Supreme Court will decide fate of Obama immigration reform
The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on April 18 over whether Obama’s 2014 executive order expanding DACA and DAPA is unconstitutional. The president’s executive order was put on hold almost immediately after it was issued, when 26 states filed an injunction arguing that the president overstepped his authority. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2015 ruled against the administration, which had attempted to challenge the legal standing of the 26 states. If the Supreme Court’s decision splits along partisan lines the Fifth Circuit’s ruling will stand, handing the states a victory and effectively ending any further expansion of DACA and DAPA. The court’s final ruling is due by the end of its current term in June.
Harriet Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on $20 bill
The U.S. Treasury Department announced on April 20 that the image of African American slavery abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace that of former U.S. president Andrew Jackson on the front of a new $20 bill. The new treasury note will be completed by 2020, which will mark the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment, and it will go into circulation throughout the following decade. Jackson, a slave owner, presided over the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the “Trail of Tears” where various Native American nations, including the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw, were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands.
Brazilian congress votes to impeach president Rousseff
The lower house of congress has voted overwhelmingly to impeach embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff for her alleged involvement in the Petrobras oil corruption scandal. Although Rouseff was never formally implicated in the far-reaching bribery scandal, which involved dozens of politicians and executives, she was chairwoman of the state-run oil company from 2003 – 2010. If the senate agrees to consider impeachment, which it is expected to do within the next few weeks, the liberal president will be suspended for 180 days while the impeachment runs its course. Rouseff, whose approval is at an all-time low of 10 percent, vowed to defend her office, calling the impeachment an injustice perpetrated by political enemies who are themselves under investigation.
Ecuador rocked by deadly earthquakes
The Northern coast of Ecuador was struck by a pair of powerful earthquakes this week: a devastating 7.8-magnitude on April 17, and with the country still reeling, a 6.2 magnitude hit on April 20. According to the government, at least 525 people are dead, 4,600 more wounded and as many as 1,700 are still missing. The tremors caused mudslides, damaged roads and destroyed 1,500 buildings; 23,500 people are currently staying in shelters. The cities of Pedernales, Manta and Portoviejo in the Manabi Province suffered the worst damages. President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency, and said rebuilding could cost as much as $3 billion, which is about three percent of the country’s gross domestic product.