A partisan effort to make it harder for fossil fuel-based energy companies to obtain bank financing and banking services prompted a warning letter to the U.S. banking industry on Nov. 22 from the top financial officers of several states, including Arizona.
“Denying banking services to traditional, reliable energy production industries simply to advance radical, socialist policies from the White House, is both immoral and goes against the very free market principles that our country was founded upon,” said Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee in announcing the letter. “In this case, they are picking the energy industry as the losers and that goes against the free marketplace in America.”
Yee joined the financial officers of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in signing the letter, cautioning the banking industry of potential consequences for allowing itself to be used as a political pawn against law-abiding companies in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.
According to the letter, the Biden Administration is “pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to limit, encumber, or outright refuse financing for traditional energy production companies.” The White House is also supporting an end to American financial support for traditional energy production projects in developing countries around the world, “likely ceding future development and exploration to Chinese interests,” the letter states.
“We believe, as almost all Americans do, that the free market should remain free and not be manipulated to advance social agendas,” the letter states. “We are not asking for special treatment of the fossil fuel industries. To the contrary, we simply want financial institutions to assess fossil fuel businesses as other legal businesses – without prejudice or preference.”
The letter also says the states have a compelling government interest “to select financial institutions that are not engaged in tactics to harm the very people whose money they are handling.”
Each state will undertake its own actions to counter the “undue pressure” being placed on the banking industry, according to the letter. Yee has not outlined what steps her office might take if financial institutions which do business with the state engage in efforts to deny services to the energy industry.
Gov. Doug Ducey and nine other governors met Wednesday in Texas to announce a plan they say could be immediately implemented by the Biden Administration to address the crisis at the nation’s southwest border. The meeting came after more than two weeks of silence from President Joe Biden to a Sept. 20 request for a summit with 26 governors, including Ducey.
“We’ve tried to meet with the president and be part of the solution, but he refuses. No, worse — he ignores governors, just like he’s ignoring the border and the safety of the American people,” Ducey said, adding that the governors have publicly provided a comprehensive set of policy to end the border crisis immediately. “President Biden now has everything he needs to stop this crisis.”
The 10-point plan shared by the governors calls for the continued application of Title 42 to refuse entry to individuals coming into the U.S. due to COVID-19 public health risks (Point 1) as well as the dedication of additional resources to eradicate the surge in human and drug smuggling (Point 2).
Point 3 calls on Biden to enforce all deportation laws applicable to criminally-convicted illegal aliens, while Point 4 seeks the United States’ reentry with agreements previously in place with Mexico as well as with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras -commonly referred to as the Northern Triangle.
The fifth point would ensure states are notified by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement anytime the federal government transports migrants, including unaccompanied children, into a state that will be called upon to provide social services.
And the sixth point demands the President and all federal officials to “state clearly and unequivocally that our country’s borders are not open” and that migrants seeking economic opportunity in America should not abuse or misuse the asylum process.
Point 7 calls for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be provided with more resources for federal officers and agents. Meanwhile, Point 8 involves making additional judges and resources available to U.S. Immigration Courts to end the growing backlog and expedite court appearances for illegal migrants. There would also be an end to the Biden Administration’s current “catch and release policy” which makes it impossible to track immigrants who are otherwise free to travel anywhere in the country.
Under Point 9, the Migrant Protection Policy (MPP) would be reinstated in compliance with recent court rulings. MPP requires asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await court hearings. And Point 10, according to the governors’ plan, would reactivate construction contracts to finish building the border wall as well as additional security infrastructure such as lights, sensors, and access roads.
Those participating in the meeting with Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, Gov. Brad Little of Idaho, Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana, Gov. Pete Ricketts of Montana, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, and Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming. The attendees received a border briefing from Commissioner Steve McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council.
Last month, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels took issue with comments by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) who claimed the southwest border is “sovereign and secure” and that anyone who says otherwise is spouting “biased and unfair narratives for political purposes.”
Dannels, whose county shares 80 miles of border with Mexico, said Jackson Lee’s comments were “100 percent not true.” To support his position, the sheriff pointed to data compiled by the federal government which showed 183,000 border crossers taken into custody from Oct. 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2021 by the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.
During that same period, an estimated 115,000 “getaways” were reported in the Tucson Sector, Dannels said.
Those were just some of the 1,473,000 encounters with undocumented immigrants at the nation’s southwest border, a 325 percent increase from the same period last year.
Over the past week, Tucson has begun to receive a number of Haitians transported from the Texas border. It is unclear how many Haitians will be brought in; AZ Free News requested those numbers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Pima County, and the various organizations that assist refugees under the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program. In various reports, Tucson City Councilmember Steve Kozachik indicated that the numbers were large.
