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    President Barack Obama's decision on possible changes to U.S. deportation policy sets up an election-year skirmish that could help Democrats win points with their political base while irritating Republicans who are open to immigration reform.

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    Obama listens to remarks by Uruguay's Mujica before their meeting in the Oval Office in Washington

    The Obama administration is expected to announce revisions in the coming weeks to policies that determine how undocumented immigrants are selected for removal from the United States.

    Advocates want sweeping executive actions since broad legislation to rewrite immigration laws is stalled in Congress.

    But experts say the changes are likely to be modest as the White House holds out hope for a legislative fix this summer before November's midterm congressional elections or next year when a new Congress has been seated.

    Activists and congressional aides expect the Department of Homeland Security, which is reviewing the deportation guidelines, to focus on several areas.

    Those include shortening the time period in which immigrants are considered "new" and face increased scrutiny for deportation, instituting deeper background checks of detainees when considering whether they must leave, and protecting immigrants who are serving in the U.S. military from the threat of removal.

    The decision on how far to go creates a political dilemma for Obama.

    Making massive changes would endear him to Hispanic voters who helped propel him to the presidency and are furious about the high number of deportations on his watch.

    Taking symbolic but less far-reaching steps risks exacerbating disappointment from Latinos and others in his political base just as Obama wants them to turn out at the polls to elect Democrats in November.

    "This is about Obama getting pressure from his base and how far he can go to make sure that those people show up in 2014," said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, director of social policy and politics at Third Way, a non-partisan think tank in Washington.

    Taking any executive action at all, however, risks alienating the very Republicans Obama needs to attain his ultimate goal of passing a bill with a path to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.

    Republicans in the House of Representatives have said there may be interest in tackling immigration reform this summer. But Speaker John Boehner said any attempt to revise existing law without congressional approval will backfire.

    MOBILIZING THE BASE

    Strategists and even some former aides to the president believe Obama should disregard Republican objections and give a boost to Democrats with a big policy shift.

    "I think he should be more aggressive about making the case that 'if you don't act, I will,'" said Luis Miranda, a former White House aide who worked on immigration issues and is now managing director at MDC Strategies, a communications firm.

    Kenneth Sherrill, a political scientist at New York's Hunter College, said the likelihood of Republicans passing immigration reform this year was slim.

    "If the White House is really worried about antagonizing Republicans, it seems to me they're nuts," he said. "If they want to do well in November, they've got to antagonize Republicans in order to mobilize Democrats for the election."

    Hispanics polled by Reuters/Ipsos between January 2012 and March of this year have consistently preferred Democrats' handling of immigration compared with Republicans. But only 35 percent approved of the Democrats' handling of the issue in March, the latest month for which data is available, compared with 44 percent polled around the time of Obama's re-election.

    That's a problem for Democrats, whose base of younger and minority voters are historically less likely to vote in midterm years than Republican voters, who are typically older and white.

    Latino voters can be motivated by movement on immigration issues even during midterms, said David Damore, a senior analyst at Latino Decisions, a political research firm that tracks political opinions of Latino voters. In 2010, anti-immigration stances by Republican Senate candidates in Nevada and Colorado spurred Hispanics to the polls, he said.

    HOW FAR TO GO

    The question for the administration, then, is how far to go.

    Activists said Obama could expand the 2012 program known as deferred action that permitted children brought into the United States illegally by their parents to stay. The age cap for that could be raised, for example, or other groups could be added.

    What they really want - and what Republicans fervently oppose - is a broad program that would let people who are not a priority for deportation come forward, go through background checks, pay a fee and get authorization to stay put.

    That is unlikely to happen, and immigrants worried about being deported and their supporters in the Latino community are prepared to be disappointed.

    "Those minimum changes will not take away that fear and I don't think they will satisfy anybody," said Richard Morales, detention prevention coordinator at PICO National Network, a community organizing group.

