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Obama Administration Reportedly Implementing Policies that Grant Legal Status to Illegal Aliens without Approval of Congress

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Washington, DC — March 29, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain records detailing the Obama administration’s alleged plan to grant legal status to illegal aliens without going through Congress, a strategy commonly known as “stealth amnesty.” Specifically, Judicial Watch is investigating an alleged plan by the Obama administration to suspend deportations of illegal aliens who are in the country unlawfully (Judicial Watch v. US Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-604) and Judicial Watch v. US Department of Homeland Security (No. 11-606)).
On July 2, 2010, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request to DHS seeking the following information: “Any and all records of communications between the Department of Homeland Security and any of the following entities, concerning ‘deferred action’ or ‘parole’ to suspend removal proceedings against a particular individual or group of individuals for a specific timeframe; as well as records of communications concerning ‘selective reprieve’ to the segment of the population holding expired visas: The White House; The Executive Office of the President; Any third parties.” Judicial Watch sought internal DHS communications regarding “deferred action or parole” as well.On August 30, 2010, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to DHS seeking the following information:

  • 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.

Amid heated immigration debates, members of Congress are being asked to sign a pledge acknowledging the economic, civic and cultural contributions of Latinos and opposing “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric” that “dehumanizes” them.The contract is part of the “Pledge for Respect” campaign launched this month by the politically-connected National Council of La Raza (NCLR), which bills itself as the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. The influential Mexican group receives millions of federal tax dollars annually to promote its leftist, open-borders agenda and has hundreds of branches throughout the nation.NCLR leaders regularly attend congressional hearings as well as White House meetings and President Obama hired one of the group’s top officials (Cecilia Munoz) to serve in his administration. The commander-in-chief even violated his own lobbyist ban to make Munoz director of intergovernmental affairs even though she supervised all legislative and advocacy activities on the state and local levels for the NCLR, which is headquartered in Washington D.C.With that said, this isn’t merely a publicity stunt for the powerful NCLR, which is pushing the respect campaign as part of this year’s National Latino Advocacy Days. The idea is to reinforce that the Hispanic community is an integral part of the fabric of America, according to the group, which is also using the opportunity to denounce politicians who use Latinos to exploit xenophobia for political gain.The contract also forces members of Congress to promise that they’ll meet with advocates and leaders from the Hispanic nonprofit (that would include the NCLR) and business communities to hear their perspective on the “issues.” That way they could find a common ground based on “shared values and interests.”To launch its respect campaign the NCLR enlisted a Los Angeles hip-hop band named after the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey (Ozomatli). In a public service ad, members of the musical group claim that some candidates for public office have called for landmines on the U.S.-Mexico border and microchips to be implanted in undocumented immigrants. Others have used “stereotypical and menacing images of Latinos in their campaign ads.”The message goes on to say that elected officials and states have fashioned “extreme draconian” proposals against the immigrant and Latino communities, including the elimination of ethnic studies programs in public schools, forcing publicly-funded hospitals to ask for patients’ immigration status and stripping U.S. citizenship from children born to illegal aliens. “It’s time to tell Congress that we won’t stand for this anymore. We need to know who is with us and who is against us! “

The family of a drug-abusing illegal immigrant who died after being subdued with a stun gun is suing the U.S. government for using excessive force that led to his “wrongful death.”The illegal immigrant, Anastacio Hernandez, lived in San Diego and was twice deported to his native Mexico. He became unruly when federal agents tried to deport him at the San Ysidro border crossing in May and an officer used a stun gun to control him. Hernandez ended up dying and the San Diego County coroner ruled it a heart attack with methamphetamine abuse and hypertension as contributing factors.Mexico’s president was quick to condemn the U.S. for the incident, saying that a death “with that degree of violence is a truly unacceptable violation.” The Mexican consulate followed up with an official statement reiterating its “strongest condemnation” of the incident that led to the death of one of its citizens.This week the illegal alien’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S.government in San Diego, alleging that immigration agents used excessive force to detain the 42-year-old construction worker as they escorted him to Tijuana. The complaint says agents repeatedly beat Hernandez and shot him several times with the stun gun.The Mexican consulate in San Diego organized a press conference to announce the lawsuit and introduce the family’s attorney, who claims the illegal alien was “frightened” and “pleading for his life” when agents beat him. Mexican authorities have demanded a thorough investigation of the incident and the Obama Administration has vowed to oblige.Of interesting note is that the Justice Department has transferred the case to its civil rights division, which is headed by Thomas Perez, the former Maryland Labor Secretary that has long fought for the rights of illegal immigrants. Perez supports Mexican and Guatemalan-issued cards as valid identification in this country, favors discounted tuition for illegal immigrants at public colleges and universities and supports programs that advice illegal aliens how to deal with police.Perez also served on the board of a controversial, taxpayer-funded day laborer center (Casa de Maryland) that helps illegal immigrants by operating employment facilities and offering free legal services. As head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division he has wasted taxpayer resources to prevent states from enforcing immigration laws and sued an Arizona public college system for discrimination because it requires job applicants to furnish proof of residency before getting hired.Last week Perez announced the administration’s commitment to eliminating teststhat discriminate against minorities in the workplace, asserting that the racial discrimination created by written exams is especially rampant in the nation’s police and fire departments because they disproportionately screen out people of a particular race even though they “present the appearance of objective, merit-based selection.”

