Archive for the ‘Obama and illegal immigration’ category

Not-so-beautiful Dreamers: The reality behind the media airbrushing

December 26, 2017

Not-so-beautiful Dreamers: The reality behind the media airbrushing, Washington Times, Hans A. von Spakovsky, December 25, 2017

Media reports portray Dreamers as college-educated immigrants who were just a few years old when their parents brought them into the country illegally. (Associated Press/File)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Obama administration did not check the background of each DACA beneficiary, despite a requirement that they have no felony convictions and pose no threat to national security. Only a few randomly selected DACA applicants were ever actually vetted.

This may explain why, by August this year, more than 2,100 DACA beneficiaries had had their eligibility pulled because of criminal convictions and gang affiliation. Even if a random background investigation produced substantial evidence that an illegal alien might have committed multiple crimes, the alien would still be eligible for DACA if he wasn’t convicted.

History shows that providing amnesty will attract even more illegal immigration and won’t solve our enforcement problems. Congress shouldn’t even consider such relief unless and until we have a sustained period of concentrated enforcement that stems illegal entry and reduces the illegal alien population in the U.S.

Congress should instead concentrate on providing the resources needed to enforce our immigration laws and secure our border.

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When members of Congress battled over the budget, some threatened to block funding unless Congress provided amnesty to illegal alien Dreamers who benefited from President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which President Trump announced he is ending.

Conscientious members of Congress should not give in to this threat. Amnesty will encourage even more illegal immigration — just as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act did.

That bill provided citizenship to 2.7 million illegal aliens. Yet by 1995, another 5.7 million illegal aliens were residing in the U.S. Many of them crossed the border to join their newly legalized friends and family. Others, no doubt, believed that since the U.S. provided amnesty once, it would do so again.

However Congress decides to deal with Dreamers, it should be based on the real demographics of the DACA populace, not the glamorized image typically presented by the media.

Watching television reports concerning Dreamers, one would think that the DACA program applied only to college-educated immigrants who were just a few years old when their parents brought them into the country illegally. We are led to believe that most are so fully Americanized that they would now have trouble speaking their native language and are all but ignorant of their birth countries’ cultural norms. Thus, we are supposed to believe, returning them to their native lands would be a cruel hardship.

In fact, many DACA beneficiaries came here as teenagers. All were eligible for the program as long as they entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday. By that time, there is no doubt that they spoke the language of their native countries fluently and knew their culture intimately.

DACA had no requirement of English fluency, as evidenced by the application form that had a space to list the translator used to complete the form. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that “perhaps 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population fall into the functionally illiterate category and another 46 percent have only ‘basic’ English ability.”

Unfortunately, many Dreamers are poorly educated. Only 49 percent of DACA beneficiaries have a high school education, even though a majority are now adults. And while military service could also qualify an illegal alien for DACA, out of the current 690,000 DACA beneficiaries, only 900 are serving in the military.

The Obama administration did not check the background of each DACA beneficiary, despite a requirement that they have no felony convictions and pose no threat to national security. Only a few randomly selected DACA applicants were ever actually vetted.

This may explain why, by August this year, more than 2,100 DACA beneficiaries had had their eligibility pulled because of criminal convictions and gang affiliation. Even if a random background investigation produced substantial evidence that an illegal alien might have committed multiple crimes, the alien would still be eligible for DACA if he wasn’t convicted.

Thus, it seems that a significant percentage of DACA beneficiaries have serious limitations in their education, work experience and English fluency. What’s the likelihood that they’ll be able to function in American society without being substantial burdens to U.S. taxpayers?

Without changing the sponsorship rules, any congressional amnesty bill providing citizenship could significantly increase the number of illegal aliens who will benefit beyond the immediate DACA beneficiaries. Giving lawful status to Dreamers will allow them and their families to profit from illegal conduct.

History shows that providing amnesty will attract even more illegal immigration and won’t solve our enforcement problems. Congress shouldn’t even consider such relief unless and until we have a sustained period of concentrated enforcement that stems illegal entry and reduces the illegal alien population in the U.S.

Congress should instead concentrate on providing the resources needed to enforce our immigration laws and secure our border.

⦁ Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department lawyer. He is a co-author of “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk” and “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”

Trump calls ICE union chief after complaints of betrayal

November 23, 2017

Trump calls ICE union chief after complaints of betrayal, Washington Times, November 23, 2017

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee during a series of early-morning raids on March 3, 2015, in the Bronx borough of New York. (Associated Press) **FILE**

The new administration’s leaders have announced a phaseout of the 2012 DACA program, and have reversed the Obama administration’s priority system that put more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants out of any substantive danger of deportation.

