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Immigration Reform News and Impact on US Homeland Security April 2, 2014

Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform on the latest news with updates on upcoming Adminstrative Amnesty Immigration Reform Secure the Borderand the gutting of immigration interior enforcement, catch and release practices, and increased dangers to American citizens from criminal aliens not deported.

  • Three Months Until Obama Expands Administrative Amnesty?
  • Reports: DHS Data Proves Interior Enforcement Gutted
  • Former ICE Director: Don't Deport Illegal Alien Fugitives and Re-Entrants
  • California Prepares to Issue Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens; Opens Illegal-Alien Only Facilities
  • Maryland: Anti-Cooperation Bills Voted Down in Senate Committee and Withdrawn in the House
  • Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Ballot Title for Referendum on Illegal Alien Driver's Licenses
  • Tennessee Illegal Alien In-State Tuition Bills Fail in 2014

Three Months Until Obama Expands Administrative Amnesty?

According to high profile amnesty advocates, President Obama has indicated that he will further expand his administrative amnesty in three months if Republicans have not yet taken legislative action furthering the passage of an amnesty bill. (Washington Post, Mar. 26, 2014) Lorella Praeli, the director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream, said "[t]he President made it clear that three months from now, if there is no legislative action, he will do more using executive authority." (Id.) Frank Sharry, of America's Voice, said that the President left the "clear impression that if Republicans don't act in three months, he will." (Id.)

If President Obama has such a "deadline" for expanding executive amnesty, that timetable suggests he may be waiting to see whether Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will hold immigration votes after key Republican primary deadlines have passed (as previously suggested by some media outlets). (See FAIR's Legislative Update, Dec. 11, 2013; The Wire, Jan. 27, 2014) This expectation rests on the theory that there will be a small window in the spring for the GOP leadership to pass amnesty legislation when the bulk of the primaries are over but the general election campaign season has not fully started, as it does when Congress returns from August recess. (See The Week, Jan. 7. 2014; Western Growers Magazine, Feb. 2, 2014) Late June will mark the end of the bulk of significant primaries that will take place before the August recess, and is thus the longest Speaker Boehner would wait if he is resolved to move amnesty legislation. (See FEC.gov) President Obama may therefore feel that at that point, implementing an even broader administrative amnesty will not spoil the chances of passing an amnesty bill as there will no longer be time to pass one.

Adding to the speculation as to how and when President Obama will continue to expand his backdoor amnesty programs, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson similarly spent time last week providing assurances to key amnesty proponents. (Politico, Mar. 21, 2014). On March 25, Secretary Johnson met with twenty representatives from immigration advocacy groups to discuss President Obama's recently announced review of DHS's deportation policies to ensure they are conducted "more humanely." (Department of Homeland Security Press Release, Mar. 25, 2014; see FAIR's Legislative Update, Mar. 19, 2014) The same day, Johnson also met with leading amnesty advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in his office on Capitol Hill to discuss immigration and deportations. (Rep. Luis Gutierrez Press Release, Mar. 25, 2014) Representative Gutierrez described the meeting as "productive and positive," and claimed "[t]here is a new dialogue and a new openness with the President and the Secretary and they want our ideas and to work with us to see what can be done." (Id.) He also hinted at a determination to take action on a specific timetable, noting "the clock is ticking on the GOP." (Id.)

These reports of the President having a plan to expand administrative amnesty not long from now may explain Secretary Johnson's remarks regarding actions he has ordered since becoming DHS Secretary. In his first major address after becoming Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson declared that he was already conducting an "advanced planning team effort" based on the expectation that Congress would pass mass amnesty legislation, and that he had taken steps to prepare DHS to process amnesty applications. (See FAIR's Legislative Update, Feb. 12, 2014)

Reports: DHS Data Proves Interior Enforcement Gutted

A new analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data by true immigration reformer Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has effectively stopped enforcing immigration laws against the 12 million illegal aliens living in the country unlawfully. The Sessions report, released last week, reviews the official ICE removal numbers for fiscal year 2013 which the Obama Administration quietly released last December around the holidays. (See 2013 ICE Removals Report; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Dec. 23, 2013)