A state that has long awarded illegal immigrants with discounted tuition at public colleges and universities wants to take it a step further by also giving them millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded scholarships and financial aid.Under a measure that’s quickly making its way through California’s legislature, illegal immigrants will have access to state-funded financial aid as well as tens of millions of dollars in scholarship money that’s annually funneled through public foundations. Although illegal aliens have for years benefitted from heavily discounted in-state tuition at all California institutions of higher education, current law bans them from receiving additional aid and scholarships.The new bill—known as the California Dream Act—was introduced by a state lawmaker from Los Angeles and could reverse that policy by the end of the year. The measure was approved this week by a state legislative committee and has a great chance of becoming law because, unlike his predecessor who thrice vetoed it, California Governor Jerry Brown has vowed to sign it.If it passes, illegal immigrants attending California’s smallest university system—the 10-campus UC system—stand to receive between $2 million and $3 million a year in added benefits. Officials in the state’s two other systems, Cal State with 23 campuses and 112 community colleges have yet to estimate the figure but it’s sure to be a lot higher. The timing couldn’t be worst in a devastated public college system that’s suffering through a debilitating $500 million budget cut.But the assemblyman who has long pushed for the California Dream Act, Democrat Gil Cedillo, claims it will finally give students who were brought to the U.S. throughno choice of their own a true chance at the American dream. His bill will also help correct injustices against immigrants because he says “immigration policy throughout our history has been shaped by racism, fears of foreign influence, the anxiety generated from economic downturns and by political opportunism.”The president of California’s more prestigious UC system, Mark Yudof, refers to the illegal immigrants enrolled in his campuses as “leaders of tomorrow” whose “outstanding accomplishments” should not be disregarded or their future jeopardized “simply because of their legal status.”Besides California nine other states—including Texas, Utah, Kansas and New York—offer illegal immigrants discounted tuition at public colleges and several others have contemplated legislation to offer the perk. A few weeks ago Judicial Watch filed ataxpayer lawsuit against the Board of Trustees of Maryland’s Montgomery College for unlawfully granting discounted “in county” tuition rates to illegal aliens who graduate from local high schools.

The last two states to offer illegal immigrants driver’s licenses rejected measures this week to reverse the practice, even though it violates a federal identification law enacted to protect national security after the 2001 terrorist attacks.Legislators in Washington State and New Mexico defeated bills that would have done away with their longtime policy of issuing driver’s licenses without requiring proof of residency. A handful of states once offered the perk, but most have rescinded it to comply with a national identification law known as the Real ID Act.Utah found a way to accommodate illegal aliens last year by creating a special class of driver’s license for those who will be ineligible to obtain the cards when the Real ID Act finally kicks in. The state devised a two-tier system that allows illegal immigrants to get a driving privilege card valid only in Utah while legal residents or citizens receive a “regular” driver’s license that’s accepted as identification at places such as airports.As if that move wasn’t outrageous enough, Washington State and New Mexico have taken it a step further by continuing their reckless policies. Washington’s bill, designed to stop identification fraud, was narrowly defeated in the Senate. The measure would have required driver’s license applicants to provide proof of residency and a Social Security number. The Democrat who sponsored the law says there are 300,000 more driver’s licenses in her sate than there are drivers, indicating widespread fraud in the system.In New Mexico, a bill to stop giving illegal immigrants the cards passed overwhelmingly in the House, but a few days later the Senate pretty much killed it by watering it down to the point that the governor called it a “sham.” The measure also would have revoked the license of any undocumented person who failed to present proper documentation upon renewing the card within two years of the legislation taking effect.New Mexico started giving illegal aliens driver’s licenses after an influential immigrant rights group (Somos Un Pueblo Unido or We are a United Town) pushed for it in 2002. A few years ago federal agents busted a major smuggling ring in which illegal immigrants from “special interest” countries exploited New Mexico’s lax law to obtain licenses. A Brazilian man and a Kazakhstan woman were eventually charged with running the illicit operation.

