Illegal immigrant from China facing federal charges for setting multiple fires at historic church in Alabama

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MONTGOMERY, AL- According to reports, an illegal immigrant from China is now facing federal charges after allegedly setting multiple fires at a historic church in Alabama. 

Investigators were searching for the suspect after four separate fires broke out at First Baptist Church of Montgomery, located on South Perry Street around 2 a.m. on Thursday, September 30th. 27-year-old Xiaoquin Yan of China has been charged with second-degree arson.

Yan first arrived in the United States on an F-1 student visa to attend a university in Alabama. Reports now indicate that Yan overstayed her visa and became an illegal immigrant living in the United States.

According to the church, where Gov. Kay Ivey (R) attends services, Yan caused at least $25,000 worth of damage. The church was first founded in 1829 and its existing sanctuary has been around since 1916. Lead Pastor Mark L. Bethea said that the fires were set inside the main sanctuary, in the historic Stakely Sanctuary and in some of the church’s office spaces.

He stated that the fires had varying degrees of success, with the reception office being destroyed. At the foot of the cross in the sanctuary, Yan started a gasoline trail, making a winding walk up the center aisle. 

There were burn spots on the carpet of both sanctuaries and the flames destroyed some of the pews in the main sanctuary. Bethea credited the installation of flame-retardant carpets for helping slow the fires’ spread, adding:

“It could have been much worse.”

Looking down from the sanctuary balcony, the presence of smoke damage near the speakers is evident. Smoke and soot damage can also be found throughout the church that thousands of members worship in weekly. Ivey said in a statement:

“I’m deeply saddened to hear of this hateful act upon my church. I’m grateful to Pastor Mark’s leadership and response to such a hurtful moment in our community.”

Yan is facing federal charges for seeking to destroy property with fire or explosives. Federal court filings revealed that Yan supposedly scoped out the church multiple times and made remarks about the pastors, referring to them as “rich white men.”

The pastor of the church told federal agents that he had previously interacted with Yan, finding her suspicious and thus taking down her license plate number. Security guards at the church noted that Yan had “two blue duffel bags with white wiring” inside her 2001 Buick LeSabre. The vehicle is registered to Yan.

A security guard and a custodian said Yan had previously showed up at the church, once with long hair and then later with short hair, and asked about the building’s security cameras.

On the night that the fires were set, federal agents identified a small Asian woman wearing a hat, gloves, and a mask while carrying the same type of duffel bags that were previously seen in Yan’s car. The woman had arrived at the church as a service was taking place.

Later that evening, the same woman was caught on surveillance cameras setting fires all around the church. The woman then left the church with the same duffel bags seen in Yan’s vehicle. Church staff identified the woman in the footage as Yan.

When Yan’s residence and vehicle were searched, federal agents found lighters, gas cans, multiple cell phones, her passport along with other documents, a pistol, bullets for the pistol, a magazine loaded with bullets, and receipts showing purchases for lighters, duffel bags, and gas cans.

If convicted on the federal charges, Yan faces five to 20 years in federal prison. In addition to the federal charges, Yan faces a second-degree arson charge in Montgomery. Her bond was increased from $30,000 to $150,000.

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Border Patrol Council: Since taking office, Biden has added close to 1M illegal immigrants to the U.S. population

September 27th, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.- In an op-ed for Fox News, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd has announced that President Joe Biden has added nearly one million illegal immigrants to the United States population since taking office in late January. 

Judd stated that the total number of border crossers Biden has released into the United States, including Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs), family units, and single adults is upwards of 600,000 since January. 

He wrote about the Del Rio Bridge in Texas, spanning the Rio Grande River from Mexico to the United States and how it has become the scene of the largest makeshift camp of illegal immigrants and some of the most inhumane conditions imaginable in the history of the U.S. Border Patrol. He said:

“By now, the world has viewed the constant aerial and ground footage as we all witness the largest single illegal immigration event in our history. But, unless you are on the ground at the bridge every day to personally witness the smell, noise, confusion, pain and suffering it is hard to understand just how bad the situation really is.”

The massive Catch and Release operation ensures border crossers and illegal immigrants are released into the U.S. with only notices to appear in immigration court or notices to report to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). 

Data from 2019 found 9-in-10 border crossers given the notice to appear in immigration court never show up to their court hearings. Instead, the overwhelming majority live illegally across the United States.

