Last Jew of Afghanistan heading to New York City

Zebulon Simantov, the famed last Jew of Afghanistan, is getting ready to hit the Big Apple.

“I like everything in New York. Everything is exciting,” Simantov, 62, told The Post in his first interview since fleeing Afghanistan two weeks ago. “I would like to be a US citizen.”

The wily former carpet dealer — and his backers in New York City — are actively trying to secure travel documents for him to come to the US. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been lobbied intensely over the issue.

Schumer’s office told The Post they were working on the case.

If all goes according to plan, Simantov will stay with relatives in Queens.

“I am a businessman, I’ll do business there,” Simantov said.

Zebulon Simantov sits with rescued Afghan children on Sept. 23, 2021.
Moti Kahana

He added that he’s looking forward to a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label scotch ($225-plus per bottle) when he arrives.

The Afghan native stuck it out in the war-torn country through decades of turmoil, including the Soviet invasion, The Taliban, the US-backed government, and the return of the Taliban last month.

“I sensed something terrible was going to happen to Afghanistan,” Simantov said. “The Taliban is much crueler than ever before. They kill people now like killing small animals.”

On Thursday the Taliban announced that executions, hand amputations and other Quran-era punishments would return.

Zebulon Simantov, was the last known Jew living in Afghanistan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has lobbied intensely to get Zebulon Simantov travel documents.
AP Photo/David Goldman

Simantov blamed both US political parties for the country’s descent into chaos.

“[Biden] left so fast and he left people behind … The terrorist groups were celebrating when the Taliban toppled the Afghan government,” Simantov said, while also calling former President Trump a “madman.”

He added: “I request that American citizens not vote for either Trump or President Biden in the next election in 2024.”

He urged the American people not to forget about the country, and specifically the millions of vulnerable women now at risk under the Taliban.

Afghan Jew Zebulon Simantov looks at the Torah scripture at synagogue, housed in an old building in Kabul.
Simantov plans to stay with relatives in Queens.
AFP via Getty Images

Simantov’s wife and her family left Afghanistan for Uzbekistan — and ultimately Israel — in 1995. Simantov said she had been suffering from seizures.

“It was impossible for me to follow her. She was ill,” he recalled. The two technically remained married under Jewish law and Simantov only signed the papers granting a divorce (known as a get) last week.

He denied reports he had resisted granting his wife the get in the past, saying the complex procedure had been logistically impossible in Afghanistan during his time there.

After initially thinking about trying his luck with the Islamists again, Simantov was persuaded to flee, and set off on a days-long overland journey into a neighboring country.

 Zebulon Simantov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, closes the window to the synagogue he cares for in his Kabul home.
Simantov thought about staying in Afghanistan but was convinced to flee the country.
AP Photo/David Goldman

His departure marks the end of the 1,500-year-old Jewish community in Afghanistan. Simantov became the last Jew in the country after the death of Yitzhak Levy in 2005.

The two famously hated each other and would regularly denounce the other to Taliban authorities. Time had not healed the feelings.

“He turned the synagogue of the Jewish community over there to a prostitution house,” Simantov snapped when asked about him.

Simantov’s rescue was arranged by Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana, who organized the international effort from his cattle farm in Randolph, N.J. Kahana has also played a role in dozens of other rescues of vulnerable Afghans from the country.

Afghan Jew Zebulon Simantov prays after eating lunch in his house in Kabul.
“The Taliban is much crueler than ever before,” Simantov said.
AFP via Getty Images

But Kahana said he had become frustrated with the delays in getting Simantov to America and that the issue was distracting him from being able to focus on other cases.

“I’m not a babysitter,” Kahana said, saying he couldn’t just keep Simantov in a hotel room forever and that finding kosher food for him to eat was impossible.

“He is losing a lot of weight eating vegetables,” Kahana said.



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San Clemente Councilor Sues City to Get Public Records

San Clemente City Councilmember Laura Ferguson announced Sept. 17 that she will be suing both the city and some of her fellow councilmembers over access to public records regarding her formal censure last year.

Ferguson was censured by her fellow councilmembers in Nov. 2020 after she publicly criticized the city government, and also for releasing a poll that was commissioned by the city that was not allowed to be released yet due to it being an attorney work product.

