E-Verify

Activists Win Court Battle on Measure to Restrain Hiring of Illegal Aliens

A challenge was filed last year to ballot language certified by the Oregon attorney general.

The ballot measure, Initiative Petition 52 (2016) (IP 52), will be submitted to Oregon voters soon. If passed, IP 52 would require businesses with five or more employees to confirm that their employees are actually legally eligible to work. The measure was the work-product of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR).

The issue of illegal aliens working in local communities is not a small one for the Beaver State. Recent figures show that around five percent of the state’s workforce is illegal. Unemployment figures for black youth, for example, is as high as 55 percent.

In the ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court (attached below), Justice Rives Kistler writing for the court en banc notes that “Federal immigration law makes it unlawful for ‘a person or other entity *** to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.’”

The Court agreed with OFIR’s President Cynthia Kendoll that the state’s attorney general’s certified ballot language would be both defective and misleading to Oregon voters.

The attorney general, the opinion noted, wrote and certified the ballot language in a way that put too much emphasis on the new conditions proposed for obtaining and maintaining business licenses. Moreover, the Oregon attorney general was found to have failed to communicate the actual effect of the proposed law, i.e., that a potential employee’s eligibility documents will have to be confirmed by E-Verify, a federal website which verifies important information like one’s social security number.

Other states already have verification programs similar to the one being proposed in Oregon.

State efforts to curb employment of illegal aliens was given the green-light in 2011 by the United States Supreme Court when an employee-verification law in Arizona was challenged. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, Hispanic nationalist organizations and the Obama Justice Department, were fighting the effort. The open-borders coalition, which ultimately lost, challenged Arizona’s law as an impermissible regulation of immigration permissibly regulated only by the federal government, the U.S. Congress.

After the Arizona law was initially passed, reports began to surface of fears of a mass exodus of mostly Mexican illegal aliens going back to Mexico, in particular to the Mexican state of Sonora. Sonora is located in Northwest Mexico and shares a border with California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The reverse-flood sparked outrage among Mexican officials who traveled to the Arizona governor’s office to complain that their own labor markets and public resources could not handle the Mexican nationals that were returning. Mexican officials said it would have a devastating effect on the Mexican state.

Average wages in America are estimated to be ten times higher than those in Mexico and this fact has been referred to by experts as one of the “three magnets” for illegal immigration. The other two “magnets” are birthright citizenship and welfare benefits. Financial motivations are unquestionably a driving-force for illegal immigration.

According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute, “Migration from Mexico to the United States is primarily economically motivated. Nominal wage differentials have been hovering for years at about a 10-to-1 ratio, in favor of the United States, for manual and semi-skilled jobs. Moreover, a dynamic U.S. economy led to a strong demand for workers in seasonal agriculture, high-turnover manufacturing, construction, and the service industry. On the Mexican side, there have been enormous economic transformations, but not pronounced enough to absorb the growing working-age population.”

Measures such as E-Verify are viewed not only as important for protecting the living standards of Americans, they are also seen as key to ending social security and ID-fraud, a little-reported but major problem created when illegal aliens try to “pose” as eligible legal workers.

The Social Security Administration has estimated that around 75 percent of illegal “undocumented” aliens have actually obtained social security numbers, mostly by stealing them from U.S. citizens and legal residents. Researchers have found that the large majority of those whose numbers are stolen (mostly by underground gangs) are American children; thus, the theft goes unnoticed for years.

Commenting on the Oregon high court’s decision, OFIR’s co-counsel, Dale Wilcox of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) told Breitbart Texas, “The ballot language written and certified by the attorney general hid the true purpose and effect of the initiative and would have only served to confuse voters.”

IRLI is a D.C.-based immigration-control advocate that helped write Arizona’s E-Verify law.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, IRLI is also fighting efforts by illegal aliens to get drivers licenses. The lawsuit in Oregon involves attempts by illegal aliens to nullify a successful 2014 ballot measure which sought to block efforts by the state legislature and governor to give driver’s cards to illegal aliens.

