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Syrian men among human smugglers apprehended through Operation Lone Star | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-06-06 09:54:00

(The Center Square) – Texas Department of Public Safety troopers continue to apprehend human smugglers in border counties, as well as people from countries of foreign concern, including Syria, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's border security mission, Operation Lone Star.

In Maverick County, DPS troopers apprehended a group of 31 illegal border crossers, including two Syrian men. In the group were 18 men and 13 women who are citizens of Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.



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TCS border crisis operation lone star Syria men human smuggler

Two Syrian nationals apprehended in Maverick County, Texas




All 31 were arrested and charged with criminal trespass and transported to a state processing center next to the Vale Verde County Jail.

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Nearby in Kinney County, a female DPS trooper stopped the driver of a Ford F-250 on US-277 at night. After pulling over on the side of the road, the driver, an alleged human smuggler, Kelvin Conde, and five illegal border crossers bailed out and ran towards the brush, attempting to climb over a rancher's fence.

With assistance from Border Patrol, Conde and three Mexican nationals in the country illegally were located and arrested. Conde, a Venezuelan national, was also in the country illegally.

He was charged with smuggling of persons and evading arrest. The three Mexicans were referred to Border Patrol. Two evaded capture, referred to as “gotaways.”

An estimated more than two million gotaways have illegally entered the country since January 2021, The Center Square has reported.

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A DPS Trooper stopped a Ford F-250 on US-277 in Kinney County. During the traffic stop, the smuggler, Kelvin Conde, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, and five additional illegal immigrants bailed out toward the brush. With assistance from Border Patrol, Conde and three illegal immigrants, from Mexico, were located and arrested.

Conde is charged with smuggling of persons and evading arrest. The three illegal immigrants were referred to Border Patrol.



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In Hidalgo County, a DPS trooper stopped the driver of a Ford F-250 towing a horse trailer on US-281, also at night. The highway is known as a major smuggling corridor, which extends from McAllen north to other highways that go to San Antonio or northeast to Corpus Christi and then Houston. In this case, the driver, Jose Guadalupe Salinas from Palmview, Texas, consented to having his trailer searched and voluntarily opened the side hatch.

Hiding inside were 27 Mexican nationals who illegally entered the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley who were crammed in a storage area of the trailer.

Even though it was at night when temperatures are slightly cooler, those inside were “distressed and sweating profusely” because of extreme heat and no ventilation in the trailer, DPS said. Among them were three women who were severely dehydrated and required medical attention. Several were about to pass out, one trooper said.

All 27 Mexicans were referred to Border Patrol. Border Patrol also took custody of Salinas and is filing federal human smuggling charges as well as charges of likelihood of serious bodily injury/death.

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DPS Troopers stopped a Ford F-250 towing a horse trailer on US-281 in Hidalgo County this week. The driver, Jose Guadalupe Salinas from Palmview, Texas, consented to search the trailer and voluntarily opened the side hatch. Troopers discovered 27 illegal immigrants crammed inside a storage area in the trailer, distressed and sweating profusely. Three females were severely dehydrated and required medical attention due to extreme heat and no ventilation.

All 27 illegal immigrants, from Mexico, were referred to Border Patrol. Border Patrol took custody of Salinas and will be filing federal charges for the smuggling of persons.

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Since Gov. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star, OLS officers have apprehended more than 512,300 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 43,400 criminal arrests, with more than 38,200 felony charges reported, according to the latest state data.

They've also seized more than 487 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico combined.

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The Center Square

10 straight months of record-breaking jobs reports in Texas | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-06-21 11:37:00

(The Center Square) – Another month and Texas broke all of its previous job records again.

In May, Texas marked 10 consecutive months of adding a record high number of jobs.

Texas also added jobs at a faster rate over the past 12 months than the national rate and smashed all previous historic highs for total new jobs created, the greatest number of Texans working, and the largest size of the Texas labor force in state history.

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“Texas is where the future is building,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in response to May's job report. “That is why Texas continues to grow jobs and outperform the nation in annual job growth. With America's Best Business Climate, our strong and growing workforce, and an unwavering focus on investing for the future, we see more Texas businesses innovating and more hardworking Texans forging a path to prosperity. Texas is where today's products are made and where tomorrow's technologies are born. We will continue to lead the nation as we build a bigger, better Texas for decades to come.”

