Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305
Washington, DC — December 7, 2011
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today announced developments in the MDPetitions.com legal action over whether Maryland voters will have the opportunity to directly consider “tuition benefits” for illegal alien students. Pursuant to a Joint Stipulation signed on December 5, 2011, Casa de Maryland and illegal alien activist plaintiffs will no longer challenge the “sufficiency and number of the petition signatures” collected by MDPetitions.com to place the repeal of the illegal alien tuition benefits policy on the November, 2012 Maryland ballot.The plaintiffs will continue to maintain that the Maryland DREAM Act cannot legally be subject to referendum. However, as MDPetitions.com argues in its court filings, Maryland voters are merely 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 Maryland DREAM Act was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 10, 2011. The law makes certain illegal aliens eligible to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions, including the University of Maryland. The MDPetitions.com petition drive collected 132,071 signatures, nearly twice the amount required by law to put the new benefit to voters in a referendum.
Illegal aliens and the activist group Casa de Maryland challenged the petition drive in court to give taxpayer dollar subsidies for college tuition for certain illegal aliens. 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 the Maryland DREAM Act (John Doe, et al., v. Maryland State Board of Elections (No. 02-C-11-163050)). The MDPetitions.com group 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.
“Now that both sides agree that MDPetitions.com’s petition signatures are sufficient and valid, illegal alien activists are running out of arguments to shield the Maryland DREAM Act from the voters,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This political lawsuit is designed for one purpose: to deny Maryland voters a right to have their voices heard on the issue of taxpayer-funded perks for illegal aliens. We are confident the courts will uphold our client’s petition drive and that democracy will not be subverted.”
Neil Parrott stated, “While Casa de Maryland wanted to throw out literally tens of thousands of valid signatures in an effort to short circuit the democratic process in our state, they simply could not do it. The hard work of Marylanders from the Eastern Shore, to the Baltimore region, to Southern Maryland, to the mountains in Western Maryland paid off, resulting in over 130,000 signatures submitted and over 109,000 validated signatures. These strong numbers, almost twice the required validated signatures, proved to be an obstacle that the opposition could not be overcome. This victory shows that Marylanders do have a voice, and that by working together we can defeat legislation that just doesn’t make sense.”
“This is the People’s Petition and the most historic referendum drive in the state of Maryland. We needed to collect 55,736 valid signatures of registered voters in less than 60 days to send SB 167 to referendum. The citizens submitted over 132,000, and the State Board of Elections validated over 108,000. Today is a great day for the people of Maryland, who are one step closer to voting on the referendum they have clearly asked for and are legally due,” said Delegate McDonough.
The Obama Administration drastically inflated statistics to show that it has deported a record-high number of illegal immigrants with criminal records, according to federal data obtained by a nonprofit university group dedicated to researching the government.
The new documents reveal the figure is actually at an all-time low and rapidly decreasing, leaving the Obama Administration with egg on its face just weeks after bragging about removing an unprecedented number of criminal aliens. In mid-October, Obama’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director jubilantly announced that nearly 55% of the record 396,906 illegal immigrants deported in fiscal year 2011 were convicted of felonies or crimes.
The real figure is less than 15%, according to federal records obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center that provides detailed information about the operation of hundreds of government agencies. The number of deported criminal aliens has been declining steadily throughout the past year, the TRAC analysis found, even though fiscal year 2010 had an already low level of 16.5%.
In the first quarter of the fiscal year (October – December 2010) 15.8 percent of deported illegal immigrants were charged with engaging in criminal activity, 15.1 percent during the second quarter (January – March 2011), 14.9 percent during the third quarter (April – June 2011), and finally 13.8 percent during the fourth quarter (July – September 2011). The average rate across the four quarters for FY 2011 was 14.9 percent, according to records obtained from the government through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
TRAC analyzed case-by-case records covering all proceedings filed in the nation’s immigration courts, which operate under the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The total number of deportation proceedings for aliens with criminal records dropped from 40,500 in fiscal year 2010 to 33,763 in fiscal year 2011. The number of individuals removed for national security or terrorism decreased from 42 to 30 during the same period.
This certainly contradicts the administration’s claims that it’s focusing on removing criminals while it grants backdoor amnesty to otherwise “law-abiding” foreigners living in the U.S. illegally. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) even issued new guidelines ordering immigration agents to prioritize deporting convicted criminals and those who pose public safety and national security threats.
Obama’s ICE director, John Morton, calls it a “smart and effective immigration enforcement” that essentially relies on “setting priorities for removal and executing those priorities.” If the goal isn’t met, just distort the figures and lie to the American people.
