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Tag: usa today

USA Today Columnist: ICE Should Stop Taking Parents from Children

Courtesy of ICE

Courtesy of ICE

Janet Murguia
USA Today 

The immigration debate in America is the place where conservative principles — fiscal responsibility, federalism and the “preservation of the family unit” — go to die.

As we’ve seen over the past two months, a country that has for centuries been a beacon for the world’s immigrants is now pursuing policies that will surely leave her on the wrong side of history. President Trump’s immigration agenda — one fitfully symbolized by a yet-to-be-built wall — threatens to tear apart American families while leaving a trail of misery across the United States.

As the president’s budget moves from bluster to blueprint, we can clearly see that the campaign rhetoric used to rile racists was not a cynical appeal waiting to be washed away by reason. His funding requests to Congress have set in motion an attempt to massively expand detention camps and escalate an already large deportation force. To put these dollars in perspective, the United States already spends about $18 billion on immigration enforcement. That’s more than on all the other federal law enforcement agencies combined: the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the Federal Marshals Service and the Secret Service.

What confronts us now is scorched-earth immigration enforcement that will separate as many as 5.7 million American children from their parents. Some of them already have watched as newly emboldened Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have set upon their families. As White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it this past month, The president wants to “take the shackles off individuals in these agencies.”

This practice will have devastating consequences on our nation’s families, as illustrated by the story of 13-year-old Fatima Avelica, whose life was devastated in February by the president’s first nationwide immigration sweep. One month ago, she witnessed and captured on film the ICE arrest of her father Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez after they dropped her younger sister off at school. Agents were acting on a deportation order issued in 2014. Fatima sobbed from the back seat as her father, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the United States for more than 25 years, was put in handcuffs and taken away.

To read more click here. 

USA Today Column: CIA Isn’t Providing Presidential Candidates with Classified Info

donald trump rallyBy Ray Locker
USA Today

Intelligence briefings for presidential candidates, a tradition since 1952, have stirred more controversy this year than in any campaign since 1960, as the critics of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump say they can’t be trusted with vital national security information.

Trump’s habit of saying or tweeting anything that comes into his mind has led to unsubstantiated claims that he spilled secret information about Saudi Arabia, while critics such as House Speaker Paul Ryan say Clinton’s past use of an unsecured email server makes her ineligible to receive classified information.

Since President Harry Truman started the briefings to make sure the two nominees didn’t inadvertently veer into topics that interfered with ongoing policy, most briefings have been routine and uneventful. But there was an exception in 1960, when the fate of U.S. policy in Cuba drove much of the political debate, and that led to a change in nominee briefings that endures to this day.

Republican Vice President Richard Nixon and Democratic Sen. John Kennedy of Massachusetts were locked in an extremely tight race for the presidency. Kennedy claimed the incumbent administration of President Dwight Eisenhower was soft on the newly minted communist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

A growing exile community in the United States wanted Castro gone, and in March 1960, Eisenhower approved a covert program to oust Castro.

During the final weeks of the campaign, the Kennedy campaign released a statement calling for a brigade of exiled Cubans to retake Cuba. Kennedy, who was sleepingwhen the statement was issued, never saw it before it was released.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

USA Today Writer: How Invasive TSA Aggressively Handled Me at Airport

body images airportJames Bovard
USA Today

The Transportation Security Administration finally obeyed a 2011 federal court order March 3 and issued a 157 page Federal Register notice justifying its controversial full-body scanners and other checkpoint procedures. TSA’s notice ignored the fact that the “nudie” scanners are utterly unreliable; TSAfailed to detect 95% of weapons and mock bombs that Inspector General testers smuggled past them last year while the agency continues to mislead the public about its heavy-handed treatment of travelers.

The Federal Register notice is full of soothing pablum about how travelers have no reason to fear the TSA, declaring that “passengers can obtain information before they leave for the airport on what items are prohibited.” But it neglects to mention that TSA can invoke ludicrous pretexts to treat innocent travelers as suspicious terrorist suspects.

Flying home from Portland, Ore., on Thanksgiving morning, I had a too-close encounter with TSA agents that spurred me to file a Freedom of Information Act request. On March 5, I finally received a bevy of TSA documents and video footage with a grope-by-grope timeline.

As a silent assertion of my rights, I opted out that morning from passing through the “nudie” full-body scanners. A TSA agent instead did a vigorous pat-down and then, after running his glove through an explosive trace detector (ETD), announced that I showed a positive alert for explosives. He did not know what type of explosive was detected and refused to disclose how often that machine spewed false alarms. Regardless, I was told I would have to undergo a an additional special pat-down to resolve the explosive alert. I was marched off by three TSA agents to a closed room. TSA states that “a companion of his or her choosing may accompany the passenger” but I was never notified of that right.

TSA disclosed exhaustive video coverage of my every movement in the Portland airport, even detailing which chair I chose after getting a Starbucks coffee. But there is a tell-tale gap. The video timeline notes “7:50:29 group arrives at Private Security room. 7:50:55. Door Closes. 7:57:28 Door Opens.” The seven-minute gap in the recording is where travelers’ rights vanish.