“For the 10th consecutive month, the state of Texas has set a record-high level for jobs, while the number of employed Texans and the state's civilian labor force have each reached new highs for the last five months,” The Texas Workforce Commission said.

Last month, Texas reached a new high with the largest labor force ever in the state's history at 15,262,600 after Texas' seasonally adjusted civilian labor force grew by 35,900, according to TWC data.

Texas also reached a new high for Texans working, including the self-employed, of 14,655,700.

Texas also reached a new high for total jobs at 14,195,600 after adding 41,800 non-farm jobs in May.

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The non-farm employment growth represents monthly growth in 47 of the last 49 months and annual growth for 38 consecutive months, the TWC said.

Texas' annual job growth rate for nonfarm employment also surpassed the national job growth rate, expanding by 2.3%, outpacing the national rate by half a point.

From May 2023 to May 2024, Texas added 316,700 jobs, according to the data.

“Texas continues to outpace the nation in nearly all industries and continues to increase the number of employed Texans,” TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Alberto Treviño III said. “With job opportunities increasing, students and job seekers have multiple resources to help navigate the job market and create a career pathway.”

The industry of Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 13,300 jobs in May – the largest over-the-month increase in state history. Leisure and Hospitality added the next greatest number of 6,900 new jobs. Construction added 5,500 jobs, growing by 4.3% over the year, outpacing the national growth rate by 1.2%.

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Texas' seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4%, equal to the national unemployment rate.

According to TWC data, Texas' not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May was 3.8%. McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission had the highest unemployment rate of 5.7%, followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur 5.5%, and Brownsville-Harlingen's 5.1%.

Midland had the lowest unemployment rate of 2.4% last month, followed by Amarillo's 2.8% and College Station-Bryan's 3%.

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The Center Square

Anti-Israel protestors targeting Hispanic, conservative members of Congress | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-06-20 18:28:00

(The Center Square) – As anti-Israel protestors continue to harass a Hispanic U.S. senator in Texas, polls show Hispanic Americans support Israel, and Hispanic Texans are leaning more Republican than ever before, sayng they are fed up with high inflationary costs and “open border policies” of the current administration. 

Flag Day, June 14, was the 23rd time since Feb. 10 that anti-Israel protestors descended outside of the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican and Cuban American who lives with his family in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Nearly all protestors were wearing masks and facial coverings; some were chanting “free Palestine” and other slogans, ringing cow bells, and holding signs reading, “No rest for the wicked, Ted,” “Ted Cruz, we know you're AIPAC bought,” and “Israel bombs playgrounds.” 

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On Friday, Cruz posted a of them on social media stating, “For the past six months, anti-Israel protestors have come to my home just about every Sat morning at 7 am and most Fri nights until 10 or 11 pm. They scream, disturb the peace & wake the neighbors. No matter how much these antisemites cheer Hamas, I will stand with Israel.”

Many anti-Israel protestors continue to deny or justify the acts of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas when its members killed more than 1,200 people in Israel and took roughly 250 people hostage on Oct. 7. Many argue Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. They also argue student protestors chanting “death to Jews” and calling for the destruction of Israel are exercising “free speech,” according to a recent lawsuit. 

Jewish groups that sued Muslim student groups last month argue they are knowingly providing “continuous, systematic, and substantial assistance to Hamas and its affiliates' acts of international terrorism,” The Center Square reported. Gov. Greg Abbott, Cruz and others have argued that hate speech and threatening to kill Jews isn't protected speech. 

Cruz began posting videos of the anti-Israel protestors clamoring outside of his home in February. He said they “have come to my house early in the morning, waking up the neighbors & harassing my family. None expressed concern about Hamas' Oct 7 murder of over 1200 or mass rapes of women & children. I'm proud to stand with Israel.” 

Cruz is not the only member of Congress to be targeted in Texas. Last November, another Hispanic Republican in Texas' Congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, was targeted, The Center Square reported. Her McAllen office was vandalized twice by pro-Hamas activists after she expressed support for Israel. Spray painted messages in red paint read, “Israel kills Jews too,” “Monica murders,” and “You can't escape your crimes Monica.”

