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Activists have called for federal intervention in Chicago’s crime epidemic

Chicago faced another bloody weekend, with at least 13 people killed in shootings – including a 1-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, prompting new fears about a violent summer ahead.

The violence, which followed a deadly Father’s Day weekend, started Friday evening when a 42-year-old man was shot in the head while walking on the sidewalk in the Austin neighborhood, police said.

On Saturday night, a stray bullet flew through an apartment window in the Logan Square neighborhood and struck the 10-year-old girl, according to police spokesman Roberto Garduno. The girl later died at a hospital.

Preliminary information showed the gunfire came from a group who had been shooting at each other on the block, he said. No one was in custody Sunday.

Earlier Saturday in the Englewood neighborhood on the city’s South Side, a 1-year-old boy who was riding in the back of a car driven by his mother was shot when someone opened fire from another car. The mother suffered a graze wound to the head. The boy was identified as Sincere A. Gaston.

Police said the motive for the shooting was unclear.

Superintendent David Brown pleaded with the public for someone to come forward with details.

Around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, 17-year-old Antiwon Douglas was killed. Police said he got into a fight before someone from a large crowd that was gathered in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the city’s West Side fired shots.

At least nine other people died in shootings through Sunday. The violence has prompted activists and local leaders to call for more state and federal support.

“It’s out of control where even innocent children are losing their lives,” said neighborhood activist Raul Montes Jr., who planned a Sunday-evening vigil on the city’s southwest side.

He called for federal intervention while a state legislator announced a new task force to address underlying issues.

“Violence is a result of poverty, and must be addressed with human services and support,” state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement. The group called on federal, state and city leaders for support.

A recent spate of shootings in Chicago and other cities has had officials on edge. Experts said non-suicidal gun deaths are on track to top last year, as America deals with a rebound in the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide protests against racial injustice and deeper political divisions in a presidential election year.

“The pain of losing a child never goes away,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted Saturday. “As a mother, I am tired of the funerals. I am tired of burying our children.”

Her office announced Sunday that the multi-faceted approach to curbing violence in the coming months will include a $7.5 million street outreach program. Staff from the park district, schools and a transit agency will work to “broaden the city’s footprint in places where shootings and homicides have recently occurred.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Bradford Betz

Source: Fox News: Chicago’s weekend shootings kill at least 13, including 1-year-old boy, 10-year-old girl, reports say

Amazon on Monday announced plans to hire 100,000 new workers in the U.S. to keep up with a surge of orders from people confined to their homes during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Seattle-based company said this weekend that a steep increase of orders is putting its operations under pressure. It warned shoppers that it could take longer than the usual two days to get packages. It also said it was sold out of many household cleaning supplies and is working to get more in stock.

FILE: Associates move bins filled with products at the loading dock of Amazon’s then-new fulfillment center in Livonia, Mich. (Detroit News via AP)

“We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year,” said Dave Clark, who oversees Amazon’s warehouse and delivery network.

The online retailer said it will also temporarily raise pay by $2 an hour through the end of April for hourly employees. That includes workers at its warehouses, delivery centers and Whole Foods grocery stores – all of whom make at least $15 an hour. Employees in the United Kingdom and other European countries will get a similar raise.

Last week, Amazon tweaked to its time-off policy for hourly workers, telling them they could take as much time off as they wanted in March, although they would only be paid if they had earned time off. The company also said it would pay hourly workers for up to two weeks if they contracted the virus or needed to be quarantined.

The new job openings are for a mix of full-time and part-time positions and include delivery drivers and warehouse workers, who pack and ship orders to shoppers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Bradford Betz

Source: Fox News: Amazon to hire 100K workers to keep up with surge of orders during coronavirus outbreak

Illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border plummeted after the Trump administration required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S., according to a report.

When the policy took effect in the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector in May, arrests hit 14,000. By October, they had fallen 94 percent, or around 800, and have stayed there since, making Yuma the second slowest of the agency’s nine sectors on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to statistics cited by The Associated Press.

There have been several reasons for the recent drop. Anthony Porvaznik, chief of the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, said the so-called Migration Protection Protocols have been a huge deterrent, based on agents’ interviews with people arrested.

Crews working at a portion of border wall under construction in Yuma, Ariz. (AP, File)

“Their whole goal was to be released into the United States, and once that was taken off the shelf for them, and they couldn’t be released into the United States anymore, then that really diminished the amount of traffic that came through here,” Porvaznik said.

In the neighboring Tucson sector, arrests rose each month from August to December, bucking a border-wide trend and making it the second-busiest corridor after Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Porvaznik attributed Tucson’s spike to the policy’s late implementation.

Over 55,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico to wait for hearings through November, 10 months after the policy first took effect in San Diego.

The immigrants were from more than three dozen countries, but nearly two out of three were Guatemalan or Honduran, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Critics have said the policy was unfair and exposed asylum-seekers to extreme violence in Mexican border cities, where attorneys could be difficult to find.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups asked to put the policy on hold during a legal challenge. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Oct. 1 and has not indicated when it may decide.

This past Tuesday, critics won a separate lawsuit when a federal judge in San Diego said asylum-seekers being returned to Mexico from California deserved access to hired attorneys before and during key interviews to determine if they could stay in the U.S. while their cases proceeded.

In Yuma, asylum-seekers have been held in short-term cells until space opened up to be returned to Mexicali through a neighboring California sector.

