Trump Visiting Busiest Border Area for Illegal Crossings

President Trump is bringing his campaign to sell the U.S. on a border wall to McAllen, Tx. Two days after proclaiming a humanitarian and security crisis. One local resident says Trump’s dire warnings of a border crisis are wrong, saying, “It’s a total misconception.”

President Trump is bringing his campaign to sell the U.S. on a border wall to McAllen, Tx. Two days after proclaiming a humanitarian and security crisis, Trump will land in the heart of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest stretch of the border in recent years for illegal crossings, the Los Angeles Times reports. Many in the city of 140,000 are wondering what exactly the president will see. Perhaps Trump will visit the places near McAllen where new border barriers are being built. While Trump has been fighting for a border wall, plans for $1.4 billion in new border barriers already funded by Congress have quietly proceeded. The added barrier surrounding McAllen will rise atop an existing levee, which also crosses wildlife refuges, the National Butterfly Center, a cemetery and church properties. Construction on 14 miles of border fencing is scheduled to start next month.

McAllen resident David Garcia worries that the wall will damage wildlife and ecotourism. Garcia, 36, said Trump’s dire warnings of a crisis at the border are wrong. “It’s a total misconception,” he said. “We’re in the top lists of safest cities in the state.” He sees a largely Latino, moderate Democratic stronghold of quiet neighborhoods patrolled by state, local and federal forces. Trump will visit Border Patrol agents and perhaps the nearby migrant central processing center that families nicknamed “the dog kennel” because of cyclone fences surrounding their cells.  Perhaps Trump will visit McAllen’s federal courthouse. Federal prosecutors and public defenders saw dockets swell last spring after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced a “zero tolerance” policy of charging migrants in federal criminal court with entering the country illegally. Court staffers are being paid but it’s not clear whether they will be next month if the federal government shutdown continues.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Ignored Reality of How Drugs Enter U.S.: AP

A fact check on President Trump’s prime-time speech Tuesday found several misleading or incorrect statements involving crime and drugs.

In his prime-time speech Tuesday, President Trump declared a border crisis that’s in sharp dispute, wrongly accused Democrats of refusing to pay for border security and ignored the reality of how drugs come into the U.S. as he pitched his wall as a solution to varied ills, the Associated Press reports. Here is a fact check on several items he mentioned. The president said, “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. The Drug Enforcement Administration says “only a small percentage” of heroin seized by U.S. authorities comes across on territory between ports of entry. The same is true of drugs generally. Trump declared, “Democrats will not fund border security.” That’s not true. They just won’t fund it the way he wants. Democrats passed legislation the day they took control of the House that offered $1.3 billion for border security.

The president said, “Over the years thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.” Many studies from social scientists and the libertarian Cato Institute have found that people in the U.S.  illegally are less likely to commit crime than U.S. citizens, and legal immigrants are even less likely to do so. Trump said, “There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.” While the number of families coming over the border has risen sharply, the number of border arrests is one-quarter of what it was in 2000, dropping from 1.6 million then to 400,000 in 2018.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Does U.S. Need a Border Wall? A Look at The Issues

One of the biggest challenges isn’t just stopping people from crossing the border, but figuring out what to do with those who have already crossed illegally. Also, the number of asylum seekers has jumped nearly 70 percent in the last year and the immigration court backlog has more than doubled to 1.1 million cases.

With President Trump planning a televised address to back his plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, the Associated Press examines some of the major issues in the debate. One of the biggest challenges isn’t just stopping people from crossing the border, but figuring out what to do with those who have already crossed illegally. Border Patrol agents are apprehending far fewer people than they once were, a sign that the number of people crossing illegally has plummeted since 2000. But while most of those crossing illegally used to be Mexican men looking for work, now nearly half are families and unaccompanied children from Central America. Customs and Border Protection officials have long said their stations are not equipped to manage the growing influx of children and families. As a result, border crossers are stuck in short-term holding cells for days and there has been a spike in sick migrant children, including two who died in custody.

