Judicial Watch • Obama

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In an apparent effort to justify giving leftist groups tens of millions of dollars to provide low-income populations and minorities with “housing counseling,” the Obama Administration has released two in-depth studies that conclude the government-funded program is the best thing since sliced bread.

Furthermore, Uncle Sam must keep doling out the cash for this noble cause, according to the government’s own findings. This seems to be a response to coming under fire for pouring huge sums of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of leftwing community groups that help minorities seeking a good home or struggling to keep one on the verge of foreclosure. In the last few months alone, the nonprofits have received $42 million.

Among them are hundreds of national, regional and local organizations like the powerful open borders group with close ties to the president, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Earlier this year the NCLR, whose federal funding has skyrocketed since one of its top officials got a job on the Obama White House, got nearly $2 million to help combat predatory lending, train poor Latinos about financial literacy and help them become homeowners.

The National Community Reinvestment Corporation, a famously liberal activist group that seeks to eliminate “discrimination” in housing and mortgage lending, and the equally leftist National Urban League, which advocates for social justice and claims voter identification laws are racist also got a chunk of change this year. The first group received $2.5 million from Uncle Sam and the second got $1.05 million.

The money couldn’t go to a better cause, according to a pair of studies financed by American taxpayers to justify the waste. The first is documented in a 197-page report titled “Foreclosure Counseling Outcome Study” and the second in a 91-page “Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcome Study.” Nearly 70% of those who received housing counseling were able to avoid foreclosure, according to the first report and pre-purchase counseling really helped a “diverse group of low- to moderate-income individuals obtain useful information” that led to home ownership.

In short, “housing counseling significantly improved the likelihood homeowners remained in their homes” according to a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) press release announcing the reports this month. The announcement is appropriately titled “HUD Studies Show Housing Counseling Helps Families Prepare for Home Ownership and Keep the Homes They Have.”

The key phrase comes via HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, Raphael Bostic: “These two studies underscore the need to continue supporting housing counseling programs across this country, especially during this period when families need these services the most.” He continues: “The evidence is clear, with a little investment on the front end, we can go a long way toward improving the chances families will buy a home they can afford and sustain their homes in the long run.”

The latest government figures reveal that an astonishing number of people are collecting public benefits such as food stamps and disability checks, revealing an alarming trend of dependence on government rather than self-sufficiency associated with the American dream.

A record 5.4 million workers have applied for federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to a news report that cites recent government figures. This is straining already-stretched government finances while posing a long-term economic threat by creating an ever-growing pool of permanently dependent working-age Americans, the report says.

Since the recession supposedly ended in mid 2009, the number of people who have applied for disability benefits is double the job growth figure, according the report which includes an informative chart.  In just the first four months of this year, 539,000 joined the disability rolls and more than 725,000 applied for the federal benefit. That means nearly 11 million people are on disability, according to the Social Security Administration.

Also this week, government figures reveal that a record number are getting food stamps and the figure will keep rising. This is not surprising since the Obama Administration has promoted the program like there’s no tomorrow in an effort to eradicate “food insecure households.” In fact, the administration has spent millions of dollars to recruit even more food-stamp recipients and has doled out hefty cash rewards to states that sign up the most people. One state even bragged about a $5 million performance bonus it got from the feds for its “swift processing of applications.”

This week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reveals that 45 million people—one out of every seven U.S. residents—got food stamps in 2011, a whopping 70% increase from 2007. This represents a cost of $72 billion for U.S. taxpayers, which is a substantial increase from $30 billion four years earlier. For at least the next two years the food-stamp rolls will get even bigger, according the CBO, which studies economic and budgetary issues for Congress. 

This undoubtedly leaves the out-of-control welfare program vulnerable to fraud and corruption. Just last month the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that allocates food stamps, published a scathing report detailing how many recipients use their benefits to buy drugs, weapons and other contraband from unscrupulous vendors. Some trade food stamps for reduced amounts of cash, according to USDA watchdog.


“There is a chance…that the appointment would be invalidated by a court.” 

