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Wyoming Not Invited To Join Lawsuit Against Sanctuary Cities

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has not joined a legal effort to support a Florida law banning sanctuary cities because it has not been invited to do so.

An amicus brief in support of Florida’s law requiring law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration agencies has been filed in a federal appeals court by 17 Republican attorneys general. 

Michael Pearlman, a spokesperson for Gov. Mark Gordon, said the attorney general’s office was not asked to sign on to the brief filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said if the state is invited, “it’s possible” Wyoming would join.

Montana and Nebraska have joined the brief, although several other Western states have not.

In 2019, the Florida legislature passed a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, requiring state and local government officials and employees to comply with federal immigration enforcement, in effect banning “sanctuary cities.”

Sanctuary cities are municipalities that commit to limiting law enforcement agencies’ cooperation with the federal government on immigration law. Proponents of such protections maintain that the move will reduce the fear of deportation among those living in the country illegally and avoid the possible dissolution of families.

By allowing the immigrants a safe haven, they will be more willing to report crimes, participate in the community, and enroll their children in school, according to backers.

There are currently more than 300 sanctuary cities in the U.S., the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates.

Wyoming does not have any laws addressing sanctuary cities. In 2020 the House defeated a bill that would have banned sanctuary cities and counties. 

Wyoming is also the only state in the nation not to have a state-administered refugee resettlement program and Gordon has said he has no interest in starting one.

In 2021, Gordon declined to volunteer Wyoming as a haven for refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban overthrew the government, although his colleagues in South Dakota and Utah agreed to sign up for the resettlement program.

Gordon has made immigration one of his policy issues and he has often spoken out against housing undocumented immigrants in Wyoming. 

This spring, he joined 25 other Republican governors in creating a “border strike force” to deal with problems created by immigration at the southern border. The partnership is “designed to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations taking advantage of the chaos [President] Joe Biden has created along the southern border.” 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Biden administration has some of the lowest deportation rates in the history of the agency with 48% fewer arrests and 63% fewer deportations of convicted criminal migrants in 2021 than in 2020.

In April, Wyoming also joined 19 states in asking a federal court to force the Biden administration to reinstate a policy preventing entry into the U.S. by people who pose a health risk.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement more than 2.1 million undocumented immigrants are living in the U.S., with more than 1.9 million of them have been ordered by a court to return to their home countries. 

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Gordon: Wyoming Sharing Intelligence As Part Of U.S. – Mexico Border Strike Force

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is sharing secure intelligence with agents patrolling the southern border as part of a multi-state effort to resolve issues caused by illegal border crossings, a member of Gov. Mark Gordon’s staff told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday

Rob Creager, business and economic development advisor to Gordon, said Wyoming joining the “American Governors Border Strike Force” means more than the state offering up “bodies and equipment” when needed.

“It also means sharing data we have and our Homeland Security Office working with other states and law enforcement,” he said. “We’re already working with intelligence folks down at the border.”

Gordon on Tuesday joined 25 other Republican governors in creating a “border strike force” to deal with the “chaos” currently occurring at the southern border.

The strike force is a multi-state partnership “designed to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations taking advantage of the chaos [President] Joe Biden has created along the southern border,” according to a statement from Gordon’s office.

Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told Cowboy State Daily that as of this week, Wyoming has received no formal request for assistance.

“At such time that a formal request for assistance is made, the Governor will work with the Office of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies to analyze our resources and see what type of assistance we could provide,” Pearlman said.

The governor’s office is in conversation with the state of Arizona about a law enforcement training opportunity for officers from both states related to the border crisis.

Creager said it was important for Wyoming to join the strike force due to the increase in drug trafficking seen in the state that can be tied back to the border.

“Unfortunately, our border states are being strapped with a lot of the financial burden on these resources, so we’re really trying to come together, because this affects the entire country,” he said. “We’re banding our resources together to really try and tackle this problem. We’re hopeful that the president will recognize that over half the country’s governors are doing this because we need federal leadership on this issue.”

Some of the other states joining the task force are Alabama, Utah, South Dakota and Idaho.

