Last week, Gov. Katie Hobbs held “listening sessions” ahead of her third trip to the southern border in order to better understand the border crisis.
Hobbs met with groups that provide housing and transport for illegal immigrants seeking asylum to discuss the anticipated impact of Title 42’s end come May 11. These included Campesinos sin Fronteras, International Rescue Committee, Regional Center Border Health and representatives from Greyhound lines and Sky Harbor International Airport.
The governor claimed in a press release that her administration has “proactively” addressed the crisis.
“My administration is proactively addressing the myriad of issues with our southern border, and want to hear from organizations on the ground regarding how the administration can better support efforts to coordinate and collaborate on processing these individuals in the most humane and efficient manner,” said Hobbs.
There have been well over 4.9 million southwest border encounters since President Joe Biden took office. That’s an average of over 197,000 encounters a month. At this rate, there could be well over 9.4 million illegal immigrant encounters by the end of the president’s first term.
The encounter data doesn’t include gotaways: those illegal immigrants not apprehended but observed crossing into the country.
Hobbs plans to visit the border on Tuesday; her third since taking office in January, previously visiting Yuma, San Luis, and Somerton. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas plans to join Hobbs for this latest border visit.
The governor has taken the opposite approach from her predecessor when it comes to border security. Almost immediately after taking office, Hobbs had the shipping containers removed and repurposed into houses for the homeless. Hobbs claimed that former Gov. Doug Ducey’s effort to close the border was a “publicity stunt,” and not a permanent solution.
The state spent about $95 million on construction and $75 million on removal of the shipping containers.
Following her election, Hobbs also pledged to dissolve Ducey’s Border Strike Force (BSF), established in 2015. Hobbs clarified during a press conference last month that the BSF would go away — but not its funding and resources.
“Right now, the Border Strike Force is not actually being utilized at the border, so we want to coordinate those resources where they can be most helpful with the law enforcement there,” said Hobbs. “It’s really important to listen to the folks working in the field that are experts on these and take our direction from them.”
Hobbs has also advocated for greater benefits to illegal immigrants, asking lawmakers for $40 million to finance illegal immigrants’ college tuition during her State of the State address in January.
The “transracial” woman who stirred national controversy about eight years ago for falsely claiming to be Black attended Gov. Katie Hobbs’ signing of a ban on hair discrimination last Friday.
Rachel Dolezal, who now goes by Nkechi Amare Diallo, formerly served as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington, as well as an Africana studies professor at Eastern Washington University. The truth of Dolezal’s race came to light after her parents came forward to disavow her claimed identity, following her Black rights activism and claims to police and media that she was the victim of racially-motivated hate crimes.
Hobbs signed the executive order — titled the “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act, or “CROWN” Act — on Friday. The California-originating model legislation prohibits public schools and state employers or contractors from discriminating against employees’ hair texture and protective styles, such as braids, locs, twists, knots, and headwraps.
“Black women, men, and children should be able to wear their natural hair with pride and without the fear of discrimination,” tweeted Hobbs, echoing a line from the executive order.
Dolezal wasn’t included in the published version of the photo posted by the governor.
California lawmakers passed their version of the CROWN Act in 2019. New York, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Illinois all followed suit in passage of their version of the model legislation.
The Arizona legislature last considered a version of the CROWN Act in 2021 under HB2593 from former Democratic State Rep. Aaron Lieberman. The legislation didn’t make it to committee.
Reactions to Hobbs’ executive order were mixed, mainly along party lines.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) questioned Hobbs’ priorities: making time for an executive order declaring the professionalism of certain hairstyles while other issues such as the border crisis continue unsolved.
“We don’t have a budget or a secure border, inflation is raging, our elections are a laughingstock and our schools are a parent’s worst nightmare. But at least there’s this,” tweeted AFEC.
However, some criticism came from within Hobbs’ own party. Talonya Adams — the woman impacted by racial discrimination under Hobbs when the governor was Senate Minority Leader in the legislature — indicated that Hobbs’ executive order was an attempt to placate the Black community.
In a since-deleted tweet, Adams questioned Hobbs’ decision to prioritize a social issue like hair discrimination over other, more pressing issues like the homeless crisis or offering an explanation of the Oman trip.
A Tucson school board says it won’t review its secretive policy allowing males who claim to be transgender into girls’ locker rooms and restrooms.
The Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) told parents that it wouldn’t reconsider their unwritten policy on boys who claim to be transgender — a policy which also doesn’t require parents to be notified when males use their daughters’ locker rooms and restrooms, and directs girls to use another facility if they’re upset that males use female-designated private spaces. The policy has reportedly been in place for at least a decade.
Eileen Jackson, president of the CFDS governing board, informed one parent, Bart Pemberton, in a February email obtained by Daily Caller News Foundation that students uncomfortable with their policy may request an accommodation.
“Similarly, any student who is uncomfortable sharing multiple-occupancy facilities with others has the ability to request an accommodation,” Jackson said. “[O]ur administrators do not require any student to be singled out or isolated based on any of the protected statuses identified in our policy.”
Jackson told Pemberton in a follow-up email that the governing board wouldn’t review the matter and had no interest in doing so. Jackson added that she fully supported the policy.
“By not requesting this item be added to a future agenda, I am expressing my full support of the policy and our administrators’ implementation of this policy in our schools,” said Jackson.
In response to online criticism, CFSD pointed back to its 2015 governing board decision to expand its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, as justification of its unwritten policy on males in girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.
