DECEMBER 05, 2014
Despite all the budgetary pressure impacting vital programs of importance to the American people, the Obama administration apparently feels there’s still plenty of money to go around for illegal aliens. That’s what we learned back on September 9, 2014, when we obtained documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that showed the Obama Administration paid Baptist Children and Family Services (BCFS) $182,129,786 to provide “basic shelter care” to 2,400 “unaccompanied alien children” (UAC) for four months in 2014. The BCFS budget included charges for $104,215,608 for UACs at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and an additional $77,914,178 for UACs at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
These documents were obtained in response to an August 1, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking BCFS applications for funding, correspondence between the HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and BCFS, and correspondence within ACF relating to BCFS. The records we received include the “Budget Information and Project Narrative portions of the BCFS applications funded in calendar 2014” for both the Ft. Sill and the Lackland AFB facilities.
As we have previously reported, there has long been ample evidence the Obama Administration was operating in anticipation of a surge in illegal aliens that it, in fact, clearly instigated. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has said, “The rising crisis at the border is the direct and predictable result of actions taken by President Obama. He and his Administration have announced to the world that they will not enforce America’s immigration laws, and have emphasized in particular that foreign youth will be exempted from these laws. The world has heard the President’s call, and illegal immigrants are pouring across the border in pursuit of his promised amnesty. President Obama is responsible for this calamity ….”
And now, thanks to Judicial Watch’s HHS-BCFS FOIA lawsuit, we have further evidence that this is the case. The start date of BCFS’s contract was October 1, 2013 – a full eight months before the deluge of illegal alien children the US suffered in mid-summer 2014. The project’s end date of September 30, 2016, suggests that the Obama administration anticipates that the deluge will continue until near the end of his presidency.
After analyzing the documents, we also found that the HHS contract with the BCFS stuck the American taxpayer with a stunning tab. You should expect to pay $86,846.34 per illegal alien child at Ft. Sill, for a total to $104,215,608 for 1,200 UACs from June 12 to October 18. Let me ask you: Did you have that kind of money to spend on your children last summer? And yet, there’s more. The bill also included $2,648,800 in compensation for 30 members of the BCFS “Incident Management Team” (IMT), for a total to $88,293 per IMT member for the four-month period.
The $77,914,178 to care for 1,200 children at Lackland AFB amounted to a cost to the taxpayer of $64,928 per illegal alien child from May 18 to September 18. The Lackland bill included $20,000 for a “cable television screen/projector set up” and 20 shower stalls at $1,000 each.
The BCFS application for the Ft. Sill facility also includes the following expenses:
- “BCFS HHS proposed to operate a team of highly qualified professionals as outlined below … Incident Management Team … comprised of 30 members … for a 120 day event” – $2,648,800.
- “[H]otel accommodations 822 staff x $125 hotel rate per night divided by 2 (two staff per room, will share) plus 20 individual rooms will be added – $6,765,000.”
- “Food will be provided by a local catering service at $75 per day for 3 meals and 2 snacks. The meal plan is estimated to provide 1200 UACs and 822 staff at a minimum: $75 x 2022 individuals (staff + youth) x 120 days – $18,198,000.” [EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the USDA, the cost to feed a teenager per week in the U.S. is roughly $71.70 – or approximately $10 per day.]
- “Medical supply expenses include the cost of first aid kits, latex gloves, lice shampoo, pregnancy and urine tests … Total medical service and supply reimbursement is requested in the amount of $1,120,400.”
- “Recreational items will include board games, soccer balls, basket balls, jump ropes, bracelet making kits, yarn, puzzles, arts and crafts, decks of cards, and eye-hand coordination game sets. Reimbursement is requested for $180,000.”
- “Educational items will include … tempera paint, paint markers, paint brushes, easel brushes, art paper … Crayons, multicultural crayons … for $180,000.”
- “Laptop Kits … 100 Kits … 5 Laptops per kit – $500 per kit … $200,000.”
- “VOIP Phone Kits … 80 kits … 10 cell phones per kit with International call capabilities and radio … $160,000.”
The BCFS application for the Lackland AFB facility includes the following, in addition to many of the above:
- “Summary Budget by Object Class … 1200 Emergency Surge Beds, May 18, 2014 – September 18, 2014” – $77,914,178.
- “Utility expenses will include cable television (video screen/projector set up – due to the large dormitory set and configuration to ensure large group seatings can view movies, sports, etc.) and is estimated at $5,000 per month x 4 months – $20,000.”
- “In addition, contact with family members is imperative and part of BCFS’s daily programing in which each client is affording the opportunity to call their families twice every week … 1200 UACs x 2 calls x 20 minutes – 48,000 minutes a week x .75 x 16 weeks – $576,000.”
