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illegal immigration Archives | Judicial Watch

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced it will host a panel discussion:  “Amnesty Update.” Panelists include Congressman Steve King (IA-04), U.S. House of Representatives; Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies and Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations for Numbers USA.

The panel will examine the status of amnesty efforts in Congress and President Obama’s controversial decisions to suspend deportation for entire categories of illegal aliens.

Date: Tuesday, December 10
Time: 10:30-11:30 am ET

Main Conference Room
Judicial Watch
425 Third Street SW
Washington, DC 20024

Confirmed Panelists:

Congressman Steve King (IA-04)
US House of Representatives

Mark Krikorian
Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

Rosemary Jenks
Director of Government Relations, NumbersUSA


Tom Fitton
President, Judicial Watch

A mult box will be available.

*(near NASA headquarters, one block from Southwest Federal Center Metro Station)

The event is free of charge and open to the press and the public. RSVP only if attending jwevents@JUDICIALWATCH.ORG

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.

 ICE Calls Refusal to Honor Immigration Detainers or Cooperate with ICE Investigators a “Serious Impediment” to Public Safety

(Chicago, IL) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Ill. Circuit Court challenging Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s refusal to honor ICE immigration detainers or cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in identifying deportable criminal aliens.  Cook County jails have released as many as 1,000 criminal aliens sought by ICE in the past 18 months.

The lawsuit, Brian McCann v. Thomas J. Dart, is brought on behalf of lifetime Cook County resident Brian McCann, whose brother William “Denny” McCann, was run over and killed in June 2011 by an unlawfully present criminal alien who had just completed a two-year term of probation for a 2009 DUI conviction.  The alien, Saul Chavez, was charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence, but was released by Dart from a Cook County jail in November 2011 despite an ICE immigration detainer.  ICE issues detainers when it learns that criminal aliens are being held by state or local law enforcement officials.  The detainers require the criminal aliens be held for an additional 48 hours to enable ICE to take custody of them before they are released.  Chavez is now believed to have fled to Mexico.

Although federal and state law require Dart to honor immigration detainers and cooperate with ICE investigators, he has chosen to follow a September 2011, Cook County Ordinance directing him to refuse ICE detainers and deny federal agents access to Cook County facilities for investigative interviews.  In a January 2012 letter to Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, ICE Director John Morton wrote, “Of great concern is the serious impediment the Ordinance poses to ICE’s ability to promote public safety through the identification of criminal aliens.”

The Judicial Watch lawsuit argues that Dart’s “failure to carry out his legal duties under both federal and state law is not authorized, excused, or justified by the Ordinance because that Ordinance is preempted by federal law.”

The release of Chavez is one of more than 1,000 instances cited by Judicial Watch where Dart has “regularly and routinely refused to honor immigration detainers issued by ICE, citing the provisions of the Ordinance,” including:

  • “At a public hearing on February 9, 2012 before the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Defendant testified that, in the five month period between the enactment of the Ordinance on September 7, 2011 and February 9, 2012, Defendant released 346 prisoners in his custody who were the subjects of immigration detainers issued by ICE, and 11 of these persons subsequently committed new offenses.”
  • “By April 24, 2012 ICE had issued 432 immigration detainers to Defendant since the enactment of the Ordinance, but Defendant failed to honor any of the detainers.  According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to [then-]U.S. Senator John Kyl on that date, Defendant’s failure to honor ICE’s immigration detainers had “prevented ICE from considering removal proceedings against all but 38 of these individuals whom ICE had to locate independently and arrest following their release into the community.”
  • “Between April 24, 2012 and March 1, 2013, Defendant received approximately 503 additional immigration detainers issued by ICE, and, on information and belief, has declined to honor any of them, resulting in the release into the community of hundreds of additional prisoners sought by ICE.”

The lawsuit also alleges that despite Dart’s refusal to honor ICE immigration detainers or cooperate with ICE investigators, Cook County applied for and received nearly $2.3 million in State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funds from the federal government in 2011 and over $1.7 million in SCAAP funds in 2012.  Over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012, Cook County reportedly applied for and received nearly $15 million in SCAAP funds from the federal government.  SCAPP funds are designed to fund the costs that state and local governments incur for holding criminal illegal aliens.

In the lawsuit, McCann asks the Circuit Court to compel Dart to comply with his legal duties to honor ICE detainers and to cooperate with federal immigration officials.  It also asks the Circuit Court to declare the Cook County Ordinance to be preempted by federal law.

