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  1. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will end in January 2019 a special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation, senior Trump administration officials said on Monday. A U.S. flag flutters over top of the skyline of New York (R) and Jersey City (L), as seen from Bayonne, New Jersey, August 6, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn They also said the program known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, would be extended until July 2018 for about 86,000 Honduran immigrants, but added it could then be terminated. The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans is part of President Donald Trump’s broader efforts to tighten restrictions on immigration.Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from across Central America live and work in the United States, but some are protected from the threat of deportation under the TPS program. Thousands from both Nicaragua and Honduras were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. In all, TPS protects more than 300,000 people from nine countries living in the United States. Trump’s administration was faced with a Monday deadline to announce its decision on Nicaragua and Honduras. Critics have complained the TPS program allows participants to repeatedly extend their stays in 6-month to 18-month increments in case of a natural disaster, civil strife or other emergencies in their homelands. In the case of Nicaragua, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke decided the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement. The TPS for thousands of Nicaraguans was due to expire on Jan. 5, 2018, but it was delayed by 12 months “to allow for an orderly transition.” Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-protections/u-s-to-end-protected-status-for-nicaraguan-immigrants-in-2019-idUSKBN1D704X
  2. BAGUIO CITY—Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) in the Philippines have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to intercede on behalf of Filipinos who face arrest or deportation in Russia for belonging to their faith. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of the Philippines, the legal and corporate arm of JW, made the appeal when it met DFA officials this week on behalf of more than 8,000 Filipino Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. Hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia are affected by a warning issued by the Russian prosecutor general about what it described as the JW’s “extremist activities.” The law, enforced in 2002, bars “public and religious associations or any other organizations, or of mass media, or natural persons [from undertaking activities]… aimed at the forcible change of the foundations of the constitutional system and the violation of the integrity of the Russian Federation.” The prohibition covers religious activities that impart “propaganda of the exclusiveness, superiority or deficiency of individuals on the basis of their attitude to religion, social, racial, national, religious or linguistic identity.” The warning was directed at the Administration Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, following the seizure and liquidation of pocket groups of JW congregations recently. The center serves as JW’s national headquarters in Russia. Dean Jacek, spokesperson of JW in the Philippines, said they filed a formal protest against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee. He said the rule may be used to “freeze the Watch Tower Society’s assets” and confiscate office properties and all Kingdom Halls in Russia. Russia recently banned JW publications, including Bibles, which do not incite to violence, he said. “We are not engaged in any extremist activity. We simply want to freely carry out our worship and our Bible education work peacefully,” he said. —GOBLETH MOULIC http://globalnation.inquirer.net/152841/pinoy-jehovahs-witnesses-russia-face-deportation Religious group asks DFA to protect members in Russia BAGUIO CITY — The Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to intercede on behalf of Filipinos who face arrest or deportation in Russia for belonging to their faith. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of the Philippines, the legal and corporate arm of the JWs, reiterated their appeal to DFA officials to help secure and provide legal support for hundreds of Filipino members of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. There are more than 8,000 Filipinos in Russia, and hundreds of them have been worshiping in various Kingdom Halls there, and are affected by a warning issued by the prosecutor general of Russia about what it describes as the JW’s “extremist activities,” as prescribed by Russia’s federal law on counteraction of extremist activities. The warning was directed at the Administration Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia, following the seizure and liquidation of pocket groups of JW congregations recently. The center serves as JW’s national headquarters in Russia. Dean Jacek, spokesperson of the JWs in the Philippines, said they filed more than 29 formal protests against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee. He said the court misapplied Russia’s laws against extremism, which may be used to “freeze the Watch Tower Society’s assets” and confiscate office properties and all Kingdom Halls in Russia. Russia recently banned JW publications, including Bibles, which contain message of peace, love, and respect and do not incite violence, he said. “We are not engaged in any extremist activity. We simply want to freely carry out our worship and our Bible education work peacefully,” he said. Jacek said a Filipino, who associates with the JW congregation, whether as member or not, could face arrest or be punished for engaging in worship, Bible study, or sharing the Bible’s message. There are more than 175,000 Jehovah Witnesses in Russia, a country with a population of over 146 million. CBB http://globalnation.inquirer.net/152815/religious-group-asks-dfa-protect-members-russia
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