Judicial Watch • Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano Archives | Judicial Watch

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.

Here is a juicy exchange— ignored by the mainstream media—featuring Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano getting hammered at a congressional oversight hearing for being clueless about two critical national security breaches.

For those who thought Napolitano’s delusional Mexican border assessment (“as secure as it has ever been”) was scary, consider these latest lapses from the presidential cabinet official charged with protecting the nation from terrorism. She had no idea that an Egyptian Islamic terrorist recently obtained a visa and met with top White House and State Department officials or that a Muslim member of her staff (Mohamed Elibiary) leaked classified information to a reporter.

At least that’s what she claimed during a recent Homeland Security Oversight hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee. Warning; the video of Napolitano’s testimony, posted on the official House website of the Texas congressman doing the grilling, is painful to watch. Not only does she get clobbered, Madam Secretary looks a bit like a deer in headlights, eyes beaming as she struggles to answer hard-hitting questions that shed a very disturbing light on her job performance.

Once you get over the anger of Napolitano’s incompetence, fear may set it since the country’s security essentially rides on her shoulders. Testifying before the committee, the former Arizona governor claimed to know nothing about the U.S. granting visas to Hani Nour Eldin, a member of Gamaa Islamiya, an Egyptian Islamic group that’s been officially designated a terrorist organization by her own government. One mainstream newspaper called it a “political fiasco” that should have raised a red flag and banned Eldin from entering the United States, let alone White House and State Department meetings.

Napolitano also dodged questions about another shameful incident involving Elibiary, a one-time member of the Texas Department of Public Safety Advisory Board that serves on her Homeland Security Advisory Council. Last year Elibiary leaked highly sensitive intelligence documents marked “For Official Use Only” to a media outlet, according to an investigative news report. The media outlet reportedly declined to do the story which was supposed to expose the department’s promotion of “Islamophobia.”

President Obama’s controversial plan to spare nearly 1 million young illegal immigrants from deportation has received lots of media attention, but most Americans may not realize the administration is also working behind the scenes granting stealth amnesty to many more undocumented aliens.

It’s bad enough that the commander-in-chief has blown off Congress by giving “young people brought to the United States through no fault of their own as children” a chance at U.S. citizenship. Except for those who live under a rock, practically everyone has been exposed to some sort of news coverage involving the heavily promoted amnesty for young illegals.

There was a Rose Garden press conference and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a bilingual announcement explaining the “deferred action process” for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as young children. They will receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. U.S. immigration laws are not designed to “remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

There won’t be any formal announcements or White House press conferences about the secret amnesty however, but it’s in full force. Just take a look at the latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures released by a nonprofit university group dedicated to researching the U.S. government. The nonpartisan New York-based data research center, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), provides detailed information about the operation of hundreds of government agencies. Immigration is one of many areas it researches.

As of the end of May, 4,585 deportation cases were closed under a special ICE program created last summer to conduct “an unprecedented review of all immigration cases pending in the immigration courts and incoming cases.” That’s Obama DHS code for backdoor amnesty. By early this year, the plan was underway with a record amount of illegal immigrants spared from deportation and a huge increase in the number of those allowed to remain in the United States. TRAC provided those figures as well back in February.  

The number continues rising, according to TRAC’s latest findings. The amount of pending deportations canceled through “prosecutorial discretion” nearly doubled from the previous quarter with the Los Angeles Immigration Court leading the nation with the largest number of closures (534) under this special amnesty initiative. Denver was second with 401 and San Francisco third with 387. Here is a chart with a breakdown by location.

These Homeland Security figures aren’t easy to obtain for a group that’s become a rather painful thorn for the administration. After engaging in a fierce legal battle with ICE over records involving immigration enforcement, TRAC finally obtained them and earlier this year made them public. The records show that ICE repeatedly lied to Congress, the American people and the media by drastically increasing the number of individuals that have been apprehended, deported or detained.

Nearly a decade after Congress passed a crucial security measure to prevent a repeat of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Obama Administration finally plans to implement the law next year after much stalling.

Known as the Real ID Act, the national identification measure was enacted in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to verify the authenticity of every driver’s license applicant. It forces states to require that documents—such as a birth certificate or passport—submitted to get the card are legitimate and that the applicant is in the United States legally.

This goal is to establish a much-needed standardized national driver’s license system that will be less prone to fraud and will prevent terrorists from abusing it as did several of the 9/11 hijackers. New Mexico and Washington State still allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses and Utah offers them a special driving privilege card that can’t be used as official government identification.

The Real ID Act would kill those little deals. Under the measure a newly created federal database will link all licensing data that must be checked before states issue new cards. Residents of states that don’t comply with the law will be greatly inconvenienced because their driver’s licenses will not be accepted as proof of identification at airports, federal buildings or when applying for any sort of federal benefits.

Open borders groups have fought the measure, asserting that it violates civil liberties and privacy. The real issue however, is that once the law is enforced only legal residents will be allowed to get valid driver’s licenses. Caving into the powerful immigrant rights coalition, Obama Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delayed implementing the Real ID Act in late 2009, claiming that it would inconvenience holiday travelers.

This week a top Homeland Security official told a congressional subcommittee on terrorism, technology and security that there will be no more delays in the implementation of the Real ID Act. That means the law will finally take effect in January of 2013, the last of several extensions granted to states by the agency.

Seven states have done little or nothing to comply with the new rules, according to a nonprofit crime prevention group that keeps track of the Real ID Act. The group was among the first to report on this week’s congressional hearing in which DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman confirmed the agency “has no plan to extend” the latest deadline for state compliance.












Judicial Watch uncovered documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that detail a two-day meeting on January 27 and 28, 2010, between DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian “community leaders.” Several of the individuals and organizations represented had controversial radical ties including the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbollah, Hamas, and others.

