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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A record number of asylum requests and border crossings has forced the El Paso Border Patrol sector to temporarily close its highway checkpoints.

“We were told to go ahead and close down all the checkpoints,” a Border Patrol official told Texas Monthly. Agents who typically work at the checkpoints will instead be used to transport and process asylum seekers for an indefinite amount of time. “It’s really out of control. It’s bad,” the official continued.

These checkpoints are used to inspect cross-border cargo, where agents work to stop the flow of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, marijuana and methamphetamine from reaching the U.S. interior.

The surge in asylum requests comes as the U.S.-Mexico border is experiencing the highest levels of border crossings in over a decade. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Monday that her department expects to apprehend nearly 100,000 migrants by the end of March, which would be the highest number of apprehensions since 2007.

“I want to cut through the politics today to tell you loud and clear: There is no ‘manufactured’ crisis at our southern border. There is a real-life humanitarian and security catastrophe,” Nielsen said Monday at George Washington University.

The surge in illegal immigration primarily stems from Guatemalan and Honduran nationals, who have fled their home countries in droves to escape poverty and gang-related crime. The number of Guatemalans and Hondurans who have fled to the U.S., in comparison to their countries’ populations, is striking. Between October and February, one out of every 155 Honduran nationals has been apprehended while crossing the U.S. southern border. For Guatemalans, that ratio is one out of 211, according to an analysis by Texas Monthly.

Immigration enforcement officials have detailed why the border crossings seen presently constitute an emergency.

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas sprayed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nov. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas sprayed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nov. 25, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Unlike the 1990s and early 2000s, where illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border annually exceeded one million, the illegals of today are primarily not Mexican or Canadian, and many of them are children. The demographics make it difficult for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to quickly deport them, leaving detention facilities filled to the brim. (RELATED: Central American Migrants Are Sending Billions Back To Their Home Countries)

ICE detainment facilities have become so overwhelmed with illegal aliens, an agency spokesman revealed on Thursday that her agency has been forced to release over 100,000 migrant family members in the past three months alone.

ICE officials, much like the employees at El Paso Border Patrol, have been forced to forgo their typical duties in response to the influx of illegal immigrants coming from the southern border.

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Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A New Mexico Archbishop urged Catholic faithful to stop venerating a ‘spiritually dangerous’ folk saint of death called La Santa Muerte.

John Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, said worship of La Santa Muerte, or Our Lady Of Holy Death, contradicts church teaching because it glorifies death, a characteristic associated with Satan, who the Christian scriptures say “comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” Wester believes that people may be seduced into worshiping La Santa Muerte either because they mistakenly believe that it is a church-sanctioned saint, or because they are simply searching for answers. (RELATED: Faith, Drugs, And Human Sacrifice: A Mexican Folk Religion Has Texas Police Worried)

“It’s really wrong. I think in part, it’s (because) people are looking and searching. It’s a symptom of a search looking for answers,” Wester told The Associated Press.

“Our devotion is to the God of life,” he added.

La Santa Muerte, often depicted as a robed skeleton carrying a scythe in one hand and a globe or scales in the other, is an occult saint popular in Mexico with adherents also in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, California and elsewhere in Latino communities in the U.S.

Devotees touch the figures of Santa Muerte (Saint of Death) before the central altar asking for favors during the main celebration in the market of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods, known as Tepito in Mexico City, on November 1, 2012. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Devotees touch the figures of Santa Muerte (Saint of Death) before the central altar asking for favors during the main celebration in the market of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods, known as Tepito in Mexico City, on November 1, 2012. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

While some depict the folk saint as a benign if bizarre figure to whom the poor direct prayers and offerings of candles, fruits and sweets in exchange for provision and fortune, there is a very real dark side to worship of the folk saint. The FBI reports that members of Mexican drug cartels often pray to the figure, asking it to bring harm to law enforcement and rivals. In some cases, cartel and gang members have murdered people in ritualistic killings as offerings to La Santa Muerte.

“For U.S. law enforcement agencies, the rise of a criminalized and dark variant of Santa Muerte worship holds many negative implications,” said Dr. Robert J. Bunker, PhD in an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. “Of greatest concern, the inspired and ritualistic killings associated with this cult could cross the border and take place in the United States.”

“Over half of the prayers directed at her include petitions to harm other people via curses and death magic,” Bunker added.

While Wester and a few other Catholic bishops in the U.S. have openly denounced La Santa Muerte, Bishop Walter F. Sullivan and Andrew Chesnut, author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint, said no other high-ranking Catholic clerics in the U.S. have done so. Chestnut believes they have avoided denouncing the demonic figure because it might contradict their messaging about migrants.

