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

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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)