Trump officials open border to 15,000 more foreign workers
THE WASHINGTON POST – The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional visas for low-wage seasonal workers for the remainder of this fiscal year, a seeming about-face from President Trump’s “Hire American” rhetoric, following heavy lobbying from fisheries, hospitality and other industries that rely on temporary foreign workers. The increase represents a 45 percent bump from the number of H-2B visas normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year, said senior Homeland Security officials in a call with reporters.
Immigration activists fear for future of ‘Dreamers’ program
THE HILL – Pro-immigrant activists are growing increasingly pessimistic that the Trump administration will defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from court challenges. The program, based on an executive order signed by former President Obama, gives work permits and protects from deportation around 750,000 people who were illegally brought into the country as children. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) lawmakers this week that he didn’t believe the program was legally sustainable.
House Justice spending bill passes to floor with host of pro-gun riders, ATF spending boost
GUNS.COM – While gun control groups welcomed the prospect the nation’s gun regulatory agency would get more money than last year, they balked at pro-Second Amendment riders trimming the agency’s reach. The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill 31-21. Among the $54 billion in discretionary funding greenlighted was $73 million for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System — in line with 2017s budget — and $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a $35 million bump from last year’s funded level.
Border Patrol union chief praises ‘miraculous’ drop in illegal immigration under Trump
WASHINGTON EXAMINER – The significant downturn in the number of illegal border crossers between the U.S. and Mexico is “nothing short of miraculous,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said on C-SPAN Monday. “As far as the Trump administration’s efforts on immigration, this is something they campaigned heavily on,” he said. “At six months, where we are on meeting those promises, we are seeing nothing short of miraculous. If you look at the rhetoric that President Trump has given, it has caused a number of illegal border crossings to go down. We have never seen such a drop that we currently have.”
Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security
TEXAS TRIBUNE – The state military patrol that’s been on the Texas-Mexico border since 2014 just got a $2.3 million boost from the federal government to help keep it in place. The Texas Military Department said on Monday it’s been allotted that money from the federal government to continue its border security efforts through the end of the current fiscal year. The confirmation from Lt. Col. Travis Walters came after Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release that the federal government is finally stepping up to help pay for more border security.
Trump administration is looking at a wildlife refuge in Rio Grande Valley for its first portion of border wall
LOS ANGELES TIMES – Environmentalists along the U.S.-Mexico border are gearing up for a fight as federal officials zero in on the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to build the first stretch of the border wall promised by President Trump. Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used a drilling rig to extract soil samples at the Rio Grande Valley refuge to prepare for the possibility of constructing three miles of concrete levee wall and fence, according to a federal Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal planning for the wall.
Abbott announces $41M in fundraising for re-election campaign
DALLAS NEWS – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that he’s starting his re-election bid with nearly $41 million on hand, giving the Republican who has no major Democratic opponent in sight a big and formidable head start on any potential challenger in 2018. Abbott’s fundraising total is nearly twice the money Abbott started with when he launched his first run for governor in 2013. He easily defeated Democrat Wendy Davis by 20 points in the 2014 election.
IBM ups the ante in fight against Texas bathroom bill
TEXAS TRIBUNE – As state lawmakers return to Austin for legislative overtime, tech giant IBM is stepping up its fight to defeat legislation it says would discriminate against children and harm its Texas recruiting efforts. In an internal memo sent Monday to thousands of employees around the world, IBM’s human resources chief outlined the New York-based company’s opposition to what the letter described as discriminatory proposals to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans. IBM sent the letter to employees the same day it dispatched nearly 20 top executives to the Lone Star State to lobby lawmakers at the state Capitol.
Acapulco blighted by Mexico’s wave of violent crime
FINANCIAL TIMES – The gangs first came looking for Israel at one of his bars in the Mexican seaside resort of Acapulco last September. Once they had found him, the demands for cash began. He paid up, 40,000 pesos ($2,270) a month. It has been such a financial strain in a town where the local economy is already stifled by crime, with tourists and locals often not daring to go out, that he expects to close one of his bars soon. His mistake was to report the extortion to the authorities. “Don’t look for intermediaries again,” came back the message. “Just pay what you have to pay.”
Technology Can Be a Tool, A Teacher, A Trickster
TEXAS PUBLIC RADIO – Those of my generation have seen enormous advances in speech recognition systems. In the early days, the user had to train herself to the system, exaggerating phonemes, speaking in slow staccato bursts. These days, it’s the system that trains itself to the user. The results aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty darn good. The development of speech recognition illustrates one facet of the relationship between people and technology. Sometimes, we have to change ourselves to meet the technology where it is. But the goal is often the other way around: to improve the technology to fit us as we are.
Business groups tell Texas lawmakers: Reject ‘bathroom bill’
MYSTATESMAN.COM – Scrapped corporate expansions and relocations. Discontinued national conventions and conferences. Canceled sporting events and concerts. Those are the economic consequences Texas lawmakers are risking if they approve legislation regulating where transgender people can use the bathroom during the special session of the Texas Legislature that begins on Tuesday, according to corporate executives, business lobbyists and tourism officials.
Texas teens to fight ‘show me your papers’ bill with quinceañera-themedprotest
DAILYKOS.COM – By signing a racist “show me your papers” bill into law, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has made it clear that if he can’t scare Latinos and immigrants away, he at least wants them to live in a constant state of fear and shame because of who they and their families are. This week, a group of 15 young girls plan to fight back against Abbott’s hate, donning “quinceañera” dresses for a demonstration that will both celebrate their culture and “send the message that young Latinas are standing up to the ongoing attacks on our community by our elected officials who work at the Capitol.
Living in fear of President Trump’s deportation drive
BBC – In the early evening in a Hispanic township near Brownsville, Texas, curtains begin to draw, the streets are empty and the playground lies still. “Everyone locks their doors, they’re scared,” said Maria, who came to America illegally from Mexico 23 years ago. “We close blinds. It looks like a wasteland.” Maria is one of an estimated 11 million “undocumented immigrants”, many of whom have lived in the US for decades, and have American-born children.
Tropical Storm Don forms near Windward Islands
VALLEY MORNING STAR – HARLINGEN — The fourth named storm of the hurricane season popped up Monday afternoon off the coast of South America. Tropical Storm Don formed just east of the Windward Islands, but poses no threat to the U.S. mainland for now. National Weather Service forecasters say Don appears to be headed due westward as a tropical storm at least until Wednesday afternoon, skimming the coastline of Venezuela.
Oil prices are beginning to stay firm
OAOA.COM – The International Energy Agency said Thursday that global oil demand had ‘dramatically accelerated’ in the second quarter of 2017 to 98 million barrels a day. The trend was driven by higher consumption in big Western economies like the U. S. and Germany, and it came at a time of depressed oil prices. Brent, the international benchmark, was up 0.6 percent in London trading to $ 48.73 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate, used to price U. S. oil, was up 0.52 percent at $ 46.33 a barrel.