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October 2, 2009
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
JW Sues DHS for Documents on “Reforms” to 287(g)
Local communities across the country are taking advantage of a federal program, called 287(g), to train law enforcement officers in illegal immigration enforcement techniques. And it’s working. These newly trained police officers are shutting down illegal alien crime and helping to deport illegal alien criminals out of the country.
What is the Obama administration’s response to the success of this program? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano decided to implement “reforms” to weaken it as part of her comprehensive “review” of all border security policies. Judicial Watch, of course, wants to know everything about how and why this incomprehensible decision was made, which is why we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week.
Here’s what we’re after:
- The new standardized Memorandum of Agreement used to enter into 287(g) partnerships, as announced by Secretary Napolitano on July 10, 2009, as well as any documents containing information on the development of the agreement;
- All new 287(g) agreements entered into with law enforcement agencies;
- All documents concerning the decision to standardize the Memorandum of Agreement and/or create new 287(g) agreements;
- Media and congressional notification plans concerning 287(g);
- And all email correspondence concerning the new 287(g) agreement between Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Border Security “Czar” Alan Bersin, and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz, among other government officials.
We filed our original FOIA request on July 20. The DHS acknowledged receipt of the request on July 30 and then granted itself extra time to process it. (We see this quite a bit with our FOIA requests — the federal government simply ignores the statutory 20-day response window and allocates more time for processing.) However, DHS has not abided by its own extended deadline and has not provided Judicial Watch with a date certain when it will provide responsive documents or demonstrate that responsive records are exempt from production.
As you may recall from previous installments in this space, law enforcement officers have indicated that 287(g) has helped them to significantly reduce crime rates. And, thanks to Judicial Watch’s public education efforts highlighting the program, at least 67 local law enforcement agencies currently take advantage of 287(g), up from 27 in 2006.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the program has identified more than 70,000 individuals suspected of being in the country illegally since January 2006. Let me give you one example:
- In Alabama, through 287(g), troopers identified and arrested, among others, a Laotian citizen determined to be a registered sex offender and a previously deported Mexican citizen who was originally convicted of drug trafficking. If not for 287(g), this is the type of illegal alien criminal who might still be walking the streets. (Click here to read more of these success stories.)
However, despite the fact that 287(g) is clearly working, the Obama administration seems intent on undermining the program. Arizona’s Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio is a particular target of this “reform.” Because of his successful and comprehensive implementation of 287 (g), “America’s Toughest Sherriff” has been the target of attacks by the usual pro-illegal alien suspects, such as the ACLU and so-called Hispanic rights groups. Leftists in the Obama Justice Department also initiated a “civil rights” investigation that seems like straight-up intimidation and harassment.
The vast majority of Americans want federal immigration laws enforced. Local law enforcement officers can contribute to this process and they have every legal right to do so. You can be sure that 287(g) is under attack because Obama appointees have an “amnesty” agenda at odds with enforcing the law. No wonder we’ve had such a difficult time getting these documents.
Bill Clinton Invokes Ridiculous “Right Wing Conspiracy” Claim
There they go again. Last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Bill Clinton invoked the infamous (and ridiculous) “right wing conspiracy” claim first issued by his wife back in 1998. Here’s the exchange, courtesy of Fox News:
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Your wife famously talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy targeting you. Did you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama? Is it still there?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Oh, you bet. Sure, it is. It’s not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically but it’s as virulent as it was. I mean they’re saying things about him, you know, it’s like when they accused me of murder.
Actually, as you may recall, it was not the allegation of murder that precipitated the first bogus “right wing conspiracy” claim. No, it was the charge that Bill Clinton had a sexual relationship with “that woman” Monica Lewinsky. Remember Hillary Clinton’s response to the Lewinsky scandal when questioned by the “Today Show’s” Matt Lauer in January 1998?
This is—the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.
So think about this for just a second. Bill Clinton just invoked the “vast right wing conspiracy” claim first used to defend against the charge that he had an illicit sexual relationship with Lewinsky and lied about it – a charge which turned out to be completely, 100% true! So where was the conspiracy? It was a fantasy then. And it’s a fantasy now.
This right-wing conspiracy canard is right up there with the “9/11 truthers” in terms of credibility.
All of this is simply part of the Left’s playbook. They cannot defend their policies on a rational level. They cannot sell the American people on their agenda. So their only hope is to demonize the opposition.
