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immigration

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.’

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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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