The poll sought to determine how a new ballot measure that would create a new tax to protect coastlines would do with voters, and Ferguson argued that public records law did not allow the city to keep it confidential.

Named in the suit are the City of San Clemente, Mayor Pro Tem Gene James, Mayor Kathy Ward, former Councilmember Chris Hamm, and City Manager Erik Sund.

The lawsuit asks that the city provide her with documents surrounding her censure, including other councilmembers’ emails, which she submitted public records requests for on Nov. 29, 2020, with each of the requests dealing with various aspects of her censure by the council.

The city provided her with some documents but withheld some of the requests due to exemptions and privileges.

“Having exhausted all efforts to be fair and reasonable for a quick resolution, it is unfortunate that nine months later the City has not produced the public records I have sought pertaining to Councilmember Kathleen Ward’s, Gene James’s and Chris Hamm’s censure of me on November 23, 2020,” Ferguson said in a statement sent to The Epoch Times.

“In particular, I am seeking any writings by them plotting their censure of me. Since they were so willing to spend City tax dollars to conduct a censure hearing and hire a separate attorney to represent the majority (Hamm, Ward and James), you would think they would have nothing to hide from the taxpayers of San Clemente.”

Ferguson argued that if the city can deny pubic records requests to a sitting councilmember, they can do it to anyone.

“Because of the unwillingness of the city council and city manager to produce these records, taxpayers are left footing the bill to defend a lawsuit. San Clemente’s elected leadership and appointed public official believe they are above the law and can deny a councilmember and members of the public records any time they want by claiming exemptions and privileges such as the deliberative process privilege, without demonstrating the public’s interest in nondisclosure outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure, which the law requires,” she said.

Asked about being named as a defendant, James said he felt that the lawsuit only served to be a distraction from complaints lodged against Ferguson.

“I think Councilmember Ferguson’s resources and time would be better spent addressing the multiple unfortunate allegations of workplace harassment lodged against her by our city employees,” James told The Epoch Times.

“I have reviewed documentation from the investigation and there were six confirmed attempts to have Ferguson submit to an interview by the investigator; Councilmember Ferguson has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the investigation. This lawsuit is nothing more than a craven attempt to direct attention away from her harassment of employees and the obvious pattern of abusive behavior directed at  current and past city employees.”

James also felt that council time and resources would be better spent on COVID-19 recovery for businesses, enhancing public safety, working on beach erosion, and more.

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Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.



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This Fall Black Theater Takes New York City

As in-person theater stages a careful but eager re-entrance following eighteen months of lockdown, the season seems pretty diverse. There are buzzy imports from London (The Lehmann Trilogy, Six); a gender-flipped revival of a Broadway classic (Company); and a splashy new musical about a global icon (Diana). But what about real diversity? Black-authored shows about Black subjects that could bring in new audiences? This season delivers. We’re highlighting a few works opening on Broadway and Off this fall — all different — but each exploring inequity and structural racism in American society and theater. (It’s not even a complete list for this fall; there’s the already opened Pass Over, as well as Chicken and Biscuits and Clyde’s.) The shows are listed in order of the year the story is set. As a movement Black Lives Matter may have arisen in recent years, but the theatrical conversation around systemic racism has been going on much longer.

Trouble in Mind at the American Airlines Theatre (Oct 29–Jan 9)

Originally performed Off Broadway in 1955, actor and playwright Alice Childress’ exposé of racism in theater finally arrives on Broadway. Set in the mid-’50s, this backstage drama centers on a group of actors rehearsing a new play by a white writer about sharecroppers in the South. Veteran performer Wiletta Mayer (the incandescent LaChanze) is excited to finally make her Broadway debut, but how much dignity will she surrender to an overbearing white director and the acting conventions of the stage? Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, the play was way ahead of its times in charting micro-aggressions in the theater world, and the hypocrisies of white liberals. 

