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THE PLAYERS 2018: What you need to know
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THE PLAYERS 2018: What you need to know

THE PLAYERS 2018: What you need to know
Photo Credit: THE PLAYERS

THE PLAYERS 2018: What you need to know

One of the most well-known weeks in Northeast Florida is here: THE PLAYERS.  

Reigning champion Si Woo Kim will try to defend his title, with a $10.5 million purse at stake. 

The tournament is about more than just golf, with tens of thousands of people coming out every year, and an estimated $151 million economic impact on the region. THE PLAYERS also directly contributes millions of dollars to local charities each year. 

WOKV has put together everything you need to know if you plan to attend the event. 

Transportation and Parking 

There will be no parking passes sold at the tournament, instead, you have to purchase a pass in advance through THE PLAYERS website. If you are going to travel with four or more people in your vehicle, you can download a free parking pass on that website- but you must have at least four people in your vehicle when you show up at the tournament in order to use the voucher, and you must print a new voucher each day you intend to use this deal. 

Parking is free in the general lot Tuesday and Wednesday. Parking passes cost $30 Thursday and Sunday, and $35 Friday and Saturday. 

Ride sharing to THE PLAYERS is encouraged, and the tournament has partnered with Uber to try to make that process easier. There is a designated pick-up/drop-off area at the Ponte Vedra shopping center at 880 A1A North. From there, fans can take a shuttle to and from the Couples Entry. To do this, type “THE PLAYERS Championship” as the destination in the Uber app.

The Downtown Jacksonville shuttles will also run again. Passes are available at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Lexington Hotel, and DoubleTree Riverfront front desks for $10, and all of these locations are shuttle stops. You can also buy a pass at the Omni, with pickup for that location on the Hogan Street side of the Jacksonville Landing. 

Additionally, THE PLAYERS has complimentary bike parking through the tournament. 

Tickets and tournament schedule 

Tickets are on sale on THE PLAYERS website and at select Publix locations. Tuesday passes are $25, Wednesday is $20, Thursday and Sunday are $60, Friday are $65, and Saturday are $70. A week long Stadium Pass for Tuesday through Sunday is $225. 

A ticketed adult can bring in an unlimited number of children under 18-years-old for free. A Family Plan is also available, which includes two adult Stadium Passes, unlimited youth admission, and two $10 concession vouchers. That option is priced at $120 for Thursday and Sunday, $130 for Friday, and $140 for Saturday. The Family Plan is available on THE PLAYERS website and at select Daily’s convenience stores. 

Active duty and reserve military members, as well as military retirees and dependents get complimentary admission.To redeem this, you must get a voucher online and bring that- with a photo ID- to the Military Ticket s trailers on site. Non-career military veterans are able to get discounted admission online.

Tuesday and Wednesday are practice days, with the gates opening at 7:30AM. The first round of competition is Thursday around 7:30AM, with gates opening at 6:15AM. The same times hold for Friday as well. Saturday and Sunday’s competition starts at approximately 8:30AM, with gates opening at 7:30AM. 

THE PLAYERS organizers say they’re taking over the PGA TOUR app during the tournament. The app will provide updates on what’s happening during play, live maps for concessions and other course features, and other information to help fans get the best experience possible. 

Fan safety and etiquette 

Only certain bags can be brought in to the tournament: opaque bags that are 6x6x6 or smaller, clear bags that are 12x6x12 or smaller, a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag, medically necessary bags, or diaper bags. Clear THE PLAYERS bags will also be sold at certain Daily’s locations for $5, which is donated to The First Tee of Northeast Florida. 

Infant and medical supplies will be allowed, following an inspection. The gallon bag can contain food that fans bring in, if the food is in clear wrap. Outside water bottles or beverages are not allowed in to the tournament, but there are stations throughout the course where you can refill an empty water bottle or cup that you get on site. 

Fans can be expelled or lose ticket privileges for violations of the code of conduct. Making rude or vulgar comments or gestures, verbally or physically harassing anyone, distracting players, disrupting play, acting unruly or unsafe, or failing to follow instruction from officials all qualify as violations. 

Fans can report on-site issues to THE PLAYERS by texting 69050. 

