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Dispatches Human Race

Human Race

Kirstjen Nielsen (Kevin Wolf/AP)


Kirstjen Nielsen resigned as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on April 7, and President Donald Trump named Kevin McAleenan, previously the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, as acting secretary of the department. Nielsen faced criticism for the department’s family separation policy from April to June 2018, a policy DHS enacted to enforce Trump’s requirement to prosecute anyone entering the country illegally. Illegal immigration rates have surged in recent months, and Nielsen wrote to Congress in March that “DHS facilities are overflowing, agents and officers are stretched too thin.” She said that in February, border agents apprehended 75,000 migrants and expected to apprehend 100,000 in April, the highest numbers in more than a decade.


Charles Krupa/AP

Felicity Huffman (Charles Krupa/AP)


Actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents agreed to plead guilty in a college admissions cheating scam involving some of the nation’s top universities. In March, prosecutors charged Huffman and other parents in a scheme to rig standardized test scores and bribe coaches at prestigious schools, including Yale and Georgetown universities. Huffman, 56, will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and other crimes, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The plea agreement indicates prosecutors will seek a sentence of four to 10 months. Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were charged in the scandal but were not among those who agreed to plead guilty.


Rick Bowmer/AP

Salt Lake Temple (Rick Bowmer/AP)


Mormon officials on April 4 announced the repeal of a 2015 rule that banned baptizing the children of LGBT parents and made same-sex marriage a sin that could lead to expulsion. The group maintains its doctrinal support of marriage as between one man and one woman and still considers homosexual relationships a “serious transgression,” the religion’s highest leadership group said in a statement. But members who identify as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender can now have their children baptized as Mormon as long as they acknowledge children will be taught the religion’s official stance.



Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP

Patrick Henry Murphy (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)


Chaplains may no longer accompany condemned prisoners into the execution chamber in Texas but may watch only from a viewing room. The state made the change after the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to Buddhist inmate Patrick Henry Murphy. The inmate had requested a Buddhist chaplain to accompany him, but only Christian and Muslim chaplains who had gone through the extensive vetting process Texas required for chaplains were available when Murphy was scheduled for execution in March. Luke Goodrich, legal counsel with the religious liberty defense firm Becket, called Texas’ new chaplain rule a problematic example of “leveling down.” When a Buddhist asked for the same right as Christians and Muslims, “instead of leveling up and broadening the accommodation for the Buddhist, the government has leveled down and eliminated the accommodation for everybody.”



The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (Salampix/Abaca/Sipa/AP)


President Donald Trump announced he will designate the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “foreign terrorist organization,” the first time the United States has given the label to a foreign government entity. The Revolutionary Guard, directly controlled by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, acts as a domestic paramilitary force for the Islamic regime. The designation will freeze the organization’s assets and prohibit Americans from doing business with the group. Anyone who has supported the Revolutionary Guard could be deported from the United States or barred from entering. The move is the latest action by the United States against the Islamic regime. In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from a global nuclear pact with Iran and later reimposed sanctions on the country.