Democrats demand answers, DHS investigation into death of Guatemalan girl, 7

Congressional Democrats are demanding a full investigation into U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died last week while in U.S. custody, a report said Friday. Five senior Democratic lawmakers, including members who will soon chair the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, sent a letter on Friday to the Department of Homeland … Continue reading “Democrats demand answers, DHS investigation into death of Guatemalan girl, 7”

Congressional Democrats are demanding a full investigation into U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died last week while in U.S. custody, a report said Friday.

Five senior Democratic lawmakers, including members who will soon chair the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, sent a letter on Friday to the Department of Homeland Security's acting inspector general, John Kelly, urging an investigation into the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, The Washington Post reported.

The lawmakers cited "the seriousness of this tragedy and the many questions that remain," according to the paper.

“The investigation should focus on policies and practices designed to protect health and safety, as well as policies and practices that may result in increased migration through particularly harsh terrain,” the letter said.

The letter said the investigation should examine "appropriateness of holding children in Border Patrol stations," which they claim were "never designed to hold children."

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general has opened an investigation, and congressional leaders also promised one.

The letter further states that DHS should investigate CBP's "failure to timely notify Congress" of the matter, saying it's "hard to overstate our frustration" that they learned of the incident through media reports one week after the incident.

From the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted in response to the migrant girl's death.

"A 7-year-old girl should not be dying of dehydration and shock in Customs and Border Protection custody," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. "Secretary Nielsen and @DHSgov must be held accountable for Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin's death."

Jakelin was picked up by U.S. authorities with her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, 29, and other migrants this month in a remote stretch of the New Mexico desert. Some seven hours later, she was put on a bus to the nearest Border Patrol station but soon began vomiting, reports said. By the end of the two-hour drive, she had stopped breathing, reports said. She died of dehydration and shock, The Post reported, citing the CBP.

Customs and Border Protection said Friday that the girl initially appeared healthy and that an interview raised no signs of trouble.

Authorities said her father spoke in Spanish to Border agents and signed a form indicating she was in good health, though a Guatemalan official said late Friday that the family's native language was a Mayan dialect.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said agents "did everything in their power" to save her.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge: Trump was right to withdraw from Iran deal

For many, particularly those often critical of President Trump’s behavior, it can be hard to look dispassionately at issues, scrutinize administration policies, and arrive at conclusions that, despite one’s personal aversion to presidential conduct and tactics, require giving credit where credit is due. Iran is a critical case in point.

There is a general perception in Europe and among many in the U.S. that the decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was a policy blunder which Europe now needs to mitigate. This is based on the European view that the deal was succeeding within its intentionally limited scope and offered the best foundation for future negotiation with Iran on other foreign policy matters.

It may be true that, in the technical sense of the word, Iran is complying with the JCPOA, and that it is unlikely that Iran will look to develop an offensive nuclear capability in the short term. It is also true that the JCPOA was an encouraging sign of multilateralism between countries that do not often collaborate on critical geopolitical issues.

The mistake in this perspective, however, has been to believe that because the deal was working on those two levels, it was the right thing to do. Let me suggest another perspective.  By misreading Iranian strategy and underappreciating the significance of secondary consequences, the JCPOA has in fact made the region a much more dangerous place and damaged European interests in the process.

It is doubtful that Iran sought nuclear weapons to use against their regional enemies. The commitment to develop weapons capability for over three decades was essential to an Iranian foreign policy centered around revolutionary, sectarian expansionism, primarily within the Middle East. Iran wants to control the region, a goal which it couldn’t rationally achieve by dropping nuclear bombs on its neighbors. Instead, it sought nuclear capability as leverage and protection for its goal of regional hegemony.

The JCPOA’s final text significantly enriched and emboldened Iran. Free at last from the pressures which had brought it to the negotiating table and with a $150 billion American remittance, the regime could escalate its regional destabilization efforts.

This is not about this administration vs. that administration, about Democrats vs. Republicans, or about Americans vs. Europeans. And it is not about Donald Trump. It is about changing the behavior of a rogue nation which threatens the peace and stability upon which the region and the world depend.

While the agreement may have slowed Tehran’s effort to build weapons, it certainly enhanced its short-term strategy. It does not make you safer to tie one hand of the enemy behind his back while putting a gun in the other one.

In the haste to do a deal, the framers of the JCPOA lost sight of its primary mission: to make the world a safer place.

