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Brooks bill would use $14 billion in seized El Chapo funds for border wall

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, has reintroduced a bill that reserves approximately $14 billion in assets seized by the U.S. government from the criminal prosecution of El Chapo for border security.

Brooks reintroduced the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act,” or the “EL CHAPO Act,” House companion legislation to Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate bill by the same name.

El Chapo is the former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

The money would be used to construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brooks sponsored the EL CHAPO Act in the 115th Congress as well.

The bill has more than 12 Republican cosponsors.

Democrats are refusing to fund the government if there is any funding for a border wall. President Donald Trump says that he will not sign any funding measure that does not fund the construction of the border wall. We are into day 34 of the shutdown and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has refused two compromise offers from Pres. Trump.

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“Radical Open Borders Democrats would rather shut down the government than provide taxpayer funding for a border wall that helps prevent thousands of American deaths each year,” said Brooks. “Fortunately, there are other ways to build a border wall, enhance border security, save American lives, and end the government shutdown that is slowly but sure hurting America’s economy and American citizens. Congress should end the shutdown by passing the EL CHAPO Act that, over time, funds border security and a border wall by using billions of dollars in seized drug and blood money profits from drug cartels and drug lords and reapplying those drug forfeiture monies to border security and construction of a border wall. The EL CHAPO Act kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand, it shifts drug and blood money to border security and a border wall, thus helping to save the lives of thousands of Americans who die each year at the hands of illegal aliens or because of America’s porous southern border. As a bonus, the passage of the EL CHAPO Act ends the battle over the government shutdown.”

Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera “El Chapo” “The Shorty” age 61 is a former drug lord and billionaire and was once the most powerful drug traffickers in the world. Tens of thousands have died in Mexico in the war between the cartels and the Mexican government. He was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and sentenced to 20 years for drug trafficking and murder; but bribed the prison guards and escaped. He was captured in Mexico in February 2014 but escaped again. He was captured for a third time in January 2016 and extradited to the United States for trial.”

“Walls have worked since the dawn of time,” Brooks added. “Ancient civilizations employed walls to keep their citizens and property safe from harm. Today, physical barriers and fencing surround America’s most secure locations— the White House, Fort Knox, the federal supermax prison in Colorado; all have high physical barriers around them. Why? Because they work. It is absurd for anyone to argue border walls are ineffective. Take the example of the Yuma, Arizona sector of the border, where border patrol agents have seen a 96 percent reduction in illegal alien apprehensions since a border wall was constructed in 2006. Along the San Diego sector of the border, before a wall was built, 100,000 illegal aliens were apprehended by border patrol a year. Post wall construction, the number of apprehensions dropped to 5,000 a year— a reduction of 95%. The fact is, border walls work.”

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“America desperately needs a border wall. The United States averages a staggering 60,000 illegal border crossings per month,” Brooks stated. “I introduced the EL CHAPO Act in the House to divert approximately $14 billion in funds confiscated by prosecutors from drug lords like El Chapo to building the border wall. Drug lords smuggle deadly drugs across our border that ravage America. Roughly 15,000 Americans die each year from heroin overdoses alone – 90% of all heroin reaches America via our porous southern border (much of it transported by drug cartels and their illegal alien “mules”). We need to be doing everything we can to keep poisonous drugs out of our country and save American lives, and that means building the wall. America’s porous southern border poses a massive safety risk to American citizens. In FY 2017 and FY 2018, ICE officers arrested approximately 235,000 aliens on various criminal charges or convictions within the interior of the United States – including, on average each year, roughly 50,000 for assault, 15,000 for sex crimes, and 2,000 for homicides. In FY 2018, 17,000 adults at the border with existing criminal records were arrested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and border agents. If illegal aliens will break our immigration laws, they will break other laws, too.”

“A border wall is a subpart of overall border security,” Brooks concluded. “It will not keep out all drugs or every illegal alien, but we owe it to the victims of drug overdoses and illegal alien crime to do absolutely everything in our power to stop illegal aliens and their drugs from coming across our southern border and killing thousands of Americans every year! The EL CHAPO Act funds a large portion of the border wall without using taxpayer dollars and provides an alternative funding mechanism for the border wall. With the EL CHAPO Act we can end the current impasse and resulting government shutdown. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should listen to the American people and come to the negotiating table so we can secure our border.”