But the ICE Council says Obama holdovers are still thwarting a full revamp of the agency. The council did not name the holdovers.

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President Trump has reached out to the country’s deportation officers and asked for a meeting after their union president, Chris Crane, wrote a letter expressing disappointment in the slow pace of change at Homeland Security.

In the Nov. 13 letter, first reported by The Washington Times, Mr. Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council, said what was happening at the government’s chief interior immigration enforcement agency was “an embarrassment.”

Mr. Crane told the president of officers ordered to remove bullet proof vests for fear of angering illegal immigrants, and of dysfunction within agency leadership.

The ICE Council endorsed Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign and had anticipated having an open line of communication but Mr. Crane said that hasn’t happened, blaming the president’s aides for shutting stifling the relationship.

“Attempts to communicate concerns to you and requests for meetings with you are simply ignored,” Mr. Crane wrote, saying the union felt “betrayed.”

After the letter the president reached out and asked for a call, Mr. Crane says on jicreport.com, a new website the ICE Council set up to tell its story.

“I’m not going to discuss the content of our call publicly without the president’s consent,” Mr. Cranesaid on the site. “But as always the president treated me with the utmost respect, was polite and sincere, and asked a lot of questions to which I gave him straight answers. In the end, President Trump suggested a meeting which I of course accepted.”

“As I’ve told our officers and employees from the beginning, I trust this president and I know he’s going to keep his word and help us drain this swamp,” Mr. Crane continued. “He hasn’t forgotten us. He’s just busy running the country. The fact that he would take time out of his hectic schedule to call me should be proof of that.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The National ICE Council had asked for meetings with President Barack Obama during the previous administration and had sought to be included in conversations about immigration policy, but say they were shut out.

They chafed as Mr. Obama instead met with illegal immigrant Dreamers and advocacy groups who pushed the president to announce the 2012 DACA deportation amnesty, which Mr. Crane challenged in court on behalf of ICE deportation officers.

Mr. Crane and other deportation officers said they’d hoped Mr. Trump would move quickly to change the guidance from the Obama years.

The new administration’s leaders have announced a phaseout of the 2012 DACA program, and have reversed the Obama administration’s priority system that put more than 80 percent of illegal immigrants out of any substantive danger of deportation.

But the ICE Council says Obama holdovers are still thwarting a full revamp of the agency. The council did not name the holdovers.

Sessions Calls on Congress to End Abuse of Asylum Process

October 12, 2017

Sessions Calls on Congress to End Abuse of Asylum Process, Washington Free Beacon, October 12, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions / Getty Images

“Individuals who wanted to enter illegally, and individuals who had hired smugglers, were aware of the fact that if they said the words ‘credible fear’ the odds are that they would be released and that they’d be allowed to continue into the United States.”

The result of the Obama administration guidance was a skyrocketing rate of credible fear exception applicants.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday called for Congress to swiftly pass policy proposals from the Trump administration that would help rectify abuses of the asylum process.

Sessions addressed the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the administration of America’s immigration courts.

“The immigration laws that Congress has enacted are some of the most generous in the world,” Sessions said. “Indeed, we will soon reach the highest level of non-native born Americans in our history.”

However, a failure to properly enforce immigration laws has resulted in an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. One of the ways by which said aliens take advantage of the immigration system is through so-called “credible fear” claims for asylum seekers, Sessions said.

The Department of Homeland Security uses a process called “expedited removal” to remove certain immigrants without a full hearing or the laborious process used in more complicated immigration cases. Exceptions are made for illegal immigrants who claim to have a “credible fear” of persecution in his or her country of origin, who are allowed to avoid the expedited removal process and proceed to a full immigration court hearing.

“This is an important exception,” Sessions said. “We have a generous asylum policy that is meant to protect those who, through no fault of their own, cannot co-exist in their home country no matter where they go because of persecution based on fundamental things like their religion or nationality. Unfortunately, this system is currently subject to rampant abuse and fraud.”

Under the credible fear procedure, an asylum seeker has a preliminary interview, which may then make him eligible for a subsequent formal hearing to grant asylum. Historically, the ashylum seeker was detained while awaiting the hearing, unless the would-be asylee explicitly requested parole.

