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.


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Agents have broad discretion to pull over people for a secondary inspection


May 12, 2015 — The St. Lawrence County woman who videotaped an altercation with border patrol says Homeland Security agents visited her house while she was at her college graduation.

Jess Cooke of Ogdensburg posted a video on Facebook of what appears to be agents taking pictures of her car. The time stamp on the video, she says, coincides with when she was receiving her criminal justice degree from SUNY Canton on Saturday.

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson wouldn’t speak to the video of the agents. But she has acknowledged the initial incident during which border patrol agents tackled and apparently Tased Cooke during a roadside checkpoint on Route 37. Cooke’s video of the incident went viral after she posted it on Facebook. The Border Patrol says the investigation is ongoing.

Read the original story and watch Cooke’s video here.

NOTE: We are collecting your questions about U.S. Border Patrol’s roadside checkpoints to put to a legal expert on the matter. E-mail them to news-at-ncpr-dot-org.


UPDATE, 4:30pm: U.S. Customs and Border Protection has released an updated response to the Jess Cooke videotaped incident, in which it acknowledges an “electronic control device” was used during the stop. Here’s the complete statement:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to investigate a report from the U.S. Border Patrol’s Swanton Sector about an altercation between an individual and two Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint Thursday. The altercation followed a brief verbal exchange between the individual and the two agents regarding their intent to inspect the vehicle. CBP investigators have analyzed the scene of the incident, are taking statements and have reached out to the individuals involved. Based on preliminary information from the investigation, one of the two agents deployed an electronic control device during the altercation. As standard procedure, Swanton Sector notified the DHS Office of Inspector General after the incident.


Related stories:

Questions Over Border Stops Inside the Border

The incident returns the controversial checkpoints to the spotlight and raises thorny questions about what law enforcement can and cannot do, and what people’s rights are when they’re stopped at a border patrol checkpoint on a road in the North Country.

Immigration law professor Rick Su of SUNY Buffalo says the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that roadside checkpoints for determining immigration status are legal within 100 air miles of the international border. That includes all of the North Country, and almost all of New York State.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled federal agents have broad discretion to conduct checkpoints within 100 miles of the international border. Map via American Civil Liberties Union.

Su says agents have broad discretion to pull over people for a secondary inspection. “There have been cases where appearing nervous is enough reasonable suspicion to detain for further investigation, or to get a real search warrant,” says Su. That includes pulling over a motorist for a secondary inspection at a checkpoint.

“However,” Su continues, “it’s not sufficient enough at that point usually that that is enough to suggest that there is probable cause, that there is some sort of criminal activity that will be uncovered that will lead them to a full-on search.”

In other words, agents cannot insist a motorist open the vehicle’s trunk or submit to a search of the car, beyond a look inside the windows. Su says it remains a legal gray area to what extent a citizen has to cooperate with law enforcement at these checkpoints.

Su says how they’re being used can lead to a slippery slope of overapplication to issues beyond immigration, like drug interdiction, “that the federal government is, in some ways troublingly, using immigration checkpoints to enforce other areas of law enforcement, including the war on drugs.”

Following is a transcript of David Sommerstein’s conversation with Rick Su:

Rick Su: Technically, none of us are required to answer any questions, because we have the Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate ourselves. So we have the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. But that doesn’t mean that the government necessarily has to accept that. They are allowed to, essentially, continue questioning to that extent until they are satisfied—at least with regard to immigration checkpoints—about your status to be legally present in the United States.

DS: So they can do something like pull you over for a secondary inspection as you go through these checkpoints.

RS: That’s right. Technically, you don’t even require any special reasonable suspicion to go to secondary; all that’s required is to say that more time is necessary in order to ascertain the immigration question.

DS: One of the big questions that came up in this video is that the officers said that she appeared to be nervous. Is that enough of a probable cause to move to the next step of asking to search the vehicle or open the trunk and stuff?

RS: So there’s different standards for actually just detaining someone versus actually conducting a search. There have been cases where appearing nervous at a checkpoint is enough reasonable suspicion to detain for further investigation, or to get a real search warrant. However, it is not sufficient at that point, usually, to say that that is enough to suggest that there is probable cause of criminal activity that would be a cover that would lead them to an actual full-on search. And I think it was clear in the video that they weren’t able to just search the car itself. They were going to call in some dogs to do so. They couldn’t open the trunk for example, unless they got consent from the individual.

