Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Path To Citizenship Not That Important to Illegal Aliens?

Poll: Immigrants prize deportation relief over citizenship

Creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants has long been seen as the keystone of comprehensive immigration reform efforts, but according to two new surveys from the Pew Research Center, Hispanic and Asian-Americans are more concerned about addressing the threat of deportation.

By a margin of 55 to 35 percent, Hispanics said that allowing immigrants to live and work in the United States without the specter of deportation hanging over their heads is more important than creating a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants. By a smaller margin – 49 to 44 percent – Asian-Americans agreed.

Robust majorities of both groups – 89 percent of Hispanics and 72 percent of Asian-Americans – still expressed support for a pathway to citizenship, so that provision hasn’t slipped too far down the wish-list. Still, the numbers could color the immigration reform debate that has roiled Congress for months and will continue into 2014.

Democrats and a handful of Republicans have earned plaudits from Hispanics and Asian-Americans due to their support for a pathway to citizenship, but the record pace of deportations over the last 5 years has diminished that ardor to a degree. Since 2009, President Obama’s administration has deported roughly 400,000 immigrants annually.

In November, during a speech about immigration, the president was interrupted by a shouting student named Ju Hong who demanded he use his executive authority to end all deportations that could separate families. The president said he respected Hong’s passion but added that only Congress can ultimately resolve the question of how to handle undocumented immigrants.

“What I’m proposing is the harder path which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting,” he said.

The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June that would extend a 13-year pathway to citizenship to the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants who live in the U.S. The House has declined to take up the Senate’s bill, but legislative action in that chamber has stalled as the two parties have pulled the debate in different directions.

Democrats have pressed Republican leaders to schedule a vote on a similar comprehensive proposal so that the two chambers can confer on a final bill, but Republican leaders, wary of an insurrection among their rank-and-file, have said they would prefer to legislate reform in increments.

Among the GOP’s biggest problems with the Senate bill is its inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a proposal criticized by some as amnesty for lawbreakers. To address that objection, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has offered a substitute proposal that would confer legal permanent residency – but not citizenship – on those who came to the U.S. illegally.

According to Pew, a plurality of both groups – 43 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of Asian-Americans – would heap most of the blame on Republicans in Congress if immigration reform continues to falter. 34 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of Asian-Americans would mostly blame Democrats and the president.

Pew’s poll of Hispanics surveyed 701 adults between Oct. 16 and Nov. 3, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. The poll of Asian-Americans surveyed 802 adults between Oct. 16 and 31, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

As Reported by Jake Miller, CBS News

Ben Ferro

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Judge Claims DHS Delivering Smuggled Children To Illegal Immigrant Parents!

A federal judge in Texas is accusing the Department of Homeland Security of hand-delivering children smuggled into the United States to their illegal immigrant parents.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen revealed the practice in a blistering court order filed late last week. He said the "dangerous" practice is effectively aiding human traffickers and particularly the drug cartels, which run many of these operations.

"These actions are both dangerous and unconscionable," he wrote.

The judge attempted to lift the curtain on what is happening behind the scenes of the Obama administration's changing approach to immigration enforcement. It has been well-documented that DHS is allowing some illegal immigrants already inside the country to skirt deportation, and particularly those who came to the U.S. as children.

But the "conspiracy" outlined by Hanen would take that controversial policy a big step further. He detailed the case of an illegal immigrant parent in Virginia, but used that as an entry point to describe what he suggested was a broader program.

Hanen claimed that, in more than one case before his court, immigration officials are arresting human traffickers smuggling children into the U.S. -- and then "delivering the minors to the custody of the parent illegally living in the United States."

"The DHS has simply chosen not to enforce the United States' border security laws," he wrote.

Further, he said this is simply encouraging risky smuggling operations. "Time and again this court has been told by representatives of the government and the defense that cartels control the entire smuggling process," Hanen wrote. "... the government is not only allowing [illegal immigrants in the U.S.] to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but is also inspiring them to do so."

He added: "To put this in another context, the DHS policy is as logical as taking illegal drugs or weapons that it has seized from smugglers and delivering them to the criminals who initially solicited their illegal importation/exportation. Legally, this situation is no different."

Representatives with the Department of Homeland Security and other immigration agencies have not yet returned a request for comment on the judge's statement.

Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council union, told FoxNews.com the judge's claims are "absolutely correct."

"This is exactly what's happening," he said, describing how agents "can't keep up" with the number of minors crossing the border, either by themselves or in the custody of smugglers. Crane said immigration officials, then, are tasked with finding a place for the children to go.

"That's what we do now. We babysit kids and change diapers," he said. "It's out of control."

Crane said the best short-term solution would be to return the children to the family members they were staying with in their home country.

The judge's statement was prompted by the case of Mirtha Veronica Nava-Martinez. She was arrested at the Texas-Mexico border in May and pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle a 10-year-old child originally from El Salvador. After the sentencing, the judge wrote, he decided to go public with additional details from the case.

He wrote that the "conspiracy" started when an illegal immigrant in Virginia hired smugglers to get her daughter from El Salvador to Virginia. She paid $6,000 in advance. But after the smuggling operation was interrupted by federal agents, he wrote, "the DHS delivered the child to her."

Further, he wrote, this was the fourth case he'd seen in as many weeks along these lines. In one case, he claimed, the U.S. government "flew a child to multiple locations" in the U.S. at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. "This is an absurd and illogical result," he wrote.

The judge noted that after the court inquired about the incidents, a federal prosecutor apparently "requested" that the mother in Virginia be placed in immigration proceedings. He said it's unclear whether that has happened, and he's been told the government will not pursue prosecution.

Hanen wrote that he is "not unsympathetic" to the parents in these cases, but noted the danger these children are put in.

"If [DHS officials] persist in this policy, more children are going to be harmed, and the DHS will be partly responsible because it encourages this kind of Russian roulette," he wrote.

Story by Judson Berger (FoxNews.com)

Ben Ferro


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mayorkas Likely To Be Confirmed, Despite Pending IG Investigation!

Over Objections, Panel Approves Key DHS Nomination

The Senate is expected to confirm Jeh Johnson, the nominee to be secretary of Homeland Security, as early as next week, and is also likely to take up the more controversial candidacy of Alejandro Mayorkas to become the department’s deputy secretary.

