Friday, October 30, 2015

More Criminal Illegal Aliens To Be Released


'Largest prisoner release ever' to include thousands of illegal criminal aliens

by Leo Hohman

As part of a mass prisoner release of convicted drug felons ordered by a restructuring of federal sentencing guidelines, as many as 2,000 illegal aliens are about to be released back onto U.S. streets.

Welcome back to the neighborhood!

The federal sentencing rules for drug crimes were quietly rewritten in 2014 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Among the first wave of 6,000 convicted drug felons to be released by Nov. 1 are at least 2,000 foreign nationals, according to the Sentencing Commission.

And these are not petty criminals, say critics in law enforcement. Many are violent drug overlords with lengthy rap sheets.

All were convicted of serious drug crimes, such as trafficking in heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine. Many were repeat offenders, and some used guns in the course of their drug crimes.

All told, the Wall Street Journal has estimated that as many as 40,000 convicts could ultimately be released under the new guidelines. The Journal cites officials who say about one-third of those being released are illegal aliens.

The Marshall Project has done a profile analysis of these prisoners based on federal data and projects the ultimate number of releases higher at 46,000, but estimates the number of aliens lower, at 25 percent. They are mostly black and Hispanic men with an average age of 30.

Assuming accurate figures fall somewhere within the Marshall Project and Wall Street Journal projections, this means that between 11,500 and 13,200 serious alien drug offenders will soon be out of lockdown,” writes Dan Cadman, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.

The Washington Post called it “the largest one-time federal release” of prisoners on record.

Since 2013, the Obama administration has freed more than 76,000 convicted criminal aliens while in deportation proceedings, resulting in an uncounted toll of new crimes, Cadman said.

Three Republican senators led by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson seeking information on the prisoner release, including what steps are being taken to ensure their speedy deportation and whether they will be detained pending exit from the prison system.

“There is plenty of reason to suspect that this administration, which has of its own volition released tens of thousands of alien criminals from immigration detention centers for reasons having nothing to do with sentencing ‘reform,’ will not take seriously its obligation to protect public safety with this group either,” Cadman writes.

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, or ALIPAC, said the massive prisoner release is consistent with the administration’s history of disrespect for Americans while giving illegal immigrants every benefit and multiple chances to avoid incarceration.

“The Obama administration has already released thousands of violent criminals back onto American streets without deportation, and we know that is one of the many driving forces behind the thousands of Americans being killed every year due to the non-enforcement of our existing immigration and border laws,” he said.

The death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was gunned down by an illegal criminal immigrant while out strolling with her family in San Francisco on July 1, brought the issue of violent immigrant offenders being harbored by “sanctuary cities” into the national spotlight.

But American blood had been spilling for years at the hands of illegals with scant media coverage until Donald Trump seized on the issue and made it newsworthy, Gheen said.

“When you take an illegal alien that has already been through our criminal courts and then release them back onto the streets, its criminal, it’s treasonous, and it’s killing our citizens and it’s sending a message to the other illegals that they will not be held accountable for their actions,” he told WND. “Our own government is funding and helping illegals in every way it can, and the costs in terms of life, limbs and treasure are astronomical.”

MS 13 The new rules were formulated by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which Congress created as an independent agency in 1984. The commission’s seven voting members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, and they serve six-year terms.

“Why didn’t someone consider the likelihood that thousands of alien prisoners in federal prisons would be affected, and ensure that the statutory sentencing amendments of 2014 wove a web tight enough to virtually guarantee that the only possible outcomes for those released would be deportation or return to their cells?” Cadman writes. “That this didn’t happen implies a certain, shall we charitably say, lack of foresight.”

New bill could mean ‘thousands more’ released

Last week, a bipartisan group in Congress announced legislation that would result in the release of thousands more federal inmates.

“Perhaps our Congress could be forgiven this myopic lapse – after all, to err is human – but to repeat the same mistake suggests a descent into mulish stupidity,” Cadman continues. “Yet even as senators write letters of concern to the AG and DHS secretary, the Judiciary Committee is poised to take up a bill that goes down the same path.

Cadman is referring to S.2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, sponsored by Grassley.

There are a number of provisions in the bill that will lead to shortening the sentences of illegal aliens serving time in federal prisons, Cadman said.

Section 101, for example, proposes to reduce the mandatory minimum sentences that must be imposed on repeat offenders convicted of trafficking, manufacturing or distributing substantial amounts of narcotics, and even for trafficking illegal drugs into the United States from abroad.

