Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 6.05.43 PMBY CAROLINE MAY

Thirty-seven MS-13 gang members have been indicted in Charlotte, North Carolina on numerous offenses including murder and attempted murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina announced Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, a law enforcement dragnet rounded up 16 of the alleged gang members. While five remain “at large” the remaining 16 are in state custody.

“As outlined in today’s indictment, the alleged MS-13 gang members have committed numerous violent crimes, including armed robberies, assaults, and murders, for the benefit of the criminal enterprise,” Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a statement. “Today’s charges send a clear message to gangsters who think their gang affiliation puts them beyond the law’s reach.”

While all 37 alleged gang members have been indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges, 22 of them are charged with additional crimes including those violent felonies Rose indicated.

As the U.S. Attorney’s Office detailed, MS-13 is a criminal gang organization that originated in Los Angeles with membership largely comprised of immigrants and decedents of immigrants from Central America.

“Transnational criminal gangs like MS-13 inflict untold damage in our communities by engaging in violence and trafficking in drugs, weapons and even human beings,” Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta Ryan L. Spradlin added. “This lengthy investigation has uncovered alleged crimes ranging from petty drug deals to capital murder. There is no doubt that North Carolina communities will be safer as a result of these arrests.”

The alleged gang members arrested Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, have already started making their initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. The 16 in state custody are expected to be transferred to U.S. Marshals to face their federal charges.

Gang activity in Charlotte made national headlines in recent weeks as the Obama administration admitted it improperly granted an illegal immigrant with known gang-ties executive amnesty.

That gang member beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program —Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez — went on to murder four people in Charlotte, including including former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Mirjana Puhar.

Jeb Bush Tells Megyn Kelly He Would Not Attempt to Repeal Obama’s Immigration Action

Published on May 11, 2015

Megyn Kelly‘s big “exclusive” interview with Jeb Bush just aired aired and it is producing big headlines. jeb bush tells megyn kelly in a preview clip released on Sunday, the former Florida governor and likely 2016 Republican presidential nominee said he would have made the same decision to invade Iraq that his brother, President George W. Bush, did in 2003. Jeb Bush Tells Fox’s Kelly He Would Not Attempt to Repeal Obama’s Immigration Action

Now, in comments obtained by Bloomberg, Bush has told Kelly that as president he would not immediately attempt to roll back executive actions on immigration taken by President Barack Obama last year, as many of the GOP rivals have vowed to do.

Bloomberg’s Michael C. Bender reports: In an interview scheduled to air Monday night on Fox News, Bush suggested that he would wait until a new law was in place before overturning Obama’s actions. Noting the political difficulty of repealing the orders, host Megyn Kelly asked Bush how he would go about undoing them. “Passing meaningful reform of immigration and make it part of it,” Bush answered, according to a transcript of the interview. The interview will air in full on The Kelly File at 9 p.m. Bush, who hasn’t yet formally entered the presidential race, also defended his support for giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses and their children in-state tuition, saying, “If you’ve been here for an extended period of time, you have no nexus to the country of your parents.” “What what are we supposed to do? Marginalize these people forever?” Bush said.

US-Mexico border braces for summer migrant surge as children risk lives alone

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he child-sized blue jeans lay twisted and forlorn in the scrubland along one of the most popular routes for undocumented migrants crossing from Mexico into Texas.

Chris Cabrera surveyed the scene from his white pickup truck. A border patrol agent for 13 years, he knows how to spot the clues, some obvious – like the jeans – others more subtle, like the flattened grass nearby that formed a northwards path through dense bushes.

Its width suggested two or three people walking side by side, which Cabrera said was an indicator of drug smuggling activity: migrant groups tend to move in single file.

“In a week or so that’ll be a really good trail,” he said.

Only a couple of hundred yards away, cars rushed along the Anzalduas international bridge, gateway to one of several legitimate ports of entry in the area.

But spring and summer are peak seasons for crossings by other means. A couple of minutes earlier a border patrol van drove under the bridge along a bone-jangling rutted single-track path, carrying 13 women and children from Guatemala and Honduras who had turned themselves in to border patrol agents.

“Every day we’re getting more women and children than the day before,” said Cabrera, 41, a local border patrol union representative. He estimated that 60% of those apprehended are turning themselves in.

It is almost a year since a surge in crossings by unaccompanied Central American children overwhelmed local processing and holding centres and put the Rio Grande Valley at the centre of a humanitarian and political crisis.

Senior security and immigration officials have expressed confidence that this summer will not see a repeat of those scenes: fewer people are attempting to cross the border, a result which officials attribute to a successful campaign in Central America to persuade would-be migrants that even if they reach the US, they will have little prospect of remaining.

A Pew Research Center study published last week suggested that a substantial increase of deportations by Mexican authorities has also had a major effect.

A lookout tower is parked at Chimney Park at the banks of the Rio Grande in April. Photograph: Joel Martinez/Demotix for the Guardian

“All these countries have just done a better job,” said Henry Cuellar, a US congressman whose district includes much of the Texas border. “The federal government is a lot better prepared. They were caught off guard last year, [but] they’re doing much better this year,” the Democrat said.

