FILE PHOTO: A police boat patrols in front of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
March 19, 2019
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic congressional leaders have asked the FBI to investigate the founder of a Florida massage parlor chain who is an alleged acquaintance of President Donald Trump, according to a letter released on Monday.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the letter, signed by four other lawmakers. It asked investigators to look into “public reports about alleged activities by Ms. Li ‘Cindy’ Yang and her apparent relationship with the president.”
A chain of massage parlors founded by Yang is “suspected of involvement” in human trafficking and prostitution which involves female immigrants being forced to serve as “sex workers,” said the letter to the FBI and other federal investigative agencies.
Senators Mark Warner and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler signed the letter. It said Yang also reportedly created a business called GY US investments which they allege “may be selling access to the president and members of his family to clients from China.”
Michelle Merson, a Florida lawyer who says she is representing Yang, could not immediately be reached for comment. On a website, Merson posted a video in which she said Yang is scared and in hiding.
Merson said Yang denies the allegations made against her. “Ms. Yang is not concerned because she feels she’s speaking the truth and the truth will free her,” Merson said in the video.
The Democrats’ letter said Yang’s website, which has been taken down, once offered clients the “opportunity to interact” with Trump and other political figures as well as participation in White House and Capitol Hill dinners.
The letter said that, if proven, such allegations “raise serious counterintelligence concerns.”
It asked if Yang had been the focus of earlier federal or state probes and for an assessment of “counterintelligence risks” which Yang’s activities might have posed.
The Democrats also asked if other individuals have used Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Palm Beach estate, to offer foreigners access to Trump or people around him, as well as whether Yang or her foreign clients have had access to Trump or U.S. officials at the White House, Mar-a-Lago, or other Trump properties.
The FBI had no comment on the legislators’ letter. The White House, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the Secret Service did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(This story corrects throughout to show Pelosi and Schumer released, but did not sign the letter, which four other lawmakers signed)
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown)
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero walks next to new bollard-style U.S.-Mexico border fencing in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
March 15, 2019
By Andrew Hay and Richard Cowan
SANTA TERESA, New Mexico/ WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The 18-foot-tall steel slats extend 20 miles across the rugged Chihuahuan desert in southern New Mexico, cutting through high sand dunes and brush.
On a recent day, there were none of the usual signs of migrant traffic – no discarded water bottles, clothes or trash. The radio on a Border Patrol SUV driving along the divide was mostly silent.
To many locals and public officials familiar with the area, the $74-million structure just west of tiny Santa Teresa marks a surprising priority in the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall against illegal immigration, drugs and human trafficking.
“Most of us here say why spend that money? Just dead money going into the middle of the desert,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, a nonprofit representing industries in southern New Mexico.
The barrier, completed last year, provides an early peek at the administration’s efforts to provide the layer of national security President Donald Trump’s supporters demand. Although the fence does not break new ground – it replaces less formidable vehicle barriers – it is the longest section erected to date under Trump, who has said generally that he is starting in the most important places.
During more than two dozen interviews by Reuters reporters with the project’s opponents and advocates, few described the Santa Teresa stretch as having been a hub of illegal activity. Residents said they had found evidence of drug smuggling, such as packages of marijuana and other drugs dumped in the desert, and had seen individuals or small groups of migrants cross from time to time.
During a recent tour along the Santa Teresa-area wall – or fence, as some call it – a U.S. Border Patrol official explained to a Reuters reporter why the project was necessary.
“This was an extremely popular place for both drugs and people,” said supervisory agent Joe Romero, referring to the stretch next to New Mexico Highway 9 where the rust-brown slats rise above mesquite trees and soaptree yuccas.
The agency would not provide figures for migrant apprehensions by the Santa Teresa station before and after the wall was built.
Romero confirmed the Santa Teresa area was not typically a destination for the large groups of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States. That is the group Trump has mainly been targeting.
But Romero said the Santa Teresa fence allows the border patrol to police the area with fewer agents and shift manpower to nearby urban and semi-urban areas where the most migrants are now illegally crossing. With agents tied up by large numbers of asylum seekers and their humanitarian needs, the under-staffed agency needs the extra personnel in areas where smugglers are taking advantage of these distractions, Romero said.