Section 103 establishes exceptions to sentencing guidelines for defendants “whose role was limited to transporting drugs or money at the direction or others.”

That describes virtually every illegal alien “mule” who hikes across the border with bundles of marijuana, heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine strapped to his back, Cadman said.

“One can think of few ways to better undermine our already uncertain border security on the frontier with Mexico – which is fraught with cartel-related drug violence – than to mitigate the penalties for such cross-border criminal activities,” he writes.

Juvenile provisions to aid gangs?

Courts, under this bill, would also be required to seal the records of juvenile drug offenders, putting those records outside the reach of immigration officers. The bill also requires the AG to seek expungement of juveniles’ records of offenders who commit crimes prior to their 15th birthday once those offenders reach their 18th birthday.

“These two provisions guarantee that immigration officers will not be able to obtain certified records of conviction – which is exactly the evidence they need to present in deportation proceedings against 16- and 17-year-old members of MS-13 and other gangs,” Cadman said.

Even more shocking, this bill shortens the sentence for “stacked” gun offenses in which the individual is also charged with illegally possessing or using a firearm to effect the crime, often drug trafficking, from 25 down to 15 years.

“At a time when debate rages in the country about whether law-abiding gun owners should face more onerous registration and permitting laws, criminals who have been convicted of using guns in their unlawful activities will receive reduced sentences,” according to Cadman. “Thus, under this bill, an illegal alien who traffics narcotics across the international border, and carries a firearm to do it, will benefit from the reduction in sentences.”

The bill also would place new emphasis on rehabilitative programs to “promote successful re-entry” into society. The bill requires a re-entry review team for each prisoner, which includes aliens, and requires judges to consider the use of community correctional facilities and home confinement, and steps to assist the prisoner in obtaining health care, housing and employment prerelease.

“Those may be laudable goals where native-born prisoners are concerned, but are they really appropriate for alien felons?” Cadman asks. “Should not our goal be removal of such aliens, not reentry into society? What a waste of scarce federal dollars that would otherwise be spent on incarcerated citizens who do, in fact, need to find their way out of a life of crime.”

Bill placed on fast track

Rather than a cautious, thorough review, the bill appears to be on a fast track, Cadman said.

“There are some indications that it is being given the same kind of helter-skelter rush to pass that the disastrous Trans-Pacific trade and Iran sanctions bills received,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats have indicated they intend to filibuster the anti-sanctuary bill introduced by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., which Cadman said would do much to restore public confidence in the criminal justice systems, particularly where illegal alien criminals are concerned.

“The Republican-led Senate seems content to accept that course of action, knowing it will dead-end the bill, even as they press forward with dubious sentencing reforms,” Cadman said.

“This disparity in treatment of the two bills is shocking, and I am at a loss to understand the reason for it.”

Ben Ferro (Editor)

Monday, October 19, 2015

"WELFARE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE" takes sanctuary in Cuba.

U.S. Welfare Flows To Cuba

“They’re taking benefits from the American taxpayer to subsidize their life in another country.”

By Sally Kestin, Megan O'Matz and John Maines with Tracey Eaton in Cuba

Cuban immigrants are cashing in on U.S. welfare and returning to the island, making a mockery of the decades-old premise that they are refugees fleeing persecution at home.

Some stay for months at a time — and the U.S. government keeps paying.

Cubans’ unique access to food stamps, disability money and other welfare is meant to help them build new lives in America. Yet these days, it’s helping some finance their lives on the communist island.

America’s open-ended generosity has grown into an entitlement that exceeds $680 million a year and is exploited with ease. No agency tracks the scope of the abuse, but a Sun Sentinel investigation found evidence suggesting it is widespread.

Unlike most immigrants to the U.S., Cubans are presumed to be refugees and can access special assistance. Since 2003, more than 329,000 Cuban immigrants arrived in Florida and were eligible for this aid, which includes cash, medical care and job training. They now make up nine out of 10 foreigners getting refugee services in Florida.

Fed-up Floridians are reporting their neighbors and relatives for accepting government aid while shuttling back and forth to the island, selling goods in Cuba, and leaving their benefit cards in the U.S. for others to use while they are away.

Some don’t come back at all. The U.S. has continued to deposit welfare checks for as long as two years after the recipients moved back to Cuba for good, federal officials confirmed.

Regulations prohibit welfare recipients from collecting or using U.S. benefits in another country. But on the streets of Hialeah, the first stop for many new arrivals, shopkeepers like Miguel Veloso hear about it all the time.

