Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detailing behind-the-scenes efforts by the Obama administration to bypass Congress and grant amnesty at least one million illegal aliens by suspending immigration deportation proceedings against “DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act kids” and other illegal aliens. The records include internal DHS strategic documents, as well as extensive email communications within the DHS and with the Obama White House. The documents were obtained by Judicial Watch as a result of two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed on March 23, 2011 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-604) and Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-606)).
The records include emails from press outlets investigating the Obama administration’s efforts to suspend the deportations of students who would be covered under The DREAM Act, which was under consideration by Congress. The DREAM Act would have permitted certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status, eventually obtain permanent legal status, and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military. The DREAM Act has failed repeatedly to pass Congress. The DREAM Act initially could provide amnesty for over one million illegal immigrants and would have cost over $6 billion a year.
Highlights from the newly disclosed documents include the following:
- In an April 20, 2010, email from Melissa Crow, former DHS Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Office of Immigration and Border Security, to Roxana Bacon, Chief Counsel for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Crow states: “Since we met, I’ve done my best to encourage ICE to grant deferred action in the DREAM Act cases…brought to my attention.”
- In an email chain about “one of the DREAM [Act] kids” who was being detained by authorities suggests confusion at DHS regarding how to handle requests for “deferred action” from illegal alien students. In the email chain, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Chief of Staff Suzanne Barr writes to DHS Deputy Press Secretary Matthew Chandler, “we r f’ed up,” to which Chandler responds, “Yep. And we wonder why pp’l FOIA us.” The student was granted a stay of removal for six months.
- In response to a USA Today inquiry into whether aliens are required to carry identification, DHS General Counsel John R. Sandweg writes, “Ugh. Yes. Fed law does require aliens to carry their paperwork. I don’t know if it is a criminal offense, but this provision has gone relatively unnoticed by media and [redacted].” “…I think some groups of aliens are exempted from this requirement as they don’t really have paperwork (folks who were issued deferred action). Either way, it is not routinely enforced.”
- In a memo from Mariela Melero, Chief of the Office of Public Engagement of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, entitled “Stakeholder Input of Administrative Reforms,” Melero sets forth suggested reforms “outside of Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which includes the opinion that the director – unless otherwise required by law – has the authority to judge if the evidence presented for deferred action is “probably true.” Another reform would allow a 501(c)3 organization in “good standing… to design and implement voter registration programs at USCIS offices across the country.”
The Obama administration’s campaign to suspend the deportations of illegal aliens has been subject to intense scrutiny since 2010, when the press uncovered a USCIS memo that contemplated various “administrative alternatives” to bypass Congress and implement stealth amnesty for illegal aliens. A subsequent Houston Chronicle story exposed an effort by the administration to suspend the deportations of illegal aliens who supposedly have not been convicted of any “serious” crimes. Documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show that DHS officials misled Congress and the public about the scope of the immigration enforcement policy change, which gave wide latitude to local immigration officials to dismiss illegal alien deportation cases – including the dismissal of charges against illegal alien criminals convicted of violent crimes. The Obama administration announced last week that it would effectively halt any enforcement actions (on an alleged “case-by-case” basis) against any illegal alien who hasn’t committed any other serious crimes. The administration denied that this was a blanket or categorical amnesty, but these new documents show otherwise.
