Senate Fails On Border Crisis Funding

WASHINGTON — Efforts by Congress to approve money for what most deem a crisis along the southern border were in shambles on Thursday evening, after the Senate failed to approve its funding bill and the House was forced to rework its plans to win more Republican votes.

The Senate legislation would have provided $2.7 billion to care for and help deport many of the more than 57,500 unaccompanied minors who have been apprehended crossing the border illegally since October. That was $1 billion less than President Barack Obama had requested. But the bill still lacked provisions that many Republicans said were vital to earning their support, such as changes to existing law so that minors could be deported more quickly without seeing a judge.

The bill failed in a procedural vote, with 50 senators voting to continue to a final vote and 44 opposing. Sixty votes were needed to proceed.

Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined with Republicans in opposing the bill.

The Senate Democrats’ bill would have also provided funding to fight wildfires and to buttress Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) warned before the vote that the bill was needed to fund these measures and to keep agencies from running out of money to deal with the border crisis.

“Failing to act is irresponsible,” she said.

Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), two of the most vocal opponents of the border package, argued that it needed provisions to end current Obama policies that protect some undocumented young people from deportation and to prevent the president from expanding similar relief in the future.

“Congress, as an institution, must not support any border package that does not expressly prohibit the president’s executive amnesty and block funds for its implementation,” Sessions said on the Senate floor Thursday. “How can we not take this position? Are we really to recess for August having done nothing, said nothing, offered nothing to oppose the president in this way?”

The House was set to vote earlier Thursday on a bill to provide $659 million in funding to address the border crisis, coupled with measures such as sending National Guard troops to the border, adding immigration judges and changing a 2008 law that provides unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada with a lengthier process in which to argue they should be allowed to stay.

Despite House Republican leaders adding to the schedule another opportunity to vote against a policy that prevents some young undocumented immigrants from being deported, the House could not get 218 votes to approve the $659 million for the border crisis. House leaders are reworking their plan on Friday and aim to hold a vote on a new or revised package that would provide funding to address the unaccompanied minors situation.

But even if they do, the Senate won’t be around to pass it — although the upper chamber almost certainly wouldn’t anyway on policy grounds — because of the August recess. The White House had already issued a veto threat on the initial House Republican bill, which is now expected to become even more conservative.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that the administration was encouraged that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border appeared to be decreasing, but said they still hope Congress will approve additional funding. Agencies working on the crisis have said they are close to running out of already stretched funding.

“We continue to believe that those resources are necessary, simply because we have seen in the past that these numbers can be pretty volatile,” Earnest said at a press briefing.

Transgender Woman Raped At Immigration Center Should Be Released, Activists Say

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX, July 31 (Reuters) – Rights activists called on Thursday for the immediate release of a transgender women allegedly raped by her cellmate at an Arizona immigrant detention center, accusing authorities of refusing to provide for her safety.

The activists say immigration and detention center officials have shown they are incapable of protecting the 23-year-old woman following the alleged July 20 sexual assault at the Eloy Detention Center, southeast of Phoenix.

The woman, Marichuy, whose legal name is Jesus Leal Gamino, has been detained for more than a year at the 1,437-detainee center, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“We see no other solution than for ICE to immediately release her, where her community can take measures to … help her heal,” said Francisco Luna, a spokesman for Arcoiris Liberation Team, one of the groups calling for the woman’s release.

ICE confirmed the alleged rape was reported and said the case was referred to the “appropriate authorities” for investigation. In a statement, it said it was committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all those in its custody.

“ICE has a strict zero tolerance policy for any kind of abusive or inappropriate behavior in its facilities and takes any allegations of such mistreatment very seriously,” it said.

An ICE spokeswoman said the agency could not discuss the woman’s immigration case history due to privacy concerns.

A Corrections Corporation spokesman would not specifically comment on the case, but said its officials also take such matters seriously and investigate reported allegations.

“Any allegation of this nature is also reported to outside law enforcement so that an independent investigation can be conducted,” the company said in a statement. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)

Colorado To Begin Issuing Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

DENVER (AP) — Colorado will begin issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards to immigrants who are in the country illegally or have temporary legal status.

The documents will start being issued Friday amid high demand. About 9,500 people are signed up for appointments through the next 90 days, with more people getting scheduled every day. The law is expected to receive tremendous scrutiny both from opponents who see it as legitimizing illegal behavior, and supporters who argue it will lead to safer roads and allow law enforcement to correctly identify people in traffic stops and accidents.