According to Sessions, the published ICE data prove that President Obama's administrative amnesty policies are protecting nearly all illegal aliens in the interior of the country. First, Sessions notes that 94 percent of the reported 368,000 removals come from convicted criminals (110,000) and border apprehensions (235,000). (Sessions Alert, Mar. 26, 2014) However, the Obama Administration's shifting of custody of aliens caught by the Border Patrol to ICE for removal is part of a multi-year effort to make ICE look like it is actually enforcing the law — a tactic DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson recently admitted to during a Congressional hearing. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 19, 2014; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Dec. 23, 2013) Next, of the remaining removed illegal aliens, Sessions points out that less than 0.2 percent were placed into removal proceedings without a serious criminal conviction, and only .08 percent were neither convicted of a serious crime nor were repeat immigration violators. (Sessions Alert, Mar. 26, 2014) Finally, Sessions points out that illegal aliens with criminal records also receive a "free pass from immigration law" if the Administration does not consider the offenses serious enough to warrant removal. (Id.)

Sessions argues that the Obama Administration's executive amnesty is encouraging illegal aliens to enter the country unlawfully. "DHS has blocked the enforcement of immigration law for the overwhelming majority of violations — and is planning to widen that amnesty even further." (Id.) The broad executive amnesty is "an open invitation for a future immigrant to overstay a visa, or to enter the U.S. illegally, knowing that they will be immune from enforcement as long as they avoid being convicted of a felony or other serious crime once here," Sessions charged. (Id.) "Those who do not facially meet the Administration's select ‘priorities' are free to illegally work in the United States and to receive taxpayer benefits, regardless of whether or not they come into contact with immigration enforcement." (Id.)

Just days after Sen. Sessions released his findings a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) shows the further erosion of immigration enforcement by the Obama Administration. Internal ICE documents obtained by Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at CIS, reveal that ICE did not initiate removal proceedings for nearly 68,000 of the 193,357 criminal aliens they encountered last year. (See ICE's "Weekly Departures and Detention Report", Oct. 6, 2013; see also CIS Catch and Release Report, Mar. 2014) This means that ICE is not enforcing immigration laws against 35 percent of criminal illegal aliens who meet the Administration's limited "enforcement priorities" under the prosecutorial discretion policy. (ICE Director Morton Policy Memo, Mar. 2, 2011; see also FAIR's Summary of "Morton Memos") The data also shows that 872,504 illegal aliens remain in the country despite receiving final orders of removal. (CIS Catch and Release Report, Mar. 2014) These criminal fugitive aliens also fall within the Administration's narrow "enforcement priorities" yet nearly a million are still here because ICE is not enforcing the law. (ICE Director Morton Policy Memo, Mar. 2, 2011; see also FAIR's Summary of "Morton Memos")

Senator Sessions blasted the Administration in response to the CIS report. "The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed. Even those with criminal convictions are being released," Sessions charged. (Sen. Sessions Press Release, Mar. 31, 2014) "Secretary Johnson must reject the President's demands to weaken enforcement further and tell him that his duty, and his officers' duty, is to enforce the law — not break it. As Homeland Secretary, Mr. Johnson is tasked with ensuring the public safety and the rule of law. But Secretary Johnson is not meeting these duties." (Id.)

Former ICE Director: Don't Deport Illegal Alien Fugitives and Re-Entrants

Last Thursday, former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Sandweg proposed that ICE stop enforcing the law against two sets of illegal aliens. (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 27, 2014) In response to President Obama's announcement that the Administration would review immigration policy and search for more "humane" ways to conduct deportations, Sandweg recommended that ICE stop prioritizing non-criminal re-entrants and immigration fugitives. (Id.) Despite the fact that under federal law, those who have entered the country unlawfully more than once have committed a felony (making the very definition of a re-entrant criminal), ICE defines non-criminal re-entrants as aliens who have re-entered the United States after being removed but have not been convicted in the United States for a criminal offense. (See 8 U.S. C. 1325; see also ICE Border Statistics Definitions of Key Terms) ICE also defines an immigration fugitive as an "alien who has failed to leave the United States based upon a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion, or who has failed to report to ICE after receiving notice to do so." (See ICE Fugitive Operations Program Fact Sheet, July 2, 2013)

