Texas Border Town Reaches Deal With DHS Over Illegal Immigrant Transfers

A Texas border town and the federal government have reached a deal that stops the transfer of illegal immigrants to the border community, according to a report.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz told The Monitor that, under the agreement, illegal immigrants transferred to the border town from the Rio Grande Valley will no longer remain in Laredo but will instead be released to city staff and bussed to places like Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Saenz told The Monitor that, under the deal, the city is not required to test the individuals for COVID-19 before transporting them to other Texas locations.

“The reason why we don’t do testing is that once you test, there’s an obligation,” Saenz told the outlet. “If they’re positive, we’re told that you have to quarantine. We don’t have the infrastructure for that.

“I know some people may say, ‘You’re basically transporting untested people to other cities.’ And the answer is, ‘Yes.’ But what alternative do we have here, locally?” Saenz told the outlet, adding that no ICU beds were available in Laredo hospitals over the past seven days.

“We’ve had people in overflow, basically waiting for a hospital bed out in the hallways. I think today we had close to 40 just waiting for a room,” he said, adding that it will be up to authorities at the various destination points to carry out testing and provide safety measures.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Laredo mayor’s office with a request for comment and further details on the settlement.

The agreement ends a lawsuit brought by the city of Laredo in July against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that sought to block the agency from transferring illegal immigrants from the Rio Grande Valley to locations in Laredo when a rise in COVID-19 infections in the city strained hospital resources and limited shelter capacity.

City officials said in court documents that local NGOs assisting illegal immigrants were overwhelmed and that there was a rise in the number of people being released without COVID-19 testing, posing a risk to the community.

“As Laredo is an underserved medical community with limited resources, it simply cannot accommodate a surge in COVID-19 positives,” the court document states.

Laredo officials said in the complaint that the Biden administration was causing “irreparable harm” with the flood of illegal immigrants being dispersed into the community.

DHS didn’t respond to an earlier request for comment on the lawsuit from The Epoch Times.

On Thursday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited the Texas border towns of McAllen and Brownsville, where he met with local leaders and reiterated that “the situation at the border is a priority” for the agency.

“At the very outset, I want to communicate very clearly that the situation at the border is one of the toughest challenges we face. It is complicated, changing, and involves vulnerable people at a time of a global pandemic,” Mayorkas said at a briefing in Brownsville.

The DHS chief also shared statistics on apprehensions along the border, saying that, in July, 212,672 people were caught trying to cross into the United States illegally, a 13 percent increase over June. He added that 45 percent of the illegal immigrants apprehended in July were immediately expelled under Title 42 authority.

Mayorkas also outlined the administration’s efforts to address the problem, which he said involves a combination of push and pull factors—enhancing enforcement while also seeking to tackle some of the factors that drive people to leave their homes.

“Our plan has four pivotal parts: addressing the root causes, rebuilding and building safe, legal, and orderly pathways for migrants to apply for relief under our laws, without having to take the burden perilous journey north, improving security management, processing and other measures at our border, and attacking the smugglers,” he said.

Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’

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NatWest caps transfers to crypto exchanges, including Binance, over fraud concerns

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LONDON — Britain’s Natwest Group has capped the daily amount customers can send to cryptocurrency exchanges, including major platform Binance, because of concerns over investment scams and fraud, a spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday.

The temporary cap, imposed by one of Britain’s domestic biggest lenders on June 24, targets a number of exchanges and digital asset firms, the spokesperson said. The maximum amount varies depending on the platform, and is typically in the thousands of pounds, they added.

“We have seen a high level of cryptocurrency investment scams targeting our customers across retail and business banking, particularly through social media sites,” the spokesperson said.

“To protect our customers from the criminals exploiting these platforms, we’re temporarily reducing the maximum daily amount that a customer can send to cryptocurrency exchanges as well as blocking payments to a small number of cryptocurrency asset firms where we have seen particularly significant levels of fraud-related harm for our customers.”

