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National Govt & Politics
Trump White House wants series of immigration enforcement steps in any DACA deal
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Trump White House wants series of immigration enforcement steps in any DACA deal

Trump White House wants series of immigration enforcement steps in any DACA deal
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump White House wants series of immigration enforcement steps in any DACA deal

The White House has put forward a series of markers for what President Donald Trump wants in any Congressional deal that involves legislative protections for illegal immigrant "Dreamers," as Trump Administration officials made clear on Sunday night, that if the President is going to agree to shield those immigrants from deportation, then Mr. Trump wants some tougher anti-immigration measures in return from lawmakers.

"Now is the time for Congress to adopt these immigration priorities," White House Legislative Affairs chief Marc Short told reporters on a conference call about the administration's immigration plans.

"We're asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients," Short added, leaving no doubts that the White House wants something in return for any DACA legislation.

Democrats swiftly labeled the requests, "deeply flawed."

What exactly is the President proposing?

Here is the full list of requests - quoted from his Sunday letter, which was sent to Congressional leaders:

  1. Border Wall.  Our porous southern border presents a clear threat to our national security and public safety, and is exploited by drug traffickers and criminal cartels.  The Administration therefore proposes completing construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States.

    1. Ensure funding for the southern border wall and associated infrastructure.
    2. Authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise, collect, and use certain processing fees from immigration benefit applications and border crossings for functions related to border security, physical infrastructure, and law enforcement.
    3. Improve infrastructure and security on the northern border.

 

  1. Unaccompanied Alien Children.  Loopholes in current law prevent “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UACs) that arrive in the country illegally from being removed.  Rather than being deported, they are instead sheltered by the Department of Health and Human Services at taxpayer expense, and subsequently released to the custody of a parent or family member—who often lack lawful status in the United States themselves.  These loopholes in current law create a dramatic pull factor for additional illegal immigration and in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the apprehensions of UACs at our southern border.  Therefore, the Administration proposes amending current law to ensure the expeditious return of UACs and family units.

 

    1. Amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVRPA) to treat all UACs the same regardless of their country of origin, so long as they are not victims of human trafficking and can be safely returned home or removed to safe third countries.
    2. Clarify that alien minors who are not UACs (accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or have a parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody) are not entitled to the presumptions or protections granted to UACs.
    3. Terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) by passing legislation stipulating care standards for minors in custody and clarify corresponding provisions of the TVPRA that supersede the FSA.
    4. Amend the definition of “special immigrant,” as it pertains to juveniles, to require that the applicant prove that reunification with both parents are not viable due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and that the applicant is a victim of trafficking.  The current legal definition is abused, and provides another avenue for illicit entry.
    5. Repeal the requirement that an asylum officer have initial jurisdiction over UAC asylum applications to expedite processing.

 

  1. Asylum Reform.  The massive asylum backlog has allowed illegal immigrants to enter and stay in the United States by exploiting asylum loopholes.  There are more than 270,000 pending cases in the asylum backlog before USCIS, and approximately 250,000 asylum cases before EOIR.  Therefore, the Administration proposes correcting the systemic deficiencies that created that backlog.

 

    1. Significantly tighten standards and eliminate loopholes in our asylum system.
    2. Elevate the threshold standard of proof in credible fear interviews.
    3. Impose and enforce penalties for the filing of frivolous, baseless, or fraudulent asylum applications, and expand the use of expedited removal as appropriate.
    4. Close loopholes in the law to bar terrorist aliens from entering the country and receiving any immigration benefits.
    5. Clarify and enhance the legal definition of “aggravated felony” to ensure that criminal aliens do not receive certain immigration benefits.
    6. Expand the ability to return asylum seekers to safe third countries.
    7. Ensure only appropriate use of parole authority for aliens with credible fear or asylum claims, to deter meritless claims and ensure the swift removal of those whose claims are denied.
    8. Prevent aliens who have been granted asylum or who entered as refugees from obtaining lawful permanent resident status if they are convicted of an aggravated felony.
    9. Require review of the asylee or refugee status of an alien who returns to their home country absent a material change in circumstances or country conditions.

 

  1. Ensure Swift Border Returns.   Immigration judges and supporting personnel face an enormous case backlog, which cripples our ability to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner.  The Administration therefore proposes providing additional resources to reduce the immigration court backlog and ensure swift return of illegal border crossers.

 

    1. Seek appropriations to hire an additional 370 immigration judges.
    2. Establish performance metrics for immigration judges.
    3. Seek appropriations to hire an additional 1,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys, with sufficient support personnel.
    4. Ensure sufficient resources for detention.

 

  1. Inadmissible Aliens.  The current statutory grounds for inadmissibility are too narrow, and allow for the admission of individuals who threaten our public safety.  Therefore, the Administration proposes expanding the criteria that render aliens inadmissible and ensure that such aliens are maintained in continuous custody until removal.

 

  1. Expand the grounds of inadmissibility to include gang membership.
  2. Expand the grounds of inadmissibility to include those who have been convicted of an aggravated felony; identity theft; fraud related to Social Security benefits; domestic violence; child abuse; drunk driving offenses; failure to register as a sex offender; or certain firearm offenses, including the unlawful purchase, sale, possession, or carrying of a firearm.
  3. Expand the grounds of inadmissibility to include former spouses and children of individuals engaged in drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, if the official determines the divorce was a sham or the family members continue to receive benefits from the illicit activity.