“In Latin America, church officials rebuke Santa Muerte almost weekly,” Chestnut told AP. For more U.S. bishops to attack worship of La Santa Muerte, he said, would risk portraying Mexican migrants as “dangerous and all connected to drug trafficking.”

Wester, however, remains resolute in his stand against La Santa Muerte, whom he said is “spiritually dangerous.”

“It should be completely avoided,” Wester said. “It is a perversion of devotion to the saints.”

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Attorney General William Barr delivered a report of the special counsel’s Russia investigation to Congress on Sunday.

Barr sent a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, who could soon release details to the public.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on Twitter that Barr sent a “very brief” letter to lawmakers at around 3:35 p.m. EST.

Mueller delivered a comprehensive report of his 22-month investigation to the Justice Department on Friday. The hand off signaled that the investigation was over and that Mueller would be issuing no more indictments in the probe. (RELATED: Mueller Submits Report To The Justice Department)

Barr said in a letter to the Judiciary committees on Friday that he would provide Congress with Mueller’s conclusions from the investigation, which focused on whether members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed justice.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spent much of Saturday and Sunday reviewing Mueller’s report, which one official described as “comprehensive.”

U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The Justice Department is not required to provide the entire report to Congress. Instead, regulations governing special counsel’s investigations require only that the attorney general inform Congress about decisions to issue indictments or decline indictments.

Mueller indicted 37 individuals and three Russian companies during the investigation. Six Trump associates pleaded guilty or were charged in the probe, though none were charged with conspiring with Russia.

Barr’s delivery marks a significant milestone in the investigation, but it will now touch off a new waiting game for a release of more details from the probe. Democrats have already said that they are unwilling to settle for a mere summary of Mueller’s findings. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said he will subpoena the Justice Department for the report, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has suggested subpoenaing Mueller himself.

Some Republicans, likely emboldened by the belief that the report undercuts theories of collusion, have also said that they support Mueller’s findings being made public.

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Chris White | Energy Reporter

Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand delivered her presidential campaign kickoff speech in front of the Trump International Hotel Sunday as she struggles to stand out among an increasingly crowded field of candidates.

Gillibrand spent the bulk of her speech excoriating President Donald Trump for being a “coward” who crafted a career building “a shrine to greed, division and vanity,” referring to hotel she was standing beside. She also applauded those who attended her speech for being “brave.”

“The people of this country deserve a president worthy of your bravery,” Gillibrand said, referring to the audience. “A president who not only sets an example, but follows yours. Your bravery inspires me every day, and that is why I’m running for president of the United States.” (RELATED: 2020 Democratic Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand Can’t Even Get Her Home Delegation To Back Her) 

She added: “He (Trump) demonized the vulnerable, and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building. He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our President is a coward.” Gillibrand and other female 2020 candidates have struggled to make a name for themselves as their male counterparts continue to soak up most of the media attention.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces he will not seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination with his wife Jill (R) at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announces he will not seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination with his wife Jill (R) at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Polls show that former Vice President Joe Biden and self-avowed socialist Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading in Iowa. The two septuagenarians are so far besting the likes of Gillibrand and Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris as they compete to see who can knock off Trump come 2020. Some Democratic operatives believe the media are giving preferential treatment to Gillibrand’s male opponents.

“I feel like the media is always captivated by the person they seem to think is a phenom: Bernie, Trump, Beto. But they always seem to be white men who are phenoms,” Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic political consultant, told reporters March 15. “In a year where we have more choices than ever, more women and more persons of color than ever, none of them seem to be deemed a phenom.”

Gillibrand has garnered one endorsement from a sitting member of Congress since announcing her 2020 run. Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney is the only member of Congress who had endorsed Gillibrand as of March 18. Democratic New York Reps. Sean Maloney and Kathleen Rice opted to endorse her rival, former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, instead.

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Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

Three individuals were jailed Saturday in relation to the setting of a Tulane University student’s dorm room door on fire.

Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office general counsel Blake Arcuri said 21-year-old Robert Money and 20-year-olds David Shelton and Naima Okami faced aggravated arson counts, The Advocate reported Sunday.

The incident allegedly happened at Peyton Lofton’s door Saturday morning, according to The Advocate. A sign that seemed to say “I AM NOLA BUILT” was slightly burned.

Lofton, who is an officer in Tulane’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), claimed it was politically motivated in a statement.

“It’s a sad day in America when radical activists are lighting dorm room doors on fire because they disagree with you politically,” Peyton said in a statement, posted by YALiberty on Twitter Saturday.

University police said it was unclear why the perpetrators allegedly burned the door, WWL-TV reported. YAL officials said Lofton was recently doxxed by an “anti-YAL social media account.”