AZ Free News also inquired about the vetting procedures for these refugees, if any, and how the government was determining who qualified for refugee status. The entities we questioned either didn’t respond to any of our inquiries by press time or said they couldn’t offer information to the press.
The Biden Administration is resettling Haitians after determining that their number has become a burden to border patrol in Texas. Over 15,000 were estimated to be under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas as of the past week. Tucson officials claim their intake of Haitians is temporary – one to two days, at most according to Kozachik.
The Haitian refugees are either being bussed or flown into Tucson. Once there, they are processed by immigration services and either taken to hotels or Casa Alitas, a shelter run by Catholic Community Services (CCS). Within several days, officials will contact the alien’s next-of-kin or sponsor.
CCS and Casa Alitas told AZ Free News that they aren’t answering press inquiries at this time. We also attempted to contact Pima County – they own the building where CCS operates Casa Alitas. They didn’t respond by press time.
The refugee arrivals report from the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program didn’t document any Haitian refugees, per its updated numbers last Thursday.
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) questioned how these Haitians were reaching American soil. He noted that Haitians weren’t just coming into Texas – they’d been coming into Yuma as far back as May. Haiti to Arizona is a journey of nearly 2,800 miles.
“Many Haitians are crossing into Yuma as well. In [sic] met dozens in May 2021. All well fed. Clean,” wrote Gosar. “They did not “journey” to our border by foot. They were flown. Who is paying?
Rather than addressing the crisis-level surge of illegal immigrants at the border, leaving Haitians to crowd together as squatters under a bridge with minimal resources, Vice President Kamala Harris focused her concern on the allegations of poor treatment of the Haitians. She said she was “outraged” by claims that border patrol agents on horseback were whipping the Haitians. The vice president called it “horrible” and claimed it resembled slavery. She said there should be “consequences and accountability” for the border patrol agents.
“And as we all know, it also evoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the indigenous people of our country, has been used against African-Americans during times of slavery,” stated Harris.
The National Border Patrol Council, among many others, debunked claims that border patrol were whipping illegal immigrants. They shared a corrective post from the Border Patrol Horse Patrol.
“Those are split reins; not whips, they are 6 feet long. They are split for when we go into the brush. If we go through thick brush and a tree branch gets caught, it will just slip right through. The reins are connected to the bit. The bit is in their mouth and the last thing we want to do is hurt our partners by tearing up their mouths,” read the post. “You have seen the video of the agent spinning the rein when illegals get close to the horse. It’s to create distance between the horse and the person on the ground. Our horses easily weigh 1200 pounds, they can step on someone and break a bone or kill a small child [if] a person gets too close. We also spin them if someone attempts to grab the reins because the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know a thing about horses, to have control of the horse you are on. (If an illegal attempts to gain control of our reins it is considered deadly.) The horse can freak out, jump up and roll with you on them. Us as riders can be killed if a horse lands on us. Hope this helps those who have never seen a horse or split reins before… we will continue to support our brothers and sisters in Del Río.”
Even the photographer who captured the viral images of border patrol holding reins near the Haitians clarified that no agents were “whipping” the illegal immigrants.
Regardless of the fact that these claims were false, the Biden Administration immediately ordered border patrol to cease using horses while handling the border crisis. President Joe Biden even threatened that law enforcement “would pay” for doing their job.
Horses are advantageous in patrolling the border due to their stature and ability to traverse rough, uneven terrain, and due to the animals’ natural gifts: their herding instinct for guiding and corralling illegal immigrants, and their heightened sense of sight and hearing for scoping out illegal immigrants.
Harris was designated to handle the border by Biden at the outbreak of his border crisis earlier this year.
Members of the Biden Administration are also displeased with the Haiti mix to the border crisis – but for different reasons, apparently. Biden’s Special Envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned on Wednesday. He claimed that the Biden Administration had ignored or dismissed his recommendations for handling the issues in Haiti that led to the border crisis. Foote said that the forced deportation of thousands of Haitians wasn’t proper protocol, and that the Haitians would suffer or die because of it.
Foote indicated that the Biden Administration’s forthcoming decision to install their pick of leadership for the Haitians would only result in failure again.
“[W]hat our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course. I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably,” wrote Foote. “Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society. The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner – again – is impressive. This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results. More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the U.S. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.”
By federal law, refugees are those unable or unwilling to return to their native country due to “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”
Haiti is currently facing political turmoil. In July their president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated by gunmen claiming to be U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. His murder incited more chaos in Haiti, on top of the over 90 gangs that hold much of the power in the country.
Then last month, the country was hit with an earthquake, causing 2,200 deaths, an estimated 12,000 injuries, and damaging or destroying around 12,000 homes.
