Spike in Illegal Immigration Overwhelms Sheriffs; Families Exposed to Gang, Drug Violence

Local law enforcement agencies nationwide are overwhelmed with criminal activity linked to a huge increase in illegal immigration and families are being exposed to violence associated with drug trafficking and transnational gangs, according to hundreds of sheriffs across the United States. In a letter to President Joe Biden, the law enforcement officials in more than two dozen states blast the administration’s “reckless and irresponsible” open border policies that are exposing innocent citizens to illegal alien violence. Titled, “Help America’s Sheriffs Keep Our Neighborhoods and Communities Safe by Halting Illegal Immigration,” the document asserts that the crisis began when Biden was vice president.

“In a myriad of ways, you and your administration are encouraging and sanctioning lawlessness and the victimization of the people of the United States of America, all in the name of mass illegal immigration,” the sheriffs write. “What is most troubling to America’s Sheriffs is that you and your administration were well aware that this crisis would happen when you ceased construction of the border wall and changed border security policies.” The law enforcement officials continue: “Sheriffs were talking with the Obama/Biden administration about these same concerns that we were experiencing at the time based on the lax policies then being implemented. In fact, America’s Sheriffs attended meetings in Washington with then-Undersecretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas, who is now your Secretary of Homeland Security. You and he are fully aware of what illegal immigration does to our citizens, legal residents and our communities.”

Among the letter’s signatories are sheriffs in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas to name a few. Even sheriffs, who are typically elected to head county law enforcement agencies, in states that broadly offer illegal immigrants sanctuary signed the letter. They include several in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Vermont. “You may imagine how violated America’s Sheriffs feel that you unleashed a predictable crisis upon our nation that puts those we promised to protect at risk of grave danger,” the cops write to the commander-in-chief. “America’s Sheriffs will not defy our oaths. We will not join with those who suggest that we ignore existing laws in collusion with those elected officials who arbitrarily feel that they should be excused from being accountable and required to follow our laws. To do so would violate the promise of America’s Sheriffs to those who bestowed upon us the honor and privilege to represent their safety and security concerns.”

The officials continue by writing that Americans expect them to uphold and enforce the rule of law and assure that they will uphold the oath to do so. “In the interests of ending the undermining of our laws and the increased risks to the safety and security of the people of the United States of America, we respectfully request that you immediately reverse course on your pro-illegal immigration policies, resume the border wall construction, and embrace the common-sense, public-safety-supporting border policies of the previous administration.” The Obama and Trump administrations “recognized the threats and dangers presented by illegal immigration,” the law enforcement officials write, adding that it is “critically important” that Biden see it as well.

The sheriff who wrote the letter, Thomas M. Hodgson in Bristol County, Massachusetts, sent it to his counterparts throughout the U.S. and 275 sheriffs in 39 states quickly signed it. Hodgson authored it after government figures revealed a record number of illegal immigrant minors entered the country from Mexico. Around the same time, the U.S. Border Patrol disclosed that it arrested more than twice as many criminal migrants in the first six months of fiscal year 2021 than it did in all of 2020. In the first half of this fiscal year, the Border Patrol apprehended 5,018 “criminal aliens” compared to 2,438 in all of fiscal year 2020. The agency defines criminal aliens as individuals who have been convicted of one or more crimes, whether in the U.S. or abroad, prior to interdiction by federal agents.

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U.S. Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian boats in Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian boats in Strait of Hormuz

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC), a type of speedboat armed with machine guns, speeds near U.S. naval vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Monday, May 10, 2021. U.S. officials say a group of 13 armed speedboats of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard made “unsafe and unprofessional” high-speed maneuvers toward U.S. Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots when two of the Iranian boats came dangerously close. (U.S. Navy via AP)

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC), a type of speedboat armed with machine guns, speeds near U.S. naval vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Monday, May 10, 2021. U.S. officials say a group of 13 armed speedboats of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard made “unsafe and unprofessional” high-speed maneuvers toward U.S. Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots when two of the Iranian boats came dangerously close. (U.S. Navy via AP)

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) fast in-shore attack craft (FIAC), a type of speedboat armed with machine guns, speeds near U.S. naval vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, Monday, May 10, 2021. (U.S. Navy via AP)

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UPDATED 8:21 AM PT – Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Pentagon has been criticizing Iranian Guards of the Islamic Revolution after a faceoff with U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Fast boats conducted unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers,  and failed to exercise due regard for the safety of U.S. forces as required under international law,” stated Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

On Monday, a U.S. Navy ship had to fire warning shots at the Iranian boats that approached U.S. vessels escorting the submarine USS Georgia. The volatile encounter nearly resulted in a major maritime confrontation with Iran.

“After following all the appropriate and established procedures involving ship horn blast, bridge to bridge radio transmissions and other ways of communicating, the Coast Guard cutter Maui  fired approximately thirty warning shots  from a 50 caliber machine gun,” Kirby continued. “After the second round of warning shots, the thirteen fast attack craft from the IRGCN broke contact.”