Attractions and food 

One of the new attractions this year is a Bier Garden presented by Hoptinger, which will be adjacent to the Couples Gate. It will feature a variety of craft beers. 

THE PLAYERS
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THE PLAYERS Bier Garden

Photo Credit: THE PLAYERS

If you want to try taking your shot at the 17 hole, there’s a replica at Stadium Village, behind 18 green. Your first two shots are free, with an additional chance available for a $5 donation to The First Tee of North Florida. The Stadium Village is open to anyone with a stadium pass, and also features air-conditioning, a bar, open seating, and other interactive experiences. 

The PGA Fan Shop has been expanded to more than 21,000 sq. ft. It will feature new and exclusive merchandise, as well as a Golden Man statue designed by a local artist. 

A new fan area has been created near 9 green, 18 green, and the practice area, known as Palm Valley Village. There are several other specialty fan areas- some ticketed and some open to anyone- including The Benefactor behind 17 tee, The Turn overlooking 9 green, The Oasis overlooking 9 tee, and The Patio between 10 tee and 18 green/16 tee. 

Baptist Health is presenting a Family Care Suite, which is a climate controlled area for nursing, changing, getting first aid, and other needs for your young children. The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation Kid Zone also provide air-conditioned fun for families, with adult supervision required. 

THE PLAYERS
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THE PLAYERS Family Care Suite

Photo Credit: THE PLAYERS

Wine & Dine on 9, Trucks on 10, Tacos on 12, and Taste of JAX all return. Some of the restaurants and food trucks that will be featured include TacoLu, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Mojos Kitchen, Zoe’s Kitchen, Bono’s BBQ, Brucci’s, M Shack, Tropical Smoothie Café, Firehouse Subs, Mama’s Food, Up in Smoke BBQ, Southern Soul BBQ, Tikiz Shaved Ice, and 4Rivers BBQ. 

Some of these areas will see expansion and more seating. The lower clubhouse lawn has been expanded to better accommodate trophy pictures. PGA Tour players have been asked to spend time in two designated autograph zones- the main player practice grounds/driving range and the scoring area behind 18 green- since fans are not allowed to solicit autographs on the course itself. 

There are improvements for fans on the course itself as well, including expanded fan bleachers of the holes on 12 and 13, and the removal off the 1 tee bleachers to give better access and views of the tee, fairway, and 2 hole. The Grove behind 17 tee and 16 green has been leveled and turfed, to provide more shaded outdoor seating and video boards broadcasting what’s happening on the course. 

Charity of the Day 

THE PLAYERS Championship will once again feature a different charity each day of the tournament, to help raise the profile of each organization. Members or the charities will be at the main entry gates to speak with fans and distribute giveaways. 

On Tuesday, the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation will be featured. This is a Jacksonville-based non-profit that partners with children’s charities across the region to provide project specific funding and programs. 

On Wednesday, Junior Achievement of North Florida will be highlighted. This organization reached almost 59,000 young children this school year, with volunteers teaching financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship programs. 

Thursday’s charity is Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which receives support directly from THE PLAYERS in order to provide top health services for children. 

Nemours Children’s Health System is featured Friday. The health system is based in Jacksonville and is dedicated to caring solely for children. 

Saturday spotlights the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Foundation, which provides funding for community healthcare outreach programs across the region. 

Capping the tournament Sunday, The DONNA Foundation will be featured. The organization puts on a marathon to raise funds to end breast cancer by funding research at Mayo Clinic and meeting financial needs of those with breast cancer. Sunday, the course will also “PINK OUT” in honor of Mother’s Day and in support of The DONNA Foundation, meaning players and fans alike are encouraged to wear pink, there will be pink floral displays and flags, and special pink merchandise and a cocktail will be sold. 

Military Appreciation 

On Saturday, May 5th, from 10AM to 1PM, there is a Military Job Fair at the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost adjacent to 16 tee. Active duty, reserve, retired military, veterans, and military spouses can come out to this free event to meet with more than 50 companies that will be there with open hiring opportunities. 

Operation Shower is another annual event that continues this year. On Sunday, May 6th, THE PLAYERS and Birdies for the Brave will host a baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be- some of who are active duty and some have deployed spouses. This takes place from 11AM to 1PM. 

