Recent documents obtained by Judicial Watch, Inc., pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, show that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) went on a spending binge and created abandoned ordinary background check procedures in order to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications spurred by President Obama’s extralegislative DREAM Act. The documents also show that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, announced by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano as applying only to minors who came to this country illegally “through no fault of their own,” actually created a new avenue of chain migration, whereby immediate relatives of DACA requesters could be approved for amnesty, literally “inundating” border towns with petitions for admission.
Based on a tip from a whistleblower at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Judicial Watch filed a records request on October 26, 2012 for “all communications, memoranda, emails, policy guidance, directives, initiatives, and any other correspondence respecting the scope and extent of background checks to be performed (or not) on aliens applying to the Obama administration’s DACA program” from “November 1, 2011 through the present.” The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., directs USCIS to maintain “direct and continuous” contact with the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – among other law enforcement agencies – “for the purpose of obtaining and exchanging information” necessary to determine whether an alien is ineligible to enter or remain in the United States due to criminal conduct, among other disqualifying factors. INA also mandates the “coordinated, uniform, and efficient” implementation of such background checks among all classes of immigration applicants. The statute concurrently directs the Attorney General and FBI actively to assist in determining an applicant’s eligibility for admission or continued stay by proactively alerting the State Department and USCIS whether an alien applying for permission to enter or remain in the United States is indexed in the National Crime Information Center’s Interstate Identification Index (NCIC-III), Wanted Persons File, or any other files maintained by the National Crime Information Center, which allows users to interface with all 50 states via the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS).
Instead of the foregoing, what Judicial Watch found was an ad hoc background check protocol that changed from week to week in price and application. For instance:
- In a July 25, 2012 email to New York Field Office Director Timothy Houghton and Senior Immigration Officers Brenda Cinotti and Penny Metaxas, Northeast Region Associate Counsel James D. Paoli said: “Fee is 465, no waivers!” Yet, a manual published on August 30, 2012 by the Service Center Operations Directorate devoted five pages to explaining the process for salvaging applications submitted with worthless checks and another page on how to establish sufficient economic necessity so that the fee might be waived altogether. The waiver page concludes by saying:
“There is a general presumption that DACA requestors . . . are not generally anticipated to have independent means. Absent evidence of sufficient independent financial resources, the Form I-765WS is sufficient to establish economic need, without any further economic analysis.”
- In a June 18, 2012 email, Kansas City (KC) District Director David M. Douglas warned his Field Officers that, “Apparently, some of the districts closer to the U.S. / Mexico border have been inundated.” This was followed by a September 5, 2012 email in which St. Paul Field Office Director Sharon Cooley alerted all St. Paul Area Immigration Service Officers (SPM ISOs): “Due to the volume of DACA work at the Service Center, it has been determined that the field will be sent I-130’s to adjudicate. We should get immediate relatives only.” But the limitation was far from clear to Gary Garman, Associate Regional Director for Operations of the Central Region who asked all district and field office directors in an email the same day to let him know “if that is not the case.”
- As early as June 26, 2012, Coast Guard Trainee James Hawkins emailed USCIS Management & Program Analyst Sheila Rawls and Vermont Area Administrator Alan Nye for guidance “processing the projected 890K individuals that may take advantage of the guidance referenced in the Prosecutorial Discretion memo.” Two days later, Michael D. Harman emailed all Regional Service Managers that the agency was calculating the cost of extra security guards and janitorial services involved in extending the hours of certain immigration offices from 5:45 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. He noted, also, that: “I also understand these extended shifts at some of these locations have an increased risk to employee safety due to the late evening hours.” In the end, the agency bought 40 new biometric workstations and offered continuing overtime funds to all employees, according to a July 31, 2012 email from IT Manager Geneva “Jess” Gatlin and a July 27, 2012 email from KC District Director David Douglas, respectively.