Cordray Told Staff His Short Stint “should give to each one of us…a fierce urgency to accomplish the work we are doing together.” 

(Washington, DC) –Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that indicate the agency’s director, Richard Cordray, doubted the constitutionality of his own appointment. On January 4, 2012, President Obama announced that he was using a “recess appointment” to install Corday as head of CFPB even though the U.S. Senate was in session and, therefore, retained its constitutionally mandated “advise and consent” role for all presidential appointments. Cordray was then sworn in on January 24, 2012.

Judicial Watch obtained 222 pages of records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Some of these documents reveal that Cordray believed that his appointment could be invalidated by a court:

  • In his February 6, 2012, “Weekly Message,” to the CFPB staff, Richard Cordray acknowledged that his appointment as the agency’s director without Senate approval was vulnerable to legal challenge: “There is a chance (a minor chance in my view, though everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion) that the appointment would be invalidated by a court.”
  • In the same February 6, 2012, message Cordray also stated, “the fact that this appointment is for two years (and in some conceivable circumstances it could be shorter) does matter in one important respect…This time period should give to each one of us, and not only me, a fierce urgency to accomplish the work we are doing together.”

When Barack Obama announced his decision to install Cordray as head of the CFPB, the president called the move a “recess appointment.”  However, at the time, Congress was still in session. Article I, Section 5, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution provides that: “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days ….”  To prevent any recess appointment, the Republican-controlled House refused to consent to Senate adjournment, resulting in the Senate’s coming into session every three days.

“Many have doubts about the constitutionality of Richard Cordray’s appointment.  Now we know those doubts are shared by Cordray himself.  These astonishing documents provide further evidence that Obama’s recess appointment of Cordray was an abuse of office,” stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president.

In its quest to implement stealth amnesty, the Obama Administration is working behind the scenes to halt the deportation of certain illegal immigrants by granting them “unlawful presence waivers.”

The new measure would apply to illegal aliens who are relatives of American citizens. Here is how it would work, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement posted in today’s Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government; the agency will grant “unlawful presence waivers” to illegal aliens who can prove they have a relative that’s a U.S. citizen.

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Currently such aliens must return to their native country and request a waiver of inadmissibility in an existing overseas immigrant visa process. In other words, they must enter the U.S. legally as thousands of foreigners do on a yearly basis. Besides the obvious security issues, changing this would be like rewarding bad behavior in a child. It doesn’t make sense. 

But the system often causes U.S. citizens to be separated for extended periods from their immediate relatives,” according to the DHS. The proposed changes, first announced in January, will significantly reduce the length of time U.S. citizens are separated from their loved ones while required to remain outside the United States during the current visa processing system.

The administration also claims that relaxing the rule will also “create efficiencies for both the U.S. government and most applicants.” How exactly is not listed in the Federal Register announcement, which gives the public 60 days to comment. That’s only a formality since the DHS has indicated that the change is pretty much a done deal.

This appears to be part of the Obama Administration’s bigger plan to blow off Congress by using its executive powers to grant illegal immigrants backdoor amnesty. The plan has been in the works for years and 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 said the government bounced their clients’ deportation even when expulsion was virtually guaranteed.

In late 2011 a mainstream newspaper obtained internal Homeland Security documents outlining “sweeping changes” in immigration enforcement that halt the deportation of illegal aliens with no criminal records. This also includes a nationwide “training program” to assure that enforcement agents and prosecuting attorneys don’t remove illegal immigrants who haven’t been convicted of crimes. 

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. Last spring JW sued DHS to obtain information because the agency ignored a federal public records request that dates back to July 2010.

Throughout the country, federal and local governments are going out of their way to accommodate illegal immigrants by offering them rights, privileges and costly perks never before available to those who violate the law.

In New York City for instance, officials have created a special scholarship fund specifically for undocumented aliens who want to attend college but don’t qualify for publicly-funded aid because they live in the U.S. illegally. The unique program was launched because state and federal lawmakers haven’t taken appropriate action to help illegal aliens. In New York state proposals to make government financial aid available for illegal aliens are currently pending in the legislature.