Colorado was among eight states that passed laws last year allowing identification documents for people in the country illegally. Two of those states, Illinois and Nevada, have already started issuing the documents. California plans to start in January.

Immigration Activists Arrested At White House Protest

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, dozens of activists were arrested in front of the White House while protesting the continued deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Members of several immigration action groups, including CASA in Action and the United Methodist Church, gathered in Lafayette Square, just north of the White House. After a prayer service and subsequent protest, participants were arrested by police and loaded onto buses.

The arrests come on the same day Congress had planned to vote on legislation to address the crisis that stems from the influx of undocumented children from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

United Methodist News reported about some of those attending the demonstration:

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society said the following United Methodists plan to be arrested: Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Bishop Marshall L. Meadors Jr., David N. Edgar, Bill Mefford, Emma Escobar, Sol Cotto, Chett Pritchett, Cindy Johnson, David Farley, Melinda Dodge, Alka Lyall, Deborah Tinsley-Taylor, Don Kuntz, Nestor Nazario, Jacob Dharmaraj, Paul Fleck, Alex Souto, Anne Bracket, Brian Carter, Carla Dawson, Rita Carter, Wendy Vasquez, Karina Mendoza, Lynne Howard, Jason Redick, Jeff Hood, Mary Townsend, Sally Bevill, Owen Ross, Eric Folkerth, Rob Rutland-Brown, Stan Bain, Steve Clunn, Steve Pavey, Susan Montgomery.

Watch video of the arrests above.

Pictures from the protest and arrests are below:

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Over 100 Faith Leaders, Immigrant Activists Arrested At White House For Protesting Deportations

More than 100 faith leaders and immigration activists participated in a demonstration and were arrested at the White House on Thursday to protest the daily deportations of undocumented immigrations.

The demonstration opened with a prayer service and press conference at 12pm in Lafayette Park followed by a protest along the White House fence to call attention to what a Church World Service (CWS) statement referred to as President Obama’s “inhumane immigration enforcement policies.” After refusing to leave White House sidewalk, the activists were arrested and charged with blocking passage, according to CWS’s statement.

Citing frequently referenced estimates, CWS’s statement said that the U.S. deports 1,100 undocumented immigrants every day when the government should focus on expanding resources for immigrant families — and especially for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border every year.

Rabbi Kimelman-Block, who was arrested for civil disobedience at an October rally for immigration reform, led the prayer and invoked the Jewish community’s immigrant past to enforce his message:

We were once demonized. We were called “undesirable.” Laws were passed to keep us and people like us out. Immigration is a fight that our ancestors fought. It is a fight our grandparents and our parents fought. And it is our fight today.

Prominent faith leaders Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the United Methodist Church, Rev. John L. McCullough, CEO and President of Church World Service, Sister Eileen Campbell, Vice President of Sisters of Mercy, Rev. Linda Jaramillo of the United Church of Christ and Rev. Kathleen McTigue, Director of the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, led the action and risked arrest for their civil disobedience.

“We have come to Washington, DC to tell to President Obama and Congress that kicking out suffering immigrant families and unaccompanied children is not the answer. Immediately stopping the deportations and extending due process to children escaping the violence of drug cartels, gangs and poverty is the just way to respond,” Bishop Carcaño said.

Rev. McCullough reflected on his decision to risk arrest in a blog on The Huffington Post, writing:

We have grown tired of our decision makers putting immigrant families and children in the middle of their political games. Some Democrats are ready for the President to take this action prior to the November election hoping that this will help mobilize immigrant voters to the polls. There are also Republicans that cannot wait to bring about another lawsuit stunt against the President for this additional executive action, even though it is fully within his executive authority. Both of these calculations by political operatives lack moral vision, are short-sighted and deny the dignity and humanity of the more than two million immigrants who have been deported by this President. Our nation is better than this, and I pray that our President is as well…

Ultimately, we in the faith community will not remain silent while millions of immigrants continue to live lives marked with fear and unrealized potential. This is why I am risking arrest today. As a pastor, a husband, a father, a CEO, and a man of faith, I must take part in holding our politicians accountable for the impact they have on the lives of my community members.

Today I bring my prayer for this country and my plea for this President to act into physical form, in front of the White House, a symbol of the power of this country and the promise of democracy. The restrictions of handcuffs pale in comparison to the desperation felt by so many of our immigrant brothers and sisters, as they seek lives free of fear and an opportunity to pursue the American dream. I cannot sit idly by. Mr. President, act boldly and act now. We expect nothing less.