Wilcox calls this win in the employment verification case a victory for immigration-control advocates and the working people of Oregon.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor in Texas. Follow her on Twitter LanaShadwick2

 

 

So many opportunities to ask questions!

While NumbersUSA gives Sen. Merkley a grade of F for recent years 2013-2016 other Oregon Congressional delegates are not much better.  Please take every opportunity to ask the questions that need answers!

OFIR recommends that you view and print out a copy of your Congressman's voting report to give to them at any upcoming event they may be attending.  Below is Merkley's report card - it's shameful!

https://www.numbersusa.com/content/print/my/congress/1341/printreportcard//

If you’re able to attend a meeting and speak or ask a question of a candidate or member of Congress, please share the information with OFIR at ofir@oregonir.org.

For example:

In 2015 Sen. Merkley voted to continue funding President Obama’s unlawful Executive amnesties to illegal aliens. See details here. Ask him why he supports illegal immigration and illegal immigrants when they are taking jobs from Americans, causing widespread wage depression, and using tax-paid social benefits that should be reserved for U.S. citizens.

Other possible questions:

What are you doing to protect citizens from further harm by radical Jihadists? Persons claiming to be refugees from the Middle East cannot be adequately screened according to the Director of the FBI. A better way to help refugees is to cooperate with the United Nations in maintaining safe areas in countries near to the places of conflict.

An entry-exit system for checking visa holders was authorized for by Congress years ago and is urgently needed. Please make this a priority and work for its implementation immediately. The lack of a system enables open-ended illegal immigration.

Fraud and abuse of work visas is a scandal now, with employers importing foreign workers at lower wages by the thousands, forcing Americans to train them and then dismissing the citizen workers. What have you done to stop this?

Please work for mandatory use of the E-Verify program for all employers, for both new hires and current work forces. The system is accurate. Workers can verify their own Social Security records in the E-Verify program and thus protect their information.

Our country is overpopulated already resulting in severe environmental and social stresses. An annual overall limit on numbers of immigrants is urgently needed. It would be reasonable to set a moratorium on immigration for a temporary period of years and then limit the annual number of immigrants to about 200,000.

You're invited! Senator Merkley to Hold Town Hall in Washington County Saturday, March 12

Alert date: 
2016-03-09
Alert body: 

Senator Merkley will hold a Town Hall for Washington County constituents on Saturday, March 12, in Tualatin. Please attend, if possible, and ask questions or make comments concerning immigration issues.

In his announcement, he says: "I invite all residents to come and discuss what we need to do to strengthen our state and our nation."  This is a great opportunity for you to attend and ask specific immigration related questions.

What: Washington County Town Hall

When:  Saturday, March 12, 2016, 3:00 PM

Where: Tualatin High School, 22300 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin, OR 97062

NumbersUSA gives Sen. Merkley a grade of F for recent years 2013-2016.  We recommend that you view and print out a copy of his voting report to give to him:

https://www.numbersusa.com/content/print/my/congress/1341/printreportcard//

If you are able to attend the meeting and speak or ask a question, please share the information with OFIR at ofir@oregonir.org.

IRLI Wins Oregon Ballot Language Challenge

Alert date: 
2016-03-04
Alert body: 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Oregon Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Kendoll v. Rosenblum in favor of our client Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR). IRLI, along with local counsel Jill Gibson of the Gibson Law Firm, brought a challenge in the Oregon Supreme Court to the biased ballot language certified by the Oregon attorney general for a citizen initiative (Initiative Petition 2016-52 or IP 52) filed by OFIR. IP 52 would require all Oregon employers with five or more employees to use E-Verify to verify with the federal government that every new employee is authorized to work in the United States.