A couple thousand miles away in Texas the feds have opened a rather innovative, multi-million-dollar “detention” facility for illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. It’s more like a taxpayer-funded resort with scenic landscaping, a salad bar, library, internet access, cable television, indoor gym, soccer fields and basketball courts. Unarmed “resident advisors” patrol the facility in civilian clothes instead of armed guards.   

The new center cost U.S. taxpayers $32 million, according to a recent newspaper report, and houses 608. It sits on 29 acres of what was once farmland and was designed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to give detainees more freedom. It’s part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to reform the immigration detention system so that it’s more humane. Two similar centers are in the works in south Florida and northeastern Illinois. 

Earlier this month the administration issued new federal detention standards offering arrestees awaiting deportation a number of outrageous perks, including female hormone treatments for transgender men, abortions for women and “ethnically diverse” diet options. The “revised standards” will also improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints and offer detainees with limited English proficiency translators.

Illegal immigrants will also receive generous and ethnically diverse options for a “nutritionally balanced diet,” an increase in visitation and better recreation programs and facilities. For instance, undocumented aliens in U.S. custody will now have access to a variety of exercise equipment, mandatory outdoor time in natural light and recreational options such as soccer, volleyball and basketball. Board games and television will be available as “sedentary activities.”

A Texas congressman who chairs the House Judiciary Committee says the new ICE detention manual sounds like a “hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.” In a written statement posted on the committee’s website, the lawmaker, Lamar Smith, points out that the revised standards dramatically expand privileges and resources to illegal immigrants in federal custody “far and beyond” what’s required by law.       

In Arizona open borders advocates are designing a cell phone application to help illegal aliens who get arrested under the state’s new immigration control laws. It’s not clear if the app will receive any public funding, but the Latino rights group (Respect Respeto) behind it is affiliated with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) which annually rakes in millions of taxpayer dollars. In fact, the NCLR’s federal funding has skyrocketed since one of its top officials got a job in the Obama White House.    



While the Obama Administration promotes food stamps like there’s no tomorrow, the rolls are already higher than ever and so is the sort of fraud and corruption that often accompanies an out-of-control government program.

A record 46.3 million people—including some illegal immigrants—get taxpayer-funded food stamps at an annual cost of $76 billion, according to the agency that distributes the welfare benefit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This represents an increase of more than 16 million over the previous year, according to USDA figures. That’s because the administration is on a mission to eradicate “food insecure households.”

The effort includes a multi-million-dollar federal initiative to recruit even more food-stamp participants and hefty cash rewards for states that sign up the most people. A few months ago Oregon officials bragged that the USDA gave the state $5 million in “performance bonuses” for ensuring that residents eligible for food benefits receive them and for its “swift processing of applications.”

As if that weren’t enraging enough, this week the USDA Inspector General, the agency’s watchdog, revealed that many food-stamp recipients use their welfare benefit to buy drugs, weapons and other contraband from unscrupulous vendors. Some trade food stamps for reduced amounts of cash, according to USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong.

Fong was testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. She told the panel that in the last five years 779 probes have resulted in 1,356 indictments, 944 convictions and 792 sanctions against individuals and businesses that have cheated the system. The fraud has cost taxpayers nearly $200 million, Fong said.

The inspector general provided lawmakers with a number of examples. Among them is an illegal immigrant store owner in Connecticut who got deported after being convicted of food-stamp trafficking. He reentered the U.S. to open several stores using fake names. In Florida a group of criminals defrauded the USDA welfare program to the tune of $6.2 million, Fong said.    

Additionally, thousands of people who are not eligible for food stamps are getting them by lying or using the social security number of dead individuals. In a check of just five states, the IG found that 8,594 recipients were receiving “improper payments.” In one unnamed state alone, Fong said the ineligible collectors are getting about $1.1 million each month.

The IG pointed out that, when this sort of fraud occurs, “families do not receive the intended nutritional assistance and retailers profit at the expense of the American public.” It also does nothing to help meet the president’s goal of eradicating “food insecure households.”

