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Immigration law faces First Amendment challenge brought before Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday debated whether a federal law that makes it a crime to "encourage" or "induce" an illegal immigrant to remain in the U.S. sweeps up amounts of speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and in being too broad, could jeopardize charitable groups that feed the hungry or a family’s plan to have a grandmother continue living with them. 

At the center of the case is defendant Helaman Hansen, who in operating an organization called Americans Helping America Chamber of Commerce, conned 471 immigrants who had overstayed their visas into paying between $550 and $10,000 under the false pretense that they could obtain U.S. citizenship through adult adoption. 

Hansen was convicted in 2017 on15 counts of mail and wire fraud for defrauding those people out of a total $1.8 million and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, NPR reported. 

However, the jury also convicted him on two counts encouraging or inducing illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found the corresponding decades-old law "overbroad and unconstitutional," the government appealed, bringing the matter before the Supreme Court, The Washington Post reported. 

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During an hour and half hearing Monday, Deputy Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher, representing the Justice Department, made strategic concessions, but argued the statute be upheld.

"I think we’re going to talk to the grandmother who lives with her family who’s illegal or who are noncitizens," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, according to the Post. "The grandmother tells her son she’s worried about the burden she’s putting on the family, and the son says, ‘Abuelita, you are never a burden to us. If you want to live here — continue living here with us, your grandchildren love having you.’ Are you — can you prosecute this?"

"Why should we uphold a statute that criminalizes words," she added. "That's what we're doing with this statute." 

"What do you say to the charitable organizations that say, even under your narrowing construction, there's still going to be a chill or a threat of prosecution for them for providing food or shelter and aid," Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Fletcher. "They seem to have a sincere concern about that and that it will deter their kind of everyday activities."

"We do know that the Customs Department made a list of all the people, religious entities, the lawyers and others who were providing services to immigrants at the border and was saying they were going to rely on the statute to prosecute them?" Sotomayor also posed. 

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According to NPR, Justice Elena Kagan inquired, "What happens to all the cases where it could be a lawyer, it could be a doctor, it could be a neighbor, it could be a friend, it could be a teacher and could be anybody, says to a noncitizen, 'I really think you should stay.' What happens to that world of cases?"

Fletcher, admitting there would be hard cases, said the law should not be interpreted to the broadest possible meaning and instead the words "encourage and induce" should be read more like intentionally seeking to aid and abet a crime – and the Hansen's case involves defrauding immigrants. If the Supreme Court wants to protect the aforementioned people or groups from prosecution, he encouraged the justices to write their opinion indicating "that the statute has the limits that we say it has, in ways that we won’t be able to get around in the future."

"It is a little awkward, tough, that this case comes up in a posture with Mr. Hansen, who I don’t think anybody could say he’s been chilled from speaking," Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said. "I mean, he’s had no problem soliciting people here in this country and defrauding them to the tune of lots and lots of money … He has victimized these people, and it may be a poster child for a situation in which the underlying offense might be modest, but you might want to criminalize it because he’s taking advantage of very vulnerable people."

The hypotheticals aside, Justice Amy Coney Barrett argued there were few examples of the immigration law causing a chilling effect to free speech. 

"No one’s pointed out there are charitable organizations, to use Justice Kavanaugh’s hypothetical, that are not giving food and shelter and resources or that lawyers are afraid to give advice. I mean, the statute’s been on the books for a long time," she said. "There’s an absence of prosecutions. There is also an absence of demonstrated chilling effect."

Hansen’s lawyer, Esha Bhandari, countered that under the encouragement provision, the government did not have to prove that he lied or deceived anyone or engaged in any false speech – only that he encouraged or induced people to stay in the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union is also backed Hansen as he challenges the two-count conviction on free speech claims. 

2023/03/28 08:17

TikTok: McCaul says he 'can't think of a greater propaganda tool' for China

EXCLUSIVE: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said he "can’t think of a greater propaganda tool" for China than TikTok.

During an interview with Fox News Digital, McCaul, R-Texas, warned the video-sharing app is not only a "backdoor into your phone," but also a threat to U.S. national security.

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"As long as it is connected to ByteDance, which is overseas, then it is vulnerable," McCaul warned.