After a contentious debate, Mayorkas won the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s approval on Dec. 11 despite calls from the panel’s top Republican for a delay until the DHS Inspector General completes an inquiry into his handling of a foreign investor visa program.

Mayorkas has been serving as head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a part of DHS, since 2009, after winning unanimous Senate confirmation. President Obama proposed promoting him to the deputy secretary’s slot in June.

But the nomination ran into opposition following disclosure of the IG’s investigation.

The probe reportedly centers on a program known as “EB-5,” which gives visas and a path to permanent resident status to foreigners who make significant job-creating investments in the United States. The program, run by USCIS, has been dogged by problems.

According to committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., one complaint alleges that Mayorkas improperly intervened on behalf of an application tied to a company in which Terry McAuliffe, a major Democratic fundraiser now governor-elect of Virginia, was an investor. The company ultimately did not get what it wanted, Carper said.

At a July hearing, Mayorkas labeled the allegations “unequivocally false.” During 16 years of government service, he said, “I have never based my decisions on who brings a case but rather upon the fact and the law.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said the IG’s investigation has since expanded to include whistleblower allegations that Mayorkas sought to obstruct congressional investigations and intimidated employees who questioned agency policies.

With the findings expected in a few months, Coburn said, “we’re going to make a less-than-informed vote on Mr. Mayorkas, and so will the rest of our colleagues be forced to make an ill-informed vote on the Senate floor.”

Carper said the inspector general has so far found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Mayorkas or anyone else at DHS.

Majority Democrats on the panel all voted in favor of Mayorkas; Coburn and other GOP members voted “present” to signal their opposition to going ahead. The deputy secretary’s job has been unfilled for almost eight months since Jane Lute stepped down.

Senate leaders have not yet set a date for a final confirmation vote for Mayorkas.

Originally published in The Federal Times

Ben Ferro

Reactions? Comments? Rants? Please send them to me at comments@InsideINS.com. USCIS/ICE/CBP Insiders, be assured that your anonymity is guaranteed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

More Bad Press for the Embroiled EB-5 Program

Senator’s Memo Shows Iran Links In Homeland Security’s Troubled Immigration Program

A program that gives coveted immigrant green cards to wealthy foreign investors was so susceptible to fraud and abuse that it was used by an Iranian network that sought to send banned high technology home and spread terrorism abroad, federal investigators said.

The EB-5 program was used by “a network involved in a series of international assassinations and terrorism operations” that also was “procuring a variety of goods for Iranian entities,” states an unsigned memo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made public Thursday. The memo was written in response to questions asked by Janet A. Napolitano as homeland security secretary.

The memo called the EB-5 program a weak point in the nation’s immigration security because visa holders can become green card holders and eventually citizens — without going through the background checks that most prospective immigrants face. The program is designed to attract foreigners who pledge to invest in the U.S. economy.
The memo was made public by Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, in a letter to ICE acting Director John Sandweg asking a series of questions about the case.
Angry law enforcement officials accused Mr. Grassley of potentially jeopardizing ongoing investigations, but the version his office released was heavily redacted, with all names removed.

Homeland Security officials rushed to defend the EB-5 program, which was reauthorized last year with Mr. Grassley’s support.

Peter Boogaard, a department spokesman, said all visa applications from the center in question had been put on hold while a thorough investigation is carried out. “Federal investigators found no evidence to suggest that the regional center was being used for nefarious purposes and, following the completion of that investigation, the request to hold all cases was formally lifted,” he said.

But the allegations will darken the heavy cloud over the EB-5 program, which has snagged one Obama nomination to the troubled Homeland Security Department and now threatens to embroil Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

The memo describes one key actor in the network as “a U.S. representative for an Iranian front company suspected of involvement in facilitating terror and proliferation activities.” The other works at one of the 200-plus regional centers established under the EB-5 program. The centers bundle investors’ contributions, which must be at least $1 million, or $500,000 in areas with struggling economies, and funnel them to new businesses.

But the memo says the role of the centers “inherently creates an opportunity for fraud,” partly because the program does not require them to prove that the businesses funded have directly hired the 10-jobs-per-visa minimum that EB-5 visas are supposed to create. So-called “derived” or “indirect” jobs can be counted, too.

Until last year, the owners and managers of regional centers were not subject to any kind of fitness or background check and several centers have collapsed amid allegations of fraud either by the center owners or the investors themselves.

The memo concludes that the regional centers system should be scrapped.

Former officials said the Homeland Security agency that administers the EB-5 program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has no history of expertise with adjudicating the likely success of a business plan.

CIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas has touted his reforms to the program, centralizing its administration at headquarters in Washington, instituting anti-fraud measures and hiring as many as 100 economic and business analysts.

“But you can be an MBA or accountant and not know immigration law just as easily as the other way around,” said Louis “Don” Crocetti Jr., who set up the CIS fraud detection and national security office in 2003 and headed it until September 2011.

“We need to find that happy medium,” he said, adding that he believed the current minimum investment for the program, which remained unchanged since 1990, was “way too low.”

“It is amazing to me that a person with half-a-million dollars would be considered either wealthy or an investor,” he said.

He said the practice of bundling small sums should be replaced by a hunt for “truly wealthy, successful businesspeople” prepared to take active roles in managing their investments.

Mr. Mayorkas was nominated in July as Homeland Security’s deputy secretary, but shortly before his confirmation hearing, details leaked of an investigation by the Homeland Security inspector general into allegations of improper interference by senior CIS officials into the visa-approval process. Despite the ongoing probe, Democrats pushed his nomination through committee Tuesday and it now awaits action on the Senate floor.

This week, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Reid also intervened on behalf of a regional center in Nevada to get visa applications expedited despite security questions.
Though undated, the memo refers to events in 2013. It says concerns about the vulnerability of the EB-5 program to abuse by foreign intelligence services, terrorist networks and technology proliferators surfaced as early as late 2011. Other weak points identified by an interagency federal review of the program last year include the risk of money laundering or outright fraud by investors.

Reprinted from the Washington Times (Shaun Waterman)

Ben Ferro


Friday, December 13, 2013

Any Wonder Why Immigration Laws Have Been Ignored During the Obama Administration?

