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May 27, 2015

Daily News Brief

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Appeals Court Deals Blow to Obama Immigration Proposal

A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied (WaPo) President Barack Obama's administration's request to move forward with an executive order to defer deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants, a centerpiece of President Obama's second-term agenda. The ruling, stemming from a lawsuit brought by Texas and twenty-five other states, found that states have the legal standing to challenge the federal policy and that a previous injunction against the executive order must remain in effect. The decision puts President Obama's immigration initiative, which was to start taking effect this month, on hold (NYT) until the legal challenges against it are settled. The administration may appeal directly to the Supreme Court.


"If the administration can't get the Supreme Court to act promptly to lift the injunction or chooses not to try, the White House could find Obama's long-promised immigration actions on hold until the Supreme Court rules definitively on the legal questions at stake — a ruling that likely wouldn't come until next June," explain Josh Gerstein and Adam Lerner in Politico.

"By acting on his own Mr. Obama poisoned the politics of immigration reform for the rest of his tenure. Republicans who favor reform have no chance to bring along angry back-benchers who have zero trust in the President to follow any immigration reform that Congress passes," argues the Wall Street Journal.

 "The lawsuit against DAPA, then, is really more of a political squabble than a true legal conflict. A Democratic president, pursuant to a Congressional mandate, dictated a policy that deprioritized the deportation of the parents of citizens and permanent residents. A group of Republican governors opposed it," writes Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.


IMF Says China's Currency No Longer Undervalued

The International Monetary Fund announced on Tuesday that for the first time in over a decade China's currency is no longer undervalued (SCMP). U.S. policymakers have long criticized China's artificial weakening of the renminbi, and the issue of currency manipulation has been at the center of deliberations over trade deals in the U.S. Congress.

SOUTH KOREA: Nuclear envoys from the United States, Japan, and South Korea met in Seoul to coordinate a response (Yonhap) to North Korea's ongoing nuclear tests, agreeing to increase sanctions on the isolated country.

This Council of Council's Global Memo discusses the threats to global nuclear nonproliferation.


Taliban Militants Killed After Kabul Standoff

Four Taliban fighters have been killed (Tolo) after forcing their way into a hotel frequented by foreigners in a diplomatic neighborhood of Kabul. The attacks led to a six-hour standoff with Afghan security forces, but no police or civilians were injured. 

BANGLADESH: Bangladeshi refugees account for nearly half (AP) of the more than three thousand migrants who have come ashore from boats in the Indian Ocean in the last month, reported UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, on Tuesday.

This post by CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick argues that there is little chance of a regional solution to the current migrant crisis.


Islamic State Attacks Strike Soldiers Near Fallujah

Three coordinated suicide attacks by the self-proclaimed Islamic State on military convoys near the city of Fallujah in Iraq's Anbar province killed as many as fifty-five Iraqi soldiers, according to some reports (Al Jazeera). A military spokesman put the toll lower, at seventeen. The attacks come as Iraqi forces prepare to launch a major assault against the Islamic State in Anbar.

YEMEN: Saudi-led air strikes targeted (Al Arabiya) the Red Sea port of Hodaida, Yemen, where Houthi rebels control a naval base, on Wednesday. The Iran-backed Houthis also reported air strikes on their camps near the capital of Sanaa.

This CFR Backgrounder explores the crisis currently gripping Yemen.


Boko Haram Burns Down Village

At least thirty-seven people were killed in a Boko Haram attack on Gubio, a village in Nigeria's northeast, government officials confirmed (Leadership). The militants burned over four hundred homes and dozens of vehicles. Sources also reported that the rebels had seized a nearby military base.

MADAGASCAR: Parliament voted to impeach (BBC) President Hery Rajaonarimampianina in a surprise late night vote on Wednesday. U.S. officials expressed concern that removing the president would bring a return to political turmoil in the country.


EU Unveils Migrant Relocation Plan

European Union officials in Brussels proposed a plan (FT) to spend $260 million to relocate nearly forty thousand refugees who have arrived at Europe's southern borders in recent months. Under the plan, which must be approved by European governments, EU member states would receive a number of migrants proportional to their population, GDP, unemployment rate, and current number of refugees.

DENMARK: Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced (Deutsche Welle) early elections to be held in June in a bid to strengthen her minority government, defying calls for her resignation.


United States Indicts Top Soccer Officials

The U.S. Justice Department indicted fourteen people (WSJ), including nine high-ranking officials, in a crackdown on corruption in FIFA, soccer's international governing body. By U.S. request, Swiss authorities arrested six of the accused in an early morning raid in Zurich on Wednesday. U.S. authorities say the executives are guilty of paying more than $150 million in bribes to win lucrative contracts.

LATIN AMERICA: Former Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro assumed the leadership of the Organization of American States on Tuesday, pledging (MercoPress) to work closely with the United States to integrate Cuba into the regional organization.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the history of the Organization of American States.


Rick Santorum Set to Renew Bid for Presidency

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is expected to announce (WaPo) his entrance into the Republican presidential field at a Wednesday event in Cabot, Pennsylvania, his hometown.