers.

One recommendation, for instance, calls for expanded active-shooter training “to include a barricaded active shooter when the shooter is in a position of advantage.”

Another recommendation, number 45, was born out of decision by the LVMPD — under relentless and extraordinary pressure for information from a terrified public — to release a preliminary timeline in the early hours after the shooting rather than waiting for all evidence to be collected.

“In hindsight, the rush to put out information led not only to confusion but also to the birth of multiple conspiracy theories that continue to plague this mass shooting today,” the report concluded.

As a result, another recommendation calls for more precise phrasing to be used — like “sequence of events” and “preliminary details” — to “ensure accuracy while maintaining a commitment to transparency.”

In addition to the chaos and confusion, the report also highlights moving moments of unity and compassion.

The LVMPD report describes its own officers’ response as “extremely compassionate, supportive, and helpful to those in need,” and that the concession stands gave survivors food and water, and good Samaritans “dropped off cell phone chargers, food, water, and blankets.”

Some heartbreaking new details are included in the report as well.

Elsewhere, the report describes how some victims and survivors who had gathered at an arena on the campus of University of Nevada – Las Vegas, but “as the sun came up, survivors reported that they did not want to leave… because they felt safe where they were and did not know what to do next.”

At the conclusion of the report, the authors acknowledge how first responders “have a difficult and heavily scrutinized profession.”

They praised the work of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department but added that “it is apparent to us as an agency that there are many areas where we must improve.”

And they hope they aren’t the only ones, teeing up this report as a possible guide that can “provide insight and drive positive change for first-responder agencies across the world.”

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

Win for pregnant women! Moms ask city to issue ‘Baby on Board’ buttons to remind subway riders to offer their seats

Courtesy Megan Nufer(CHICAGO) — Moms who have had enough of being forced to stand on the subway while pregnant instead of being offered a seat have inspired a new campaign that could transform transportation for pregnant women in Chicago.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) confirmed to ABC News that it is planning a campaign that will be “specifically targeted” toward pregnant riders and will include “buttons that pregnant riders can wear” to let other riders know they need a seat.

Details of the campaign, including the launch date, distribution and button messaging and design are still being finalized, according to the CTA.

Megan Nufer, who gave birth to her daughter in May, said the promised campaign for Chicago’s rapid transit system, called the L by locals, cannot come soon enough.

“There are a lot of working moms who commute daily and I think they should have the right to get into work and come home from work with the appropriate accommodations,” she said. “I think some women try to do it all and sometimes you don’t want to make excuses, but you’re bringing a human into the world.”

“You want [being offered a seat] to just be the default thing that happens,” she added.

Nufer, whose daily commute consists of both a bus and the subway, reached out to the CTA in March with the idea to implement in Chicago what is commonplace in London, “Baby on Board” buttons for pregnant riders.

“My coworker, who is from London, one day was like, ‘This is so silly. If you were in the’d have a badge and people wouldn’t even think twice,'” Nufer recalled. “I went on LinkedIn and found a mutual connection with someone who works for the CTA and reached out.”

Nufer said the CTA replied not long after telling her to “stay tuned.” Her request was not the first one for “Baby on Board” buttons on the L.

Erin Fowler, 38, now a mom of two, spoke about the idea six years ago at a CTA board meeting.

She spoke one month after giving birth to her first son and came up with the idea after a trip to London where she saw the “Baby on Board” buttons used there.

“I was motivated by my frustration, principally,” she said. “[A button] removes the awkwardness of someone having to wonder if a woman is pregnant because women are not visibly pregnant for the duration of their pregnancy.”

The “Baby on Board” badges in London have been around for years, worn by pregnant women riding the Tube to ensure they are given a seat.

They were put in the spotlight when Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore one in 2013 while visiting the Tube to celebrate the subway system’s 150 years of service. Kate, now a mom of three, was pregnant at the time with her first child, Prince George.

New York City also tried a pilot program with “Baby on Board” buttons in 2017, offering customers who are pregnant or have disabilities the option of a “Baby on Board” button or a “Please Offer Me a Seat” button.

“I’m hoping Chicago can be a role model and get it rolled out to the rest of the country,” said Nufer. “It’s a simple thing that doesn’t cost much money.”

Fowler added that she’s not sure why Chicago has yet to implement a button program, but she looks forward to the day when she sees fellow female commuters wearing “Baby on Board” buttons on the L.

“I hope it happens, that it works and that future pregnant women will be a bit more comfortable than I was,” she said. “It’s a small thing and it certainly won’t hurt to try.”

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Elizabeth Warren’s new plan aims to decriminalize border crossings, expand immigrants’ rights

Political News Elizabeth Warren's new plan aims to decriminalize border crossings, expand immigrants' rights

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Flipping the government’s immigration policies has been a focus for most 2020 Democratic candidates, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday became among the first to lay out a sweeping plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws and priorities.

The six-page policy essay calls for, among other things, the decriminalization of unauthorized border crossings; a stance crowned by fellow candidate Julián Castro in the first debate where we saw some democrats, like former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, disagree.

Warren, who visited an unaccompanied migrant children facility in Florida last month, writes she would “refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States,” citing a direction from government officials in recent years that resulted in immigration violations making up more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions in the last fiscal year of the Obama Administration.