“If a socialist student is your neighbor, the answer is to engage and discuss the issues, not shame them online and light their door on fire,” YAL President Cliff Maloney said in a statement, also posted for the group’s Twitter account.

Lofton confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation over Facebook Messenger that there were no injuries.

The situation caught Donald Trump Jr.’s attention.

“Wonder if the media will report this horrible crime against a campus conservative?” Trump Jr. said on Twitter Saturday.

Money and Shelton are Tulane students while Okami is attending Brown University, WWL-TV reported. (RELATED: Man Accused Of Punching Conservative Activist At UC Berkeley Pleads Not Guilty)

Bail is set at $10,000 each for the perpetrators, according to The Advocate.

YAL is a libertarian organization with several chapters across the country.

Tulane University and YAL did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

A megawealthy German family with stakes in recognizable businesses like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread announced they will donate roughly $11 million to charity in reaction to new knowledge about how their family business profited off of the Nazi regime during World War II.

German newspaper Bild reported Sunday that the family’s ancestors Albert Reimann Sr. and Albert Reimann Jr. took advantage of forced laborers under Nazi control. Family spokesman Peter Harf confirmed Sunday that the Reimanns had recently received information that confirmed Bild’s report, which detailed the family’s business operations during World War II, reported Sky News.

The family has not decided what organization will benefit from the donation and will release the report, which they first commissioned in 2014, when it is ready, Harf said according to The Associated Press. Harf is also a managing partner of the Reimann’s JAB Holding Company. (RELATED: Democratic Senate Candidate Mark Kelly Returns $55,000 Check For Speaking In United Arab Emirates)

“We were all ashamed and turned as white as the wall,” Harf said of the family’s reaction to the revelations. “There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting.”

Peter Harf, chairman of the board of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, attends a shareholders' meeting in Brussels April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Peter Harf, chairman of the board of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, attends a shareholders’ meeting in Brussels April 26, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Reimann Sr. and Reimann Jr. died in 1954 and 1984, respectively, and the family believed they knew the extent of the company’s connection to the Nazis through a 1978 report, according to the AP. But the University of Munich historian they hired found that their predecessors used French prisoners of war and Russian civilians as forced labor. Forced laborers made up about 30 percent of its industrial chemical company’s workforce in 1943.

Before the Nazis took control of Germany, the Reimanns donated to The Schutzstaffel, also known as SS, a paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler.

The family now has controlling stakes in Pret a Manger, Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee Co., according to the AP.

Many organizations have gone back and investigated their connections to the Nazi regime in World War II’s aftermath. A yearlong internal review by the AP itself released in May 2017 concluded a photograph exchange agreement the news organization made with Nazi Germany did not aid the regime.

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Henry Rodgers | Capitol Hill Reporter

Special counsel Robert Mueller attended a church service across the street from the White House on Sunday, just two days after submitting his report to Attorney General William Barr.

Mueller and his wife, Ann, attended a Sunday morning service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is just across the street from the front doors to the White House. As President Donald Trump is in Florida, Mueller and his wife, who reportedly are regular attendees of the church, stopped by, just two days after Mueller submitted his completed report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller walks with his wife Ann Mueller on March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Ann Mueller and Special Counsel Robert Mueller walk on March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for the full report to be made public. Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said Sunday that anything related to Mueller’s probe should be released to the public.

Regardless of the report’s findings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler requested a number of documents from the White House and sent letters seeking information from people and organizations close to Trump on March 4. (RELATED: Nadler Unleashes Massive Document Requests Into Threats Against Rule Of Law)

Nadler sent the requests to 81 groups, people and organizations, searching for Constitutional abuses and corruption by Trump. The New York Democrat said Sunday the requests for documents are to “begin investigations, to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, about corruption and abuse of power.”

Democrats and cable news pundits have begun to say the Mueller report is a cover up, even though it has not been released.

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Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins ripped apart plans by House Democrats to continue investigating President Donald Trump over allegations of collusion.

WATCH:

“There was no collusion,” Collins said on Fox News Sunday. “I’m waiting to see the conclusions that Bill Barr is going to give us, hopefully as early as today. Then we can actually show to the American people what the investigation meant, and how far it went, and also the fact that now we can hopefully begin to move on from this two-year cloud of an investigation.”

However, host Chris Wallace pushed back on Collins’ suggestion that Congress can “move on,” pointing out that the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has vowed to keep investigating the same issues special counsel Robert Mueller looked into for 22 months.

“Well, that’s all they have,” Collins, a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, responded. “As we’ve seen in the first two months of this Congress, [Democrats] really don’t have a policy agenda. They have an agenda against the President. They have an agenda to try and win 2020.”