It is understandable that the Persian Gulf States are frustrated that Europe is working so hard to protect a deal which increases the daily risk to their citizens, but not to Europe’s!

And understandably so. Since the deal was signed in 2015, there has been significant strengthening of Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Palestine, Shiite militias in Iran, and Bahrain’s militant opposition.  That in turn has led to a much-increased military threat to most Arab countries and Israel, and an elevated possibility of a military conflict between regional powers, which certainly would be disastrous for Europe given its impact on security, trade, and refugee flow.

It is understandable that Europe wants to protect its commercial interests with Iran, but by increasing tension and escalating conflict in such an important region, it is not obvious the JCPOA is advancing those interests in the long-run.

This is not about this administration vs. that administration, about Democrats vs. Republicans, or about Americans vs. Europeans. And it is not about Donald Trump. It is about changing the behavior of a rogue nation which threatens the peace and stability upon which the region and the world depend.

Iran’s current objective is to exploit division here at home and drive a wedge between the U.S. and the Europeans while marching onwards in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.  We would be much better off coming together–here in the U.S., with our European allies, and with Persian Gulf countries–and presenting a constructive, united front against Tehran’s regional expansionism.  Only then will Iran feel the pressure required to moderate its behavior, if it is in fact capable of doing so, without being overthrown.

Tom Ridge, Chairman of Ridge Global, served as the 43rd governor of Pennsylvania and was the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Tough border stance has DHS boss Kirstjen Nielsen back in Trump’s good graces, reports say

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's tough stance at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks may have saved her job, according to reports.

Nielsen’s post-midterm job performance, particularly her tough response to the migrant caravan, seems to have impressed President Trump, who previously said she wasn't a strong enough defender of the border, Politico reported.

Support from administration allies such as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also helped Nielsen's cause — as have Nielsen's own words and actions at the border, the report said.

“No one has been working harder to implement the president’s security-focused agenda than Secretary Nielsen,” DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton told Politico. “She is fully focused on supporting the men and women of DHS, the mission at hand, and solving the crisis at the border.”

US HARDENS BORDER AT TIJUANA TO PREPARE FOR MIGRANT CARAVAN

In November, Nielsen defended the use of tear gas against migrants entering the U.S., echoing Trump's argument.

“They had to use [it] because they were being rushed by some very tough people. And they used tear gas. Here’s the bottom line: Nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” Trump told reporters in November, according to the Washington Post.

Nielsen suggested that border agents used tear gas after migrants threw "rocks and projectiles" at them, according to another report by the Post. Authorities were entitled to "self-defense," she added.

In October, Nielsen sat down for an interview on Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCullum" to discuss the migrant caravan's imminent arrival at the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump had sharply focused on heading into the November midterms.

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Trump had firmly stated that migrants would not be allowed to enter the country illegally, and hundreds of U.S. troops were set to make their way to the southern border to help Homeland Security and National Guard troops deal with the caravan.

Nielsen echoed the president's words with a warning for any migrants who illegally crossed the U.S. border.

"You will be returned home," she said.

"If they come here illegally with no legitimate reason to stay, they absolutely will be apprehended and removed immediately," Nielsen said, adding that "everything is on the table" for how to deal with the caravan.

"This caravan cannot come to the United States. They will not be allowed in. They will not be allowed to stay," she told MacCallum.

Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a longtime Nielsen supporter, has spent months lobbying to save her job, Politico reported.  And Nielsen's strong relationships with Pompeo and Mattis also have helped, the report said.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

CNN offices in New York evacuated due to ‘bomb threat’: report

CNN was back on the air late Thursday roughly 40 minutes after a phoned-in bomb threat to the network's New York office prompted an evacuation.

Authorities confirmed the bomb threat to Fox News. By shortly after 11 p.m., CNN personnel were reporting that everyone was safe while authorities gave an "all clear."

News of the threat was communicated earlier on Twitter by CNN anchor Brian Stetler.

"The NYPD is investigating a bomb threat near CNN NYC's office at Columbus Circle," Stelter wrote. "Due to the threat, the office has been evacuated. Right now CNN is airing taped programming due to the disruption."

The area — around 59th Street and Central Park West in midtown Manhattan — was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic while authorities investigate, police said, adding that a bomb squad had been called in.

The bomb threat was called in while CNN's Don Lemon was in mid-broadcast. The show reportedly cut to an "abrupt break" around 10:37 p.m. EST.