    The advocates' impatience has sometimes led to pushback from the White House. Obama appeared visibly frustrated at a meeting with them in February and said they should be directing their anger at Congress, several attendees told Reuters.

    "On the one hand, activists are never going to be happy," said Gabriela Domenzain, a former aide on Obama's 2012 campaign and now a partner in the Raben Group, a lobbying group. "This doesn't solve the problem permanently that only passing legislation can do."

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    President Barack Obama sends his congratulations to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

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    Obama calls the selection of Sam "an important step forward."

    Obama says that from the playing field to the corporate boardroom, gay and lesbian Americans, quote, "prove every day that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are."


    Sam was the Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. He was picked late Saturday in the third and final day of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.

    Sam played college football at the University of Missouri and came out as openly gay in media interviews earlier this year.

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    Members of a Secret Service special unit responsible for patrolling near the White House were pulled off that assignment over at least two months in 2011 to protect the assistant of the agency's director while she was engaged in a dispute with a neighbor, according to a report in The Washington Post.

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    Members of the U.S. Secret Service use binoculars at the airport in Manila April 28, 2014.

    Agents were told that the Secret Service director at the time, Mark Sullivan, was concerned that his assistant was being harassed by her neighbor, the Post reported in a story posted Saturday night on its website. The newspaper cited three people familiar with the operation but did not provide their names.

    The agents were pulled from a surveillance team that patrols the outskirts of the White House compound and monitors the southern side of the executive mansion whenever crowds gather to watch the president and first family travel via motorcade or helicopter, the Post reported.

    Agents inside the Washington field office were concerned that the diversion of agents increased security risks to the compound and the president, two people familiar with the discussion told the newspaper. A spokesman for the agency told the Post that the agents involved were not part of the president's protective detail and therefore the operation had no impact on it.

    Sullivan left the Secret Service in 2013 nearly a year after a scandal involving members of the presidential protection team hiring prostitutes ahead of a trip by President Barack Obama to Colombia in 2012. In a statement to the Post, Sullivan said a supervisor in his office authorized the visits to the assistant's home without his knowledge, that they lasted only a few days and that they were appropriate given the report of threats to an employee.

    Called "Operation Moonlight" within the agency, the assignment that summer of 2011 called for two agents twice a day, in the morning and at night, to monitor the home of his assistant, the Post reported. The residence was in rural area outside the southern Maryland town of La Plata, nearly an hour's drive from Washington.

    Two agents put on Operation Moonlight thought the reassignment was a potentially illegal use of government resources and were concerned enough about their own liability that they kept records of their involvement and their superiors' instructions, the Post reported. Some informed the inspector general for the Homeland Security Department about the operation, the newspaper said.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said the White House was not aware of the allegations involving the president's protection and referred questions to the Secret Service, according to the Post.

    Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed that agents were pulled off their White House duty to check on the safety of the director's assistant. However, he disputed accounts that Operation Moonlight lasted for months, saying agency records indicated that the assignment took place for only a few days over the Fourth of July weekend.

    Donovan said the operation was part of the agency's standard response to potential threats to an employee.

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    In April 2011, a Border Patrol agent was ordered to undergo counseling after an immigrant filed a formal complaint charging that the agent had slammed the man's head against a rock near Tucson, Ariz.

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    In August of that year, an immigrant who was arrested near El Paso, Texas, accused a Border Patrol agent of stepping on his face and kneeing him in the ribs after he was handcuffed. Internal affairs officers investigated the case, but took no action.

    That same month, an unaccompanied minor complained that a Border Patrol agent "hit him on the head with a metal flashlight 20 times, kicked him 5 times, pushed him down a hill." The case was still under review more than two years later.

    The vast majority of complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents operating within 100 miles of the Southwest border result in no disciplinary action or are still pending after many years, according to newly released documents from the agency's office of internal affairs.

    The records suggest little accountability for alleged kicking, beating, sexual abuse and other mistreatment of detainees in custody and other immigrants by members of one of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies, one that has come under growing fire for its use-of-force policies and lack of transparency.