Last week, the White House confirmed that President Obama did in fact live with his uncle in Massachusetts for several weeks while attending Harvard Law School. (The Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2013) The confirmation by the White House constitutes a complete about face from White House's earlier claims that the President and his uncle, Onyango "Omar" Obama, had never met.  However, when Uncle Obama testified about the relationship during his immigration hearing last week, the White House was finally forced to come clean. (See Boston Globe, Jan. 7, 2012; see also Breitbart News and Daily Caller)

Whether the White House knew it had lied about the President's relationship with his uncle is unclear.  However, it seems the White House had every interest in distancing the President from his illegal alien uncle.  Uncle Omar had entered the United States on a student visa in 1963 and remained in the U.S. illegally after his visa expired.  He was denied an extension of that visa when he falsely claimed he was employed, and was subsequently ordered to leave the U.S. three times: in 1986, 1989, and 1992. (The Daily Caller, Dec. 3, 2013) Finally, when he was arrested for drunk driving in 2011, authorities discovered he was an illegal alien and the media identified him as President Barack Obama's uncle. (Fox News, Aug. 29, 2011) After his arrest, he allegedly said, "I think I will call the White House." (Reuters, Dec. 3, 2013)

But less than 48 hours after Uncle Omar testified at his deportation hearing (in which the judge granted him a green card) a White House spokesman admitted that not only had the two met, they lived together and kept in contact for some time. "The president first met Omar Obama when he moved to Cambridge for law school," said spokesman Eric Schultz. (The Boston Globe, Dec. 5, 2013) "The president did stay with him for a brief period of time until his apartment was ready. After that, they saw each other once every few months, but after law school they fell out of touch. The president has not seen him in 20 years, has not spoken with him in 10." (Id.)

Reiterating these talking points, at a White House press conference Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified that the reason for the gaffe was that no one had actually asked the President himself whether the two had met. Carney told reporters that when asked about the uncle's drunk driving offense, White House officials had relied upon the president's own books and the public record to determine that they had never met. "Back when this arose, folks looked at the record, including the president's book, and there was no evidence that they had met," Carney said. "That was what was conveyed. Nobody spoke to the president." However, he then told reporters that in light of Uncle Omar's statement, he "thought it was the right thing to do" to ask President Obama personally about his relationship with Uncle Omar, at which point the truth came out. (See White House Press Briefing Transcript, Dec. 5, 2013)

Ben Ferro

Boehner Hires Veteran Amnesty Advocate to Direct Immigration Policy

On Wednesday, December 4, Rebecca Tallent joined Speaker John Boehner's staff as his immigration policy director. Tallent brings with her a long history at the frontlines of the on-going push for massive increases in immigration and amnesty, helping Senator John McCain draft immigration bills during his amnesty push in the 2000's with the late Senator Kennedy. (Roll Call, Dec. 3, 2013). She also served as McCain's policy advisor on his presidential campaign in 2008, and then as his legislative director and Chief of Staff in his Senate office.   She left McCain in 2013 to join the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a pro-amnesty think tank that recently formed an "Immigration Task Force" dedicated to "building bipartisan support for reform." (BPC, "About the Task Force")

Tallent was deeply involved with the last failed amnesty push that ended in 2007, and her experience with Gang of Eight style immigration bills goes back even further. According to the previous BPC staff directory, though she started her career on Capitol Hill with John McCain in 2001 after graduating college, she first worked on immigration when she joined former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe's (R-AZ) staff in 2003. The first immigration bill she helped draft was the "Border Security and Immigration Improvement Act" of 2003. That bill, which Kolbe sponsored with John McCain and Jeff Flake, would have created a new guest worker program allowing employers to hire unlimited numbers of foreign workers and would also have allowed illegal aliens a path to amnesty through the program.  (See Floor Statement of John McCain, Jul 25, 2003)

After that proposal failed to gain traction, she rejoined Sen. McCain's staff in 2005, where she helped to craft immigration bills throughout the sustained amnesty push during President George W. Bush's second term.  Each bill she worked on was based on the same principles of the current Senate bill, that is, amnesty for illegal aliens coupled with increased foreign workers. They included the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" (S. 1033) of 2005, also known as the McCain-Kennedy bill, (see Washington Times, May 12, 2005), and then, finally, the amnesty bills of 2007, the "Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act" (H.R. 1645) and the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act" (S. 1348) of 2007.

Boehner's move has been widely interpreted as a strong signal that he is committed to pushing mass amnesty and guest worker legislation through the House. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a vocal Republican supporter of S. 744, said: "It's a huge, huge get for Speaker Boehner. She's not going to be doing this if it's going to be a waste of her time." (The Hill, Dec. 3, 2013) Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi and leader of the BPC Immigration Task Force, suggested the hire is an affirmation of BPC's support for amnesty. He said, "Our work at the Bipartisan Policy Center demonstrates that it's possible to develop immigration policy that addresses the interests of conservative Republicans, reform advocates and everyone in between. Speaker Boehner's choice to hire Becky is affirmation of his strong desire to move legislation in 2014." (BPC Press Release, Dec. 3, 2013)

Boehner's office has thus far made no attempt to dismiss claims that his move is aimed at improving his ability to push amnesty legislation. Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, stated: "The Speaker remains hopeful that we can enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms — the kind of reforms the American people understand and support. Becky Tallent, a well-known expert in this field of public policy, is a great addition to our team and that effort." (Roll Call, Dec. 3, 2013)

Democratic leaders are also sounding optimistic that Boehner will force through an amnesty over the objections of his caucus. On December 3, Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaimed that though the Senate immigration bill is currently stalled, "there's going to be so much pressure on the House that they will have to pass it, and that Boehner "is going to cave in." (Las Vegas Sun, Dec. 4, 2013) Obama has also recently indicated that a step by step approach is acceptable as long as all the components of the Senate bill become law, stating: "If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like." (Business Insider, Dec. 3, 2013)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

USCIS Management Presses Employees to “Get to Yes”

Immigration staffers pressured to rush visas for wealthy investors

By Jeffrey Anderson and Shaun Waterman-The Washington Times

Staff at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in California were regularly pressured by senior officials to fast-track visa applications from wealthy and well-connected foreign investors, causing security concerns so severe that the program was moved to Washington this year.

Documents obtained by The Washington Times and whistleblower accounts from inside the CIS Laguna Niguel field office show that staffers, who said they were acting under orders from senior officials, often rushed or skipped altogether economic reviews of applicants to the EB-5 visa program, which doles out coveted green cards to foreign investors who sink $500,000 or more into a U.S.-based business.

