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News Scan

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Under-the-Radar Routes for Refugees:  It appears the Obama administration is pursuing under-the-radar "alternative" ways to admit more Syrian and other refugees as soon as this year, causing further fear of the crisis becoming a "terrorist Trojan horse."  Adam Shaw of Fox News reports that during a "high-level meeting" on March 30 in Geneva between the administration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, commissioner Filippo Grandi called for pursuing "alternative avenues" for refugees, such as more flexible mechanisms for family reunification, including extended family members.  He also suggested labor mobility schemes, student visas and scholarships, and visas for medical reasons.  Some have expressed concern that the Obama administration isn't "going to let anyone know about it" and that if refugees are coming in through several different visa programs, properly vetting them will be difficult. The administration's goal is to admit 10,000 Syrians in FY 2016 and increase the total number of refugees from around the world to 100,000 by the end of FY 2017.

Sens. Renew CJ Legislation Overhauling Mandatory Minimums:  A bipartisan group of senators revamped the push for criminal justice reform Thursday, focusing on legislation that would overhaul mandatory minimums.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that the bill, which has 37 co-sponsors, would ban retroactive applicability to offenders with any serious violent crimes on their records and avoid inclusion of provisions that would increase criminal intent requirements for prosecutors.  It also adds new mandatory minimums for offenses involving fentanyl, a deadly opioid.  Some senators are not on board with the bill, however, criticizing it for not focusing on "real consensus reforms that promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism."

Consistent Surge of People Crossing Border Illegally:  The Border Patrol chief says that the number of people crossing the border illegally is inconsistent with the surge two years ago but that agents are better prepared to handle it this year.  KRGV reports that over 80,000 people have illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since October, with the numbers of Central Americans staying consistent and the number of Mexicans dipping.  Analysts say that Mexico's improving economy may be discouraging many citizens from making the dangerous journey.  However, Central Americans will keep coming and exploiting loopholes in the system "until we start enforcing the laws," says Border Patrol Union President Chris Cabrera.  The coming surge will be felt by more than 3,000 agents who serve in the Rio Grande Valley.  Cabrera says at least 1,500 additional agents are needed in the area to effectively combat the coming wave of migrants, despite Chief Patrol Agent and Commander of the South Texas Corridor Manuel Padilla Jr.'s insistence that agents are prepared.

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