Reporting from Los Angeles, CNN's John Vause covered the story while Don Lemon called in from outside the New York office.

Lemon said the call came from "the South," saying that there were "as many as five bombs inside the building."

"Immediately the alarm went off. We were told to evacuate the building and to do it as soon as possible. We grabbed what we could and got out of the building … there is a whole host of emergency vehicles and emergency personnel here from the NYPD."

In October, the building was partially evacuated after a suspicious package containing a crude pipe bomb was delivered to the company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

California AG ‘monitoring’ possible legal action against use of force on border

California’s top law enforcement official on Wednesday said he is evaluating whether the state can take legal action over the Trump administration’s use of force against a migrant caravan and threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra told Reuters in an interview that the state could have cause to step in if a state resident was being affected.

“We have been approached by folks who have expressed complaints,” Becerra said. “We are monitoring what’s occurring.”

Over the weekend, some of the migrants were videotaped throwing projectiles across the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif., while others apparently tried to breach fencing, resulting in the U.S. Border Patrol using tear gas. Inbound and outbound traffic there was locked down for approximately six hours in response.

However, Becerra told the outlet that he “can’t act unless the rules are on our side.”

The federal government has sweeping control of the border and immigration administration, which limits California’s ability to take action against the use of tear gas or border closures.

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Meanwhile, President Trump has defended U.S. Border Patrol authorities for using tear gas to repel the crowd of caravan migrants who rushed toward the border.

"They had to use it; they were being rushed by some very tough people," Trump said. "And so they used tear gas. Here's the bottom line: No one's coming into our country unless they come in legally."

Department of Justice officials told Fox News Wednesday that the agency is sending 33 DEA agents and 10 U.S. Marshals Service personnel to the Southern California border region, the same region where migrants and border agents clashed, to provide assistance.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Drones may be terrorists’ next tool of choice, as FBI’s Wray warns of ‘escalating threat’

The potential use of civilian drones by terrorists and other criminal groups to carry out attacks poses a “steadily escalating threat,” FBI Director Christopher Wray warned a Senate panel Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wray said groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, MS-13 and Mexican drug cartels have made efforts to use commercial drones as weapons, the Daily Caller reported.

“Terrorist groups could easily export their battlefield experiences to use weaponized” drones, Wray said in written testimony.

The drones could be used for surveillance, or for chemical, biological and radiological attacks on large open-air venues or government facilities, the FBI said.

Video

Wray said the risk has increased since August, when drones equipped with explosives were used in an assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Wray’s testimony came days after President Trump signed legislation into law that gives the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI the ability disable or destroy drones that pose a threat to government facilities, Bloomberg News reported.

"The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, (drones) will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering."

FBI Director Christopher Wray is seen in December 2017. (Reuters)

The drone provision amounts to an unchecked grant of authority to the government, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, adding drones could be removed from the sky for "nebulous security circumstances."

Wray noted the FBI foiled attempted drone attacks on the Pentagon and Capitol building. Rezwan Ferdaus planned to use three remote-controlled airplanes, each packed with five pounds of explosives and capable of flying 100 miles per hour, and crash them into the buildings using a GPS system.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Citing federal statistics, Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis., committee chairman, said earlier this year that the number of drone flights over sensitive areas has jumped from eight in 2013 to around 1,752 in 2016, Reuters said.

Video

The drone market has rapidly expanded in recent years. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration said more than 1 million have been registered in the U.S.

Companies such as Amazon, FedEx Corp. and Uber have embraced the new technology as it looks to expand its delivery options.

Drones may be terrorists’ next tool of choice, as FBI’s Wray warns of ‘escalating threat’

The potential use of civilian drones by terrorists and other criminal groups to carry out attacks poses a “steadily escalating threat,” FBI Director Christopher Wray warned a Senate panel Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wray said groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, MS-13 and Mexican drug cartels have made efforts to use commercial drones as weapons, the Daily Caller reported.

“Terrorist groups could easily export their battlefield experiences to use weaponized” drones, Wray said in written testimony.

The drones could be used for surveillance, or for chemical, biological and radiological attacks on large open-air venues or government facilities, the FBI said.

Video

Wray said the risk has increased since August, when drones equipped with explosives were used in an assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Wray’s testimony came days after President Trump signed legislation into law that gives the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI the ability disable or destroy drones that pose a threat to government facilities, Bloomberg News reported.

"The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, (drones) will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering."