A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’
Trump’s proposed “great wall” extending along the border has come to define his presidency, just as Trump Tower has defined his real estate brand. He cites “an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people” and says the only way to put a stop to it is a hard barrier along much of the 2,000 mile (3,200 km) southwest border.
Around 650 miles (1,046 km) of barriers already exist.
The problem for the president is that while his Department of Homeland Security selects possible building sites, including Santa Teresa, the administration generally needs Congress to appropriate the money. And Congress has balked at the billions Trump wants.
On Feb. 15, the president declared a national emergency, which he said would allow him to seize federal funds already appropriated for other programs and use them to build the wall.
On Thursday, the Senate voted to terminate that declaration, setting up an avowed veto by Trump that will be difficult for lawmakers to override.
Amid the political warfare, Santa Teresa is the first significant project to materialize under the president’s watch.
Critics in Congress, including some Republicans, say the project was about politics, not protection.
“They’re sending a message – they’re not trying to meet operational security needs,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, of politicians who favored the project.
Others say expanding on existing barriers provides a relatively quick, easy way for the administration to argue that Trump is delivering on his 2016 campaign promise.
Gabriel Vasquez, a Democrat who serves on the city council of nearby Las Cruces, noted that the relatively small population in the Santa Teresa area meant the project would meet little public resistance. And the federal government already owned most of the land around the border there so did not have to spend time and money buying it from private ranchers or other landholders.
At least one other site for wall-building also is proposed in a desolate location: According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration plans a 31-mile barrier adjacent to a bombing range in the Arizona desert.
Democrat Tom Udall, the other U.S. senator from New Mexico, said he pressed federal officials to justify the Santa Teresa project before construction started.
“‘What is the pressure on this particular area, why are you doing that?’” he recalled asking. “And they said, ‘Oh in 2012 there were 300 people and in 2017 there were 500 that they know that crossed” illegally, Udall said.
By comparison, more than 300,000 migrants were apprehended in 2017 across the entire southern border.
Instead of building large, expensive barriers in remote areas, Udall and Heinrich say it makes more sense to invest federal dollars in high-tech detection equipment there.
They also want to improve infrastructure and inspections at the major ports-of-entry, including El Paso (about 15 miles southeast of Santa Teresa), where experts say the bulk of drug smuggling occurs.
Gil Kerlikowske, who was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner from 2014-2017, suggested that the emphasis on erecting physical barriers was recent.
During his tenure, Kerlikowske said, agents at southwest border stations spoke of the need for a big bag of tools: Predator drones, boats, helicopter support, remote video, ground sensors, research and development of tunnel detection and agents on horseback, ATVs and motorcycles.
“Border Patrol never mentioned walls” then, he said.
DEFENDERS OF THE WALL
Locally, however, the Santa Teresa fence has some defenders.
Former U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, now the chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said that ranchers on the border with Mexico want a wall on their properties, believing it will not only stop immigrants from interfering with their livestock operations but also protect their families from violent drug cartels.
Pearce, an early Trump supporter, added, “I have always felt that the wall by itself has got to be supplemented” with a range of border enforcement tools, from more agents to technology.
Rancher Chip Johns, who said he has found bales of drugs dropped by fleeing smugglers and who sleeps with a gun by his bed, said he felt safer with the fence running along his 250,000-acre property. He hopes it marks just the beginning of a more extensive project.
To stop the wall after 20 miles, allowing drug smugglers to cross where it ends, would be “ridiculous,” he said.
(Andrew Hay reported from Santa Teresa, New Mexico and Richard Cowan from Washington; Additional reporting by Jane Ross and Lucy Nicholson; Editing by Julie Marquis and Marla Dickerson)
FILE PHOTO: A worker stands outside the construction site of the new Best Sunshine Live casino at Saipan, a U.S. South Pacific island, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas/File Photo
March 15, 2019
By Farah Master
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific, the owner of a multi-billion Saipan gaming project, is being sued by former construction workers who say they were victims of forced labor and human trafficking on the U.S.-administered Pacific island.