“The federal government has determined that certain criminal aliens should not be let loose into the community and that releasing them undermines public safety.  Dart is thumbing his nose at the federal government and replacing federal immigration priorities with Cook County’s own immigration policy.  Releasing these criminal aliens before they can be taken into custody by ICE endangers the public.  Dart is not above the law.  Because the Obama administration hasn’t sued Dart in the president’s backyard, concerned citizens like Brian are bravely stepping up to the plate to protect the public.” stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president.

Judicial Watch’s Illinois lawyer is Christine Svenson of the Svenson Law Offices in Chicago, Ill.

 Solis reportedly told center graduates, “The federal laws are very clear and protect all workers equally, whether or not they have papers”

Current Labor Secretary Nominee Thomas Perez Served as Group’s President

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on March 14, 2013, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Obama Department of Labor (DOL) seeking records detailing the May 30, 2012 visit of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to CASA de Maryland’s Langley Park training center. President Obama’s current nominee for Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, served as President of the Board for CASA, which described its chief goals in recent IRS filings as helping  all people “participate and benefit fully” in American society, “regardless of their immigration status.”

While taking part in a roundtable discussion at the center, Solis reportedly told CASA center graduates 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,” Solis was quoted as saying. “The federal laws are clear and protect all workers equally, whether or not they have papers.”

On June 1, 2012, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request to the Department of Labor seeking access to the following information:

a. Documentation of funding to Casa de Maryland, directly or through its affiliation with Prince George’s and Montgomery County Colleges;

b. Talking points, briefing books, or any other internal memoranda (in any language) developed in preparation for Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week;

c. Documentation of transportation, meals, and security associated with Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week, including invoices, reimbursement authorizations, and check requisitions; and,

d. Notes, agendas, minutes, and any other communications relating to Secretary Solis’s visit to Casa de Maryland this week, including video, audio and e-mail contact with the press and third-party organizations before and after the event.

Under federal law, DOL was required to respond to the Judicial Watch FOIA request by June 29, 2012. According to the Judicial Watch March 14 lawsuit, DOL has “failed to make a determination about whether it will comply … or notify [Judicial Watch] of its right to appeal any adverse determination … Nor has [DOL] produced any records responsive to the request, indicated when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.”

The Judicial Watch lawsuit asks the District Court to order DOL to conduct a search for all responsive records to the original FOIA request, produce al non-exempt records, enjoin DOL from continuing to withhold non-exempt records, and grant Judicial Watch attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.

“The most transparent administration in history is once again in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The outrageous stonewalling by the Obama Department of Labor strongly suggests it is covering up connections and policies that most Americans would find objectionable,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama administration’s partnership with a radical organization that openly encourages illegal immigrants to operate outside the law is especially egregious in light of the continued unemployment crisis for the American citizens and legal residents.  No wonder there’s a cover up.”

In February 2012, Judicial Watch and its client, MDPetitions.com scored a major court victory over CASA de Maryland when the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County ruled against a CASA attempt to block a referendum vote on whether Maryland should provide taxpayer dollar subsidies for the college tuition of certain illegal aliens through the so-called “Maryland Dream Act.”

On March 19, 2013, Judicial Watch cited the illegal activities of CASA in a statement opposing the nomination of Thomas Perez to be the next Secretary of Labor, saying, “Perez is a former president of the board of CASA (Central American Solidarity Association) de Maryland a group whose recent filings with the IRS describe its chief goals as  helping  all people “participate and benefit fully” in American society, “regardless of their immigration status.” In opposing the Perez nomination, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions (D-AL), described CASA, which was financially supported by the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, as ‘a fringe advocacy group that has instructed illegal immigrants on how to escape detection, and also promoted illegal labor sites and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.’”

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.

While the Obama Justice Department goes around filing lawsuits to block state immigration control measures, California is on the verge of passing a first-in-the-nation law to severely restrict the cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities.

The controversial law, Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools, or TRUST Act, allows local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to essentially blow off federal immigration rules requiring that all arrestees suspected of being in the U.S. illegally be reported to the feds. The measure is expected to get final Assembly approval in August and Governor Jerry Brown is sure to sign it.

When the controversial bill officially passes, the question is will the Department of Justice (DOJ) go after the Golden State for defying federal law the way it has pursued others for passing measures that “undermine the federal government’s exclusive immigration enforcement duties.” Using this argument, the DOJ has taken legal action against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. In each case, the DOJ asserts that “a state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws.”

It appears that California is doing just that. The TRUST Act specifically defies the federal government’s Secure Communities program, which requires local authorities to check the fingerprints of arrestees against a federal database. The program has helped deport a number of dangerous criminals, many of whom have fallen through the cracks over the years. In fact, the elected sheriff (Lee Baca) who operates jails in Los Angeles and patrols a huge chunk of the sprawling county insists that Secure Communities works and has led to the deportation of many serious criminals.