A spokesperson for Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, said it was serious about its responsibility to protect users from attempted scams and frauds.

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“Where we are made aware of these kinds of claims, we immediately take action and have an excellent record of working with law enforcement agencies globally to assist in their investigations,” he said.

Binance is coming under increasing scrutiny by regulators globally. Britain’s financial watchdog last week said it cannot conduct any regulated activity and issued a warning to consumers about the platform.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) did not give reasons for its move, but told Reuters that Binance withdrew its application to register with it as a crypto-related business in mid-May.

Since January, crypto-related firms have had to register with the FCA, which oversees compliance with laws designed to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

In the wake of the move by the FCA, the NatWest spokesperson said it would keep under review Binance’s place on the list of crypto companies affected.

Binance offers services ranging from digital token trading to derivatives, as well as emerging technology such as tokenised versions of stocks. (Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Kirsten Donovan)

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Advocates for female inmates push back as transgender prisoner transfers ramp up in California

Advocates for incarcerated women are calling on California political and correctional leaders to halt and reverse the transfer of male-to-female transgender and nonbinary prisoners into the state’s women’s prisons.

SB 132, which took effect Jan. 1, lets prisoners choose their gender identity for purposes of placement — and even bodily searches — regardless of sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.

Though transfers were a trickle in the first few months, they have “sped up dramatically in recent weeks, and the safety of these women has become more and more compromised,” a spokesperson for the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) told Just the News.

“Under the law as written, there is no method to screen out males who genuinely self-identify as transgender from those who are using the system to prey on women,” the group wrote in an open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and the heads of the corrections department and two women’s facilities Monday.

A nonprofit started by formerly incarcerated women also said Monday it had received “hundreds of distressed messages from our sisters inside” since SB 132 took effect. 

“They are scared, angry, confused and in disbelief that legislators completely left them out of a decision that affects their mental health and safety 24 hours a day,” Woman II Woman wrote, highlighting stark differences in the social dynamics between men’s and women’s prisons. “Anyone can gender self ID to get a transfer, and who wouldn’t?” 

“Irreversible Damage” author Abigail Shrier profiled the nascent Woman II Woman in The Wall Street Journal in May, arguing the Equality Act championed by congressional Democrats would nationalize SB 132. She interviewed current and former female inmates, one of whom said many incoming transgender inmates aren’t even on hormone therapy and could get a “full erection” in a cell with women.

WoLF, a gender-critical feminist group that opposes transgender ideology, estimates “at least 28” biological males are in California’s two women’s prisons as of Monday, up from four when the law took effect.

The spokesperson cited its conversations with “people inside the system off-record” and tracking of known transgender prisoners through state databases. “One source told us five more are scheduled to arrive at CIW [California Institution for Women] this week,” the spokesperson reported.

Just the News located eight self-identified trangender inmates in the women’s prisons based on media reports and searches of the state’s public database for inmates.

One, Jessica Marie Hann, received a death sentence in 2019 as Jason Michael Hann for killing his infant daughter. Hann was transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) nearly a year before the law took effect, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) told the Daily Caller in April.

Another 10 prisoners with male names are also listed as housed at CCWF and CIW in the state database. They were convicted of crimes including “aggregated sexual assault of a child,” child molestation and “continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.”

The least the state can do is “segregate male inmates together” in the women’s prisons and let biological females refuse to be housed with them, WoLF’s letter said. But it should also halt the processing of applications for transfers “pending a safety assessment and proper notice and comment period.”

“CDCR has remained committed to providing a safe, humane, rehabilitative and secure environment for all incarcerated persons” regardless of gender identity or anatomy, a spokesperson for CDCR said in response to questions from Just the News. It’s complying with the law and “reviewing all housing transfer requests through a multi-disciplinary team to include institution leadership, mental health professionals, and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Compliance Managers.”

