congress

House Passes Election Bill in Response to Jan. 6 Insurrection

The House of Representatives voted to reform the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act Wednesday. The legislative overhaul is to prevent events like the Jan. 6 insurrection from happening again.

The bill is the first legislative step taken by congress to address the assault on the Capitol in January 2020, with the House voting 229 to 203 in its favor. However, it is unlikely that the bill will pass in the Senate. House members mostly voted along party lines, with only nine Republicans supporting the bill.

The original Electoral Count Act was implemented to set deadlines for states to certify presidential election results, standardize the procedure to send electors to the Capitol, name the vice president as the overseer of the vote count, and create a process for lawmakers to challenge election results.

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Former President Donald Trump tried to use the Electoral Count Act to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

The Senate drafted its own bipartisan bill in July, sponsored by 10 GOP senators—the number needed to overcome any potential Senate filibuster. However, it is unclear if all Democrats will vote in favor of the legislation.

Both bills are similar in changing the number of lawmakers needed to object to electoral results procedurally. In the House’s bill, one-third of each chamber needs to object. In the Senate’s bill, only one-fifth need to object. Both restrictions are significantly more stringent than the original act’s, which only required one objector in each chamber.

The House bill also states that the president of the Senate, traditionally held by the vice president of the United States, will be “ministerial.”

“Except with respect to the procedures described in this section, the presiding officer shall not have any power to determine or otherwise resolve disputes concerning the proper list of electors for a State, the validity of electors for a State, or the votes of electors of a State.”

The bill also states that the vice president “shall not order any delay in counting or preside over any period of delay in counting electoral votes.” The Senate bill similarly states that the vice president “shall have no power to solely determine, accept, reject or otherwise adjudicate or resolve disputes over the proper list of electors, the validity of electors, or the votes of electors.”

The Senate bill included provisions related to presidential transition, while the House bill did not. The House bill also addresses “when states could declare a ‘failed election’ and substitute electors approved by voters.”

Democrats believe several issues will be on the ballot for voters in November. Protecting the transition of presidential power and abortion rights may rally more voters to support their party. It is becoming easier for Democrats to associate the GOP with the violent events of Jan. 6 in public spaces, given their dissatisfaction with the bill and continued support for the last administration. The GOP is focusing more on inflation and economic policy as driving motivators to bring voters to the poll.

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By and large, Republicans still do not support election reform legislation because many party members still follow Trump’s election narrative. After the insurrection, Republicans backed his election lies and opposed the creation of the Jan. 6 select committee and bipartisan commission proposal.

Prominent Republicans, like Representative Liz Cheney, rejected their party’s support of Trump. Cheney eventually became vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee. Republicans were especially reluctant to support the bill because she co-sponsored it.

When asked about Republican lack of support for the bill, Representative Liz Cheney told reporters about the importance of this legislation.

“Protecting future elections is something that we ought to all be able to agree upon, regardless of party.”

 

gun control

Visa, Mastercard, AmEx To Categorize Gun Purchases Separately

Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will now categorize gun shop purchases separately. The change will help track any suspicious gun sale surge that may predate a mass shooting.

Banks use merchant category codes for purchases made by account holders, including recurring expenses such as groceries, dining and retail. Until Friday, gun purchases were considered “general merchandise.”

The IRS mandated the classification system in 2004 for tax reporting. Banks use these codes to flag potentially fraudulent activity. Merchants with high rates of disputes and fraud are given high-risk merchant codes. These merchants have to pay higher interchange fees. Banks also use these codes for credit card rewards and benefits.

Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims Brown expressed support for this new change citing that “there are merchant codes for the hair salon and the shoeshine place and every other retailer; there’s no merchant code for gun stores.”

 “If we did have a merchant code for gun stores, we could detect patterns that would indicate that there had been something unusual going on.”

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The change followed the International Organization for Standardization’s decision to approve a gun purchase merchant code. The IOS is an amalgamation of 167 countries’ representatives that develop international standards for technical and non-technical fields. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

The new protocol is a significant win for gun control advocates, especially since Visa is the world’s largest payment processor. Mass shooters often use credit or debit cards to purchase weapons. The perpetrator of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting that killed 49 people purchased guns worth $26,000 via credit card.