While the nation’s Homeland Security secretary repeatedly assures Americans that the southern border is more secure than ever, a separate U.S. government agency has quietly issued an alarming report warning of “recent violent attacks and persistent security concerns” in the area.It’s like the Abbot and Costello version of government, where one agency can’t even coordinate with another to provide the country with a consistent story. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims the Mexican border region is “as secure as it has ever been.” In fact, she embarked on a publicity tour to the area, using sound-bite opportunities to specifically deny that it’s infested with drug-cartel violence that often spills into the U.S.It’s all a mistaken “perception” because the area is in fact a “secure and prosperous” region, according to Napolitano. During a trip to El Paso Texas a few months ago, she claimed that “misinformation about safety” is negatively impacting border communities by driving visitors away and hurting local business. She proceeded to say that “some of America’s safest communities are in the southwest border region.” The media was invited to tag along and Madame Secretary’s proclamations appeared in newscasts worldwide.No such promotion of what appears to be a more accurate assessment, issued this week by the State Department, of the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border. Unlike Napolitano’s rose-colored glasses version, it mentions a “dramatic increase in violence” and nearly 30,000 narcotics-related murders in the last few years. The State Department report bluntly says that “the security situation along the Texas border has changed markedly from a year ago.”The culprits are sophisticated and heavily armed drug cartels competing with each other for trafficking routes into the U.S. In fact, a war between two notorious cartels has led to a “dramatic increase in violence” in two northern border regions, according to the State Department report issued this week by the agency’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Large-scale gun battles often occur in broad daylight on streets and other public venues and U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area, according to the OSAC assessment.Using the term “narcoterrorism,” it goes on to say that “continued concerns regarding road safety along the Mexican border have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area.” Local authorities aren’t helping because “police corruption and police involvement in criminal activity continue to be a problem in Mexico.”As a result the violence is increasingly flowing north, even as the nation’s top Homeland Security official denies it. Just last summer a myriad of bullets fired into El Paso, striking City Hall and a public university building. The local sheriff said the gun battles are breaking out everywhere but his hands are tied because he’s legally forbidden from intervening in another country’s war. The disturbing incident inspired Texas’s Attorney General to send President Obama a letter saying his state is under constant assault from illegal activity threatening a porous border.

State and county officials who think they can drop out of a mandatory federal program that checks the immigration status of local arrestees have been misled by the Department of Homeland Security’s ambiguous orders.At least that’s the explanation offered by the agency’s beleaguered leader, Janet Napolitano, who finally clarified the matter to a growing number of local officials trying to get out of theSecure Communities program. Launched a few years ago, the initiative requires local authorities to check the fingerprints of arrestees against a federal database. The idea is to deport dangerous criminals, many of whom have fallen through the cracks over the years.But some local leaders refuse to participate in Secure Communities, mainly to protect illegal immigrants who they assert contribute to society. California has even created legislation to let any municipality in the state opt out of Secure Communities and Maryland’s MontgomeryCounty is on the verge of doing the same thing. These sorts of efforts have been going on for months as Napolitano, the Obama official in charge of protecting the nation’s safety, watched from the sidelines.This week she finally spoke out after a federal lawmaker accused the Department of Homeland Security of lying to counties and states by telling them that participating in Secure Communities was optional. Calling the agency’s actions “dissembling and deceiving,” theCalifornia congresswoman has ordered an investigation. If Napolitano knew about the lies, “something has to be done about her,” according to the congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren.Napolitano fired back, acknowledging that there has been “confusion” over the matter and that communications from her agency were “subject to misinterpretation.” However, Madame Secretary made clear that local governments cannot “exclude themselves” from participating in Secure Communities.

Violence along the Mexican border is merely a mistaken “perception” because the area is better now than it ever has been thanks to the Obama Administration’s commitment to “fostering a secure and prosperous” region.So says Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano who is beginning to sound like a desperate salesperson pushing a cheap product no one believes in. Napolitano’s latest pitch came this week at a port of entry in El Paso called theBridge of the Americas. Joined by a group of local business leaders and politicians, Napolitano jubilantly declared that the area is safe and “open for business.”Unfortunately, “misinformation about safety” is negatively impacting border communities by driving visitors away and hurting local businesses, Napolitano says. None of this is true, according to Madame Secretary who assures that “some ofAmerica’s safest communities are in the Southwest border region…” In fact, border city crime rates have remained steady or dropped over the past decade, Napolitano points out.The reality is that Mexican drug-cartel violence has reached epic proportions and routinely spills into the very towns Napolitano promotes as “America’s safest communities.” Federal agents have come under siege by heavily armed drug smugglers and local media has exposed record levels in crimes associated with illicit narcotics operations. In fact, more than 13,000 people were murdered across Mexicolast year in disturbing and cruel ways not previously seen.Ironically, Mexico’s most violent region (Ciudad Juarez) borders El Paso, the very place Napolitano chose to deliver this week’s rosy assessment. Last fall a myriad of bullets fired into El Paso, striking City Hall and a public university building. The local sheriff says the gun battles are breaking out everywhere but his hands are tied because he’s legally forbidden from intervening in another country’s war. The disturbing incident inspired Texas’s Attorney General to send President Obama aletter saying his state is under constant assault from illegal activity threatening a porous border.About a month later, amid escalating violence, Napolitano declared that the Mexican border “is as secure as it has ever been.” The famous words, ridiculed in the press worldwide, came days after U.S. Border Patrol agents engaged in a violent gunshot battle with Mexican drug smugglers along the Rio Grande in Texas. The federal officers came under siege during a bust that netted half a ton of U.S.-bound marijuana.

Sign Up for Updates!