Gordon has regularly criticized Biden’s immigration policies in the face of a record-breaking number of migrants continuing to attempt or successfully crossing the border into the United States.

Last week, Gordon announced Wyoming and 19 other states are asking a federal court to force the administration to reinstate a policy aimed at preventing entry into the United States by people who pose a health risk.

Last year, Gordon joined several of his fellow Republican governors at the border to denounce Biden’s immigration policies.

Neither the Western nor Republican Governors Associations returned Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment by publication time.

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Gordon Joins Republican Governors’ Border Strike Force

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday joined 25 other Republican governors in creating a “border strike force” to deal with the “chaos” currently occurring at the southern border.

The American Governors’ Border Strike Force is a multi-state partnership “designed to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations taking advantage of the chaos [President] Joe Biden has created along the southern border.”

The action follows last week’s decision by Gordon to join a lawsuit filed by 19 other states challenging an attempt by the Biden administration to rescind a policy used to restrict entry into the United States by individuals who pose a health risk.

“Today I have joined 25 of my fellow Governors in forming the American Governors’ Border Strike Force,” Gordon said Tuesday. “Wyoming will continue to offer support to our southern border while the Biden administration sits idly by and fails to take action on this crisis.”

The strike force is intended to hamper the illegal activities of cartels and other criminal organizations at the border through increased cooperation in areas including intelligence collection and the enforcement of drug and human trafficking laws.

Some of the other states joining the task force include Alabama, Utah, South Dakota and Idaho.

Gordon has regularly criticized Biden’s immigration policies in the face of a record-breaking number of migrants continuing to attempt or successfully cross the border into the United States.

Last week, Gordon announced Wyoming and 19 other states are asking a federal court to force the administration to reinstate a policy aimed at preventing entry into the United States by people who pose a health risk.

The presidential administration announced last month it will end in May what is referred to as “Title 42,” an order that allows immigration officers to prohibit people from entering the United States if they pose a health risk. 

Last year, Gordon joined several of his fellow Republican governors at the border to denounce Biden’s immigration policies.

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Wyoming Joins In Lawsuit Over Biden Immigration Policy

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has joined 19 other states in challenging the immigration polices of the administration of President Joe Biden.

Gov. Mark Gordon announced Thursday that Wyoming and the other states are asking the federal government to force the administration to reinstate a policy aimed at preventing entry into the United States by people who pose a health risk.

“The Biden Administration’s continued failure to fulfill its constitutional duty and secure our border impacts all Americans,” Gordon said. “When the federal government does not fulfill its responsibilities, states are compelled to take legal action to protect their residents from the impacts of this border crisis.”

The administration announced last month it will end in May what is referred to as “Title 42,” an order that allows immigration officers to prohibit people from entering the United States if they pose a health risk. 

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Louisiana on Thursday argues that the end of the rule will result in unchecked flows of undocumented aliens into the country.

“This suit challenges an imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity; the abrupt elimination of the only safety valve preventing this Administration’s disastrous border policies from devolving into unmitigated chaos and catastrophe,” the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit challenges the repeal of the order on grounds the administration has failed to follow proper procedure and because there is no plan to deal with the resulting surge in illegal immigration the states said would result.

“(The repeal) failed to consider the impacts of the fact that there are huge numbers of aliens waiting at the southern border to cross the moment that Title 42 is rescinded,” it said.

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the repeal of the order.

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Wyoming Billionaire Has Donated Almost All Of $54M To Build Texas Border Wall

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By James Barragan and Carla Astudillo, The Texas Tribune

An out-of-state billionaire who has previously bankrolled attempts to defend controversial immigration laws is responsible for nearly all the donations to Gov. Greg Abbott’s $54 million border wall fund.

A member of one of America’s richest family dynasties, Timothy Mellon, contributed nearly 98% of the fund’s total donations when he donated $53.1 million in stock to the state in August, according to public records. Mellon is the 79-year-old Wyoming-based grandson of banking tycoon and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.

Before Mellon’s donations, Abbott’s private fundraising campaign had stalled at about $1.25 million around mid-August, two months after its launch — a drop in the bucket for a project with a price tag estimated in the billions of dollars. But on Aug. 27, a state website that tracks donations to the crowdfunding effort said the fund had jumped to nearly $19 million. By the end of the month, it had topped $54 million.