Judd stated that the 600,000 border crossers are in addition to the more than 300,000 illegal immigrants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated have successfully crossed into the U.S. via the southern border over the last eight months. Judd wrote:

“Catch-and-release is the single biggest driver of illegal immigration right now. If we reward people for crossing our borders illegally, they will continue to come …

Although official statistics are difficult to come by, as Sen. Ron Johnson discovered on Tuesday, agents will tell you over 600,000 of the illegal border crossers have been released into the U.S. under catch-and-release since Biden took office eight months ago.”

He added:

“Add that to the more than 300,000 illegal border crossers that were detected but evaded apprehension, otherwise known as ‘gotaways’ and this administration has added almost 1 million illegal aliens to our population this year alone. And the year isn’t over yet.”

Judd continued:

“This is the reason we have a border crisis. This is the reason Texas Governor Greg Abbott is being forced to deploy state resources to the border. And this is another reason the American public should be outraged.”

The estimates come as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas revealed that the Biden administration has released at least 12,000 Haitian border crossers into the U.S. interior over the last couple weeks.

As previously reported, the recent mass release of Haitians into the U.S. interior by Biden’s DHS was in response to a surge of about 15,000 Haitian border crossers taking shelter by the makeshift camp in Del Rio, Texas. Judd wrote:

“On the campaign trail, Biden promised an orderly and humane immigration system. If what we are seeing now is humane, the world better brace itself for what the president considers inhumane.”

Judd concluded his op-ed by saying:

“The natural byproduct of defunding police is dangerously diminishing the safety of the American public that law enforcement is charged with protecting. Without our rule of law, we quickly become no better than the countries the illegal border crossers are fleeing.”

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TX Democrat judge invites Biden to see “challenges being created by current policy” at southern border

August 3rd, 2021

HIDALGO COUNTY, TX – In late July, a Democrat judge from Hidalgo County had reportedly invited President Joe Biden to “witness first-hand the challenges being created by current policy” with regard to the southern border.

The letter drafted by the judge cited that there needs to be “immediate and decisive action” taken in order to properly deal with the issues caused by the surge of illegal immigration impacting the state.

On July 30th, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez sent a letter to President Biden requesting the likes of federal resources and manpower to help address the issues caused by the massive influx in illegal immigrants crossing into the country via the southern border.

Judge Cortez requested that there also be an “immediate cessation” of admitting illegal immigrants into the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector.

This letter followed another statement released by Judge Cortez on July 27th, where he called for federal authorities to cease releasing migrants into the community that are positive for COVID:

“We have been doing well as a community in slowing the spread of this deadly virus. But ill-conceived policies by both the federal and state governments are beginning to have serious consequences on Hidalgo County. I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our community.”

While Judge Cortez clearly feels that there are issues stemming from the southern border and illegal immigration, he was among those in Texas who opposed Governor Greg Abbott’s effort to declare the illegal immigration impacting the state as a “disaster”:

“I appreciate Governor Abbott’s concern for the safety of all Texans and I acknowledge that we are seeing a greater number of immigrants crossing into Texas to either seek asylum, to work or for other purposes.

Apparently, Governor Abbott has information that we don’t have and speaking to local law enforcement, they have not reported levels of criminal activity that would require a disaster proclamation.”

This flip-flopping of Judge Cortez’s take on the southern border has sparked criticism from some of his critics.

Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who is running for Texas’ 15th Congressional District, shared the following on Twitter after news of Judge Cortez’s July 30th letter made the rounds:

“Hidalgo County Judge REFUSED to sign the Abbot Border Disaster Declaration that would have helped our area.  Not once in the KRGV article does he ask Rep Gonzalez for help!  And this is because he PERSONALLY knows him. Why?  Democrats simply DO NOT care.  Vote them out!”

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Democrat officials in Texas have been voicing frustration over the border crisis in recent months, with some feeling as though the current administration is not doing enough to counter the detrimental effects of the surge in illegal immigration. 

Back in May, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report where a Democrat sheriff in Texas noted that if change doesn’t come on approaching the southern border, it’s “only going to get worse.”

Here’s that previous report. 

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VAL VERDE COUNTY, TX – During a recent appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Faulkner Focus”, the Val Verde County Sheriff shared his perspective on the ongoing crisis impacting the southern border.