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In response, she said: “Let me be crystal clear: These acts of vandalism will never intimidate me, silence me, or stop me from opposing antisemitism and supporting Israel's right to defend itself.”

Cruz and De La Cruz appear to be the only members of Congress in Texas targeted by anti-Israel protestors. Both are proud of their Hispanic heritage and claim to be conservative Christians, also arguing conservative values better represent the Hispanic community in Texas. Hispanic Texans are put off by the far-left progressive agenda of the Democratic Party, including transgender policies that threaten biological girls, defunding the police, opening the border, the anti-Israel agenda, among others, they argue.

In January, more than a dozen Hispanic Christian organizations representing millions of followers, including in Texas, expressed their support for Israel and the Jewish community. Hispanics, including immigrants, have strongly supported Israel for decades, according to the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Axios reported.

Cruz and De La Cruz have helped encourage a trend of Hispanic voters and officials shifting right politically. Since 2018, more local officials have left the Democratic Party to become Republicans, The Center Square reported. Earlier this year, a new coalition, Democrats for Cruz, launched, arguing the Democratic Party of Texas “has abandoned Texas.” 

The coalition of Texans who historically voted Democrat and are now voting for Cruz, support Israel, law enforcement, securing the border, protecting the Texas oil and natural gas industry, among other issues, according to a recent announcement.

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Cruz was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, won reelection in 2016 and 2020, and is leading his current challenger in the polls in his third reelection bid.

De La Cruz has helped turn precincts Republican in the Rio Grande Valley. She was elected to Congress in November 2022, winning 53% of the vote, making history in her south Texas border district. She's running for reelection against the Democrat she defeated in 2022.

De La Cruz was also the first female Republican Texas congresswoman in history to give a Spanish language rebuttal to a state of the union address. In March, she argued the president “does not understand us.”

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The Center Square

Seafood industry groups unite to oppose bill that would limit bottom trawls | Alaska

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-20 12:34:00

(The Center Square) – A bill introduced last month in the U.S. House of Representatives that could place limits on trawling by fishermen and shrimpers is drawing the fire of seafood industry groups from Alaska to Florida. 

House Resolution 8507, the Bottom Trawl Clarity Act, would require the nation's eight regional Fisheries Management councils, some of which allow fishing trawls to scrape the bottom, to define the terms “substantial” versus “limited” contact of the bottom.

The measure would also require the designation of bottom trawl zones and limit the number of areas where bottom trawling is allowed. This form of trawling utilizes weighted nets equipped with rollers to harvest shrimp, flounder, whiting, red hake, dogfish and some species of crab. 

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The bill is authored by U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, who said in a summary of the legislation that “limiting the areas where bottom trawling is allowed will help enhance marine , diversity, and resilience, strengthening the ocean ecosystem that Alaska fishermen depend on.”

In a letter sent to Peltola by 53 seafood industry groups and companies, they ask her to withdraw her bill, citing harm to the industry. The signees include the National Fisheries Institute, the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, shrimper organizations in Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas, the New England Fishermen's Stewardship Association and the Northeast Seafood Coalition, among others. 

“The introduction of H.R. 8507 shakes the confidence of seafood buyers and consumers in U.S. seafood, thereby casting a long shadow of uncertainty over the future opportunities of fishery-dependent communities and businesses at the worst possible time,” the letter says. “Its top-down mandates would permanently wall off vast sections of ocean territory from important sustainable fisheries, boxing in not only fishermen but also scientists and managers who would be prevented from adapting their management approaches to changing ocean conditions over time.”

Mike Merrifield is the vice president of the Southeastern Fisheries Association and one of the letter signers. 

“The inflexible approach in Rep. Peltola's anti-mobile gear legislation is especially troubling given it restricts the ability of commercial fisheries to respond to resource shifts due to changing ocean temperatures,” Merrifield said in a statement. “Shrimp are particularly sensitive to ocean temperatures which are driving the resource into different areas and deeper water.

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“The legislation will prevent industry in the South Atlantic and every other region from being able to adjust fishing efforts to provide food for our nation.”

Also releasing a statement was Alvin D. Osterback, the mayor of the Aleutians East Borough. He said passage of the legislation would result in his community being substantially harmed by the legislation's requirements since most of their tax revenue comes from trawl fisheries and could even result in the five-city borough not being able to meet bond obligations and fund its education system. 

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