Seven Chinese construction workers made the claim via a filing on Friday to the Federal Court in Saipan, part of the Northern Mariana Islands.
They are seeking unspecified monetary compensation for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages.
Imperial Pacific did not respond to a request for comment.
The lush mountainous island of Saipan, controlled by the United States since the end of World War Two, approved a casino in 2014, after which Chinese investment skyrocketed.
Imperial Pacific has the sole license to operate a casino in Saipan but has faced a slew of delays and setbacks to open its hotel resort.
Scrutiny of the project intensified after the death of a construction worker in 2017 and an FBI raid that found a list of more than 150 undocumented workers in a contractor’s offices, as well as a safe containing several thousand dollars in U.S. currency, several hundred Chinese yuan and employee pay stubs.
Several executives have resigned over the past year and worker protests have been a recurring theme as they claim unpaid wages and injuries.
The filing, which names Imperial Pacific as well as its contractors, MCC International Saipan Ltd and Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, alleges workers were required to work more than 12 hours a day and sometimes do a 24-hour shift.
It also accuses employers of withholding a portion of their wages and claims they often failed to pay them for weeks at a time.
MCC, which is owned by Metallurgical Corp of China, and Gold Mantis, a subsidiary of Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The filing states Imperial Pacific knew about, or at a minimum, “recklessly disregarded its contractors’ exploitive and illegal practices” and that the company was repeatedly told about the use of unauthorized workers on the construction site.
Crammed into dormitories, often with no showers or air-conditioning, plaintiffs were made to work on a construction site that was extremely dangerous, it said.
“One Gold Mantis supervisor, who had already physically beaten another employee, threatened to kill plaintiffs if they disobeyed him,” it said in the filing.
All plaintiffs suffered injuries including a badly burnt leg, scalded hand and partially severed finger, according to the filing.
Saipan’s casino commission has extended the deadline for the completion of the resort to February 2021. Imperial Pacific was contractually obliged to open the casino in March 2017.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor
Carly Schroeder, once a regular on Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire” series, announced Wednesday that she is joining the Army.
The 28-year-old actress explained her decision in a lengthy Instagram post along with a photo of herself in tactical gear. (RELATED: ‘Superman’ Dean Cain To Put On Badge As Reserve Officer — Because ‘Real Heroes Don’t Wear Capes’)
Schroeder began the caption with a nod to her first career in Hollywood. “For 22 years, I’ve played dress up for a living,” she said. “As an actress I’ve been kidnapped, gone blind, nearly eaten by lions and murdered on more than one occasion. I tormented Lizzie McGuire’s little brother on the Disney channel, was a dolphin trainer, the first female soccer player on an all-boys team and Harrison Ford once rescued me during an intense home invasion.”
“That’s exciting and all, but in January I decided to raise my right hand and swear into the United States Army,” she continued.
View this post on Instagram
For 22 years, I’ve played dress up for a living. As an actress I’ve been kidnapped, gone blind, nearly eaten by lions and murdered on more than one occasion. I tormented Lizzie McGuire’s little brother on the Disney channel, was a dolphin trainer, the first female soccer player on an all boys team and Harrison Ford once rescued me during an intense home invasion. . That’s exciting and all, but in January I decided to raise my right hand and swear into the United States Army. With a college degree from @callutheran in Criminal Justice, an ASVAB score of 92, and qualifying PFTs… I was accepted into Army #OCS (Officer Candidate School). . There are three BIG reasons (among many others) why I am taking a break from Hollywood to #goarmy . 1. College opened my eyes to global injustices. But on a more tangible micro level, there is human trafficking occurring within the United States. I’ve written papers, spread awareness and as an Army Officer I intend to learn skills I can later apply when I’m on a team helping these victims. . 2. Serving my country will give my voice more validity. I can better serve and advocate for veterans once I am a part of their community. The military is a family and family always has each others back. . 3. My brother is a Marine and my Papa was a Green Beret… There is no way I am going to let the boys have all the fun. #hooah #actresstoarmy #startedondisneynowimhere ????????♀️ . Thank you to my big brothers who teach, encourage and support me. I’ll make you proud. ♥️ @hunter_schroede0372 @claskytac @greenlinetactical @longhighwayhome @garand_thumb @tyler_hughes_ss
A post shared by Carly Schroeder (@carlyfries18) on
The actress went on to explain that she intended to use her service to fight human trafficking and help the veterans in her own community — something she said she would be better able to do once she was truly a part of that community.
