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Biden news: Migrant families to be housed in hotels as White House under scrutiny over border access

Biden falls on steps of Air Force One

US reporters have asked the White House whether Joe Biden’s administration will admit press to holding facilities for unaccompanied minors who crossed the US-Mexico border, as lawmakers report densely packed conditions and federal law enforcement weighs plans to send migrant families to the nation’s northern border for processing.

Administration officials say the are working to repair an immigration system “dismantled” under former president Donald Trump, whose administration expelled thousands of people seeking asylum into Mexico while their cases lapsed in the US. Mr Biden also has revoked a “zero tolerance” policy of family separation.

The administration is reportedly weighing a six-month contract to house 1,200 families in hotels in Texas and Arizona.

Mr Biden is at Camp David this weekend following a visit with Vice President Kamala Harris to Atlanta, Georgia in the wake of the killing of eight people, including six Asian American women.

“We have to change our hearts,” he said in an address to the nation on Friday. “Hate can have no safe harbor in America.”

The following days, hundreds of people, including Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, joined a rally and march in Atlanta to “stop Asian hate” – part of a nationwide series of rallies and vigils in the wake of the killings and spikes in anti-Asian discrimination and violence.

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Mr Biden and Ms Harris also met with officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, as the administration continues a promotional tour across the US following the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and coronavirus vaccination efforts.

The president’s “Hope Is Here” tour for the Covid-19 relief package continues this month, with another assist from Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff travelling through the heartland to boost state and local support.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s son posted a mock video of the former president hitting golf balls at Mr Biden after he tripped while boarding Air Force One on his way to Atlanta.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of events from the US, where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Friday visited Atlanta after a mass shooting left eight dead – mostly Asian American women.

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 09:04

Biden and Harris denounce scourge of racism during Atlanta visit

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris denounced the scourge of racism at times hidden “in plain sight” as they visited Atlanta on Friday after a shooting there left eight people dead, most of them Asian American women. 

Addressing the nation after a roughly 80-minute meeting with Asian American state legislators and other leaders, Mr Biden said it was “heart-wrenching” to listen to their stories of the fear amid what he called a “skyrocketing spike” of harassment and violence. 

“We have to change our hearts,” he said. “Hate can have no safe harbor in America.”  Mr Biden called on all Americans to stand up to bigotry when they see it, adding: “Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.” 

Ms Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold national office, said: “Racism is real in America. And it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been. Sexism, too.

“The president and I will not be silent. We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs.” 

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 09:10

Don Jr mocks Biden tumble

Donald Trump Jr, son of the former president, has posted a mock video to his Twitter feed making fun of Joe Biden’s Air Force One tumble.

The clip intersperses footage of Donald Trump playing golf with pretend golf balls knocking Mr Biden over as he climbed the steps to the presidential plane.

As he boarded Air Force One on Friday morning, Mr Biden, who was wearing a mask, stumbled several times up the stairs to the aircraft, before saluting the military officer who greeted him on the tarmac. Ms Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden was “doing 100 per cent fine”.

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 09:31

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago partially closed due to Covid outbreak

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has been partially closed because of a Covid outbreak. That’s according to several people familiar with the situation, including a club member who received a phone call about the closure Friday.

A receptionist at the Palm Beach estate confirmed the news, saying it was closed until further notice, but declined to comment further.

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 09:51

Fallout from riot and virus leaves toxic mood on Capitol Hill

The mood is so bad at the US Capitol that a Democratic congressman recently let an elevator pass him by rather than ride with Republican colleagues who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election. 

Not yet 100 days into the new Congress, the legislative branch has become an increasingly toxic and unsettled place, with lawmakers frustrated by the work-from-home limits imposed by the virus and suspicious of each other after the riot over Trump’s presidency.

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 10:11

US and China conclude fiery first meeting under Biden

US and Chinese officials finished two days of contentious talks in Alaska on Friday after trading insults over vastly different views of each other during their first face-to-face meeting since Joe Biden took office. 

The US accused the Chinese delegation of “grandstanding” while Beijing said there was a “strong smell of gunpowder and drama” that was the fault of the Americans. 

“We got a defensive response,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after the meetings concluded. 

In separate comments, Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief Yang Jiechi said dialogue was the only way to resolve differences. But he also made clear that Beijing had no intention of backing down. 

“China is going to safeguard our national sovereignty, security and our interests to develop China,” he said. “It is an irreversible trend.

“We hope the United States is not going to underestimate China‘s determination to defend its territory, safeguard its people and defend its righteous interests.”

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 10:31

Biden will be good for US-China relationship, says ex-defence secretary

Joe Biden “will be good for the relationship” between China and the United States, even though both sides might have “started a little on frosty side”, former US Secretary of Defence William Cohen told a Beijing forum.

Speaking via video link to the China Development Forum, Cohen, who has known Mr Biden since 1972, said US engagement with China will be more professional, diplomatic and civil under Mr Biden, as compared to the name-calling during the Donald Trump era.

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 10:51

Four men linked to Proud Boys charged in plot to attack Capitol

Four men described as leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group have been charged over their alleged involvement in the Capitol riots.

An indictment which was made public on Friday provided fresh evidence of how officials believe Proud Boys members planned and carried out a coordinated attack to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory. 

So far, at least 19 leaders, members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offenses related to the 6 January riots.

The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent in Washington, with over 60 users “participating in” an encrypted messaging channel for group members that was created a day before the riots. 

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File photo of a member of the Proud Boys watching from the stage as Trump supporters gathered at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California last November

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File photo of a member of the Proud Boys watching from the stage as Trump supporters gathered at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California last November

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 11:11

Andrew Cuomo aide accuses him of sexual harassment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by another woman – this time an aide who currently works in his office, The New York Times reports. 

Alyssa McGrath, 33, claimed Mr Cuomo previously ogled her body, remarked on her looks, and made suggestive comments about her and another female aide in the office, according to the newspaper.

This made Ms McGrath the first woman to speak against the governor as a current employee, as she currently works in Mr Cuomo’s office. 

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 11:31

Senator Tim Kaine still experiences ‘weird neurological symptoms’ year after contracting Covid

Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat of Virginia, has revealed he was still experiencing lingering Covid-19 symptoms one year after he contracted the virus.

This revelation about the 63-year-old senator’s health came during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, also attended Dr Anthony Fauci and CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky, on Thursday.

“I have these weird, neurological symptoms one year later,” Mr Kaine said during the hearing. “They’re not debilitating, they’re not painful, but they’re weird and they’re 24/7.”

Tom Batchelor20 March 2021 11:51