The donations have since stalled again.

Mellon did not respond to multiple requests for comment made to his company, New Hampshire-based Pan Am Systems, and a marketing firm that handled publicity for his 2015 autobiography.

Abbott declined to comment.

Mellon does not appear to have close ties to Texas. But he was a top donor to the reelection campaign of former President Donald Trump, who made building a border wall a top priority, and has previously donated money to defend legislation targeting immigrants.

In 2010, he gave an unsolicited $1.5 million to the legal defense of an Arizona law that required police to determine the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally, according to The Washington Post. Critics said the law would lead to racial profiling. The law was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down parts of it but left intact the section allowing officers to ask about immigration status.

Last year, Mellon gave $20 million to America First Action, the main super PAC supporting Trump’s reelection. Since 2018, he’s donated $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP super PAC, and he gave $30 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which tries to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate, in 2020.

Mellon has not donated to Abbott, but he gave $2,500 to Republican gubernatorial challenger Allen West when West ran for Congress in Florida in 2012. Mellon ramped up his political donations in 2018.

While he overwhelmingly supports conservative campaigns and Republicans, Mellon also gave to two Democrats: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in 2018 and former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii for her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign later said it did not solicit the donation and would return it.

Mellon has taken heat for using offensive stereotypes to describe Black Americans in his self-published autobiography.

In the 2015 book, Mellon wrote that after the Great Society programs of the 1960s, which were intended to tackle poverty and racial injustice, Black people “became even more belligerent and unwilling to pitch in to improve their own situations,” according to The Washington Post.

He also called social safety net programs “slavery redux.”

Mellon is the chair of Pan Am Systems, a privately held transportation and freight holding company. In the 1980s, he founded a rail company called Guilford Transportation Industries. In the 1990s, he rebranded the company after buying the brand of bankrupt Pan Am Airways.

Forbes estimated Mellon was worth almost $1 billion in 2014, and last year the magazine estimated the Mellon family was worth $11.5 billion.

Abbott’s crowdsourced wall

Abbott, a two-term Republican, has made border security his top priority this year as he seeks reelection next year and is fighting off challenges from his right. Abbott has blamed the Biden administration for an increase in migrants at the border.

In March, Abbott deployed state military and police resources to the border to help federal authorities enforce immigration law. In June, he announced a state of disaster in 34 counties that were seeing large increases in migrant crossings and he unveiled his plan to build a state-funded border wall, picking up where Trump left off.

The Texas Legislature has approved nearly $3 billion over the next two-year budget cycle toward border security, with about $1 billion going to the governor’s office for grants, including $750 million dedicated to construction of a border wall.

Texas is already paying $25 million for a nearly 2-mile concrete barrier along State Loop 480 in Eagle Pass. Portions of the federal border wall started by the Trump administration, and put on hold by the Biden administration, ranged from $6 million per mile to $34 million per mile for construction. Abbott’s office said it has identified 733 miles of border that may need some type of barrier.

While the state displays the aggregate of private donations to the border wall on its website, it does not readily provide the names of individual donors, despite a commitment from Abbott early on that the crowdfunding effort would have “transparency and accountability.”

Outside of Mellon, the fund received more than 12,100 individual donations as of Sept. 14, totaling about $1.3 million. The median donation was $50.

That level of fundraising is more in line with a similar crowdfunding attempt by Arizona lawmakers 10 years ago to raise private money for constructing a fence on the Mexican border. That effort received about $270,000 in three years, according to The Arizona Republic.

During the Trump administration, a nonprofit called We Build The Wall, which included his former political adviser Steve Bannon as a board member, raised $25 million for a border wall. Bannon and Brian Kolfage, the group’s leader, were accused by the federal government in August 2020 of looting the charity for personal gain. Bannon was later pardoned by Trump.

Tax benefit

Tax experts say Mellon’s decision to donate stock instead of cash could yield a tax benefit for the billionaire.