“And under Trump, it has become increasingly abusive,” Warren writes. The Donald Trump administration has faced significant backlash since instituting a “zero tolerance” stance on authorized migration, leading to the separation of thousands of children from their parents. The public has also seen an increase in highly-publicized raids nationwide by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Officials have said these actions are a show of force to deter those considering crossing the nation’s southern border.

By decriminalizing such border crossings, Warren aims to reduce the number of detained migrants and eliminate the practice of separating children from families.

“This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal courts. It’s costly and unnecessary.”

She says she’d issue guidance to officers that detention is only used for those who are a flight or safety risk and protections will be given to those who may be at an increased risk in a general detention facility such as asylum seekers, families, pregnant women and LGBTQ+ persons. With less people detained, Warren says she’ll be able to push for legislation to permanently ban for-profit detention centers, like the one she visited in Homestead, Florida last month.

Republican party communication arms and the Donald Trump re-election campaign has already slammed the idea of no longer treating unauthorized border crossings as criminal, framing it as “open borders.” Trump campaign officials have told ABC News they plan to continue to paint these candidates as such.

The new wave of Democratic immigration ideals is becoming a far cry from those of the Obama Administration. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently warned that decriminalization would attract even more migrants and, like Republican critics, described the plan as “tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders.”

Warren’s policy plan goes beyond addressing apprehensions at the southern border, by “refocusing” DHS branches on cargo screening, smuggling and trafficking prevention and ending programs that push local law enforcement to apprehend illegal immigrants (although many major metropolitan cities have refused to do so).

Under a Warren administration, she says, a renewed emphasis on transparency and oversight would prevent “further abuses.” Part of that effort would be a new Justice Department team tasked to investigate accusations of medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants.

“Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration will hold you accountable,” she writes.

An overhaul of the immigration court system would make it more efficient and fair, Warren says, “beginning by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets” and by guaranteeing every immigrant the right to a hearing and counsel.

Additionally, the senator says she’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status and expand the DACA program to cover those under the age of 18. She’ll expand legal immigration, foster five times more refugees in her first year compared to the Trump administration, commit $1.5 billion annually in aid, largely to Central America and renew a focus on stomping down crime that pushes people to flee to the United States, she writes.

About 80 percent of all adults consider immigration a top issue for their vote in 2020, only lagging behind the economy, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

House Democrats vote to authorize subpoenas for White House officials on immigration

Political News House Democrats vote to authorize subpoenas for White House officials on immigration

Luka Banda/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to authorize a dozen subpoenas, requesting documents and testimony from twelve current and former administration officials and associates of President Donald Trump related to the administration’s immigration policy and the panel’s ongoing investigation into potential obstruction of justice and public corruption.

The committee is seeking information on the administrations “zero tolerance” and family separation policies along with any discussions about offers of presidential pardons to officials or employees at the Department of Homeland Security.

The list of 12 includes former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former National Security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski who has remained close to the president and the West Wing, serving as an outside adviser. The committee also wants to hear from Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

“We will not rest until we obtain their testimony and documents so this committee and Congress can do the work the Constitution, and the American people expect of us,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

It’s unclear when the subpoenas will be served to these individuals, but sources say they are not likely to be issued immediately.

Ranking member Doug Collins called the move “premature” and “unjustified” claiming the administration “has produced a steady stream of documents” in response to Nadler’s request six months ago for information on the “zero tolerance” policy.

Ahead of the vote Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to equate the Democrats Thursday’s subpoena blitz to taking too many “bites at the apple.”

“Now the Democrats have asked to see 12 more people who have already spent hours with Robert Mueller, and spent a fortune on lawyers in so doing. How many bites at the apple do they get more working on Border Loopholes and Asylum,” Trump wrote. “They also want to interview the highly complicated and compromised Mueller again. He said he was “done” after his last 9 minute speech, and that he had nothing more to say outside of the No Collusion, No Obstruction, Report. Enough already, go back to work! I won, unanimously, the big Emoluments case yesterday!”

“The Committee on the Judiciary has a constitutional obligation to investigate credible allegations of misconduct. We have been doing that through pursuing the unredacted Mueller reporter and key related witnesses and documents,” Nadler said.

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019

President Trump weighs in on St. Louis Park, Minn., Pledge of Allegiance controversy

Political News President Trump weighs in on St. Louis Park, Minn., Pledge of Allegiance controversy

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The decision by a local Minnesota city council to remove the Pledge of Allegiance from its meetings prompted a reaction from President Donald Trump on Thursday.

“The Pledge of Allegiance to our great Country, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, is under siege,” the president said on Twitter. “That is why I am going to win the Great State of Minnesota in the 2020 Election. People are sick and tired of this stupidity and disloyalty to our wonderful USA!”

The council unanimously voted to no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of meetings to ensure everyone from diverse backgrounds felt welcome, according to ABC News’ affiliate KSTP.

But the vote angered some in the community, which has a population of about 45,000.

“The mayor and council are aware of the President’s tweet and are focused on the work of the city,” Jacque Smith, Communications and Marketing Manager of St. Louis Park, Minn., City Council, told ABC News.

“At its July 8, 2019, meeting the city council agreed that at a future study session they would consider undertaking a process of having a focused conversation with St. Louis Park residents about the role of civic expressions in our work, including the Pledge of Allegiance, and how to best express our values and principals in order to create a more engaging civic space for all of our neighbors,” she added. “The meeting date for this discussion is still being finalized.”

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Posted On 11 Jul 2019