Caroline, or Change Roundabout Theatre Company

Caroline, or Change at Studio 54 (Oct 8-Jan 9) 

While the creative team behind this 2003 musical — book writer Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori — are white, this groundbreaking work deserves a place on this list. Set in 1963 right around the time of JFK’s assassination, the story follows a Black maid in Louisiana who works for a Jewish family that has relocated from the north. Caroline (the acclaimed Sharon D. Clarke in this revival) develops a wry, maternal-like bond with Noah, the Gellmans’ eight-year-old son, until money found in dirty clothes bound for washing — the “change” of the title — tears them apart. A sung-through work of intense beauty and complexity, the piece shows a strong Black woman who is not a cardboard saint or avenging angel; she’s angry and tired but won’t let the world’s injustice warp her soul. Tesori embraces blues, R&B, and art song — it’s one of the best scores of the past 20 years. Set at the height of the Civil Rights Era (a vandalized Confederate statue figures in), Caroline is heartbreaking and a call to allyship. 

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 at Signature Theatre Company (Oct 12–Nov 14)  

The title alone may give you a clue as to the subject: the L.A. riots that followed the not guilty verdict in the trial of cops who savagely beat Rodney King. To create this fast-moving panorama of the five days of looting, burning, shooting, and its aftermath, Smith spoke to 350 residents of the Los Angeles area. She impersonated about four dozen of them — with astonishing precision and accuracy — in her solo docudrama, which premiered in 1994 at the Public Theater. Now Smith remounts her iconic exploration with director Taibi Magar for an ensemble cast of five actors: Elena Hurst, Wesley T. Jones, Francis Jue, Karl Kenzler, and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart. If you weren’t around in the ’90s to witness the riots, just imagine what might have happened in Minneapolis had the murder of George Floyd gone unpunished. 

Cullud Wattah at the Public Theater (Nov 2–Dec 5) 

The year is 2016 and the tap water in Flint, Michigan is undrinkable. The electrifying young playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza sets her “Afro-surrealist” drama 936 days into the Flint Water Crisis, as an embattled family seeks justice from both General Motors and the city government, fighting for their very survival. BLM is often cited in cases of police violence, but here, Dickerson-Despenza dramatizes a social travesty where the white power structure (and infrastructure) literally acted as if Black lives were worthless. (In 2017, a Michigan Civil Rights Commission report concluded that decades of systemic racism allowed the lead contamination of the water.) Using a fluid and poetic approach, the author blends ideas of poison, contamination and filtering.  

Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Thoughts of a Colored Man at the John Golden Theatre (opens Oct 31) 

After regional runs in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. two years ago, this new play — written by Keenan Scott II and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III — takes its Broadway bow. Thoughts, set on a single day in Brooklyn, lets us eavesdrop on the inner lives of seven Black men mulling over joys and sorrows, as well as their gentrifying community. Scott employs a range of rhetorical styles suited to each character — spoken word, slam poetry, rapping — creating a kind of Under Milk Wood for BK. In the allegorical conception of the piece, characters represent major human traits: Wisdom, Depression, Passion and so forth. (In case you’re worried this world has too much testosterone, there are two women in the cast!)

What to Send Up When It Goes Down at Playwrights Horizons (Sept 24–Oct 17) 

We could put a date on this cathartic piece written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Whitney White — if Black people weren’t being shot every day by police. A fusion of ritual, protest, exorcism, and funeral rite, What to Send Up When It Goes Down has been presented before, most recently this summer at BAM, but until there’s justice, it will exist in past, present, and future. A seven-member ensemble welcomes the audience and makes clear the event they’re about to share is for the healing and reflection of Black audiences. White spectators are welcome — as witnesses to a tragedy in which they are complicit. Playwrights Horizons presents this re-mount of the interactive work, updated with the pictures and names of victims of racist violence. 

Inside the “What To Send Up When It Goes Down” rehearsal at the Fishman Space in the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Brooklyn, New York. Playwrights Horizons

This Fall Black Theater Takes New York City



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With nearly 30K NYC school staffers still unvaccinated, unions push City Hall to push back Monday’s get-vaxxed-or-get-out deadline

New York City decided over the summer that it would require all school staffers to be vaccinated or face losing their jobs. The deadline for all school employees to get jabbed is Monday, Sept. 27.

But there’s a problem: Nearly 30,000 of Gotham’s school staffers are unvaccinated, the New York Post reported, and come the first of next week, they’ll have to hit the bricks.