In addition to free or reduced price admission to the tournament, military servicemembers and veterans have access to the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost hospitality tent near the tee at No. 16. This includes complimentary food and beverage. It opens for the tournament on Military Appreciation Day, Tuesday May 8th, at 11AM. 

Military Appreciation Day also includes a ceremony at 5:30PM, featuring a flyover by the 125th Fighter Wing and a concert by country artist Luke Combs.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • “Are you trying to bump me off?” Victoria Cilliers joked in a text to her husband after finding a gas leak in their U.K. home one early morning in March 2015. It turned out, he was. Emile Cilliers, 38, of Amesbury, Wiltshire, was sentenced Friday to life in prison, with a chance of parole after 18 years, for the nearly successful plot prosecutors said he came up with when the gas leak failed to work -- tampering with his wife’s parachute before a skydiving jump. Wiltshire police officials said Cilliers, a sergeant in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, was also found guilty of attempted murder and criminal damage with intent to endanger life for tampering with a gas fitting in a kitchen cupboard at the home the couple shared with their two children.  The children were home with their mother when Victoria Cilliers discovered the leak, the BBC reported. She was going to the kitchen the morning of March 30, 2015, to get milk for one of the children when she smelled gas.  The seasoned and skilled skydiving instructor suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, two broken vertebrae and internal injuries just six days later -- on Easter Sunday -- when both her main parachute and her reserve chute failed at 4,000 feet, the BBC reported. A seasoned and skilled skydiving instructor, she survived when she landed in the soft earth of a recently plowed field near Salisbury. >> Read more trending news Justice Nigel Sweeney described Emile Cilliers’ crimes as “wicked offending of extreme gravity” when sentencing him to prison during a hearing in Winchester Crown Court.  “That your wife recovered at all was miraculous; she undoubtedly suffered severe physical harm and she must have suffered psychological harm in the terror of the fall and since,” Sweeney said, according to The Guardian. “She appears to have recovered from the physical harm but not, having seen her in the witness box at length, from the psychological harm.” Victoria Cilliers said in interviews after her husband’s conviction that she still has a hard time seeing her husband as a killer, the newspaper reported. Though she intended to visit him in prison to confront him about what happened, she was not planning a divorce, she said. Army officials said following Emile Cilliers’ sentencing that steps would be taken to have him discharged from service, the newspaper said.  The BBC reported that testimony at trial indicated that Emile Cilliers was having affairs with two women, including his ex-wife, at the time of the alleged murder attempts. He was also having unprotected sex with prostitutes.  Investigators testified that they also found that Cilliers was £22,000 in debt and was hoping to use a £120,000 payout from his wife’s life insurance policy to take care of his problem.    Detective Inspector Paul Franklin, of the Wiltshire police, on Friday described Emile Cilliers as a “cold, callous, selfish man who cares only about money and his sexual conquests.” “From the outset, Emile Cilliers showed no remorse for what he had done,” Franklin said in a statement. “He lied all the way through two trials, but in the end justice won out with the guilty verdicts and now a long prison sentence.” Emile and Victoria Cilliers, an Army physiotherapist, had a troubled seven-year marriage during which Victoria Cilliers occasionally doubted her husband’s fidelity, the BBC reported. When she voiced suspicions, he would blame her doubts on her experience with the infidelity of her first husband, the news station said.  Meanwhile, Emile Cilliers had affairs and blew through money, borrowing cash from his wife, from colleagues and from loan sharks, the BBC said. He grew distant from his wife, who was thrilled when he texted her over the Easter holiday to suggest a skydiving jump together.  At the same time, he was texting his mistress, “Have I told you lately that I am massively in love with the most amazing woman in the world? I want my life with you to start now,” The Guardian reported.  The couple went to Netheravon Airfield together on April 4, 2015, the day before Easter, for the jump, which was called off due to bad weather. The BBC reported that instead of returning his wife’s parachutes to the store where they rented them, Emile Cilliers stashed them in the couple’s locker at the airfield so Victoria could use it the following day. Prosecutors said that the defendant did so because he had taken the parachutes into a restroom and twisted the lines of the main chute to prevent it from opening, the news station reported. He also removed parts from the reserve chute. Victoria Cilliers testified at her husband’s trial that she returned, alone, to the airfield on Easter Sunday. Her excitement for the jump was gone, but her husband encouraged her to go through with it, she said.  “I remember the pilot giving me a smile as I went out,” she said, according to The Guardian. “Usually that’s the part that I love; the cold rush, the smell. And it just did not hit me.” Instead, what hit her was terror as her main parachute failed to open properly. A witness on the ground that day testified at Emile Cilliers’ trial that the reserve chute resembled a bag of laundry as Victoria Cilliers was thrown around “like a rag doll.” “I could not figure how to slow it down,” Victoria Cilliers said. “It was just getting faster and faster and faster. The speed was unreal. The last thing I remember is trying to get some kind of control, then everything went black.” The fact that both chutes failed was such a rare occurrence that the British Parachute Association launched an inquiry. The investigation found that in about 2.3 million sport parachute jumps in the U.K. over the previous 10 years, there had never been an instance of both the main and reserve parachutes failing.  