That changed in 2009, when the Obama administration issued new guidance that made the consideration for parole automatic. What that meant in practice is that asylum seekers were no longer detained, but were all-but-automatically released into the population after their interview—meaning they only sometimes showed up to their subsequent formal hearing.

“This is a pretty easy way into the United States,” explained Andrew Arthur, a former federal immigration judge and Resident Fellow in Law and Policy for the Center for Immigration Studies. “Individuals who wanted to enter illegally, and individuals who had hired smugglers, were aware of the fact that if they said the words ‘credible fear’ the odds are that they would be released and that they’d be allowed to continue into the United States.”

The result of the Obama administration guidance was a skyrocketing rate of credible fear exception applicants.

In 2009, the DHS reported doing around 5,000 credible fear reviews. By 2016, that number reached 94,000. In 2009, around 4,000 asylum seekers were placed in removal proceedings; in 2016, that number is more than 73,000. At the border, some 3,000 people sought credible fear exemptions in 2009; 2016 saw more than 69,000. In all, an illegal alien has an 88 percent chance of avoiding expedited removal by making a credible fear claim.

Even if asylum seekers do show up to court, litigating an asylum claim is relatively low cost, and every asylum case is required to have a full hearing.

“That’s why there’s a common, fatalistic refrain you’ll hear from immigration judges and immigration enforcement that ‘the case isn’t over until the alien wins,'” Sessions said.

The credible fear process also poses a threat to national security: Sessions noted that at least five Somali terrorists had taken advantage of the process to try to gain access to the United States.

“I think the expedited removal/credible fear process has been largely ignored up to this point,” Arthur said, “and I think that it poses a much more serious risk to the national security than even the legal immigration process does.”

Sessions called for Congress to pass President Donald Trump’s new bevy of immigration proposals, released earlier this week. Among those proposals are recommendations to tighten standards in the immigration system, increase the standard of proof in initial interviews, impose penalties for frivolous or fraudulent asylum applications, and tighten the standards for parole.

Trump also pushed for an expansion of the personnel and resources of the immigration court system, the overwhelming backlog in which Sessions has made a priority of reducing.

“The president’s proposals on asylum reform especially are crucial,” Arthur said. “There are many loopholes in the asylum system, and the president appropriately has noted that we need to elevate the threshold standard of proof in credible fear interviews.”

Sessions, for his part, was resolute in supporting the administration’s proposed changes.

“What we cannot do—what we must not do—is continue to let our generosity be abused,” he said. “We cannot capitulate to lawlessness and allow the very foundation of law upon which our country depends to be further undermined.”

Justice Scalia on “The Very Human Realities” in Arpaio’s Arizona

September 1, 2017

Justice Scalia on “The Very Human Realities” in Arpaio’s Arizona, Power Line,  Paul Mirengoff, September 1, 2017

(As I recall, Obama abrogated by executive order many of the immigration laws passed by Congress. — DM)

Scalia concluded with a question:

Are the sovereign States at the mercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the Nation’s immigration laws? A good way of answering that question is to ask: Would the States conceivably have entered into the Union if the Constitution itself contained the Court’s holding?

 For me, the story here is less about hypocrisy than about realizing what can easily happen when the federal government abrogates its duty to enforce laws that are vital to the safety and well-being of certain communities.

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Whichever way one comes down regarding President Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I think it’s important to recognize the context in which Arpaio took the over-zealous law enforcement actions that led to his conviction. That context was described by Justice Scalia in his opinion (concurring in part and dissenting in part) in Arizona v. U.S., a decision that struck down in large measure an Arizona immigration enforcement law called S.B. 1070.

Justice Scalia wrote:

Today’s opinion, ap­proving virtually all of the Ninth Circuit’s injunction against enforcement of the four challenged provisions of Arizona’s law, deprives States of what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there. Neither the Constitution itself nor even any law passed by Congress supports this result. . . .

Scalia added:

As is often the case, discussion of the dry legalities that are the proper object of our attention suppresses the very human realities that gave rise to the suit. Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem. Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so. Thousands of Arizona’s estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants—including not just children but men and women under 30—are now assured immunity from en­forcement, and will be able to compete openly with Ari­zona citizens for employment.

Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty—not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State.

(Emphasis added)

Scalia concluded with a question:

Are the sovereign States at the mercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the Nation’s immigration laws? A good way of answering that question is to ask: Would the States conceivably have entered into the Union if the Constitution itself contained the Court’s holding?