Now the city’s teacher and principal unions are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to push back the Department of Education’s Monday deadline over staffing concerns, the Post said Thursday night.

What’s going on?

De Blasio announced Aug. 23 that all DOE employees — from teachers and principals to office staff and security officers to lunch workers and custodians — would be required to have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by Sept. 27. Those who refuse the jab and do not get a medical or religious exemption have the option of taking a year of unpaid leave or leaving the DOE with a severance package, according to Gothamist.

But there are still tens of thousands of NYC school staffers who are unvaccinated, including more than 10,000 teachers, and education officials and employee unions fear staffing shortages.

As of Tuesday, the Post said, 78% of all 130,000 school employees had been vaccinated, leaving about 28,600 who stand to lose their jobs Monday. This includes the 13% of the city’s 78,000 teachers who have yet to get vaxxed.

According to the Post, though the DOE has refused to say how many teachers have applied for or received exemptions, union sources told the paper that “only a small fraction of accommodation requests are being granted.”

Now unions representing teachers and principals are pushing City Hall to delay the vaccine deadline, warning of serious staff shortages in the coming days.

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Mark Cannizzaro blasted the city’s “dangerous and irresponsible” intention to stick with the deadline in a statement Thursday, Gothamist reported.

“Any staffing shortage, especially during a pandemic, is a threat to the health and safety of both students and personnel,” Cannizzaro said. “It is dangerous and irresponsible for the city to move forward with its plan to allow schools and centers to operate so severely understaffed. As a result, we are calling on the city to delay the deadline for the mandate to allow the city to develop a reasonable contingency plan.”

The United Federation of Teachers agreed and called on de Blasio and the DOE to listen to school leaders “for once.”

UFT head Micheal Mulgrew said, “The principals’ union is right — our schools are not ready for the implementation of the vaccine mandate. I hope for once City Hall is listening to its own school leaders and finally starts to put together a reasonable plan to face the challenge of keeping our children safe.”

Yet the mayor and NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter have remained steadfast and refused to move on the deadline, claiming that they have a contingency plan — namely that they could still pull in vaccinated substitute teachers and hire new staffers to replace anyone forced out by the mandate.

But the unions aren’t buying it.

“Despite our repeated warnings, the city is ill prepared for the impact of the vaccination mandate on staffing in schools and early childhood centers with just four days to go before it takes effect,” Cannizzaro said, according to Gothamist. “As a result, we are calling on the city to delay the deadline for the mandate to allow the city to develop a reasonable contingency plan.”

New York State Supreme Court Judge Laurence Love lifted a temporary restraining order agains the mandate Wednesday, WABC-TV reported. Love said the unions “will be unable to establish a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits.”





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How Is Suing Your City for a Raise Good Public Policy? – RedState

In this latest episode of BOTR your Duke tries to figure out how municipal employees who have sued a city for a raise are considered correct by the taxpayers they sued.

Duke goes over his confusion and tries to figure out the feeling over the facts crowd. Listen to the show and email him any thoughts at [email protected] and check out his BIO right HERE.



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Florida to appeal federal judge’s ruling declaring ‘sanctuary city’ ban unconstitutional

Florida will appeal a federal judge’s injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing its two-year-old “sanctuary cities” ban.

U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Beth Bloom Tuesday released a 110-page ruling declaring portions 2019’s Senate Bill 168 are unconstitutional and that the measure was adopted by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislative with “discriminatory motives.”

Bloom’s ruling comes nearly nine months after a six-day trial concluded in January to hear challenges filed in July 2019 by a bevy of plaintiffs, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida and city of South Miami.

The opinion charts SB 126’s advance through the Legislature amid an “immigrant threat narrative” and cites influence by conservative anti-immigration groups, such as Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, who Bloom said developed the bill with sponsor, Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, who also chairs of the Florida Republican Party Committee.

The “totality of the relevant facts present significant evidence, both direct and circumstantial, of the Legislature’s discriminatory motives in enacting SB 168,” she wrote. “The court finds that plaintiffs have proven by a preponderance of the evidence that SB 168 has discriminatory or disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities, and these discriminatory effects were both foreseeable and known to the Legislature at the time of SB 168’s enactment.”