- “Shower Stalls … Additional show heads required … 20 stalls at $1,000 a piece … $80,000.” [EDITOR’S NOTE: Shower stalls at Home Depot can be purchased for as low as $163.71.]
We have itemized all these expenses here for you to review because it shows the Obama administration spent nearly $200 million of taxpayer funds to provide illegal alien children with the type of extravagant high-tech equipment and lavish benefits many American families cannot afford for their own children. It was the Obama administration’s lawlessness that resulted in an illegal alien surge in the first place that has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in 2014. In response to his new amnesty plan, we can expect tens of billions of dollars more in taxpayer costs for the resulting wave of illegal aliens trying to take advantage of Obama’s unilateral, illegal nullification of our nation’s immigration laws.
And you can be assured that your JW intends to expose and fight this threat to our nation and its taxpayers every step of the way.
By the way, as Judicial Watch considers its legal options against Obama’s lawless amnesty, which is already here, Congress is prepared to capitulate and fund the lawlessness. Senator Sessions discovered that the Obama gang is going to hire at least 1,000 new staff to implement his lawless amnesty. Senator Sessions reported:
The Obama Administration is now opening a new USCIS facility in Crystal City, Virginia, for the purpose of immediately implementing the President’s imperial immigration decree. They are in the process of hiring 1,000 full-time staff to quickly approve applications for the President’s illegal amnesty, which will provide work permits, photo IDs, Social Security, and Medicare to illegal immigrants—all benefits rejected by Congress. This action will mean that American workers, their sons, their daughters, their parents, will now have to compete directly for jobs, wages, and benefits with millions of illegal immigrants.
This facility is a clear symbol of the President’s defiance of the American people, their laws, and their Constitution. He is hiring federal employees to carry out a directive that violates the laws Congress has passed in order to foist on the nation laws Congress has repeatedly refused to pass.
I have little doubt that many Republicans are happy with Obama’s unilateral amnesty and are unwilling to take tough steps to defund his amnesty which, to be clear, changes the law in a tyrannical way and prevent the deportation of virtually every illegal alien. I encourage you to call your members of Congress as often as it takes to convey your thoughts on this issue. The number is 202-224-3121. Congress is happy to be complicit in this lawlessness if they think voters aren’t concerned. As I told Brietbart.com:
Any member of Congress who funds Obama’s lawlessness is complicit in it. Congress has a positive moral obligation to cut off funds for the president’s outlaw immigration policies. Anything short of a funding cut-off may make the Washington establishment happy but is an affront to voters who know better. Approving tax money for illegal amnesty and Obama’s abuse of power while saying you’re against it sounds like a Gruber talking point. That the idea of funding Obama’s amnesty is even being broached makes Republican fulminations against Obama’s unconstitutional actions seem like a joke. But voters won’t be amused.
We are continuing investigations and considering legal challenges no matter what Congress does.
As part of our educational efforts about the rule of law and immigration, you’ll be pleased to know that Senator Sessions will be making a special presentation at our headquarters here in DC on Monday, December 8 at 2:00 pm (ET). If you are in the area, please feel free to attend (but call ahead because we expect a full house). You can view the presentation live on the Internet at www.judicialwatch.org/live.
A highly secretive Obama Justice Department (DOJ) unit known as the Community Relations Service (CRS) played a highly active role in the federal response to the controversy over the police shooting and subsequent riots in Ferguson, Missouri. CRS went in at the behest of the NAACP, and as one might expect from a DOJ with Eric Holder at the helm. Their actions appear to be anything but impartial.
That’s what we learned after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DOJ on August 14, 2014, asking for records “regarding, concerning, or related to the shooting death of Michael Brown” and “records of communication between any official or employee of the Community Relations Service and any other individual or entity regarding the shooting.”
We also asked for information pertaining to travel authorizations, vouchers, and related documents connected with officials or employees of the CRS. The answers came to us two and one-half months after the FOIA request – on October 30, 2014. The DOJ produced documents showing taxpayers were billed $15,000 for travel to send eight CRS agents, including CRS Director Grande Lum and Deputy Director Gilbert Moore. And they revealed the clearly biased role that was played once they were on the ground.
Although the CRS claims to use “impartial mediation practices and conflict resolution procedures,” the documents obtained by Judicial Watch suggest that the unit deployed to Ferguson took an active role in working with those fomenting unrest and demanding the prosecution of police officer Wilson. As indicated by their own activities, the CRS agents were not there to impartially advance the broad public interest. Instead, we learned from the documents that the CRS made every effort to advance a political agenda in tandem in special interests whose only goal was to stir up racial unrest. The CRS was initially set up with narrow, specific purposes in line with upholding civil rights. The idea was for CRS agents to conduct their activities in confidence. But, as demonstrated in Ferguson, their role has been greatly expanded during Obama’s presidency to place them front and center in organizing activities.