DS: In fact, just last month there was a Supreme Court decision that rules that you can’ force somebody to wait around while they get a canine unit to come to sniff around the trunk—that you can’t wait for ten minutes or twenty minutes.

RS: So this is what’s interesting about this case and the recent Supreme Court decision. Essentially what that decision came down to was that if you are detaining someone for one reason, you can’t then continue to detain them for different reasons. So in that particular case, the individual was being stopped because of a traffic violation. And the court held that once all that business with the traffic violation is done, you can’t detain them even for a few mnutes in order to then do a subsequent search for let’s say a drug violation unless you had some other reasonable suspicion. And that’s what makes this case particularly interesting.

DS: This case—the second case you’re talking about—the video.

RS: That’s right—the video particularly interesting—is that the checkpoint itself and the exception that the Supreme Court has made is essentially for immigration violations. It’s an immigration checkpoint. But what it seems from the video is that the interest of the officials is not so much immigration at that point. It’s something else, maybe a drug violation, or other ordinary crimes that they were investigating for. And this believe actually sets up a very dangerous dichotomy between the exception that’s granted for immigration and the use of immigration checkpoints to do all sort of other law enforcement priorities.

DS: A lot of people have been asking me and asking each other, “what can I do?” “What are my rights?” We’ve talked about some of those things, what you have to say, and what you don’t have to say. But in a lot of situations, it just comes down to you and an officer with a weapon, and you’re out there on the road, and that’s the reality that you find yourself in.

RS: I think the problem is there is a routine that’s relatively simple, but what I’m afraid is that Customs and Border Patrol are starting to use these checkpoints beyond their intended goal. I think if it was part of the goal that the U.S. Supreme Court has set down for this very unique exception, it really should be relatively non-intrusive. Ask questions about identification, about residency, and, as long as they are satisfied that there is no reasonable suspicion, that there is an immigration violation, most people should be waved through. It should be a relatively quick check.

I think the problem is because the exception is so broad – it’s an exception that shouldn’t apply to most other areas of law enforcement – the federal government is, in some ways troublingly, using immigration checkpoints to enforce other areas of federal law, including the war on drugs.

DS: But let’s put it on its flip side. Some people would say that the problem here is a woman who is doing her very least to help the process move smoothly, that she could have been more cooperative and that she brought this on herself, that we should make an effort to answer the questions, rather than say, “am I free to go?” or “I don’t have to answer these questions.”

RS: I believe a certain degree is cooperation is necessary. To extent that we are interested in these issues, we are all in it together. But I think it’s important to realize that when we’re talking about the limits of constitutional rights, and we’re talking about who tests them, it’s often individuals who are willing to go a little bit further, who are willing to ask the questions that most of us are not willing to ask, and that is really ensuring and checking federal government authority in these cases, that they’re really on the right side of the law. So even if many of us agree I wouldn’t do that in that situation, I think it’s important that some people do, if only to clarify, as we are doing now, what those limits are, so that we are sure that they’re not being stepped beyond the boundaries that the Constitution requires.

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.


“Someone on that team in the White House is playing for the other side,” syndicated radio host says


ISIS sympathizers have infiltrated the government and how high it goes up is anyone’s guess, syndicated radio host Michael Savage said.

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“The fact of the matter is, the FBI director [James Comey] warned us six weeks ago, just before Hussein’s [Obama] counter-terrorism conference in Washington where he invited Muslim groups [but] disinvited [Comey], that ISIS is in 49 out of 50 states,” he stated Monday on the Alex Jones Show. “Why would he do that to the guy who warned us? There’s only one answer: someone on that team in the White House is playing for the other side.”

“We’ve been penetrated, we’ve been infiltrated and how high it goes up is anyone’s guess,” Savage also said. “We know that the president’s middle name is not Jesus. We know the military has been told to stand down.”M

“We know the police have been told to stand down.”

And we also know that Obama ordered the Border Patrol to stand down from enforcing immigration laws, which practically opened the border for anyone – including ISIS – to enter the country with impunity.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s drugs, bodies, or how large the group is, our agents are being ordered to stand down by Border Patrol management,” Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, told Breitbart in Oct. 2013. “I have received reports from our agents in every single sector from San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas that they are receiving these orders.”

Obama even told the Department of Homeland Security to slow down prosecution of illegals and may have even offered Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents paid temporary leave from duty.

“In essence, the administration has declared that U.S. immigration is now virtually unlimited to anyone willing to try to enter and only those who commit violent felonies after arrival are subject to enforcement,” Federation for American Immigration Reform President Dan Stein said to CNN.


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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.