Emails from the Laguna Niguel office show that the EB-5 vetting process was a daily struggle for government analysts charged with, among other tasks, assessing the economic viability of applicants’ investment plans. The internal documents detail repeated violations of agency procedures that allowed foreign applicants to bypass proper economic review.

Economic reviews of EB-5 applicants and their projects are needed, immigration analysts say, because of the security risks posed by investors who have not been screened for links to foreign intelligence services, terrorist groups or organized crime; or whose funds come from, or flow to, unvetted sources.

The violations came to public attention over the summer when Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, revealed that CIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas had become personally involved in the processing of an EB-5 application filed by Democratic heavy-hitter Terry McAuliffe, now Virginia’s governor-elect, related to electric car company GreenTech Automotive.

Mr. Mayorkas has denied any wrongdoing, saying he got involved in Mr. McAuliffe’s EB-5 application because it raised an important issue about a point of law in the program.
Nonetheless, the program is the subject of an audit by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, of which CIS is part.

Mr. Mayorkas, who is President Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of the troubled department, also faces a criminal probe by the inspector general, according to documents released by Mr. Grassley.

The FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission are investigating a suspected Ponzi scheme in Texas involving an EB-5 applicant, and the FBI also is looking into foreign business executives who bought into the program, particularly Chinese nationals, who constitute the majority of the program’s investors.

Suspicions of foreign intelligence links of a Chinese investor was one of the factors holding up Mr. McAuliffe’s EB-5 application before Mr. Mayorkas intervened. But that was far from the only time when a case that raised national security red flags was pushed through at the behest of senior officials, according to a federal whistleblower complaint filed by an analyst on the program.

A May 3, 2012, memo that the whistleblower sent to David Garner, chief performance and quality officer for the CIS in Washington, warned of irregularities in processing an EB-5 application filed by an investor in CMB Exports LLC — a firm set up to bundle EB-5 money for an eligible project.

CMB was a “Solyndra-style project with a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy,” the analyst wrote.

The memo alleges that in April 2012 a CIS manager who now serves as special assistant to the director of the Laguna Niguel office took steps to “circumvent the established review process as a means to expedite” the CMB application. Those steps, the memo states, included bypassing the analyst’s required review and ignoring protocols regulating contact between adjudicators and the contract economists reviewing applications.

A multimillion-dollar contract between the Department of Homeland Security and ICF Inc. provided for the economists to be available, on-site, to support the CIS office of fraud detection and national security. That office was a key part of the plan to tighten procedures for granting immigration benefits.

An April 4, 2012, email stated that the manager should convey information from EB-5 applicants to the analyst, “who will then determine whether or not a full evaluation by one of the contract economists will be required.”

But before the analyst could make that determination regarding CMB Exports, the manager intervened. “Let me know who has this file,” the manager wrote in an April 26, 2012, email. “We received an expedite inquiry on this and we need to move the case.” The email chain does not specify who issued the expedite order.

The analyst, whose name The Times is withholding because he fears that being identified might harm his future employment prospects, said contract economists under his supervision had noted “potential red flags” with the application.

The analyst said in an email at the time that he found the application “suspicious” and called for additional review of the foreign investors with assistance from “national security agencies.”

But the emails show that, far from being subject to additional review, the CMB application was routed directly to the manager for expedited adjudication after she instructed a contract economist that the analyst’s involvement in the process “was not necessary.”

The manager’s actions “highlight that [the office’s] chain of command pays lip service to the notion of rigor and due diligence,” while fast-tracking the process for the “benefit of external political stakeholders acting on behalf of wealthy and politically connected EB-5 applicants under review,” according to the analyst, who has conducted internal audits for several other Cabinet-level federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies.
The analyst told The Times that EB-5 economic reviews of applicants were routinely rushed through the process in four to five days during the months he worked there. Often, he said, the application would arrive, as did the one from Mr. McAuliffe’s car company, on a fast track with instructions from the manager that Mr. Mayorkas “needs this fast.”

Sometimes, the analyst said, the manager would invoke Donald Neufeld, associate director of field operations, or Barbara Velarde, the No. 2 official in the CIS service centers operation, both of whom are based in Washington.

In December, Mr. Mayorkas announced he would be transferring the program from Laguna Niguel to Washington. Spokesman Christopher Bentley said the move was “a direct reflection of CIS‘ continued prioritization of the program’s integrity,” and the agency’s new focus on fraud detection and prevention.

“In recent years, the EB-5 program has grown steadily in both volume and complexity,” Mr. Bentley said, adding the office in Washington was “staffed primarily with officers who have economic, business, and legal backgrounds and expertise.

The move, completed in May, also made it easier to tap the skills of federal police and intelligence agencies, allowing CIS officials “to work directly and at a high level with our law enforcement and security partners across the federal government.”

If you’re a USCIS employee (or former employee) who can confirm or repudiate allegations similar to the ones made in this article, we would love to hear from you. Contact us as insiders@insideins.com. Your anonymity is guaranteed!

Ben Ferro

Monday, November 11, 2013

Is Immigration Reform Dead?

Immigration Reform Is Dead For The Year, Top GOP Reformer Says

In what will be seen as another blow to immigration reform’s chances, a top pro-reform Republican in the House concedes House Republicans are not going to act on immigration reform this year, and he worries that the window for getting anything done next year is closing fast.

“We have very few days available on the floor in the House, so I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it this year,” GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida told me by phone today.

Diaz-Balart has been deeply involved in bipartisan negotiations over immigration for years now, and is thought to be in touch with House GOP leaders on the issue, so folks involved in the immigration debate pay close attention to what he says.

Worse, Diaz-Balart said that if something were not done early next year — by February or March, before GOP primaries heat up – reform is dead for the foreseeable future.
“I’m hopeful that we can get to it early next year,” he said. “But I am keenly aware that next year, you start running into the election cycle. If we cannot get it done by early next year, then it’s clearly dead. It flatlines.”

Reformers on both sides have been pushing for action this year. Three House Republicans have urged the leadership to allow a vote on something, and House Democrats have introduced their own proposal. GOP leaders have not scheduled a vote on reform this year, but they haven’t ruled one out.

