Hawaii farmers risk lava and toxic air to save produce

Rusty and Jenny Perry fled their home in Hawaii’s Big island last month to escape bubbling lava following the Kilauea volcano eruption.

The couple grows lychee, bananas and papaya on their farm in Kapoho. When they evacuated, they missed shipments of produce to other parts of the state. And with that came lost income.

“It’s just waiting there, waiting to be picked,” Jenny Perry told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

But even as their produce awaits, they’ve been sneaking onto the farm to salvage what they can. To avoid the dangers associated with lava, they’ve been using an entrance through their neighbor’s land and back roads.

With the help of employees, the couple goes in a few days every week and takes out produce.

“My neighbor said go through my property, if you have to cut the fence, cut the fence. So we did,” Jenny Perry said. “Very lucky. So many of my friends have lost everything.”

The state department of agriculture says the eruption has caused losses of more than $14 million for farmers, according to the affiliate.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano covers nearly 6,000 acres since it started erupting May 3, and has destroyed about 500 homes.

Fissure 8 fountains is still feeding lava into a channel that flows to the ocean at Kapoho, according to the US Geological Survey.

Lava flowing in to the ocean can create “laze,” a mash-up of lava and haze that occurs when hot lava hits the ocean, sending hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

Scott: Practice of separating migrant children from parents ‘needs to stop now’

Gov. Rick Scott is among those Republicans calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to stop separating migrant children from their undocumented parents.

Scott sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday, asking about the health and status of the children being held at a Homestead facility.

“I have been very clear that I absolutely do not agree with the practice of separating children from their families,” Scott wrote. “This practice needs to stop now.”

Scott’s letter to Azar came on the same day that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, were denied entry into the facility, known as the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children.

The senator and congresswoman were told by a guard that they would be “trespassing” if they attempted to enter the facility, even though Wasserman Schultz said they were previously told they would be allowed inside.

Scott, who is running to unseat Nelson in the Senate, said in his letter that former President Barack Obama also used the facility to house unaccompanied children in 2014. Scott said he requested information about the influx of children being moved to Florida at that time but “received little response.”

The governor’s letter seeks information about the “health, educational or other social services” being provided to the children at the facility.

Scott said Florida “stands ready to assist” with the reunification of children with their parents.

“It is extremely frustrating that, after decades of inaction by the federal government, many innocent children are now paying the price for the failures of Washington,” Scott wrote. “Congress must address our immigration system immediately.”

Trump ramps up midterm travel

President Donald Trump is ramping up his political travel ahead of the midterm elections, eying November as the most potent referendum on his presidency even as he faces widespread condemnation over his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Trump’s focus on the midterms, which Republicans believe will come with an invigoration of the President’s loyal base, is welcome news for some Republicans focused on keeping their majority in the House. But those same operatives admit it also comes with significant political risk: Trump’s presence fires up Democrats, puts every race in a national context that can be detrimental to Republican candidates and risks knocking campaigns off message by forcing them to take on sticky issues like immigration.

As Trump has increased his focus on the midterms, he has made clear this week that he plans to make immigration central to his messaging this campaign season. Revisiting the anti-immigrant attacks that animated much of his 2016 campaign, Trump pledged that the United States “will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility” and argued that undocumented immigrants “pour into and infest our Country.”

“Democrats are the problem,” he said stridently on Tuesday.

Armed with that messaging, Trump will embark on a week-long sprint that will take him to five key states — Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

The President will first headline a rally in Duluth, Minnesota on Wednesday, touting a series of Republican candidates in the state. On Saturday, Trump will then rally with Republicans in Las Vegas and headline a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller, arguably the most endangered Republican incumbent in the Senate.

Trump will then travel to South Carolina on Monday, according to two sources with knowledge of the President’s plans, rallying with incumbent South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster who finds himself in a difficult runoff election against John Warren.

Trump’s week of travel will then take him to Fargo, North Dakota on June 27, where he is expected to tout Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Republican Senate candidate looking to unseat Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

According to Republicans with knowledge of Trump’s plans, the President will then travel to Wisconsin the following day for a 250-person fundraiser with the Trump Victory Committee and the Republican National Committee in Milwaukee. One Republican told CNN that the RNC expects to raise $3 million at the event. RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel will be in attendance, according to the Republican source.

Trump has told aides that he expects to constantly be on the road for the midterms, with an increased focus on large rallies that bring hundreds of his supporters together for lengthy speeches full of red-meat.