FBI Director Christopher Wray is seen in December 2017. (Reuters)

The drone provision amounts to an unchecked grant of authority to the government, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, adding drones could be removed from the sky for "nebulous security circumstances."

Wray noted the FBI foiled attempted drone attacks on the Pentagon and Capitol building. Rezwan Ferdaus planned to use three remote-controlled airplanes, each packed with five pounds of explosives and capable of flying 100 miles per hour, and crash them into the buildings using a GPS system.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Citing federal statistics, Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis., committee chairman, said earlier this year that the number of drone flights over sensitive areas has jumped from eight in 2013 to around 1,752 in 2016, Reuters said.

Video

The drone market has rapidly expanded in recent years. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration said more than 1 million have been registered in the U.S.

Companies such as Amazon, FedEx Corp. and Uber have embraced the new technology as it looks to expand its delivery options.

Ocasio-Cortez compares members of migrant caravan to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the star Democratic congresswoman-elect from New York, compared migrant caravan members who clashed over the weekend with U.S. border agents to Jewish families fleeing Nazi Germany and other targets of genocide.

Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District earlier this month, tweeted over the weekend in support of those attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. She compared those fleeing violence in Central America to those who escaped Germany, Rwanda and Syria.

“Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime. It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted late Sunday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., fired back at the incoming freshman lawmaker on Monday, recommending she study the "differences" between Nazi Germany and the migrant caravan in Mexico.

"I recommend she take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC. Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana," Graham tweeted.

Over the weekend, hundreds of migrants from the Central American caravan rushed the border at the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said some demonstrators “attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicle lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.”

U.S. border agents shot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate various points along the border and threw what appeared to be rocks at U.S. authorities.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that some migrants "attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.

"As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons," Nielsen said. "We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty."

The Mexican Interior Ministry said Sunday afternoon it would immediately deport the migrants who tried to "violently" breach the border. The Mexican government described Sunday's events as "acts of provocation" that were "far from helpful" for the migrants' objectives.

President Trump told Mexico early Monday that migrants allegedly threatening to storm the U.S. would be sent “back to their countries.”

“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump tweeted. “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

The Trump administration has said asylum claims from members of a series of caravans originating in Central America must be processed outside the U.S., and that all those entering illegally will be denied. A federal judge has at least temporarily ruled against the policy, but the administration has taken steps to harden the border.

As of Monday morning, about 50 migrants had been detained after illegally crossing the border. The exact number of those apprehended is expected to be made public later Monday, a senior Department of Homeland Security official told Fox News.

In Mexico, Tijuana’s municipal government announced it arrested more than three-dozen migrants for disturbing the peace and other charges related to the crossing attempt.

Fox News’ Greg Wilson, Greg Norman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Drones may be terrorists’ next tool of choice, as FBI’s Wray warns of ‘escalating threat’

The potential use of civilian drones by terrorists and other criminal groups to carry out attacks poses a “steadily escalating threat,” FBI Director Christopher Wray warned a Senate panel Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wray said groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, MS-13 and Mexican drug cartels have made efforts to use commercial drones as weapons, the Daily Caller reported.

“Terrorist groups could easily export their battlefield experiences to use weaponized” drones, Wray said in written testimony.

The drones could be used for surveillance, or for chemical, biological and radiological attacks on large open-air venues or government facilities, the FBI said.

Video

Wray said the risk has increased since August, when drones equipped with explosives were used in an assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Wray’s testimony came days after President Trump signed legislation into law that gives the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI the ability disable or destroy drones that pose a threat to government facilities, Bloomberg News reported.

"The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, (drones) will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering."

FBI Director Christopher Wray is seen in December 2017. (Reuters)

The drone provision amounts to an unchecked grant of authority to the government, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, adding drones could be removed from the sky for "nebulous security circumstances."

Wray noted the FBI foiled attempted drone attacks on the Pentagon and Capitol building. Rezwan Ferdaus planned to use three remote-controlled airplanes, each packed with five pounds of explosives and capable of flying 100 miles per hour, and crash them into the buildings using a GPS system.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Citing federal statistics, Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis., committee chairman, said earlier this year that the number of drone flights over sensitive areas has jumped from eight in 2013 to around 1,752 in 2016, Reuters said.

Video

The drone market has rapidly expanded in recent years. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration said more than 1 million have been registered in the U.S.

Companies such as Amazon, FedEx Corp. and Uber have embraced the new technology as it looks to expand its delivery options.