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Whose to blame for cartel violence? Some Democrats say U.S. gun manufacturers | Texas



www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-06-07 08:52:00

(The Center Square) – Several U.S. House Democrats, led by two Texans, have introduced a bill that would strip certain gun rights from Americans as they blame American gun manufacturers and Republicans for Mexican cartel violence.

They make similar arguments as the Mexican government, which claims in a lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers – Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., et.al., v. Mexico – that the manufacturers are responsible for cartel violence.

After a federal judge dismissed Mexico's lawsuit in 2022, on appeal, the First Circuit Court ruled in favor of Mexico. Next, a 27-state coalition led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to throw out the case.


The coalition argues the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 balances “Americans' Second Amendment right with the need to keep guns away from criminals while protecting firearms companies from being held liable for crimes committed with their products.”

The First Circuit ruled that Mexico's claims fall within an exception to PLCAA, which Knudsen's coalition argues is a wrong interpretation of the law.

“Rather than take responsibility, Mexico and anti-gun activists are trying to blame and bankrupt American companies that follow the law,” Knudsen said. “The appeals court erred in their decision and the Supreme Court needs to correct it.”

As cartel violence surged in Mexico, its outgoing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, implemented a “hugs not bullets” policy with the cartels. He also blamed Americans for Mexico's violence, as dozens of candidates were murdered in Mexico's most recent election cycle, The Center Square reported.

Not soon after Mexico's “bullets before ballots” violence, U.S. House Democrats introduced their bill.


U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar of Texas introduced the Stop Arming Cartels Act “to address the sale and trafficking of firearms from the United States to transnational criminal organizations around the world.” It would prohibit “the further sale of 0.50 caliber rifles” and regulate existing 0.50 caliber rifles by “applying the same reporting requirements for handguns to rifles.”

“When I speak to leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean, their number-one request is for Congress to stop American weapons of war from falling into the hands of the gangs that are destabilizing their countries,” Castro said. “Especially in Mexico, access to .50 caliber rifles has fundamentally altered the balance of power between criminal organizations and the government and allowed cartels to become virtually untouchable.”

It is largely illegal for Mexican citizens to own firearms, with only one shop in all of Mexico where a small caliber weapon can be legally purchased in a heavily guarded military base, The Los Angeles Times has reported.

Weapons trafficking, a felony, is already illegal in the U.S., American gun manufacturers do not sell their products to transnational criminal organizations, and the PLCAA protects them from such lawsuits, Second Amendment proponents argue.

Escobar also blamed Republicans for Mexican and Latin American gun violence. “A refusal to act would mean continuing to arm transnational criminal organizations and cartels that purchase these weapons for illicit acts,” she said. She also says the bill would “prohibit the sale of certain rifles to prevent further violence and bloodshed.”


The Democratic lawmakers point to reports claiming Mexican cartels' weapons of choice are .50 caliber rifles purchased throughs straw buyers and then trafficked south to Mexico. They cite a Violence Policy Center report that has documented examples of how long range .50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles create an “imminent threat to national security.”

The ammunition “can penetrate light armor, down helicopters, destroy commercial aircraft, and blast through rail cars and bulk storage tanks filled with explosive or toxic chemicals, all with potentially catastrophic effect. Although designed for use by the military on the battlefield, 50 caliber anti-armor rifles – and armor-piercing and armor-piercing incendiary ammunition for them – are easily available on the U.S. civilian market,” the report states.

The bill, which is likely not to advance in the Republican-controlled House, highlights a concerted effort by Democrats to restrict gun rights of U.S. citizens, knowing that cartel members do not legally purchase weapons, critics argue.

“This bill will not keep firearms out of the hands of the cartels or stop gun violence in America or abroad,” Knudsen told The Center Square. “This is simply an attempt by the left and anti-gun activists to encroach on the Second Amendment right of law-abiding Americans who should not be punished for the cartel's criminal behavior. If countries south of the border were actually interested in stopping crime and gun violence, they would fix their broken policies that created the problem.”

The bill would ban the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer or possession of .50 caliber rifles excluding for governmental use. It would create a new regulation of .50 caliber rifles for lawful U.S. gunowners who currently possess the rifles under the National Firearms Act by assigning a fee waiver and 12-month grace period to register on the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.


It also would create an exception to the PLCAA, enabling victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers and dealers who engage in firearm transactions that violate the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. It would mandate that firearms dealers report multiple sales of rifles to state and local law enforcement agencies, mirroring the current requirement for handguns.