- College opened my eyes to global injustices. But on a more tangible micro level, there is human trafficking occurring within the United States. I’ve written papers, spread awareness and as an Army Officer I intend to learn skills I can later apply when I’m on a team helping these victims.
- Serving my country will give my voice more validity. I can better serve and advocate for veterans once I am a part of their community. The military is a family and family always has each others back.
- My brother is a Marine and my Papa was a Green Beret… There is no way I am going to let the boys have all the fun. #hooah#actresstoarmy#startedondisneynowimhere
Schroeder, who was accepted into Officer Candidate School (OCS) concluded with a personal message. “Thank you to my big brothers who teach, encourage and support me. I’ll make you proud,” she promised.
Source: The Daily Caller
Americans are locked in a fierce debate: to build or not to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. And what’s in a wall? Israel’s experience with the barriers separating it from its many contentious neighbors offers some answers.
Look first at Israel’s 290-mile border with the West Bank, where the main goals are stopping terrorism and deterring entry of illegal labor. The barrier includes razor wire, electronic intrusion-detection fences, anti-vehicle ditches, footprint detection technology, aerial surveillance, and more. In urban areas, there are true walls more than 25 feet high, with cameras, listening devices, and other sensors. Control rooms monitor activity 24/7, and rapid-response teams deploy against every incursion. All this is similar to the purposes and plans for the U.S. wall.
How effective has the West Bank barrier been? Attacks and resulting casualties fell 80 percent almost instantly after the wall went up, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Illegal labor entry dropped comparably, even as legal movement of people and goods through checkpoints remained robust.
Meanwhile, Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria fronts on active war zones, with Hezbollah, ISIS, Syrian rebels, and Iranian militias operating on the other side. In this sector advanced intrusion-detection technologies enhance military-style physical structures and procedures that go well beyond U.S. plans.
But even here, where a vastly bigger threat has led to vastly bigger measures, the barriers have proven an effective deterrent. Hezbollah has attempted to infiltrate many times, but succeeded only once.
The Gaza Strip presents different challenges, thanks to uniquely sophisticated methods of Hamas terrorist infiltration and weapons smuggling. So Israel adds tunnel-sensing technology to its protective mix. No concrete walls run along the surface; however, construction of a 40-mile-long reinforced concrete wall below ground is underway.
Also, the Gaza barrier extends more than a mile into the Mediterranean, to counter Hamas naval commandos. And subsurface seismic sensors have been added to detect tunneling. As elsewhere, round-the-clock command-and-control centers direct rapid-response teams when trouble arises.
Results? Israel has disrupted dozens of tunneling attempts and, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, “not a single suicide bomber has managed to cross Israel’s border with Gaza.”
Israel’s southern border with Egypt is more like America’s with Mexico. Concerns are less with terrorism and more with illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling. There, Israel has erected a 150-mile-long smart fence with observation towers, cameras, radar, motion detectors, barbed wire and 24/7 monitoring with rapid-response teams.
The Sinai barrier’s impact has been significant. According to Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, 17,000 African immigrants entered Israel illegally in 2011, immediately before the fence was built. After completion of construction in 2013, only 43 crossed. In 2016, just 11 did. In 2017, zero crossed.
Just as significant as the fence, however, have been government policies for managing immigration in tandem with physical deterrence.
Israel promotes legal guest worker programs. As the U.S. Library of Congress has documented, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Asia and Europe, as well as Palestinians, have been employed through these programs in agriculture, construction, eldercare, and other industries.
At the same time, Israel has enacted several laws to discourage illegal migrants. These laws include barring such individuals from sending money out of the country and requiring employers to withhold 20 percent of guest workers’ pay until they are going home, to ensure they do not overstay their work visas. Employers are also punished if they employ illegal laborers.