 

  1. Discourage Illegal Re-entry.   Many Americans are victims of crime committed by individuals who have repeatedly entered the United States illegally, which also undermines the integrity of the entire immigration system.  Therefore, the Administration proposes increasing penalties for repeat illegal border crossers and those with prior deportations.

 

  1. Facilitate the Removal of Illegal Aliens from Partner Nations . Current barriers prevent the Federal Government from providing assistance to partner nations for the purpose of removing aliens from third countries whose ultimate intent is entering the United States.  Therefore, the Administration proposes authorizing DHS to provide foreign assistance to partner nations to support migration management efforts conducted by those nations.  This will allow DHS to improve the ability of Central and South American countries to curb northbound migration flows and to interrupt ongoing human smuggling, which will also substantially reduce pressures on U.S. taxpayers.

 

 

  1. Expedited Removal.  Limited categories of aliens are currently subject to expedited removal, which erodes border integrity and control by impeding the ability of the Federal Government to efficiently and quickly remove inadmissible and deportable aliens from the United States.  The Administration seeks to expand the grounds of removability and the categories of aliens subject to expedited removal and by ensuring that only aliens with meritorious valid claims of persecution can circumvent expedited removal.

 

 

  1. Interior Enforcement

 

  1. Sanctuary Cities.  Hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions release dangerous criminals and empower violent cartels like MS-13 by refusing to turn over incarcerated criminal aliens to Federal authorities.  Therefore, the Administration proposes blocking sanctuary cities from receiving certain grants or cooperative agreements administered or awarded by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security

 

    1. Restrict such grants from being issued to:

  1. Any state or local jurisdiction that fails to cooperate with any United States government entity regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws;
  2. Any entity that provides services or benefits to aliens not entitled to receive them under existing Federal law; and
  3. Any state or local jurisdiction that provides more favorable plea agreements or sentencing for alien criminal defendants for the purpose of immigration consequences of convictions. 

    1. Clarify ICE’s detainer authority, and States’ and localities’ ability to honor that authority, so that States will continue to detain an individual pursuant to civil immigration law for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody.
    2. Provide indemnification for State and local governments to protect them from civil liability based solely on compliance with immigration detainers and transportation of alien detainees.
    3. Require State and local jurisdictions to provide all information requested by ICE relating to aliens in their custody and the circumstances surrounding their detention.
    4. Clarify the definition of a criminal conviction for immigration purposes, to prevent jurisdictions from vacating or modifying criminal convictions to protect illegal immigrants, and roll back erosion of the criminal grounds of removal by courts under the “categorical approach.”

 

  1. Immigration Authority for States and Localities.  The prior Administration suppressed cooperative partnerships between the Federal Government and State or local governments that wanted to help with immigration enforcement, undermining the security of our communities.  Therefore, the Administration proposes enhancing State and local cooperation with Federal immigration law enforcement in order to ensure national security and public safety.

 

  1. Clarify the authority of State and local governments to investigate, arrest, detain, or transfer to Federal custody aliens for purposes of enforcing Federal immigration laws when done in cooperation with DHS.
  2. Authorize State and local governments to pass legislation that will support Federal law enforcement efforts.
  3. Incentivize State and local governments to enter into agreements with the Federal Government regarding immigration enforcement efforts. 
  4. Provide the same extent of immunity to State and local law enforcement agencies performing immigration enforcement duties within the scope of their official role as is provided to Federal law enforcement agencies.

 

  1. Visa Overstays.  Visa overstays account for roughly 40 percent of illegal immigration.  The Administration therefore proposes strengthening the removal processes for those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas, and implementing measures to prevent future visa overstays which may account for a growing percentage of illegal immigration.

 

  1. Discourage visa overstays by classifying such conduct as a misdemeanor.
  2. Require that all nonimmigrant visas held by an alien be cancelled when any one nonimmigrant visa held by that alien is cancelled, to ensure that if an alien abuses one type of visa, he cannot circumvent the immigration system by then relying on another type of visa to enter the United States.
  3. Bar all visa overstays from immigration benefits for a certain period of time with no waiver.
  4. Clarify that the government does not bear any expense for legal counsel for any visa overstay in removal or related proceedings.
  5. Require DHS to provide all available data relating to any deportable alien to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Information Center for purposes of that alien’s inclusion in the Immigration Violators File, with the exception of aliens who cooperate with DHS on criminal investigations.
  6. Enhance the vetting of bond sponsors for those aliens who enter without inspection, to ensure that bond sponsors undergo thorough background checks prior to being eligible to post or receive a bond.
  7. Permit the Department of State to release certain visa records to foreign governments on a case-by-case basis when sharing is in the U.S. national interest.
  8. Permit the Department of State to review the criminal background of foreign diplomats or government officials contained in the National Crime Information Center database before visa adjudication, regardless of whether the applicant’s fingerprints are in the database.

 

  1. Necessary Resources.  The relatively small number of ICE officers is grossly inadequate to serve a nation of 320 million people with tens of millions of tourists and visitors crossing U.S. ports of entry every year.  Therefore, the Administration proposes providing more resources that are vitally needed to enforce visa laws, restore immigration enforcement, and dismantle criminal gangs, networks and cartels.

 

  1. Seek appropriations to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers.
  2. Seek appropriations to hire an additional 300 Federal prosecutors to support Federal immigration prosecution efforts.
  3. Reforms to help expedite the responsible addition of new ICE personnel.