Military experts noted Iran has continued attempts to assert control over Strait of Hormuz that hosts almost one-third of maritime oil shipments worldwide.

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Tough U.S. jobs report shows Biden’s rocky road to full economic recovery

Tough U.S. jobs report shows Biden’s rocky road to full economic recovery

May 10, 2021

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden reacted on Friday to a disappointing April jobs report by saying the U.S. economy has a “long way to go” before recovering from its pandemic slump, and he urged Washington to do more to help the American people.

U.S. job growth unexpectedly slowed last month, likely restrained by shortages of workers and raw materials. Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 266,000 jobs, well below the nearly 1 million jobs economists expected and a sharp contrast to steady increases in growth from January to March.

Biden and his team have said his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, the Democratic president’s first major legislative accomplishment, is helping to bring the economy back from its pandemic plummet, and they are pushing for another $4 trillion in new investments.

“Today’s report just underscores in my view how vital the actions we’re taking are,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “Our efforts are starting to work. But the climb is steep and we still have a long way to go.”

Stock indexes still climbed to record highs despite the news, as fewer investors feared the Federal Reserve would reduce its massive stimulus program anytime soon, and bet Biden’s investment plans would succeed.

The jobs report highlighted an intractable political divide in Washington over government spending. Republicans and business groups blasted generous unemployment benefits in the relief package, contending they were stopping lower-wage Americans from going back to work. Critics object to the high price tag of Biden’s plans and warn they could bring inflation.

Biden said he did not believe government benefits were hindering a return to work, and his economists backed him up.

“It’s clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters, citing parents whose children are still learning remotely. “I don’t think the addition to unemployment compensation is really the factor that is making a difference.”

Jared Bernstein, a member of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, told Reuters that Biden’s COVID relief and stimulus, known as the American Rescue Plan, had helped generate an average of more than half a million jobs per month, April not withstanding.

“Those are big numbers, and the fingerprints of the American Rescue Plan are all over those additions,” he said.

Bernstein and other officials said no course correction is required from the White House. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobby said the government should end the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits to ease a labor shortage.

Some states, including Arkansas, Montana and South Carolina, have decided on their own to end the special federal unemployment payments for their residents, refusing federal cash in the hope that helps businesses find workers faster.

“Why is anyone surprised that the jobs reports fell short of expectations?,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on Twitter. “I told you weeks ago that in #Florida I hear from #smallbusiness everyday that they can’t hire people because the government is paying them to not go back to work

The share of Americans who are either working or looking for work rose last month, and the number of people who said they are not looking for jobs because of COVID-19 fell by 900,000 in April, Bernstein said.

“What we do see is a lot of people who are still hesitant to go back to work because of safety concerns, care issues, schooling issues, and we’ll continue to watch this very closely,” he said.

(This story corrects language in tweet by Rubio to “paying them” instead of “having them” in paragraph 12)

(Reporting By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Jonnelle Marte and Merdie Nzanga; Editing by Heather Timmons and David Gregorio)

White House releases first visitor logs since Obama

May 10, 2021

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – The White House on Friday released its first batch of records disclosing visits by official guests, returning to a practice set by the Obama administration but ditched by Donald Trump.

The White House disclosed 400 visits during President Joe Biden’s first 12 days in office. The White House typically sees hundreds of visitors each day, but the pandemic has slowed those visits dramatically, the records show.

“As vaccinations increase and the pandemic response continues to make progress, we look forward to welcoming many more visitors onto the White House campus and back into the People’s House,” the White House said in a statement.

Amid the pandemic, most meetings have been virtual. Biden has faced criticism for not planning to release the names of people attending virtual meetings, arguing that previous administrations did not release phone call and similar information.

The first batch of names included prominent Cabinet secretaries like Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, along with the members of the military band who played on Inauguration Day and frequent visits by the American Sign Language interpreter.

Biden, a Democrat, committed during the transition to making White House visitor logs public, after Trump, his Republican predecessor, refused to release the names of people coming and going from the White House complex.

The Trump administration faced legal challenges to that stance and reached a settlement in 2018 that allowed the monthly publication of visitor logs for some executive offices, including the Office of Management and Budget. But that never extended to the entirety of the White House.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Leslie Adler)

U.S. House Republicans expected to oust Trump critic Cheney despite risk of deepening divisions

May 10, 2021

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By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Top U.S. Republicans on Sunday sought to portray their expected ouster of Representative Liz Cheney as an act of unity, despite warnings that the move could deepen divisions over former President Donald Trump and sink party hopes in the 2022 elections.

In the strongest sign yet that Cheney faces defeat in a party vote expected on Wednesday, the top Republican in the House of Representatives said he would back congresswoman Elise Stefanik to replace the Wyoming Republican as chair of the 212-member House Republican Conference.