Normally, a person has to pay taxes on profits made on their investments when they are sold. But investors who donate stock to charity avoid paying a tax on the earnings on their investment and get a tax deduction for the full amount of stock.

“It’s common to give stock that’s increased in value because they can get rid of the gains and they can deduct the donations,” said Lloyd Mayer, a professor at Notre Dame Law School.

Such donations are usually made to nonprofit organizations. But under the tax code, a charitable contribution to a state would likely be tax-deductible if it is “made exclusively for public purposes.” Some people, for example, get tax deductions for donating money to cut the federal debt.

The only hurdle is ensuring the money is only used for public purposes.

“In the case of [a] border wall, presumably built upon public land, I think it’d be hard to argue there are private purposes,” said Lisa De Simone, an accounting professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

But Mayer said such donations raise questions about undue influence by wealthy donors on governmental policymaking.

In June, Tennessee billionaire Willis Johnson offered South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem $1 million to help pay for a state National Guard’s deployment to the border to aid Texas’ efforts to catch people crossing illegally. The state’s soldiers were then sent to the Texas border.

“The thing that’s controversial about these kinds of donations is whether they’re distorting government priorities. If government collects money in taxes and the government — Legislature and governor — decide how to spend it, they’re setting their priorities based on the political environment,” Mayer said. “But if you open it up to donations, you’re handing what the government should spend their money on to wealthy donors.”

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

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GOP Govs To Gather At Border To Pressure Biden On Illegal Immigration

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By Bethany Blakely, The Center Square

Republican Govs. Greg Abbot of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona are hosting nine governors in Mission, Texas, Wednesday to denounce President Joe Biden’s policies leading to a surge in illegal immigration at the southern border.

“Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your state a chance to stand strong with us,” Ducey and Abbott said in a joint statement this summer. Both governors issued disaster and emergency declarations in their states earlier this year, citing increased crime and financial strains on county governments and law enforcement because of the surge in illegal immigration due to Biden’s policies.

The Republican governors who responded to the call for help who are attending on Wednesday include Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.

Many had already sent members of their national guard units, state troopers, or other law enforcement agents to Arizona or Texas on temporary missions. They have also reported that their states have been inundated with human and drug smuggling, as well as increased drug overdoses due to a surge of cheap supplies of methamphetamine and fentanyl flowing into their states through the southern border.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the first governor to send law enforcement officers to Texas, won’t be in attendance Wednesday after announcing on Monday that his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The governors are also part of a group of 26 governors who recently called on President Joe Biden to end his open border policies and requested a meeting at the White House. They have not yet received a response.

“The months-long surge in illegal crossings has instigated an international humanitarian crisis, spurred a spike in international criminal activity, and opened the floodgates to human traffickers and drug smugglers endangering public health and safety in our states,” the governors wrote in their letter to Biden.

“A crisis that began at our southern border now extends beyond to every state and requires immediate action before the situation worsens,” they added. “The negative impacts of an unenforced border policy on the American people can no longer be ignored.”

The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has only gotten worse since the interstate compact was announced in June, Abbott and Ducey said.

According to Customs and Border Patrol data, apprehensions in August increased by nearly 500% along the southern border from August 2020. More than 209,000 people this August was a 21-year-high. By mid-September, roughly 15,000 Haitians illegally congregated under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, eventually being stopped by Texas DPS officers coming from from across the state. While law enforcement descended in Del Rio, other parts of Texas were left wide open, leading to increased crime elsewhere, Texas officials have said.

By mid-September, more than 1.3 million people had been apprehended at the border, a number greater than the populations of nine states. Another several hundred thousand have evaded capture in addition to those who surrendered to Border Patrol.

The meeting also comes after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sued the Biden administration over its “catch-and-release” policy, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the administration multiple times over federal immigration laws. Attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana have also sued over immigration.

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Gordon Evaluating U.S. – Mexico Border Situation For Ways To Help

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon is evaluating the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas before responding to a request from the governors of Texas and Arizona for help, he said Thursday.

Gordon told Cowboy State Daily that while it is important to keep America’s southern border secure, he has not determined how to answer the request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey for help at the border.