More families and children traveling alone are surrendering to authorities to seek asylum instead of trying to elude capture. The number of asylum seekers jumped nearly 70 percent from budget year 2017 to 2018 to nearly 93,000. That is up from nearly 56,000 migrants who asked for asylum the previous year. The immigration court backlog has more than doubled to 1.1 million cases since shortly before Trump took office, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The border wall wouldn’t address the problem of people overstaying their visas. About 40 percent of people in the U.S. illegally came with visas that later expired. U.S. authorities say there were nearly 740,000 overstays during a recent 12-month period. Border Patrol leaders have struggled to say with any degree of precision how well fences work, in part because it’s unknown how many people get away. Walls and fencing cover about one-third of the 1,954-mile-long border.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Border Patrol Union Emerges as Key Trump Ally

The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents, appears with the president to say that agents are willing to keep the government shut down for as long as it takes to get the money Trump wants for his border wall, even if that means they have to continue working without pay.

President Trump’s hastily called “press conference” on Thursday, in which neither he nor press secretary Sarah Sanders took questions, was less a press conference than a way for Trump to signal a politically helpful message, reports Vox.com. That message, delivered by Brandon Judd, Art Del Cueto, and Hector Garza of the National Border Patrol Council (the union representing Border Patrol agents) was this: agents are willing to keep the government shut down for as long as it takes to get the money Trump wants for his border wall, even if that means they have to continue working without pay. A public sector union would hardly be expected to make a public appearance urging Congress not to pass a bill that would start paying their salaries again. Judd and other leaders of the National Border Patrol Council aren’t your typical public sector union. They have become, by all appearances, closer allies to Trump than some of his appointed officials.

Generally, unions are expected to advocate for one of two agendas: the bread-and-butter needs of their membership or the health of unions themselves. Indeed, the current wave of anti-union pushback in conservative courts is grounded in the sense that unions are doing too much of the latter and not enough of the former. When it comes to law enforcement unions, that line gets blurry. Unions are supposed to advocate for the safety of their members, so police unions often feel a mandate to oppose anything from restrictions on the use of deadly force to greater transparency around officer misconduct. The federal immigration enforcement unions are law enforcement unions. Instead of seeing immigration enforcement as just a matter of officer safety, crucially, they see it as a matter of officer morale.

from https://thecrimereport.org

DOJ Admits Errors in Linking Immigration and Terrorism

The Justice Department has acknowledged errors in a controversial report issued last year that implied a link between terrorism in the U.S. and immigration, but officials have declined to retract or correct the document.

The Justice Department has acknowledged errors in a controversial report issued last year that implied a link between terrorism in the U.S. and immigration, but officials have declined to retract or correct the document, the Washington Post reports. Released by the Justice and Homeland Security departments, the report said that 402 of 549 individuals — nearly 3 in 4 — convicted of international terrorism charges since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were foreign-born. It was written in compliance with President Trump’s March 2017 executive order halting immigration from six majority-Muslim countries.

Critics expressed alarm at what they considered misleading data presented without context. They called it an attempt to misuse law enforcement agencies to advance a political agenda in opposition to immigration. Several government watchdog and civil liberties groups sued the two agencies, seeking a retraction or correction under the Information Quality Act. The agencies refused. Now, the Justice Department has told the groups it will not retract or correct the document. Rather, “in future reports, the department can strive to minimize the potential for misinterpretation,” said DOJ official Michael Allen. It was a rare DOJ admission that its reporting may have misled the public. One flaw the Justice Department acknowledged was the report’s assertion that between 2003 and 2009, immigrants were convicted of 69,929 sex offenses, which “in most instances constitutes gender-based violence against women.” Actually, the nearly 70,000 offenses spanned a period from 1955 to 2010 — 55 years, not six; the data covered arrests, not convictions; and one arrest could be for multiple offenses. Critics decried the report’s inclusion of eight “illustrative examples” of foreign-born individuals out of a pool of 402 convicted of international terrorism. Allen wrote that, “On reconsideration, the department acknowledges that a focus on eight seemingly similar ‘illustrative examples’ from a list of more than 400 convictions could cause some readers of the report to question its objectivity.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

GA Board Can Punish Cities on Immigration Policy

Georgia is the only state that’s created an independent board with one specific mission: Punishing cities that aren’t doing enough to crack down on illegal immigration. Residents can file a complaint against any city or county they judge to be breaking state immigration law.