“These documents show the Obama administration is lying about its stealth amnesty activities and its alarming contempt for Congress and the rule of law. Frankly, these documents show that Obama immigration officials don’t even know what the law is! The Obama administration cannot simply pick and choose which federal immigration laws it will enforce. In its zeal to curry favor with the illegal alien lobby and secure Hispanic votes for a second term, the Obama administration is exercising raw executive power to change the law by granting illegal aliens amnesty in a way that strikes at the heart of our constitutional system and the rule of law. This is a festering constitutional crisis,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security lied to Congress and the media to cover up a secret amnesty program that dismissed the deportation of illegal immigrants across theU.S., including those with criminal convictions.The scandalous story of how the government agency charged with keeping America safesystematically cancels pending deportations was first reported by Texas’s largest newspaper last year. The remarkable program stunned the legal profession and baffled immigration attorneys who say the government bounced their clients’ deportation even when expulsion was virtually guaranteed.After the story broke other media outlets began to dig around and Senate leaders launched an investigation into the stealth amnesty program that led to a 40% increase in the dismissal of deportations last year. Homeland Security officials denied it existed and scrambled to conceal details, according to new information revealed by the newspaper that originally cracked the story.Internal Homeland Security documents obtained under public records laws prove that agency officials destroyed internal memos of the secretive process and lied to cover up the wrongdoing. Through a spokesman, one Texas Senator involved in the probe confirmed that DHS misled the public and Congress about its policy of directing dismissals of cases against criminal aliens.Some of the records are heavily redacted, but it’s clear that illegal immigrants with criminal records were spared removal under the program, which was administered by high-ranking officials and attorneys at DHS.In one internal email, a chief council at one agency branch blames the media for falling behind on the number of deportations his office discharged. “The problem is every time I’m about to wield a blunt instrument to our docket, some case shows up in the press that gives me pause,” he writes in an internal electronic mail.The same chief council also praises his counterpart in another busy immigration office—inMiami Florida—for leading the way on dismissals of deportations and lamenting that his office had “fallen way behind.”Judicial Watch has also investigated this deplorable back-door amnesty program and earlier this year sued DHS to obtain information because the agency ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.
FOIA Request Seeks DHS Communications with Obama White House
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- Any and all records of communications, contacts, or correspondence with the White House and/or Executive Office of the President concerning a report/memorandum prepared at the direction of the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, related to Carlos Martinelly-Montano, an unlawfully present alien charged with killing a Benedictine nun and injuring two others in a August 2010 drunk driving incident in Prince William County, Virginia for the period of October 1, 2010 through February 15, 2011.
- Any and all records of communications, contacts, or correspondence within the Department of Homeland Security concerning a report/memorandum prepared at the direction of the Unite States Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, related to Carlos Martinelly-Mantano for the period of October 1, 2010 through February 15, 2011.
In a letter dated February 24, 2011, DHS acknowledged that it received Judicial Watch’s request on February 17, 2011. DHS was required to respond by March 17, 2011. However, to date, DHS has failed to produce responsive documents or indicate when a response is forthcoming.On March 3, 2011, Judicial Watch obtained an edited “final” DHS report detailing the agency’s investigation of Martinelly-Montano. DHS had promised a federal court that it would release the report earlier in the year, but afterward claimed that the document was in “draft” form and therefore would not be released. The final report is curiously dated November 24, 2010. It details the policies and actions of the Obama administration and local governments that allowed Montano, an illegal alien who committed a series of crimes, to remain on the streets despite being subject to deportation. Specifically, the report confirms that the Obama administration decided to not detain the illegal alien after he served his jail sentence for other offenses, and to release him onto the streets.“The suspicious manner in which the DHS handled the release of this report merits further investigation. There is no question the ‘final’ report released to the public was edited and polished by DHS, and it smacks of a cover-up. The American people deserve to know who was involved and what information was withheld,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Even in its edited form, this report is an indictment of the Obama administration’s lax approach to illegal immigration enforcement. Illegal alien sanctuary policies almost certainly led to the release of Martinelly-Montano and subsequently to the death of Sister Denise Mosier.”Carlos Martinelly-Montano, who entered the country illegally as a child from Bolivia, is charged with killing Sister Denise Mosier and critically injuring two other nuns while driving drunk in Prince William County, Virginia. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and drunk driving. Martinelly-Montano had previously been arrested in October 2008 for another drunk driving incident and was placed in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Though he was scheduled for deportation, his hearing was delayed three times, and deportation never occurred.
Obama Administration Reportedly Implementing Policies that Grant Legal Status to Illegal Aliens without Approval of Congress
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- Any and all records of, and/or records concerning, Department of Homeland Security briefings regarding a systematic review of pending immigration cases against suspected illegal immigrants in Houston, Texas.
- Any and all records of general guidelines issued to Department of Homeland Security attorneys, allowing dismissal of pending immigration cases.
- Any and all records detailing the determination and implementation of a systematic review of pending immigration cases against suspected illegal immigrants in Houston, Texas.
- Any and all correspondence with non-governmental organizations…concerning the process for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to give consideration of possible dismissal of pending immigration cases.