See the British Parachute Association’s report here.  In addition, the parachutes Victoria Cilliers used the day of her fall functioned properly when used just a day or two prior to the incident.  The police also became involved in the investigation, during which detectives obtained texts and emails that showed details of his multiple affairs, The Guardian reported. They also learned about his financial problems.  While investigating the gas leak at the couple’s home, police officials found spots of blood next to the gas fitting that was tampered with, the newspaper reported.  Emile Cilliers was arrested on April 28, about two weeks after his wife’s fall. 
  • Top Republicans responded Tuesday to the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, a “zero tolerance” policy implemented six weeks ago. Many Republicans responded publicly to the harsh criticism over the policy, saying they support keeping migrant children and parents together. >> Read more trending news Update 8:30 p.m. EDT June 19: Protests unfolded in several U.S. cities Tuesday against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in the separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past six weeks. In New York, opponents of the policy marched from Union Square to Lower Manhattan, demanding an end to the separation policy. In San Francisco, protesters marched to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, demanding that the agency stop separating children from their parents at the border. Protesters also gathered in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square to protest the administration’s immigration policy during an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence at a GOP fundraiser. Update 6:30 p.m. EDT June 19: As President Donald Trump meets with Congressional Republicans this hour over immigration, it’s unclear whether lawmakers can agree on immigration legislation and whether the meeting will address the controversial policy of separating undocumented families at the U.S. border. Trump is reportedly urging House Republicans to pass “the compromise bill and the Goodlatte bill,” according to The Hill, which is citing GOP sources. Senior Trump administration officials are doubling down on the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, calling out opponents of the plan, according to a new statement, the Huff Post reported on Twitter. “The administration’s zero tolerance policy is a response to a humanitarian crisis brought about by loopholes in federal immigration law that encourage human trafficking and smuggling. As a result of these loopholes, the only two options for the U.S. government are to either release into the country illegally all illegal Central American migrants who show up at our border with a minor, or to prosecute them for illegal entry. There is no policy of family separation,” the statement said. “The Trump administration has repeatedly asked Congress to give us the authority to detain families together and promptly return families together. Members of Congress who are pushing to give immunity for child smuggling will only increase the crisis ten-fold.” The statement urges Congress to close the loopholes so the government can return “illegal alien families in a fair, expeditious and humane fashion.” Update 4:42 p.m. EDT June 19: An undocumented child with Down syndrome was separated from her parents while illegally trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 10-year-old girl was separated from her parents, even though her father is a legal U.S. resident, and sent to an immigration facility in McAllen, Texas, the Journal reported, while her mother was sent to a facility in Brownsville. The separation occurred while the mother was trying to get the girl and her brother across the border.    The newspaper learned of the situation after an interview with Mexico’s Foreign Prime Minister Luis Videgaray. During a speech at a small business event Tuesday, Trump blamed Mexico for contributing to the crisis at the U.S. southern border, saying the Mexican government could help end the stream of people traveling to the U.S. if it wanted to.  Update 3:09 p.m. EDT June 19: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday that Republicans support creating a plan to keep migrant children and parents together amid criticism of a Trump administration policy that separates families suspected of coming into the country illegally at the border. “I … and all of the other senators of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, has passed a letter around to colleagues calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop separating families, The Hill reported. “I’m asking for a pause,” Hatch said. “I think we ought to pause and look at this very carefully.” Update 2:07 p.m. EDT June 19: A pair of Florida Democrats was barred Tuesday from going inside a Miami-area facility housing immigrant children as the national debate raged around the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents at the border. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wassermn Schultz and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson attempted to enter the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children Tuesday, but Wasserman Schultz said they were told that they needed to put in a request to visit the facility two weeks ahead of time. The lawmakers said that they were told by the company that runs the facility that they would be able to visit Tuesday, but they were stopped by the a representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This is not a good day for our country, where a U.S. senator and a U.S. congressman have been turned away from a federal facility because the Trump administration does not want us to check on the welfare and the care of the children inside -- children who have been taken from their moms and dads,” Nelson said. Update 1:30 p.m. EDT June 19: President Donald Trump once again blamed laws passed by Democrats for his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents suspected of coming into the country illegally while speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the National Federation of Independent Business. Trump said the policy is necessary because loopholes in the immigration laws mean families “cannot  be detained together or removed together, only released.” “These are crippling loopholes that cause family separations,” Trump said. “Child smugglers exploit the loopholes and they gain illegal entry into the United States, putting countless children in danger.” There is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border. “We've got to stop the separation of the families, but politically correct or not we have a country that needs safety, that needs security, that has to be protected,” Trump said. “We don’t want people pouring into our country, we want them to come in through the process, through the legal system and we want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit.” Update 11:40 a.m. EDT June 19: More than 20 state attorneys general are calling for an end to the Trump administration’s immigration policy, which has led to children being separated from their parents at the border and has sparked national outrage. The 21 Democratic state attorneys general, from states including Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Put simply, the deliberate separation of children and their parents who seek lawful asylum in America is wrong,” the attorneys general said in the letter. “This practice is contrary to American values and must be stopped. We demand that you immediately reverse these harmful policies in the best interests of the children and families affected.” The group is led by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, who on Tuesday called the immigration policy “inhumane” and “draconian.” “The Justice Department is ignoring its legal and moral obligations for the sake of a political agenda at the expense of children and the efforts of state law enforcement officials,” Balderas said. “The latest move to unnecessarily separate families is cruel and another example of this administration putting politics ahead of people.” Update 10:15 a.m. EDT June 19: President Donald Trump insisted on Twitter that “Democrats are the problem” in the immigration debate as criticism of his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the border continues. Trump wrote Tuesday morning that Democrats “don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” The president has blamed Democrats for the recent surge in family separations, saying that laws need to be changed in order to change the separation policy. >> Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage “Now is the best opportunity ever for Congress to change the ridiculous and obsolete laws on immigration,” Trump said Tuesday in a tweet with the hashtag #CHANGETHELAWS.   There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border. The president also wrote Tuesday morning that “if you don’t have Borders, you don’t have a Country,” and reiterated a claim that crime has risen in Germany since the country started accepting migrants, despite government numbers that show crime at its lowest rate since 1992. Update 9:44 a.m. EDT June 19: The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund called stories of children being separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policy “heartbreaking,” saying in a statement Monday that “such practices are in no one’s best interests, least of all the children who suffer their effects.” “Detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that can leave children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and can create toxic stress which, as multiple studies have shown, can impact children’s long-term development,” said Henrietta Fore, an American who has headed UNICEF since earlier this year. She noted that the U.S. government has long supported UNICEF’s efforts to help uprooted children in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Haiti. >> Clergy group brings church charges of child abuse, immorality against Jeff Sessions over zero-tolerance policy “Children -- no matter where they come from or what their migration status -- are children first and foremost,” she said. “I hope that the best interests of refugee and migrant children will be paramount in the application of U.S. asylum procedures and laws.” Update 8:40 a.m. EDT June 19: Sen. John McCain called the Trump administration’s family separation policy “an affront to the decency of the American people” in a tweet Monday night. The Arizona Republican said the policy is “contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded.” “The administration has the power to rescind this policy,” he wrote. “It should do so now.” >> Is the immigration separation policy new, where did it come from, where are the detention centers? McCain is among a growing number of Republican lawmakers voicing concern over the administration's 'zero tolerance' approach to illegal border crossings. Under the policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution. With adults detained and facing prosecution, any minors accompanying them are taken away. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May. Update 7:15 p.m. EDT June 18: The nonprofit news organization ProPublica released an eight minute audio recording of wailing children, who were separated from their parents last week. >> All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border A U.S. border patrol agent can be heard laughing in the background as the 10 children from Central America are separated from their families. Update 6:00 p.m. EDT June 18: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, during a briefing Monday afternoon, said there’s nothing new about the current policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. >> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know 'This entire crisis is not new, Nielsen said, pointing to 'loopholes' in federal immigration laws from the past, but that could change this week with the introduction of several immigration measures in the U.S. House and Senate, including one from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz is expected to introduce the “Protect Kids and Parents Act,” according to news reports. The measure would double the number of federal immigration judges from 375 to 750. It would authorize new temporary shelters to better accommodate families.  The bill would mandate that immigrant families remain together, unless there’s criminal conduct or a threat to the children, and it would require that asylum cases are heard within 14 days of application.   Update 5:35 p.m. EDT June 18:  The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, addressed the growing backlash over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy at the southern U.S. border, which is separating undocumented children from their parents. Nielsen defended the policy and urged  Congress to fix the system and close the loopholes. >> Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at the border were detained together Update 5:30 p.m. EDT June 18: Two more first ladies have weighed in on the widening controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern U.S. border. Michelle Obama retweeted comments Laura Bush made that Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” >> Trump border policy: How to help immigrant children separated from families Former first lady Rosalynn Carter also released a statement Monday, according to The New York Times. 'The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents' care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country,' Carter said. Update 4:30 p.m. EDT June 18: The Department of Health and Human Services has released photos of the “tent city” in the Texas border outpost of Tornillo, just outside of El Paso, where the U.S. government is sending children separated from their parents at the border. There are already dozens of children at the facility, according to news reports. Update 3:10 p.m. EDT June 18: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, called Monday for the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amid the ongoing debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy. The demand came one day after Nielsen said in a tweet that, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Nielsen echoed President Donald Trump’s claims that a law is behind the recent spike in separations of migrant children and their parents at the border. “We will not apologize for enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” Nielsen said. “We are a nation of laws. We are asking Congress to change the laws.” However, as Harris and numerous fact checkers have noted, there is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border. Harris said in a statement Monday that Nielsen’s “misleading statements ... are disqualifying.” “We must speak the truth,” Harris said. “There is no law that says the Administration has to rip children from their families. This Administration can and must reverse course now and it can and must find new leadership for the Department of Homeland Security.” Update 2:30 p.m. June 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that President Donald Trump is telling an “outright lie” when he claims that Democrats are behind the recent surge in separations of children from their parents on the border. “This is not happening because of the 'Democrats' law,' as the White House has claimed,” Clinton said. “Separating families is not mandated by law at all.” Clinton, who ran as a Democrat against Trump during the 2016 presidential election, also appeared to chastise U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cited a Bible verse last week while justifying the Trump administration’s immigration policy. “Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity,” Clinton said. “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say, ‘Let the children suffer.’” Update 2 p.m. EDT June 18: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged President Donald Trump to end the policy that’s allowed authorities to separate migrant children from their parents on the border, writing Monday on Twitter that 'children shouldn't be used as a negotiating tool.” “(Trump) should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers,” he wrote. The president has repeatedly called for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to address illegal immigration after falsely claiming that the party is behind laws that mandate the separation of child from parent at the border. No such law exists.  Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, ran against Trump in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination. In an op-ed published Sunday by the Washington Post, former first lady Laura Bush called the Trump administration policy “cruel.” 'I live in a border state,' Bush wrote. 