Sponsors of Thursday’s demonstration included the United Methodist Church, Church World Service, CASA de Maryland, CASA de Virginia, Bend the Arc, the Unitarian Universalists Association, the United Church of Christ, Sisters of Mercy, Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the PICO National Network, and the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

The action kicked off a weekend of anti-deportation events in Washington D.C., including an August 2 White House rally.

CWS live-tweeted the demonstration with photos and calls to action:

In front of the @WhiteHouse. Stop the deportations. #not1more #pray4relief

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

RT @bend_thearc: The rally has moved in front of the WH. Soon 130 clergy&activists will be arrested #not1more

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

"In each generation, we must decide what kind of country we will be." – Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block #pray4relief #not1more

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

SI SE PUEDE! YES WE CAN! #pray4relief #not1more

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

"REAL religion is about what our beliefs compel us to do." Rev. @KathleenmcTigue #not1more #pray4relief

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

RT @SideofLove: 135 people will get arrested to #stopdeportations @WhiteHouse #Pray4Relief #UU

— CWS (@CWS_global) July 31, 2014

Calle 13 Explores The Power Of A Kiss In ‘Ojos Color Sol’

Calle 13 explores the power of a kiss in “Ojos Color Sol.”

The Puerto Rican duo premiered the music video for their new single featuring Silvio Rodríguez on Tuesday, which was also frontman René Pérez’s directorial debut.

The track is far from the politically driven lyrics that Calle 13 has become known for, instead this romantic tune is an ode to the sweetness of love and sun-colored eyes. For the video, which was co-directed by Kacho López Mari, Pérez said he was inspired by the purest act of love: a kiss.

“I focused on a kiss, the kind that makes all the physical sensations and the intensity of one’s emotions change the way we see everything,” Pérez told HuffPost, via his publicist Vladimir Gómez. “I wrote the script, including the camera shots, and I sent it to Kacho. We discussed it and we went forward with it. Despite the fact that I was in Spain during the filming and Kacho in Argentina, we always stayed in touch. He would send me filmed scenes, I commented on them and in no time at all the video was done just how I had conceived it.”

The music video already has over a million views on VEVO and stars Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and Spanish actress María Valverde, both of whom were hand picked by Pérez.

“They are actors of the highest capacity,” the artist continued. “This makes the work of directing easier and more pleasurable. It’s important to note the humility and hard work that both of them showed during the process.

Watch the video above.

House Scraps Vote On Bill To Address Border Crisis

WASHINGTON — The House abruptly removed a bill from its schedule that would provide $659 million in funding to address the ongoing border crisis, after initially planning to vote on the measure Thursday. After meeting Thursday afternoon, House Republicans are set to meet again Friday morning to discuss the next steps for a border bill, delaying a planned congressional recess.

The bill had significant opposition from Democrats, but GOP leadership decided to add a separate vote, if the first were to pass, on a measure meant to bring on conservative support: ending a key Obama policy that allows undocumented young people in the U.S. for years to remain in the country.

That move wasn’t enough to get to 218 votes. The GOP leadership — House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) — issued a statement saying the House “will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.”

“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” they said. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

That House Republicans said the president should act alone to deal with the crisis is significant given their opposition to many of his previous executive actions. The House GOP voted on Wednesday to authorize a lawsuit against Obama for his actions to enforce Obamacare. Obama has said he needs additional funding from Congress to address the influx of unaccompanied minors.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who led a group that helped craft the bill, said the bill had about 214 votes, according to Roll Call.

“There are people who just don’t want to do anything,” she said. “They don’t want to spend the money.”

McCarthy said on the House floor that “additional votes are possible today,” and GOP members will meet to discuss plans later Thursday.

More than 57,500 unaccompanied children and teenagers have been apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally since October, overwhelming a system already plagued by backlogs and in need of significant resources. President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis, and Senate Democrats proposed a $2.7 billion package. House Republicans introduced a bill to approve just a fraction of that sum — with the possibility of appropriating more funds later — with conditions many Democrats oppose, such as changing a 2008 law so unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada can be deported more quickly and sending the National Guard to the border.

The issue over the 2008 law, in particular, became a flashpoint in the debate. While the White House has voiced support for changing the law to allow for speedier deportations, most Democrats in Congress have voiced vehement opposition. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the bill an “unjust and inhumane proposal,” and Democratic members were urged to oppose it.

Pelosi was in a meeting with reporters when a staffer notified her that the vote had been canceled.

“Oh my god. It was so awful,” she said. “Thank God.”

The White House issued a veto threat for the House bill on Wednesday, stating it “could make the situation worse, not better.”