In its decision, the Oregon Supreme Court found that the ballot language certified by the attorney general obfuscates the true purpose and effect of IP 52. The court stated regarding the ballot title, “We agree with petitioner that the caption fails to substantially comply with ORS 250.035(2)(a). Federal immigration law requires that employers review certain documents to ‘establish an employee’s eligibility for employment,’ and it prohibits employers from knowingly hiring unauthorized aliens. Whiting, 131 S Ct at 1974. IP 52, if enacted, would add an additional requirement to that federal law. It would require, as a matter of state law, that employers use a federal website to verify the authenticity of the documents that federal law requires only that they review. That additional requirement is one major effect of the measure. The caption, however, does not highlight that effect.” The court likewise found the questions that will be posed to voters and summary of the law defective and misleading. The court ordered the attorney general to re-draft the ballot language consistent with its decision.

Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI's Executive Director, commented, “The ballot language certified by the attorney general hid the true purpose and effect of IP 52 and would have only served to confuse voters.” Wilcox continued, “We are very pleased that the court rectified this wrong. This is a great victory for Oregonians and the American worker.”

For additional information, contact:

Dale L. Wilcox

202-232-5590

dwilcox@irli.org


 

Former state Rep. Jim Thompson files to run as an Independent

SALEM — Jim Thompson, a former Republican state representative, has filed to run for his old seat as an Independent Party of Oregon candidate.

Thompson served three terms in the house before losing to incumbent Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Dallas, in the 2014 primary....

Nearman positioned himself to the right of Thompson in the 2014 race. This year, he's sponsoring ballot measures to stop illegal immigration by requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify program and making people provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

Nearman is facing a Republican primary challenge...

E-Verify would help assure Oregonians, not illegal immigrants, hold Oregon jobs

This election season, Oregon has seen a textbook example of how leaders of "progressive" organizations take political positions that harm the people they purport to represent.

CAUSA, Oregon's self-proclaimed "immigrant rights organization," and a number of other groups have issued an open letter decrying "anti-immigrant forces . . . proposing statewide ballot measures targeting immigrant families."  I serve on the board of one of those allegedly "anti-immigrant forces" -- Oregonians for Immigration Reform.  And the way the letter says OFIR is "targeting immigrant families" is by spearheading a 2016 initiative to mandate that Oregon employers, via the federal E-Verify system, assure their new hires are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
 
We'll discuss that initiative shortly.  First, let's look at CAUSA and friends' letter.
 
CAUSA believes foreigners here in deliberate violation of U.S. law should enjoy the rights and benefits of legal residents and even U.S. citizens.  In recent years, the group has lobbied for illegal-immigrant "driver cards," taxpayer-funded college aid for illegal-immigrant students, and an end to federal-local partnerships that enforce immigration law -- positions diametrically opposite OFIR's.
 
That CAUSA would attack OFIR and its initiative, then, is no surprise.  The irony is this: Its letter was co-signed by leaders of organizations whose constituents are disproportionately harmed by the presence of illegal immigrants.
 
One signer, for example, is Nikki Fisher of The Bus Project.  This group provides political-engagement opportunities to (among other youths) high-school students.  But does its concern for youths' political opportunities extend as well to their economic opportunities?  
 
Teenagers, experts agree, benefit mightily from early work experience.  But opportunity for that experience is disappearing.  Between 2003 and 2013, Reese Lord of Portland's WorkSystems teen-placement program told the Portland Tribune, summer youth employment fell dramatically -- from 46 percent to 7 percent.  A large part of the reason?  Over that same period, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and other sources estimate, Oregon's illegal-immigrant population roughly doubled -- and, writes the Center for Immigration Studies' Dr. Steven Camarota, "immigrants and teenagers often do the same kind of work."  Indeed, Camarota notes, between 1994 and 2007, "a ten-percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a state's workforce reduced the labor-force participation rate of U.S.-born teenagers by 7.9 percentage points."
 
Another signer is Julia Meier of the Coalition of Communities of Color.  The Coalition claims to represent, among others, black Americans -- who, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, currently suffer an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, almost double the national rate of 5.0 percent.  One critical reason for this: Illegal immigrants now take millions of jobs in occupational fields which historically have employed large numbers of blacks.     