The FOIA documents also tell us something about the background of the CRS agents and how they worked to pursue certain policy changes.
The CRS had at least two “Conciliation Specialists,” Darryck Dean and Rita Valenciano, on the ground in Ferguson by the day after the shooting. It is worth noting, for example, that in 2007, Ms. Valenciano, who was then an advocate for illegal alien rights, helped lead an effort to remove Frances Semler from a Kansas City parks board because of Semler’s views against illegal immigration. Ms. Semler, who was appointed to the board because she was a rose gardening enthusiast, ultimately resigned in the face of unrelenting leftist pressure.
According to a Valenciano travel voucher, “The NAACP requested CRS assistance by email and phone.” The shooting occurred on August 9, 2014, and the CRS traveled to Ferguson the next day on August 10, 2014. In addition to meeting with the NAACP, the CRS also met with the chiefs of police of St. Louis County and Ferguson. The evidence here shows that the CRS was comingling its official functions with political activism detached from its central mission.
We also found that CRS was present during at least one of the Ferguson demonstrations. An August 16 expense claim is for “rain ponchos for demonstration site.” August 16, 2014, was a day of terrible rioting in Ferguson. There’s more. Several CRS vouchers state that, immediately after the shooting, CRS personnel spoke with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, who would be responsible for any federal civil rights prosecution of Officer Wilson. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of federal crimes in the Eastern District of Missouri, including crimes relating to terrorism, fraud, public corruption, firearms, narcotics, child exploitation and human trafficking,” the DOJ web site explains.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that CRS agents met with Brown’s family the day after the fatal shooting. On August 20, Attorney General Eric Holder also met with the Brown family telling them that his own encounters with the police had left him “angry and upset” adding, “I am the attorney general of the United States, but I am also a black man.”
On August 29, Dean and Valenciano moderated a “community meeting” with the NAACP that, according to St. Louis Public Radio, “also served as platform to discuss the importance of voting in affecting change.” How is this even germane to the shooting incident?
The CRS and the Justice Department under Eric Holder have made repeated efforts to undermine race-neutral policies by aligning themselves with the far-left agenda of the NAACP. We should point out that the DOJ has yet to comply with Freedom of Information Act law and provide all of the responsive documents about what it is up to in Ferguson. Our exposure of the CRS backs into previous racially charged controversies where Holder’s Justice Department has worked to inflame rather than ameliorate racial tensions.
In July 2013, Judicial Watch released DOJ documents in response to local, state, and federal records’ requests revealing that the CRS was deployed to Sanford, Florida, following the Trayvon Martin shooting. CRS helped organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman. On April 15, 2012, during the height of the Sanford protests, the Orlando Sentinel quoted the Rev. Valarie Houston, pastor of Allen Chapel AME Church, a focal point for protestors, as saying “They were there for us,” after a March 20 meeting with CRS agents.
In Ferguson, as in Sanford, the Obama-Holder CRS clearly took sides and exacerbated tensions, as innocent, law-abiding citizens watched their lives and their life’s work go up in flames.
The Obama/Holder tag team continues to fan the flames. Obama outrageously called “constructive” lawless protests in New York yesterday that resulted in 82 arrests. Holder has likened the police to “occupying forces” and is abusing the DOJ to harass local police forces with federal “civil rights” investigations. In addition to this calumny, the president’s liberal allies in the Congressional Black Caucus slandered our nation’s police this week by implying that unarmed blacks are regularly murdered by policemen.
I understand why liberal revolutionaries like Mr. Holder and the president don’t support the police. And these types of despicable politicians undermine the rule of law when they pretend that representing the “community” means giving credence to “community” concerns that are based on racial hatred and contempt for the rule of law. And many professional liberals don’t like the police because every arrest made in communities destroyed by liberal policies is politically inconvenient. The terrible scourge of crime that impacts economically-distressed black communities is largely the result of corrupt liberal policies that have torn the cords that once held even the poorest of neighborhoods together. And the police must clean up the resulting mess resulting from the liberal social experimentation and corruption. So rather than admit failure, soft-on-crime politicians who corruptly benefit from racial discord attack the police.
Judicial Watch does know that police powers can be abused. Just look at the IRS under President Obama! But this federal takeover that Obama is envisioning of police forces through the land has nothing to do with it. If you want police forces to be accountable, would you rather them be accountable to your local mayor and councilman or to a politician in Washington? Obamacare for local policing is something about which we should be vigilant.
If you are pursuing race-neutral policies without discriminatory intent, you can still be sued in Barack Obama’s America. It’s wrong, immoral, illogical and unconstitutional. Which, of course, makes it par for the course in an administration that has turned the Fourteenth Amendment on its head.
