DHS secretary defends handling of unaccompanied minors at border

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s response to a rise in the number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the southern border during a series of interviews Sunday. “The border is closed,” Mayorkas said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” The secretary noted that the administration was “expelling families. We are expelling single adults. And we’ve made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children.” Since November, unaccompanied migrant children have been allowed to enter the United States where they are then assigned a deportation hearing to seek legal status. Most are placed in border patrol custody, which has been largely overwhelmed by the steady rise in arrivals. On March 20, the number of migrants held in the U.S. had reached 15,000, according to CBS News.

Critics have argued the surge in migrants is due to the Biden administration’s shift in tone and policy. Mayorkas pushed back on such characterizations, blaming the Trump administration for the problems facing the country’s immigration processing system. “Trump dismantled the orderly, humane and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under U.S. law in their home countries,” he said.

  • Migrant children, some as young as 3 years old, are being pushed through immigration court alone as activists scramble to provide legal help.

Atlanta mourns spa shooting victims, decries anti-Asian violence

Hundreds gathered in downtown Atlanta Saturday afternoon to decry anti-Asian violence and honor the victims of Tuesday’s shooting rampage at three area spas that left eight people, six of them Asian women, dead. Many in the crowd held signs reading “Stop Asian Hate” while chanting “Stand Up, Fight Back!” near the State Capitol. The shooting comes amid a recent spike in incidents of hate, discrimination and violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. While police said the shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told authorities he was not motivated by race, rather a sex addiction, experts have said the killings are inextricably connected to racism and hate. And reverberations from the incident are being felt throughout the country, especially among Asian Americans who feel a sense of vulnerability. Stop AAPI Hate said it recorded nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents – including harassment, discrimination and acts of violence – between mid-March 2020 and late February 2021.

  • In recent weeks, one in four Americans have seen someone blame Asian people for the coronavirus epidemic, a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds.

Real quick

  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrives in Kabul on first trip to Afghanistan as future of U.S. presence uncertain.
  • Authorities in Denmark say one person has died and another was critically ill with blood clots and cerebral hemorrhage after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • Racially biased policing was already a concern. Now, charges against officers in the Capitol riot inflame fears of extremists infiltrating law enforcement.
  • “My mother can rest easy”: GoFundMe page for sons of Atlanta spa shootings victim Hyun Jung Grant raises more than $2.6 million.
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem won’t sign transgender sports bill, citing “vague and overly broad language.”
  • Lakers’ LeBron James out indefinitely with high right ankle sprain.
  • Trump’s return to social media will be on the social network he’s planning on launching, according to an aide.

Miami Beach declares state of emergency due to spring breakers

Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency in its entertainment district due to an influx of spring breakers and all restaurants, bars and businesses are required to be closed by 8 p.m. “As we hit the peak — at the peak of spring break, we are quite simply overwhelmed in the entertainment district,” said Miami Beach Interim City Manager Raul Aguila. The decision, Aguila said, is necessary to protect residents and spring breakers alike. This is because with most pandemic restrictions having been lifted in Florida, said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, people are coming with an “anything goes” mentality. The city has been in a state of emergency for a year due to COVID-19, Gelber said, noting that the “emergency powers” employed by Aguila to enact the state of emergency are in addition to the COVID-19-related state of emergency in Miami Beach.

  • Here’s what Cancun, Mexico, the “international capital of spring break,” is like a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

March Madness: No. 8 Loyola-Chicago stuns No. 1 Illinois

Loyola-Chicago is headed for the Sweet 16 after stunning top-seeded Illinois 71-58, which had been a trendy pick to reach the title game if not win the whole NCAA men’s tournament. It’s yet another remarkable achievement for the mid-major, which reached the Final Four as an 11 seed three years ago. But for the Big Ten, it’s yet another shocking loss. The Big Ten sent nine teams to the tournament, including No. 1 seeds Illinois and Michigan, and is down to just five before the first weekend is over. Loyola will play the winner of Oregon State-Oklahoma State next weekend. Missed Saturday’s games? Here are the winners and losers from the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament.

  • March Madness schedule, odds and TV info for Sunday’s men’s NCAA Tournament second-round games.
  • Opinion: Treat NCAA women same as men or change “March Madness” to “Spring Sexism.”

Listen 🎧

Experts forecast that the loss of skills, tenure and income among women during the current recession will shape the U.S. economy for years to come. Reporter Charisse Jones explains the challenges women face returning to work on the latest 5 Things podcast.

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This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.

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