Republicans hope to reclaim majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives in next year’s congressional elections. Most lawmakers have sought to placate Trump and the Republican voters who enthusiastically support him, despite the loss of both chambers and the White House during his presidency.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Representative Jim Banks, who heads the Republican Study Committee, a leading conservative caucus, said Cheney is under fire as a party leader because of her repeated criticism of Trump’s falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen has distracted from party messaging against Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“We need to be united and that starts with leadership,” McCarthy told the Fox News program, “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We want to be united moving forward, and I think that’s what will take place.”

Asked if he supports Stefanik for Cheney’s position, McCarthy replied: “Yes, I do.”

Stefanik, a 36-year-old from New York state whose status in the party rose after she aggressively defended Trump during congressional hearings ahead of his 2019 impeachment, is also supported by No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise and by Trump himself.

Cheney was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection after hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a riot that left five people dead including a police officer.

The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has continued to criticize Trump for repeating falsehoods about his election loss to Biden and has called on Republicans to become the “party of truth” by rejecting his claims.

“Any leader who is not focused on pushing back against the radical and dangerous Biden agenda needs to be replaced,” Banks, whose caucus represents about 70% of the House Republican conference, told the Fox News Sunday program.

But while McCarthy and Banks cast Cheney’s likely ejection from the party leadership as a step toward unity, others said Wednesday’s vote would only deepen divisions that could sink the party.

“Right now, it’s basically the Titanic. We’re in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine,” Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, who also voted to impeach Trump, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who is seen as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, likened the Cheney vote to “a circular firing squad” in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“We had the worst four years we’ve had – ever – in the Republican Party, losing the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. And successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division,” Hogan said.

Cheney held off an initial challenge to her House leadership position earlier this year.

She also faces an uphill 2022 re-election battle in her home state of Wyoming, where Trump is working to defeat her as the state’s sole House member. She and the former president each received nearly 70% of Wyoming’s vote in November.

(Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Chris Prentice; editing by Grant McCool)

Democrats’ quarrels in divided U.S. Congress complicate Biden agenda

Democrats’ quarrels in divided U.S. Congress complicate Biden agenda

May 10, 2021

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats who narrowly control the U.S. Congress will confront twin threats to advancing President Joe Biden’s agenda as they return to Washington from a break this week: United opposition from Republicans and bickering in their own ranks.

They need near-total unity on goals and tactics to advance Biden’s proposed $4 trillion in spending packages, after passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief measure in March with a maneuver that skirted Senate rules requiring a supermajority for most legislation.

An expanded child tax credit, which passed as part of that package, is one issue that could fracture their tight 218-212 majority in the House of Representatives and shakier 50-50 split in the Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

Progressives are staging a power-play to make the one-year expansion permanent, but some moderate Senate Democrats have raised concerns.

“It’s about seizing the moment. The moment is now,” said Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and one of a sizeable band of liberals who have rejected Biden’s compromise offer of extending the expanded child tax credit only through 2025.

History explains DeLauro’s sense of urgency: The next congressional election is less than 18 months away and typically a president’s party loses seats in the midterm vote after taking office. If Republicans recapture a majority in either chamber of Congress, they could block Biden’s agenda.

Indeed, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell last week told reporters in his home state of Kentucky that is his goal.

“One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” McConnell said.

House Republicans, meanwhile, have their own fight ahead this week as they vote on whether to remove Representative Liz Cheney from leadership for her rejection of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud.


Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the one-year expansion of the credit will cost $110 billion.

Progressives argue a permanent extension will ease the cost to taxpayers by helping move poor families, especially minorities, off of some government supports. They also indicated a willingness to consider other offsets of costs.

Still smarting from Senator Bernie Sanders’ failed effort to include a hike in the federal minimum hourly wage to $15 in the March bill, progressives see many of the same moderate senators as a likely roadblock on the tax credit.

Democratic Senator Tom Carper said he needed to study the proposal but expressed money worries, saying, “I always think about deficits and costs…it’s part of my DNA.”

Likewise, Senator Jeanne Shaheen said, “We need to take a look at how the child tax credit does this year and make sure we’ve got some data to support the fact that it’s going to benefit the kids.”

The extension will be just one of many policy fights Democrats will have to work out in coming months as they agree on which measures to tuck into Biden’s sweeping spending bills.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he knows Republicans might decide to again sit on the sidelines and watch Democrats struggle to pass Biden’s agenda on their own.

That would necessitate using “budget reconciliation,” which temporarily suspends the 60-vote super-majority required to advance most legislation in the 100-member Senate. The tactic was used to propel Biden’s first COVID-19-relief package to victory. For it to work, every one of the 50 Senate seats controlled by Democrats must vote together.

That is what progressives such as Senator Sherrod Brown urged.

“Few times in history do we have an opportunity like this and we need to seize it,” Brown told reporters.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by David Gregorio)