Over the past few years, statehouses around the U.S. have tried to rein in cities deemed too friendly to undocumented immigrants. Georgia is the only state that’s created an independent board with one specific mission: Punishing cities that aren’t doing enough to crack down on illegal immigration, reports Stateline. Typically, that responsibility falls to state attorneys general. In Georgia, residents can file a complaint against any city or county they judge to be breaking state immigration law. Until a recent case against the small liberal town of Decatur,  all but one of the complaints had come from one private citizen, an avowed anti-illegal immigration activist who’s made this his life’s calling.

Then Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, filed a complaint accusing Decatur of violating state immigration law as he was running for governor. “Liberal politicians in the City of Decatur are trying to put the interests of criminal illegal aliens ahead of our safety — and I will not allow it!” Cagle wrote. Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board was created seven years ago, when the state passed one of the nation’s strictest immigration laws. Most of its members are not attorneys or immigration experts. All are volunteer political appointees, which in a red state makes it a majority Republican board. It investigates alleged wrongdoing, subpoenas witnesses and hears testimony. It has the power to recommend sanctions against municipalities and withhold millions in state funding from them as punishment. So far, it has levied just one fine, $1,000 against Atlanta. A handful of small cities have been forced to spend time and money defending themselves against accusations. “The Georgia board is an example of what not to do, rather than a model for something effective,” said Jessica Vaughan of  the Center for Immigration Studies, an advocacy group that favors limited immigration to the U.S.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S. Again Uses Tear Gas Against Border Crossers

The officers used tear gas “only after there were rocks and there were kids involved,” said a Customs and Border Protection agency spokesperson about the incident early on New Year’s day.

U.S. border officers sent tear gas into Mexico early Tuesday to drive away about 150 migrants trying to cross the border into the U.S., the New York Times reports. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said that the migrants tried to climb over and crawl under the border fence near San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — the same area where U.S. officers fired tear gas across the border late last year and where Mexico is struggling to handle thousands of migrants who have fled violence and poverty in Central America. As migrants gathered at the fence, several teenagers with heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats tried to cross concertina wire at the barrier. Others began throwing rocks over the fence at the U.S. officers.

The officers saw members of the group try “to lift toddler-sized children up and over the concertina wire,” dangerously so, the agency said. At this point, officers used smoke, pepper spray and tear gas “upwind of the rock throwers and south of the border fence.” The officers used tear gas “only after there were rocks and there were kids involved,” said a CBP spokesman, Andrew Meehan. “Then it became an issue of safety for the officers and frankly safety of the migrants.” The agency said “no agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents, which were targeted at the rock throwers.” After the tear gas was deployed, most of the migrants fled back under the fence and away from the border, Meehan said. Rights experts have questioned whether the firing of tear gas across the border is justifiable or legal; the number of detained migrant children has soared to the highest ever recorded, and at least two children have died in U.S. custody.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump’s Recent Misleading Statements About the Wall

The Washington Post Fact Checker examines what he says are a number of incorrect statements by President Trump in recent days about the proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Over the holidays during the government shutdown, President Trump repeatedly posted on Twitter a variety of rationales for why a wall along the southern border is necessary.  The Washington Post Fact Checker offers a recap of various misstatements needing clarification. Here are two examples: The president said on Christmas day about the wall, “The Democrats don’t want it, because they don’t want open borders, and yet every one of those Democrats approved the wall, or a fence, or very, very substantial barriers. Every single one. I don’t think there’s one — but let’s assume, let’s use the word, almost everyone approved a wall, or a fence, or exactly what we’re talking about, as little as three years ago.”