“By setting arbitrary timelines for the processing of cases, this bill could create backlogs that could ultimately shift resources away from priority public safety goals, like deporting known criminals,” officials said in a statement. “This bill will undercut due process for vulnerable children which could result in their removal to life threatening situations in foreign countries.”

Since Democrats were unlikely to get the bill to the 218 vote mark for passage, GOP leaders decided to add a vote to take place later Thursday on legislation to end Obama policies that prevent deportation of some undocumented immigrants, particularly one that protects young people often referred to as Dreamers. That was an attempt to sweeten the funding bill for conservatives.

The White House similarly condemned that legislation as part of “an approach that is about rounding up and deporting 11 million people, separating families, and undermining DHS’ ability to secure the border.”

Since Senate Democrats appear to lack the votes to pass their measure, both chambers will likely adjourn for more than a month without approving funding to what nearly all members have deemed a crisis.

Laura Bassett contributed reporting.

This post was updated with quotes from Nancy Pelosi and Kay Granger as well as House GOP plans to meet later on Thursday and again on Friday.

John Boehner Calls Harry Reid’s Immigration Idea ‘Nutso’

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he isn’t going to let immigration reform become part of the effort to address the current border crisis, regardless of what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) threatens to do.

“Instead of addressing the crisis at hand, Senate Democrats are talking up some nutso scheme to jam through the Senate immigration bill, even though they know it will never happen,” Boehner said at a weekly press conference. “I’ll say it one more time: The House will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion, including in this border bill.”

Reid said on Tuesday that perhaps the Senate could add the comprehensive immigration reform bill that has already passed the upper chamber onto anything the House approves to deal with the ongoing border crisis.

“If they pass [border crisis funding], maybe it’s an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform. If they’re finally sending us something on immigration, maybe we could do that,” Reid told reporters.

The House is set to vote Thursday on a bill that would allocate $659 million to address the problem of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. The funding package includes measures most Democrats oppose, such as changing the law to speed up deportations and sending National Guard troops to the border. The White House has already issued a veto threat on the House legislation.

The Senate Democrats’ bill, meanwhile, would appropriate $2.7 billion for the border crisis, but likely does not have the votes to gain final approval.

Why Is The NAACP Siding With Verizon Over Net Neutrality?

The NAACP and several other major civil rights groups have emerged as flashpoints in the debate over net neutrality, the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.

More than 40 civil rights groups are supporting broadband providers that oppose strict net neutrality rules. The civil rights groups say they’re siding with the Internet giants because it’s in the best interest of minority communities.

Yet critics say many of those groups are against stronger net neutrality rules because they’ve received substantial funding from Internet providers. Many of the civil rights groups currently siding with the broadband giants also supported the controversial Comcast-NBC Universal merger, came out in favor of AT&T’s failed takeover of T-Mobile in 2011, and supported broadband providers the last time the Federal Communications Commission ruled on net neutrality back in 2010.

While all the civil rights groups say that net neutrality is a good idea, they disagree on how to enforce it. Some groups, including Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice, want the FCC to have more authority over Internet providers to ensure those providers don’t discriminate against certain content. They also say that if net neutrality is weakened and Internet providers are allowed to charge companies to speed up their traffic, it will lead to higher costs being passed on to consumers — which could have a disproportionate effect on minorities, many of whom already struggle to afford basic broadband connections.

Other groups, including the NAACP and the National Urban League, side with Internet providers and oppose subjecting those companies to greater oversight. They claim strict net neutrality rules would deter broadband companies from expanding service in their communities, preventing more minorities from adopting the Internet.

But some civil rights leaders say the different opinions are more than just an honest policy dispute. Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a media watchdog group, claims that many minority groups side with Internet providers on net neutrality because they fear they will lose funding otherwise.

“If you have programs with any of these companies, you feel beholden to go along with what they believe,” said Nogales, whose group supports strict net neutrality rules.

Civil rights groups tend to play an influential role when the government makes policy decisions that affect communities of color, so their stance on net neutrality is significant. The FCC has made it a top priority to ensure that minorities have equal access to the Internet and aren’t left behind in the digital age.

Earlier this month, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, a nonprofit that aims to promote civil rights, filed comments with the FCC on behalf of more than 40 minority groups. The letter sided with Internet providers in opposing strict net neutrality rules that subject those companies to more oversight.