Mastercard provided a statement to Business Insider outlining its reasoning for implementing the change.

“We understand and appreciate the significant policy imperative in reducing gun violence and see the recent bipartisan action in Congress as a positive step. We believe it is that type of effort that will meaningfully address the tragic gun violence facing the country.”

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The National Rifle Association believes the move is “nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time.”

Gun rights advocates argue that this measure would flag purchases that are not guns, such as accessories and gun safes at gun stores.

The gun control advocacy nonprofit Everytown found that there have been 279 mass shootings in the U.S. since 2009. There were 27 school shootings in 2022 alone. According to The Marshall Project, the U.S. had more mass shootings in the past five years than in any half-decade back to 1966.

classroom

Los Angeles School District Hit by Ransomware Attack

A cyberattack targeting the Los Angeles Unified School District caused a significant system outage in the country’s second-largest school district over Labor Day weekend.

The attack disrupted technology used for lessons and attendance and barred students and staff from accessing their emails. Though the attackers used ransomware software for the breach, the school district has yet to receive any monetary demands.

The district confirmed in a statement Monday that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting local law enforcement in investigating the incident.

“Los Angeles Unified detected unusual activity in its Information Technology systems over the weekend, which after initial review, can be confirmed as an external cyberattack on our Information Technology assets. Since the identification of the incident, which is likely criminal in nature, we continue to assess the situation with law enforcement agencies.”

Authorities believe the attack may have originated internationally and identified three possible countries they have not released to the public.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise in the educational sector. The Los Angeles breach was the 50th cyberattack on educational institutions this year. The migration of school systems to virtual classrooms during the pandemic led to increasingly vulnerable cyberinfrastructures.

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Many schools are underfunded and lack the resources to retain adequate IT staff. Attacks are often planned during holidays when IT security staff is likely to be even sparser. The ideal timeline is often at the beginning of the school year when students return to school, and schools are more likely to pay demands to avoid problems that a catastrophic shutdown could cause.

The hackers did not take any Social Security or medical information and instead targeted systems containing information about private-sector contractor payments. However, the widescale breach points to the continued penetrability of schools’ cyberinfrastructures.

In January, a ransomware extortion attack on the biggest school district in Albuquerque, New Mexico, caused schools to shut down for two days. In May, a data breach in the Chicago Public School system exposed four years’ worth of records of half a million students and 60,000 employees.

One attendance counselor told the LA Times how the shutdown impacted the school’s ability to check on students.

“We do have paper attendance we will be collecting, but I would usually call home or go on home visits to find out students’ whereabouts. Unfortunately, with not having access to their information, I will not be able to find out where those students are. As it is, after the pandemic, we have been working hard to find students.”

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The district implemented a response protocol to avoid immediate widescale impact and to prevent future attacks. The district plans to invest in new IT security technology, hire personnel skilled in technology management, and train employees in cybersecurity responsibility.

Because the attack was detected Saturday, Students could return to class Tuesday morning. Students and teachers had to reset their passwords but could resume their usual schedules.

 

loan

President Biden Announces New Student-Loan Forgiveness Plan To Help Millions

President Biden’s new student-loan plan will help relieve millions of Americans from debt. 

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, the President’s new plan will eliminate up to $10,000 in federal-loan debt from those whose annual incomes are under $125,000 or for couples who earn less than $250,000 combined. 

“In keeping with my campaign promise, my Administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023,” President Biden tweeted.

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Some of the borrowers are also going to be eligible for total forgiveness up to $20,000 if they additionally received Pell Grants. These are a form of federal financial aid that would be awarded to students who live in low-income households.

The plan is expected to benefit the majority of the more than 43 million people in the U.S. who hold a total of $1.6 trillion in student-loan debt” 

President Biden also announced that he will be extending the pandemic-era student-loan pause payments and interests throughout the end of the year. The Trump administration first gave Americans the option to suspend their loans and soon after, Congress made it automatic. 