 

  1. Detention Authority.  Various laws and judicial rulings have eroded ICE’s ability to detain illegal immigrants (including criminal aliens), such that criminal aliens are released from ICE custody into our communities.  Therefore, the Administration proposes terminating outdated catch-and-release laws that make it difficult to remove illegal immigrants.

 

    1. Ensure public safety and national security by providing a legislative fix for the Zadvydas loophole, and authorizing ICE, consistent with the Constitution, to retain custody of illegal aliens whose home countries will not accept their repatriation.
    2. Require the detention of an alien: (1) who was not inspected and admitted into the United States, who holds a revoked nonimmigrant visa (or other nonimmigrant admission document), or who is deportable for failing to maintain nonimmigrant status; and (2) who has been charged in the United States with a crime that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

 

  1. Legal Workforce.  Immigrants who come here illegally and enter the workforce undermine job opportunities and reduce wages for American workers, as does the abuse of visa programs.  Therefore, the Administration increasing employment verification and other protections for U.S. workers.

    1. Require the use of the electronic status-verification system (“E-Verify”) to ensure the maintenance of a legal workforce in the United States.
    2. Preempt any State or local law relating to employment of unauthorized aliens.
    3. Impose strong penalties, including debarment of Federal contractors, for failure to comply with E-Verify.
    4. Increase penalties for any person or entity engaging in a pattern or practice of violations.
    5. Require the Social Security Administration to disclose information to DHS to be used in the enforcement of immigration laws.
    6. Expand the definition of unlawful employment discrimination to include replacement of U.S. citizen workers by nonimmigrant workers or the preferential hiring of such foreign workers over U.S. citizen workers.
    7. Strengthen laws prohibiting document fraud related to employment or to any other immigration benefit.

 

  1. Deportable Aliens.  The categories of aliens that currently qualify for deportation are insufficiently broad to remove aliens who pose a threat to the security of the American public.  Therefore, the Administration proposes expanding and clarifying the type of aliens who present a danger to Americans and should therefore be removable on an expedited basis.

 

  1. Expand grounds of deportability to explicitly include gang members.
  2. Expand the grounds of deportability to include those convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses or a single offense involving death or serious injury.
  3. Expand the grounds of deportability to include those who fail to register as a sex offender.
  4. Clarify the technical definition of “aggravated felony” by referring to “an offense relating to” each of the categories of crimes, rather than specifying the crimes themselves.  This will ensure certain kinds of homicide, sex offenses, and trafficking offenses are encompassed within the statutory definition.

 

  1. Gang Members.  Today, known gang members are still able to win immigration benefits despite the dangers they pose to American society.  As such, the Administration proposes implementing measures that would deny gang members and those associated with criminal gangs from receiving immigration benefits.

 

  1. Visa Security Improvements.  Without sufficient resources, the State Department is hindered from adequately vetting visa applicants.  As such, the Administration proposes enhancing State Department visa and traveler security resources and authorities.

 

    1. Expand the Department of State’s authority to use fraud prevention and detection fees for programs and activities to combat all classes of visa fraud within the United States and abroad.
    2. Ensure funding for the Visa Security Program and facilitate its expansion to all high-risk posts.
    3. Increase the border crossing card fee.
    4. Grant the Department of State authority to apply the Passport Security Surcharge to the costs of protecting U.S. citizens and their interests overseas, and to include those costs when adjusting the surcharge.
    5. Strengthen laws prohibiting civil and criminal immigration fraud and encourage the use of advanced analytics to proactively detect fraud in immigration benefit applications. 

 

  1. Merit-Based Immigration System

 

  1. Merit-Based Immigration.  The current immigration system prioritizes extended family-based chain migration over skills-based immigration and does not serve the national interest.  Decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fueled unemployment and strained federal resources.  Therefore, the Administration proposes establishing a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers, and ending chain migration, to promote financial success and assimilation for newcomers.

 

    1. End extended-family chain migration by limiting family-based green cards to spouses and minor children and replace it with a merit-based system that prioritizes skills and economic contributions over family connections.

    2. Establish a new, points-based system for the awarding of Green Cards (lawful permanent residents) based on factors that allow individuals to successfully assimilate and support themselves financially.

    3. Eliminate the “Diversity Visa Lottery.”

    4. Limit the number of refugees to prevent abuse of the generous U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and allow for effective assimilation of admitted refugees into the fabric of our society.

 

 