TikTok's parent company ByteDance is based in Beijing. China’s national intelligence law of 2017 compels businesses registered in China, or with operations in China, to turn over information and data to Chinese intelligence agencies.

U.S. officials and lawmakers have warned that the Chinese Communist Party could compel the company to turn over American users’ data or expose them to propaganda.

"Even if they say, we’re going to take all the data to the United States, well, the algorithms are still in Beijing, and as long as they have those algorithms, they can track that, monitor content and push information," he said.

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"With half the American population as a user, I can’t think of a greater propaganda tool than that," he added.

TikTok is facing an ongoing security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — an interagency group that evaluates threats to U.S. national security posed by foreign investments or transactions.

CFIUS has been looking into TikTok since 2019, and in 2020, it unanimously recommended that ByteDance divest from TikTok's U.S. operations, and it has been threatening to ban TikTok until that happens.

However, TikTok has created "Project Texas," an initiative dedicated to addressing concerns about U.S. national security. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified for hours last week before a House panel and explained parts of the initiative.

"Project Texas" creates a stand-alone version of the TikTok platform for the United States isolated in serves in Oracle’s U.S. cloud environment. It was developed with CFIUS and cost the company approximately $1.5 billion to implement.

Chew has argued that TikTok is not beholden to any one country, though executives in the past have admitted that Chinese officials had access to Americans' data even when U.S.-based TikTok officials did not.

However, TikTok claims the new initiative keeps U.S. user data safe, and told Fox News Digital that data is managed "by Americans, in America."

"Rep. McCaul seems unaware of the details of Project Texas, the whole point of which is to put TikTok U.S. user data and systems outside the reach of any foreign government," a TikTok spokesperson told Fox News Digital. "Today, all new protected U.S. user data is stored exclusively in infrastructure in the United States, and today all access to that environment is managed exclusively by TikTok U.S. Data Security, a team led by Americans, in America."

Still, many U.S. lawmakers and officials have called for the app to be banned.

President Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill last year that included a measure to ban TikTok from federal government devices.

TikTok has also been banned for use on state-owned electronic devices in more than a dozen states — both Republican and Democrat-led — across the country.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Senate and House intelligence committees earlier this month about TikTok's power to "drive narratives" and "divide Americans against each other."

Britain and New Zealand's parliament have banned the use of TikTok on government-issued phones. India has banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the WeChat message service, on security and privacy grounds.

However, some lawmakers, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have said legislation to protect privacy and data should be proposed.

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McCaul warned that people who support that alternative "need to open their eyes as to what this app is capable of doing."

"Your whole identity is on your phone — everything you do, all of your transactions — everything is on that phone," McCaul said. "And the idea that we are opening it up to a foreign nation atmosphere through an app, I can’t think of a greater invasion of your privacy."

2023/03/28 08:03

FDA admits to knowing about deadly bacteria found in baby formula months before it was recalled

The Food and Drug administration (FDA) admitted to having knowledge of a deadly bacteria detected in a type of baby formula months before the brand was recalled.

In November, the FDA inspected the Reckitt plant, where Enfamil ProSobee Simply Plant-Based Infant Formula is made, and detected Cronobacter bacteria at the Zeeland, Michigan facility, Politico reported.

Despite the initial contaminated batch being destroyed, another 145,000 cans were recalled after the bacteria was found in the formula. The February recall came around five months after the discovery of Cronobacter, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says "can be deadly for young infants." 

Symptoms in babies include fever, poor feeding, excessive crying, low energy, seizures, spine swelling, and bloodstream infections. No illnesses from the batches have been reported at this time.

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"As part of the FDA’s oversight to ensure safe and nutritious infant formula, the agency’s more recent engagements with manufacturers through inspections and ongoing meetings has limited the scope of these recalls and minimized disruptions to the market," an FDA spokesperson told Politico regarding the recall. 

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"Compared to the Abbott recall… the recent recalls are much narrower in scope, only impacting a few weeks of product with no additional facility closures," the FDA said in a statement.

FDA and Reckitt did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's requests for comment.

