December 5, 2020


Two suspected human smugglers were arrested following a vehicle pursuit with multiple law enforcement agencies, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The case unfolded early Tuesday, when deputies from the Jim Hogg County Sheriff’s Office engaged in a pursuit with a minivan on Texas 16 toward Freer. The Hebbronville Border Patrol Station notified the Freer Station of the pursuit. Agents responded to assist along with Duval County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the Freer Police Department.

Agents said the minivan was successfully stopped when it entered Freer. An investigation revealed that the driver and a front seat passenger were U.S. citizens. They were transporting seven individuals who were determined to be immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras who were in the country illegally.

Jim Hogg deputies arrested the driver and passenger, and seized the minivan. Agents from the Freer Station took custody of the seven immigrants.

“This incident highlights how cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies in our communities leads to the interdiction of criminal activity and successful prosecution of violators of the law. U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Laredo Sector will continue to form resilient partnerships with their law enforcement counterparts to keep our nation and communities safe as they focus on the agency’s strategic objectives to stem the flow of illegal immigration and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Border Patrol said in a statement.

To report suspicious activity such as human or drug smuggling, download the “USBP Laredo Sector” app or contact the Laredo Sector Border Patrol toll free at 1-800-343-1994.

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As one closed state Motor Vehicle Commission agency reopened Thursday, another shut down to keep the statewide total of agencies shuttered due to the coronavirus at eight.

An employee who tested positive for coronavirus at the Delanco Center was last in the building on Nov. 14, MVC officials said. It is scheduled to reopen on Nov. 30, pending a cleaning, contact tracing results and any quarantining of employees that has to be done.

Seven other MVC Centers remain closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19 at each location, and will reopen on the following dates:

  • Trenton Regional/Vehicle Center – reopens Friday.
  • Eatontown Regional/Licensing Center – reopens Friday.
  • Rahway Licensing Center – reopens Nov. 24.
  • Bayonne Licensing Center – reopens Nov. 25
  • Wallington Vehicle Center – reopens Nov. 25
  • Lakewood Vehicle Center – reopens Nov. 28
  • Flemington Vehicle Center – reopens Nov. 30

The Runnemede Vehicle Center reopened Thursday.

The South Plainfield and Wayne Licensing Centers will operate on an appointment-only basis until Nov. 23, meaning no walk-ins customers will be served.

South Plainfield and Wayne will be closed this Saturday because Saturday employees are required to quarantine at both locations.

Drivers should check the website before going to an agency to determine its status.

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Larry Higgs may be reached at [email protected].

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President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden46 percent of voters say Trump should concede immediately: poll Michigan county reverses course, votes unanimously to certify election results GOP senator: Trump shouldn’t fire top cybersecurity official MORE is eyeing the departments of Agriculture and Transportation as key partners for achieving his climate goals, exciting progressives by broadening efforts beyond traditional environmental agencies.

Biden’s climate plan calls for harnessing the power of agriculture to capture and store carbon while innovating to reduce its own footprint. In the transportation sector, he’s called for a massive investment in transit and elective vehicle infrastructure to reduce reliance on gas-powered vehicles.

But some of Biden’s potential picks are already generating concern from left-leaning interest groups, particularly those that want the incoming administration to surpass former President Obama’s accomplishments by using the full force of the federal government to tackle climate change.

Among those considered to lead the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are former Sen. Heidi Keitkamp (D-N.D.) and Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeFive actions Biden should take to build a more humane food system Race for House ag chair heats up OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans in campaign mode for top spots on House environmental committees | Peterson loss prompts scramble for House Agriculture chair MORE (D-Ohio.).

Fudge has been openly campaigning for the job, telling Politico earlier this month that she’s been “very, very loyal to the ticket” and encouraging the Biden administration to place Black leaders in roles beyond traditional posts like Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Heitkamp has been more circumspect but didn’t rule out interest. After losing reelection in 2018 after only one term, she formed the One Country Fund, a political action committee that seeks to bolster Democratic prospects in rural America, an area where Democrats have struggled to make inroads.

“Joe Biden has the opportunity to put together a Cabinet that reflects all parts of America, and I know what decision he makes is going to be the right one,” Heitkamp told The Hill.

“We all have to make America unified to work again, so I’m very, very excited about Joe Biden as our next president of the United States and for Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Trump’s controversial Fed nominee stalled | Economists warn of lag time between vaccine and recovery | Business group calls for national mask mandate, COVID-19 relief Biden, Harris briefed by national security experts amid transition obstacles Graham becomes center of Georgia storm MORE as our next vice president.”

Heitkamp’s government record before coming to Congress included defending North Dakota’s anti-corporate agriculture law as state attorney general in the 1990s. In Washington, she served on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

But her potential nomination for Agriculture secretary is already facing resistance from a host of left-leaning environmental and farmworker groups, hitting the former senator for her moderate voting record, acceptance of campaign contributions from large agribusiness and her overall environmental record.

More than 130 groups, including Friends of the Earth and Farmworker Justice, sent a letter to the Biden