Monday, May 29, 2017

Border

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This little guy is there excuse.

Wildlife conservation groups are collaborating with a federal government agency to halt construction of the southern border wall by fudging science to claim that unimpeded trans-border corridors are essential to an “endangered species” with 99% of its population in Mexico. Under the plan, large areas of Arizona and New Mexico would be prohibited from erecting a border wall so that jaguars—which don’t even occupy the area—can roam back and forth between the two countries. More than ¾ million acres in Arizona and New Mexico would be designated as critical habitat for jaguars under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), which specifically states that critical habitat can only be designated for the United States.

Judicial Watch obtained records from Arizona’s Game and Fish Department, local governments and one of the biologists fighting the effort to designate the area a “critical habitat” for jaguars. It’s been a years-long battle that started in 2012 when the Obama administration relaxed ESA requirements to make designation of critical habitat easer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This includes lowering scientific standards and essentially caving in to leftist groups. The result, according to biologist and attorney Dennis Parker, is more restrictions on private property, grazing, mineral exploration and development not to mention national security. Furthermore, no scientifically verifiable record of jaguar breeding exists in the area and only lone, transient male jaguars are occasionally and peripherally occurrent, Parker said. In a document addressed to USFWS, Arizona’s Game and Fish Department states that “habitat essential to the conservation of the jaguar does not exist in either Arizona or New Mexico under any scientifically credible definition of that term.”

One of the world’s leading big cat experts, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, confirms that less than one percent of the jaguar habitat in the world is in the United States and that there’s nothing about the lands in the southwest U.S. that make them critical to the continued survival of the jaguar as a species. The renowned wildlife ecologist heads a nonprofit devoted to the conservation of 38 wild cat species and their ecosystems. Jaguars are among them and two Arizona municipalities—the city of Sierra Vista and Cochise County—that will be heavily impacted by the proposed federal measure are citing Rabinowitz’s work to halt the problematic jaguar recovery plan. Rabinowitz refers to the federal plan as “little more than smoke and mirrors” that uses assumption and speculation as fact to justify “defining critical habitat in the Unites States for a species which simply does not live in the United States and has not resided there as a population for at least half a century.” Furthermore, Rabinowitz says the jaguar south of the border is doing quite well and has genetic connectivity through designated landscape corridors.

If USFWS makes its scientifically flawed jaguar recovery plan an official agency policy it will cost American taxpayers some $607 million in the next five decades, records show. In a recent document to USFWS a coalition of counties and cities in Arizona and New Mexico as well as the Pima Natural Conservation District, remind the federal agency about the faulty science behind the proposed jaguar recovery plan. The group refers to it as the “radical departure from sound science, policy, Endangered Species Act interpretation and the clear and present danger to national and citizen security.” In this case, the ESA is being used to further a political agenda, Parker insists, adding that the supposed need for unimpeded trans-border corridors is based on opinion and value-laden beliefs rather than scientific information as the ESA actually requires. “All this junk science will become enshrined as science for the jaguar,” Parker said, adding that if USFWS adapts the jaguar recovery play as a policy it will affect everything from interstate highway travel to border security.

USFWS already determined years ago that no jurisdiction in the United States contains the features essential for the conservation of jaguars that required special management considerations and protection from the agency. “Because there are no areas or features essential to the conservation of the jaguar in the United States that meet the definition of critical habitat, designation of critical habitat for the jaguar is not beneficial,” the agency stated in a 2006 Federal Register notice. Nothing has changed to make that assessment any less factual, biologists interviewed by Judicial Watch affirm. They assure that land essential to the species is located south of the International Border between the United States and Mexico.

Two of the groups colluding with the feds to enact the jaguar recovery plan are the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife. The Center for Biological Diversity denounces “large-scale construction of walls and other infrastructure that disrupt lives and divide the landscape” along the southern border. Defenders of Wildlife is currently pushing to introduce up to 250 jaguars to Arizona in response to the construction of a border wall. The group is the force behind the government’s jaguar recovery plan and asserts it’s critical to “maintain movement corridors” between the U.S. and Mexico. To make its case, Defenders of Wildlife claims that two male jaguars, dubbed Macho B and El Jefe, have recently wandered into the mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico. “Natural reappearances like these lend new urgency for actions to re-establish a reproducing population of jaguars that includes contiguous habitat in both the United States and Mexico,” the group says.