Nearly 28,000 Haitians have been intercepted at the border this year.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is the first to heed the calls by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Texas Governor Greg Abbott to send help to deal with the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. Ducey and Abbott made the request for assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
DeSantis announced that state and local law enforcement officers have committed to deploying to Texas and Arizona to provide additional resources in response to the border crisis including:
The Florida Highway Patrol
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Holmes County Sheriff’s Office
Lee County Sheriff’s Office
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office
Walton County Sheriff’s Office
“America’s border security crisis impacts every state and every American,” said DeSantis. “The Biden Administration ended policies implemented by President Trump that were curbing illegal immigration, securing our border, and keeping Americans safe. Governors Abbott and Ducey recently sent out a call for help to every state in the nation, needing additional law enforcement manpower and other resources to aid with border security. I’m proud to announce today that the state of Florida is answering the call. Florida has your back.”
“As Attorney General, I am dedicated to ending human trafficking, protecting our children from sexual predators, and fighting the opioid crisis now claiming 21 lives a day in our state, but President Biden is hurting, not helping us achieve these vital public safety goals,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “The crisis the President created at our southern border makes all of us less safe, and I am proud to stand with Governor DeSantis as he tries to fix the President’s disaster at the border to protect Floridians.”
As a result of the Biden Administration’s open border policies, attempts at drug trafficking and human trafficking have also increased. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that there is “no question” that Mexican cartel activity has crossed the border into the U.S. In just January to April of this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety seized nearly 95 pounds of fentanyl in Texas. That equates to 21.5 million lethal doses of this drug. That is a spike compared to 2020, when the same agency seized only 11 pounds over the first four months.
According to multiple former border patrol agents, children are being used by human traffickers who pose as a family to make their way across the border. These human trafficking attempts are now unchecked by the Biden Administration, which has put pressure on officials to release families within 72 hours and canceled policies that required families to wait before crossing the border while their case was being reviewed. As a result of these policies, according to a recent UNICEF report, there are nine times more migrant children in Mexico than there were at the start of 2021.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, last month there were more than 180,000 illegal immigrants caught attempting entry along the Southwest Border. For the five fiscal years ending in 2019, an average of just 15% of individuals encountered by law enforcement had previously attempted to cross the border within that year. Alarmingly, under the Biden Administration this figure has skyrocketed 38% in May 2021.
Just two days after he took part in a vehicle pursuit and arrest involving human smuggling, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels is set to meet with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday in Texas.
Mayorkas is scheduled to visit with law enforcement officials and tour facilities in El Paso and McAllen. Among those invited to discuss the immigration crisis along the country’s 1,900-mile southwest border will be Dannels, who serves as chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s border security committee.
The group, Dannels told AZ Free News, is striving “to bring collective resolutions and answers to our border security issues.”
Cochise County shares an 83-mile stretch of the international border. It was Dannels’ experiences with drug and human smuggling that prompted then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to swear in the sheriff on the Homeland Security Advisory Council in 2018.
But last month, Dannels was one of 32 HSAC members fired by Mayorkas, leaving just three members in place. Dannels says he plans to bring a letter to hand deliver to Mayorkas addressing the sheriff’s thoughts about HSAC, which the secretary has said will be reformatted in the coming weeks.
“I hope all stakeholders will have a better understanding with some defined objectives to work toward as we promote collaboration,” Dannels said, adding the current border situation “is more important than me and my appointment.”
Dannels has been outspoken about the Biden Administration’s lack of coordination and communication with local officials concerning the surge of undocumented immigrants coming into the United States. He is also being suggested as a possible Republican candidate for U.S. Representative when Ann Kirkpatrick seat comes open with her retirement in 2022.
On Tuesday, Dannels was involved in a vehicle pursuit which led to the arrest of three men on a residential property in Hereford. One of the men was a Phoenix resident suspected of transporting two illegal immigrants for financial gain.
According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were alerted to a possible human smuggling incident south of Sierra Vista around 3 p.m. A vehicle description was provided along with a license plate number.
Dannels was the first to locate the vehicle “travelling well over the posted speed limit for that area,” a CCSO statement reads. “Sheriff Dannels and a second Deputy conducted a traffic stop near Three Canyons and Highway 92, however as they approached the vehicle the driver sped away from the scene heading north on Highway 92.”
A short time later the occupants of the truck exited the vehicle near a residence. Dannels and his deputies were assisted by Arizona Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Border Patrol to apprehend the men without injury, although one of the men attempted unsuccessfully to climb up to a second floor balcony of the house, losing his shoes in the process.
“Initial interviews of the apprehended suspects revealed that two of the men were undocumented immigrants who were identified and released to US Border Patrol, while the third man without the shoes was identified as a US citizen and the driver of the vehicle,” the statement reads. That third man was Dustin Howerton, 23, of Phoenix.