The current pause was set to end on Aug. 31, but with the President’s recent plan, it was the closest the administration has come to hitting the end of the freeze extension.

This pause has been instated since March 2020 and has been continuously extended since. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that this continuous pause helped Americans save nearly $200 billion in payments. 

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People who are eligible for this new plan don’t need to take action right away in order to receive the debt relief. 

“It’s a very complicated process and it’s going to take months to effectuate,” said Scott Buchanan, director of Student Loan Servicing Alliance. “Don’t do anything until you see something happen to your account.” 

The new plan was in fact narrower than what he initially proposed when he was campaigning during the 2020 election. 

“He’ll get a lot of credit for following through on something that he was committed to,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.

Many people who work in the public service were also welcomed to some relief when there were temporary changes made to the U.S. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Due to the changes, it helped more than 113,000 people receive student debt relief and have a total of $6.8 billion in forgiveness. 

trump

Donald Trump Pleads The Fifth, Won’t Answer New York Attorney General’s Questions

In a statement, former President Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and will not answer any questions under oath in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump explained.

“When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

Trump was seen leaving Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday morning, with his motorcade arriving at the attorney general’s office shortly after. Pleading the fifth means that Trump will not have to give a testimony in his own case, one that could be potentially damning.

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The decision comes days after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was raided by the FBI, which he referenced. “If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago… wiped out any uncertainty,” the statement read.

Trump’s lengthy statement directed numerous attacks on James, who he claimed has made a career of “maliciously attacking me and my business.”  “James now realizes I built a great company with tremendous value, and her case is a ‘Scam,'” Trump said. “Which is why for years, they haven’t been able to file a single charge.”

“Criminals are running rampant, shooting, slashing, and hurting people on the sidewalks of New York, while she and her Office spend a big percentage of their time and money on their ‘Trump’ vendatta.”

James’ civil investigation sprouts from claims that the Trump Organization misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses in order to get better insurance and loan rates. Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was charged with tax fraud last summer, to which he pleaded not guilty.

In May, James’ office stated the investigation was nearing its end, and that they had collected a substantial amount of evidence – enough to support a lawsuit against Trump, his company, or both parties.

Trump has made numerous attempts to impede the investigation, from refusing to comply with OAG subpoenas to issuing now-dismissed lawsuits. “No one in this country can pick and choose how the law applies to them, and Donald Trump is no exception,” James said.

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Trump’s children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric have both previously testified, with Eric invoking the Fifth more than 500 times during his 2020 deposition. Both Donald Jr. and Ivanka have testified recently, though it’s unknown whether either invoked the Fifth.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Mar-a-Lago probe — which focused on whether Trump took any classified records from his time in the White House — is a predecessor to criminal charges. What specific documents agents were looking for is unknown.

However, Mar-a-Lago isn’t a new hotspot for legal trouble for Trump. The National Archives and Records Administration had previously confirmed to the Department of Justice in February that classified information had been found in 15 boxes at Trump’s Florida home.

flag

Following Trip, Nancy Pelosi Offers Support To Taiwan Despite Threats, Criticism

Following a trip to Taiwan that made her the first U.S. Speaker to visit the country in more than 25 years, Nancy Pelosi voiced her and her delegation’s continued support despite the trip heightening tensions between China and the U.S.

While Pelosi didn’t state the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily, it’s “committed to the security of Taiwan, in order to have Taiwan be able to most effectively defend themselves.” Pelosi also brushed off threats from Beijing, explaining they will not stand in the way of people visiting the self-governing nation.

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Pelosi arrived in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei late Tuesday and was greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, amongst other Taiwan and American officials. Among Pelosi’s delegation include Reps. Gregory Meeks, Andy Kim, Mark Takano, and Raja Krishnamoorthi.

Meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi explained America’s solidarity with Taiwain is more important than ever as the world faces a choice “between democracy and autocracy.”