Veloso, a barber who has been in the U.S. three years, said recent immigrants on welfare talk of spending considerable time in Cuba — six months there, two months here. “You come and go before benefits expire,” he said.

State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. of Hialeah hears it too, from constituents in his heavily Cuban-American district, who tell of flaunting their aid money on visits to the island. The money, he said, “is definitely not to be used … to go have a great old time back in the country that was supposed to be oppressing you.”

The sense of entitlement is so ingrained that Cubans routinely complained to their local congressman about the challenge of accessing U.S. aid — from Cuba.

“A family member would come into our office and say another family member isn’t receiving his benefits,” said Javier Correoso, aide to former Miami Rep. David Rivera. “We’d say, ‘Where is he?’ They’d say, ‘He’s in Cuba and isn’t coming back for six months.’”

 “They’re taking benefits from the American taxpayer to subsidize their life in another country.’”

One woman told Miami immigration attorney Grisel Ybarra that her grandmother and two great aunts came to Florida, got approved for benefits, opened bank accounts and returned to Cuba. Month after month, the woman cashed their government checks — about $2,400 each time — sending half to the women in Cuba and keeping the rest.

When a welfare agency questioned the elderly ladies’ whereabouts this summer, the woman turned to Ybarra, a Cuban American. She told Ybarra her grandmother refused to come back, saying: “With the money you sent me, I bought a home and am really happy in Cuba.”

Cubans on the island, Ybarra said, have a name for U.S. aid.

They call it “la ayuda.” The help.

Special status abused

Increasing openness and travel between the two countries have made the welfare entitlement harder to justify and easier to abuse. But few charges have been brought, and Congress and the Obama Administration have failed to address the problem even as the United States moves toward d├ętente with Cuba.

Cubans are allowed into the U.S. even if they arrive without permission and are quickly granted permanent residency under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. They’re assumed to be refugees without having to prove persecution.

They’re immediately eligible for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income or SSI, cash assistance for impoverished seniors and disabled younger people.

Most other immigrants are barred from collecting aid for their first five years. Those here illegally are not eligible at all.

The Sun Sentinel analyzed state and federal data to determine the annual cost of taxpayer support for Cuban immigrants: at least $680 million. In Florida alone, costs for welfare, food stamps and refugee cash have increased 23 percent from 2011 through 2014.

Not all Cubans receive government help. Those arriving on visas are ineligible, and some rely on family support. And many who receive aid do so for just a short time until they settle in, as the U.S. intended. Cubans over time have become one of the most successful immigrant groups in America.

“They come to the U.S. to work and make a living for their family,” said Jose Alvarez, a Cuba native and city commissioner in Kissimmee. “I don’t believe that they come thinking the government will support them.”

But some take advantage of the easy money — and then go back and forth to Cuba.

A public housing tenant in Hialeah, who was receiving food stamps and SSI payments for a disabled son, frequently traveled to Cuba to sell food there, records show. She admitted to a city housing investigator in 2012 that she “makes $700 in two months just in the sales to Cuba.”

Another man receiving food stamps admitted to state officials “that he was living in Cuba much of 2015.”

A recent arrival with a chronic illness got Medicaid coverage and turned to attorney David Batchelder of Miami to help him get SSI as well. But the man was “going back and forth to Cuba” so much that Batchelder eventually dropped the case. “It was just another benefit he was applying for.”

Concerns about Cubans exploiting the aid are especially troubling to exiles who came to this country decades ago and built new lives and careers here.

Dr. Noel Fernandez recalls the assistance his family received from friends and the U.S. government when they immigrated 20 years ago, help that enabled him to find work as a landscaper, learn English and complete his medical studies. Now medical director of Citrus Health Network in Hialeah, Fernandez sees Cuban immigrants collecting benefits and going back, including three elderly patients who recently left the U.S. for good.

“They got Medicaid, they got everything, and they returned to Cuba,” he said. “I see people that said they were refugees [from] Cuba and they return the next year.”

State officials have received complaints about Cubans collecting aid while repeatedly going to Cuba or working as mules ferrying cash and goods, a common way of financing travel to the island.

Another way of paying for the trips: cheating. Like other welfare recipients, some Cubans work under the table or put assets in others’ names to appear poor enough to meet the programs’ income limits, according to records and interviews. Some married couples qualify for more money as single people by concealing marriages performed in Cuba, where the U.S. can’t access records.