 

While it blows hundreds of millions of dollars on wasteful “stimulus” projects and the expansion of costly entitlement benefits, the Obama Administration is eliminating a crucial FBI division that counters gang violence.  

This could not have come at a worse time considering gang violence in the United States is at an all-time high. In fact, the latest annual gang threat assessment issued by the agency—National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC)—on the chopping block is downright alarming. It says that gangs are responsible for nearly half of all violent crimes in most parts of the country and up to 90% in many jurisdictions. That’s because there are over 33,000 active gangs in the U.S. with some 1.4 million members, according to the NGIC.

To help curb the growth of gangs and related criminal activity, Congress directed the FBI to establish the NGIC in 2005. It’s a multi-agency operation that combines the efforts of several federal and local agencies working together to tackle a crisis. According to its website, the NGIC integrates gang intelligence from across federal, state and local law enforcement on the growth, migration, criminal activity and association of gangs that pose a significant threat to the nation.

Why, then, would FBI Chief Robert Mueller eliminate the NGIC? A conservative news website uncovered Muller’s plan because a congressman grilled him about it at a House Appropriations Committee hearing this week. That’s where government agency heads go for money each year. It turns out that the FBI’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal calls for the elimination of the NGIC, which has more than a dozen positions and an annual budget of nearly $8 million.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the billions that have been wasted under the president’s fraud-infested $787 billion stimulus, which he vowed would jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work. Instead, much of the cash has gone to unthinkable things like a genitalia-washing program for uncircumcised African men, international ant research and a Pennsylvania “tunnel to nowhere.” Click here to read Judicial Watch’s stimulus fraud reporting.

Bless the FBI for trying to save taxpayers money. In its 2013 budget proposal the bureau assures that nixing the NGIC won’t hinder its ability to counter the threat posed to the U.S. by criminal gangs. The congressman challenging the NGIC’s closure, Frank Wolf of Virginia, struck back with a rather interesting statement indicating that the White House was behind the plan.

“We received a revised version of your testimony late yesterday that the OMB [the White House’s Office of Management and Budget] inserted language making the absurd claim that the elimination of the National Gang Intelligence Center – $7.8 million and 15 positions – will not hinder the FBI’s ability to perform the analytical work done there,” Wolf said to the FBI chief.

Could this be part of a bigger Obama plan to pander to Latinos in an effort to earn that crucial Hispanic vote in the upcoming election? After all, it’s been well documented that most violent gangbangers in the U.S. are, either Hispanic or illegal immigrants.

In a never-ending mission to accommodate illegal immigrants, the U.S. government has issued new federal detention standards offering arrestees a number of outrageous perks, including female hormone treatments for transgender men, abortions for women and “ethnically diverse” diet options.

It’s all part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to reform the immigration detention system so that its more humane, according to the Homeland Security agency—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—responsible for the revamping. The “revised standards” will also improve medical and mental health services, increase access to legal services and religious opportunities, improve the process for reporting and responding to complaints and offer detainees with limited English proficiency translators.

Illegal immigrants will also receive generous and ethnically diverse options for a “nutritionally balanced diet,” an increase in visitation and better recreation programs and facilities. For instance, undocumented aliens in U.S. custody will now have access to a variety of exercise equipment, mandatory outdoor time in natural light and recreational options such as soccer, volleyball and basketball. Board games and television will be available as “sedentary activities.”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, says the new ICE detention manual sounds like a “hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.” In a written statement posted on the committee’s website, Smith points out that the revised standards dramatically expand privileges and resources to illegal immigrants in federal custody “far and beyond” what’s required by law.        

“The administration goes beyond common sense to accommodate illegal immigrants and treats them better than citizens in federal custody,” Congressman Smith said. “The new detention manual contains extensive and customized details for each illegal immigrant’s stay, regulating everything from the salad bar to recreational activities to medical care.”

He further points out that illegal immigration already costs American taxpayers billions of dollars each year and this new detention system will only add to the tab. “The Obama administration consistently puts illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of American citizens and taxpayers,” Smith added.

 

 

 

 

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