'I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.' First lady Melania Trump has also criticized the policy, telling CNN in a statement through her spokeswoman that “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.” Update 12:46 p.m. EDT June 18: President Donald Trump again accused Democrats of obstructing efforts to deal with illegal immigration and the separation of children and parents at the border, telling reporters Monday that “we’re stuck with these horrible laws” because Democrats refuse to sit down with Republicans. There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border. “We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world,” Trump said. “Nobody has such sad, such bad – and in many cases, such horrible and tough – you see about child separation. You see what’s going on there.” “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said. Update 12 p.m. EDT June 18: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said authorities don’t want to separate children from their families but that officials have a duty to prosecute people who illegally cross the border. “When we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals and (our) social programs,” Sessions said Monday during the National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. He framed the issue as a debate over “whether we want to be a country of laws or whether we want to be a country without borders.” “President Trump has said this cannot continue,” Sessions said. “We do not want to separate parents from their children. If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices. We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally.” Sessions’ arguments echoed those of President Donald Trump, who has blamed Democrats for passing laws that he said led to the separations. There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier Monday that officials will not apologize for enforcing immigration laws. 'We have to do our job,' she said. Original report: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy on Monday, writing in a series of tweets that children are being used “by the worst criminals on earth” to get into America as critics slammed the policy for separating children from their parents. “Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump wrote. “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.” The president pointed to a rise in crime in Germany as an example of the chaos caused by illegal immigration, writing in a tweet that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture.” However, Germany’s internal ministry reported last month that criminal offenses in the country were at their lowest since 1992, according to Reuters. This spring, the Trump administration ordered prosecutors to charge every person illegally crossing the border. Children traveling with the adults have been separated and placed in detention centers, prompting protests nationwide. The president has blamed Democrats for not fixing the law that allows for the separations. “Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration,” the president wrote. “Change the laws!” Despite his claim that Democrats are at fault for the situation, The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration “put the policy in place and could easily end it.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Very few details are being released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, after officers were called to assist the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, in reference to a man's body that was found inside a home. According to JSO, the man, believed to be in his 60's, was found inside the home on 101st Street in Ortega Farms.  JSO says the investigation is in its early stages, so they haven't released any information about how the man may have died or even if foul play is suspected.  If you have any information, you're urged to reach out to JSO's non-emergency number of First Coast Crime Stoppers.
  • With recent outcry surrounding the Trump administration's enforcement of an immigration policy that separates children from their parents, if they try to cross the border illegally, we've learned some of those kids are being housed at a federal facility in Homestead, Florida. Governor Rick Scott says he's sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, to end the practice of separation, saying he 'absolutely' does not agree with it.  Scott says the Homestead facility has been used to house unaccompanied immigrant children in the past, including during the Obama Administration, but he’s only recently become aware that the facility may be housing children who have been forcibly removed from their families.  His office says the facility re-opened earlier this year. In the letter, Scott says he demanded answers to the following questions:  • Will you notify federal, state and local authorities immediately of any current or future unaccompanied minors – or children who were separated from their families under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal entry into the United States – coming to, or placed in, Florida?  • Are you conducting health screenings both at the border and again at the time the children are placed in shelters?  • What health, educational, or other social services have been provided to any children placed in Florida?  Scott says Florida stands ready to assist with re-unifying children who have been separated from their families.  Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is also making his feelings about the facility well known, as he attempted to tour the facility on Tuesday, but was told by HHS he needed to give 'two weeks notice.'  'That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something,' said Nelson in response.  Nelson says he's confirmed with HHS that the Homestead facility is housing 94 children, who have been separated from their families. Republican Senator Marco Rubio did not specifically address the Homestead facility, but is also voicing his concerns about the separation of families on Twitter, calling the policy ‘cruel.’
  • Emergency repairs are now done, weeks after a semi-truck hit the I-95 overpass at Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. The Florida Department of Transportation has had the right lane of I-95 northbound closed since the incident mid-May. We’re told the construction was completed in around 35 days, which is sooner than the 50-day contract allowed. The lane is now open.  Part of the work included replacing a bridge beam, which the FDOT captured in a time lapse video.  The FDOT says the response was quick and appropriate, in order to restore the highway to full capacity.  The emergency repair contract was awarded to Superior Construction, with VIA Consulting Services, Inc. acting as consulting engineer.

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