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obama

After rolling out the welcome mat for central American illegal immigrants, the Obama administration is scrambling to halt the flow because government detention centers and charity shelters are overwhelmed with the bombardment of migrants.

In the fiscal year that ended in September, the U.S. Border Patrol detained 137,366 illegal aliens—women with children or minors—at the Mexican border who qualified to stay in the country under the president’s humanitarian crisis measure. That’s an eye-popping 90% increase from 2015, according to government figures.

In October, the first month of the new fiscal year, 46,195 individuals were apprehended on the southwest border compared to 39,501 in September and 37,048 in August, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures show. As a result, there are 41,000 individuals in immigration detention facilities, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson revealed last week, when the number typically fluctuates between 31,000 and 34,000.

Johnson has authorized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to acquire additional detention space for single adults “so that those apprehended at the border can be returned to their home countries as soon as possible.” Johnson added that the U.S. has engaged with a number of countries to repatriate their citizens more quickly.

The open borders frenzy has clearly backfired and the administration appears to be scrambling to contain the crisis it created. “Our borders cannot be open to illegal migration,” Johnson proclaimed just a few days ago in a DHS announcement. “We must, therefore, enforce the immigration laws consistent with our priorities. Those priorities are public safety and border security.” The DHS secretary continued: “Those who attempt to enter our country without authorization should know that, consistent with our laws and our values, we must and we will send you back.” Additionally, DHS has launched a campaign to scare migrants out of making the trek north with videos featuring traumatized illegal aliens who made it and are currently in U.S. custody. The government is trying to clean up its own mess.

The influx of central Americans came after the administration did a fantastic job promoting a special program—in English and Spanish—for illegal aliens from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who claim to flee violence.

Media outlets throughout Latin America reported it widely and madness ensued. When droves of central Americans started appearing at U.S. ports of entry along the Mexican border, the administration tried to slow the pace by creating a program to pre-screen candidates before making the journey.

Johnson said it was an alternative, safe and legal path to the United States for vulnerable individuals while combating human smuggling operations that had already brought in tens of thousands of illegal aliens. Officially this is known as Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program.

But it’s not just kids who qualify for the special parole, which is extended to those up to the age of 21. Family members are also eligible, including “unmarried children of the qualifying child or in-country parent who are under the age of 21” and members of the same household and economic unit as the qualifying child as well as the spouse of a remarried parent. How the U.S. government confirms any of this is anybody’s guess.

In some cases, immigration authorities require DNA tests to prove biological connections between children and parents and Uncle Sam picks up the tab for that.

The number of foreigners filing asylum applications has skyrocketed in the last year and is about 10 times higher than it was before Obama became president, the Washington D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) revealed last month. Citing figures obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the nonprofit published a report stating that the increase in so-called credible fear claims follows a 2009 executive order that calls for such arrivals to be granted parole in the U.S. while they pursue asylum.

“Judging by current approval statistics from the immigration courts, ultimately few will be found qualified for asylum, but nearly all are allowed into the country, and they are not considered a priority for deportation under current policy,” CIS writes.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Mexican

The Obama administration’s failure to protect the southern border has allowed Mexican cartels to smuggle record amounts of drugs into the United States, especially heroin, which is increasingly popular in the U.S.

Once the drugs get smuggled north Mexican traffickers use street, prison and outlaw motorcycle gangs to distribute them throughout the country much like a legitimate business enterprise.This has been going on for years and there seems to be no end in sight, according to a disturbing new report published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the nonpartisan agency that provides Congress with policy and legal analysis.

“Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the major suppliers and key producers of most illegal drugs smuggled into the United States,” the CRS states in its new report.

“They have been increasing their share of the U.S. drug market—particularly with respect to heroin.” The bulk of the heroin smuggled into the United States transits across the Southwest border, the CRS writes, revealing that “from 2010 to 2015 heroin seizures in this area more than doubled from 1,016 kg to 2,524 kg.”

The trend mirrors the increase in overall seizures throughout the U.S., the CRS figures show. For instance, federal arrests and prosecutions of heroin traffickers have skyrocketed with 6,353 heroin-related arrests in 2015. Additionally, the number of individuals sentenced for heroin trafficking offenses in federal courts has increased by almost 50%, the report says.

