PEARL, Miss.

U.S. border patrol cracks down on the interior

Federal agents, with help from local law officers, have begun intercepting illegal immigrants and smugglers along stretches of highway deep in the U.S. interior, where those who have slipped into the country usually have little chance of getting caught.

“They think they’re pretty much home free once they get up here,” said Bill Botts, the assistant chief patrol agent in charge of the Border Patrol’s Gulfport, Miss., station. But Operation Uniforce, as the two-week crackdown begun Jan. 13 is called, “is pretty much a shocker for the smuggling organizations.”

More than 300 immigrants and suspected smugglers had been arrested as of Tuesday, more than a week into the operation.

WASHINGTON

Rebates approved for most taxpayers

Congressional leaders announced a deal with the White House yesterday on an economic stimulus package that would give most tax filers refunds of $600 to $1,200, and more if they have children.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would act on the agreement – hammered out in a week of intense negotiations with Republican Leader John A. Boehner and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson – “at the earliest date, so that those rebate checks will be in the mail.”

The rebates would go to 117 million families, according to a Democratic summary. That includes $28 billion in checks to 35 million working families who wouldn’t have been helped by Bush’s original proposal, the analysis estimated.

WASHINGTON

Bush gives House access to secret documents

Ending months of resistance, the White House has agreed to give House members access to secret documents about its warrantless wiretapping program, a congressional official said yesterday.

The Bush administration is trying to convince the House to protect from civil lawsuits the telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on Americans without the approval of a court.

The documents include the president’s authorization of warrantless wiretapping, White House legal opinions going back to 2001, and the requests sent to the telecommunications companies asking for their assistance, said an official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the classified program.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C.

Convicted Marine might not face death penalty

A grand jury indicted a Marine on a first-degree murder charge yesterday in the death of a pregnant colleague, but a prosecutor said he wouldn’t seek the death penalty if the man is arrested in Mexico.

Authorities believe Cpl. Cesar Laurean has fled to his native Mexico, which refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless provided assurances they won’t face the death penalty.

The remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, were found with those of her fetus earlier this month in a fire pit in Laurean’s back yard. Lauterbach, who had once accused Laurean of rape, had been missing since mid-December.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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