 “Stop the fraud please!” one person urged in a complaint to the state. Another pleaded with authorities to check airport departure records for a woman suspected of hiding income. “It would show how many times she has traveled to Cuba.”

Florida officials typically dismissed the complaints for lack of information, because names didn’t match their records or because the allegations didn’t involve violations of eligibility rules. Travel abroad is not expressly prohibited, but benefits are supposed to be used for basic necessities within the U.S.

“Our congressional folks should be looking at this,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr., a Cuban American. “There could be millions and millions of dollars in fraud going on here.”

Money to Cuba

Click On Image to Enlarge
Accessing benefits from Cuba typically requires a U.S. bank account and a willing relative or friend stateside. Food stamps and welfare are issued monthly through a debit-type card, and SSI payments are deposited into a bank account or onto a MasterCard.

A joint account holder with a PIN number can withdraw the money and wire it to Cuba. Another option: entrust the money to a friend traveling to Cuba.

Roberto Pizano of Tampa, a political prisoner in Cuba for 18 years, said he worked two jobs when he arrived in the U.S. in 1979 and never accepted government help. He now sees immigrants “abusing the system.”

“I know people who come to the U.S., apply for SSI and never worked in the USA,” he said. They “move back to Cuba and are living off of the hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”

He said family friend Gilberto Reyno got disability money from the U.S. and renovated a house in Cuba. The Sun Sentinel found Reyno living in that house in Camaguey, Cuba. He said he was no longer receiving disability, but Pizano and another person familiar with the situation said the payments continue to be deposited into a U.S. bank account. The Social Security Administration would not comment, citing privacy concerns, but is investigating.

Federal investigators have found the same scenario in other cases.

A 2012 complaint alleged a 75-year-old woman had moved to Camaguey two years earlier and a relative was withdrawing her SSI money from a bank account and sending it to her. Social Security stopped payments, but not before nearly $16,000 had been deposited into her account.

Another recipient went to Cuba on vacation and stayed, leaving his debit card with a relative. Social Security continued his SSI payments for another six months — $4,000 total — before an anonymous caller reported he had gone back to Cuba.

One woman reportedly moved to Cuba in 2010 and died three years later, while still receiving SSI and food stamps, according to a 2014 tip to Florida welfare fraud investigators. A state official couldn’t find her at her Hialeah home, cut off the food stamps and alerted the federal government.

Former congressman Rivera tried to curb abuses with a bill that would have revoked the legal status of Cubans who returned to the island before they became citizens.

“Public assistance is meant to help Cuban refugees settle in the U.S.,” Mauricio Claver-Carone of Cuba Democracy Advocates testified in a 2012 hearing on the bill. “However, many non-refugee Cubans currently use these benefits, which can average more than $1,000 per month, to immediately travel back to the island, where the average income is $20 per month, and comfortably reside there for months at a time on the taxpayer's dime.”

Rivera recently told the Sun Sentinel that he interviewed welfare workers, Cubans in Miami and passengers waiting for charter flights to Havana. He said he found overwhelming evidence of benefits money going back, especially after the U.S. eased travel restrictions in 2009.

The back and forth undermines the rationale that Cubans are refugees fleeing an oppressive government, Rivera said. And when they return for visits, they boast of the money that’s available in the U.S., he said. “They all say, ‘It’s great. I got free housing. I got free food. I get my medicine.’ ”

Five Cubans interviewed by the Sun Sentinel in Havana said they were aware of the assistance and knew of Cubans who had gone to America and quickly began sending money back. Two said they believed it was U.S. government aid.

“I don’t think it’s correct, but everyone does it for the well-being of their family,” said one woman, Susana, who declined to give her last name.

Outside welfare offices in Hialeah, the Sun Sentinel found Cuban immigrants who had arrived as recently as three days earlier, applying for benefits. They said family and friends told them about the aid before they left Cuba.

“Back in the ’60s, when you came in, they told you the factory that was hiring,” said Nidia Diaz of Miami, a former bail bondswoman who was born in Cuba. “Now, they tell you the closest Department of Children and Families [office] so you can go and apply.”

Crooks collect in Cuba

Miami bail bondswoman Barbara Pozo said many of her Cuban clients talk openly about living in Cuba and collecting monthly disability checks, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

“They just come here to pick up the money,” Pozo said. “They pretend they’re disabled. They just pretend they’re crazy.”

SSI payments, for those who cannot work due to mental or physical disabilities, go up to $733 a month for an individual. Most other new immigrants are ineligible until they become U.S. citizens.