- Lastly, Donald Monica, Associate Director for the Field Operations Directorate, in an email September 14, 2012 alerted colleagues that the National Benefits Center (which receives all DACA applications in the first instance and formerly conducted all background checks of aliens’ fingerprints) was undertaking a “hiring initiative.” In the meantime, field offices could expect the Benefits Center to conduct just “lean & light” background checks, with only random samples of these modified cases being sent to the field for verification, according to a September 17, 2012 email from Associate Regional Director for Operations Gary Garman. About the inadequacy of the applications submitted under the “lean & light” system, St. Paul Field Office Director Sharon Cooley emailed staffers on October 25, 2012, the following observation:
“As you are already aware they will not be as complete and interview ready as we are used to seeing. This is a temporary situation – I just can’t tell you when things will revert back to the way they used to be.”
Then, without warning or further explanation, the entire agency was directed to halt all background checks in an email chain starting on November 9, 2012, that was relayed from staffer to staffer through November 14, 2012. The Washington Times reports that it was on November 9, 2012, that Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) expressed to Obama (re-elected as president three days earlier) a willingness to engage in a compromise respecting “immigration reform.”
There are no later-dated documents in the production to indicate how or when USCIS resumed background checks of DACA applicants, if at all. However, documents Judicial Watch obtained via FOIA from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month reveal that a former intern of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) had filed a fraudulent DACA application with the Vermont Service Center on September 3, 2012. USCIS did not issue a denial, however, until more than three months later, on December 4, 2012.
It’s not enough that illegal immigrants in the U.S. get driver’s licenses, taxpayer-subsidized college educations and backdoor amnesty from the president, now there’s a nationwide push for the right to practice law.
Only in America! A group called the DREAM Bar Association is lobbying every state in the union to grant law licenses to illegal aliens. The nonprofit got its name from a controversial federal bill called Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the country as kids. The measure also calls on states to provide discounted tuition for illegal immigrants at public colleges and universities.
But the right to practice law in the U.S. has always been a privilege that requires a special license—granted by states—that should not be compromised. After all, attorneys in this country are officers of the legal system and have special responsibility for the quality of justice. Allowing people who have violated the nation’s laws by their very presence in the country seems absurd to say the least.
Never the less, the DREAM Bar Association has picked up steam and support from the powerful open borders movement in its campaign to give illegal aliens law licenses. The Washington D.C. group boasts that it’s the first and only bar association representing “undocumented lawyers.” President Jose Magaña encourages all 50 states to pass legislation and promulgate rules to ensure that graduates of accredited laws schools are able to obtain a license and “fully utilize their legal education.” It’s a fundamental question of fairness, Magaña says.
His group has filed legal briefs in Florida and California, where state courts are considering cases involving illegal immigrants who graduated from law school but can’t obtain a license to practice. Florida’s Supreme Court heard its case last month involving Jose Godinez-Samperio, a Mexican illegal alien who came to the U.S. with his parents on visitors’ visas when he was 9 years old. He graduated from New College in Florida, earned a law degree from Florida State University and passed the state bar exam last year.
The California case centers on a Mexican man, Sergio Garcia, who for years went back and forth between Mexico and California. At 17, the family stayed in California for good and Garcia eventually graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. When California’s Supreme Court heard the case earlier this year, it sought guidance from the Department of Justice (DOJ), which said an illegal immigrant should not be allowed to practice law in the state even though he passed the bar exam.
Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act request that seeks records related to the Secretary of Labor’s visit to a training center for illegal aliens. The training center, called Casa de Maryland, is funded in partnership with the Prince George’s and Montgomery County Community Colleges.
During her visit to Casa de Maryland, Secretary Hilda Solis urged graduates of the center’s workforce training program to report their employers for wage and hour violations regardless of the workers’ immigration status. “[Barack Obama] knows very well that it is very important to preserve the rights of the Hispanic community and of other communities, in any area where they are working,” she was quoted as saying. “The federal laws are very clear and protect all workers equally, whether or not they have papers.”
Judicial Watch has sued the colleges on behalf of taxpayers challenging the policy of granting illegal aliens in-state tuition. http://www.scribd.com/JWatchDC/d/54524967-Montgomery-Community-College-2005-2006-Financial-Statements
Judicial Watch has also fought Casa de Maryland’s attempts to pass a DREAM Act specific to Maryland: http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-statement-on-court-ruling-allowing-maryland-dream-act-to-remain-on-2012-ballot/.