While illegal crossings have dropped in Yuma, asylum-seekers still have signed up on a waiting list to enter the U.S. at an official crossing in San Luis, Arizona.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has called the Mexican shelter managing the list to say how many asylum claims it would process each day. The shelter estimated the wait at three to four months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Author: Bradford Betz

Source: Fox News: Trump immigration policies showing results, with illegal border crossings plummeting

A federal judge in California on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from imposing restrictions on individuals seeking asylum in the United States, just hours after a judge in Washington had decided to let the rule stand while lawsuits play out in court.

The rule, published in the Federal Register last week, required people seeking asylum to apply first in one of the countries they cross on their way to the U.S. — with certain exceptions. It targeted tens of thousands of Central Americans who have crossed Mexico each month trying to enter the U.S.

The rule was met quickly with a legal challenge from advocacy groups, who moved for a temporary restraining order blocking the rule. After a hearing in Washington, D.C. federal court, District Judge Timothy J. Kelly denied the motion. But hours later, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco, an Obama appointee, blocked the enforcement of the rule. His ruling took effect immediately.

Arla Ertz holding a protest sign outside of the San Francisco Federal Courthouse on Wednesday. (AP)

“The court recognized, as it did with the first asylum ban, that the Trump administration was attempting an unlawful end run around asylum protections enacted by Congress,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt in a statement.

Melissa Crow, a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center called Tigar’s block, “an important victory for incredibly vulnerable individuals and families from besieged Central American countries seeking refuge in our country.”

The White House had earlier called the decision to uphold the Trump administration’s rule “a victory for Americans concerned about the crisis at our southern border,” adding, “Tens of thousands of migrants making opportunistic asylum claims have not only exacerbated the crisis at our southern border but also have harmed genuine asylum seekers, who are forced to wait years for relief because our system is clogged with meritless claims.”

Protestors holding signs that read “Asylum is a Right” outside of the San Francisco Federal Courthouse on Wednesday. (AP)

Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Trump said the immigrant advocate groups who filed the lawsuit did not show that their work would be irreparably harmed if the policy moved forward.

With certain exceptions, the rule requires individuals to apply for and be denied asylum in another country in order to apply in the U.S. That means that migrants from Central American nations who travel through Mexico – who make up a significant portion of recent asylum seekers – will not be eligible for asylum in America unless they previously applied for asylum in Mexico or any other country they traversed and were turned down.

The new rule’s exceptions include certain cases of human trafficking.

The rule is meant to crack down on asylum seekers coming to the U.S. more for economic reasons than to escape persecution in their home countries. Administration officials say this could help close the gap between the initial asylum screening that most people pass and the final decision on asylum that most people do not win. The goal in part is to allow quicker determinations in these cases.

The policy follows the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. Under that policy, asylum seekers were often told to go back to Mexico to await hearings, rather than be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Democrats railed against that policy, with 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke calling it “inhumane.”

A reduction in asylum seekers would ease the burden on federal agencies currently overwhelmed by the volume of individuals seeking entry into the U.S.

Detention facilities have been notoriously stretched for resources, resulting in outcries against the government. The criticism has particularly been strong when it comes to the conditions in which migrant children have been kept.

Fox News’ Judson Berger, Matt Leach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Author: Bradford Betz, Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Federal court blocks Trump asylum rules hours after judge ruled to keep restrictions in place

Triple-amputee Air Force veteran on mission to raise $1B for US-Mexico border wall

Brian Kolfage’s GoFundMe campaign ‘We The People Will Fund The Wall,’ has racked up more than $3 million from more than 34,000 people, with a goal of raising $1 billion.

A triple amputee U.S. military veteran says he was inspired to raise money for President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall after reading a New York Post article that questioned why no one had taken up the mantle.

In just three days, Brian Kolfage’s GoFundMe campaign “We The People Will Fund The Wall,” has racked up more than $2 million from more than 34,000 people, with a goal of raising $1 billion.

“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall,” the page reads. “That equates to roughly 5Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.”

“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall. That equates to roughly 5Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.”

— Brian Kolfage, triple amputee U.S. military veteran

Kolfage wrote that the campaign has been in touch with the Trump administration “to secure a point of contact where all funds will go upon completion.”

“As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today,” Kolfage’s page reads. “Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.”

He added: “Democrats are going to stall this project by every means possible and play political games to ensure President Trump doesn’t get his victory. They’d rather see President Trump fail than see America succeed. However, if we can fund a large portion of this wall, it will jumpstart things and will be less money Trump has to secure from our politicians.”

Kolfage is a retired U.S. Air Force member who served in Iraq. During his second deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Kolfage was injured in a rocket attack at Balad Air Base. According to Kolfage’s website, a 107mm rocket shell exploded about three feet away from him. Kolfage lost both legs and his right hand and required 11 months of therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Kolfage continued to serve in the Air Force for several more years and was assigned to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona as the base security manager. Kolfage is “the most severely wounded Airman to survive any war,” his website states. He is now a motivational speaker and has appeared multiple times on FOX News.

Kolfage graduated from the University of Arizona’s School of Architecture in 2014 and is now married with children.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. This week, the White House retracted its $5 billion figure to fund the border wall amid a looming government shutdown.

“We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion that we’ll work with Congress,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday indicated the Senate will consider a stopgap measure to continue funding the government to avert a government shutdown – but it won’t include Trump’s desired allocation for border wall funding because of the “reality of our political moment.”

BORDER WALL EFFORT GETTING BOOST FROM US SHERIFFS’ CROWDFUNDING SITE

Kolfage’s campaign is not the first crowdfunding effort to raise money for the border wall. In September the National Sheriff’s Association launched a website for donations. As of mid-December, the website has garnered nearly $160,000.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Author: Bradford Betz

Source: Fox News: Triple-amputee Air Force veteran on mission to raise $1B for US-Mexico border wall

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