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Vox Sentences: Another hurdle for asylum seekers

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Central American asylum seekers face another barrier in crossing the border to the US; Israel-planted spy devices were unearthed around the White House and in Washington.

Plus: Our Netflix show, Explained, is back for a new miniseries on the mind! Don’t miss it.

Another hurdle for asylum seekers

Omar Martinez/Picture Alliance via Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court handed the Trump administration another victory on immigration issues this year, this time by allowing the administration to close the US southern border to most Central Americans who are seeking asylum. [Vox / Ian Millhiser]
  • The administration plans to require migrants — except for in extraordinary cases, like for “severe” trafficking victims — to first seek asylum in countries they’ve traveled through to the border. The rule excludes Mexicans who have no intervening nations to go through before they reach the southern US border, but applies to Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and others. [Reuters / Lawrence Hurley and Daniel Trotta and NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • The ruling ends a weeks-long legal battle among US lower courts but is nevertheless temporary, meaning that the rule’s legality will need to be determined by trial, most likely sometime next year. [Financial Times / Michael Stott and Jude Webber]
  • Though no majority opinion was published, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a pointed dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In it, she said: “the Court ... allow[s] the Government to implement a rule that bypassed the ordinary rulemaking process. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal. Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively.” [Huffington Post / Nick Visser]
  • Others joined Sotomayor in challenging the ruling. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union called the ban “a blatant end-run” around the law and noted that Wednesday’s order remains a temporary decision which can be overturned. [Los Angeles Times / David G. Savage]
  • Since the Supreme Court tipped to the conservative side in the fall of 2018, the Court has been more amenable to limiting immigration, illegal or not. In July, it reallocated $2.5 billion of Pentagon money toward the construction of the US-Mexico border. Last year, it applied travel restrictions from eight predominantly Muslim nations into the US. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • The Supreme Court’s decision may prove key in Trump’s reelection bid as he has been capitalizing on a hardline immigration agenda to win over more conservative and moderate voters in 2020. Immigration, after all, is an urgent issue, with a June survey finding that nearly a quarter of adults consider it the most pressing matter in the US, the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question 30 years ago. [US News / Claire Hansen]
  • Most Democratic candidates in the presidential runup, though, are in favor of increasing legal immigration levels and decriminalizing illegal border crossings. For all 2020 Democrats’ views on the issue, head on over to NPR. [NPR / Danielle Kurtzleben, Lexie Schapitl, and Alyson Hurt]

Unearthed surveillance devices in Washington

  • Three former senior US officials said the American government and the FBI concluded that Israel planted cellphone surveillance devices near the White House and other Washington locations in the past two years, aiming to gain intelligence on President Trump and his top aides, according to an exclusive Politico report. [Politico / Daniel Lippman]
  • The officials noted there were no repercussions on the Israeli government’s behavior. Last year, Politico reported the president’s personal cell — used for friends and confidants — was insufficiently secured, while the New York Times wrote that China often listens to Trump’s phone calls, an allegation the president immediately said was false. [Politico / Eliana Johnson, Emily Stephenson and Daniel Lippman and NYT / Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman]
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flatly denied the report, calling it a “complete fabrication” and “blatant lie.” However, it’s left Israeli officials wondering why the story did not break earlier. [Axios / Barak Ravid]
  • Netanyahu is up for reelection next week, and his strong ties with Trump are important in increasing his chances to hold onto his seat. [BBC]


  • Following Walmart’s lead, 145 CEOs of major firms like Twitter, Uber, Gap, and Levi Strauss signed a letter to Senate leaders demanding action on gun reform. This is to date the most-concerted business effort to enter the firearms debate. [NYT / Andrew Ross Sorkin]
  • Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, launched a fashion collection in London on Thursday in support of her patronage of Smart Works, a charity that provides women with free clothes and coaching tips for job interviews. This event marked Markle’s first outing since giving birth to her son, Archie. [People / Erin Hill]
  • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has donated almost $20 million to support neurology research at a clinic in Edinburgh in honor of her late mother. The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic was set up by Rowling herself in 2010 after a $12 million donation. [ABC News / Owen Jones]
  • Popeyes is taking BYOB to a new level. Following its chicken sandwich shortage just two weeks after the product’s introduction, the company announced customers can order the chicken tenders off the menu, bring their own buns, and create their own sandwiches. [CNN / Kendall Trammell]


“We just had Waffles out for a walk, and Hemingway gets a little bit worked up. When Waffles is brought back into the barn, the first thing he does is drop in the hay and roll around, and they just seem more relaxed and happy.” [A miniature horse and goose who are “inseparable” friends were adopted by a Philadelphia-area woman who works at a vet office / Philadelphia Inquirer]

Watch this: Memory, explained

Our minds often feel like a black box, but scientists have figured out so much more than you might realize. In our new miniseries, The Mind, Explained, narrator Emma Stone takes you on an adventure through the human brain — exploring the science behind memory, dreams, anxiety, mindfulness, and more.

Watch part one on YouTube, or stream the entire 5-part miniseries on Netflix right now.

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