While Woman II Woman’s letter claimed CCWF was discussing cutting down “shade trees” in the prison yard to prevent incoming males from using them “as weapons,” the CDCR spokesperson said it “does not have any plans to remove or destroy any trees or shrubbery within the institution.”

Sleep schedules to ensure ‘no one gets raped’

California’s self-identification law for prisoners who do not identify with their sex was several years behind its provision of sex reassignment surgery for transgender prisoners.

Shiloh Quine became the first inmate in America to get taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery when the state agreed to settle Quine’s lawsuit in 2015. She transferred to CCWF in 2017 to serve out a life sentence but quickly complained that prison officials denied her a razor, causing a beard to grow back.

The Los Angeles Times reported in April that while only four transgender inmates had been transferred to CCWF since the law took effect, the prison system had approved “21 gender-based housing requests and denied none,” with more than 200 requests pending. The CDCR said more than 1,000 inmates identify as transgender, nonbinary or intersex.

WoLF’s letter cited 2009 research by the University of California Irvine that 20% of California transgender inmates are sex offenders, and a 30-year Swedish study of male-to-female transgender people that found “they retained a male pattern regarding criminality” after sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy.

Yet female inmates, the “vast majority” of whom have survived various forms of abuse, can face “serious discipline” for defending themselves against physical attack by biological male inmates or simply refusing to share a cell, the letter said.

“What predator wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to serve their sentence surrounded by potential new victims who are too scared to stand up for themselves?” the Woman II Woman letter said. “How does it protect transwomen [sic] to bring the same problems to the women’s prisons?”

The nonprofit claimed the men’s prison environment is “militant” and highly segregated by race, gang and crime, whereas women’s prisons are highly integrated and cooperative. With biologically male inmates coming in, female inmates are “now making sleep schedules so that one woman is always on watch to make sure no one gets raped.”

The Times said several transgender inmates it interviewed at men’s prisons raised the issue of inmates requesting transfers under false pretenses as well. One said she was recruited by prison staff to identify fakers. A staffer for the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project also criticized the law for requiring only self-identification.

Female guards at men’s prisons are also anonymously protesting their new cavity-search duties under the law, according to Fox 40. The station obtained an internal memo from California State Prison Sacramento that said female guards will be written up for “insubordination” if they refuse an order from a supervisor to search a transgender inmate.

This cavity-search rule is just “another opportunity to violate women,” Woman II Woman founder Amie Ichikawa told Shrier. 

Regarding cavity searches, the CDCR spokesperson said the law “did not change how clothed and unclothed body searches are done or the consequences of a staff member’s refusals for performing their job duties, just the gender of the staff member who can conduct them when a search preference request is made and approved.”

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US Wants to Force Reporting of Crypto Transfers Over $10,000 to the IRS

The U.S. government has suggested mandating the reporting of cryptocurrency transfers of more than $10,000 to the IRS, the latest proposal by federal officials to introduce more red tape into the crypto space.

“As with cash transactions, businesses that receive cryptoassets with a fair market value of more than $10,000 would also be reported on,” the Treasury Department said in a May 20 report on efforts to improve tax compliance. “Although cryptocurrency is a small share of current business transactions, such comprehensive reporting is necessary to minimize the incentives and opportunity to shift income out of the new information reporting regime.”

Federal law already requires people to report cash transactions of more than $10,000 to the IRS.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular among Americans, helping some of the currencies to increase significantly in value. Bitcoin recently hit a record-high of over $60,000, though it has since gone as low as $32,061.55.

Cryptocurrencies are used to store value and can be used in transactions, primarily over the internet. The most popular is bitcoin, which was introduced in early 2009. The currencies rely on nodes scattered across the world to check transactions in a so-called ledger system, which has been praised by some as improving transaction security and removing banks from the equation.

Transactions are often conducted through exchanges like Coinbase. In recent years, U.S. regulators have cracked down on exchanges, forcing them to gather more and more data from customers based in the United States. IRS officials have taken to upping enforcement of tax payments owed from cryptocurrency gains, drawing harsh criticism from some early purveyors of the new forms of currency.