Read More

Local News

  • Legislators scrambled to fix Georgia’s DUI law after the state’s highest court ruled last month that refusing to take a breathalyzer test can’t be used in court against motorists suspected of driving drunk. But a bill up for a final vote in the state Senate on Thursday doesn’t reinstate mandatory roadside breath tests. Drunken driving cases will remain harder to prove because of the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision. Police will need to bring suspects in for blood tests to find out their intoxication levels. The legislation simply changes the language officers read after they pull drivers over so that it’s consistent with the court’s ruling. Police will no longer tell suspects that their refusal to submit to breath testing could be used against them. Without the bill, drunken drivers could say police coerced them into handing over evidence, said state Rep. Steven Sainz, the sponsor of House Bill 471. Police can still ask drivers to voluntarily take breathalyzer tests, and they can require blood and urine tests. Lawmakers couldn’t do more this year, so soon after the court’s ruling, Sainz said. It would take an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to override the Georgia Supreme Court’s opinion that requiring breathalyzer tests is a violation of protections against self-incrimination. “We all understand we need a fix now and then look at what we’re really going to do to ensure DUI compliance,” said Sainz, a Republican from Woodbine. “Anyone who’s in a car in Georgia deserves to know that we’re prosecuting DUIs effectively, efficiently and legally, and that folks aren’t getting off on an unnecessary technicality.” In the meantime, police and prosecutors will gather evidence besides breathalyzer tests in drunken driving cases, said Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard, a member of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Officers can use dashboard video footage showing when drivers are swerving and speeding. Police can also tell juries about slurred speech, open containers and field sobriety tests. “We’re not using the refusal to take a test anymore because the Supreme Court has said we can’t,” said Woodard, who prosecutes state misdemeanor crimes. “You still have really unsafe driving or physical manifestations where people behave in a way that people can tell they’re not driving safely.” Many drivers will agree to take breathalyzer tests even though police can’t force them to, said Ray Giudice, a defense attorney who handles DUI cases. Drivers are considered drunk in Georgia if tests show they have alcohol concentrations above 0.08 grams. “If you’re pulled over by law enforcement at 2 in the morning and the man with blue lights, a badge and a gun is asking you questions, it’s pretty tough to formulate a legal strategy on your feet on the side of the road,” Giudice said. “If you really had just those two beers, my thought has been to just take the test. You’ll either be under the limit or so close to the limit that you can manage the case.” While refusing to take a breathalyzer test can’t be used against defendants in a criminal case, their unwillingness could still result in an automatic one-year suspension of their driver’s licenses. License suspensions are considered an administrative penalty rather than a criminal punishment. Defense attorneys will likely fight those suspensions, which were left in place by the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision, Elliott v. the State. State lawmakers and prosecutors might also review whether to continue automatic suspensions for refusing a breathalyzer test, Woodard said. Most punishments for breaking the law are imposed only after someone is convicted. Police are already adapting to breathalyzer restrictions. For example, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office has stopped giving motorists suspected of driving drunk the option of voluntarily taking a breathalyzer test, Capt. Brad Wolfe said. Instead, deputies bring drivers into the Sheriff’s Office, which works with a company that draws blood and delivers it to the crime lab. “Drivers shouldn’t feel any different than they ever did,” said Wolfe, who oversees the office’s patrol divisions. “It’s still a very real possibility that they could be arrested and prosecuted for DUI. That (court ruling) just took away one tool.” While the bill in the Senate on Thursday only deals with the language police officers use on drunken driving suspects, additional changes to Georgia’s DUI law might come next year, said state Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Republican from Dacula. “There is consideration being given to amending Georgia’s Constitution” to allow defendants’ refusal to take breathalyzer tests to be used against them in court, Efstration said. “Going forward, I expect more substantive policy discussions about other possible changes to strengthen DUI laws.” Amending the state constitution would require two-thirds majorities in both the state House and Senate, followed by approval from a majority of Georgia voters.
  • For Robert Bowles, a retired pharmacist with Lewy body dementia, placing an order at a fast-food restaurant can quickly dissolve into a fit of frustration. He struggles with anxiety and depression. Often, he loses his train of thought. “I feel like I’m in a closet and don’t see a way out,” says Bowles, who is 71 and lives in Thomaston, Ga. Sometimes, says wife Judy Bowles, he “can just completely shut down.” A little more than two years ago, Bowles met with his doctor and was approved to use medical marijuana to alleviate his symptoms. He registered with the state and obtained a special card from the Georgia Department of Health. The problem is, there’s no way for him to legally acquire the medical marijuana in Georgia. It’s against the law to grow medical marijuana. You can’t legally buy it, sell it or bring the drug into Georgia from another state. That makes Bowles’ official “Low THC Oil Registry Card” – which he keeps locked in a safe at home – essentially useless. So he’s still waiting to use medical marijuana for the first time. Other card-carrying Georgians grappling with illnesses risk arrest by tapping into an underground medical marijuana supply network, cultivating marijuana in their backyard or buying it off the street. MORE: Read more about Bowles and Lewy body dementia That could change in the coming weeks if legislators make medical marijuana available not only in theory, but practice too. The Georgia House approved a bill earlier this month that would allow medical marijuana to be sold to registered patients. The legislation, which passed on a 123-40 vote, would permit growing, manufacturing, testing and distribution. Sixty dispensaries would serve the state’s rising number of physician-approved patients — more than 8,400 so far. Marijuana would remain illegal for recreational use. The measure, House Bill 324, which received widespread