“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

While members of Congress have visited Taiwan in recent years, Pelosi’s high standing in the government has added further fuel to a conflict centered around China’s belief it controls Taiwan as its territory while discouraging Taiwanese foreign relations with other countries.

Pelosi went deeper into China’s grip on Tawainese global relations. “Sadly, Taiwan has been prevented from participating in global meetings, most recently the World Health Organization, because of objections by the Chinese Communist Party,” she stated.

In response to Pelosi’s visit, China announced military exercises around the island and in Taiwan waters that sit 12 miles from the shore. Not only will they disrupt supply and airplane routes, but some of those exercises are also set to include live fire, which experts explained can sometimes be seen as an act of war.

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The People’s Liberation Army air force flew 21 airplanes toward Taiwan the night of Pelosi’s arrival, while an additional 27 crafts were flown Wednesday night. “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai stated in regards to Bejing’s intimidation.

“We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Despite Pelosi’s expressed commitment, the U.S. will continue to abide by the long-standing “one-China policy,” which maintains that Taiwan is a part of China. However, the policy also allows unofficial relations with Taipei.

Though having cautioned against the notable visit, the Biden Administration stated Pelosi’s trip — and Tawainese comments — are consistent with U.S. policies, while China will now be watched carefully after Pelosi’s visit.

For the U.S., the China-Taiwan tensions are just one of several continuing global conflicts the country finds itself in the heart of. Russia’s defense ministry claimed the U.S. is “directly involved” in the Ukraine conflict due to American spies coordinating and approving Ukraine missile strikes.

Following stops at Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, Pelosi then flew to a South Korean military base Wednesday before meeting with officials and leaders in Seoul. She plans to then visit Japan as part of her Indo-Pacific region trip that is focusing on the “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance” of the region.

wildfire

Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Becomes California’s Largest This Year

Firefighters are continuing to battle against what is now the largest California wildfire this year, one that has forced thousands to evacuate while destroying 41 homes and other buildings near Yosemite National Park, according to officials.

Only 32% of the Oak Fire, had been contained as of Wednesday morning, while nearly 19,000 acres have been burned in the process. The attempts to control the fire, which originated on July 22 in Mariposa County, have been on both the ground and in the air, though there have been substantial challenges.

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According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — the smoke has been hampering the two dozen aircraft in use, while the steep and rugged terrain of the mountainous areas has made it inaccessible for bulldozers.

Due to those barriers, the over 3,000 personnel engaged were forced to cut lines along its perimeter by hand over the past weekend in order to prevent the fire from hitting neighboring communities in Mariposa, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Speaking to CNN, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie commented on the wildfire’s uniquity, explaining it was demonstrating “unprecedented” behavior. “It’s moving extremely fast and the reaction time to get people out is limited because that fire is moving so fast,” Heggie said.

Helping to increase the fire’s intensity has been the prolonged drought much of the state has been experiencing. Heggie pointed to climate change being at the center of the environmental disaster.

“You can’t have a 10-year drought in California and expect things to be the same. And we are now paying the price for that 10-year drought and that climate change.”

According to officials, the smoke has drifted more than 200 miles — 322 kilometers — reaching parts of Lake Taho and the San Francisco Bay area. The smoke could help to cool temperatures that are forecasted to be in the upper 90s for the region, though the air quality remains extremely poor. According to Purple Air, air qualities throughout Mariposa range from 98 to 277.

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The fire has also uplifted many from their lives, with 6,000 residents from mountain communities being given evacuation orders. Still, victories are being found in the firefighters’ efforts, with Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Justin Macomb explaining those positives are helping to provide more optimism than in previous days.

“Firefighters are engaged 24 hours a day. They are giving it their best effort. I’m more optimistic today about what’s going to happen than I have been in previous days.”

According to Cal Fire’s incident archive, California has seen 4,679 total wildfire incidents in 2022, with over 53,100 acres burned.  The Oak Fire now makes up around 35% of the total acreage burned in the state.

However, while the burnage may seem substantial, The Sacramento Bee noted California is actually off to a slow start this year. Around this same period in 2021, California had over 204,000 total acres burned across 860 more wildfires.