Equally critical to the effectiveness of the Sinai barrier has been Egyptian cooperation. The same is true at Israel’s border with Jordan, which has only “minimal” fencing. This underscores the value of partnerships between neighboring nations in achieving common border goals.
So, what is a “wall” and how does it translate into border security?
Clearly, a wall must be many things, according to immediate challenges and needs. But whatever its physical makeup, a wall cannot stand alone. As pointed out by Professor Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, no physical structure can be foolproof. “What is important,” he says, “are actions beyond the fence, combined with intelligence gathering.”
Here is the lesson from Israel: A wall, while absolutely necessary, is only part of the solution. An effective border barrier must include different purpose-specific structures and supporting technologies matching varied terrain, threats, and goals. It also requires active monitoring and appropriate government policies, supported by cooperative neighbors.
Most importantly, a real dialogue across the political spectrum is needed to develop an intelligent mix of solutions, in addition to a wall.
(A longer version of this article appeared on foreignpolicynews.org in January.)
President Trump slammed Democrats ahead of the crunch vote on the border today as his detractors prepare to shoot down his national emergency declaration.
“The Democrats are “Border Deniers.” Trump tweeted.
“They refuse to see or acknowledge the Death, Crime, Drugs and Human Trafficking at our Southern Border!” the President further declared.
The Democrats are “Border Deniers.” They refuse to see or acknowledge the Death, Crime, Drugs and Human Trafficking at our Southern Border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2019
Trump earlier announced that “I am prepared to veto, if necessary.” regarding the vote, adding that “The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!”
A big National Emergency vote today by The United States Senate on Border Security & the Wall (which is already under major construction). I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 14, 2019
In a message to Rand Paul and other Republicans who are considering voting against the national emergency declaration, Trump said that GOP Senators “are overthinking” the situation.
Republican Senators are overthinking tomorrow’s vote on National Emergency. It is very simply Border Security/No Crime – Should not be thought of any other way. We have a MAJOR NATIONAL EMERGENCY at our Border and the People of our Country know it very well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
According to the AP, during a closed-door lunch Wednesday, Trump refused to support a separate measure proposed by GOP Senators to curb a president’s powers to declare future emergencies.
Trump said that he told senators to “vote any way you want” on the resolution, but added “Anybody going against border security, drug trafficking, human trafficking, that’s a bad vote.”
The President also claimed that the vote is weighted in favor of Democrats:
Democrats will have a unanimous vote on a 20% issue in opposing Republican Senators tomorrow. The Dems are for Open Borders and Crime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
The White House also issued a video highlighting an incident in January when 247 illegal migrants rushed the border in New Mexico.
January 16, 2019: 247 illegal migrants rush the border in New Mexico.
This is a national emergency. pic.twitter.com/I6tLEQkbnX
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 13, 2019
The GOP lawmakers who are likely to vote against Trump are Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and, as of Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
The Democrats need four Republican votes to rescind Trump’s emergency.
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro isn't ruling out direct payments to African-Americans for the legacy of slavery — a stand separating him from his 2020 rivals.
"If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn't you compensate people who actually were property," the former Obama-era housing secretary and ex-San Antonio mayor said on Sunday.
Castro was among the last of a pack of 2020 candidates to speak at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas, in what amounted to one of the biggest gatherings of the Democratic field yet.
As Democrats have addressed reparations in the early stages of the race, other candidates are discussing tax credits and other subsidies, rather than direct payments for the labor and legal oppression of slaves and their descendants. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would put resources such as "Medicare for All" and tuition-free college into distressed communities.
Castro tells CNN's "State of the Union" he doesn't think that's the proper argument for reparations if "a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff." Castro stopped short of saying he would push for direct compensation to descendants as president, saying instead that he would appoint a commissioner or task force that would make recommendations.
Sanders was in New Hampshire, while Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was in Dallas, Kamala Harris of California was in Miami and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Tampa.
Other highlights from Sunday's campaigning:
The Vermont senator emphasized his rise from longshot candidate to major Democratic presidential contender in his first trip to New Hampshire since launching another run for president.