President Trump is urging Democrats in Congress to agree to a compromise that would fund the government and secure the border.

“To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis,” Pres. Trump said. “To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border. This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”

Brooks has served in Congress, as a state Representative, a Madison County Commissioner, and as a prosecutor.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting

The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting. 

In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.

They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud. 

“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

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The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions. 

“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”

The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.

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Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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Health

At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.

Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.

On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.

There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.

The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.

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ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.

The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.

There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.

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Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.

For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.

Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.

Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.

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National

Today is the last day to register to vote for the November 3 general election

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election is Oct. 19.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The secretary of state’s office on Sunday announced that its employees will be available until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, to assist with voter registration.

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election is Oct. 19.

Eligible Alabamians can register to vote online at AlabamaVotes.gov, through the mobile app “Vote for Alabama,” or by visiting their county board of registrars office.

To submit an application to register to vote, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must live in the State of Alabama.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age on or before election day.
  • You must not be barred from voting by reason of a disqualifying felony conviction.
  • You must not have been judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law.

Online registrations will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. and in-person registrations will be accepted until the close of business Monday, Oct. 19.

The office of the secretary of state will be available by phone to assist with any questions or concerns until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 19 and can be reached at 334-242-7200 and the elections division can be reached at 334-242-7210.

Secretary of State John Merrill said, “I want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

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You can still register after the deadline, but you won’t be able to vote in this general election. Voters must have a valid photo ID. If you do not have a valid photo ID you can get a free voter ID from your local board of registrars or from the secretary of state’s office.

Every voter must vote at the polling place that they are assigned. It is not too late to apply for an absentee ballot. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is five days before the election. A record number of people are expected to vote absentee.

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Elections

Tuberville, Sessions campaign together

The two former Republican primary opponents participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Brandon Moseley

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate campaign released a social media video Thursday featuring Tuberville alongside former U.S. Sen. and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The two former Republican primary opponents had participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Tuberville and Sessions on Wednesday met with representatives of Huntsville’s defense and technology sectors, participated in an event sponsored by the Republican Women of Huntsville and headlined multiple campaign fundraising events.

Sessions said, “Tommy, I support you 100 percent. Alabama must send you to represent us in the Senate. We cannot allow a Chuck Schumer acolyte – Doug Jones – to represent Alabama in the Senate.”

“You see it on his vote on the judges and Kavanaugh and the way he’s behaved about the new nominee, so I think … it would be shocking that Alabama would reelect a Doug Jones,” Sessions continued. “I know you’re going to win. I feel really good about it, and I’m glad that you’re traveling the state hard and that you’re here in this important community.”

The night after Tuberville won the Republican primary runoff election, Sessions committed to doing his part to help defeat Jones and reclaim the Senate seat for the ALGOP.

“After we won the runoff, Jeff Sessions called and told me, ‘Coach, I’m all in,’ and today’s joint events certainly demonstrate that he is a man of his word,” Tuberville said following the video shoot. “Jeff Sessions understands that it’s time we once again had a U.S. senator whose votes reflect our conservative Alabama values, not the ultra-liberal Hollywood and New York values of Doug Jones’s high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”

Tuberville faces a determined Jones, who is flooding the airwaves with ads. Democrats are desperate to hold on to Jones’ seat, believing that his seat could tip control of the Senate to the Democrats.

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Democrats hope to hold onto their control the U.S. House of Representatives and a recent poll by Rasmussen shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a five point lead over incumbent Donald Trump.

Sessions left the U.S. Senate to accept an appointment as Trump’s first attorney general.

Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore to win the seat in the special election.

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Sessions was fired by Trump in 2018 and announced his candidacy for Senate the day before qualifying ended. Tuberville had already spent ten months on the campaign trail at that point.

Tuberville defeated Sessions, Moore, Congressman Bradley Byrne, State Rep. Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair in the crowded Republican primary. Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. He also coached Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Ole Miss. Tuberville won a national championship as the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. Tuberville lives in Auburn.

The general election is Nov. 3.

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