    Only 13 of 809 abuse complaints sent to the agency's internal affairs unit between January 2009 and January 2012 led to disciplinary action, the records show.

    Most of the 13 were ordered to undergo counseling, the records indicate. Forty percent of the total claims were unresolved more than two years after being reported. Some cases remain open after four years.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which runs the Border Patrol, does not routinely notify people about the outcome of their complaints.

    The records provide the most detailed public view to date of alleged mistreatment and misbehavior by Border Patrol agents. The Border Patrol has often rebuffed requests from the media and members of Congress for information about its agents' use of force.

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    "This is another disturbing report shedding further light onto what we have known for far too long: We need accountability at Border Patrol," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday.

    The 44-page list was obtained by the American Immigration Council, an advocacy group, through a Freedom of Information Act request and shared with the Los Angeles Times.

    The records do not include allegations that were referred to a separate office of civil rights and civil liberties, the Justice Department, the Office of Inspector General or other federal offices empowered to investigate wrongdoing by border agents.

    It does not include at least 15 cases in which Border Patrol agents shot and killed people on the border in that three-year period, for example. The agency has declined to say whether any of those agents faced disciplinary action or criminal charges.

    The new details come as Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has ordered a review of the immigration enforcement system to see whether changes can be made to ensure that immigrants are treated more humanely.

    R. Gil Kerlikowske, who took over Customs and Border Protection in March, said Friday that he would focus new attention on the use of force.

    Border agents and officers "strive to treat each of the over 1 million people we come into contact with each day with the respect they deserve," he said in a statement. "All allegations of misconduct are taken seriously, and if warranted, (are referred) for appropriate investigative and/or disciplinary action to be taken."

    Shawn Moran, the vice president of the Border Patrol agents' union, defended the agents' actions and denied that abuse was widespread or officially condoned.

    "There will always be a few bad apples," Moran said, adding that if Border Patrol officials released more information about abuse investigations, the public would be reassured that the vast majority of agents are acting appropriately.

    He said the number of complaints is relatively small when compared with the hundreds of thousands of people apprehended trying to cross the border each year.

    "Agents are doing a good job in terms of the sheer number of arrests they make," Moran said.

    Moran said some people being arrested will allege abuse in an effort to slow down their deportation from the country.

    "This is not a sterile business. It is law enforcement. Not everybody goes along peacefully," he said.

    But critics of the Border Patrol say that the records show a pattern of brutality and impunity at the Border Patrol.

    "There is no oversight and there is no accountability for agents who break the law," James Lyall, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said in a telephone interview from Tucson.

    "If a counseling session is the worst you will face, no wonder abuse goes unchecked," Lyall said.

    Daniel E. Martinez, an assistant professor of sociology at George Washington University who studies unauthorized migration, believes that Customs and Border Protection has not appropriately trained or disciplined new agents coming into the force.

    "People are not being held accountable for their actions," he said.

    Martinez said a survey he conducted found that 1 in 10 migrants reported being physically abused, punched, kicked or slapped by Border Patrol agents when they were found illegally crossing the border.

    Many investigations in the database are still pending four years after they began.

    On April 6, 2010, an immigrant claimed that a Border Patrol agent "stomped" him on the back of his neck while being restrained in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The case has not been resolved.

    On April 22, 2010, an immigrant alleged that the humerus bone in his upper left arm was broken when a Border Patrol agent from Campo Station in Pine Valley, Calif., handcuffed him. The investigation is still pending.

    The American Immigration Council, the ACLU and other organizations have recommended the creation of a single, centralized complaint form and a toll-free number that could be displayed at checkpoints, ports of entries and on Border Patrol vehicles.

    Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher issued new rules in March that expressly restricted agents for the first time from shooting at moving vehicles and at people throwing rocks if they do not pose a serious threat to agents.