DeSantis’ office said the state will appeal Bloom’s ruling, calling her an “Obama judge” appointed in 2014 under former Democratic President Barack Obama.

“We disagree with the ruling of the Obama judge and we expect to win on appeal,” DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Penske told reporters.

Gruters told the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times that Bloom was “misled” into issuing an opinion “not based on facts.”

“This bill was always about public safety and ensuring that illegal aliens are not treated better than Americans when it comes to the judicial system,” he said. “I look forward to this ruling being overturned.”

Florida has never had a “sanctuary city,” but DeSantis made it a priority for lawmakers to ensure local governments could not enact “sanctuary” polices to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

SB 168 was adopted after lengthy, combative committee and floor debates in partisan 22-18 Senate and 68-45 House votes.

Under SB 168, local jails and state prisons must hold an undocumented immigrant charged or convicted of a crime for 48 hours past their release dates to give federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] agents time to collect and deport them.

Under the law, the governor can initiate “judicial proceedings” against local officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, endorse “sanctuary city policies” or implement “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Immigrant advocates and Democrats cheered Bloom’s ruling.

“The verdict validates what we said three years ago, Gov. DeSantis pushed for a law that is not just racist, but unconstitutional,” Florida Immigrant Coalition and Farmworkers Association of Florida board member Antonio Tovar told the Miami Herald.

“This ruling is a victory for Florida’s families and our constitutional rights. As Democrats said time and time again, SB168 undermines the safety of all Floridians, and our right to local control,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, calling on DeSantis and “my Republican colleagues” to not pass “unconstitutional laws in partnership with known far-right hate-groups.”

“The law was rooted in incendiary rhetoric painting a false narrative about immigrants being more dangerous than the general population, when in actuality, the opposite is true as immigrants are markedly less like to engage in criminal activity than native-born citizens,” said Rep. Dotie Joseph, D- Miami. “As an immigrant and attorney myself, I want to reaffirm that immigrants are people too and should not be mistreated based on their race or national origin.”





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Researchers May Have Found Evidence of God’s Wrath in Middle Eastern City

In the book of Genesis, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their utter wickedness. We as Christians already believe those events occurred thousands of years ago, but new research may provide tangible proof.

According to an article published in The Conversation, hundreds of researchers have been excavating an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam. They first began looking into the city’s history about 15 years ago, when it was covered in about five feet of charcoal, ash and melted material.

Researchers said the “destruction layer,” as it came to be known, could not have been caused by a volcano, earthquake or battle of any kind. None of those events could melt metal or pottery, which were both found in the layer.

As a result, the research team used the Online Impact Calculator, which can “estimate the many details of a cosmic impact event, based on known impact events and nuclear detonations,” to model possible scenarios.

They concluded that a small asteroid was likely the cause of the destruction, but it didn’t make it all the way to the ground.

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Instead, researchers believe the asteroid likely exploded into a fireball about 2.5 miles above the city. Clothing and wood would have immediately burst into flames, while pottery, swords and spears would have started melting as air temperatures skyrocketed to over 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

That would coincide perfectly with God’s word in Genesis 19:24-25, which says:

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

It wasn’t just an online calculator that led these researchers to their conclusion. They also found significant physical evidence that would back their claims.

Do you believe these researchers found physical evidence of Sodom’s destruction?

At Tall el-Hammam, scientists discovered sand grains known as shock quartz that only form at 725,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. In addition, they found microscopic diamonoids, each smaller than a flu virus.

“It appears that wood and plants in the area were instantly turned into this diamond-like material by the fireball’s high pressures and temperatures,” the scientists wrote.

After conducting experiments using laboratory furnaces, researchers concluded the pottery and mudbricks found in Tall el-Hammam melted at temperatures over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

They also discovered small traces of melted metals on pottery in the city, including iridium, which has a melting point of 4,435 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Together, all this evidence shows that temperatures in the city rose higher than those of volcanoes, warfare and normal city fires,” they concluded. “The only natural process left is a cosmic impact.”

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The location of Tall el-Hamman near the Dead Sea is very similar to the description of Sodom in Genesis.