Of course not.

Daniel Horowitz, whose recent article invokes these words by Scalia, writes:

There is something fundamentally wrong when people delegitimize the pardon of one sheriff — whether you agree or disagree with Trump’s decision — but unquestionably support the de facto judicial pardons of millions of illegal aliens, including some of the most violent ones, even though courts manifestly lack such power.

Moreover, Obama illegally “pardoned” (plus gave affirmative benefits to) 900,000 illegal aliens, including the likes of Salvador Diaz-Garcia, who allegedly raped a 19-year old American and broke almost every bone in her face.

Of course, some strong critics of the Arpaio pardon did not support the de facto pardons Horowitz describes. For me, the story here is less about hypocrisy than about realizing what can easily happen when the federal government abrogates its duty to enforce laws that are vital to the safety and well-being of certain communities.

Half of all federal arrests related to immigration

March 23, 2017

Half of all federal arrests related to immigration, Washington TimesStephen Dinan, March 23, 2017

(Obviously, President Trump is prejudiced against honest, law-abiding undocumented citizens who commit only acts of love by coming to America. Wait a minute. That was in 2014, when President Obama was in office. — DM)

In this photo taken Feb. 7, 2017, released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arrest is made during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens

But the arrests were heavily limited to the border area.

Most of the country saw little immigration enforcement, as Mr. Obama’s priorities carved most illegal immigrants out of any danger of deportation.

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Immigration arrests and border-related cases have swamped the federal government, the Justice Department said Thursday, pointing to new statistics that show half of all arrests made by federal authorities in 2014 were for immigration offenses.

The five judicial districts along the U.S.-Mexico border also accounted for nearly 40 percent of people given federal sentences that year, the statistics show.

And the Justice Department said repeat offenders were also more likely in those border districts than elsewhere in the country.

 “These statistics make it clear that immigration-related offenses along the United States border with Mexico account for an enormous portion of the federal government’s law enforcement resources and that we must enforce our immigration laws in a way that consistently deters future violations,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

Overall arrests actually dropped in 2014, as did immigration arrests, as the Obama administration continued to narrow the range of illegal immigrants it deemed targets for enforcement.

But as a percentage of criminal activity, immigration still accounted for 49.7 percent of all arrests, the statistics show.

The five districts along the border — Arizona, New Mexico, southern California, southern Texas and western Texas — combined for 60.9 percent of arrests. Indeed, southern Texas alone accounted for a fifth of all federal arrests that year, while Arizona was just behind at 19.3 percent.

The second-ranking offense behind immigration was drug charges, at 14.4 percent — less than a third of the rate of immigration charges.

Sex offenses, meanwhile, were the fastest-growing segment of arrests for federal agents, rising from about 500 in 2010 to about 3,500 in 2014.

Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, the middle of Florida and the eastern district of Virginia were all at the top of the sex offenders arrest tally in 2014.

The 81,881 immigration arrests does include double-counting. About 9 percent of those nabbed for immigration offenses in 2014 were actually caught at least twice that year — raising questions of why they weren’t deported after the initial offense.

Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, made 64 percent of all immigration arrests, while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles deportation and interior immigration matters, arrested 30 percent.

But the arrests were heavily limited to the border area.

Most of the country saw little immigration enforcement, as Mr. Obama’s priorities carved most illegal immigrants out of any danger of deportation.

Trump’s Immigration Guidance: The Rule of Law Returns

February 22, 2017

Trump’s Immigration Guidance: The Rule of Law Returns, PJ Media, Andrew C. McCarthy, February 22, 2017

homelandsecheadHomeland Security Secretary John Kelly, right, watches during President Donald Trump’s meeting on cyber security in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On Tuesday, John Kelly, President Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, published a six-page, single-spaced memorandum detailing new guidance on immigration enforcement. Thereupon, I spent about 1,500 words summarizing the guidance in a column at National Review. Brevity being the soul of wit, both the memo and my description of it could have been reduced to a single, easy-to-remember sentence:

Henceforth, the United States shall be governed by the laws of the United States.

That it was necessary for Secretary Kelly to say more than this — and, sadly, that such alarm has greeted a memo that merely announces the return of the rule of law in immigration enforcement — owes to the Obama administration abuses of three legal doctrines: prosecutorial discretion, preemption, and separation of powers (specifically, the executive usurpation of legislative power).