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    Migrants recently deported from the U.S. fill out abuse report forms at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
    The directive was issued after The Times obtained a study of 67 deadly force incidents involving Border Patrol agents. The study by the Police Executive Research Forum, a group of law enforcement experts, sharply criticized the Border Patrol for a lack of diligence in investigating incidents involving use of force.

    The Border Patrol has grown to more than 21,000 agents, more than double its size in 2004. But the level of experience of agents in the field has declined, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

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    More than 150 cracks have been repaired, rainwater leaks have been sealed, and the 130-year-old Washington Monument is set to reopen Monday for the first time in nearly three years since an earthquake caused widespread damage.

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    In this Friday, May 9, 2014 photo, workers Julio Dichis, right, and Jose Oreyana remove the fencing which closed the Washington Monument off to the public during renovations Washington.

    The memorial honoring George Washington has been closed for about 33 months for engineers to conduct an extensive analysis and restoration of the 555-foot stone obelisk that was once the tallest structure in the world.

    The monument's white marble and mortar were cracked and shaken loose during an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011 that sent some of the worst vibrations to the top. Debris fell inside and outside themonument, and visitors scrambled to evacuate. Later, engineers evaluated the damage by rappelling from the top, dangling from ropes.

    Now new exhibits have been installed, and visitors can once again ride an elevator to look out from the highest point in the nation's capital. The full restoration cost $15 million. Businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein contributed $7.5 million to pay half the cost and expedite the repairs.

    Rubenstein told The Associated Press on Sunday that he's been surprised how much the monument means to people from across the country who have written him letters and emails. He said he's pleased the job was done on time and on budget.

    "It became clear to me that the Washington Monument symbolizes many things for our country — the freedoms, patriotism, George Washington, leadership," he said. "So it's been moving to see how many people are affected by it."

    During an early look at the restored monument, Rubenstein hiked to the top, taking to the stairs in a suit and tie. Memorial plaques inside the monument from each state seemed to be clean and intact, and the view from the top "is really spectacular," he said.

    The billionaire co-CEO of The Carlyle Group has been urging other philanthropists to engage in what he calls "patriot philanthropy." In time, he predicts more philanthropists will make similar gifts. Rubenstein is co-chair of a campaign to raise funds to help restore the National Mall, serves as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and is chairman of the Kennedy Center. He has also made major gifts to the National Archives and Library of Congress.

    During the monument's restoration, the AP had a look at some of the worst damage from the 500-foot level. Stones were chipped and cracked all the way through with deep gashes in some places. Others had hairline cracks that had to be sealed.

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    The monument was built in two phases between 1848 and 1884. When it was completed, it was the world's tallest structure for five years until it was eclipsed by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The monument remains the world's tallest freestanding stone structure.

    It normally draws about 700,000 visitors a year. The National Park Service will offer extended seasonal hours to visit the monument beginning Tuesday and through the summer from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. Tickets can be reserved online at Recreation.gov.

    In this June 2, 2013 file photo, Bob Collie, project manager with Perini Management Services, puts his finger in a crack of the Washington Monument at the 491-foot level of the scaffolding surrounding the monument, in Washington.AP: Alex Brandon

    In this June 2, 2013 file photo, Bob Collie, project manager with Perini Management Services, puts his finger in a crack of the Washington Monument at the 491-foot level of the scaffolding surrounding the monument, in Washington.

    Visiting the top has been a highlight for millions of people over the decades during tours of the nation's capital, said Caroline Cunningham, president of the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall, which is working to raise private funds to support the national park. The monument is expected to draw big crowds this year.

    "The American people really gravitate to the Washington Monument," Cunningham said. "George Washington being our leader, it connects them to their country in a very personal way."

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    Top Secret Service officials ordered agents away from their posts patrolling the White House perimeter in 2011 to check on a personal friend and assistant of the agency's former director, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

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    Secret Service agents ride on a stepbar on the outside of their vehicle as they follow President Barack Obama.

    The Secret Service agents were diverted to monitor a rural residence outside La Plata, Maryland, nearly a one-hour drive from Washington.