That’s why we have joined forces with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) to file an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the State of Texas’ appeal of a lower court’s bizarre ruling upholding a federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) interpretation that imposes a stiff liability on the state’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The brief was filed on November 24, 2014. At issue is the disparate impact theory of discrimination that makes it possible for race hustlers to advance wild accusations detached from reality. Under this theory, a government agency, corporation, business, or citizen can be held liable for discrimination even if there was no discriminatory intent and no real discrimination occurred.
In the Texas case, on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Inclusive Communities Project sued the state for allocating a disproportionate number of federal low-income housing tax credits to minority neighborhoods. The Supreme Court has twice before granted review on the disparate impact issue, only to have both cases scuttled by controversial pre-hearing settlements clearly orchestrated by the Obama administration. (We did some sleuthing on that corrupt interference with the court processes – an investigation which you can see below.) Hopefully this time around we can have a definitive ruling that ends this very destructive practice.
In our amicus brief, Judicial Watch and AEF argue that the FHA practice violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and could, therefore, have a “corrosive effect” on the nation. Here is how JW attorneys summed up what is at stake:
Amici are concerned that the imposition of liability under the FHA for practices that are both facially neutral and unmotivated by discriminatory intent violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and are further concerned about the corrosive effect of this violation on the nation. Among the harms caused by the Fifth Circuit’s decision are: the further enshrinement of the intellectually impoverished concept of race into the law; the furtherance of a culture of racial and ethnic politics in American public life; and the perpetuation of racial and ethnic resentment and intolerance in American society.
Simply put, the racial grievance industry, with the support of the Obama administration, seeks to divide Americans by income and race with incendiary lawsuits that cannot be substantiated by objective facts. That’s why it’s necessary to challenge, expose and uproot the “disparate impact theory” before it can be imposed by government fiat across the country.
There are other legal points we are looking to advance with the High Court which rely simply on plainly reading the law and asking the courts to keep the temptation to be activist under control.
For instance, the plain language of the FHA only prohibits intentional discrimination, not any resulting “disparate impact.” Our brief notes:
Section 804 of the FHA does nothing more than make it unlawful to “refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin” … The phrase “because of race” conveys the fact that race must be the reason (or at least a reason) for an actor’s prohibited discriminatory conduct … Accordingly, the FHA’s plain language requires intentional discrimination against members of a named class in order for an action to be unlawful. Therefore, the continued use of ‘”disparate impact” liability would render the FHA unconstitutional.
Here’s another problem. Race-conscious regulations such as “disparate impact” must survive what is known as a “strict scrutiny” by the courts. As this link helpfully explains, this means that the government must show a “compelling interest that is narrowly tailored to achieve its goals.” The Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of the FHA as requiring housing market participants to make race-conscious decisions fails the “compelling governmental interest” requirement of strict scrutiny review. As we argue in our brief, its interpretation requires Texas to balance the placement of low income housing units according to the racial composition of various neighborhoods, rather than pursuing a rational policy based only on relevant economic and income data. The Fifth Circuit’s interpretation also fails strict scrutiny review because it is not “narrowly tailored.” Because racial and ethnic categories are social constructs that are inherently vague, ambiguous, arbitrary, reliant on self-identification, and therefore constantly shifting, the mandated use of racial group impact tests under the FHA can never be “narrowly tailored” to advance a compelling government interest.
JW has a long and proud record of combating the Obama administration’s disparate impact policies. On November 2, 2012, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeking documents relating to possible collusion between the Obama administration and the city of St. Paul, MN, in withdrawing a disparate impact appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Judicial Watch separately obtained documents under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, showing that St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing arranged a meeting between the then-chief of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, current Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Mayor Chris Coleman a week before the city’s withdrawal from the case, captioned Magner v. Gallagher. Following Perez’s visit, the city withdrew its case and thanked DOJ and officials at HUD for their involvement.
On September 3, 2013, we filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of the township of Mt. Holly, New Jersey, arguing that the FHA prohibits only disparate treatment, not alleged discriminatory intent. On September 24, we filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against HUD for all records of communications regarding two disparate impact housing discrimination lawsuits, Magner v. Gallagher and the Township of Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens Association. Mount Holly, like Magner, was withdrawn from the Supreme Court docket before arguments could be heard. And on February 3, 2014, Judicial Watch and the Allied Educational Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. District Court urging that court to reject HUD’s racial disparate impact regulations in a lawsuit brought by the American Insurance Association. Three weeks ago, that court agreed and rejected HUD’s regulations.
So there is cause for encouragement. The Obama gang has been desperate to avoid Supreme Court scrutiny of its radical “disparate impact” theories that are consciously racially-divisive. But the day of reckoning for this dangerous policy may have finally arrived for sure.
Until next week …