support among both Republicans and Democrats, has advanced to the state Senate. The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill at a public hearing Thursday. Gov. Brian Kemp has said he’s open to “research-based expansion” of medical marijuana. If approved, Georgia would join 31 states that already allow some form of marijuana cultivation, according to the Joint Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access, a group of lawmakers and stakeholders that recommended licensing marijuana growers, manufacturers and dispensaries. Low THC cannabis contains very low amounts of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Because of that, it does not have the same properties and deliver the high associated with full-potency marijuana. It’s been legal for patients suffering from severe seizures, deadly cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and related diseases such as Lewy body dementia, and other illnesses to use medical marijuana oil since 2015. Last year, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain were added to the list of conditions eligible for treatment by cannabis oil. The medical marijuana law allows qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant. As for getting it from a legal source, patients are on their own. Atlanta police have never arrested anyone with an approved condition and registry card for possessing marijuana oil, or street marijuana. Likely, officers have never even come across this situation. Either way, Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said, officers “have discretion, and we are going to look at the totality of circumstances and take everything into consideration.” Former State Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican who is credited with efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia, said he knew the 2015 law fell short. But he thought it was a key first step. Even so, Peake and other supporters didn’t think they would still be in this situation four years later. Dr. Larry Tune, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist at Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods, a senior living community, said he would like to be able to write prescriptions for patients with dementia to obtain medical marijuana. He believes it could alleviate suffering and provide an alternative to anti-psychotic drugs with serious, even dangerous, side effects. But he kept hearing patients complain about having no way to obtain the marijuana. “We can do that paperwork but it’s pointless,” said Tune, who wrote a letter of support for the new bill to the Georgia House bill sponsor, state Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville. Peake, a conservative politician, didn’t start out as a supporter. In December 2013, a reporter asked Peake his position on medical marijuana and he quipped, “I have no interest in that. It will never move forward.” Fast forward only a few weeks when Peake visited a girl from his home district who was suffering hundreds of seizures a day. He met Haleigh Cox at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and listened to the mother’s plea for approval for medical marijuana. “I looked into the little girl’s eyes and asked myself what would I do if that this was my child?” he said. “That changed the direction of my life.” Nowadays, Peake helps get cannabis oil to approved patients using a network that’s designed to stay within legal bounds. He gives $100,000 a year to a registered grower in another state. The drug is mailed to Georgia (he says he doesn’t know how it gets there, and he doesn’t ask), and volunteers help get it to approved patients free of charge. He estimates he has given cannabis oil to close to 1,000 people. Among the volunteers is Smyrna resident Shannon Cloud, whose 13-year-old daughter takes medical marijuana to treat seizures from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that often results in behavioral and developmental delays. Cloud says her daughter’s seizures have become less frequent and severe and that the teenager is able to think more clearly since she began using the oil. Cloud, who was a member a Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access, spent part of Monday at the state Capitol for meetings about the bill. In between, she gave medical marijuana to another working mother whose daughter has severe seizures. Later in the day, she repeated the drill at another location with someone trying to help a family member with Parkinson’s. She’s hoping it becomes less complicated soon. “I had a career, and I had to quit in part because of this. I wanted to spend more time with my kids, but it takes a lot of time to coordinate all of this,” said Cloud. “I am not getting paid. I am just trying to get people the medicine.” Meanwhile, Bowles, the retiree in Thomaston, recently renewed his card to possess medical marijuana. He’s hopeful this time around, he’ll be able to use it. “I have no desire to get high,” said Bowles. “I just want to be Robert and be stable.” — Staff writer Mark Niesse contributed to this article. MORE: Smokable medical marijuana now legal in Florida MORE: Alzheimer’s grows sharply in Georgia — and faster than national average
  • Almost four years after he suffered a terrifying injury, Devon Gales is returning to the sidelines.  Jefferson High School officials announced the former college football player will join the football staff as an assistant coach this year.  'I'm back in my element. I get to be around a sport that I really love. I get to coach it now, so it’s a whole different feeling,' Gales said. Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes has been following Gales' incredible recovery since that September day in 2015. The Southern University wide receiver suffered a paralyzing neck injury when he collided with UGA kicker Marshall Morgan during a kickoff return in Athens. Gales has always dreamed of being on the field again as a coach. Someone he knew at Southern University mentioned to school officials how good of a coach Gales would be. That's when Jefferson head coach Jean Cathcart called. Gales couldn't believe it was real.  “The coach was like, ‘How would you like to have a job?’ I need a job. I’ve been without a job for three years,' he told Fernandes. RELATED STORIES UGA kicker involved in paralyzing collision with Devon Gales says it changed his life Devon Gales, family finally break ground on new home years after tragic accident Devon Gales attends wedding of ex-UGA kicker involved in paralyzing collision Cathcart told Fernandes Gales will have an immediate impact on the teens because his positive attitude is such an inspiration. But the coach wasn't sure if Gales would even want the job. 'His mom was like 'You know he misses the game, he misses practices, he misses games, he misses being around the camaraderie and eveything . So Coach Jackson said, 'Why don’t we get him involved?' Cathcart said. Gales told Fernandes he’s beyond excited for this new venture. “I’ve just been thinking I’m gonna be a coach. I’m really talking to kids, doing receivers and special teams. It’s just really a humbling experience and just teaching the kids what I know and what I’ve learned,' he said. Jefferson High School is not far from the home that is being built for Gales and his family. Fernandes attended a groundbreaking ceremony for it in August.  The house will give the family the chance to live together -- something they haven’t been able to do since Gales was paralyzed in 2015. 
  • Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards has been honored for his work with youth in the Athens area. From the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office... On the evening of March 16th, Hill Chapel Baptist Church along with Reverend Benjamin E.V. Lett, hosted the 10th Annual Legacy Awards Scholarship Banquet. Sheriff Ira Edwards, Jr. was presented the Civics Legacy Award by Minister Susan Johnson and Minister Charlie Maddox. Sheriff Edwards was presented for his service to citizens at the local, state and national level. Among the citations were his service to youth, directing our local DARE program and as an adjunct instructor with the Athens Technical College. He is a board member for the Athens Tutorial Program, Georgia Conflict Center of Northeast Georgia, St. Mary’s Hospital and Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes. Sheriff Edwards also serves on the Executive Advisory Board for D.A.R.E. International and as an Executive board member for the National Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Edwards has also won numerous awards locally, statewide and nationally. He was also the first African American to win a county wide election as a constitutional officer. Sheriff Edwards took office on January 1st, 2001 and has served in law enforcement for the past 32 years.
  • A Hall County SWAT team helped Jefferson Police officers apprehend a man who barricaded himself inside a home in Jefferson: Police say they used tear gas and a taser to take the man into custody; he’s facing a long list of felony charges.  The Georgia State Patrol says there were no injuries i a Tuesday school bus accident in Madison County.  The bus wrecked near a mobile home park on Highway 72 in Madison County. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says a hit-and-run case remains under investigation, even after the arrest of the accused hit-and-run driver: Mitchell Tostenson is 50 years old, from Flowery Branch. He’s charged with hitting a man with whom he’d been arguing near McEver Elementary School in Gainesville. The victim sustained serious but non life-threatening injuries.  The four people arrested after Tuesday’s high-speed police chase in Lumpkin County are facing charges that range from traffic violations to possession of marijuana and methamphetamine. The police pursuit that began in Lumpkin County ended when the driver, identified as Samantha Woody, crashed her car in north Hall County.  There is an arson investigation in Loganville: Gwinnett County firefighters say the blaze that burned an abandoned mobile home was intentionally set. There were no injuries. Police in Alpharetta say they will look for ways to crack down on crime at hotels in Alpharetta: they say forty percent of the criminal activity in the city takes place in and around Alpharetta’s two dozen hotels. Crimes range from drug trafficking to human trafficking. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia football fan-favorite Elijah Holyfield just wants to hear his named called in the NFL draft and play football. The departing Georgia tailback breathed a sigh of relief after his performance in the so-called “House of Payne” UGA indoor football facility, the combine-like pro day workout finally behind him. RELATED: Kirby Smart proud of the way Bulldogs competed at pro day “I’m a guy who likes to play football, not all the other stuff,” said Holyfield, who was born in College Park. “You don’t play football in a combine, you play football on the field.” The combine is, however, part of the evaluation process. Holyfield’s prospects as an NFL tailback were more closely scrutinized after he ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis on March 1. Holyfield re-tested on Wednesday, running anywhere between a 4.76 and 4.89, according to media and scouts in attendance. WATCH: AJC and DawgNation break down Georgia Pro Day “I try not to worry about it, I have confidence in myself, I can play football,” Holyfield said. “I might not run the fastest 40 in the world, but I can play football better than a lot of people.” Holyfield said he contemplated returning for his senior season, but he had reasonable concerns about the injury risk and the likelihood he could repeat and surpass the 1,000-yard rushing season he enjoyed in 2018. Georgia coach Kirby Smart have high praise to Holyfield on Wednesday. “Elijah is going to be a great pro, Elijah brings a lot to a team, he brings a toughness, he brings a demeanor about him, he loves to work,” Smart said. “He was the last guy off the field every day here, catching extra balls. He’s done a tremendous job in our program, he’s going to do the same thing in that organization. “The stripes of a player don’t change when they go to the next level, so I know he’s going to convert what he’s done well here into the same thing there.” Holyfield said he has an interview with the Houston Texans on Thursday, and next week he will fly to New Orleans to meet with the Saints before returning to Atlanta to meet with Philadelphia on March 29. Georgia football RB Elijah Holyfield The post WATCH: Elijah Holyfield not sweating slow 40 times, ready for more football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The numbers are in the books, and while they vary slightly from one team to another, NFL teams have a pretty good idea about Georgia football players. The Bulldogs annual pro day was among the final pieces of the puzzle, with players still having some individual meetings left with the various franchises leading up to the NFL draft April 25-27 in Nashville. AJC-DawgNation experts Mike Griffith and D. Orlando Ledbetter discussed Wednesday’s results at the conclusion of pro day. It seemed Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta came away the biggest winner, relative to how he tested at the combine in Indianapolis earlier this month. Nauta improved his 40-yard dash time from 4.91 in Indy to times clocked between 4.71 and 4.83. UGA coach Kirby Smart, who was on hand to support the 21 former Georgia players testing out in front of the NFL teams, said he had sent a message of encourage to Nauta leading up to pro day. “I just sent him a text message that he’s got a lot of good tape out there, not to get overwhelmed with one moment, don’t be disappointed, “ Smart said. “You could run a great time and have too much expectation, or you could run a poor time worse than what you think you should, and you still