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DHS, DOJ announce plans to restart migrant asylum hearings

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Friday announced plans to resume hearings for migrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S., as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The MPP program requires migrants to wait in Mexico until their hearings can be completed. But the coronavirus outbreak has put immigration proceedings on hold since March, forcing hundreds of migrants to camp out at the border in the interim.


  • "To lend greater certainty in a fluid COVID-19 environment, DHS has maintained close contact with the Department of State (DOS) and the Government of Mexico (GOM) and worked with DOJ to identify public health criteria to determine when hearings may resume swiftly and safely," a press release read on Friday.

The state of play: DHS will require stipulations be met for hearings to proceed, including:

  • California, Arizona and Texas advancing to the Phase 3 of their respective re-openings.
  • The Department of State and CDC must lower global health advisories to Level 2, "and/or a comparable change in health advisories, regarding Mexico in particular."
  • The Mexican government's "stoplight" system must categorize Mexican border states as "yellow."

Once criteria are met, the administration will hold socially distanced MPP hearings for those on the backlog, mandating face masks and temperature-checks. The departments will provide public notification at least 15 calendar days before the resumption of hearings with location details, CNN reports.

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.

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First look: Reid Hoffman launches $1M ad urging election patience

Billionaire and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, one of Democrats' biggest donors, tells Axios he's launching a $1 milliondigital ad campaign in battleground states urging voters to be patient with election results and prepare for no winner to be known on Nov. 3, no matter what "some people" may prematurely declare via Twitter.

Driving the news: The three-minute ad, titled "We Count! A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza," features the voice of "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons and Broadway star Barrett Doss. The spot will appear on Facebook targeting voters in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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2020 early voting has already reached 61% of 2016's total turnout

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the Elect Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

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Republicans gear up for day-of and post-Election Day litigation

Republican Party officials say they're already looking to Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Nevada as likely battlegrounds for post-election lawsuits if the results are close.

The big picture: As pre-election lawsuits draw to a close, and with President Trump running behind Joe Biden in national and many battleground state polls, Republicans are turning their attention to preparations for Election Day and beyond, and potential recounts.

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Federal Reserve expands lending program for small businesses

The Federal Reserve said on Friday it would again lower the minimum loan size for its pandemic-era small business program.

Details: Businesses and nonprofits will be able to borrow a minimum of $100,000 from the facility, down from $250,000 — a move that might attract smaller businesses that don't need as hefty of a loan. Since the program launched earlier this year, the minimum loan size has been reduced twice.

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Whoever wins the presidential election will steer the auto industry's future

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden would likely steer automotive policy in different directions over the next four years, potentially changing the industry's road map to the future.

Why it matters: The auto industry is on the cusp of historic technological changes and the next president — as well as the next Congress — could have an extraordinary influence on how the future of transportation plays out.

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Higher education expands its climate push with new degree programs, schools

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

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