“Together with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, I am currently evaluating the specifics of the request to see what resources we can provide to assist these border states,” he said. “It is absolutely essential that our nation’s borders are secure.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported earlier this week that more than 1 million undocumented immigrants have been arrested since October after crossing the Mexico border into the United States

Abbott is pushing for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and has even declared states of emergency for various counties in the southern part of the state. Abbott and Ducey have called on their fellow governors to send help to secure the border.

In response to the request, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem this week ordered 100 National Guard soldiers be sent to the border in Texas to help with the influx of undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

A billionaire Republican donor from Tennessee actually paid $1 million to offset the costs of the South Dakota National Guard going to Texas, according to an article from the Associated Press.

Gordon said the work by Abbott and Ducey was necessary because of the failure of the federal government to take necessary action.

“Our country is threatened any time we cannot secure our borders, and I applaud these two governors for taking action in the absence of federal leadership on this issue,” Gordon told Cowboy State Daily. “I, along with other Governors, are working to aid our colleagues as best we can. It is clear that the Biden administration is not addressing this problem with the level of seriousness it requires.”

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Lummis Scoffs At Biden’s Order to Quit Using Phrase “Illegal Alien”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis scoffed at President Biden’s order that federal agencies can no longer use the phrase “illegal alien” when describing immigrants who are not in the United States legally.

The phrase, which is used throughout U.S. immigration law, is not the issue, Lummis said. Rather, it’s the calamity at the U.S. – Mexico border, where tens of thousands of migrants have illegally entered the United States with the change of presidential administrations.

“While President Biden should be focused on the crisis happening at our southern border, it’s disappointing to see him instead focusing on semantics,” Abegail Cave, a spokesperson for Lummis, told Cowboy State Daily. “Immigrants who come across our border illegally are, in fact, illegal immigrants.”

The president earlier this week directed all U.S. immigration divisions to stop using the term “illegal alien” and to instead use the phrase “undocumented noncitizen”.

“We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody,” the memo reads.

Like Lummis, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney said the issue is the crisis at the border, not terminology.

“People who attempt to enter the country illegally are not simply non-citizens,” Cheney said. “[Biden and Harris’] decision to embrace open borders has resulted in a humanitarian, public health and national security crisis. Migrants who unlawfully enter our country are, by definition, illegal aliens.

“President Biden needs to reverse course and put in place the policies that will secure our border and put an end to the surge of illegal immigration,” she added.

While Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for a comment, he has previously criticized the president’s approach to immigration.

“It’s not just one crisis: it’s a double crisis. It’s a national security crisis as well as a humanitarian crisis,” the senator said on the Senate floor earlier this month. “We spoke to the Border Patrol agents. They told us their jobs got an awful lot harder on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden became president of the United States.”

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Barrasso On Border Disaster: Finish Building Wall & Reinstate Remain-In-Mexico Policy

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President Joe Biden has made a number of missteps on immigration policy in his first few months in office, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said Wednesday.

Barrasso, who visited the southern border of the U.S. last week, said during an appearance on Fox News that Border Patrol agents told him the Trump administration’s “Remain-In-Mexico” policy – which President Biden canceled on the first day of his presidency – was working to stem the surge of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

Under Biden’s watch, Barrasso said, the president has, in effect, told the world “come to America and if you can get in, you can stay.”

“We saw it on the border, we saw it on the Rio Grande late at night as people were coming across on rafts and inflatable mattresses,” Barrasso said.

Barrasso said the next step for the illegal immigrants who have crossed the border will be to become citizens of the United States.

He said that shouldn’t surprise anyone as the person Biden put in charge of U.S. immigration policy on the southern border – Vice President Kamala Harris – has always “taken the side of illegal immigrants.”

“She’s the wrong person for the job because she’s for amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Barrasso said.  “She is somebody who has fought with the ICE agents and when she ran for president, she said illegal immigrants ought to receive free taxpayer-paid health insurance.”

Barrasso said if the Biden administration was interested in solving the border crisis, they would reinstate the “Remain-In-Mexico” policy and finish building the wall on the U.S. – Mexico border.

“We know what works. We know it from the Border Patrol. The wall works, they want us to finish the wall,” he said.