Even some Republicans have ripped the GOP leadership’s foot dragging. GOP Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada recently said it would be “disappointing” if leaders were to “punt the issue until 2014 for political reasons”

Now Diaz-Balart says a vote this year isn’t going to happen. This matters because he is one of the key Republicans who is negotiating over a piecemeal proposal to do something about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. This proposal has yet to be released, but the Tea Leaves suggest it will include probation for the 11 million, enabling them to work legally, contingent on getting E-Verify running (if it isn’t after five years, those on probation would revert to illegal status). This idea, which was in the now-defunct House Gang of Seven plan, is seen as one of the few ways Republicans might be able to support reform that deals with the 11 million.

Diaz-Balart said those working on a proposal for the 11 million were making “great progress.” In a note of optimism, he predicted he might be able to get more than half the GOP caucus to support it, though he said it would have to be “bipartisan” to succeed, and allowed that getting both Republican and Democratic support for it would amount to “threading the needle.”

There are other ways reform might get done. For instance, GOP leaders could allow piecemeal votes on border security and the Kids Act — which is supported by Eric Cantor and would give citizenship only to the DREAMers. That could conceivably lead to negotiations between the House and Senate, but conservatives will resist that outcome, and it’s a long shot. Nor is there any sign GOP leaders will hold any such votes this year, either.

As for the proposal for the 11 million Diaz-Balart is working on, it now looks like it won’t be introduced until early next year. And Diaz-Balart cautioned that it — and/or reform in general — had to be acted on right away to have any chance. “That window is definitely closing,” he said.

Indeed, the Congressman’s comments read like a bit of a wake-up call: The House GOP is now at serious risk of killing immigration reform for the foreseeable future.  How many Republicans care, of course, is another question entirely.

Article by Greg Sargent as printed in the Washington Post

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Immigration Reform Debate Begins to Reheat

More Gang of Eight Foes
Immigration officers complain that DHS won’t let them enforce immigration laws.

Conservative critics of the Gang of Eight immigration bill are closely watching the House, wary of any actions that could lead to a conference committee with the Senate. Many have been critical of what they regard as House leadership’s equivocation on the issue, and now some are accusing House Republicans of failing to adequately investigate the Obama administration’s failure to enforce existing immigration law.

Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, the union representing more than 7,500 officers and support staff at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is urging House lawmakers to investigate alleged abuses by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before introducing any immigration-reform legislation. “We are urging all lawmakers to demand an investigation of DHS before moving immigration bills,” Crane, a vocal critic of the Gang of Eight, wrote in a letter to members of Congress on Monday.

He is joined by Kenneth Palinkas, president of the union representing officers and staff of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), who also opposes the Gang of Eight bill. “At every step, this administration places obstacles and roadblocks in front of our adjudication officers in their attempts to protect our nation’s security and the American taxpayer,” Palinkas said on October 10. He has warned that pursuing immigration reform of any kind “without first confronting the widespread abuses at USCIS would be to invite disaster.”

Both union presidents complain that neither the Gang of Eight nor President Obama has sought their input on the issue of immigration-law enforcement. Crane has been trying to secure a meeting at the White House since February.

“ICE officers are being ordered by DHS political appointees to ignore the law,” Crane wrote Monday. “Violent criminal aliens are released every day from jails back into American communities. ICE Officers face disciplinary action for engaging in routine law enforcement actions.” Last year, a group of ICE agents sued the Obama administration over its June 2012 policy directive designed to give certain illegal immigrants — so-called DREAMers, who were brought to the country as children — a reprieve from deportation efforts. The agents contend that the administration’s directive has been applied far too broadly and often forces them to release illegal immigrants arrested for violent crimes, such as assaulting an officer. In some cases, known gang members with criminal histories are let go without charge. All they have to do is claim protection under “Obama’s DREAM Act,” as some have taken to calling it.

“This a public-safety issue,” Crane tells National Review Online. “The administration’s actions are putting the American people at risk, and I think every member of Congress should be demanding answers.” Essentially, his agents are prohibited from enforcing the law; they are “beat down and scared” and under the constant threat of retaliation from an agency (DHS) that “rules with an iron fist.” He is skeptical of any immigration-reform effort that fails to address these concerns.

Palinkas argues that USCIS, which is charged with processing immigrant applications for visas and requests for legal status, has become “an approval machine” at the administration’s behest: The approval rate of applications for legal status under the so-called “DREAM order” is almost 100 percent. Adjudicators are given “approval quotas” and discouraged from fully vetting applications, Palinkas says. Employees are forced to comply with administrative orders requiring USCIS to grant welfare benefits to immigrants who are not legally eligible to receive them.

“We’re ready and willing to meet with anyone and everyone who asks, and to help out with any investigations,” Crane says. House Republicans have held a number of hearings dealing with issues of border security and interior immigration enforcement, but none so far have specifically addressed the concerns presented by the immigration-law-enforcement community.

A senior conservative aide opposed to the Gang of Eight suggests that House leadership is reluctant to draw attention to the accusation from immigration officers out of fear that it could further complicate the politics of immigration reform, which is backed by prominent interest groups in both parties. “It’s easy to be tough when you don’t have to confront any embedded special interests,” the aide said, citing as examples Republican resolve during investigations into scandals surrounding the IRS and the Fast and Furious program. “The real question is, Are you tough when it requires you to take on the special interests in your own party?”

The “grand thinkers” in the Republican party just want to “get the immigration issue behind” them and know that the base is already on edge, the aide adds. “It would be inconvenient to explore these scandals and corrupt activities, because revealing them would require taking action to address them, and that would be an unpleasant roadblock to the swift passage of an immigration bill.”

     Reprint of article by Andrew Stiles a political reporter for National Review Online.

Ben Ferro

Current or former INS, CIS, ICE, CBP, State Dept. employees and/or concerned members of the general public, send your thoughts and comments on this topic to

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

VOTING IN MEXICO – Did You Know This??

Isn't it amazing the Democrats and some Republicans and the media don't know these facts, and the media doesn't care, if they know, and the Republicans need to hire a marketing firm and start making facts public.