However, due to the recent and still-expected low precipitation and heat waves, wildfires could soon become more persistent again.

capitol

Secret Service Provides A Single Text Message To Jan. 6 Committee

The Secret Service has presented just a single text message to the Jan. 6 House Committee following a subpoena that requires the production of all communication the day before and the day of the Capitol attacks, according to a letter obtained by multiple outlets.

The request was made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari on Friday night, with the committee being brief on the matter shortly before the issuing.

The singular text message was given to the committee Tuesday, the deadline of the subpoena that could be crucial in helping to piece together how government leaders and agents acted during the violent riot that shook the country to its core.

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According to Secret Service Assistant Director Ronald Rowe, the text message is from a conversation between former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to former Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Thomas Sullivan, who was “requesting assistance” on Jan. 6.

Speaking to MSNBC, California Rep. Zoe Lofgren — a member of the committee —  said she hadn’t seen the lone message yet, but that they will be “pursuing more information as a committee soon.”

In addition to the singular piece of evidence, the Secret Services also failed to present their diligence in the matter. “In their letter they gave no indication that they have secured the phones in question and done some forensic work with them. That’s something we want to know,” Lofgren said.

“This obviously… doesn’t look good. Coincidences can happen but we really need to get to the bottom of this and get a lot more information than we have currently.”

It’s the latest lack of cooperation by the Secret Service, which has repeatedly dodged multiple requests for electronic communication. According to CNN, Cuffari had asked for the messages of 24 Secret Service personnel in June of last year, while a second request from several committee members came in March.

The agency explained it was up to personnel to preserve records on their phones, and claimed messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 of 2021 were erased as part of a pre-planned, three-month “device-replacement program” that began on Jan. 27, 2021.

Though the Secret Service said it was working to see if any relevant communication was lost in the replacement program, it is “currently unaware of text messages issued by Secret Service employees” requested by the DHS that “were not retained.”

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A CNN report shows Congress informed the Secret Service of the need to preserve and later produce records relating to the Jan. 6 attacks on Jan. 16, 2021, and again on Jan. 25, 2021, two days before the phone migration began.

The lack of records, mixed with the untimely reasons why such data would be unavailable, has led to Cuffari suggesting to the committee that the Secret Service purposely deleted the messages following the request.

In a response, Secret Service Chief of Communications Anthony Guglielmi called the accusation of the agency “maliciously [deleting] text messages following a request” as “false.”

Guglielmi also stated the agency has been “fully cooperative” with the DHS’ requests — “whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts.” “We are taking all feasible steps to identify records responsive to the subpoena, to include forensic examinations of agency phones and other investigative techniques.”

gun control

July 4 Weekend Sees Droves Of Gun Violence And Deaths Across The U.S.

In what should have been a joyful Fourth of July weekend of celebrating independence, the U.S. endured multiple horrific events that have left further questions on the state of gun violence and gun control.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the holiday period saw shootings in almost every state that amounted to at least 220 victims dead, with 550 others injured. Among the deadliest shootings was one that occured during a parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

That shooting saw several killed and 30 injured as a gunman rained fire from a rooftop in suburban Chicago, leaving hundreds of other participants in a frightened panic. The 21-year-old suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, later apprehended, considered a second shooting before opting otherwise.

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With some still remaining in critical condition, the death toll could see a further rise. A similar state of confusion and panic among on-goers was seen in Philadelphia, where two police officers were injured during a shooting near the city’s Museum of Art during a fireworks show.

While it was later discovered the officers were hit by falling bullets, making them unintended targets, it highlights the bloodshed as the Independence Day weekend helped to bring the U.S.’s total mass shootings in 2022 up to 320, along with over 22,000 gun violence deaths related to all causes. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shootings as one that sees four or more victims, excluding the shooter, either wounded or killed.

Increased gun violence during the Fourth of July isn’t an abnormal occurrence, even during a time where mass shootings are ever frequent. Last year, 233 people were killed and 618 people were injured over the weekend, which was down 26% from 2020’s 314 fatal shootings and 751 injuries.

