Texas sheriff drives 4 migrants back to US border

Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe

Emily Crane, MaryAnn Martinez

A Texas sheriff personally drove four illegal immigrants he’d apprehended back to the US-Mexico border to deport them, insisting he’s been left with no choice given the current border crisis.

Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe told the Epoch Times the migrants were discovered after a suspected smuggling vehicle his deputies were pursuing crashed on Wednesday morning.

Five illegal immigrants were found inside the vehicle, including a woman who had to be taken to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Suspected smuggler vehicle crashes in Kinney County

The sheriff said Border Patrol agents had told him they could only apprehend the four other migrants if they’d been medically assessed at a hospital first.

“They had declined any type of medical help,” Coe said of the four uninjured migrants.

“So I can’t let them walk the streets. I can’t say, ‘Hey, go, be free.’ Because I still have to protect the Constitution and protect the people in the county.”

He added, “To let them go, undocumented, unaccounted for, just go because of a policy — I couldn’t do it.”Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe personally drove four illegal immigrants he’d apprehended back to the US-Mexico border to deport them Wednesday. Kinney County Sheriff Brad CoeKinney County Sheriff Brad Coe said the migrants were discovered after a suspected smuggling vehicle his deputies were pursuing crashed.Kinney County Sheriff’s Office

Coe said he put them all into his sheriff’s vehicle and drove an hour to Eagle Pass, where there’s an official port of entry to Mexico.

The sheriff dropped the four migrants off in the middle of the international bridge.

The driver, a Mexican national who was wearing cartel-lined insignia, was arrested and is now facing seven felony charges.

The crash site in Kinney County

“It’s going to be the exception rather than the rule. But at the same time, if Border Patrol won’t take a group for whatever reason, I don’t have a choice,” Coe said.

Coe said he isn’t sure if there will be legal ramifications for his actions, but argued that local law enforcement shouldn’t have to tie up so many of its resources for the ongoing border crisis.

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the sheriff of acting illegally by trying to deport the migrants himself, noting that state and local governments don’t have the lawful authority to do so.  

ACLU lawyers on Wednesday demanded information from the Kinney County Sheriff’s Office on the recent ordeal and any prior similar incidents of attempted deportation of migrants.Four of the migrants refused medical treatment in the wake of the crash, which meant Border Patrol refused to take them into custody. Kinney County Sheriff’s OfficeThe sheriff said he put the four migrants into his sheriff’s vehicle and drove an hour to Eagle Pass, where there’s an official port of entry to Mexico. Kinney County Sheriff’s Office

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had hailed Coe’s move during a press conference Wednesday in the wake of the latest human smuggling tragedy that left 53 migrants dead in a sweltering truck in San Antonio.

The crash scene in Kinney County

“I applaud all of our sheriffs for having to respond in unprecedented conditions. And that’s causing all of us to use unprecedented action,” Abbott said.

“And so whether it’s doing what that sheriff in Kinney County is doing, or what we’re doing, such as turning back more than 20,000 people, we all have our own tools and strategies that we use to either turn back or to return people across the border.”

Deputies in Kinney County have already arrested 66 human smugglers this month alone.

It comes as migrant encounters at the US border continue to soar to record highs, with a staggering 239,416 recorded last month, Customs and Border Protection data show.

The latest figures bring the total migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022 to more than 1.5 million.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/30/texas-sheriff-drives-4-migrants-back-to-us-border/?fbclid=IwAR2AN2ETj97-Tg5xsm7TYEC4wefIqkl4PkoAZEAKoqXfrUnOyw82zEa3toI&fs=e&s=cl

Court rules federal agency wrongly withdrew bi-state sage grouse protections

wildearthguardians.org

Matthew Koehler

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal court has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally withdrew its proposal to list the bi-state sage grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on Monday vacated the agency’s 2020 withdrawal of the bird from the proposed listing, reinstated the 2013 proposal to list the birds as threatened and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a new final listing decision.

“These rare dancing birds have a shot at survival thanks to this court decision,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve watched for more than a decade as these sage grouse have continued to decline. Without the Endangered Species Act’s legal protection, multiple threats will just keep pushing these grouse toward extinction.”

The bi-state sage grouse is a geographically isolated, genetically distinct population of greater sage grouse, which are famous for their showy plumage and mating dances, during which the males make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. They live only in an area along the California-Nevada border and face multiple threats. Population declines are particularly acute at the northern and southern ends of the birds’ range.

The court found that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 decision to withdraw the bird’s proposed listing failed to consider the small overall population of the bi-state sage grouse and the significance of the potential loss of subpopulations most at risk of being wiped out.

“These unique sage grouse populations in the Eastern Sierra are heading toward extinction from numerous threats, including livestock grazing, cheatgrass invasions, raven predation and extreme droughts,” said Laura Cunningham, California director at Western Watersheds Project. “They deserve a chance to thrive with legal protection.”

The birds were originally proposed for listing as threatened in 2013, but the Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned the proposal in 2015. In 2018 a federal court found the Service had wrongly denied Endangered Species Act protection to the bi-state sage grouse and required the agency to re-evaluate the bird’s situation. The bird was again proposed for protection, but in March 2020 the Trump administration withdrew the proposal.

“The court’s decision is a win for the bi-state sage grouse, which deserve Endangered Species Act protections,” said Joe Bushyhead, endangered species attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “The Fish and Wildlife Service must address the threats to these birds and their habitat, as well as the failure of existing efforts to halt their decline.”

Sage grouse populations in California and Nevada are isolated from other sage grouse by unsuitable habitats and former habitat that has been heavily developed. The bi-state sage grouse populations together are estimated to be no more than 3,305 birds, far below the 5,000-bird threshold that scientists consider the minimum viable population.

“The decision reinforces important legal principles for endangered species: that agencies must base their decisions on the best available science, fully explain their decisions, and carefully consider the status of an imperiled species, especially segments that are small and vulnerable,” said Daniel Ahrens, a law student with the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, which represented the conservation groups in court.

Stanford law student Zach Rego, who also represented the conservation groups, said the court was right to hold that the Service “must do more to show that conservation measures, like the removal of invasive cheatgrass, will be effective in preventing the bi-state sage grouse’s extinction.”

Efforts to protect the birds, including placing markers on barbed-wire fencing in cattle and sheep operations to reduce collision deaths and vegetation treatments, have failed to stem their decline. Federal scientists predict localized extinctions in the north and south ends of the range. Scientists also estimate occupied habitat has decreased by more than 136,000 acres over the past 11 years.

Bi-state sage grouse are found on lands originally inhabited by the Washoe and Paiute peoples.

The conservation groups that successfully challenged the withdrawal include Desert Survivors, the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians. The groups are represented by attorneys from the Center and the Stanford Law Clinic.

bi state sage grouse usfws flickr wildearth guardians

The bi-state sage grouse lives only in an area along the California-Nevada border and faces multiple threats, including grazing, mining and habitat loss. Photo by USFWS.

https://wildearthguardians.org/press-releases/court-rules-federal-agency-wrongly-withdrew-bi-state-sage-grouse-protections/

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