"I love this country, it's the government I'm afraid of"

Ben Ferro

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Obama Administration Gives More Illegals a Free Pass

"In my thirty five years of Service with INS, I can't remember more weasel administrative action from the top".  Ben 

New Obama Policy Warns Agents Not To Detain Illegal Immigrant Parents

by Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times Friday, August 23, 2013

The Obama administration issued a new policy Friday that says immigration agents should try not to arrest and deport illegal immigrant parents of minor children. The move adds to the categories of people the administration is trying not to deport.
In a nine-page memo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said agents should use "prosecutorial discretion" to try to avoid detaining parents and, if parents are detained, agents should make sure they have the ability to visit with their children or participate in family court proceedings.

The move won praise from immigrant-rights groups who said it's a step toward a less harsh detention policy. But a top Republican blasted the memo as another effort by the Obama administration to circumvent the law.

"President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.

Mr. Goodlatte, whose committee is in charge of many of the immigration bills the House could consider later this year and who is working on a legalization bill for young illegal immigrants, said the Obama administration move "poisons the debate" and shows the president is trying to "politicize the issue" rather than work for a compromise bill.

The memo is the latest in a series of directives issued by ICE and by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that try to lay out priorities for who the government will detain and try to deport.

Ms. Napolitano says her department is only funded to deport about 400,000 immigrants a year, out of a total population of about 11 million. She said it makes sense to focus those deportation efforts on immigrants with serious criminal records or who have repeatedly violated immigration laws.

A year ago, she issued a policy granting tentative legal status to young illegal immigrants brought to the country as children, who call themselves Dreamers. That policy began accepting applications in August 2012 and as of the end of this July had approved legal status for more than 430,000 illegal immigrants.

The new memo instructs ICE agents to give special consideration when they encounter an illegal immigrant who is a parent or legal guardian of a child.

"FODs shall continue to weigh whether an exercise of prosecutorial discretion may be warranted for a given alien and shall consider all relevant factors in this determination, including whether the alien is a parent or legal guardian of a USC or LPR minor, or is a primary caretaker of a minor," said the new memo, known as the "Family Interest Directive." FODs are field operations directors, LPRs are legal permanent residents and USCs are U.S. citizens.

Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, said the only long-term solution is for Congress to pass a law, but said in the meantime the new policy helps.

"The Family Interest Directive is a major victory for children, reducing the likelihood that immigration enforcement will tear families apart and reducing the harm to kids when separation is unavoidable," he said in a statement.

ICE agents and officers sued to try to block the policies, but a federal judge in Texas last month turned down their case. The judge said they were probably correct in arguing that the law requires them to arrest illegal immigrants, but he said he didn't have jurisdiction since it was a matter for collective bargaining, not for the courts.

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times

Ben Ferro


Monday, August 12, 2013

U.S. Senate Out of Touch!?

The following represents an email exchange between a friend of this blog (and a former colleague) Jim Washburn and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. We think you will find the exchange interesting and insightful:

Here’s the response Jim received from Senator Leahy to an email message he sent advising the Senator of his serious concerns with this country’s Immigration and Social Security systems:

August 2, 2013

Dear Mr. Washburn:

Thank you for contacting me about Social Security and our immigration system.    I appreciate hearing from you on these issues. 

Individuals working in the United States or who have other sources of U.S. income are required to pay taxes, irrespective of immigration status.    For this reason, individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) may apply to the IRS to obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which they can use like an SSN to file a tax return.    While many undocumented workers use the ITIN program to file income tax returns, not all ITIN filers are undocumented.    For example, nonresident aliens who need to pay taxes on U.S. source income or dependents of individuals with certain work-related visas also use ITINs.

In general, filing a tax return with an ITIN is almost exactly like filing a return with an SSN, and the filer is subject to the same tax rules and is eligible for the same tax benefits.    For example, ITIN filers may claim the personal and dependent exemptions, the standard deduction and itemized deductions, and non-refundable credits, such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, several million undocumented workers each year file income tax returns  and /or have taxes withheld by their employer , collectively paying over $11 billion in state and local taxes each year.    These undocumented workers  collectively  pay  billions more  each year in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes , according to the Social Security Administration .    Like other tax filers, undocumented workers filing tax returns with ITINs may claim the refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC) . In the majority  of these cases, the CTC is claimed on behalf of U.S. citizen children.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act , S.744, which passed the Senate on June 27,  would explicitly bar those in Registered Provisional Status, who would use ITINs to file tax returns, from claiming the CTC, any subsidies related to the Affordable Care Act, or any other federal public benefits.    This legislation would also prohibit these immigrants from counting their working years in  Registered Provisional Immigrant  status  towards future Social Security claims.    In other words, the  federal  government would tax these individuals while not giving them certain tax benefits bestowed on all other Americans.    I personally think this is wrong, especially because there are  millions of mixed-status households across America where American citizen children will directly suffer from these provisions.    However, I am willing to accept these provisions as part of an overall compromise to reform our broken immigration system.

According to Steve Goss, the Social Security Chief Actuary,  this bill would generate over $200 billion for the Social Security trust fund over the next decade.   Increased tax collections would primarily come from undocumented workers who would become Registered Provisional Immigrants.

The immigration debate will now move  to the House of Representatives. I will continue to push for comprehensive reforms that boost the economy, improve wages and working conditions for all workers, strengthen the lives of individuals, protect families, improve border security, and provide equal protection under the law for all people  living  in America .    We have a historic opportunity to get this right.  The time for commonsense reforms to our immigration system is now.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch. 


United States Senator

Here is Jim’s response to the Senator:

August 4, 2013

Dear Senator Leahy,

Thank you for your very comprehensive response.

I am concerned that the use of such large numbers implies a large net contribution of taxes by the Illegal Alien population.  Taking the $20B over a decade into $2B a year from 12 million illegals works out to about $167.00 per person per year, and $11B in local taxes is about $916.00 per year.  The $20B number, which is only a projection based on the passage of Immigration reform, (not what is actually collected now), may not come close to the cost to the economy for:

  • health care costs,
  • education expenses including second language instruction,
  • refunds of CTC credits
  • minimum income credits
  • other welfare/social programs that they may be eligible for, and
  • the significant law enforcement and incarceration costs of criminal aliens in States like California.

Having a report on how many alien tax returns are actually filed, how much was paid by the aliens, and how much in CTC and MIC were effectively paid out to these alien and their children deserve to be included in a fair discussion of this issue.