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Barrasso Blames Biden For Border Disaster Ahead of Texas Trip

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso blamed President Joe Biden and his administration for the immigration crisis happening at the U.S./Mexico border during an appearance on the Senate floor this week.

On Tuesday, Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor about how Biden’s policies are squarely to blame for the border crisis. The senator actually intends to travel to Texas this week to see the situation firsthand.

“In the month of February, federal agents apprehended more than 100,000 illegal immigrants crossing our Southern border. That’s more than double the number from last February,” Barrasso said. “Illegal immigration usually goes down in the winter. It rises in the spring and then peaks in the summer.”

Since immigration usually declines in the winter, Barrasso and many of his colleagues are concerned there will be an uptick of people attempting to illegally cross the border in the spring and summer months.

Barrasso blamed Biden policies and campaign promises, such as a claim where Biden guaranteed “lavish” taxpayer benefits for undocumented immigrants (which couldn’t be substantiated), for the surge in immigration over the last two months.

He also criticized Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ stance that people in the U.S. should receive healthcare, no matter their documentation status.

He also pointed to Biden’s immigration-related executive orders (including restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as making the U.S. more friendly to undocumented peoples.

“Even the Biden administration admits, we’re on pace this year for the most illegal immigrants in two decades,” Barrasso said. ““You can come here illegally and get a free vaccine against the coronavirus. Free health care, No wonder illegal immigrants are rushing our borders.”

The senator noted that under former President Donald Trump’s administration, immigration declined.

“It was because he sent a clear message to the world. He said, don’t come here illegally or we will send you right back home. That message was heard around the world,” Barrasso said.

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Cheney, Barrasso Say Biden Policies Leading to Surge Of Illegal Immigrants Crossing Border

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney have both been outspoken this week in expressing their feelings regarding President Joe Biden’s latest immigration policies.

On Thursday, Cheney joined many of her colleagues at a news conference to call on Biden to secure the U.S./Mexican border, since thousands of migrants have been attempting to cross into the U.S. over the last couple months, according to CNN.

“When the Biden Administration refuses to enforce our immigration laws, when they refuse to build the wall, when they pass legislation like the bill that we passed yesterday that includes money for illegal immigrants, this is what happens,” Cheney said, referring to the influx of people attempting to cross the border. “What happens and what’s going on right now at the border is foreseeable – it’s a foreseeable consequence of their statements, of their policies – they caused this, they are responsible.”

Cheney’s comments about money for undocumented immigrants stemmed from congressional approval of the latest coronavirus relief package. While congressional Republicans have said there is no language to prevent stimulus payments from going to undocumented immigrants, Democrats have argued that without Social Security numbers, undocumented immigrants simply cannot get the payments.

Cheney also said that with their efforts to open borders, congressional Democrats are attempting to overwhelm law enforcement officers across the country and are trying to infringe on gun rights, which combines to “form a very dangerous and toxic mix.”

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to take action immediately to secure the border, to stop what we’re seeing happen, to change the policies to make clear that the hundreds of thousands of people that we’ve seen now attempting to enter the country illegally will not be able to do so,” she said. “They need to reiterate and recommit to protecting and securing the nation and to protecting the American people.”

On Wednesday, Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor, condemning Biden’s approach to immigration since he has been in office.

“In just over one month in office, President Biden has already proven to be the most open border president in the United States history,” Barrasso said. “President Biden needs to listen to the American people. The American people don’t want a radical, extreme, dangerous, scary agenda. We want safe communities. We want laws obeyed. We want a secure border.”

He told his colleagues to stand up against Biden and the Democrats’ “radical agenda.”

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Cheney, House GOP Warn Biden of Potential “Border War” With Immigrants

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and 51 other House Republicans warned President Joe Biden of a potential “border war” that could result from illegal immigrants flooding the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

The senators expressed their concerns just weeks after Biden put a halt to construction of former President Donald Trump’s border wall.

“We write today to bring attention to the rising illegal migration crisis that is already beginning at our southern border, a mere few weeks into your administration,” the Republicans told the president. “Based on information from sources on the ground, this week Customs and Border Protection agents have seen the average daily flow soar to more than 3,500 migrants, up from 2,000 earlier last month.”