“He has said he expects to be on the road five or six times a week,” said Bill Stepien, White House political director. “And nothing revs of the base, garners attention and draws contrast with those who have obstructed this President every step of the way like a rally, so I expect his tactic to be used quite often.”

Republican candidates are well aware that the President’s presence comes with risks.

“I think he’s got better things to do at this point,” Young Kim, the Republican candidate running to replace Rep. Ed Royce in Southern California, told CNN before June’s California primary. Though she admitted she wouldn’t reject his help outright, she said it would have to be the right kind of help.

But some candidates are calculating that the benefits outweigh the hazards.

“I am very excited that the President has decided to make Duluth one of his campaign stops,” said Pete Stauber, the Republican candidate running to flip Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District who will rally with Trump on Wednesday. “This event just reaffirms how important this open seat is both to our district and Republicans nationally and we are excited to be hosting the President in the 8th District Wednesday.”

It is not happenstance that Trump is heading to Duluth, either. The blue-collar area is, in the eyes of most Republicans, prime territory for Trump to flip longtime Democratic voters with a pledge to protect the steel industry powered by the nearby Iron Range, a group of major iron deposits in northern Minnesota.

The Trump re-election campaign is making Minnesota an early priority after losing by only 2 percentage points to Hillary Clinton in 2016 — the closest the state has come to tilting Republican in a generation. Richard Nixon was the last Republican to carry the state in a presidential race.

The race was tight in the Duluth area, too. But the President proved during the election that the right kind of Republican can compete in the state known for its liberal icons, welcome news for Republicans like Jim Hagedorn, a Republican House candidate in southern Minnesota.

“I have made very clear: I am running to be a conservative reinforcement in the House and to partner with President Trump and like-minded colleagues,” said Hagedorn, who made the four-hour drive up to Duluth the day before Trump was set to arrive.

While it is difficult for aides to predict what the traditionally free-wheeling Trump will say once he takes the stage before a campaign crowd, Michael Glassner, the COO of Trump’s 2020 campaign, said the President will discuss economic growth, trade and his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But it is unlikely that Trump, who is in the middle of a firestorm over families coming to the United States illegally being separated, will be able to avoid the immigration debate, even if he will be more than 1,500 miles from the US-Mexico border.

Immigration animated Trump’s 2016 campaign and the issue remains relevant in Minnesota, where farm workers are a staple of the economy in the southern reaches of the state and there is a large Somali population in the Twin Cities.

Trump plans to continue that rhetoric through November, sources with knowledge of his plans tell CNN, believing that immigration is the kind of political issue to invigorate voters that flocked to him in 2016.

“I think every district is different. (But) I have seen poll numbers that show this issue polls well with Republicans,” the source with knowledge of Trump’s political thinking told CNN. “Anyone who has run a campaign knows that a midterm election, as this is, it is all about making sure that our own party turns out and the base is motivated. Every poll I have seen shows this issue accomplishes that.”

10-year-old girl with Down syndrome held at detention center

A 10-year-old Mexican girl with Down syndrome is among the thousands of children who have recently been separated from their parents at the southern US border, Mexico’s foreign minister said.

The girl and her brother were sent to a detention center in McAllen,Texas, and their mother was sent to a facility about an hour away in Brownsville after the family attempted to cross the border.

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the Mexican consulate along with the girl’s father, a legal US resident, are working to get the girl released.

It’s a “particularly painful case,” Videgaray said.

The foreign minister said he was also aware of 21 Mexican children who have been separated from their parents. Most of the children have been sent back to Mexico but seven are still in US detention, he added.

At least 2,000 children have been separated from parents at the border as a result of the new “zero tolerance” policy, Department of Homeland Security officials said last week.

About 1% of the children detained at the US border were Mexican, Videgaray said, with the majority hailing from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Videgaray condemned the practice, saying it was “cruel and inhumane.”

“The Mexican government in no way promotes illegal migration,” he said. “However, according to our constitutional principles and our convictions, we cannot be indifferent before an act that clearly represents a violation of human rights and that puts into a vulnerable position minors, children, including those with disabilities.”

The National Down Syndrome Society said it will work with authorities to help the girl.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to this child and her family during this unprecedented and trying time. NDSS will work with the appropriate authorities to ensure she receives all the resources from us that she needs to help comfort her until she can be reunited with her father and eventually her whole family, where she belongs,” the organization wrote on Facebook.

Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, dismissed the story of the girl while appearing Tuesday on Fox News.

“Womp womp,” Lewandowski responded after former senior Democratic National Committee adviser Zac Petkanas mentioned the girl.

Immigrant parents write contact information on children’s clothing

Some immigrant children have arrived to refugee resettlement care with their parents’ contact information hastily written on their clothes.

In one case, a child came holding his father’s belt, which had a name and phone number written inside it. In other cases, the parents have taught the children a rhyme to remember contact information.

Dona Abbott, Grand Rapids, Michigan, branch director of refugee services for Bethany Christian Services, described a resettlement process thrust into turmoil amid the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented immigrants.

In some instances, case workers are given no information about the identity of the children’s parents or family.

“The case manager tries to identify who the parents are,” Abbott said. “What we do is call the detention centers in the state where the child entered across the border and start asking if the parent is there.”

It can take anywhere from a week to two weeks to find the parents, she said.

Abbott spoke with CNN as the Trump administration continued to enforce the zero-tolerance policy, under which every person caught crossing the US border illegally, including a parent accompanying a child, is referred for prosecution. The policy has had the immediate effect of separating parents from their children, sparking outrage across America.

Bethany Christian Services has a contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to help transition children from government custody to homes. Bethany Christian Services has placed 99 children with foster families in Michigan and Maryland, Abbott said.

‘This policy is relatively new’

Abbott said the process with this new policy has not been seamless. She said some foster families report that the children start crying at dinner time and continue crying throughout the night.

“They just want someone to explain what’s happening and when they’ll get back together with their mom or their dad. They’re crying, they have nightmares, all the things you would expect,” Abbott said.

Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for children and families at the Health and Human Services’ Administration, said he did not know how many of the separated children have been placed or reunited with parents.

“This policy is relatively new, we’re still working through the experience of reunifying parents with their kids after adjudication,” he said. “When we’re aware of the presence of a parent in the country, our goal then is to reunite the child with the parent.”

Before this Trump administration policy, a “very small number” of children were separated from their parents, Abbott said.

“This separation is avoidable,” she said. “We don’t have to separate children to solve this problem.”

The children placed with foster families are as young as 8 months old and up to 17 years old, with the average age being 7.

“Children should always be protected and we are not really doing a good job of that right now,” Abbott said.

Immigrant parents write contact information on children’s clothing

Some immigrant children have arrived to refugee resettlement care with their parents’ contact information hastily written on their clothes.

In one case, a child came holding his father’s belt, which had a name and phone number written inside it. In other cases, the parents have taught the children a rhyme to remember contact information.

Dona Abbott, Grand Rapids, Michigan, branch director of refugee services for Bethany Christian Services, described a resettlement process thrust into turmoil amid the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented immigrants.

In some instances, case workers are given no information about the identity of the children’s parents or family.

“The case manager tries to identify who the parents are,” Abbott said. “What we do is call the detention centers in the state where the child entered across the border and start asking if the parent is there.”

It can take anywhere from a week to two weeks to find the parents, she said.

Abbott spoke with CNN as the Trump administration continued to enforce the zero-tolerance policy, under which every person caught crossing the US border illegally, including a parent accompanying a child, is referred for prosecution. The policy has had the immediate effect of separating parents from their children, sparking outrage across America.

Bethany Christian Services has a contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to help transition children from government custody to homes. Bethany Christian Services has placed 99 children with foster families in Michigan and Maryland, Abbott said.

‘This policy is relatively new’

Abbott said the process with this new policy has not been seamless. She said some foster families report that the children start crying at dinner time and continue crying throughout the night.

“They just want someone to explain what’s happening and when they’ll get back together with their mom or their dad. They’re crying, they have nightmares, all the things you would expect,” Abbott said.

Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for children and families at the Health and Human Services’ Administration, said he did not know how many of the separated children have been placed or reunited with parents.

“This policy is relatively new, we’re still working through the experience of reunifying parents with their kids after adjudication,” he said. “When we’re aware of the presence of a parent in the country, our goal then is to reunite the child with the parent.”

Before this Trump administration policy, a “very small number” of children were separated from their parents, Abbott said.

“This separation is avoidable,” she said. “We don’t have to separate children to solve this problem.”

The children placed with foster families are as young as 8 months old and up to 17 years old, with the average age being 7.

“Children should always be protected and we are not really doing a good job of that right now,” Abbott said.