In 2014, for instance, blacks (as per the BLS) comprised 12.1 percent of construction-trades helpers, 14.6 percent of building-maintenance/groundskeeping workers, 13.4 percent of food-preparation workers, 15.3 percent of chefs and head cooks, and 23.5 percent of non-restaurant food servers.  But competing with blacks for employment in these fields are illegal immigrants who, the Pew Research Center has reported, in one recent year comprised 14 percent of workers in construction and extraction, 17 percent in building maintenance/groundskeeping, and 11 percent in food preparation and serving.
 
How does the Coalition of Communities of Color help black Americans by aligning itself with CAUSA, which champions illegal immigrants' "right" to compete with those Americans for the jobs many of them so desperately need?
 
Another signer is Meg Niemi of Service Employees International Union Local 49.  SEIU's members include lower-skilled Americans -- among them housekeepers, custodians and food-service workers -- who for decades have been harmed by the presence of illegal immigrants.
 
In a 2004 study, Harvard professor George Borjas estimated that "between 1980 and 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of . . . natives without a high-school education . . . by 7.4 percent" -- and that half or more of that reduction was due to competition with illegal immigrants.  More recently, Eric A. Ruark and Matthew Graham reported in a FAIR study, even the liberal Center for American Progress has admitted that "reducing the illegal-alien population in the United States by one-third would raise the income of unskilled workers by $400 a year."
 
Now, back to OFIR's E-Verify initiative, which was lambasted by CAUSA et al.  What would that initiative do for young, black and unionized Oregonians?
 
Simple.  At a time when more than 110,000 Oregonians -- among them our most economically vulnerable -- still are unemployed, the initiative, if passed, would help assure the state's businesses employ U.S. citizens and legal residents and not illegal immigrants.  And far from "targeting immigrant families," it would help assure that immigrants who come here legally are not kept from jobs by those who don't.
 
On the issue of jobs and illegal immigration, young, black and unionized Oregonians are better served by OFIR than by their self-proclaimed champions.  In 2016, those Oregonians should support the E-Verify initiative that will advance their interests as jobholders, providers, and Americans.
 _________________________
 
Richard F. LaMountain, a former assistant editor of Conservative Digest magazine, serves on the board of directors of Oregonians for Immigration Reform.        

Indiana Bill: Hire undocumented immigrants, lose your business license

Employers who repeatedly hire undocumented immigrants could lose their right to do business in Indiana under legislation introduced Thursday in the General Assembly.

The proposal would make Indiana’s penalties among the toughest in the nation.

Senate Bill 285 would allow a judge to strip employers of their business license if they “knowingly” hire undocumented immigrants three times.

State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, says he introduced the measure to “take away the jobs magnet and remove the financial incentive of unscrupulous business people who profit off of illegal immigration.”

Two other Republican lawmakers have already signed onto the bill, including Senate Pensions and Labor Committee Chairman Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville. His support is key because the measure must make it through his committee before it can move to the full Senate for a vote.

But the proposal is facing opposition from the business community, including the powerful Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which has helped beat back similar efforts in past years.

“We vehemently oppose it,” said Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “We think the punishment is too stringent for the crime.”

Indiana is home to about 93,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute. About 53,000 are estimated to be in the state’s workforce.

Delph’s bill would authorize the Indiana attorney general’s office to investigate complaints that employers are using undocumented workers. The AG’s office estimates the workload would require the hiring of three additional employees at a cost of about $250,000 a year.

A spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the office doesn't typically take a public position on pending legislation.

Only seven other states revoke the business licenses of employers that hire undocumented workers, according to NumbersUSA, a national advocacy group that promotes reduced immigration.

Chris Chmielenski, a spokesman for the group, said the federal government’s inaction on illegal immigration has driven states to take action. A similar law in Arizona was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frustration over illegal immigration and concerns about terrorism have spilled into the U.S. presidential race, where leading Republican contender Donald Trump has promised to build a wall along the border with Mexico and has proposed banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

Concerns about illegal immigration are understandable, said Mark Fisher of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. But he said Delph’s proposal is misguided.