There are at least eight major Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating in the United States with the Sinaloa Cartel being the most active, the CRS reveals. “Mexican transnational criminal organizations (MTCOs) remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group can challenge them in the near term.”

They operate sophisticated enterprises, using nearly 100 U.S. gangs in their cross-border crimes, government figures show.

Because the Mexican cartels move their drugs through the Southwest border, western states have become part of what’s known as the “heroin transit zone,” the CRS report says. “In addition, as the Mexican traffickers take on a larger role in the U.S. heroin market, and expand their operations to the East Coast, authorities have seen black tar heroin emerge in the Northeastern United States, where it had rarely been seen,” the report states.

Large quantities of a synthetic opioid known as Fentanyl are also entering the U.S. primarily via the Mexican border, though the drug also comes from China. Fentanyl is 25-40 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Undoubtedly, there’s an epidemic of drug abuse in the U.S. but cutting off the source would obviously improve the crisis. This may seem like common sense, but the CRS gently reminds legislators to consider it. “Policymakers may examine U.S. efforts to combat heroin trafficking as a means of combatting opioid abuse in the United States,” the CRS writes in its report.

“Policymakers may also look at existing federal strategies on drug control, transnational crime, and Southwest border crime to evaluate whether they are able to target the current heroin trafficking threat.”

Among the common-sense suggestions listed in the document is “securing U.S. borders.” It comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which has made disrupting drug trafficking and production a priority.

The impact of Mexican drug cartels has been well documented for some time in a number of government audits, even as the Obama administration insists the southern border is secure.

Less than a year ago the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a report confirming that the majority of illegal drugs in the United States come from Mexico and Mexican traffickers remain the greatest criminal threat to the United States.

They’re classified as Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs) by the government and for years they’ve smuggled in enormous quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

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Indian Reservation

Update: a few hours after we posted this story, Border Patrol officials in Arizona reported that the road has been reopened.

An Indian reservation along the Mexican border is prohibiting the Border Patrol from entering its land, which is a notorious smuggling corridor determined by the U.S. government to be a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).”

Homeland Security sources tell Judicial Watch that the road in the southeast corner of the reservation has been cordoned off by a barbed wired gate to keep officers out. A hand-written cardboard sign reading “Closed, Do Not Open” has been posted on the fence. “This is the location used most for trafficking drugs into the country,” a Border Patrol source told JW, adding that agents assigned to the area are “livid.”

The tribe, Tohono O’odham, created the barricade a few weeks ago, Border Patrol sources tell JW, specifically to keep agents out of the reservation which is located in the south central Arizona Sonoran Desert and shares about 75 miles of border with Mexico.

The reservation terrain consists largely of mountains and desert making it difficult to patrol. For years it has appeared on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) HIDTA list because it’s a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation and distribution.

The reservation is a primary transshipment zone for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana destined for the United States, a DEA official revealed in congressional testimony a few years ago. In 2015 Arizona led all four Border Patrol sectors in drug seizures with 928,858 pounds of drugs confiscated, according to agency figures.

The relationship between the Border Patrol and the tribe has been stormy over the years, with accusations of human rights violations by federal agents and allegations that the agents’ presence has implemented a police state. Though only 75 miles runs along the Mexican border, the reservation is about 2.8 million acres or roughly the size of Connecticut and has about 30,000 members.

The tribe’s official website says that nine of its communities are located in Mexico and they are separated by the United States/Mexico border. “In fact, the U.S.-Mexico border has become an artificial barrier to the freedom of the Tohono O’odham,” the tribe claims. “On countless occasions, the U.S. Border Patrol has detained and deported members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who were simply traveling through their own traditional lands, practicing migratory traditions essential to their religion, economy and culture. Similarly, on many occasions U.S. Customs have prevented Tohono O’odham from transporting raw materials and goods essential for their spirituality, economy and traditional culture. Border officials are also reported to have confiscated cultural and religious items, such as feathers of common birds, pine leaves or sweet grass.”

A New York Times story published years ago explained that tightening of border security to the east and west after the 9/11 terrorist attacks funneled more drug traffic through the Tohono O’odham reservation. This created a need for more Border Patrol officers to be deployed to the crime-infested area.