The Treasury’s new report was issued to outline how President Joe Biden’s new tax compliance initiatives—laid out in his proposed American Families Plan—would work. The plan involves improvement at gathering taxes by addressing loopholes that left nearly $600 billion owed in 2019 uncollected.

The department said cryptocurrency transactions still constitute a relatively small portion of business income today, but predicted they would “likely to rise in importance in the next decade, especially in the presence of a broad-based financial account reporting regime.”

Cryptocurrencies were not mentioned in the White House fact sheet about the plan, which is aimed at upping taxes to pay for providing free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds and free two years of community college to adults.

Other Biden administration officials have pushed for greater regulation on the crypto space.

Gary Gensler, recently confirmed to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, told a House panel earlier this month that the crypto asset market “could benefit from greater investment protection” and that exchanges at this time don’t “have a regulatory framework that can instill greater confidence” in consumers.

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Researchers suggest Ottawa eliminate health transfers, give provinces room to tax

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MONTREAL — A new report by researchers at the Universite de Montreal’s HEC business school is calling for the end of federal transfers payments to the provinces.

The report published Thursday suggests that ending the health and social transfers — while giving provinces more space to raise tax revenue of their own — could end the “tug of war” between the provinces and the federal government over the money.

Released by the Centre for Productivity and Prosperity — Walter J. Somers Foundation at HEC, the report recommends that equalization payments be maintained and that the Canadian Institute for Health Information be given more power, and turned into a sort of Parliamentary Budget Officer for health care, in an effort the make provincial health-care systems more accountable to the public.

The plan would require political will from both the federal and the provincial governments, said Robert Gagne, the director of the HEC centre and one of the authors of the study.

“There are things we’ve done historically (that were) more radical than this,” Gagne said in an interview. “If the will is there, it’s doable. Do they want to do it? That’s another question.”

He said he worries the current system works for both levels of government, even though the provinces regularly complain about the amount of money they receive.


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Under the current system, provincial governments can have their cake and eat it too, he said: “They don’t have to bear the burden of taxing, and they receive a cheque from the federal government. The downside of this is the federal government can say, ‘I’ll send you a smaller cheque.’ ”

It also allows the federal government to enter into areas of provincial jurisdiction, he said.

The provinces are currently calling for a $28-billion increase in annual federal funding for health care — from $42 billion to $70 billion.

The report suggests Ottawa could end transfer payments and give power over corporate taxation, currently worth a little more than $50 billion, and half the GST, worth $18.7 billion, to the provinces. The total, $68.7 billion. represents almost exactly the amount the provinces are calling for.


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“The system is out of balance and a bit unhealthy too,” Gagne said, because the capacity of different levels of government in Canada to levy taxes isn’t proportionate to their responsibilities.

The approach would only require the federal government to cede space to the provinces, so that provincial governments can raise the revenue to meet their needs. Gagne said that has happened before. When former prime minister Stephen Harper lowered the GST by two percentage points, Quebec increased its sales tax proportionately.

Gagne said Canada also needs an independent body to keep health-care systems — which consume roughly half of provincial spending — accountable.

“Are we getting value for our money? That’s the other big question, and there’s no way of knowing right now,” he said. “When we are able to evaluate performance, when there is more transparency, systems work better.”


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Gagne’s report also aims to correct the “vocabulary” and false perceptions around fiscal exchanges between Ottawa and the provinces.

“When (Quebec Premier Francois) Legault says, ‘We’ll ask for more from the federal government,’ be careful. The federal government is nothing more than an intermediary in all this We’re asking for more from Canadian taxpayers, including Quebecers,” Gagne said.

The same goes for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Gagne said.

“Mr. Kenney suggested several months ago that it’s Alberta that finances the equalization program. No, it’s not Alberta that finances the equalization program,” he said. “It’s Canadian taxpayers, wherever they are in the country, who fund the equalization program. Words are important because people who don’t follow this closely start saying that it’s the government of Alberta who sends a cheque to Ottawa to fund daycares in Quebec, which is completely false.”