Judicial Watch also closed down a similar center for day laborers in Herndon, Virginia: http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2005/12/judicial-watch-argues-illegal-day-labor-case-court/
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced that its client, MDPetitions.com, has asked a Maryland Circuit Court to dismiss a lawsuit that would deny Maryland voters an opportunity to consider “tuition benefits” for illegal alien students in the 2012 elections (John Doe, et al., v. Maryland State Board of Elections, (No. 02-C-11-163050)).
According to MDPetition.com’s legal brief, the illegal alien activist group Casa de Maryland and the other plaintiffs that filed the lawsuit are wrong as a matter of law and have not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they are entitled to relief from the court:
Although Plaintiffs move for summary judgment, conspicuously absent from their motion are any affidavits or other admissible evidence demonstrating that they are ‘aggrieved’ persons or registered Maryland voters or otherwise entitled to relief. Plaintiffs’ motion must fail for this reason alone. In addition, Plaintiffs’ motion must fail because Plaintiffs are wrong as a matter of law about whether SB 167 is subject to referendum. It clearly is.
Moreover, not only must Plaintiffs’ motion fail, but the Amended complaint must be dismissed and/or summary judgment be entered against Plaintiffs because they have failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
SB 167, also known as the Maryland DREAM Act, was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 10, 2011. The law enables certain illegal aliens to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions. MDPetitions.com collected 132,071 signatures, nearly twice the amount required by law, in support of a petition to put the SB 167 to voters in a referendum.
Two illegal aliens, several Maryland voters, and the activist group Casa de Maryland challenged the petition drive in court. On October 7, 2011, MDPetitions.com was granted permission to intervene in the lawsuit, which seeks to deny voters an up-or-down vote on SB167.
On December 5, 2011, Casa de Maryland and the other plaintiffs signed a Joint Stipulation stating they would no longer challenge the “sufficiency and number of the petition signatures” collected by MDPetitions.com. However, the plaintiffs have continued to maintain that the SB 167 cannot legally be subject to referendum.
MDPetitions.com argues in its court filing, that Maryland voters who signed the petition are exercising their rights under Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution, which unambiguously states: “The people reserve to themselves power known as The Referendum, by petition to have submitted to the registered voters of the State, to approve or reject at the polls, any Act, or part of any Act of the General Assembly, if approved by the Governor, or, if passed by the General Assembly over the veto of the Governor.”
The only limitation on this constitutional right is where the law in question “(1) makes an appropriation of public funds, and (2) is for the purpose of ‘maintaining the State Government’ or ‘maintaining or aiding any public institution.’” The Court of Appeals has held that an act by the Maryland Assembly is an “appropriation” if its “primary object is to authorize from the state treasury of a certain sum of money for a specified public object or purpose to which sum is to be applied.”
However, as Judicial Watch argues on behalf of MDPetitions.com, SB 167 is “completely devoid” of such an expenditure of funds. The law is “nothing more than a policy choice by the General Assembly that extends eligibility for reduced, in-state and in-county tuition to a new group of persons…This new policy choice does not authorize the expenditure of any public monies at all, much less a particular amount of public money, for a specific purpose.”
MDPetitions.com is represented by Judicial Watch. The chairman of MDPetitions.com is Maryland Assembly Delegate Neil Parrott of Washington County; Delegate Patrick McDonough of Baltimore and Harford Counties is its honorary chairman.
“This lawsuit should be dismissed in its entirety. The plaintiffs are desperate to prevent Maryland voters from having a say on taxpayer-subsidized tuition for illegal aliens, but they have now run out of legal arguments. MDPetitions.com abided by the letter of the law and ran a highly successful petition campaign. It’s now time to leave the issue of discounted tuition for illegal aliens to the voters,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Indeed, Casa de Maryland has seemed to acknowledge that its lawsuit will fail and that voters will have the final word, as it recently announced plans to launch a $10 million fundraising campaign to convince voters that they shouldn’t overturn the illegal alien tuition policy on Election Day.”