The article also revealed that tribe members are complicit in the trafficking business. “Hundreds of tribal members have been prosecuted in federal, state or tribal courts for smuggling drugs or humans, taking offers that reach $5,000 for storing marijuana or transporting it across the reservation,” the article states. “In a few families, both parents have been sent to prison, leaving grandparents to raise the children.” The drug smugglers work mainly for the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, the piece revealed.

Nevertheless, federal officers have been told by Homeland Security superiors that they can’t cut the new wire fence obstacle to access the reservation even though it sits in the Border Patrol’s busiest drug sector. Perhaps the U.S. government can use money to force compliance. The Tohono O’odham recently got a huge chunk of change from Uncle Sam, $2.75 million, to build single-family homes for its largely poor tribe members.

Maybe the feds can withhold future allocations for the tribe’s various projects until it allows Border Patrol officers to do their job. In the meantime, a veteran Arizona law enforcement officer who’s worked in the region for decades says “a little wire and a small gate can cause huge security problems.”

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Meth Smuggling California

As if there weren’t plenty of good reasons to secure the famously porous southern border, a San Diego newspaper reports a record-high number of methamphetamine seizures at U.S. ports of entry on the California-Mexico border.

Figures provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reveal an astounding 300% increase in California meth seizures coming from Mexico in the last few years. In the last fiscal year, 14,732 pounds of meth were seized by the San Diego Border Patrol office, accounting for a whopping 63% of the synthetic drugs seized at all of the nation’s land, air and sea ports of entry combined. Besides the obvious downside of foreign illicit drugs flowing into the country, it’s overwhelming our already swamped courts, according to authorities cited in the article. Federal prosecutors in San Diego confirm that “meth cases continue to represent the largest part of our drug prosecutions” in the last two or three years. County prosecutors that try state crimes have also seen a big increase in meth cases.

Here’s a snippet from the news story: “Methamphetamine seizures at U.S. ports of entry on the California-Mexico border reached unprecedented levels in fiscal 2014, as drug trafficking organizations strive to smuggle growing quantities of the low-cost Mexican-made product into the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show 14,732 pounds of meth seized by the San Diego field office during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, accounting for 63 percent of the synthetic drug seized at all land, air and sea ports of entry nationwide.”

A federal agent from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirms that the California border is the main smuggling route for Mexican cartels flooding the U.S. marketplace with cheap meth. The agency, which is responsible for enforcing the nation’s controlled substances laws and regulations, estimates that 90% of the meth consumed in the U.S. is manufactured in Mexico. The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls them “superlabs” where the extremely addictive stimulant is produced en masse. Meth comes in the form of a white, odorless crystalline powder that’s taken orally, smoked, snorted or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected.

Once the drug gets smuggled through the southwest border, it’s distributed throughout the country, as far away as New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Montana and throughout California. It’s a huge and lucrative business run by violent street gangs in the U.S. In fact, last year ten members of the 18th Street gang, the largest gang in Los Angeles County, were indicted for running a large-scale meth and drug-trafficking business in the area. It turns out that 18th Street gang leaders deported from the U.S. in the 1990s helped spread the gang across Central America and into Mexico, according to news coverage of the case.

Drug smuggling—and associated violence—in the southern border region has long been a serious problem and in fact Judicial Watch has reported it for years. Back in 2006 JW wrote about a shocking DHS report documenting how Middle Eastern terrorists, violent Mexican drug cartels and sophisticated human smugglers regularly slip into the U.S. through the southern border. Millions of pounds of illegal drugs were seized entering the country through Mexico in one year alone, the DHS report revealed, including more than a million pounds of cocaine, nearly 7 million pounds of marijuana and almost 17,000 pounds of methamphetamine. This was nearly a decade ago!

In 2010 the National Drug Intelligence Center, dismantled by the Obama administration after nearly two decades of operation, published equally alarming figures regarding the Mexican drug crisis. In a detailed report published by JW, the now-defunct agency revealed that in 2009 thousands of metric tons of heroin, meth, marijuana and cocaine were smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico and that tens of billions of dollars in drug proceeds flowed back south. At that point, much of the smuggled drugs came through the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in Arizona, so the problem is spreading like wildfire across the vast southern border which spans around 2,000 miles.

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