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FBI Director warns of border smuggling network ties to ISIS

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ISIS operatives

On Monday FBI Director Christopher Wray warned of a “wide array” of dangerous threats coming from the U.S. border. Many, including drug trafficking, violent gangs and smugglers, have been known; however, Wray emphasized the accentuated threat that they have ties to ISIS.

The information was discussed at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the threats at the border. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida asked Wray about threats including the Tren de Aragua gang from Venezuela. Wray said he couldn’t speak to a specific gang, but said that there were dangerous individuals entering via the southern border.

“From an FBI perspective, we are seeing a wide array of very dangerous threats that emanate from the border. And that includes everything from drug trafficking — the FBI alone seized enough fentanyl in the last two years to kill 270 million people — that’s just on the fentanyl side,” Wray said.

“An awful lot of the violent crime in the United States is at the hands of gangs who are themselves involved in the distribution of that fentanyl,” he added. Fox News reported last week that the brother of the suspect in the killing of Georgia student Laken Riley has ties to the gang. Both the suspect and his brother are Venezuelans who entered the U.S. illegally.

Rubio asked Wray whether smuggling networks that are moving people all over the world could also have ties to ISIS or other terrorist organizations.

“So, I want to be a little bit careful how far I can go in open session, but there is a particular network that, where some of the overseas facilitators of the smuggling network have ISIS ties that we’re very concerned about and that we’ve been spending enormous amount of effort with our partners investigating. Exactly what that network is up to is something that’s, again, the subject of our current investigation,” he said.

Rubio asked him to confirm that there is a network “we’re concerned about” that has facilitators involved with ties to ISIS.

“Correct,” Wray said.

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education

Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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