DHS acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. However, to date, the agency has failed to provide responsive documents. DHS has not indicated when a response will be forthcoming. In both cases, DHS has failed to respond in the statutory allotted timeframe precipitating Judicial Watch’s lawsuits. (Reporting by The Associated Press suggests that DHS political appointees have improperly delayed FOIA requests on politically sensitive topics.)The Obama administration has been heavily criticized for their alleged plan to bypass Congress and enact “stealth amnesty.” In June 2010, the press uncovered a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service “draft” memo that outlined ways to grant legalization to illegal aliens without going through Congress.The August 24, 2010, edition of The Houston Chronicle reported the government had already put one such plan into action: “The Department of Homeland Security is systematically reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and moving to dismiss those filed against suspected illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal records…Culling the immigration court system dockets of noncriminals started in earnest in Houston about a month ago and has stunned local immigration attorneys, who have reported coming to court anticipating clients’ deportations only to learn that the government was dismissing the cases.”Despite evidence to the contrary, Obama claimed on Monday, March 28, 2011, that he does not have a plan in place to suspend deportations. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president,” Obama said.“President Obama may deny he has a plan to suspend deportations but the experience of immigration attorneys in Houston suggests otherwise. That’s why it’s critical that Homeland Security follows the open records FOIA law and turns over these records. The American people need to know if the Obama administration has decided to flout our immigration laws and enact stealth amnesty for illegal aliens who are unlawfully here in the United States. The stonewalling by the ‘transparent’ Obama administration suggests it has something to hide,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.
Suspect Released By Obama DHS Despite Multiple Arrests
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has received a Department of Homeland Security report detailing the agency’s investigation of an illegal alien (Carlos Martinelly-Montano) charged with killing a Virginia nun in a drunk driving accident in August 2010. Homeland Security promised a federal court it would release the report earlier this year, but then later claimed the document was in “draft” form and therefore would not be released. Judicial Watch received the edited “final” report on March 3, 2011. Confusingly, the final reported is dated November 24, 2010.
The Homeland Security report details policies and actions of the Obama administration and local governments that allowed Montano, an illegal alien who committed a series of crimes to remain on the streets despite being subject to deportation. The following is a detailed chronology of events as described in the report, obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on December 2, 2010:
“On December 7, 2007, Montano was convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Prince William County, Virginia and was sentenced to serve 30 days of incarceration. The judge in Prince William County, however, suspended all 30 days of the jail sentence with the result that Montano was not jailed for his offense. Local authorities did not seek to determine Montano’s immigration status nor did they contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).”
“Almost one year later, on October 4, 2008, Montano was booked into jail in Prince William County and charged with another misdemeanor DUI. At the time of this arrest, the local authorities determined that Montano was an illegal alien. Thus, ICE lodged an immigration detainer against him. As a result of the immigration detainer, immigration officers took him into custody. On October 7, 2008, Prince William County officials released him from custody.”
Rather than detaining Montano, “ICE agents determined that Montano was a candidate for the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program,” which monitored his whereabouts using GPS technology. He was therefore released.
While awaiting his deportation hearing, “Montano was charged on March 5, 2009, in Fairfax County, Virginia, with misdemeanor failure to appear related to driving without a license. Local officials dismissed this charge against Montano on May 5, 2009. County officials did not contact ICE. On April 27, 2010, a Manassas Park police officer cited Montano for misdemeanor reckless driving. There is no record indicating that Montano was booked or fingerprinted or that Manassas Park officials contacted ICE. On June 1, 2010, Montano was convicted for reckless driving and fined $500. Again, ICE was not contacted following the citation or conviction.”
“On April 27, 2009, as a result of the October 2008 DUI arrest, the Circuit Court of Prince William County convicted Montano and sentenced him to serve 12 months and 3 days in jail. However, the judge in Prince William County suspended 11 months and 13 days of Montano’s sentence. As a result of the judge’s decision, Montano served less than two weeks in Prince William County for his second DUI conviction.”
“On May 7, 2009, after Montano served the portion of his sentence that had not been suspended, ICE took him into custody. Based on Montano’s compliance during his prior participation in the ATD program, ICE officers released Montano on the prior order of supervision (dating back to 2008) with the condition that he report to ICE on a regular basis.”