“We encourage and expect every business to abide by all applicable laws,” he said. “However, we find this measure overly punitive and (it) risks jeopardizing the jobs of law abiding Hoosiers working to support themselves and their families.”

Employers that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants in Indiana can already be denied tax breaks — a penalty few other states have. Companies that hire those in the country illegally can also face fines under federal law.

But Delph said those penalties don't go far enough. Businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants to save money on labor costs can build those penalties into their budgets and still come out ahead financially, he said. Not so if they have to stop doing business altogether, he said.

“It’s a much more severe consequence, and it’s the right consequence,” he said. "We need to root out this shadow world that exists where people think they’re coming into American freedom but really live in modern day American slavery.”

Similar immigration proposals from Delph have received serious consideration from state lawmakers in the past, In 2008, a measure passed in both the House and the Senate, but in different forms that the two chambers were unable to reconcile. In 2011, a more sweeping measure passed, but not before the business license revocation penalty was removed and replaced with a denial of tax benefits.

Early versions of those past measures stirred fears among Hispanic Hoosiers that complaints against businesses would be based on racial profiling.

Delph says that’s why his proposal would make it a misdemeanor crime to file a false or frivolous complaint.

“We’re certainly not trying to target any specific group,” he said. “We’re trying to go after those that financially benefit from intentionally breaking the law.”

About SB 285

What it does: Prohibits employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers.

Penalties: Violators would initially be required to terminate all undocumented workers and file reports on new hires with the Indiana attorney general for three years. That would increase to 10 years for second-time violators. Employers who violate the law three times could lose their business license.

How it would work: The Indiana attorney general would be responsible for investigating complaints against businesses. County prosecutors would use the AG’s findings to file a civil complaint against the employer.

Immunity: Businesses that verify employment authorization through the federal E-Verify program would be immune.

Protections for businesses: Those who file false or frivolous complaints against an employer could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

Call IndyStar reporter Tony Cook at (317) 444-6081. Follow him on Twitter: @indystartony.

Senator Merkley to hold Town Halls - plan to attend

Senator Merkley has announced a series of town halls in January.  Please check the list and plan to attend one of the town halls near you.  Invite your neighbors and friends to come along, as well.  You can raise many questions about the Senator’s positions on immigration issues.  You can view and print out a copy of his voting record to give to him, here:

https://www.numbersusa.com/content/my/congress/1341/reportcard/CONGRESS/

In his announcement, he says:  “Senator Merkley will update constituents on his work in Washington, D.C. and answer their questions and invite their suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America.”

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January 5, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Jefferson County Town Hall

Central Oregon Community College Open Campus - Community Room

1170 E Ashwood Road, Madras, OR 97741

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January 5, 2016 @ 3:00 PM

Crook County Town Hall

Crook County High School - Auditorium

1100 SE Lynn Blvd, Prineville, OR 97754

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January 5, 2016 @ 6:30 PM

Deschutes County Town Hall

Central Oregon Community College - Wille Hall

2600 NW College Way, Bend, OR 97701

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January 6, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

Lake County Town Hall

Memorial Hall - Lake County Courthouse

513 Center Street, Lakeview, OR 97630

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January 6, 2016 @ 3:30 PM

Klamath County Town Hall

Oregon Institute of Technology - Mazama Room, Student Union

3201 Campus Drive, Klamath Falls, OR 97601

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January 7, 2016 @ 9:00 AM

Jackson County Town Hall

Hanby Middle School - Cafeteria

806 6th Avenue, Gold Hill, OR 97525

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January 7, 2016 @ 12:00 PM

Josephine County Town Hall

Grants Pass High School - Library

830 NE 9th Street, Grants Pass, OR 97526

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January 7, 2016 @ 5:00 PM

Curry County Town Hall

Southwest Oregon Community College - Community Meeting Room

96082 Lone Ranch Parkway, Brookings, OR 97415

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January 8, 2016 @ 9:00 AM

Coos County Town Hall

Myrtle Point High School - Cafeteria

717 4th Street, Myrtle Point, OR 97458

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January 8, 2016 @ 12:30 PM

Douglas County Town Hall

Douglas High School – Cafeteria

1381 NW Douglas Blvd, Winston, OR 97496

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January 9, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