According to the Val Verity County Sheriff, if appropriate action isn’t taken then the border crisis is “only going to get worse.”

On May 14th, Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez made an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Faulkner Focus” to describe the current situation at the southern border from his perspective.

The sheriff proclaimed that the border crisis that has adversely affected Val Verde County is of the likes of which the county has never seen before:

“Well, this is something that has not taken place in this part of our county ever. This is the first time we’ve experienced something like this. So, it’s overburdened our federal partners, U.S. Border Patrol, who are doing everything they can to handle the situation.”

Sheriff Martinez understands the motivations of some of the people illegally crossing into the country, being sympathetic to those that are simply trying to flee from impoverished areas.

However, the sheriff says that some sort of a “legal process” needs to be crafted and put into place:

“But we see these immigrants that are coming across fleeing their home country looking for a better way of life, you’ve got to feel for these individuals. But at the same time, there has to be a system in place that allows them a legal process. But it’s heartbreaking to watch some of these family units dragging their small children across a river risking their life.”

After acknowledging the dangers associated with people illegally entering the country by way of crossing the Rio Grande, Sheriff Martinez says that ignoring the problem is going to result an unnecessary loss of life from those making the dangerous trek:

“I wish that a decision be made one way or the other as to [how] to stop this. Because more people are going to die. Our state partners are involved in car chases every day. People are — there [are] accidents, they’re going through fences and stuff. People are going to die trying to come here.”

Despite officials in Washington D.C. fighting over semantics regarding what to call the situation at the southern border, Sheriff Martinez put it plainly when saying that the problem is “only going to get worse,” if not addressed:

“So, we need to put a stop to this nonsense until we come up with a solution. Because it’s only going to get worse. People are going to continue to come.”

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Earlier in May, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report pertaining to a Senate hearing where DHS Secretary Mayorkas was being questioned regarding some of his phrasing when discussing the southern border back in March. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Josh Hawley called into question DHS Secretary Mayorkas’ memory during a recent Senate hearing earlier in May, after Secretary Mayorkas proclaimed to have no memory regarding a direct quote he made during a White House briefing back in March.

During a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on May 13th, President Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas claimed to have no memory of using the words “we’re not saying don’t come,” in regard to migrants venturing to the southern border.

This proclamation by the DHS Secretary came after Senator Hawley was attributing a direct quote to him during a line of question that went as follows:

“You did say that ‘we’re not telling you not to come,’ right? You said that. You remember that?”

Secretary Mayorkas responded with:

“I’m sorry senator, I do apologize, I…”

Senator Hawley restated the question for the DHS Secretary, saying:

“You remember saying, don’t you, that ‘we’re not telling you not to come,’ those were your words. Those were your words that you said in a press conference. You said that, right?”

From there, Secretary Mayorkas proclaimed to have no memory of saying the aforementioned quote attributed to him:

“I don’t recall saying that. I don’t believe…”

In a rather surprised tone, Senator Hawley retorted with:

“You don’t recall saying that?”

Once again, Secretary Mayorkas reiterated that the quote attributed to him are words that he doesn’t remember speaking:

“That’s correct senator.”

Seemingly surprised that the DHS Secretary doubled-down on claiming to not remember the quote, Senator Hawley responded with:

“We’d be happy to refresh your memory for you in some question. I’m sure that is interesting news…there secretary just said that he doesn’t have any memory of making those comments. That’s extraordinary.”

Diverting from the inquiries regarding the quote attributed to him, Secretary Mayorkas stated that he’s never explicitly said that the southern border is “open”:

“Senator, I have never said that the border is open.”

While Secretary Mayorkas claims to have a foggy memory regarding the quote attributed to him, a March 1st White House press briefing shows that he did say what Senator Hawley inquired about during the Senate hearing.

The briefing said, in part:

“We are progressing every single day, I don’t have a particular timeline, but all I can do is communicate – both to the American public and to the individuals seeking protection that we are working around the clock, 7 days a week to make that timeframe as short as possible.

“But they need to wait. But they need to wait with a particular goal in mind. We are not saying ‘don’t come,’ we are saying ‘don’t come now,’ because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process to them as quickly as possible.”

You can view the entire line of questioning during the Senate hearing by Senator Hawley toward DHS Secretary Mayorkas below.

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