Sandweg claimed that ICE already has taken steps toward his proposed approach to deportation priorities. (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 27, 2014) Sandweg wrote, "Much of the groundwork for the change I'm suggesting has already been laid, and this policy shift could be implemented immediately." (Id.) However, a memorandum issued by Sandweg's predecessor, former ICE Director John Morton, demonstrates the exact opposite. To the contrary, Morton's memorandum identified immigration fugitives (including those previously removed from the country), as high priorities for removals. (John Morton, Civil Immigration Enforcement: Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens, Mar. 2, 2011; see also FAIR Morton Memos webpage)   

Remarkably, Sandweg asserted that input from ICE officers influenced him to advocate de-prioritizing fugitives and non-criminal re-entrants for removal. In fact, he wrote in the Los Angeles Times that he has met with ICE officers and agents and "repeatedly heard these men and women express their support for clear policies that would focus their efforts on the most serious offenders and offenses." (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 27, 2014) However, statements made by Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, a union representing over 7,000 ICE agents, officers, and personnel, suggest otherwise. Indeed, Mr. Crane has indicated that the ICE officers he represents "are forced to catch-and-release illegal aliens who are not ‘priorities' even when officers believe there is a threat to public safety." (The Examiner, Jan. 30, 2014)

When Sandweg was selected last year to be acting ICE Director, he was criticized for his limited law enforcement experience and political ties. Former Assistant Special Agent in Charge of ICE's San Francisco division Anthony Ho said, "Given that there are literally dozens of people within ICE who have more experience in management/law enforcement and meet these qualifications, there is no excuse for placing Mr. Sandweg as acting director of ICE." (Fox News, Aug. 31, 2013) In addition, Rep. John Carter (R-TX), Chair of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said that picking Sandweg was "disrespectful to the thousands of dedicated professionals at ICE who are working tirelessly to enforce our laws and provide for our security." (Fox News, Aug. 14, 2013) Sandweg was a political ally of and fundraiser for former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she was governor of Arizona. (Id.) A former defense attorney, Sandweg also volunteered with the Arizona Justice Project to overturn convictions of murderers and convicted violent criminals. (Id.) Sandweg served for only five months as acting ICE Director before submitting his resignation in early 2014. (Fox News, Feb. 17, 2014)

California Prepares to Issue Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens; Opens Illegal-Alien Only Facilities

California is preparing to open several new Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) facilities exclusively for illegal aliens. The facilities are being set up in preparation for the anticipated influx of applications by California's estimated 2-3 million illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses under the State's new illegal alien driver's license law, AB 60. (The Daily Caller, Mar. 27, 2014)

Governor Brown signed AB 60 into law last fall, and it takes effect beginning in 2015. To obtain the license, AB 60 only requires an alien to: (1) sign an affidavit that he or she is not eligible for a Social Security Number; and (2) attest that he/she lacks proof of authorization to reside in the United States, provide proof of California residency, and provide proof of identity using such documents as a consular ID, foreign passport, foreign birth certificate, marriage or divorce certificate, school transcript, or foreign voter registration card. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 18, 2013) The card will read "DP" for "Driving Privilege," rather than "DL" for "Driver License" (as indicated on standard California licenses). (See DMV Press Release, Oct. 3, 2013; see also Southern California Public Radio, Jan. 9, 2014)

The State DMV is setting up five facilities throughout California to help with the processing of new applicants. The facilities will be opened in the areas of San Jose, the South Central Coast, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego, DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told reporters. (The Daily Caller, Mar. 27, 2014) California is expected to process 1.4 million driver's license applications for illegal aliens over the next three years, at a cost of $140 to $220 million to taxpayers. This includes the cost of the new facilities as well as the price tag for hiring and training new DMV personnel to handle the additional workload. (The Examiner, Mar. 27, 2014; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 29, 2014)

California was one of eight states that adopted laws permitting illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses to illegal aliens in 2013, including Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 29, 2014) These states now join New Mexico, Washington, and Utah, which granted such eligibility in previous legislative sessions. (Id.)