TSA’s power is effectively unlimited behind closed doors. The lead TransportationSecurity officer (LTSO) proceeded to carry out a far more aggressive patdown, tugging on my shirt as if he thought it was a tear-away football jersey. The procedure was only mildly aggravating until he jammed his palm into my groin three times. Perhaps that pointless procedure was retribution for opting-out or my scoffing at their security theater.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

USA Today: FBI Director Comey Fans Flames without Evidence on ‘Ferguson Effect’

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Editorial Board
USA Today

Since the mid-1990s, violent crime in the USA has dropped by nearly half. From 713.6 incidents per 100,000 people in 1994, it had fallen to 365.5 by last year. Apart from a short-lived uptick in 2005 and 2006, the downward trend has been persistent.

Criminologists initially attributed the decline to the ebbing of the crack cocaine epidemic. When the rate continued to fall long after the crack turf wars were over, the experts turned to other possible explanations. Changes in policing? The rising rates of incarceration? No single explanation was particularly convincing.

But now that preliminary data show an increase in violent crime in certain large cities this year, one man says he already knows why. FBI Director James Comey  says the spike is at least in part the result of what is being called the “Ferguson effect” — the increased scrutiny of officers in the wake of several highly publicized police brutality cases, including the shooting of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., last year. This scrutiny, Comey says, is causing police to be more cautious and criminals to be more emboldened.

It is possible, of course, that Comey is on to something and will be proved right over time. Surely, no officer wants to be the next YouTube sensation. But given the history of crime theories, confidence in a gut-sense explanation is unwarranted. Blaming the crime rise on police criticism is provocative and shouldn’t be done without firm data to back it up.

To read more click here. 

USA Today Editorial: TSA Takes Sensible Steps to Improving Security, Airport Experience

tsa.gov

USA Today
By Editorial Board

Holiday air travel seems to get more unpleasant with each passing year, especially if you’re flying coach. Planes are packed. Seats are cramped. Overhead bins are overloaded. Free meals are non-existent.

But one part of the airport experience has been improving, and — believe it or not — it’s the part controlled by the government. Four years after the pre-Thanksgiving “don’t touch my junk” uproar over intrusive pat-downs, the Transportation Security Administration has made significant strides toward a more common-sense approach to screening.

TSA has accomplished this even as airlines have made the screeners’ job harder by imposing hefty bag-check fees that encourage fliers to schlep their densely packed luggage through security and onto planes.

The most welcome change at the checkpoint: No longer is everyone — from toddlers to wheelchair-bound octogenarians — treated like a terrorist.

Expedited, “risk-based” security is now available to children under 12, seniors 75 and older, members of the armed services and other low-risk fliers. Most significantly, the PreCheck program has enrolled more than 700,000 travelers who can go through special lanes where they don’t have to remove shoes, belts, light jackets or laptops.

As a result of these and other steps, complaints are down more than 25% and wait times have been reduced, says TSA Administrator John Pistole, who is stepping down next month after four-and-a-half years on the job.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

USA Today Investigation: ATF Drug Stings Targeted Minorities

By Brad Heath
USA Today
WASHINGTON — The nation’s top gun-enforcement agency overwhelmingly targeted racial and ethnic minorities as it expanded its use of controversial drug sting operations, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has more than quadrupled its use of those stings during the past decade, quietly making them a central part of its attempts to combat gun crime. The operations are designed to produce long prison sentences for suspects enticed by the promise of pocketing as much as $100,000 for robbing a drug stash house that does not actually exist.

At least 91% of the people agents have locked up using those stings were racial or ethnic minorities, USA TODAY found after reviewing court files and prison records from across the United States. Nearly all were either black or Hispanic. That rate is far higher than among people arrested for big-city violent crimes, or for other federal robbery, drug and gun offenses.

Read Full Article

Justice Department May Release “Legally Innocent” Prisoners

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The U.S. Justice Department will no longer fight the release of prisoners who have been deemed “legally innocent,” the USA Today reports.

The department’s move, announced Monday, follows a USA Today investigation that found more than 60 people were imprisoned even though an appeals court later determined they did not commit a federal crime.

It’s unclear how many prisoners could be set free under the switch, but most of them likely are low-level offenders, according to the USA Today.

USA Today wrote:

The investigation found that the Justice Department had done almost nothing to identify those prisoners — many of whom did not know they were innocent — and had argued in court that the men were innocent but should remain imprisoned anyway.

 

Got Drugs? DEA Wants You to Turn Them In

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The ad stripped across the bottom of USA Today’s Money section on Monday read: “Got Drugs? Turn in your unused or expired medication for safe disposal Saturday, October 29th.”

The ad,  an apparent play on the popular ad campaign “Got Milk?”, also appears on the top of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s webpage, and is part of a campaign by the DEA to get folks to throw out their expired or unused drugs.

The DEA will have collection sites set up around the country from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” the DEA said in a press release.”More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.”