In just the last six months, you have the Department of Homeland Security issuing a report attacking conservatives entitled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic And Political Climate Fueling Resurgence In Radicalization And Recruitment.” Then you have Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid labeling conservatives who oppose Obama’s national healthcare plan “evil mongers,” while House Speaker Pelosi calls them “Un-American.” And now you have Bill Clinton running around claiming the “vast right wing conspiracy” is out to get President Obama (just as it did him).
There was no conspiracy to get then-President Clinton. Many Americans simply found Clinton’s behavior reprehensible and wanted him to be held accountable. And there is no conspiracy against President Obama. The American people are vehemently opposed to his radical expansion of government. They are expressing their dissatisfaction using their constitutionally-protected rights to petition their government, to free speech and assembly.
The irony, of course, is that it was the Clintons and their cronies in the White House who conspired to target and destroy anyone and everyone who opposed their policies or personal corruption. I know this because Judicial Watch represented a number of their victims. We’ve also seen some of these same tendencies in the Obama administration, as evidenced by the president’s attempts to turn his supporters into a legion of snitches — collecting information on people who express opposition to nationalized healthcare (and then suppressing their free speech rights).
I warn you – Bill Clinton’s resurrection of the “conspiracy” claim is bad news if Obama begins to mimic more of Clinton’s governing ways. Will we now see private investigators working for the president — as Clinton had? IRS audits of Obama opposition? Government-funded smear campaigns? And worse?
Judicial Watch Files Two New FOIA Lawsuits to Obtain Information on ACORN Scandals
This week Judicial Watch pushed ahead with its aggressive investigation of ACORN, filling two new FOIA lawsuits on Monday.
We filed the first against the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). And it involves monies allegedly embezzled by Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke.
The New York Times has reported that, overall, Dale Rathke allegedly embezzled $948,607.50 in 1999 and 2000. According to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a portion of these funds, $215,000, allegedly came in the form of a “loan.” Apparently, the manner in which this “loan” was handled and concealed by ACORN internally may have violated the Employee Income Retirement Security Act (ERISA). (I can’t go into all of the details here, but definitely check out the congressional report for information about this scandal and many others involving ACORN.)
We filed our FOIA request on August 4th and this is what we’re seeking: “All records concerning the following entities’ misconduct and/or violations of laws and/or policies, including but not limited to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (‘ERISA’): Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (‘ACORN’), ACORN Housing, Citizen’s Consulting, Inc., Citizen’s Services, Inc., Communities Voting Together, Project Vote, Services Employees International Union (SEIU), SEIU Local 100, SEIU Local 880.”
No documents have been produced to date.
The second lawsuit was filed against the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which handles the programs and paperwork for national government grants, including funds distributed under the AmeriCorps umbrella.
Judicial Watch had previously uncovered documents indicating that ACORN’s sister organization (ACORN Housing) was no longer eligible for federal funds due to previous abuses involving an AmeriCorps grant. According to internal CNCS correspondence:
“ACORN Housing, an affiliate of ACORN was funded by CNCS in 1994/1995. ACORN Housing was accused of using the funds for protests…Following an issuance of subpoenas by CNS’s Inspector General, CNS and ACORN Housing agreed to stop the AmeriCorps grant. CNCS later recovered more than $16,000 of funds that were improperly spent.”
We wanted to find out more about these abuses and any related investigations so we filed a FOIA request on July 28th. Here’s what we’re after:
- All documents concerning the Association of Community Organizers for Reform (ACORN), and/or ACORN Housing
- All documents concerning ACORN Housing and misconduct/violation of grant stipulations.
- All documents concerning [the Corporation for National & Community Service]‘s investigation of ACORN Housing.
- All audit reports of ACORN Housing Corporation, including but not limited to Audit Report 95-17 and Audit Report 96-21.
Again, no documents have been produced.
This has been a tough run for ACORN and deservedly so. Over the last several weeks, the U.S. Senate has voted to deny ACORN access to housing funds, while the House of Representatives voted to deny ACORN all federal funds. The U.S. Census Bureau, meanwhile, has severed its partnership with the organization related to the 2010 U.S. Census. The IRS also just severed a program relationship with ACORN. These actions were taken after videos surfaced depicting ACORN workers attempting to advise undercover journalists on how to evade tax, immigration and child prostitution laws.
It might just get a whole lot worse.
What we have learned about ACORN in just the last few weeks has been shocking, but I suspect it is only the tip of the iceberg. Too bad the Obama administration has no intention of keeping its promises on transparency. The administration’s “stonewall” approach on releasing ACORN documents makes it much more difficult to get the truth about any abuse of tax monies to the American people.
Until next week…
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