59,017 “Other Than Mexican” Illegal Aliens Apprehended in 2010, including 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries”

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Washington, DC — March 9, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained new documents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection detailing FY 2010 apprehension statistics for illegal alien smugglers and illegal aliens from countries considered to be a high threat to the United States because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
Among the highlights from the documents, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request originally filed on January 26, 2011:

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 463,382 individuals smuggled across the border, including 8,905 smugglers. (3,027 of the smugglers apprehended were deemed “deportable.”)
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 59,017 “Other Than Mexican” illegal aliens through October 7, 2010.
  • Among the nations represented in apprehension statistics are the four countries currently on the State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” Cuba (712), Iran (14), Syria (5) and Sudan (5), as well as Somalia (9), Afghanistan (9), Pakistan (37), Saudi Arabia (5) and Yemen (11).
  • Overall, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 663 “Aliens from Special Interest Countries.” These countries are deemed “special interest” because of their suspected ties to terrorism.
  • The countries yielding the highest “Other Than Mexican” apprehensions include: Guatemala (18,406), El Salvador (13,723), and Honduras (13,580).

(U.S. Border Patrol estimates that three out of every four illegal aliens who cross the border evade apprehension.)Press reports thrust the issue of suspected terrorists crossing the border into the spotlight in May 2010 when the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to authorities in Texas to be on the lookout for a member of the Somali-based terrorist group Al Shabaab, who was suspected of hatching a plot to cross into the U.S. through Mexico. The warning followed an indictment unsealed earlier that month in a Texas federal court accusing a Texas Somali man of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” charged with bringing hundreds of Somalis across the Mexican border. Many of these illegal aliens were suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. However, until now, the Obama administration offered little information regarding the overall scope of this growing national security problem.“We should not be surprised if terrorists take advantage of our porous borders in light of the Obama administration’s lax approach to border security,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “When you have an administration that pushes illegal alien amnesty, permits illegal alien sanctuary policies, and attacks states like Arizona for seeking to enforce the rule of law, it sends a signal to our enemies to cross the border illegally and to do their worst. The Obama administration continues to allow our borders to spiral out of control. These numbers are simply astonishing. Our country cannot secure our borders soon enough!”

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.

A policy requiring U.S. Border Patrol agents to use nonlethal bean bags as a first line of defense evidently led to the murder of an agent who was gunned down by a heavily armed group of illegal immigrants in Arizona.The deadly gun battle took place on December 14, but the Department of Homeland Security has kept details from the public under the often-invoked premise that it’s an “ongoing investigation.” However, this week an Arizona newspaper obtained FBI files relating to the case and the details are sure to ignite rage among those who favor securing the increasingly violent southern border.The murdered agent, Brian Terry, and his colleague encountered five illegal border crossers at around 11:15 p.m. in an area known as Peck Canyon, northwest ofNogales. The illegal aliens refused commands to drop their weapons and the two federal agents proceeded to fire beanbags, as per Border Patrol policy to use nonlethal force against migrants.Turns out the illegal immigrants were heavily armed with sophisticated assault weapons known as AK-47s. They responded to the beanbags with gunfire and agent Terry was mortally shot in the back. The agents eventually returned fire but it was too late. Terry was a member of a highly trained tactical unit (Bortac) that was targeting a group that robbed and assaulted drug runners and illegal aliens.Making matters worse, a separate news report indicates that the gun used to murder Terry was actually part of a federal experiment that allowed firearms from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers have lost track of hundreds of guns which have been used in numerous crimes.Among them were at least three guns found at the Peck Canyon scene of Terry’s murder. The weapons were traced through their serial numbers to a gun shop inGlendale, Arizona, which led to a Phoenix man (Jaime Avila) that the feds repeatedly allowed to smuggle firearms into Mexico. Known as Operation Fast and Furious, the disastrous project was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

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