If “crisis” is defined as a meltdown of the system, then it seems unlikely there will be another this summer: in 2014, 67,339 unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico reached the US.

But even if this year’s final tally turns out to be half as many, that would still mean tens of thousands of unaccompanied children making long and dangerous journeys on routes controlled by smugglers with links to drug cartels. And the figure would still be more than twice what it was five years ago.

“It’s still a problem: that’s still thousands of kids that are coming in every month. This is why we need to do more to work with Mexico and Central America so these kids don’t make their very dangerous travels,” said Cuellar.

According to official statistics, the number of unaccompanied minors stopped at the south-west border was down 45% from October 2014 to March 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier. The figure is 53% lower in the Rio Grande Valley, the site of about two-thirds of all crossings.

But in four other sectors – Big Bend and El Paso in Texas, as well as San Diego and Yuma – the tally has shot up.

The border patrol is bracing for a surge in migrants, with much activity centered in Texas.

A spokesperson for the Office of Refugee Resettlement – the federal agency responsible for looking after unaccompanied children until they can be placed with a sponsor – said that even if there is another sudden influx, officials expect existing permanent shelters to be able to handle it without the need to resort to the kind of temporary accommodation that opened at military bases in Texas, Oklahoma and California last year. The current average stay is 35 days or less.

The border patrol’s latest figures for the fiscal year to date show 5,465 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, a country of only 15 million people whose western border is 1,200 miles from Texas by land.

Beyond the statistics, images lodge in Cabrera’s memory: the dead 14-year-old in the brush last year; the eight-year-old girls leading their younger brothers and sisters through the desert (“She’s caring for them like she’s their mother. Her childhood has gone”). And he wonders about the ones he never meets, the unknown numbers of children who vanish in Mexico on the way.

One of the most popular crossings remains Anzalduas Park, in Mission, Texas, a favourite weekend barbecue spot for local families where the Rio Grande curves and narrows – and crossing on a raft or boat takes a matter of seconds.

It’s not far from the riverbank to the picnic tables and playgrounds, but the wild brush here, as in many parts of sun-baked south Texas, holds hazards: snakes, spiders, mosquitos and more. Cabrera once came home so covered with ticks that he washed himself with a shampoo for dogs.

The migrants are sometimes used as pawns by drug cartels, Cabrera said. Spotters on both sides update smugglers on the movements of law enforcement and rafts of families are dispatched to distract the border patrol so drugs can be moved across in unguarded places a little further along the river. The cat-and-mouse game might be less intense than last year but the fundamentals haven’t changed, here or a couple of miles away.

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Families who have been processed and released to join relatives while they wait for their court hearings still arrive in droves at the Sacred Heart Catholic church hall in downtown McAllen clutching A4 manilla envelopes containing official notices about their cases.

Opened by Catholic Charities as a way to centralise relief efforts when the bus station began to overflow with migrants, the shelter was supposed to be a temporary response to last summer’s crisis.

Now it looks practically permanent: well organised and efficient, with neat piles of clothes and food brightly labelled in Spanish and English and bilingual volunteers wearing “disaster response” bibs ready to help clean, clothe, feed and entertain the migrants for a few hours before they head to the nearby bus station.

When new arrivals walk through the door, the volunteers clap and say “bienvenidos”, often moving the exhausted migrants to tears, said Deborah Boyce, a transplant from Ohio who came to help for a few days last August and never left.

Families are sent on their way with backpacks of toiletries and photocopies with a map of the US and a note in large font reading: “Please help me. I don’t speak English. Which bus do I need to take?”

The shelter is handling about 50 to 90 people a day, down from last summer’s peak of 270.

“Our numbers a couple of weeks ago were approaching very high levels again. We’ve been hearing projections that the numbers are increasing,” Boyce said.

“This humanitarian crisis didn’t start last summer. It’s been going on for a long time … The needs for volunteers and donations continue.”

The seven arrivals on a recent morning included Brazilians, Hondurans and a mother and daughter from El Salvador waiting for the 3.30pm departure.

One family had recently come from Eritrea via Ukraine.

Cabrera said that border patrol apprehends a wide variety of nationalities in the Rio Grande Valley: people from countries in Africa and the Middle East, China and increasingly Brazilians and Cubans choosing a much longer route in preference to the usual tactic of trying to reach Florida by water.

Cecilia, the 16-year old Salvadoran, said she, her mother and her 23-year old sister had taken 18 days to reach Texas in a journey which culminated in a three-day stay in a detention centre she described through a translator as “horrible”. They were processed and released but did not yet have court dates.

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Cecilia’s mother, who asked not to be named, said she had been deported twice previously. She said she had been told she would have to leave the country again but had been freed to accompany Cecilia on buses to Maryland, where they would be reunited with the child’s father, the woman’s husband, whom they had not seen since he left for the US to find work 13 years ago.

