National Roundup

Judge blocks law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants who illegally enter US

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday blocked a new Texas law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S., dealing a victory to the Biden administration in its feud with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott over immigration enforcement.

The preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge David Ezra pauses a law that was set to take effect March 5 and came as President Joe Biden and his likely Republican challenger in November, Donald Trump, were visiting Texas’ southern border to discuss immigration. Texas officials are expected to appeal.

Opponents have called the Texas measure the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since a 2010 Arizona law that opponents rebuked as a “Show Me Your Papers” bill. The U.S. Supreme Court partially struck down the Arizona law, but some Texas Republican leaders want that ruling to get a second look.

Ezra cited the Constitution’s supremacy clause and U.S. Supreme Court decisions as factors that contributed to his ruling. He said the Texas law would conflict with federal immigration law, and the nation’s foreign relations and treaty obligations.

Ezra wrote in his decision that allowing Texas to “permanently supersede federal directives” due to an invasion would “amount to nullification of federal law and authority — a notion that is antithetical to the Constitution and has been unequivocally rejected by federal courts since the Civil War.”

The lawsuit is among several legal battles between Texas and Biden’s administration over how far the state can go to try to prevent migrants from crossing the border.

The measure would allow state law enforcement officers to arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally. Once in custody, they could agree to a Texas judge’s order to leave the country or face a misdemeanor charge for entering the U.S. illegally. Migrants who don’t leave after being ordered to do so could be arrested again and charged with a more serious felony.

At a Feb. 15 hearing, Ezra expressed skepticism as the state pleaded its case for what is known as Senate Bill 4. He also said he was somewhat sympathetic to the concerns expressed by Abbott and other state officials about the large number of illegal crossings.

Ezra, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, said he feared the United States could become a confederation of states enforcing their own immigration laws. “That is the same thing the Civil War said you can’t do,” Ezra told the attorneys.

Civil rights groups, who also sued the state, have argued the law could lead to civil rights violations and racial profiling.

Republicans who back the law have said it would not target immigrants already living in the U.S. because of the two-year statute of limitations on the illegal entry charge and would be enforced only along the state’s border with Mexico.

Tensions have remained high between Texas and the Biden administration this year over who can patrol the border and how. Other GOP governors have expressed support for Abbott, who has said the federal government is not doing enough to enforce immigration laws.

Among other things, Texas placed a floating barrier in the Rio Grande, put razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border and stopped Border Patrol agents from accessing a riverfront park in Eagle Pass that they previously used to process migrants.

Rhode Island
Providence NAACP president convicted of campaign finance violations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The president of the Providence NAACP violated state campaign finance laws when he ran for City Council in 2022, officials said.

A judge convicted Gerard Catala, 45, of two counts of failing to file campaign finance reports as required by state law. Catala, who was ordered to perform 20 hours of public service, immediately appealed the judge’s decision, issued Wednesday.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said his office was asked by the Board of Elections to prosecute a candidate “who blithely and repeatedly ignored campaign finance laws.”

“Failure to file such reports, after repeated directives from the Board of Elections to file them, can lead only to one place: criminal prosecution,” Neronha said Wednesday in a statement.

The case was subject to a one-year filing. That means it could be expunged if Catala stays out of trouble for a year. Neither Catala nor his attorney immediately returned messages seeking comment.

Kansas City Chiefs superfan ‘ChiefsAholic’ pleads guilty to charges tied to bank robberies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City Chiefs superfan known as “ChiefsAholic” pleaded guilty Wednesday to a string of robberies and attempted robberies of banks and credit unions in multiple states.

Xaviar Michael Babudar, 29, pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, to one count each of money laundering, transporting stolen property across state lines, and bank robbery. Sentencing was scheduled for July 10.

“His violent crime spree across the Midwest and beyond traumatized bank employees and victimized financial institutions in seven states,” U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said in a news release.

Federal prosecutors said Babudar admitted to a string of robberies or attempted robberies in 2022 and 2023. Much of the stolen money was laundered through casinos and online gambling, prosecutors said.

As part of the plea agreement, Babudar must pay at least $532,675 in restitution. He also must forfeit property — including an autographed painting of Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes that was recovered by the FBI.

Prior to his arrest, Babudar was a well-known figure on social media for his rabid support of the Chiefs. He attended several games dressed as a wolf in Chiefs’ clothing.

Prosecutors said the robberies and attempted robberies occurred in Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Tennessee, Minnesota, Nevada and California.

Babudar has taken responsibility for his crimes, his attorney, Matthew Merryman, said in an emailed statement to the Kansas City Star.

“Today Xaviar stood humble and repentant before the eyes of the Court and the eyes of the Chiefs Kingdom,” Merryman said. “Xaviar loves the Chiefs Kingdom, he loves his family, and he loves Kansas City. He only hopes that you will all rally to his support.”