have tape out there.” That’s the bottom line for all of the Georgia players with realistic NFL expectations. But still, the combine element matters, as team turn over every stone before investing millions into their roster. Unofficial 40 times from Georgia pro day (media cross-section) • Isaac Nauta 4.71 to 4.83 (4.91 at combine) • Elijah Holyfield 4.76 to 4.89 (4.78 at combine) • Jonathan Ledbetter 5.11 to 5.13 (5.14 at combine) • Deandre Baker 4.46 to 4.49   (4.52 at combine) • Jayson Stanley 4.37 to 4.47 (did not attend combine) Mecole Hardman (4.33), Terry Godwin (4.55), Riley Ridley (4.58) all stood on their NFL combine times and did not run on Wednesday. Mike Griffith and D. Orlando Ledbetter   The post WATCH: AJC-DawgNation breaks down Georgia pro day, 40 times appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — And the star of UGA’s Pro Day was … Jarvis Wilson. That’s right, the same Jarvis Wilson who did not start a single game in his four-year career as a Georgia safety. Based on the “measurables” that the NFL holds so dear, Wilson “blew it up” Wednesday at UGA’s Pro Day. He had 24 reps of the 225 pound on the bench press — better than all the Bulldogs, linemen included — then put up a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash. Can’t miss prospect, right? No, we all know that it’s highly unlikely that Wilson will get drafted. And that’s no knock on the young man from Tupelo, Miss. All he’s ever done is everything his coaches and counselors told him to do, from high school through college. He’ll graduate sometime over the next few months, probably get a few camp invites here and there, then go about the business of living this life. Jackson Harris is another Bulldogs who had a great day Wednesday. He was clocked at 4.71 seconds in the 40. That’s an incredible time for a 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end. It was considerably better than the tight end about which there was the most fuss coming into this exercise. That’d be Isaac Nauta. The junior who chose to enter the draft early was thanking his lucky stars for breaking 4.8 seconds in the 40 this time. He was unable to do that when he went through this same round of testing a month ago at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Jordan Jenkins, as he has been for the last couple of years, was inside Georgia’s Payne Athletic Facility Wednesday taking in all the festivities. He was smiling and laughing a lot. It wasn’t just because he was happy to be back at UGA, which he was. It was because it wasn’t him having to go through the testing this time. “I hated it; hated it,” Jenkins said, repeating himself for emphasis. “I always sucked when it came to testing. I don’t why, but I never did as well as I thought I could.” You know what Jenkins doesn’t suck at? Playing football. Fortunately for him, the New York Jets saw through his testing numbers and drafted him in the third round in 2016. Since then he has played in 46 NFL games, with 37 starts. Jenkins said he ran a 4.8 at the combine the year he came out of Georgia, with a top time of 4.77. He was incredulous on Wednesday when he heard Harris’ 40 time. “No way is Jackson faster than me,” Jenkins said with a hardy laugh. “I know that for a fact. No way!” Not to play total cynic here but, from what I’ve witnessed over the years, I’m thinking it doesn’t matter a whole lot what kind of numbers one posts at these events. It’s my belief that the NFL execs already have a pretty strong idea who they want and what direction they’re going to go in the draft before they put these guys through the paces. All the testing and everything they do primarily gives them to ammunition to de-value prospects wherever they can. Of course, it’s the NFL’s game and their rules and they can make prospects do anything they want. There’s nothing make-believe about the money they pay and what can be bought with that money. But football is football and one can either play the game or not. And when you’re coming out of a program like Georgia — or Alabama or Florida or most any Power 5 — they have all the proof they need to that end from three or four years of playing genuine, meaningful games. Which brings us to the case of Deandre Baker. Baker is Georgia’s most promising prospect for the draft class of 2019. When he finished up with the Bulldogs in December, won the Jim Thorpe Award and All-America honors and then decided to skip the Sugar Bowl, he was considered a lock to be an early first-rounder and likely the first cornerback taken in this year’s draft. Since then, most of what we’ve heard about Baker has been negative. He didn’t test well at the combine, and we’re told from “insiders” that he hasn’t been preparing hard enough and hasn’t “helped himself” as far as his draft position. The word coming in was Baker’s draft stock has been “slipping,” and that 4.52 at the combine didn’t help. Fortunately for Baker, he appears to have helped himself Wednesday with a 40-yard time reportedly in the 4.4s. Neither UGA nor the NFL shared any “official” data in real time during the proceedings, so we’re going on second-hand intel. But Baker, for one, said he ran “a 4.4” was he happy with all that he was able to show scouts Wednesday. “It was a good day overall,” Baker said afterward. “It’s been a hard process, but you’ve got to love it because it’s for better things.” Good for him. Then again, just how necessary was it for Baker to show he could run a sub-4.4? I mean, doesn’t he have four years worth of real football data to show scouts? Let’s see, Baker played in 51 football games while at Georgia. Considering the defense was on the field for about half of those, that’s roughly 1,530 minutes — or 25½ hours — of game video available to review. The Bulldogs also video every minute of every practice so, that’s another 280 hours of video to look at over four years. Of course, Baker has produced all sorts of statistical data produced over that span, too. You can google them up by the dozens, but the plainest and most impressive stat to me is this one: Zero TDs allowed in more than 700 snaps over two seasons. One might note, the Bulldogs have played some pretty good teams for some pretty high stakes these past two years. Apparently this is something on which Baker and I agree. “You know, they just want to see your raw speed, your raw ‘vert. It’s just another way to to test you,” Baker said, still sweating from the going through Wednesday’s DB drills alongside Wilson. “But you always have to put it together on film and I do that all the time. My film is undeniable. You can’t overlook what I do on the field. So I don’t really pay attention that other stuff.” To be sure, evaluating football players is a tough task. I read somewhere that the NFL gets it right on draft prospects less than 50 percent of the time. But NFL almost always gets it right is once players make a roster. After that, you can either play or you can’t. One can either hang or they can’t. In Baker’s case, you can either cover or you can’t. I’m thinking Baker can cover. And regardless of where he gets drafted next month, early first round, late-first, second, I believe he’s going to play in the league for a while. Maybe then he can come back to Georgia for some future Pro Days and join Jenkins on the sideline some good laughs. The post Georgia’s Deandre Baker: ‘My film is undeniable; you can’t overlook what I do on the field’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS —  The Falcons sent a large contingent over to Georgia’s Pro Day on Wednesday.  