    Agents were told that then-Director Mark Sullivan was concerned his assistant, Lisa Chopey, was being harassed by her neighbor.

    They were sent to monitor the neighbor over a period of two months, the newspaper said, citing three unnamed people familiar with the operation.

    Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed an "investigative" vehicle was sent to check on the physical safety of Chopey, an employee, but said that only occurred on the Fourth of July weekend in 2011.

    "These checks were conducted over a holiday weekend and ended once the employee was able to contact the local court once it reopened," Donovan said in a statement, noting President Barack Obama and his family were at Camp David in Maryland at the time.

    The matter was referred to the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, an internal watchdog that conducts investigations.

    In a statement, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said her agency and the inspector general's office were committed to completing a full investigation into the allegations.

    "Director Pierson will ensure the Secret Service responds to any findings from this investigation and implements any recommendations or corrective actions identified by the DHS OIG as appropriate," the statement said.

    "Any allegations of impropriety or misconduct will be aggressively investigated and addressed," it added.

    The White House had no immediate comment on the matter.

    The agents sent to La Plata were members of a Secret Service team code-named "Prowler" that patrols the area around the White House in an investigative capacity with no specific assignment, Donovan said. They are not part of the president's personal security detail.

    "Because there were no protective assets used during these checks, there was no impact on protective operations," Donovan said, adding that the action followed department protocol.

    The Post said some Secret Service agents were concerned the diversions of agents to Chopey's home had increased security risks and were a potentially illegal use of government resources, citing two people familiar with those discussions.

    The report comes about two years after the Secret Service was embroiled in controversy over an investigation into agents hiring prostitutes in Colombia ahead of an Obama trip there in 2012. Sullivan retired from the Secret Service about 10 months later, in February 2013.

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    A Florida police department has completed its investigation into the theft of documents related to baseball's probe into whether Alex Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs.


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    In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez arrives at the offices of Major League Baseball in New York.



    The investigation ended April 11 with charges filed against only a tanning salon employee, who was arrested after police said his DNA was found on a car the documents were stolen out of.

    However, the police report said Major League Baseball was given repeated warnings that the records they sought had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them. Still, they did so anyway, the report said. Baseball officials have denied knowingly buying stolen records.

    Newsday first reported the results of the probe (http://nwsdy.li/1mO17MU).

    The documents were stolen from Porter Fischer's car. He took them from Biogenesis, the Miami clinic where he worked. The clinic and its owner, Tony Bosch, reportedly provided drugs to Rodriguez and other major league players.

    The Biogenesis scandal led to 14 suspensions last summer. Rodriguez, a three-time MVP, was suspended for the entire 2014 season. He filed two lawsuits against MLB over its investigation but later withdrew them. He has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

    Fischer told a Boca Raton police detective that MLB investigators aggressively pursued him for Biogenesis evidence. An MLB attorney offered him $125,000 for the records, according to the police report. Fischer declined, saying "it was not enough to start a new life."

    However, MLB investigators found another South Florida source willing to sell them the records. Gary L. Jones sold MLB a batch of documents on four USB flash drives in exchange for $100,000, according to the police report. Jones told a Boca Raton detective that MLB knew the documents were stolen.

    Boca Raton Police Department spokeswoman Sandra Boonenberg said an investigator "warned MLB not to purchase the documents" before they were bought. Boonenberg confirmed that information Sunday to The Associated Press.

    Baseball officials said they did not knowingly buy stolen Biogenesis records.

    "We have stated repeatedly that we had no knowledge that the documents we purchased were stolen," MLB senior vice president of public relations Pat Courtney told Newsday.

    Fischer, meanwhile, had agreed to help the Florida Department of Health build a case against Bosch. He was on his way to deliver the documents to a health department investigator when Jones urged him to stop at a Boca Raton tanning salon to try a new spray.

    When he came out of the salon, his car had been broken into and the records were gone.


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