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council received at least $725,000 in donations and sponsorships between 2009 and 2011 from net neutrality opponents, including Verizon, Time Warner and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

In an interview, David Honig, the group’s president, said the funding it receives from the telecom industry was not essential to its operations and did not influence its position on net neutrality. He said the council receives support from companies on both sides of the debate and that it opposes Internet providers on other policy issues.

Honig told HuffPost he found it “saddening” that because his group received funding from Internet providers, critics are saying “somehow we must have been bought.”

Another organization that has sided with Internet providers on net neutrality is the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC. On its website, the group lists Comcast, AT&T and Verizon among the members of its “corporate alliance,” an advisory board. In 2006, AT&T gave LULAC $1.5 million to build technology centers in low-income Hispanic communities. In 2008, Verizon gave the group $1 million to improve literacy among Hispanic children.

In an interview, Brent Wilkes, national executive director of LULAC, said that accepting contributions from Internet providers should not prevent minority groups from taking sides on the issue. He also denied that his group’s position had been influenced by industry donations.

“We take our stance based on what we believe are the best interests of the Latino community, and we have not been pressured by these companies,” Wilkes said.

In 2009, AT&T gave at least $1 million to the NAACP. The NAACP did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post, but William Barber, president of the group’s North Carolina chapter, told Politico in 2011 that the NAACP’s endorsement of AT&T’s acquisition bid for T-Mobile was unrelated to AT&T’s financial contributions to the group.

It’s not uncommon for civil rights groups to receive support from companies on both sides of the issue, given that net neutrality affects everyone who uses the Internet and nonprofits often rely on corporate money to support their work in the community.

Nogales, of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, for example, serves on the diversity advisory council for Comcast, which opposes strict net neutrality rules. Nogales’ relationship with Comcast has survived despite their opposing views, he said.

But after his group began calling in 2010 for stronger net neutrality rules, Verizon officials stopped returning Nogales’ calls and donating money to his organization, he said. Over the course of previous years, Verizon had donated a total of $15,000 to the coalition. Though the contributions were relatively small, Nogales said Verizon’s lack of donations since then is evidence of the potential consequences facing civil rights groups that oppose the industry on net neutrality.

“When we took a position on net neutrality, that was the end of the relationship,” Nogales said. “If you’re on [Verizon’s] side of an issue, they’re eager to support you. If you’re not, they’re not going to support you. It’s as simple as that.”

A Verizon spokesman did not address the company’s relationship with Nogales, but said the company “is proud to support the country’s most prestigious civil rights groups.”

“Many of those groups disagree with us on some issues,” Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden said in a statement to HuffPost. “As we do with other organizations we support, we base our support for civil rights groups on the integrity of their mission, the effectiveness of their programs and the quality of their leadership.”

Vatican Orders Paraguay Archdiocese To Remove Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican has ordered a Roman Catholic diocese in eastern Paraguay to remove a priest accused of sex abuse in the U.S. and to restrict the activities of the bishop who hired him.

Pope Francis sent a cardinal and an archbishop to investigate Carlos Urrutigoity in the diocese of Ciudad del Este. The two men visited the country July 21-26.

The removal is the latest demonstration of the pope’s “zero tolerance” of clerical abuse, and it suggests priests suspected of child abuse in one country can no longer find shelter in other countries.

In 2002, Urrutigoity was accused of sexual abuse of minors in a highly publicized lawsuit in the Diocese of Scranton, Pa. He and another priest, Eric Ensey, were suspended by then-Bishop James Timlin amid allegations they had sexually molested students at St. Gregory’s Academy. The diocese reportedly reached a $400,000-plus settlement in the case in 2006.

Urrutigoity, a native of Argentina, was transferred to Canada before settling in Paraguay.

The Vatican’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed Wednesday (July 30) that Urrutigoity had been removed from his position as vicar general, or deputy bishop, of the diocese on July 14.

“He has not been suspended. He has been removed from the position,” Lombardi said.

During his visit to Paraguay, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello also told Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano not to proceed with any further ordinations of priests in Ciudad del Este, Lombardi said.

The cardinal will report his findings from Paraguay directly to Pope Francis, and Lombardi said it was unclear whether the Vatican would take further action.

Earlier this year, Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera expressed concern about Urrutigoity’s career advancement in Paraguay, saying “warnings regarding this cleric’s suitability for ministry have not been heeded.”

In a message on the diocese website, the bishop went further and urged anyone who has “suspected, witnessed or suffered abuse at the hands of Father Urrutigoity” to report it to authorities.

“Transferring predator priests to different dioceses or countries is dreadfully irresponsible,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “SNAP has been demanding that this dangerous predator be ousted since March.”