The real net costs to this country today of illegal aliens should not be shuffled aside and effectively covered up by only talking about future possible income without future possible costs.  This is especially important because the promises made for enforcement reform under the 1980's Legalization program didn't happen, and without hard guarantees this time, we'll be seeing a repeat of today’s debates again in another 20-30 years!

One sided numbers of contributions without cost on this issue are much like the discussion of our overall Federal Debt/Deficit without a serious bottom line analysis.

I'll get excited about Immigration Reform when I see real plus and minus numbers combined with serious enforcement and border control measures.

Again, I appreciate your detailed response, and hope you can obtain and publish the numbers  and information that could gain my support for serious and comprehensive Immigration Law reform.


James L. Washburn
Shelburne, VT

The foregoing has been reprinted with the expressed permission of the author.

Please send your comments to this blog entry or any other topic related to immigration, immigration reform, or the Federal agencies which administer our immigration laws to me at benferro@insideins.com.

Ben Ferro

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Lobbyists for resorts, au pair agencies, and the seafood industry successfully slipped special-interest perks into the Senate immigration bill, reports USA Today. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) successfully fought to include in the bill a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded set aside for youth jobs programs.

The revelations are just the latest in what is shaping up to be a pork-laden immigration bill, says Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

“You're left with a bill that's chockfull of de facto earmarks, pork-barrel spending and special interest sweeteners, a bill that increase the on-budget deficit, but fails to guarantee a border that's secure and offers only promises, which historically Congress has been very, very, very, very bad about keeping,” said Cornyn on Wednesday.

USA Today says the resort and au pair agency language will be a boon to these businesses:  The changes to the bill follow aggressive lobbying by resorts, au pair agencies and other industries that rely on the J-1 cultural-exchange visa program, which allows foreigners to enter the USA through 14 categories, ranging from interns to visiting scholars. The largest number, nearly 92,000 last year, entered as part of the summer-work travel category, federal records show. An additional 18,000 worked as camp counselors and nearly 14,000 as au pairs.

Businesses that hire these visa holders save money because they don't have to pay unemployment taxes, Medicare or Social Security. Participants must also have their own health insurance, another cost savings.

Cornyn also blasted what he calls the “Alaska seafood special”—language slipped into the bill by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) that will allow seafood processors to hire young foreign workers through a summer work travel program.

Cornyn is not alone in decrying the immigration bill’s taxpayer-funded crony giveaways to favored industries. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the bill is so riddled with corporate concessions that it “reads like a Christmas wish list for Haliburton.”

Breitbart News reporter Matthew Boyle also reported on the bill’s inclusion of a crony capitalism casino kickback to Las Vegas casinos. Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) successfully inserted the language

Article by Wynton Hall originally appearing on breitbart.com

Ben Ferro


Monday, July 15, 2013

Former Border Patrol Agents Call Senate’s Immigration Plan ‘a huge waste of resources’

Deploying 20,000 more U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southwestern border as proposed in an immigration reform bill passed by the Senate would be “a huge waste of resources,” according to former border agents, who say that money should be used to track down dangerous criminal aliens nationwide.

Criminal aliens pose a “clear and present danger” to the American people and anything resembling amnesty or a path to citizenship at this point in time “will ensure further endangerment of the American family unit,” according to the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO), a group that includes several former Border Patrol sector chiefs and former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service regional directors.

“We believe there are a sufficient number of Border Patrol agents on the border,” said NAFBPO Chairman Zack Taylor, a retired Border Patrol agent and supervisor who spent 26 years patrolling the Mexican border in Texas and Arizona. “Real border security must begin with effective interior enforcement in every jurisdiction in all 50 states.”

The “real question” facing Congress is how many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will need to be trained and put into place to handle the sheer number of criminal aliens in the U.S. Mr. Taylor said the 20,000 additional border agents would do nothing to solve the problem of illegal immigration. The Senate voted last month to add the 20,000 agents to the southwestern border and require a total of 700 miles of fencing within a decade. Currently, 21,394 Border Patrol agents are deployed along the nation’s borders, compared with 8,597 in fiscal 2000 and 3,496 in fiscal 1993.

In a 67-27 vote, 15 Republicans joined Democrats in backing the manpower and infrastructure, but other Senate Republicans balked, saying the enhancements were chimerical and should not be used to cover over what they argued was a bad bill that does not do enough to enforce the laws and stop another wave of illegal immigration. The Senate measure would cost more than $46 billion to pay for the additional agents and the fencing, drones, helicopters and sensors it requires.

To win GOP votes on the Senate floor, the “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the immigration bill accepted an amendment from Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, and Sen. John Hoeven, North Dakota Republican, to add the agents and fencing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and a Gang of Eight member, said the spending alone is good enough, because there is no way it can fail to end in security.“I've been working on this for almost a decade with Sen. [John] McCain. I can look anybody in the eye and tell them that if you put 20,000 Border Patrol agents on the border in addition to the 20,000 we've already got — that’s one every 1,000 feet — that will work,” Mr. Graham said. “If you build the fence, that all helps. So I don’t need any more than just getting it in place.”

The Congressional Budget Office “has reaffirmed that immigration reform reduces the debt and grows the economy,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and chief sponsor of the bill. “It also shows the Corker-Hoeven amendment further substantially reduces the flow of illegal immigrants, even using a methodology that underestimates how effective immigration reform will be in reducing that flow.”House Republicans have not been as receptive. Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the Senate bill was “a bunch of, you know, candy thrown down there — a bunch of assets thrown down there to gain votes — but without a methodical, smart border approach.”

In a separate statement, Mr. McCaul described the Senate’s “border surge” as a “textbook example of government waste,” adding that it arbitrarily throws resources at the border without a long-term national strategy or required outcomes. He said the Department of Homeland Security has never developed a comprehensive plan to achieve operational control of the border, which is why the government continues to see illegal border crossings shift. “Unless we require a nationwide, results-based plan, we will inevitably spend countless taxpayer dollars only to repeat this debate a decade from now,” he said.

Mr. McCaul has introduced the Border Security Results Act, one of several immigration reform packages pending in the House, that mandates a border security plan that is evaluated by outside specialists and compels Homeland Security to develop a comprehensive outcome-based strategy — defined as stopping 90 percent of illegal border crossers. The nonpartisan CBO said the McCaul bill, known as HR 1417, would require Homeland Security to measure the effectiveness of the department’s border security strategy at U.S. ports of entry and along U.S. borders. The CBO also said the bill would direct the inspector general's office at Homeland Security to carry out covert testing of security at ports of entry and report the results to the Congress.Based on information from the affected agencies and the costs of similar activities, the CBO estimated that implementing HR 1417 would cost about $5 million from appropriated funds over the 2014-18 period, and that enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenue and would impose no costs on state, local or tribal governments.