Above the rattle of a small boy dragging a Mickey Mouse train toy along the floor and another artlessly playing a xylophone, Cecilia explained that the reunion would be joyful but bittersweet because one of the family would not be there.

Officials in the McAllen detention centre had suddenly separated them from her 23-year-old sister and they had not heard from her in two days. The 16-year-old said that she and her sister had been happy at home until gang violence made them fear for their lives.

The rush of migrants heading for Texas was a common topic of conversation in the community, Cecilia said – but not for her family. To minimise risks, they departed without saying goodbye to relatives and friends.


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About 1,000 expected to be in attendance

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A pair of protests Friday night will put a voice to concerns over law enforcement issues in North Texas. However, with about 1,000 people expected to be in attendance, the demonstrations bring up questions about safety.

Mothers Against Police Brutality said that this will be a peaceful protest. And they plan on having their own security on hand to make sure that it stays that way.

In the past, outside groups have shown up to their protests and taken them onto North Texas freeways. Hopefully, that will not happen on Friday night.

The protest in Dallas is a call for justice, similar to those seen in New York, Baltimore and other cities across the nation.

Freddie Gray suffered a severed spinal cord and died in police custody in Baltimore last week. The organizers of Friday night’s rally said that there are cases here in Dallas involving police killings that need the same kind of attention. Their rally begins at 5:00 p.m. at the Frank Crowley Courts Building.

Meanwhile, at the same time, protesters will meet at Dallas City Hall for a second rally. They are against legislation that would let police officers question people about their immigration status during traffic stops. They are also begging Gov. Greg Abbott to drop his lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, which would shield millions of people living in the United States illegally from deportation.

When the separate rallies are over, they will meet up at the Belo Gardens for one combined show of support. While the thread of law enforcement unites them, organizers from the two groups said that the overall message is about dignity.

LAWCOMMENTARY There Is Growing Evidence Noncitizens Are Voting. Why Isn’t the Government Doing Anything?

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Noncitizens are registering to vote and at best, it seems the federal government’s officials don’t care about this illegal activity.

At worst, it raises questions about whether some in Washington support illegal voting, so long as it supports their political agenda.

The exact number of noncitizens who are voting in our elections is difficult to quantify because of the bureaucratic quagmire perpetuated by federal agencies against the (very few) states that have the resolve to attempt to verify citizenship.

Federal agencies responsible for immigration and naturalization routinely fight efforts to compare voter rolls with lists of known noncitizens.

Yet evidence of noncitizen voting mounts. The American Civil Rights Union just filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court documenting instance after instance of noncitizens registering and voting. It urges the Court to take up a petition for certiorari filed by Kansas and Arizona seeking to overturn a bad decision on this issue by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last February, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky spoke before a House committee and provided examples of foreigners voting.

Worse, none of the perpetrators were prosecuted by Obama’s Justice Department. The examples provided by von Spakovsky are now before the Supreme Court in the briefs filed.

Federal Agency Blocks States’ Efforts to Verify Voters Are Citizens

With the federal government inaction increasing, Kansas and Arizona resolved to implement their own citizenship safeguards—something the Constitution allows them to do.

But one little-known federal agency is blocking their citizenship verification efforts, and they have to ask the Supreme Court for help.

The problem is the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a small agency charged with printing the federal voter registration form.

The Election Assistance Commission routinely adds state-specific instructions to the form that educate users to any special requirements of their particular state. It did just that for Louisiana in 2012. Yet Kansas and Arizona’s requests—coupled with evidence of noncitizen voting in their own states—were denied as “unnecessary.”

Adding insult to injury, the denial was not by a majority of the Election Assistance Commission commissioners, as required by law. The denial was made by a single Washington, D.C., bureaucrat—the agency’s then-acting executive director.

A federal district court found the bureaucrat’s decision arbitrary and outside of her authority, but unfortunately, the 10th Circuit reinstated it.

Supreme Court to Take Up Case

The Supreme Court will soon consider whether it should take up the case for review. It presents several questions but one that we should all be concerned about is whether additional citizenship verification efforts by the states are “necessary.”

The Election Assistance Commission’s acting executive director said that the current “efforts” are sufficient. What are those efforts that help ensure only citizens are voting?  A “yes/no” checkbox at the top of the registration form and small print about citizenship by the signature line. We all know how many people read the small print, but what about that checkbox?

The American Civil Rights Union’s brief shows that the checkbox is so ineffective that even if an individual checks “no,” some voters were still registered.

The Union’s brief links to 13 examples of real voter registration forms gathered by the Houston-based voter integrity watchdog, True the Vote. Four individuals checked “no,” six checked “no” and “yes,” and the remaining three left the checkbox blank entirely.

And how many were registered? Every single one.

This should not be a partisan issue. Nor should citizenship verification efforts be seen as “anti-immigrant.” These efforts are necessary to enforce the laws we already have on the books. They are necessary to maintain the integrity of our elections and restore faith in the democratic process.