Author: Jessi

McSally, immigration agency directors decry ‘loopholes’ in asylum law

Bryan Pietsch Tuesday, May 22, 2018 McSally, immigration agency directors decry ‘loopholes’ in asylum law WASHINGTON – Leaders of the three main border agencies told a House subcommittee Tuesday that loopholes in current immigration policy are letting large numbers of immigrants seek asylum by claiming “credible fear” of harm if they are sent home. “The basis for asylum is very generous in our country, and the credible fear standard is even moreso,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna, who said asylum filings have tripled from fiscal 2014 to 2017. Under current law, immigrants can seek asylum if being returned to their home country presents a threat of harm or persecution, usually based on racial or religious grounds, but witnesses Tuesday said the law is too easily exploited. “An alien saying the magic word asylum at the border only has to establish a significant possibility that there is a reasonable possibility that he or she will be persecuted,” said Cissna, who said the number of asylum claims in 2017 was the highest in over 20 years. The hearing by the House Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee comes just weeks after a highly publicized caravan of more than 1,000 Mexican and Central American immigrants crossed Mexico and gathered at the U.S. border. In her opening statement, Rep. Martha McSally, R-Tucson, laid blame for the...

Read More

Paper chase: Phoenix Union helps with financial aid forms to get more students into college

Stephanie Morse Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Paper chase: Phoenix Union helps with financial aid forms to get more students into college PHOENIX – The Phoenix Union High School District has increased the number of students going to college – many of them the first generation to do so – through an innovative program that takes advantage of free financial aid and assures low-income youths that college is a realistic goal. Arizona students left more than $65 million in free federal aid unclaimed last school year because they did not fill out the required federal form, according to a 2017 NerdWallet report. The No. 1 reason, according to district officials, is that many students don’t know that financial aid is available – especially first-generation college students, who need financial help the most. Others find the required student aid form, called FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – too complex. But completing the FAFSA form is the only way to receive federal grants, loans and work-study programs for college. A program created by the district with the Be a Leader Foundation is making it easier for students to successfully complete the financial-aid application rather than relying on family members who have no experience. The program also targets students starting with their freshman year in high school to keep assuring them college is within their reach. As a result, more...

Read More

Second-grader uses fire-safety training to save her family from burning home

Ellen O’Brien Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Second-grader uses fire-safety training to save her family from burning home PHOENIX – When 7-year-old Monibelle Townsend heard her family’s smoke alarm go off and smelled smoke, she said she knew what to do, thanks to training she had received at school just days before. She woke up her grandmother and 6-year-old brother and escorted them to safety. Her home was destroyed by the fire, but her family was saved. On Tuesday morning, the Phoenix Fire Department awarded Monibelle a Citizen Lifesaving Award during morning announcements at Desert View Elementary School. “I feel happy about winning this award because I didn’t want my family to get hurt,” the 7-year-old said. “My grandma didn’t know what to do, so I just had to do something to save them.” Just days before the April fire, Phoenix firefighters had shown Monibelle and her classmates fire-safety techniques, including how to stop-drop-and-roll, crawl low under smoke and feel doorknobs with the back of their hands to see whether there’s fire on the other side. Phoenix firefighter Tommy Reeve said the timing “was pretty crazy.” “We think (the safety training) was what helped her have the wherewithal to get her brother out … and help her grandmother out of the house as well,” he said. Reeve said stories like Monibelle’s remind firefighters that they’re making a difference. “When we...

Read More

Arpaio submits signatures for U.S. Senate race, vows that he’s a serious candidate

Amanda Fahey Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Arpaio submits signatures for U.S. Senate race, vows that he’s a serious candidate PHOENIX – Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday submitted more than 10,000 signatures in his bid to qualify as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Arpaio joined a crowded field to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, who is not seeking re-election. Arpaio will face off against fellow Republicans Rep. Martha McSally of Tucson and former state Sen. Kelli Ward in the primary. The winner will likely face Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, in the general election. “I know there’s been a lot of word out there – subtly or not – that I’m not going to run, (and) I’m just doing this to get my name in the paper, which is kind of stupid,” Arpaio said at a news conference. Arpaio said he has every intention of taking the Senate seat. He said several times that he is a serious contender in the GOP primary, which will be held in August. Campaign finance reports showed Arpaio trailed his competitors when it came to fundraising and voter polling, according to an April Cronkite News . Arpaio is an avid President Donald Trump supporter. When he announced his candidacy in January, he said he was running “for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump.” On...

Read More

Students gather to remember victims of Texas school shooting

Ellen O’Brien Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Students gather to remember victims of Texas school shooting PHOENIX – More than 100 people on Monday lit candles and silently placed flowers outside the Arizona State Capitol to memorialize the eight students and two teachers killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas last Friday. The families, students, activists and faith leaders stood as high school students took turns describing the the victims. “I get to speak for them. I get to let others know who they were and how beautiful they are, because they’re so beautiful,” said Yamile Martinez, one of the high school students who spoke on Monday. March for Our Lives Arizona, a student-led group that protests gun violence, organized the vigil. Jordan Harb, the group’s executive director, said he knew what it was like to be one of those students at Santa Fe. “I have a personal connection to them because I go to school, and I’m scared,” Harb said. Martinez and other students also called on Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session of the Arizona Legislature to address gun violence. “Something I would tell (the victims and their families) is that this is not over,” Martinez said. “(I would tell them) to continue with life. To have faith. And to take action.” [2up_image-standard source2=”https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/MarchforOurLives_Rally-1-800.jpg” caption2=”Itzel Valenzuela waits for sunset to hold vigil for the victims...

Read More