Cheney was joined by other House Republicans including Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

They added that around 300 undocumented minors are crossing the border daily, numbers not seen since around 2019.

Border Patrol agents have encountered more than 200,000 undocumented immigrants since October, according to the letter.

“In Arizona, law enforcement officers have seen increases in illegal foot traffic in areas that ‘went completely dead’ under the Trump administration,” the letter said. “Illegal migrants are not just coming from our southern neighbors either, for example, last Monday, Border Patrol agents arrested 11 Iranians after sneaking across the border in Arizona.”

The House Republicans added that by any standard, these are crisis-level numbers, which are being driven by Biden’s “open border” policies.

“Despite these rising numbers, on your first day as president, you signed multiple executive orders aimed at dismantling the security of our borders -rescinding policies from the Trump administration that were working as intended to halt the flow of illegal migration,” the letter said.

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Legislator to proceed with effort to ban ‘sanctuary cities.’

in News/immigration
Sanctuary cities
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By James Chilton, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE – A Casper legislator said he intends to continue his efforts to ban sanctuary cities in the state as momentum behind the issue continues to build amid the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although no cities in Wyoming identify themselves as sanctuary cities, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, said the prohibition he seeks needs to be spelled out as a part of state law.

“I think laws should be followed. I don’t want sanctuary cities here in Wyoming,” Gray said. “The people of Wyoming want us to get ahead of this and ban sanctuary cities; that’s what’s going to help us be successful.”

This month, Florida became the most recent state to pass legislation seeking to ban sanctuary cities – those cities where law enforcement agencies and local governments limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

It’s the latest development in a growing movement among states seeking to go on the record as opposing policies adopted by some cities and counties to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation or family separation by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement. 

The modern notion of sanctuary cities dates back to 1989, when San Francisco passed a “City and County of Refuge” ordinance blocking city employees from using city resources to assist federal enforcement of immigration law except for some legally-mandated situations. With Florida’s action, 12 states have now passed laws seeking to prohibit or discourage local adoption of sanctuary city policies, and the National Conference of State Legislatures counts at least 21 other state legislatures considering similar legislation in the near- to mid-future.

Wyoming has been on that latter list for several years now, with the most recent effort to curb sanctuary cities being spearheaded by Gray. 

“My bill would ban sanctuary cities in state statute and prevent any state funds from going to sanctuary cities,” he said. “I wrote it myself; it’s not based on any model legislation. But I think it’s comparable (to bans passed by other states).”

Gray’s first attempt at introducing a bill to block sanctuary cities during the 2018 budget session failed to get the two-thirds vote needed for introduction. This year, his bill’s latest incarnation, House Bill 151, didn’t face that hurdle and made it out of the House Corporations Committee on a 5-4 vote, only to be defeated in the House by a vote of 22 to 36.

Gray said he was “disturbed” by that vote, stressing that while Wyoming doesn’t presently have any sanctuary city policies in place — Jackson was erroneously listed as one back in 2010 — there’s no good reason to leave that option on the table.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said his association’s members largely consider the issue a moot point given the lack of any meaningful push for sanctuary city policies in Wyoming. His bigger concern, he said, would be if the Legislature were to try to prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with the feds.

“If they said ‘let’s do the opposite’ and they create a sanctuary law saying we couldn’t cooperate with the fed, we would be diametrically opposed to that,” Oedekoven said. “By virtue of our position and oath of office, we want to uphold the law; and the law is, if you have a warrant for the guy and he’s supposed to be arrested, we would want to see him arrested.”

Dave Fraser, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, said his group took a “monitor” position on Gray’s bill in the previous session – effectively a neutral stance – also citing the lack of any real sanctuary city push among WAM’s membership. That said, Fraser expects the bill, or rather its potential successor, may get some attention at WAM’s annual membership convention next month in Sheridan.

“I’m aware of this as a national issue and I understand that some of our state representatives may want to take positions on that; but for our part, I’m not sure we would object to such legislation if none of our cities intended to go that route,” Fraser said. “If our cities were contemplating it, that would influence how active we would be on taking a position on that.”

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