Decisions by the Executive Office for Immigration Review caused delays in the removal proceedings. Moreover, Montano’s immigration attorney successfully convinced an immigration judge to delay Montano’s removal hearing on two occasions. The court ultimately scheduled Montano’s hearing for August 19, 2010. However, on August 1, 2010, while under the influence of alcohol, Montano is charged with crashing his car into another vehicle, killing one nun and critically injuring two others.
With respect to the decision to release Montano, rather than detaining him, the report concludes: “In 2008, when the decision was made to release Montano, fewer beds were available in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.” The report also points to government policies that allowed immigration officials “broad discretion” about how to use detention resources. The Obama administration used this discretion to release Montano in 2009 after he served jail time for his 2008 drunken driving arrest.
In July 2010, the Obama administration announced it would not take legal action against “sanctuary cities” that prevent local law enforcement entities from freely communicating with federal immigration officials. In contrast, the Obama Justice Department also filed a lawsuit to stop the State of Arizona from enforcing SB 1070, a get-tough illegal immigration law that mandates that local law enforcement officers cooperate with federal immigration officials. The Obama administration ordered federal immigration agents to focus deportation efforts only on illegal aliens suspected of terrorist activity and those convicted of “violent” crimes.
“If this is the cleaned-up version of the Homeland Security report, I can’t imagine what bombshells were included in the original version. Even in its edited form, however, this report is an embarrassment to the Obama administration and a clear indictment of Obama’s lawless approach to illegal immigration. An innocent person lost her life because local police officers and immigration officials couldn’t be bothered to enforce and obey the law. This tragedy is a direct result of the Obama administration’s decision to undermine the enforcement of federal immigration laws,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
- DHS response letter - March 3, 2011
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Carlos Martinelly Montano Inquiry November 24, 2010 - March 3, 2011
DHS Scheduled to Release Report by January 18, 2011, Now Claims Report is still in “Draft” Form
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Judicial Watch Investigates Charge HHS is Unlawfully Rationing Healthcare by Targeting FDA-approved Medical Treatment Based on Cost
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A. All records concerning the decision to grant waivers of the Annual Limits Requirements of PHS Act Section 2711; andB. All communications between McDonald’s Corp. and HHS concerning Annual Limits Requirements.The time frame for this request is from March 2010 to the present.
Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on October 7, 2010. HHS was required by law to respond by November 8, 2010. However, to date, HHS has failed to produce any records or to provide a justification for withholding responsive records. Nor has the agency indicated when a response is forthcoming.In September 2010, McDonald’s corporation announced it would have to eliminate a health insurance program for nearly 30,000 low wage employees due to an Obamacare requirement that 80 to 85% of all insurance premium revenue be spent on patient care. Due to the high administrative costs associated with this type of health coverage program (known as a mini-med plan), McDonald’s insurer indicated it could not possibly meet the Obamacare requirement. HHS provided McDonald’s a one-year waiver concerning the Obamacare mandate and has been deluged with waiver requests from hundreds of other companies and unions since.The Wall Street Journal deemed the McDonald’s waiver request, “one of the clearest indications that new [Obamacare] rules may disrupt workers’ health plans as the law ripples through the real world.”President Obama’s healthcare reform law does not specify which companies or unions should receive waivers for its requirements and under what circumstances. Critics of how HHS has chosen to handle these waiver requests highlight the haphazard nature of the approval process and the fact that companies able to secure these coveted Obamacare exemptions are given an unfair competitive advantage over their rivals.“The Obama administration is the most secretive in modern times. The Obamacare waiver fiasco is exactly the type of chaos that ensues when the federal government attempts to seize control of a large sector of the private economy. And Kathleen Sebelius’s HHS is willing to violate the Freedom of Information Act to keep Americans in the dark about this Obamacare failure. Secretary Sebelius might want to begin her implementation of Obamacare by obeying federal law regarding public records. The Obama administration’s slapdash handling of these waiver requests has created an enormous potential for political favoritism and influence peddling. The Obama administration must make this waivers completely transparent to the American people so they can be assured, in the least, that the process is not infected by corruption,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.