The crowd of NFL executive, scouts and coaches included Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant general manager Scott Pioli and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.  “This is a really busy time of the year of course, to have double-digits here both sides, coaching and scouting, means a lot to us,” Dimitroff said. “The athletes in this state and the athletes at this school, we are always going to be really honed in on it. I think today we had a lot of people here and we gleaned a lot of information here. It’s good.” A total of 21 former Bulldogs participated in the drills. Here are 10 things we learned:  1. Holyfield is a football player. Running back Elijah Holyfield ran slow again. He was timed in the high 4.7s and low 4.8s on both of his 40-yard dashes. The target time for running backs in 4.55 seconds. “Of course, it’s a concern and how high you determine that to be sort of the guiding light,” Dimitroff said. “Obviously, he’s a good football player. We have to keep an eye on that. He’s a good football player and knows how to play this game.” 2. Baker had a better showing. Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker improved on his time of 4.51 from the scouting combine. He ran his first 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds. “I know I’m the best cornerback in the draft,” Baker said. Dimitroff is hearing that Baker is the top corner in the country, too.  “Deandre had a really good day today,” Dimitroff said. “He’s quick, fast and explosive. He can run. Cover the field. Very good range that way. He’s being (mentioned) as one of the best in the country in the draft. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.”  3. Falcons on hand. In addition to Dimitroff and Piolo, the Falcons had coaches Raheem Morris (assistant head coach/wide receivers), Mike Mularkey (tight ends), Chris Morgan (offensive line), Bob Kronenberg (assistant offensive line), Jess Simpson (defensive line coach), Travis Jones (assistant defensive line), Chad Walker (defensive assistant, Doug Mallory (defensive backs) and Jerome Henderson (passing game coordinator).  Also, area scout Tokunbo Abanikanda and scouting assistant Penil Jean were on hand.  4. Dimitroff and Smart. Dimitroff and Georgia coach Kirby Smart were chatting on the field during the defensive linemen drills.  5. Ledbetter had strong showing. Georgia defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter also went through the outside linebacker drills for the 3-4 teams.  6. Gaillard scouted: Morgan and Kronenberg closely watch former Bulldog center Lamont Gaillard. Dimitroff said that despite signing two guards in free agency the Falcons were not done fixing the offensive line and finding youth and depth.  7. Baker, Falcons. Baker said that he has not met with the Falcons, who must replace three cornerbacks after getting rid of Robert Alford, Brian Poole and Justin Bethel. 8. Hardman dazzled. Former Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman helped himself with a strong showing. He’s ability to change direction and keep rolling at a high rate of speed was impressive. He’s viewed as a returner with some upside as a receiver.  9. Nauta relying on his film. Tight end Issac Nauta, who ran a 4.91 at the combine, was hoping to improve his team. “I bounced back today,” Nauta said.  10. Ridley reunion. Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was on hand to provide support for his brother Riley Ridley.  Also, former Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who plays for the New York Jets, was on hand for Pro Day.    The post AJC-DawgNation expert: 10 things learned at Georgia football pro day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Kirby Smart and Bill Belichick visited for several minutes visiting in Georgia’s so-called “House of Payne” indoor facility Wednesday afternoon. All 32 NFL teams were represented. The Atlanta Falcons sent 11 coaches to see the outgoing Bulldogs show their speed, athleticism and skills in combine-line drills. But Belichick, perhaps more than any of them, has shown he recognizes the value of former UGA players. RELATED: New England practices “just like” Georgia  “I think Kirby’s program is excellent to prepare guys for the National Football League,” said Belichick, who selected UGA players Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and signed center David Andrews as a free agent in 2015. After Georgia’s pro day, more Bulldogs will be on their way to the league. Smart was practically beaming with pride on Wednesday. “Our guys competed well,” Smart said, dozens of media and several cameras surrounding him. “We want them to have this opportunity, that’s what they dream of, but we want them to get their education as well.” There were 21 players running drills on Wednesday, from projected first-round NFL draft pick Deandre Baker to former Bulldog Tramel Terry, who signed with UGA in 2013 before finishing his career with Jacksonville State. Smart, who spent the 2006 season with the Miami Dolphins coaching the safeties, has as good of a perspective as anyone on what the NFL combine drills mean. Not only has the Georgia coach prepared several players for NFL careers, but he went through the process himself. Smart was an All-SEC safety at Georgia who signed a free-agent deal with the Indianapolis Colts before getting cut before the start of the regular season. “We still say your tape will speak volumes to who you are, and a lot of our kids have some good tape,” Smart said. “But they want to do well on this day, they trained hard for this day, there’s a lot of pressure on them for this day, it’s important to them.” As for Belichick, Smart indicated their conversation covered several areas. “He knows you know your own players, he’s always about guys you played against that you thought a lot of, guys coming in the future,” Smart said, “or things they are doing in their organization that are making them better that maybe we can mirror.” Indeed, there are already similarities. “Sony (Michel) told me that the New England Patriots practice is just like the University of Georgia practice, but maybe not as intense, because we’re in college,” departing UGA receiver Riley Ridley said at the NFL combine. “But he said they have the same attack.” Georgia coach Kirby Smart   The post WATCH Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: ‘Our guys competed well’ at pro day appeared first on DawgNation.