Benton County Town Hall

Monroe Community Library - Large Conference Room

380 N Fifth Street, Monroe, OR 97456

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January 9, 2016 @ 1:30 PM

Linn County Town Hall

Brownsville City Hall - City Council Chambers

255 N Main Street, Brownsville, OR 97327

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January 9, 2016 @ 4:00 PM

Lane County Town Hall

Coburg City Hall - City Council Chambers

91136 N Willamette Street, Coburg, OR 97408

Remember - the good Senator works for us.  Attend the meeting, ask questions, get answers.  Share your experience with OFIR.
 

OFIR meeting - this Saturday!

Alert date: 
2016-01-22
Alert body: 

Never before has the issue of immigration – both legal and illegal – been such an important topic in the Presidential election. And, never before has our country been in such jeopardy because of our lax immigration policies.

Join OFIR this Saturday - bring your ideas and we will have an open discussion about what we can and should be doing to take advantage of the momentum in the immigration debate.

We'll also bring you up to date on the status of OFIR's two citizen's initiatives that have been winding their way through the ballot title challenge process all the way to the Supreme Court.

And, for all of you that worked so hard to defeat driver cards for illegal aliens, and are following the lawsuit filed in Federal Court to overturn our big 66% win – we will have the latest news to report to you.

And, if that's not enough – it's time to elect NEW Executive Board officers!

2016 promises to be a watershed year and hopefully a turning point for U.S. and Oregon immigration policies. But, voters must step up.

If you have questions please call OFIR at (503) 435-0141 or send an email to ofir@oregonir.org.

Driving directions to Best Western Mill Creek Inn:
From I-5, take exit 253, which is the intersection of I-5 and State roads 22 and Business 99E. Go West on 22 (Mission St.) a short distance to Hawthorne Ave. (Costco will be on your right.) Turn R on Hawthorne Ave. to the first left, which is Ryan Drive. Turn left on Ryan Drive, by Denny’s Restaurant, and proceed to Mill Creek Inn just beyond.

From downtown Salem: Go east on Mission St. (State Rd. 22). Follow 22 just past the Airport and turn left on Hawthorne Ave. Then take the first left (almost an immediate left) into Ryan Drive; you will see the Inn directly ahead.

A Quick Peek at the House Funding Bill

The House of Representatives has weighed in on its 2,000-plus page version of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2029 – which is an amendment to the Senate's amendment of the House's original version, if you follow that.

From an immigration perspective, it's a cornucopia of disappointment. If establishment politicians are wondering why the presidential campaigns in both parties have tilted toward non-establishment outliers as represented, left and right, by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump or Ben Carson, then they need only look at their own handiwork to find the answer.

The American electorate is not so completely filled with ingénues or naifs that we don't recognize Congress's institutional incapacity to take on hard issues in any meaningful way, leaving the vacuum to be filled with various and sundry executive pronouncements from the Obama administration in every avenue of public life.

It is in no small measure this fecklessness and failure of will on the part of our legislative branch that has led even establishment conservative stalwarts such as George Will to bemoan the rise of a huge and constitutionally-unmentioned fourth branch of government – the bureaucracy, which he describes as "the administrative state".

I have neither the patience nor desire to devote to an analysis of the entire omnibus bill represented by H.R. 2029, but here are a few highlights:

  • Transfers $4 million from the Immigration Examinations Fee Account of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice (DOJ). That account is where fees collected from aliens for the filing of various applications are deposited, so as to ensure that adjudication of their applications is self-funding. EOIR is the name of the DOJ agency which handles immigration court removal hearings. USCIS is quite flush with cash these days, because for years it has been skimming money off these immigration fees to build a “reserve fund” that it had hoped to use to administer the president’s plan to issue work permits to millions of illegal aliens, which was blocked by a federal court.
  • Appropriates $476 million in Byrne state and local law enforcement grant funds but does not in any way require that those state or local agencies comply with immigration detainers or not enact "sanctuary" policies of the type that have resulted in so many murders by illegal aliens in the recent past. (See here and here.)
  • Appropriates $210 million for State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funds – again, with no caveats that to receive the money, state and local governments must honor detainers and take no steps to impede immigration law enforcement.
  • Appropriates an additional $187 million in COPS grants to state and local law enforcement agencies for hiring and retention of officers. Once again, no caveats on the funding to require cooperation with federal immigration agents in enforcing the laws against alien criminals.
  • Provides $9.2 million to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which recently exceeded its statutory mandate and did a one-sided hatchet job on the federal immigration detention system.
  • Provides $385 million to the Legal Services Corporation without specifying that such funds may not be used in support of aliens in removal proceedings, contrary to Section 292 of the Immigration and Nationality Act – although the appropriation language very specifically outlines other areas in which the money may not be used contrary to statute.
  • Appropriates the DHS Office of the Secretary almost $137.5 million for operations and executive management provided that Congress receives within 30 days of enactment two reports – one on the biometric entry-exit system, and one on visa overstays. (Note that both of these reports are already statutorily required, and so demanding that the law requiring the overdue reports to be complied with seems in many ways an exercise in both redundancy and futility.)
  • Appropriates more than $447 million for border fencing, infrastructure, and technology.
  • Also provides more than $802 million to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a variety of purposes including salaries and benefits – but also for unmanned aerial systems (drones), even though the DHS Inspector General has repeatedly panned the program as ineffective, with weak internal controls and repeated cost overruns without evidence of value. (See here and here.)
  • Appropriates more than $5.79 billion to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for operations, equipment, and salaries, subject to several provisos. One of them is that $5 million will be withheld until the ICE director briefs Congress on the agency's efforts to increase the number of state and local law enforcement agencies participating in the "Priority Enforcement Program" (PEP).

    The problem with this proviso is that by mere mention of PEP, Congress legitimizes it even though it was created as a part of the administration's constitutionally dubious "executive action" memos. At the same time, merely demanding a "report" in return for release of the money provides the spinmeisters at DHS and ICE a prime opportunity to put together a pseudo-document purporting to show the wonders of the program notwithstanding its obvious shortcomings and the fact that many sheriffs and police chiefs dislike it intensely, or have rejected it out of hand.

  • Provides U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the immigration benefits-granting agency, nearly $119.7 million, most for administration of the E-Verify system. (As noted above, most of USCIS is funded out of its fee account.)

These are just a few of the immigration provisions contained in the omnibus bill that give me pause (or outright heartburn).

If you look for anything in this measure that defunds, or even pushes the pause button on, the refugee or asylum programs, which are exceedingly vulnerable to fraud and misuse, including potentially by terrorists, you will look in vain. You won't even find anything directing DHS or its subordinate agencies to tighten up vetting procedures in the wake of the San Bernardino attack.

It would be easy to try to forgive or overlook many of the shortcomings of the bill, immigration-related or otherwise, by pointing to its inordinate size and breadth, and saying that one can't micro-manage everything in an omnibus government spending bill. But the fact is that, when they want, congressional legislators are quite happy to micro-manage. Take a look, for instance, at this gem hidden on page 215 of the bill:

Sec. 529. To the extent practicable, funds made available in this Act should be used to purchase light bulbs that are "Energy Star" qualified or have the "Federal Energy Management Program" designation.

No, the reality appears to be something entirely different than simple information overload. It seems to me that we have a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress with few principles in which they believe strongly enough that they are willing to call out the White House and take a stand, particularly if those principles carry with them any degree of controversy – which the subject of immigration inevitably does.

Reflecting on what the bill does – and, importantly, what it doesn't even attempt to do – I'm led to conclude that when House Republicans elected Paul Ryan as Speaker, they got exactly what they wanted, and what they expected: a John Boehner Mini-Me. What, then, was the point in unseating Boehner in the first place?

 

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