The Post says that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and many Democrats (though not Rep. Nancy Pelosi) voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by President George W. Bush and authorized building a fence along nearly 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence they voted for is not so substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump has called the 2006 fence “such a nothing wall.” To Trump, opposing the wall is tantamount to not wanting any border security. Democrats have offered support for $1.3 billion in security enhancements. That doesn’t include funding for Trump’s wall, but it includes 65 miles of pedestrian fencing along the Southeast Texas border with Mexico, similar to what already exists. Trump said on Sunday that Barack and Michelle Obama had built a 10-foot wall around their “D.C. mansion/compound.” The Post says the Obamas did add security fencing to an enlarged retaining wall in front for the needs of the Secret Service, but there is not a 10-foot wall around the house [not a compound]; the front steps are open to the sidewalk.

from https://thecrimereport.org

California Sanctuary Laws Tied to Killing of Officer

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they had no “prior encounters” with an undocumented Mexican immigrant suspected of fatally shooting a California police officer, adding fuel to a local sheriff’s charges that the state’s sanctuary laws were to blame.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they had no “prior encounters” with an undocumented Mexican immigrant suspected of fatally shooting a California police officer, adding further fuel to a local sheriff’s charges that the state’s sanctuary laws were to blame, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

A two-day manhunt ended Friday with the arrest of Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who came out with his hands up as a SWAT team prepared to raid a home in Bakersfield, 200 miles southeast of where Cpl. Ronil Singh was shot Wednesday.

Singh had pulled over a suspected drunken driver in Newman, Ca., when he was fatally wounded and fired back but didn’t hit the attacker.In a statement emailed to The Chronicle on Sunday, ICE officials said they have now lodged detainers on Arriaga and his alleged accomplices. Their statement echoed the sentiments of Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, who directly linked the officer’s death to the state’s laws.

Arriaga was planning to flee to his native Mexico, according to a sheriff who faulted he state’s sanctuary law for the death, reports the Associated Press.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff blamed California’s sanctuary law for preventing local authorities from reporting Perez Arriaga to U.S. immigration officials for deportation after two previous drunken driving arrests.

“We can’t ignore the fact that this could have been preventable,” Christianson said, asking why the state was “providing sanctuary for criminals (and) gang members. It’s a conversation we need to have.”

Perez Arriaga crossed the border in Arizona several years ago and had worked a variety of jobs as a laborer, including at several dairies. The 33-year-old had gang affiliations and multiple Facebook pages with different names, Christianson said. President Trump tweeted about Singh’s killing Thursday, saying it was “time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”

A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown said that if the suspect was a known gang member, police could have informed federal authorities. Authorities have arrested seven other people on charges of helping Perez Arriaga. Singh, 33, was also an immigrant, coming legally from his native Fiji to fulfill his dream of becoming an officer. Singh had a newborn son and joined the 12-officer Newman police force in 2011.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ICE Arrests Jump Under Trump; Agents Threatened

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it enforces laws on the books long before the 2016 presidential election. Still, under President Trump, the agency has stepped up arrests of people with no U.S. criminal records.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents hunt people in the U.S. illegally, some of whom have been here for decades, working and raising families. Under President Trump, who pushes hardline immigration policies, ICE has been exposed to unprecedented criticism, even though officers say they’re doing the same job they did before the election, enforcing U.S. laws that were on the books long before 2016, the Associated Press reports. Agents also have stepped up arrests of people who have no U.S. criminal records. Stories of ICE officers arresting dads and grandmothers that come up in local news reports. Officers are heckled and videotaped. ICE employees have been threatened at their homes, their personal data exposed online. “There is a tension around ‘It could be that somebody could find out what I do and hate me for it or do worse than hate me for it,’” Ronald Vitiello, acting head of the agency, told AP. The agency is monitoring social media and giving employees resources for when they feel threatened.

Most people arrested by ICE go before immigration judges, who decide whether they must be deported. ICE arrested 32,977 people accused of crimes and 20,464 with immigration violations in budget year 2018. There were 105,140 arrests of people with criminal convictions and 158,581 arrests overall. The most frequent criminal conviction was for drunken driving, followed by drug and traffic offenses. In the last budget year of the Obama administration, there were 111,104 arrests overall. Some cities have banished ICE from jails where they could easily pick up immigration violators. ICE officers now do more street operations and say they end up with more “collateral arrests,” people they happen upon who are also in the country illegally. They rarely knock on doors anymore, instead spending hours surveilling and waiting outside. They haunt courthouses.

from https://thecrimereport.org