Sanders said his ideas that seemed "radical and extreme" four years ago are now helping define Democrats campaigns across the country.
"Those ideas that we talked about when I came here to New Hampshire four years ago, ideas that seemed so very radical at that time," Sanders said. "Well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and they are being supported by Democratic candidates from school board to president of the United States."
Sanders topped Hillary Clinton by 22 points in the state's 2016 primary. But he now faces a wider field of rivals who have adopted some of the same views on policy issues he pioneered during his last run for the White House.
"This is where the political revolution took off," Sanders said. "Thank you, New Hampshire."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee laid down a challenge for his 2020 rivals — join him in calling to abolish the Senate filibuster.
Inslee is a newcomer to the Democratic field and is running a campaign that's almost singularly focused on climate change. But he was similarly adamant about doing away with the Senate filibuster while speaking to a small audience early Sunday morning at SXSW.
He said the six Democratic senators currently running for the White House shouldn't think twice.
"Maybe they get religion on this and realize that the filibuster is going to stop us from doing anything from health care to climate change," Inslee said. "As long as Mitch McConnell has the keys to the car, we're not going to drive it anywhere."
He was followed on stage by Castro, who also signaled an openness to the Senate doing away with the filibuster, which is a procedural tool that requires a supermajority of at least 60 votes to pass many big items, instead of a simple majority.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he's not cut out for the Senate — and that he doesn't see himself switching races if his presidential run fizzles out.
"I don't see it in my future," Hickenlooper said.
Democrats have sights on Sen. Cory Gardner's seat. The Colorado Republican is up for re-election in 2020. Hickenlooper said he's spoken with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer but says he considers running for president a calling.
Hickenlooper also said decriminalizing prostitution is worth exploring. He brought up the recent Florida crackdown on massage parlor prostitution and investigation into human trafficking, which resulted in New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft being charged with two misdemeanor counts of prostitution. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
"There are a lot of arguments, and I think they're worth taking into serious consideration, that legalizing prostitution and regulating where there are norms and protections" to prevent abuse should be looked at, Hickenlooper said.
Source: NewsMax Politics
Human traffickers are exploiting weak U.S. asylum laws and immigration policies by ‘recycling’ children used to escort adult illegal aliens into the country, according to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Nielsen testified before Congress on Thursday regarding the explosive crisis unfolding at the U.S. border – a situation she said is “truly an emergency.”
“Smugglers and traffickers have caught on realizing that the outdated laws, lack of resources and bad court decisions effectively give them a free ticket into America,” Nielsen said. “Information about the weaknesses in our system has spread quickly in Central America, in fact they are advertised. And our booming economy under President Trump has made the dangerous journey even more attractive to migrants.”
“As a result, the flow of families and children has become a flood. In the past five years we have seen a 620 percent increase in families or those posing as families apprehended at the border. The last fiscal year was the highest on record.
“And of great concern to me is that the children are used as pawns to get into our country,” Nielsen continued. “We have encountered recycling rings where innocent young people are used multiple times to help aliens gain illegal entry. As a nation, we simply cannot stand for this. We must fix the system.”
Nielsen revealed that Customs and Border Patrol agents apprehended or encountered a stunning 75,000 migrants attempting to illegally enter in the United States in the month of February alone – an 80 percent increase over the same period last year – and that the agency is already on pace to apprehend more migrants in the first six months of this fiscal year than the entirety of FY 2017.
Nielsen warned that if the crisis continues on its current trajectory, it “will overwhelm the system entirely.”
She also explained that due to changing migration flows and demographics of arrivals, combined with laws and policies currently in place, most are now released into the United States “with virtually no hope of removing them in the future.”
“The vast majority of these individuals are from Central America,” Nielsen said. “While many of them initially claim asylum and are let into the United States, only one in 10 are ultimately granted asylum by an immigration judge. Unfortunately when it comes time to remove the other 90 percent, they have often disappeared into the interior of our country.”
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A company has offered a discount rate of $1 billion instead of the proposed $8 billion to build 234 miles of border wall. David Knight reveals why Trump should take the deal.