Neil Parrott stated, “The voters of Maryland have spoken loudly and clearly that they want to be able to vote to decide whether to give their hard-earned money to subsidize college educations for illegal aliens. This lawsuit from illegal aliens and Casa de Maryland, attempting to deny Marylander’s their constitutional right to referendum, should be dismissed so that the voters, not the courts, can decide.”
“I have said from the beginning that this legal action by Casa de Maryland is bizarre,” said Delegate McDonough. “The idea of illegal aliens suing Maryland citizens to prevent them from voting illustrates how much they disrespect citizenship.
“The Maryland DREAM Act, SB 167, is an anti-American bill that takes college educations away from our own citizens and violates federal law. Over 132,000 Marylanders signed this most historic petition to take the SB 167 to referendum, and the voters should decide Maryland’s future.
“In-state college tuition rates are a finite resource and are designed for citizens, not those whose mere presence represents the violation of the rule of law.”
Judicial Watch Represents Group in Legal Battle against Illegal Alien Advocates over “In State Tuition”
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305
Judicial Watch to Represent MDPetitions.com in Legal Action to Ensure Voters Have the Opportunity to Consider “Tuition Benefit” for Illegal Aliens Students
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305
As the sponsor of this overwhelmingly successful petition, MDPetitions.com obviously has a compelling interest in ensuring that voters across the State of Maryland have the opportunity to vote on the Maryland DREAM Act in the November 2012 election.MDPetitions.com represents not only its leaders and organizers and the hundreds of volunteers who worked to make the successful petition possible, but also the 108,923 confirmed registered voters who signed the petition in the exercise of their rights under Article XVI, Section 2 of the Maryland Constitution. In addition, as the creator of a web-based computer program that as many as 28,860 confirmed registered voters used to generate, print, sign, and mail in clear and accurate petition pages,MDPetitions.com has a unique interest in preserving the availability of this…tool for use by registered voters in future petition drives. MDPetitions.com seeks intervention… to protect these…interests against the unfounded allegations of the [lawsuit]…
The filing also included an “Answer of Intervener MDPetitions.com to Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief,” which responds point-by-point to the allegations of the plaintiffs, who include two illegal aliens and the advocacy group CASA de Maryland.“CASA de Maryland and the illegal alien lobby are attempting to throw out over 100,000 validated voter signatures and ignore the will of the people,” said Delegate Neil Parrott. “It appears that those who oppose the referendum process are doing so because they know how unpopular this bill is and, fearing that they will lose at the ballot box, have mounted this lawsuit to prevent Marylanders from exercising their constitutional right to decide the issue on their own. Marylanders across the state have worked hard to bring this bill to referendum, because they know Maryland cannot afford to subsidize college tuition for illegal aliens and they want to see our existing immigration laws enforced. Maryland’s referendum process has worked, and now Marylanders should have their voices heard at the ballot box.”“It is a great asset to the voters of Maryland to have Judicial Watch help to make sure that Marylanders will have an opportunity to vote on this important issue in November of 2012,” said Delegate Patrick McDonough. “As Honorary Chairman I know the volunteers worked hard to make this petition campaign the most successful in the history of the state. This is the people’s petition and the voters have the right to exercise their power on this key issue.”“MDPetitions.com followed the letter of the law in its overwhelmingly successful petition drive, and there is no question that the Maryland DREAM Act should be put to a referendum. The illegal immigration lobby simply wants to keep Maryland voters from having their say on the issue of taxpayer-funded tuition benefits for illegal aliens,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The illegal immigration lobby knows that the American people are fed up with bankrolling perks for illegal aliens. Given Maryland’s devastating budget crunch, now is not the time to spend taxpayer dollars by paying for the education of illegal aliens who can’t legally work in Maryland or anywhere else in the United States.”Contact Delegate Neil Parrott: 410-774-0121, email@example.comContact Delegate Pat McDonough: (410) 238-0025, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.