 

IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION IN THE STATES

Maryland: Anti-Cooperation Bills Voted Down in Senate Committee and Withdrawn in the House

On Wednesday, March 25, the Maryland Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee voted 6-5 to kill Senate Bill ("S.B.") 554, which would have prohibited state and local law enforcement officials from honoring U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests for any alien in all but an extremely limited number of circumstances. (Frederick News-Post, Mar. 27, 2014) An ICE detainer is a request to state or local law enforcement agencies to maintain custody of a particular alien for no more than 48 hours so that a federal immigration officer may transfer custody of the alien to ICE for the purpose of removal from the United States. Under S.B. 554, state and local law enforcement officers would have had no choice but to ignore an ICE detainer and release a criminal alien back onto the street in spite of his or her immigration status and the crimes he or she committed. (S.B. 554)

Senator David Brinkley, a Republican who represents Carroll and Frederick Counties, opposed S.B. 554 and said he would have voted against it if it had come before the full Senate for a vote. (Frederick News-Post, Mar. 27, 2014) He argued that debate over the issue was inappropriate at the state and local level. (Id.) "The fact is people in this country shouldn't have the option to ignore laws," said Senator Brinkley. (Id.) "If the law is a bad law, then work on changing it, and don't criticize law enforcement for enforcing it." (Id.) Nonetheless, Senator Victor Ramirez, sponsor of S.B. 554, has proclaimed that he plans to reintroduce the bill in the next legislative session. (Id.)

House Bill "H.B." 29, an identical bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates, was withdrawn without a vote by the sponsor, Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, three days after the Senate bill was defeated. (Voting Record)

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Ballot Title for Referendum on Illegal Alien Driver's Licenses

On Thursday, March 27, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled to uphold Referendum 301's ballot text as originally certified by the Oregon Secretary of State. Referendum 301 asks voters to approve or disapprove Senate Bill ("S.B.") 833, which grants driver licenses to illegal aliens. The referendum will appear on the November 2014 ballot. (Oregon Secretary of State Blog, Oct. 18, 2013)

Illegal alien advocates brought the court challenge to the original text of the ballot, hoping to remove critical language that indicated that S.B. 833 would allow illegal aliens to receive driver's licenses. Then, fearing the Oregon Supreme Court would reject the challenge, Oregon lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to hijack the ballot title process by introducing a bill, House Bill ("H.B.") 4054, which would have rewritten the ballot title to obscure the fact that S.B. 833 grants driver's licenses to illegal aliens, the very purpose of the bill. (The Statesman Journal, Feb. 27, 2014) Although it passed the House, H.B. 4054 stalled in the Senate as opposition grew to the legislature's unprecedented power grab. (Oregon State Legislature; FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 5, 2014)

The Oregon Supreme Court's ruling marks a victory for the true immigration reform activists in the state who worked tirelessly for months to get the signatures needed to place Referendum 301 on the November ballot. (See FAIR Alert, Oct. 29, 2013) The ballot title language is often the only description that many voters see.

Tennessee Illegal Alien In-State Tuition Bills Fail in 2014

Legislation that would make illegal alien students eligible for in-state tuition at Tennessee's public colleges and universities failed this session because of its lack of support among constituents and within the Tennessee legislature. (Associated Press, Mar. 24, 2014) Last week, Representative Richard Floyd, sponsor of House Bill ("H.B.") 1992, withdrew his bill from consideration, while Senate ("S.B.") Bill 1951, an identical bill, was retired by the Senate's Education Committee to a general sub-committee, where it is not expected to move again this year. (Tennessee General Assembly) Both H.B. 1992 and S.B. 1951 would have provided in-state tuition to illegal aliens who reside in Tennessee and have attended Tennessee secondary schools for five years. (H.B. 1992; S.B. 1951)

Senator Todd Gardenhire, S.B. 1951's sponsor, blamed his bill's defeat on "outside groups" for drawing "a line in the sand over immigration" and clouding the issue with "phony objections." (Nashville Public Radio, Mar. 24, 2014) Senator Gardenhire plans to reintroduce his failed idea in the next legislative session. (Times Free Press, Mar. 25, 2014)

 

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