“This policy guides administrators in their daily decisions that arise in the operation of our schools. Principals operate well within the directive of the Board’s established policy,” stated CFSD. “There is no plan to revise the board policy to exclude the language referencing gender identity or expression. Board members have indicated their full support of the current policy and our administrators’ implementation of this policy in our schools.”
CFSD’s governing board policy came from the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), which also hosts the policy on its platform. The latest version of this policy was adopted in June 2021.
ASBA recently fought against the advancement of legislation intended to remove sexualized books from K-12 classrooms.
Chris Kotterman, representing ASBA, claimed that the legislation was an “unprecedented state control of curriculum.” Kotterman also issued a veiled warning that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) wouldn’t always be run by a Republican individual, as it is currently, indicating that the legislation’s framework for creating prohibited books list would be weaponized against those advocating to remove sexualized content.
CFSD also offers resources to students concerning gender identity and expression, referring students to the It Gets Better Project, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA), and Gender Affirming Healthcare.
These organizations listed by CFSD offer minors everything from counseling to information on medical treatments for gender identity and expression.
“Gender affirming healthcare can include therapy to address feelings of gender dysphoria, as well as medical treatments that help individuals achieve physical characteristics that better align with their gender identity,” stated CFSD.
This past week, Pima County began offering mental health services for minors without parental consent required, through a new program called “Not Alone.” Arizona law requires written or oral consent of a parent or legal guardian prior to a minor receiving mental health screenings or treatments.
Children under 13 years old must have their parents reach out to join the program. However, the program states that children 13 years old and older may obtain services without parental consent.
The program also will withhold information from parents. Clinicians won’t disclose information about a minor’s sexuality or gender identity, or any “consensual” sexual activity for minors aged 14 through 17, and will only inform parents if their child engages in a new form of self-harm.
Only in cases of suicidal intent, sexual or physical abuse, or expressed intent and planning to harm another then the program disclosed that a clinician will break confidentiality — but the program’s confidentiality protocols didn’t explicitly state that clinicians would inform parents.
According to the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the “liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health careand mental health of their children is a fundamental right” (emphasis added). Statute also dictates that attempts to “encourage or coerce a minor child to withhold information from the child’s parent shall be grounds for discipline[.]” Pima County’s webpage for the new program encourages those 13 years old or older to independently contact the program partner, COPE Community Services, for help, information, or “just to talk.” The program also offers to come meet minors wherever they’re located to assist them, or to work with them virtually.
The Pima County Health Department announced the program, “Not Alone,” last Thursday. The program receives existing Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity (ELC) K-12 Schools Reopening Grant funding provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
The program specifically offers mental health services for both students and teachers diagnosed with COVID-19 after May 2021. Initial public statements on the program implied that the threat and experience of disease itself, and not the mitigation strategies such as forced school closures and distance learning, caused mental duress.
Theresa Cullen, the department director recently rejected by the Arizona legislature in her nomination by Gov. Katie Hobbs to lead the Department of Health Services, described the program in a letter as necessary to not only combat suicidal ideation in students but “compassion fatigue” for teachers.
“According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide remains the third leading cause of death for adolescents and 1 in 3 high school students reported that their mental health was not good. Teachers and staff often experience compassion fatigue, stress, and anxiety,” stated Cullen. “The ‘Not Alone’ campaign is designed to provide brief intervention treatment services for K-12 students and school faculty who have tested positive for COVID-19 since May 1, 2021,” stated Cullen.
Cullen was first appointed to the Pima County Health Department in June 2020. Senate Republicans called Cullen’s administration “repressive,” citing the curfew she imposed as one example, and noting that her policies to mitigate COVID-19 weren’t supported by science.
Overseeing the program is Matthew Schmidgall and Michael Webb, part of the department’s Youth and School Communities program. The program will also partner with several school districts to deploy an advertising campaign through social media, movie theaters, billboards, and radio.
The program also receives partnership assistance through pop star Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. The nonprofit offers a free mental health course online that awards a certificate upon completion, the “Be There Certificate,” which asks an individual which gender they “identify with,” with the option to select multiple genders and identities and if they’re transgender.
A former Arizona State University (ASU) hockey player went viral for a video that depicts him pushing a woman’s wheelchair down the stairs at a bar in Pennsylvania. He is now under investigation by his current university for the act.
The player, Carson Briere, now plays for Mercyhurst University’s team in Erie, Pennsylvania. ASU’s hockey team dismissed Briere after the 2019-20 season, his first, due to violations of undisclosed team rules. Briere admitted in an interview with College Hockey News that his dismissal was due to “too much partying.” ASU has consistently ranked as one of the top party schools in the nation over the years.
“I was just going out; I wasn’t taking hockey seriously. It wasn’t anything bad, it was just not being committed to hockey, I was more committed to having fun at school,” said Briere. “Too much partying, that’s probably the best way to put it.”
The individual who posted the video claimed to know the owner of the wheelchair. The user disclosed that the wheelchair owner was a woman who had to leave her chair at the top of the stairs and be carried down the stairs to reach the restrooms.
According to the original poster, the wheelchair owner reportedly plans to take legal action.
Briere’s father is Daniel Briere, a former NHL hockey player and interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. The elder Briere began his career in Phoenix with the Coyotes, where Briere was born. Briere committed to ASU in 2019.
The original poster behind the viral post helped organize a GoFundMe to raise funds for a new wheelchair. As of this report, the crowdfunding effort had raised over double its $1,500 goal.
Later the same day after the video was posted, Mercyhurst University issued a statement promising an investigation.
“Late this afternoon, Mercyhurst University became aware of a disturbing video in which one of our student-athletes is seen pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a local establishment,” stated the university. “Our Office of Student Conduct and Department of Police and Safety are investigating.”