In the Obama Administration’s latest effort to help illegal aliens, the federal agency created by Congress nearly a century ago to protect American consumers is cracking down on “immigrant service scams” that traditionally target individuals living in the U.S. illegally.
The first-of-its-kind program is a joint effort between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal is to protect the thousands of illegal aliens the government says are annually victimized by scams that promise to take care of their immigration documents.
Instead they steal immigrants’ money and their legal status never changes. So, the U.S. government has come to the rescue with an initiative, financed by taxpayers of course, to help the undocumented. The new campaign largely focuses on educating immigrants to avoid unlicensed service providers or websites that can appear to be operated by the government.
The FTC has launched a special multilingual website and database dedicated to the initiative. It includes a variety of Spanish resources offering help in a number of immigration related areas, including a list of attorneys compiled by the Department of Justice (DOJ). There are also public service announcements in Spanish and a special section to report scams against immigrants.
This week Homeland Security officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promoted the program at a special presentation in New Jersey, according to a local news report. The Newark district director for USCIS indicated in the story that those who report fraud will not be deported and assured that the primary goal is to end the scams not deport people who help stop them.
Open borders groups insist on a more concrete guarantee that immigrants who report scams won’t get deported. The director of a New Jersey nonprofit, called Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) points out that victims of other crimes have been arrested and deported after coming forward. “These people are scared out of their minds,” said the Casa de Esperanza’s director, who went on the challenge authorities by asking: “So how do we protect the whistleblowers?”
One of the many community groups that receive large amounts of U.S. taxpayer dollars to represent the interests of illegal immigrant farm workers is under federal investigation for misusing government grants.
That public money goes to these types of nonprofits in the first place is outrageous enough. In this particular case, the group, California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), actually got nearly $7 million from Uncle Sam after Congress already knew about the wrongdoing. The CRLA has been embroiled in a four-year federal probe accusing it of illegal political activism and misplaced priorities.
The CRLA focuses on broad-based, politically impacting litigation and neglects underserved populations by dedicating itself to farm worker and Latino issues, the feds say. In 2005 Congress reported the allegations to the Legal Services Corporation Office of Inspector General, which has been looking into the matter all these years. This hasn’t stopped the flow of taxpayer dollars, however. A year after the allegations were reported by Congress the CRLA got $6.8 million from American taxpayers.
Not surprisingly, the CRLA has refused to let investigators access relevant materials to properly conduct the probe, asserting attorney-client privilege. Even with the scarce and heavily redacted files it got, the inspector general determined that there was evidence the CRLA violated federal law by soliciting clients, working a fee-generating case and participating in political activities. To obtain the real juicy stuff, the inspector general subpoenaed the files in their entirety.
A federal judge in Washington D.C. recently ordered the group to release the records, ruling that the “information requested is reasonably relevant to a legitimate lawful purpose.” Furthermore, the judge wrote in his 37-page decision that …“the demand is reasonable and not unduly burdensome” as the CRLA had claimed in its effort to conceal the information.
The CRLA describes itself as a nationally recognized leader in farm worker and migrant services provision through community outreach, educational training and direct legal service. A team of premiere public interest attorneys and dedicated community workers handle cases pro bono, the group says. Its mission statement is to fight for justice and individual rights alongside society’s most exploited communities. The CRLA has 21 offices, many in rural communities from the Mexican border to Northern California.
President Jose Padilla says he strives for “economic justice and human rights” for California’s rural poor. His community organization’s work has touched the lives of millions of low-income individuals and improved conditions for farm workers, new immigrants, single parents and entire communities among others.
The Obama amnesty plan officially begins this week, according to a mainstream newspaper that obtained internal Homeland Security documents outlining “sweeping changes” in immigration enforcement that will halt the deportation of illegal aliens with no criminal records.
Much has been reported about the administration’s intention to implement a stealth amnesty plan if congress doesn’t act to spare the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal aliens, but this is the first confirmation that it’s come to fruition. Beginning this week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will review all deportation cases and start a nationwide “training program” to assure that enforcement agents and prosecuting attorneys don’t remove illegal immigrants who haven’t been convicted of crimes.
About 300,000 immigration cases are currently pending before overwhelmed U.S. courts and the goal is to expedite them, according to DHS officials cited in the news report. To accomplish this, the agency will focus on removing only those who committed serious crimes or pose a national security risk. Immigration agents will be instructed to close deportations that “fall outside” these department “priorities,” which means a large class of illegal aliens will be granted de facto amnesty.
This backdoor amnesty plan has been in the works for some time and has actually been implemented unofficially for more than a year. In fact, in 2010 Texas’s largest newspaper published an exposé about a then-secret DHS initiative that systematically cancelled pending deportations. 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.