“And so what we’re seeing is they think that they can go into the Judiciary Committee or any other committee and have a limited budget, limited subpoena power, limited staff and go up against an investigation that lasted 22 months, had unlimited power, unlimited subpoena power, had plenty of investigators and they think they can find something more than what they did, then I think they’re sadly mistaken,” the congressman continued.

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler delivered opening remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Google on Dec. 11, 2018. Grabien screenshot

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler delivered opening remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Google on Dec. 11, 2018. Grabien screenshot

Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General Bob Barr on Friday, concluding an investigation that lasted nearly two years. The end of the investigation is seen as good news for the Trump administration because it comes with no new indictments, undercutting accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. (RELATED: Many Claimed Countless Times Over The Last 2 Years That ‘Mueller Is Closing In’ — Then He Filed His Report)

Despite this, Democratic leaders in Congress have pledged to keep probing Trump and his campaign.

During a Sunday morning interview on CNN, Nadler insisted that “we know there is some collusion,” referring to the Trump Tower meeting that has been the target of numerous false reports. “We know there was collusion. Why there has been no indictments, we don’t know.”

Nadler made similar comments when appearing on Fox News, saying that “we know a lot of things and maybe it’s not indictable, but we know there was collusion. The question is the degree.”

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Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that there is compelling evidence that President Donald Trump colluded with Russian interests during the 2016 presidential election.

The accusation comes as special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation without charging any U.S. citizen with a collusion-related crime, though six Trump associates were charged for unrelated criminal offenses.

“There’s a difference between compelling evidence of collusion and whether the special counsel concludes that he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal charge of conspiracy,” Schiff told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I have trust in [Mueller’s] prosecutorial judgment,” Schiff added. “But that doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t compelling and incriminating evidence that should be shared with the American people.”

Schiff listed several episodes as substantiating the collusion charge, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Kremlin-aligned lawyer, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s post-election conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and erstwhile Trump confidant Roger Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks.

The conduct underlying those widely reported episodes did not result in criminal indictments, though Flynn and Stone were charged with various process crimes. Mueller’s investigation, at Schiff’s urging, of Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince and Jared Kushner for lying to Congress also concluded without indictments. (RELATED: Tucker Calls For Roger Stone Pardon)

WATCH the interview:

Attorney General William Barr will deliver a top line summary of Mueller’s report to Congress on Sunday. It is not yet clear whether Congress or the public will have access to Mueller’s report in full. In a Friday letter to relevant committee chairmen, Barr said he would make decisions as to disclosure consistent with the law and DOJ practice.

“I remain committed to as much transparency as possible,” Barr wrote.

A related dispute as to executive privilege may follow. The White House may wish to shield portions of the report that relate to communications within the executive branch, among other subjects. Such a move is sure to draw fierce criticism from Democrats.

Whatever the particulars of the special counsel’s report, Schiff indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would continue its investigations, Mueller’s own conclusions notwithstanding.

“We have an independent obligation to share the facts with the American people,” Schiff said. “We in the Intelligence Committee have a particular obligation to determine whether there is evidence that the president may be compromised in any way, whether that is criminal or not.”

The House Judiciary Committee is separately undertaking its own wide-ranging investigation of the president.

Mueller submitted his final report to Justice Department leadership on Friday.

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Henry Rodgers | Capitol Hill Reporter

Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said anything related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe should be released to the public Sunday, as Attorney General William Barr looks over the completed report.

“If he is going to release all of the information, then I want all of it released,” Jordan said on ABC’s “This Week.” I want those 302’s. I want the conversations between Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele, the guy who wrote the dossier, Glenn Simpson, the guy the Clinton campaign hired to put the dossier together, I want all those conversations that Bruce Ohr had with Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele. Those notes from the FBI, I want all that made public.”

WATCH:

“I want the FISA application to be made public! They used that dossier, took it to a secret court, didn’t tell the court the Clinton campaign paid for that document, didn’t tell the court that a foreigner who was desperate to stop Trump from being elected president, wrote the document,” Jordan continued. “Let’s release it all.”

Regardless of the reports findings, which is likely to show no collusion between Trump and Russia, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler requested a number of documents from the White House and is sending letters seeking information from people and organizations close to President Donald Trump on March 4. (RELATED: Nadler Unleashes Massive Document Requests Into Threats Against Rule Of Law)

Nadler sent the requests to 81 groups, people and organizations, searching for Constitutional abuses and corruption by Trump. The New York Democrat said Sunday the requests for documents are to “begin investigations, to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, about corruption and abuse of power.”

Democrats and cable news pundits have begin to say the Mueller report is a cover up, even though it has not been released.

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