Gagne said that in his proposed system, equalization would continue to ensure that provinces are able to offer comparable services, even if they don’t have the same ability to tax corporations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.


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Biden Admin Weighs Cash Transfers, COVID-Vaccine Exports to Central America

Unaccompanied minors from Central America line up to be transported by U.S. Customs Border Protection officials after crossing the Rio Grande river on rafts in Penitas, Texas, March 26, 2021. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

The Biden administration is considering cash transfers to Northern Triangle countries in a bid to ease migration from those nations to the U.S., Reuters reported on Saturday.

The potential cash transfers could be accomplished by channeling funds through international or non-governmental organizations that would vet applicants, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Coronavirus vaccine exports are also being studied as a way to improve the economy of the Northern Triangle region, or the nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

“We’re looking at all of the productive options to address both the economic reasons people may be migrating, as well as the protection and security reasons,” said Roberta Jacobson, the White House coordinator for the southern border. “The one thing I can promise you is the U.S. government isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people.”

Jacobson said that the potential export of coronavirus vaccines was being considered separately from the immigration issue.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) criticized the cash transfer proposal.

“It’s insulting to the millions of Americans who are out of work or facing despair in our country,” McCarthy said.

The Biden administration is struggling with record-breaking levels of illegal crossings from Mexico into the U.S., with many migrants making the journey from the Northern Triangle region. U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained 172,331 migrants at the border in March, including 18,890 unaccompanied minors, the highest number of migrant children ever detained in a single month.

The number of migrants detained in March increased almost 100,000 from the 78,442 detained in January, the sharpest rise in attempted crossings in almost 20 years.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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U.S. considering cash transfers to Central American countries to stem causes of migration

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WASHINGTON — The United States is considering a conditional cash transfer program to help address economic woes that lead many Central American migrants to trek north, as well as sending doses of COVID-19 vaccines to those countries, a senior White House official told Reuters on Friday. (Reporting by Ted Hesson and Matt Spetalnick in Washington)

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Hundreds of Transgender California Inmates Request Transfers to Women’s Prisons

A federal detention center in San Diego, Calif., April 11, 2020. (Bing Guan/Reuters)

The California prison system has received 261 applications since January 1 from transgender, intersex, or non-binary inmates to transfer to facilities that match their preferred gender identity, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.

The requests were filed after a state law came into effect allowing transgender inmates to transfer to different prisons. Around 1 percent of prisoners in California, 1,129 inmates in total, have notified the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that they are transgender, intersex, or non-binary.

The transfers have been welcomed by transgender women who reported suffering sexual violence while incarcerated at men’s prisons. However, inmates at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla told the Times that staff have warned them of potential sexual violence from men who may try to take advantage of the transfer system.

Guards said “that if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping,” inmate Tomiekia Johnson told the Times. “They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward. They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”

Nina McQueen, a transgender woman and inmate at Mule Creek , said she had helped prison staff identify male inmates who attempted to transfer to women’s facilities by pretending to be transgender.

“They wanted me in a confidential setting to tell them who is transgender and who is not, so they can block some of these guys from going to the women’s prison,” McQueen said. “I told him I don’t have a problem with it….We feel they’re climbing our backs.”

The California initiative to consider transfer requests from transgender inmates was passed in part to align the state with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. The law requires prison agencies to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to transfer inmates based on their sexual or gender identity.  

Other states including Massachusetts and Connecticut have legislation similar to California’s allowing inmate transfers. The first such transfer took place in 2019, after a transgender woman jailed in Massachusetts sued the state in order to be placed in a women’s prison.

“It’s a hugely important development,” the woman’s lawyer Jennifer L. Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, told the Boston Globe at the time. “Transgender women can and need to be integrated into women’s facilities and doing so is not just required, but appropriate.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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