Prior to implementing Secure Communities a “growing number of criminal illegal immigrants who were taken into custody” were eventually released back into the community, according to Baca who has been sheriff since 1998. Among them is a felon who lived in the area despite three drug-trafficking convictions and six deportations and another who had been previously removed after getting convicted for killing a child in the late 1990s.

More than 70,000 undocumented aliens have been deported in California under Secure Communities and the powerful open borders movement claims many of them are simply hard-working people in search of a better life. The TRUST Act will forbid detention on the basis of an immigration hold after the arrestee becomes eligible for release from criminal custody. It will also require local governments detaining suspects on federal immigration holds to adopt a plan guarding against racial profiling.

Just a few weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Arizona’s law (SB 1070) allowing police officers to check the immigration status of individuals arrested or stopped for questioning. Last spring, at the request of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions.

The Obama Administration responded to the Supreme Court ruling by saying that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not dispatch officers to remove individuals who don’t pose a public safety or border security threat.

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued a statement today in response to today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, upholding a key provision of SB 1070, Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law, allowing police officers to check the immigration status of individuals they arrest or stop for questioning whom they suspect are in the U.S. illegally.

On April 11, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions per the request of the Obama administration, prompting the State of Arizona to petition the High Court (State of Arizona et al., v. The United States of America).

Judicial Watch had previously defended the law on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature.  Most recently it filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070, and a separate brief on behalf of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI).  The amicus brief on behalf of SLLI was joined by 29 legislators from 20 states. In both briefs, Judicial Watch argued that SB 1070 utilizes the state of Arizona’s well-established police powers and therefore is not preempted by federal law as the Obama administration maintains. Judicial Watch asked the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling placing key provisions of SB 1070 on hold.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated:

This is a victory for the safety and security of Arizona and the nation.  The Supreme Court held that local police can to help enforce immigration law by inquiring about immigration status.  This sensible application of the law confirms that local law enforcement can use an additional tool to protect public safety.  We can expect dozens of states to enact laws further empowering the police as Arizona did.  The Obama administration should now focus on enforcing immigration laws rather than thwarting them.

A special category of tuition created this month for illegal immigrants at a public university in Colorado violates both federal and state law, Judicial Watch points out in a letter to the school’s Board of Trustees.

Therefore JW is calling for the immediate rescinding of the measure, which enables certain unlawfully present aliens to attend the taxpayer-funded school, Metropolitan State College of Denver, without having to pay full non-resident tuition. “In approving this new category of tuition, the College recognized that these students would otherwise be required to pay full non-resident tuition because of their inability to demonstrate lawful presence in the United States,” JW writes.

Because the new category violates both federal law and Colorado law and constitutes an act beyond the powers of the board, it must be reversed. Under federal law illegal immigrants are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including post-secondary education benefits unless a state enacts a measure affirmatively granting the perk.

Though a handful of states—including Texas, California, Utah, Washington and New York— have done this, Colorado has not. In Texas and California the illegal alien discounted tuition measures have been legally challenged and at least three states—Georgia, Oklahoma and Arizona—have solved the contentious issue by creating policies banning discounted tuition for illegal aliens at public colleges.

In this case one school passed the controversial measure, so it would apply only to that Denver campus, which has an enrollment of about 24,000. Founded in 1965, Metro State is a comprehensive college that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of fields. Its school of business, professional studies, academic affairs and science are considered to be highly regarded.   

In announcing the new illegal immigrant tuition rate, the university issued a press release calling it a “historical day” that earned a standing ovation from students, faculty, community members and even state legislators. The Board of Trustees passed the measure, originally proposed by President Stephen Jordan, with a 7-1 vote after hearing testimony from an army of supporters, including “undocumented students” attending the college.

To qualify, candidates must graduate from a Colorado high school or obtain a general equivalency diploma (GED) in the state. Here’s a good one; candidates must also provide a statement that they are in “good legal standing, other than their undocumented or unclassified status.” The goal, after all, is to help “students living in the state of Colorado who through no fault of their own do not have the lawful status to be eligible for resident tuition rates.”

That’s a classic line of the open borders movement, that American taxpayers are somehow responsible for helping illegal aliens brought the country as children “through no fault of their own.” Bottom line is that it violates a number of state and federal laws, though Metro College’s president insists the Board of Trustees has the “legislative authority to establish nonresident rates.”

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