In 2021, the United States experienced a shortage of baby formula after the detection of Cronobacter caused the shutdown of an Abbott Nutrition Michigan production plant. The bacteria reportedly led to at least four infant illnesses, including two deaths.

In a 10-page report following the shortage, the FDA blamed outdated systems for failing to address a whistleblower complaint about problems at the facility.

House Republicans recently opened an investigation into the agency's handling of the 2021 baby formula shortage, calling on FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to provide further information regarding their "poor response" to the situation.

Fox News' Julia Musto and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.

2023/03/28 08:01

Top New York Republican scorches state Dems' effort to ban gas stoves: 'An attack on working people'

EXCLUSIVE: The top Republican member of the New York state Senate blasted Democratic lawmakers for pushing a gas stove ban, saying it would drive prices higher and hurt consumers.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt criticized the policy which he said was part of a broader energy policy that drives employers and residents alike to depart the state. He also said federal Democratic lawmakers from New York — such as Sen. Chuck Schumer and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — are largely driving state policy.

"I think it's ridiculous and I think the danger is that it almost seems comedic and so people can take it, you know, maybe not as seriously as they should," Ortt told Fox News Digital. "It is going to increase people's utility rates in the state of New York, it is going to decrease energy reliability in the state of New York and it will do nothing to fight climate change." 

"If we think that gas stoves are the reason for climate change — that's just that's ridiculous," he added. "We're not going to stop the polar ice caps from melting because my mom has to use an electric stove."

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Ortt's comments come as New York lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul continue negotiations on a fiscal year 2024 budget package that is due March 31. The package is reportedly slated to include a bill banning gas stoves and other natural gas-powered appliances from being installed in new buildings and new residential construction.

While the exact language of the bill is unknown, New York Democrats have endorsed prohibitions on water heaters, furnaces, clothes dryers and stoves that are powered by natural gas. And Hochul called for all new construction to be zero-emission beginning in 2025 during her State of the State Address in January.

"I’m proposing a plan to end the sale of any new fossil-fuel-powered heating equipment by 2030," she remarked. "We are taking these actions because climate change remains the greatest threat to our planet, and to our children and grandchildren."

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In 2021, about 60% of all New York households relied on natural gas for heating while another 20% used heating oil, according to the Energy Information Administration. Additionally, just 14% of households in the state were heated with electricity, the vast majority of which was generated by natural gas power plants. 

Ortt noted that state Democrats have pursued a broader climate agenda that extends beyond gas stoves.

"It is much bigger than just gas stoves," Ortt continued. "This is an attack on energy diversification, it's an attack on working people who pay utility rates. It's going to increase their rates, it's going to drive out employers, it's going to drive people out of the state. And we're going to have nothing environmentally to show for it."

"All we're going to have is less people living here, higher taxes, less energy reliability," he said. "Our policy here in New York for a long time has been to export jobs and import energy. That is the New York energy policy. And, obviously, it's been a bad one."

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If the state passes the gas stove ban legislation, it would be the first state to take such a drastic measure. Several Democratic-led cities including New York City have implemented gas appliance restrictions while some states like California have tackled the issue through modified building codes.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently accepting public feedback on the health impacts of gas stoves, but has denied that it intends to ban the appliance. A member of the commission said in January that he wouldn't rule out a federal ban, sparking outcry from Republicans and ultimately forcing the White House to say it wouldn't support such an action.

"There are climate alarmists out there — certainly here in New York and in Albany, and in Washington, D.C.," Ortt told Fox News Digital. "I think we have to be able to push back as Republicans and people across the country to say we can have a responsible energy policy and one that's environmentally responsible and one that is responsible from a state management standpoint."

"When you're in an emergency, there's no such thing as bad energy that you don't want to have. Whether it's nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar, electric, you want as diversified an approach as possible. That's going to keep costs down and that's what's going to keep reliability up and it's what's going to keep people safe and keep people here in New York and keep companies investing in New York."

Ortt added that New York residents can expect a late budget based on the status of negotiations. He said energy policy is a factor in the delay, but that the main holdup is criminal justice and public safety issues. 