Some Cubans try to build a case for SSI by claiming trauma from their life under an oppressive government or the 90-mile crossing to Florida.

Diaz, the former bondswoman, said she has heard Cuban clients talk about qualifying: “‘Tell them that you have emotional problems. How did you get these problems? Well, trying to get here from Cuba.’”

Antonio Comin collected disability while organizing missions to smuggle Cubans to Florida, including one launched from a house in the Keys, federal prosecutors said. Comin claimed he rented the home to celebrate his birthday — after receiving his government check.

Casimiro Martinez was receiving a monthly check for a mental disability — but his mind was sound enough to launder more than $1 million stolen from Medicare. Martinez was arrested at Miami International Airport after returning from a trip to Cuba.

Government disability programs are vulnerable to fraud, particularly SSI, with applicants faking or exaggerating symptoms. Some view SSI as “money waiting to be taken,” said John Webb, a federal prosecutor in Tennessee who has handled fraud cases.

While benefits are supposed to be suspended for recipients who leave the United States for more than 30 days, the government relies on people to self-report those absences, and federal audits have found widespread violations.

The government could significantly reduce abuses by matching international travel records to SSI payments, auditors have recommended since 2003. The Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security are still trying to work out a data sharing agreement — 12 years later.

Jose Caragol, a Hialeah city councilman and Havana native, said aid for Cubans “was meant to assist those who were persecuted and want a new life. The bleeding has to stop.”

Reprinted from the Sun Sentinel

Ben Ferro (Editor,

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Does the Obama Administration have no shame?

US Government Deports Fewest Immigrants In Nearly A Decade

Associated Press, Tuesday October 6, 2015

WASHINGTON –  The Obama administration deported the fewest number of immigrants in the past 12 months since 2006, according to government figures obtained by The Associated Press.

The figures also show that deportations of criminal immigrants have dropped to the lowest numbers since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, despite his pledge to focus on finding and deporting criminals living in the country illegally.

The overall total of 231,000 deportations generally does not include Mexicans who were caught at the border and quickly returned home by the U.S. Border Patrol. The figure does include roughly 136,700 convicted criminals deported in the last 12 months. Total deportations dropped 42 percent since 2012.

The Homeland Security Department has not yet publicly disclosed the new internal figures, which include month-by-month breakdowns and cover the period between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 28. The new numbers emerged as illegal immigration continues to be sharply debated among Republican presidential candidates, especially front-runner Donald Trump. And they come as Obama carries out his pledge from before his 2012 re-election to narrowly focus enforcement and slow deportations after more than a decade of rising figures.

The biggest surprise in the figures was the decline in criminal deportations. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last year directed immigration authorities anew to focus on finding and deporting immigrants who pose a national security or public safety threat, those who have serious criminal records or those who recently crossed the Mexican border. The decline suggests the administration has been failing to find criminal immigrants in the U.S. interior, or that fewer immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had criminal records serious enough to justify deporting them.

"With the resources we have ... I'm interested in focusing on criminals and recent illegal arrivals at the border," Johnson told Congress in April.

Roughly 11 million immigrants are thought to be living in the country illegally.

Obama has overseen the removal of more than 2.4 million immigrants since taking office, but deportations have been declining steadily in the last three years. Removals declined by more than 84,000 between the 2014 and 2015 budget years, the largest year-over-year decline since 2012.

The Homeland Security Department has been quick to attribute the steady decline to changing demographics at the Mexican border, specifically the increasing number of immigrants from countries other than Mexico and the spike in unaccompanied children and families caught trying to cross the border illegally in 2014. The majority of the children and tens of thousands of people traveling as families, mostly mothers and children, came from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Border Patrol historically sends home Mexican immigrants caught crossing the border illegally, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must fly home immigrants from other countries. That process is more expensive, complicated and time-consuming, especially when immigrants fight their deportation or seek asylum in the United States.

Arrests of border crossers from other countries also dropped this year, along with the number of unaccompanied children and families. As of the end of August, the Border Patrol arrested about 130,000 immigrants from countries other than Mexico, about 34,500 unaccompanied children and roughly 34,400 people traveling as families.

More than 257,000 immigrants from countries other than Mexico were apprehended at the border during the 2014 budget year, including more than 68,000 unaccompanied children and tens of thousands of family members. It was the first time that immigrants from other countries outnumbered those from Mexico.

Ben Ferro (Editor)