Governor Abbott Holds Press Conference On Border Security Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, speaks during a news conference in Mission, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Abbott and Republican state chief executives from around the nation gathered at the border to again call attention to unauthorized immigration across the Rio Grande. Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor
Sergio Flores/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

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Friday | October 8th, 2021

It’s Friday, October 8th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Governors Demand Federal Action At Border

The Topline: This week, nine Republican Governors joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) at the southern border to denounce President Joe Biden’s handling of what they’re calling a crisis on multiple levels.

Sergio Flores/Bloomberg/Contributor/Getty Images

The Governors

On Wednesday, nine GOP governors from states like Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Nebraska held a press conference with Governor Abbott to denounce Biden’s handling of the border, saying he created a humanitarian crisis.

The governors offered a ten-point plan for the president, including calls for him to end the controversial catch and release policy, which has allowed for the majority of families coming across the border to be released into the U.S. after detention, even though up to 20% of migrants crossing the border have tested positive for COVID-19. They also called for the president to reinstate Title 42, which requires illegal immigrants to be deported if they pose a health risk, such as if they test positive for COVID-19.

They also called on Biden to resume the deportation of illegal immigrants found to have a criminal record and for federal agencies to send more law enforcement officers to the border.

The Underlying Reasons

The group blamed the crisis in part on Biden’s decision to end the “remain in Mexico” policy, which kept potential migrants and asylum seekers in Mexico while they waited for their immigration hearings. They also blamed the president’s immigration policies for the increase in fentanyl overdoses over the last year.

Remember: The number of migrants detained at the border increased from 16,000 a month last April, to 200,000 this summer.

Key Point: The governors noted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has already seized more fentanyl at the border this year than the last three years combined, which is enough to kill the entire population of the United States, seven times over.

Rohan Thomson/Stringer/Getty Images

2) Australia Shifts COVID-19 Strategy

The Topline: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has enforced some of the worlds strictest shutdown protocols, including widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions, but things may be changing.

Background

Australia has been closed since early 2020 and is looking to reopen its international border in November.

Their goal was zero COVID,” as they aimed for no cases, and no spread on the island nation. They implemented heavy-handed enforcement tools to attempt this, which led to widespread anti-lockdown protests and some instances of violence.

Australia is also reportedly going to be buying 300,000 doses of Mercks experimental COVID-19 antiviral pill.

Why Now?

Even though the state of Victoria hit a case record in recent days, the raw number of cases in Australia is still incredibly low compared to other countries.

There appears to be a pivot in COVID-19 strategy from eradicating the virus entirely to living with it through vaccinations and therapies. The new strategy was outlined by Australia’s Prime Minister in late August.

James Devaney/WireImage

3) Scandal Hits NBA Players 

The Topline: A multimillion-dollar scandal has engulfed the NBA with at least eighteen former players being charged in connection with a health benefits fraud scheme.

The Charges

Eighteen former NBA players were charged with defrauding the NBAs health benefit plan and sixteen have been arrested.

The players are charged with submitting false reimbursement claims for medical and dental services, beginning in 2017, to the NBAs Health and Welfare Benefit Plan, which provides players with an HRA benefit and contributions into a health reimbursement account during and after playerscareers.

In total, about $3.9 million in false claims were sought out, and about $2.5 million were paid to the players. The sixteen former players have all been charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud.

The Players

Former guard Terrence Williams was the alleged ringleader of the scheme.

According to U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, Williams obtained fraudulent invoices for medical records, which he would then send to his co-conspirators who would submit the invoices to the benefits plan, which would pay out the claims, and then in many cases, send a kick-back to Williams.

Williams received $230,000 in kickbacks as part of the scheme, and in one case, allegedly tried to frighten someone who failed to pay him by impersonating an official. He faces an additional charge of aggravated identity theft for that alleged incident.

One former player, Gregory Smith, allegedly submitted $48,000 worth of claims for dental work done at an office in Beverly Hills, California, but was in Taiwan playing basketball during the week he claimed to have received the dental work.

Some of the other names include Darius Miles, who was drafted out of high school by the L.A. Clippers in 2000 and was expected to be the next great player to go straight from high school to the NBA.

Tony Allen is probably the player with the most prominent NBA career, playing fourteen years in the league, and making the All-NBA Defensive team six times. Kobe Bryant called him the best defender I ever faced.”

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Debt Ceiling Update

On Thursday, the Senate reached a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling to avert an upcoming default on October 18th. The deal will fund borrowing through December 3rd.

Pfizer

On Thursday, Pfizer asked the United States government to permit the use of its vaccine in children ages 5-11. If successful, children could start getting vaccinated in a number of weeks.

Texas

After hearing arguments regarding the lawsuit brought against Texas by the Biden administration, a U.S. District Judge appointed by Barack Obama issued an order blocking the states new pro-life law.

A previous version of this article referred to Victoria as a city. It is a state. 

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