2023/03/28 06:50

Nikki Haley to visit southern border in Texas after unveiling plan to tackle migrant crisis

FIRST ON FOX: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley will visit the southern border in Texas next week, Fox News Digital has learned -- as the former governor is unveiling her plan to handle the ongoing migrant crisis now into its third year.

Haley will become the first presidential candidate to visit the border when she travels to Texas on April 3. She will be accompanied by Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, and will make several stops between San Antonio and Eagle Pass. The area has seen some of the heaviest migrant traffic along the border in recent years as authorities have been besieged by the historic crisis.

There were over 1.7 million encounters at the southern border in FY 2021, and more than 2.3 million in FY 2022. FY 2023 has been on pace to eclipse those numbers, although numbers have dipped in January and February.

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Republicans have attributed the crisis to the policies of the Biden administration -- specifically the rolling back of Trump-era border protections, and an increase in "catch-and-release" of migrants into the U.S. The White House has attributed the crisis to a hemisphere-wide challenge and has called on Republicans to provide additional funding.

Haley, who is a daughter of legal immigrants, has been rolling out her plan to secure the border and tackle illegal immigration. That plan would see the recent funding for up to 87,000 IRS staff scrapped in favor of 25,000 new Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The plan would also mandate that businesses use E-Verify -- which verifies a worker’s citizenship and immigration status -- in their hiring processes. As governor of South Carolina, Haley had signed a bill requiring all businesses in the state to use the tool.

Additionally, a Haley administration would cut funding to states that have been used to give money to illegal immigrants -- such as the billions used by New York to cut checks to illegal immigrant workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Her plan would also restore the Trump-era "Remain-in-Mexico" policy -- which kept migrants in Mexico while their immigration hearings proceeded, instead of releasing them into the U.S. Republicans have credited that policy with reducing the pull factors which drew migrants north. Haley is also promising to end the "catch-and-release" practices of the Biden administration.

"We fix [the border crisis] by going back to Remain-in-Mexico, we fix it by stopping catch and release, we fix it by putting up an actual wall and closing our border," she said earlier this month on "One Nation with Brian Kilmeade." 

"But we do it by doing what I did in South Carolina as governor," she said. "We did a mandatory E-Verify program that said none of our businesses could hire anyone that was in this country illegally. That is what got them out of South Carolina because there were no jobs for them to come to, that's what will get them out of this country, we've got to make sure none of our businesses hire anyone that is here in the country illegally, and we've got to start taking this seriously. Every state is a border state."

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In addition to mandating E-Verify, the legislation she signed as governor also required police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop who they suspected may be in the U.S. illegally -- following similar legislation in states like Arizona.

That bill also created an illegal immigration enforcement unit, made it illegal to transport or harbor illegal immigrants, made it a felony to sell fake IDs to illegal immigrants and barred illegal immigrants from state or local benefits. The bill faced significant pushback from immigration activists.

"Illegal immigration is not welcome in South Carolina," Haley said in 2011 when she signed the bill.

As governor, she also declined to accept Syrian refugees over concerns about vetting, and in 2014 said that South Carolina would not be accepting illegal immigrant minors in order to focus on children already in the state. When she served as U.N. ambassador during the Trump administration, the U.S. withdrew from the global compact on migration in part due to concerns that it would have restricted U.S. policy and impinged on U.S. sovereignty.

Illegal immigration and border security are likely to remain top topics in both the Republican primary season and the 2024 general election.

Former President Trump, who has announced his own 2024 bid, made tackling illegal immigration a key part of his administration. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis -- who has not announced a bid but is widely expected to run -- sparked outrage from Democrats last year when he flew illegal immigrants into Martha’s Vineyard. 

2023/03/28 06:00

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He denigrates the American flag and American nationalism.


As evidenced by our first YouTube video on our homepage, when most of the Democratic presidential candidates were on the same stage at the beginning of a certain primary season campaign event, Barack Obama was the only candidate not to put his hand over his heart during the rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Instead his hands were folded over his crotch.

Obama voted NO on recommending a Constitutional ban on desecrating the American flag

Obama voted against making English the official language of the U.S. government

In a television interview on October 4, 2007, Mr. Obama was asked why he wasn't wearing an American flag on his suit. By a reporter for KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Obama replied, "The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Mr. Obama replied. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he added.