“It’s possible that an oral description of the city’s destruction may have been handed down for generations until it was recorded as the story of Biblical Sodom,” the researchers said.

“The Bible describes the devastation of an urban center near the Dead Sea – stones and fire fell from the sky, more than one city was destroyed, thick smoke rose from the fires and city inhabitants were killed. Could this be an ancient eyewitness account?”

It surely is possible the story could have been handed down for generations. It’s also possible that the Biblical story is an accurate account of exactly what happened to those sinful cities.

As Christians, we believe the Word of God is completely infallible whether we see physical evidence or not. But sometimes God chooses to reveal himself in tangible ways, and that may be exactly what happened to these researchers.



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Biden Taps ‘Sanctuary City’ Supporter To Oversee ICE Prosecutions

Move comes as Biden administration faces an influx of illegal immigrants in Del Rio, Tex.

LA JOYA, TEXAS – APRIL 10: A U.S. Border Patrol agent takes the names of Central American immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border on April 10, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. A surge of immigrants crossing into the United States, including record numbers of children, continues along the southern border. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Joseph Simonson • September 22, 2021 1:25 pm

The Biden administration is tapping a left-wing attorney who has publicly endorsed sanctuary laws for illegal aliens to serve as Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s top prosecutor, according to an internal memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

ICE announced the hiring of Kerry Doyle, a longtime partner at the Boston-based law firm Graves & Doyle, as the agency’s new principal legal adviser, a role that oversees 25 field locations and 1,250 attorneys. The office serves as ICE’s representative in all removal proceedings and litigates cases against illegal aliens and terrorists. 

“Throughout her legal practice in Boston, Ms. Doyle worked closely with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute providing technical assistance and public testimony and various immigration-related policy issues before the state legislature and Boston City Council,” the ICE memo reads. 

A spokesman for ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Doyle’s appointment comes as the Biden administration faces an influx of Haitian refugees, who are overrunning the border city of Del Rio, Texas. After reversing a bevy of Trump-era immigration rules, an uptick in illegal migration across the Southern border has strained resources and presented a political problem for the president, who repudiated Trump’s hardline approach to policing the border but risks political blowback from an influx of illegal residents. 

Doyle’s LinkedIn profile spotlights her work as co-counsel in a case that pushed for — and won — a temporary restraining order against then-president Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban. The attorney also spoke in favor of a Massachusetts bill called the “Safe Communities Act” in early 2020 arguing that ICE was “out of control.” . The measure would have applied sanctuary city laws nationwide and sharply limited the state’s cooperation with the federal government on the deportation of illegal immigrants.

“The Safe Communities Act limits state cooperation … [with ICE]: don’t ask about immigration status; don’t pay for sheriffs to act as ICE agents; tell people their rights,” a description of the bill by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts reads. In June, Doyle told a local news outlet that the state must pass the bill, saying state Democrats should not trust “the Biden administration’s more supportive tone as an excuse not to do what our state needs to do.”

Doyle, who did not respond to a request for comment, has also helped represent illegal aliens convicted of crimes in the past. In March, she filed a petition with ACLU Massachusetts to release two criminal aliens with medical conditions, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Doyle’s name has since been scrubbed from her previous law firm’s website.

One of President Joe Biden’s first executive orders in office was to suspend arrests, deportations, and investigations of most criminal aliens for 100 days. Deportations under Biden have hit a record low. U.S. immigration judges ordered just 25,000 deportations by the end of August, compared to 152,000 in August 2020. The total number of cases completed by immigration courts are at a 28-year low, even as Border Patrol apprehensions hit a 21-year high. 

Doyle will succeed John Trasviña, who assumed the role in January. 





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Florida to appeal federal judge’s ruling declaring ‘sanctuary city’ ban unconstitutional

Florida will appeal a federal judge’s injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing its two-year-old “sanctuary cities” ban.

U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Beth Bloom Tuesday released a 110-page ruling declaring portions 2019’s Senate Bill 168 are unconstitutional and that the measure was adopted by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislative with “discriminatory motives.”

