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Judicial Watch to Represent MDPetitions.com in Legal Action to Ensure Voters Have the Opportunity to Consider “Tuition Benefit” for Illegal Aliens Students

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Washington, DC — September 22, 2011


Judicial Watch, the public interest organization that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a “Motion to Intervene” on behalf of MDPetitions.com, the organization that sponsored the petition drive to place the Maryland DREAM Act on the ballot for the November 2012 elections. The Motion to Intervene was filed in response to a lawsuit that 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 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.The DREAM Act was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly and signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on May 10, 2011. The law creates a new taxpayer-subsidized public benefit — the ability to pay reduced tuition rates at Maryland community colleges and public higher education institutions — for certain eligible illegal aliens. The petition drive was perhaps the most successful in Maryland history. It collected nearly twice the amount of signatures required by law to put the new benefit to voters in a referendum. As stated in MDPetitions.com’s filing:

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, mdpetitions@gmail.comContact Delegate Pat McDonough: (410) 238-0025, patmcdee@comcast.net

Bucking the national trend to curb illegal immigration, the country’s most populous state has passed a law forbidding private businesses as well as state and local governments from screening workers’ immigration status.It’s a baffling move on the part of legislators in a state—California— with well-documented financial struggles and a whopping 12.1% unemployment rate. Never the less, lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor that will essentially ban any employer—private or public—from using a national online database known as E-Verify to check workers’ immigration status. California cities that currently use E-Verify must immediately stop if the bill becomes law.California’s famously liberal governor, 73-year-old Jerry Brown, is expected to sign the measure (Employment Acceleration Act) which couldn’t come at a worse time for the state with the largest concentration of illegal aliens. Besides record-high unemployment, the (not so) Golden State is suffering through a dire financial crisis that has forced the early release of incarcerated felons, massive teacher layoffs and a huge cut in its notoriously generous entitlement programs.The move also comes as local governments across the U.S. pass laws making E-Verify mandatory, especially to screen candidates that will get paid with taxpayer dollars. California’s measure also conflicts with a bill (Legal Workforce Act) pending in the U.S. House that would require that all of the nation’s employers use E-Verify. The Texas congressman who introduced the measure says it could open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.Hundreds of thousands of employers across the nation use E-Verify and more than a dozen states have made it mandatory, even as the powerful open borders movement works to banish it. In 2007 Illinois became the first state to outlaw using the Homeland Security database to screen workers’ immigration status. The Bush Administration sued to stop the state from implementing the law and a watered down version was eventually implemented after a federal court nixed the original measure.The big question now is whether the Obama Administration, which claims that immigration is strictly a federal issue, will take action against California. In legal challenges to immigration control laws in Arizona and Alabama, the Department of Justice claims they conflict with federal immigration law and undermine the federal government’s careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives.

Hearing To Be Held by House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on September 19, 2011

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Washington, DC — September 16, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that its client, Tiffany Hartley will testify on September 19, 2011, before a congressional field forum on border issues held by the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. (A “field forum” is an official congressional hearing held outside of Washington, DC.) Mrs. Hartley’s husband, David, is believed to have been murdered by Mexican drug pirates on September 30, 2010, on Falcon Lake, a tourist destination on the border between Texas and Mexico.
The following are details regarding the forum, which is open to the public:

Congressional Field Forum on Border IssuesHouse Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
September 19, 2011
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
(Mrs. Hartley’s testimony 10-10:45 a.m.)The Arts Center at the University of Texas, Brownsville
80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, TX 78520 

Members scheduled to attend include: Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).Nearly one year after Mr. Hartley’s murder, his body has yet to be recovered and the federal government has ended its active participation in any investigation of the crime. Judicial Watch has called on the Mexican government and the Obama administration to thoroughly investigate Mr. Hartley’s murder, while launching its own investigation.On September 16, Judicial Watch filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the Department of StateDepartment of Justice and the FBI to obtain all government records pertaining to the September shooting, including Obama administration communications with their Mexican law enforcement officials, military authorities, and other Mexican officials.Mrs. Hartley and Judicial Watch also participated in a May 12, 2011, Washington, DC press conference hosted by Congressman Poe to bring attention to the investigation of David Hartley’s murder.Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) have joined the bipartisan campaign to get the truth behind Mr. Hartley’s murder.