Earlier this month, the CBO said the Senate bill would keep tens of thousands of additional illegal immigrants from crossing the border each year, but would still stop only between a third and half of future illegal immigration. The agency’s analysis, which takes into account the 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 350 miles of new pedestrian fencing, said the bill would close the border to about 1.3 million people over the next decade but about 4 million more illegal immigrants still would get through.

Mr. Taylor said achieving real border security requires aggressive expansion of the government’s 287(g) authority, which allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint memorandum of understanding, to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.He said border security also depends on the government’s ability to close down sanctuary cities, fair and universal employer sanctions, and the denial of other benefits such as welfare, public housing and the granting of identification — such as driver’s licenses — that “enable the criminal element to continue concealing their presence in our communities.”

“For years, the illegal aliens being apprehended by percentages ranging from 17 to 30 percent already have criminal records inside the United States,” he said. “A significant percentage of these illegal aliens are violent criminals and the number requiring further prosecution prior to removal may exceed 3 million.”

He said the illegal drug and alien situation has spread to more than 2,000 U.S. cities and those engaged in both of these criminal activities are “virtually inseparable.”“This threat to public safety must be addressed first and in that process there is a reasonable likelihood that potential terrorists will also be identified and removed or incarcerated,” he said. “They live among us.”

Article by By Jerry Seper-The Washington Times (7/11/2013)

Ben Ferro

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Bill

On June 27, 2013, the US Senate passed a broad and far reaching comprehensive immigration reform bill. This bill is a complicated mix of new immigration benefits for illegal aliens and new border security measures. A fairly comprehensive breakdown of the 1,200 page bill appears below (click on the image to increase size):

With the passing of this legislation, the immigration reform battle shifts to the House of Representatives. If the House passes an immigration bill, it is expected that it will contain more border security and interior enforcement measures than the current Senate version.

ICE Union Critical of Senate Immigration Bill

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees is the labor union which represents ICE employees. On June 11, 2013, that Union sent a letter to Senators Rubio and Cornyn criticizing the direction of the comprehensive immigration reform bill which was being debated in the Senate for not sufficiently addressing interior enforcement concerns. That letter appears below. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thank goodness someone's listening

The plan proposed by the 'Gang of Eight' fails on every major front.

 By Senator Jeff Sessions
June 10, 2013
The so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan now being considered by the Senate fails to live up to every major promise made by its sponsors. Far from improving the immigration system, their 1,000-page proposal would exacerbate many of its flaws. It would dangerously undermine future enforcement while imposing substantial burdens on taxpayers and taking jobs and pay from U.S. workers.
Indeed, the two unions representing our nation's immigration and customs officers and those who process immigration applications have strongly urged opposition.
The sponsors' promise of enforcement first was broken when lead sponsor Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared: "First, people will be legalized.... Then we'll make sure the border is secure." About 11 million immigrants who are here illegally — which includes 4 million who have overstayed their visas — would receive work permits, Social Security numbers and access to state and local benefits within six months of passage. The Department of Homeland Securitymerely has to submit a border plan, not accomplish that plan. Those legalized will then be free to compete for jobs at a time of low wages and high unemployment. It's amnesty first, not enforcement first.
Moreover, the bill allows the DHS or an immigration judge to stop any future deportation for humanitarian reasons, the public interest or family unity. Such open-ended waivers would all but ensure mass litigation and the end of immigration enforcement in America.
The sponsors promised that back taxes would have to be paid, but under the bill, if the IRS doesn't audit someone working off the books — which it isn't required to do — there will be no taxes to pay. There is no requirement that immigrants pay state or local back taxes or that employers pay back taxes.
The sponsors promised that people here illegally would have to learn English and civics, but the fine print reveals it will be at least 10 years before this is put into effect. And even then, the bill only requires those applying for permanent residency (a green card) to be pursuing a course of study "to achieve an understanding of English and knowledge and understanding" of civics. Furthermore, the secretary of Homeland Security can waive these already loose standards in many cases.
The sponsors promised that those "with a serious criminal background or who pose a threat to our national security" would be ineligible for legal status. But the bill allows the Homeland Security secretary, under certain conditions, to grant it to gang members; those with major misdemeanor criminal convictions (including felonies pleaded to misdemeanors) for serious crimes, including drug offenses, sexual abuse and prostitution; those with arrest records of any length; fugitives from deportation orders; or those who have been deported and illegally reentered.
The sponsors promised that people here illegally would not be eligible for public benefits. But, after the immediate grant of legal status, the legislation confers permanent residency within 10 years after passage (in many cases sooner), guaranteeing eligibility for federal benefits at a staggering long-term cost. In the short term, many would become eligible for state public assistance programs upon receiving the initial amnesty.
The sponsors promised the bill would prevent future visa overstays. The Government Accountability Office said in 2007 that without a biometric exit system, the DHS "cannot ensure the integrity of the immigration system by identifying and removing those people who have overstayed." The 9/11 Commission has said such a system is essential to national security. Congress passed six laws mandating the implementation of such a system at all air, land and sea entry points. But instead of finally requiring enforcement of these laws, the bill merely calls for a pilot system at a small sampling of airports, and excludes land ports of entry.
The sponsors promised that the bill would not significantly increase legal immigration. However, it will grant legal status to at least 30 million immigrants over the next 10 years if you add up the proposed surge in legal arrivals, approval of 4.5 million previous green card applicants, plus work authorization and legal residency for an estimated 11 million here unlawfully today. The number grows higher if you take into account the removal of annual caps on migration for immediate family members.
And, despite promised protections for U.S. workers, the bill would double the number of guest workers admitted annually. Such a large influx would be disastrous for the wages and job prospects of U.S. workers.
On every major front, this legislation fails to deliver on its core promises. It delivers only for the special-interest groups who helped write it. Should it pass, it would represent the ultimate triumph of the Washington elite over the everyday citizen to whom Congress properly owes its loyalty.
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.