Judicial Watch has been a front runner in investigating the Obama Administration’s stealth amnesty program by pursuing DHS records concerning “deferred action” or “parole” to suspend removal proceedings against a particular group of individuals. Earlier this year JW sued DHS to obtain information because the agency ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.
Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it sent a letter on October 19, 2011, to the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE), calling on the State of Rhode Island to abandon a new illegal alien tuition policy impacting Rhode Island’s public institutions of higher education.
On September 26, 2011, the RIBGHE established a set of criteria by which students, including illegal aliens, would be eligible for reduced in-state tuition rates. However, as Judicial Watch notes in its letter to RIBGHE Chairman Lorne Adrain, “Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for state or local public benefits, including post-secondary education benefits such as reduced tuition, unless a state has enacted a law affirmatively providing for such eligibility.”
Judicial Watch then calls on Rhode Island officials to reverse the policy:
We understand that the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (“RIBGHE”) recently approved changes to its current student residency policy that are intended to make unlawfully present aliens eligible to pay reduced, in-state tuition rates at Rhode Island’s public universities, colleges, and community colleges. These changes appear to be in clear violation of federal law and must, therefore, be reversed…
…There is no way to reconcile RIBGHE’s new policy with federal law. The new policy provides a public benefit to individuals who clearly are ineligible for such a benefit under section 1621(a) of title 8, and Rhode Island has not enacted a law affirmatively providing for such eligibility under section 1621(d) of title 8. In fact, we understand that the Rhode Island General Assembly rejected proposed legislation earlier this year that would have made unlawfully present aliens eligible for in-state tuition at Rhode Island’s public universities, colleges, and community colleges and that it has rejected similar proposed legislation in prior years.
RIBGHE may not ignore federal laws when those laws are not consistent with its own policy preferences. We hope that RIBGHE will reverse its new student residency policy immediately in order to conform [its] policy to the requirements of federal law.
The RIBGHE intends for this policy change to take effect at the start of the Fall 2012 semester. This new policy will apply to all public universities, colleges and community colleges in Rhode Island.
“In-state tuition and other taxpayer-subsidized perks for illegal aliens are not only unlawful, they also make matters worse by inducing greater numbers of illegal aliens to cross the border in search of sanctuary,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “If the rule of law means anything, not one single taxpayer dollar should be used to pay for the higher education of illegal aliens. Quite simply, for public officials in Rhode Island (or anywhere else) to flout illegal immigration laws is a fundamental abuse of power.”
Judicial Watch’s letter to Rhode Island is part of a comprehensive campaign by Judicial Watch to put an end to illegal alien sanctuary policies, including in-state tuition benefits for illegal aliens. In addition to pursuing to a Maryland taxpayer court challenge to such benefits, Judicial Watch represents MDPetitions.com in a lawsuit filed by illegal immigration activists that would deny Maryland voters the opportunity to vote on the Maryland Dream Act, which provides taxpayer subsidies to pay for tuition for certain illegal aliens. Previously, Judicial Watch successfully forced the County College of Morris in New Jersey to reverse its discounted tuition policy for illegal alien students. Judicial Watch also recently launched a national petition television campaign to persuade the nation’s governors to obey and enforce all immigration laws.
Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it launched a national television advertising campaign on October 24, 2011 to combat illegal immigration. A key purpose of the campaign is to collect petitions from the American people urging governors of all 50 states, to obey and enforce all laws against illegal immigration.
The petition campaign is being driven through a series of television advertisements broadcast on local television networks in regional markets located in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as nationwide on Fox Business News (FBN).
In this new national campaign, Judicial Watch asks Americans take a stand on this illegal immigration crisis: “The cost of illegal immigration is a burden on every taxpaying citizen. That’s why Judicial Watch fights hard to hold politicians accountable when they violate and undermine immigration law. Take a stand. Sign this petition and tell your state governor to enforce our federal immigration laws.”
“Politicians in Washington and in the states want to ignore the illegal immigration crisis, while asking taxpayers to foot the bill. Judicial Watch wants the rule of law enforced and we know millions of Americans share our views. Our new television spots are designed to educate and motivate Americans to take a stand against politicians who simply refuse to enforce or even obey the laws against illegal immigration,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch is a national leader in the illegal immigration debate and currently represents the Arizona State Legislature in its defense against the Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging SB 1070, Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law. On September 12, 2011, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature, supporting Arizona’s petition to the Supreme Court to review the Obama administration’s SB 1070 lawsuit. Judicial Watch has also litigated against local and state “sanctuary policies” that violate laws against illegal immigration.
Judicial Watch Represents Group in Legal Battle against Illegal Alien Advocates over “In State Tuition”
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305