Judicial Watch Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Arizona State Legislature in Support of State of Arizona Supreme Court Petition

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Washington, DC — September 15, 2011

 

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has 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 lawsuit against SB 1070, Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law. On April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions, prompting the State of Arizona’s petition. (State of Arizona and Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, v. United States (No. 11-182)).
The Arizona State Legislature, which is now a defendant in the Obama administration lawsuit, argues that SB 1070 is completely consistent with federal law:

The [Arizona] Legislature invoked its well established police powers in crafting SB 1070, for the purpose of protecting the people of Arizona. Rather than welcoming the Legislature’s enactment, the United States sued Arizona.Contrary to the view of the United States, not every state action related to aliens is preempted by federal law. …Only the determination of who should or should not be admitted into the country, and the conditions under which that person may remain, is the regulation of immigration.Accordingly, the Legislature enacted SB 1070 in reliance on the principle that it had authority to utilize well-established police powers in areas touching on immigration… 

The Arizona Legislature also maintains the four provisions put on hold by the lower courts should be reinstated, as the provisions would “significantly assist Arizona’s effort to protect its citizens from the adverse effects of illegal immigration.” Specifically, these provisions:

  • Provide additional guidance to Arizona law enforcement officers as to how to interact with individuals who may not be lawfully present. [Section 2(B).]
  • Utilize ordinary state police powers to create state criminal penalties for the failure to comply with federal law. [Section 3.]
  • Invoke Arizona’s broad authority to regulate employment under its police powers to protect its economy and lawfully resident labor force from the harmful effects resulting from the employment of unlawfully present aliens. [Section 5(C)]
  • Re-emphasize Arizona law enforcement officers’ pre-existing warrantless arrest authority by authorizing a warrantless arrest of an individual who has already been determined to have committed a public offense that makes him removable. [Section 6.]

“The Arizona State Legislature had the right to pass laws to protect its citizens from the scourge of illegal immigration,” said Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch. “The Arizona legislature crafted SB 1070 in a manner completely consistent with federal law. The Obama Justice Department should do its job and start enforcing illegal immigration laws instead of attacking states that are lawfully attempting to deal with the problems of rampant illegal immigration. The Obama administration’s lawless approach to illegal immigration is a crisis that must be addressed. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the State of Arizona’s petition, protects the rule of law and upholds the rights of the States to protect its citizens.”“States have an inherent duty under law and the Constitution to protect their citizens from those who break our laws. I pray the Supreme Court honors states’ inherent authority and right under the police powers and supports Arizona in the protection of our state from the Obama administration, who has sided with foreign governments against our state and our citizens. The Obama administration’s attack on our state’s sovereign right to defend itself from the illegal alien invasion is unconscionable,” added Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce. “Already, the enacted provisions of SB 1070 have helped reduce crime significantly and led to a mass exodus of illegal aliens from our state. I know President Obama needs votes from the open borders crowd and those who benefit from this invasion, and doesn’t want the immigration laws enforced. He has made that abundantly clear by his recent actions to reward those who have broken our laws. He has refused to protect American jobs and the rights of our citizens — Arizona will continue to take common sense steps to protect its own citizens and our border.”Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23, 2010. On July 6, 2010, the Obama Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the law and requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from being enforced (USA v. The State of Arizona, et al., No. 10-1413). On July 28, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton allowed key provisions of the law to be enacted, while granting the Obama administration an injunction on other provisions until the Court could determine whether these provisions are constitutional. On April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s preliminary injunction.Judicial Watch filed a “Motion to Intervene,” on February 11, 2011, on behalf of the Arizona Legislature with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona stating: “The Legislature…has a paramount interest in seeing that [SB 1070’s] enactment is upheld.” U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton granted the motion on April 5, 2011, over the objections of the Obama Justice Department. Judicial Watch also represented Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, in the Obama administration’s legal action against the law.