Responding to the Highland Park tragedy, President Joe Biden stated he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked” by the incident that “has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”

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During his response, Biden expressed more needed to be done in order to curb gun violence and mass shootings, and referenced the June signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will see $250 million invested into community violence intervention and $100 million into the National Criminal Instant Background Check System. In total, around $1.9 billion would be allocated to various services and strategies.

“I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.”

Even with his remarks and work, others on Capitol Hill have shown displeasure with the administration’s attempts. Though he supported it, Representative Mike Thompson (D-Cali.) said the bill didn’t go as far as “many of us would have liked.”

Meanwhile, former representative Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) said Biden’s administration should house a whole division for gun violence prevention. “Gun violence is the leading cause of death of children in this country and that is really horrific. If that is the case, why isn’t there a robust team of people working on that every day?” Giffords questioned.

The debate of whether the new bill would have helped to prevent the Highland Park shooting has also arisen, with congressional aides telling NBC News saying that the suspect would have passed an FBI check due to not having been previously charged or convicted, despite prior run-ins with authorities.

However, experts explained that because of the threefold check in the bill for those under 21, local law enforcement agencies would have been contacted, alerting authorities of the attempt that could have been stopped with the state’s “red flag” law.

migrants

Death Toll In San Antonio Migrant Tragedy Continues To Rise

Efforts to identify the dozens of migrants found dead in a tractor trailer in San Antonio has proven to be a slow effort for officials, as many of the fatalities carry no — or in some cases, stolen — identification. Efforts to contact victims’ family members has also been difficult due to their remoteness.

Meanwhile, the number of total deaths has now reached 53, up from the initial 46 Monday. Originally, 16 people were hospitalized, with at least 13 in critical condition. 40 of the victims were male, while 13 were female.

According to officials, 37 of the victims had been potentially identified Wednesday morning. The victims’ suspected origins vary, with some from Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. The tragedy is now being called the deadliest U.S. smuggling incident in history.

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Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores explained the stage of identification is a “tedious, sad, difficult process.” Meanwhile, mourning the deaths, San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg stated that the victims had families “who were likely trying to find a better life.”

“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy. This is a horror that surpasses anything we’ve experienced before.”

President Joe Biden was equally horrified at the deaths, saying the situation underscores “the need to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths.”

Stepping into the non-air conditioned trailer was sadly a fatal decision for the migrants, who were forced to endure the Texas weather that can reach up to highs of 100 degrees. The total group of 67, covered in steak seasoning to avoid authorities, was abandoned in the vehicle, where they proceeded to suffer from heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

While the truck has been registered in Alamo, Texas, it possessed fake numbers and plates. The road it was discovered on is referred to by locals as “lo boca del lobo,” which in English translates to “the mouth of the wolf” due to its remoteness.

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According to Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, the driver of the vehicle was apprehended after pretending to be one of the migrants, while two other men have been arrested. The road is located around 150 miles North of the U.S.-Mexico border.

CBP commissioner Chris Magnus previously warned that smugglers like those apprehended will continue to take advantage of desperate migrants for financial gain. Typically, migrants pay around $8,000 to $10,000 for transportation in tractor trailers and smaller vehicles.

“The terrain along the Southwest Border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert that migrants must hike after crossing the border are unforgiving,” Magnus explained.

“Our message to those who would try and gain illegal entry to the United States remains the same – don’t make the dangerous journey only to be sent back.”

At the end of 2021, over 1.5 million migrants had arrived at and crossed the border, the highest total in 20 years. It forced the U.S. border control to make 1.6 million apprehensions, a figure not seen since 1986. According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report, 239,416 migrants crossed over in May, a 2% increase from April. 25% of that group has attempted to cross more than once.

The risks that migrants take crossing the desert through scorching heat have costed heavy tolls. So far in 2022, 290 migrants have died attempting to secure access into the U.S. 2021 saw 650 deaths at the border, the highest number since the International Organization of Migration began tracking in 2014.