To the extent President Obama declined to enforce immigration law (notwithstanding his constitutional obligation to execute the laws faithfully), he did so under the guise of prosecutorial discretion. In the pre-Obama days, prosecutorial discretion was an unremarkable, uncontroversial resource-allocation doctrine. It simply meant that since resources are finite, and since it would be neither possible nor desirable to prosecute every crime, we target law-enforcement resources to get the most crime-fighting bang for the taxpayer buck. That means prioritizing enforcement action against (a) the worst offenders and (b) the unlawful causes of the activity.

This is easily illustrated by federal drug enforcement. There are comparatively few federal narcotics agents, compared, say, to police in a major city. But while both feds and cops have authority to arrest traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs, only federal jurisdiction is interstate and international. Consequently, the best use of finite federal enforcement resources is to limit them to prosecutions of significant felony importation and distribution offenses, leaving it to the states and municipalities to handle street pushers and misdemeanor violations involving the use of drugs.

Significantly, the fact that federal enforcement policy, which is made by the executive branch, does not target lesser felons or users does not mean this policy effectively repeals federal drug laws, which are written by Congress.

The non-targeted crimes are still crimes, and the feds reserve the right to prosecute them in appropriate cases (e.g., if they encounter these offenses in the course of carrying out other criminal enforcement missions).

In the area of immigration enforcement, Obama contorted this resource allocation doctrine into a de facto immunity scheme. That is, the Obama Homeland Security Department announced what it labeled enforcement “priorities.” If an illegal alien did not fit into the priorities, it was as if the alien were insulated against prosecution — effectively, it was as if there was nothing illegal about being an alien unlawfully present in the United States; it was as if Obama’s policies were a legal defense against Congress’s duly enacted laws.

This was complemented by a second legal distortion: Obama’s mangling of the so-called preemption doctrine. As we’ve noted, there are certain areas of law — like immigration and narcotics enforcement — in which the federal and state governments have concurrent jurisdiction: both are permitted to regulate and prosecute. This can work well (it generally does in drug enforcement); but it can be counterproductive if the dual sovereigns work at cross-purposes.

In some areas, like immigration, the courts have ruled that the federal government is supreme (on the dubious but now well-rooted theory that immigration law enforcement is primarily a federal responsibility). This means that the federal government has the power to preempt state action. Importantly, preemption is a power of Congress. That is, in an area of federal supremacy, states are prohibited to act in a manner that would contravene federal law.

Obama, to the contrary, took the position that states were forbidden to take action that contravened Obama immigration policy.

This was brought into sharp relief by the administration’s conflict with the state of Arizona. Far from seeking to countermand federal law, Arizona sought to enforce Congress’s statutes. Yet, Obama took the position that the state was bound not by Congress’s statutes but by Obama’s proclaimed enforcement policies — even if those amounted to non-enforcement of Congress’s statutes.

This was a perversion of both preemption and prosecutorial discretion. As long as Arizona was taking action consistent with federal law, its enforcement measures could not be preempted. Moreover, even if Arizona’s enforcement policy was broader than Obama’s, that should not have mattered: as we’ve seen, a federal exercise of prosecutorial discretion just means lesser crimes are not targeted, not that they are no longer crimes. If Arizona took action against those lesser crimes, that was completely appropriate; it was filling a gap in federal enforcement, not defying federal law.

The obstacles imposed by Obama’s immigration proclamations bring us to the third legal abuse: the usurpation of legislative authority. In effect, Obama’s announced priorities became not guidelines for immigration enforcement but new federal laws. According to the administration, only those aliens who fit Obama’s guidelines could be prosecuted. The Homeland Security Department was instructed to halt enforcement action at the earliest possible stage — i.e., once it was understood that an illegal alien did not fit a priority category, all investigative activity was to stop, even though it was known that the alien was acting illegally.

In effect, the Obama priorities operated like law. They controlled what federal investigators and prosecutors could do, and they were used to block states from enforcing their own laws. In this, at least for as long as Obama was president, they supplanted Congress’s laws — a clear violation of separation of powers.

All the Trump guidance announced in Secretary Kelly’s memo really does is repeal Obama’s decrees. The memo essentially says: the law of the United States is back to being the law of the United States. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

RIGHT ANGLE: Blame Who’s Responsible

February 2, 2017

RIGHT ANGLE: Blame Who’s Responsible, BillWhittledotcom via YouTube, February 1, 2017