Appellate Court Reverses Decision by District Court Dismissing Judicial Watch Lawsuit Filed by Houston Police Sgt. Joslyn Johnson, Widow of Police Officer Murdered by Illegal Alien

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Washington, DC — September 13, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled in favor of Judicial Watch client Houston police sergeant Joslyn M. Johnson, the widow of a fellow police officer murdered by an illegal alien. The three-judge panel reversed a decision by the district court. Sgt. Johnson’s lawsuit against the City of Houston’s illegal sanctuary policy will now continue (Johnson v. City of Houston (No. 10-207343)).As noted by the appellate court, under The Houston Police Department’s (HPD) illegal alien sanctuary policy “HPD officers are forbidden from notifying federal authorities that they have encountered a known illegal alien unless they arrest that person on a ‘separate criminal charge (other than a class C misdemeanor).’” Moreover, Houston’s sanctuary policy also prevents police officers from obtaining immigration information from a number of federal government databases. (The policy only allows police officers to check the “wanted” status of an illegal alien from a single federal database that tracks illegal aliens who have been convicted and deported for “drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, or serious violent crimes.”)
The lawsuit filed on September 21, 2009, claims that Houston’s sanctuary policies harm Sergeant Johnson’s ability to communicate with federal immigration officials.Officer Johnson “does not seek to detain or arrest persons in order to inquire about their immigration status,” Judicial Watch noted in its original complaint. “Rather plaintiff [Johnson] seeks to use her professional judgment to determine when it is appropriate to contact ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to inquire or provide information about a person’s immigration status if, in the course of carrying out her duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer, she has reason to believe a crime may have been committed.”The district court dismissed this lawsuit, ruling that Sgt. Johnson was precluded from bringing the lawsuit because the court had previously dismissed a separate lawsuit over the death of her husband. The appellate court reversed this decision, ruling that the lower court had incorrectly determined that Sgt. Johnson’s lawsuit was essentially “duplicative” of her previous lawsuit and had therefore already been adjudicated.“This is a tremendous victory for Judicial Watch’s client Sgt. Joslyn Johnson, who will finally get her day in court,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The City of Houston demonstrates the horrible harm that is caused by illegal alien sanctuary policies. We look forward to the opportunity to try to end Houston’s lawless sanctuary policies that place law enforcement officers and the citizens of Houston at risk.”On September 21, 2006, Sgt. Johnson’s husband, Officer Rodney Johnson, was making a routine traffic stop when he was shot and killed by Juan Leonardo Quintero-Perez, a previously deported Mexican national who had reentered and was living in the U.S. illegally. After reentering the U.S. illegally, Quintero-Perez had multiple interactions with the HPD before shooting and killing Officer Johnson, including at least one arrest for driving under the influence and citations for failing to stop and give information following an accident and driving with a suspended license.

Public school teachers with unacceptable English pronunciation and grammar are being protected by the Obama Administration, which has forced one state to eliminate a fluency monitoring program created to comply with a 2002 federal education law.Singling out teachers who can’t speak proper English in American schools—funded by taxpayers, no less—discriminates against Hispanics and others who are not native English speakers, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). As a result it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the teachers must remain in their current position.Unbelievable as this may seem, it’s a true story reported this week by Arizona’s largest newspaper. Ironically, the state launched the fluency monitoring program to comply with the bipartisan-backed No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to create standardized tests that show public school students are reaching proficiency in core subjects like English, math and science.With only a small proportion of low-English proficiency students (reading between the lines they are referring to illegal immigrants) passing the state’s standardized reading test, Arizona education officials started to look at the teachers in those classrooms. They found a common thread in dozens of districts throughout the state; many instructors don’t speak proper English and, in fact, teach in Spanish, using Spanish-language materials. Some have “unacceptably heavy accents” that causes them to mispronounce words. Others use poor English grammar.Here are some examples of state monitoring reports listed in the article; a teacher who asked her English learners “How do we call it in English?” and teachers who pronounced “levels” as “lebels” and “much” as “mush.” Last year a monitor documented teachers who pronounced “the” as “da” and “lives here” as “leeves here.”Protected by the power of their union, no teachers have been fired for fluency issues. They have simply been reassigned and districts are required to develop “corrective-action plans” to improve their English. However a group of teachers took their case to the feds last year, complaining that their accents were getting them removed from classrooms.This is the sort of issue that makes the Justice Department’s bloated civil rights division salivate. Predictably, the agency took swift action, threatening to file a civil rights lawsuit if Arizona didn’t get rid of its teacher fluency monitoring program. As a result, thousands of children in the state’s taxpayer funded schools are stuck with teachers they probably can’t understand.The superintendent of Arizona’s public schools (John Huppenthal) says his office will continue encouraging districts to help teachers with flawed English pronunciation or grammar. “Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate,” he said.