Bloom’s ruling comes nearly nine months after a six-day trial concluded in January to hear challenges filed in July 2019 by a bevy of plaintiffs, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Farmworker Association of Florida and city of South Miami.

The opinion charts SB 126’s advance through the Legislature amid an “immigrant threat narrative” and cites influence by conservative anti-immigration groups, such as Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, who Bloom said developed the bill with sponsor, Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, who also chairs of the Florida Republican Party Committee.

The “totality of the relevant facts present significant evidence, both direct and circumstantial, of the Legislature’s discriminatory motives in enacting SB 168,” she wrote. “The court finds that plaintiffs have proven by a preponderance of the evidence that SB 168 has discriminatory or disparate effects on racial and ethnic minorities, and these discriminatory effects were both foreseeable and known to the Legislature at the time of SB 168’s enactment.”

DeSantis’ office said the state will appeal Bloom’s ruling, calling her an “Obama judge” appointed in 2014 under former Democratic President Barack Obama.

“We disagree with the ruling of the Obama judge and we expect to win on appeal,” DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Penske told reporters.

Gruters told the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times that Bloom was “misled” into issuing an opinion “not based on facts.”

“This bill was always about public safety and ensuring that illegal aliens are not treated better than Americans when it comes to the judicial system,” he said. “I look forward to this ruling being overturned.”

Florida has never had a “sanctuary city,” but DeSantis made it a priority for lawmakers to ensure local governments could not enact “sanctuary” polices to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

SB 168 was adopted after lengthy, combative committee and floor debates in partisan 22-18 Senate and 68-45 House votes.

Under SB 168, local jails and state prisons must hold an undocumented immigrant charged or convicted of a crime for 48 hours past their release dates to give federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement [ICE] agents time to collect and deport them.

Under the law, the governor can initiate “judicial proceedings” against local officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, endorse “sanctuary city policies” or implement “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Immigrant advocates and Democrats cheered Bloom’s ruling.

“The verdict validates what we said three years ago, Gov. DeSantis pushed for a law that is not just racist, but unconstitutional,” Florida Immigrant Coalition and Farmworkers Association of Florida board member Antonio Tovar told the Miami Herald.

“This ruling is a victory for Florida’s families and our constitutional rights. As Democrats said time and time again, SB168 undermines the safety of all Floridians, and our right to local control,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, calling on DeSantis and “my Republican colleagues” to not pass “unconstitutional laws in partnership with known far-right hate-groups.”

“The law was rooted in incendiary rhetoric painting a false narrative about immigrants being more dangerous than the general population, when in actuality, the opposite is true as immigrants are markedly less like to engage in criminal activity than native-born citizens,” said Rep. Dotie Joseph, D- Miami. “As an immigrant and attorney myself, I want to reaffirm that immigrants are people too and should not be mistreated based on their race or national origin.”



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Russian city mourns victims of university shooting

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MOSCOW — The Russian city of Perm on Tuesday mourned the six people killed by a teenage gunman at a university in an incident that sent shockwaves through the community.

The gunman, identified by local media as an 18-year-old student, opened fire on campus at Perm State University on Monday, prompting students to barricade themselves inside classrooms and to jump from first-floor windows to flee.

Natalia Sokolova, whose son Alexander attends the university in Perm, a city of 1 million located 1,300 km (800 miles) east of Moscow, was among the dozens of people who gathered outside the campus to pay their respects. Some lay red and white flowers at the entrance.

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Sokolova said she nearly fainted when she heard of the shooting, forgetting that her son had not been in class that day.

“People like that shouldn’t be allowed to get in and study at universities,” Sokolova said, referring to the shooter.

The gunman was wounded after resisting arrest and detained. He had obtained a hunting rifle in May according to investigators.

Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the attack. The gunman had posted a picture of himself with a rifle, helmet and ammunition and written on social media that he dreamed of carrying out a shooting.

The post, which could not be independently verified, suggested that his actions had nothing to do with politics or religion but were motivated by hatred.

The emergencies ministry flew some of the people severely injured in the shooting to Moscow on Tuesday for treatment.

Russia has strict restrictions on civilian firearm ownership, but some categories of guns are available for purchase for hunting, self-defense or sport to those who meet the requirements. (Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Janet Lawrence)



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