Officials Say Human Smugglers Bringing Migrants into the U.S. Illegally by the Hundreds

Crowd of immigrants

Human smugglers have been transporting migrants into the U.S. illegally in groups of over 100 people, mostly comprised of families and unaccompanied minors, border officials said Thursday.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials encountered three large groups totaling 320 illegal migrants near Edinburg, Texas, over a two-day span, according to the agency. Officials apprehended 229 family members, 86 unaccompanied migrant minors and five single adults.

“Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation,” CBP said in a statement.

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Commentary: The Rise of the New State Church

Saint Marys Cathedral, Natchez, United States

The United States is historically a Christian country, that is, it was founded by Christians and its population remains largely Christian to this day. The speeches and statements of our presidents, our official holidays, the prayers that are said before the opening of Congress and the Supreme Court, the imagery we see on official buildings all attest to the religious, indeed Christian, foundation of our nation. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court in an 1892 decision declared explicitly that “we are a Christian nation.”

Nevertheless, at least until recent days, Americans have understood that we live in a pluralistic society where Protestants, Catholics, Jews, even atheists, were equal before each other and equal before the law. There was no official church at the federal level that would require belief, assent, or obedience. This is not to say that there have not been dark times in our history when we failed to live up to our ideals. Catholics may recall times when our churches were burned and there were riots against us. But the highest American aspiration has always been that all should be treated equally, that a Jew should get the same treatment in a court of law as a Methodist or a Muslim.

Our twin understanding of our country’s deep religious roots coupled with an ideal of religious freedom grew out of the English tradition of religious toleration. The English had an official state church, but the English also recognized the importance of providing dissenters with some measure of freedom. The Act of Toleration of 1689 provided this freedom.

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Arizona’s Democratic Senators Want More Homeland Security Personnel on the Southern Border

Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly

Arizona’s Democratic senators called on President Joe Biden’s administration to increase the number of Homeland Security personnel on the southern border to better respond to increasing number of migrants.

In a letter Wednesday, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly also requested that the White House reimburse Arizona for its deploying of approximately 500 National Guard members to better respond to the crisis.

“From recent conversations with local community leaders, law enforcement, and local Department of Homeland Security officials, it’s clear that their resources, staffing and capabilities are strained,” they wrote. “While additional resources were passed in the American Rescue Plan and provided by FEMA and DHS, additional personnel are needed at the border to ensure our communities are protected, and migrants are treated fairly and humanely.”

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Commentary: Senate Republicans Just Handed Matches to Arsonists

One of the most fateful decisions of Donald Trump’s presidency happened just weeks after Inauguration Day.

In March 2017, Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to demand Jeff Sessions, a former Senate colleague and Trump’s new attorney general, recuse himself from anything related to the investigation into alleged Russian election collusion. Sessions’ two brief meetings in 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak—a figure who appeared often in collusion-related drama—amounted to evidence of collusion, collusion perps insisted.

Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were just a few top Republicans who asked Sessions to step aside—so he did.

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Biden Admin Appeals to Force Religious Doctors, Hospitals to Provide Trans Surgeries Despite Conscience Objections

Doctor with arms folded, holding stethescope

President Joe Biden’s administration filed an appeal Tuesday that seeks to force religious doctors and hospitals to provide transgender surgeries, regardless of religious objections.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration issued a mandate in 2016 requiring doctors and hospitals to provide transgender surgeries upon a mental health professional’s referral. The transgender mandate, an interpretation of an Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination clause, did not include conscience or religion exemptions.

An association of over 19,000 healthcare professionals, several religious organizations, and nine states challenged the mandate in two different courts, according to a website on the mandate run by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

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Biden Lays Out Aggressive Climate Agenda at World Summit

Sign that says "Climate Justice Now!"

President Joe Biden hosted a virtual climate summit with dozens of world leaders Thursday, the same day the White House released a set of aggressive climate goals. Critics say the plan could jeopardize the economy at a time it is recovering from record-breaking unemployment because of the pandemic and governments’ response to it.

First among those priorities is a pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2030.

“The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House said in a statement. “Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice.”

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Chicago May Require Approval to Chase Suspects on Foot

Chicago Police Officer

Chicago police officers may have to check with their supervisor before chasing suspects on foot, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday. The mayor promised to announce details of a new policy “soon,” Fox 32 Chicago reported.

“No one should die as a result of a foot chase,” Lightfoot said.

Chicago law enforcement’s use of force faced new scrutiny after an officer chased and fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29. Video of the incident released last week shows Toldedo dumping what appears to be a firearm a split-second before he turns and raises his hands. Allegedly, he was handed the gun by Ruben Roman, who allegedly had just used it to fire eight rounds at a passing vehicle. Apparently, no one was hit, according to Fox32.

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Kansas Governor Vetoes Ban on Biological Males on Women’s Sports

Laura Kelly

The governor of Kansas has vetoed a bill that would have banned biological males from participating in women’s sports.

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the “The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” Thursday, saying in a news release that the legislation “sends a devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender — who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide,” according to local outlet KMBC.

“As Kansans, we should be focused on how to include all students in extracurricular activities rather than how to exclude those who may be different than us,” Kelly said. “Kansas is an inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does not do that.”

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Ohio Restaurants, Bars Struggle to Find Employees

An empty bar

As sales slowly improve, Ohio’s restaurants and bars now face another issue that threatens ongoing COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts: lack of employees.

Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker believes the intentions behind continued federal and state stimulus benefits are good, but a consequence is a lack of available employees as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions and customer traffic increases.

“Unemployment is an issue. There’s no question about it,” Barker said. “The intention by the government, both at the federal and state level, was to take care of people who are displaced and very much in need. It was the right thing to do. The problem we have now is these are looking like they’re going to be extended all the way through the fall. On top of that, people are getting big stimulus checks. And in some cases, they may be making more money staying at home than going back to work. And so, it’s a combination of factors.”

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