The nation’s second-largest county has enacted legislation directing local police to disregard federal government orders to hold arrested illegal immigrants, including those with criminal records or serious felony charges.Hours after commissioners in Illinois’s Cook County, which includes Chicago, passed the measure a local newspaper reported that an illegal alien charged with a felony was released after posting bail. The man, Eduardo Sanchez, had previous offenses and got arrested this week after running a red light and assaulting a police officer.Before the famously liberal Cook County Commission passed its new law, federal authorities would have illegal immigrants like Sanchez held in local jails for up to 48 hours after posting bond or completing their sentence. The extra time gives the feds a cushion to begin deportation proceedings for illegal aliens who pose a threat.But many of the area’s officials believe such holds are “unconstitutional” and violate “due process laws.” Others claim the federal hold requests are “unfunded mandates” and ending the practice will save the county lots of money, as much as $15.7 million a year. At least one of the county’s 17 commissioners dared to criticize the new measure, pointing out that it’s a “monumental mistake” because the released illegal aliens “are going to go back into our communities and commit more crimes.”With the tables turned, it will be interesting to see if the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervenes the way it has in Arizona and Alabama. In legal challenges to both states’ immigration control laws, the DOJ claims the measures undermine the federal government’s immigration enforcement authority. A state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws, according to the DOJ.In this case a major county with a population bigger than 29 U.S. states is clearly defying a federal mandate created to protect its residents from foreign criminals. County officials claim the federal holds were merely requests and not requirements. It’s probably safe to bet that Obama’s DOJ will agree.

Empowered by the president’s recent halt in deportations, the influential open borders movement plans to stop one of the last states to offer illegal immigrants diver’s licenses from killing the practice.Lawmakers in New Mexico are scheduled to address the heated issue in a special session this week, igniting fury among immigrant rights organizations that accuse them of catering to “fringe right-wing groups.” New Mexico is one of only two states (Washington is the other) that still give illegal aliens driver’s licenses because proof of residency is not required to obtain the card. Utah offers illegal aliens a special license that’s valid only in the state.Earlier this year legislators in both Washington and New Mexico rejected measures to reverse the practice, even though it violates a federal identification law (Real ID Act) enacted to protect national security after the 2001 terrorist attacks. But this week New Mexico is reconsidering the issue at the request of Governor Susana Martinez who is in her first year in office. Immigrant rights groups quickly deployed protestors to the state capitol to fight for the status quo.The legislature must address the issue because a residency certification program recently implemented by Governor Martinez to strip illegal aliens of driver’s licenses got struck down in court. The measure was challenged by a well-funded, open borders group that refers to the U.S. government’s immigration enforcement effort as racist and xenophobic.In its lawsuit the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) calls the certification ordinance “unconstitutional” because it targets and affects primarily Latinos in New Mexico. A few days ago a Santa Fe judge sided with MALDEF, ordering a temporary restraining order on the measure which authorizes the state’s Motor Vehicle Division to require proof of legal residency from license holders.New Mexico started giving illegal aliens driver’s licenses in 2002 thanks to the political force of a powerful open borders group (Somos Un Pueblo Unido or We are a United Town) that operates similar to MALDEF. 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.

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