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The Center Square

‘What constitutes a border crisis?’ Sanctuary cities have found out | National



www.thecentersquare.com – By Tom Gantert | – 2024-06-22 15:14:00

(The Center Square) – In March 2021, the Los Angeles Times published a story with a headline that asked, “What constitutes a border crisis?”

The story quoted then House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as saying, “There is no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”

Then the LA Times asked, “But is it a crisis?”


Just a month later in April 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement about his city being a sanctuary city.

“New York City is proud to be a welcoming and inclusive city for immigrants,” de Blasio said at the time.

The debate in the U.S. on migrants took off in April 2022 when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decided to take a stand against President Joe Biden and what Abbott called an open border policy.

TCS - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott


Abbott stated that Biden's repeal of Title 42 – a pandemic-era policy that allowed the government to quickly expel arriving asylum seekers – had created an “unprecedented surge of illegal aliens” into the country with as many as 18,000 apprehensions a day. 

Abbott said that Texas border towns were being overrun by migrants and were overwhelmed. His solution was to bus many of the arriving migrants to sanctuary cities across the U.S.

In August 2022, when the first bus of migrants leaving Texas arrived in New York, Abbott was clear why he had his state paid for the trip. New York had a new mayor by then.

“New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city,” Abbott stated in a release. “I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief.”

And just over a year later, New York Gov. Kathleen Hochul was on CNN in September 2023 pleading with immigrants to “go somewhere else.”


TCS: Times Square billboard re cops beaten  border crisis

A billboard in Times Square protesting President Joe Biden's border policies includes a of New York police officers being beaten by illegal immigrants.


How it has played out was not lost on liberal comedian Bill Maher.

“Could everyone just stop the posturing?” Maher said on a July 2023 with Sharon Osbourne. “Don't pretend that you love migrants so much and then when we send them to you, you don't like them. You know? You're full of [expletive]. And we can see that. Yeah, you liked them when it wasn't your problem because you're not a border state. And then when they show up in Chicago and New York, you're like ‘What the [expletive] are we going to do with these people?'”

New York wasn't the only destination for Abbott's buses. He also targeted other sanctuary cities, such as Washington, D.C, Chicago and Denver.

The New York Times published an article in July 2023 that had a headline that asked, “Is Texas' Busing Responsible for the Migrant Crisis Across Cities?”

On June 14, Abbott's office stated that it had bused 119,200 migrants to six sanctuary cities since August 2022. That included 45,700 migrants to New York City and 36,900 migrants to Chicago since August 2022. There were also 19,200 migrants bused to Denver since May 2023 and 12,500 migrants bused to Washington D.C. since April 2022.


But Abbott wasn't alone in busing migrants from the border to locations throughout the country. The Democratic-run city of El Paso also bused migrants north.

Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs stated in September 2023 that Arizona was “overwhelmed” by the flow of migrants into her state. Arizona spent $10.5 million transporting 10,247 migrants out of state as of September 2023.

That's just part of a bigger surge of migrants into the U.S. Since Biden took office in January 2021, about 12 million illegal border crossings have been documented, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data and a compilation of “gotaway” data obtained from border agents by The Center Square. Gotaways is the official CBP term to describe those who illegally crossed the border between ports of entry but who were not apprehended. CBP does not publicly release “gotaway” data.

The increase in migrants has hammered the budgets of sanctuary cities.

Washington, D.C. created an Office of Migrant Services with an initial start-up cost of $10 million in 2022. In 2025, the city budgeted $39 million for that office.


Chicago has spent $299 million on migrants since 2022, according to a March 2024 report by the Illinois Policy Institute, and that does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars state taxpayers have paid for costs such as migrant care.

New York City Mayor Adams said in August 2023 the migrant crisis may cost his city $12 billion over three years.

The city of Denver stated in April 2024 that the increase in migrants has cost it $63 million.

The cost to taxpayers in the state of Texas was $13.4 billion in 2023, according to the Federation For American Immigration Reform. Only California had a higher cost at $30.9 billion.

Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation For American Immigration Reform, said Abbott's busing strategy has worked.


“His busing policy exposed the hypocrisy of many sanctuary jurisdiction politicians who extolled the virtues of mass immigration regardless of its legality, but are not so happy when they actually have to deal with the real impact of large numbers of migrants,” Mehlman said in an email to The Center Square. “So long as it was someone else's problem, they were happy to virtue signal and criticize others. Once it became their problem, they demanded that Abbott and others stop sending them migrants. For years, these sanctuary proponents claimed that illegal aliens were a benefit to the country, but are now demanding federal assistance to manage to cover their costs, exposing the fact that illegal immigration imposes huge fiscal costs.”

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The Center Square

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



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.


“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.


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%.


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



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.” 


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.”


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.


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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