Homeland Security

DHS confirms cheaper to deport every illegal alien than allowing them to stay

On December 3, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Nelson Peacock, responding to request from several U.S. Senators, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), wrote: “Our conservative estimate suggests that ICE would require a budget of more than $135 billion to apprehend, detain and remove the nation’s entire illegal immigrant population.”

In July 2010, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) released the results of a study which examined the costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local levels. The study found that U.S. state and local governments shell out $84.2 billion annually in various services (law enforcement, schools, social services, etc.), with California taxpayers alone, spending $21 billion on illegal aliens every year.

The same study found that $29 billion is spent every year in federal funds on illegal aliens.

So, while it would cost a one-time fee of about $135 billion to deport every single illegal alien in the country, it is actually a bargain considering the fact that it already costs us $113 billion annually to keep them here.

In other words, the mass deportation would pay for itself in a little over a year. Incidentally, in 2007, the DHS estimated the cost of deporting all illegal aliens to be approximately $94 billion.

Immigration Reform Bill Includes National Biometric Database

A national biometric database of virtually every adult in the United States would be created under the comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the Senate.

Such a database, introduced on page 178 of the 844-page bill, has privacy groups fearing that it is the first step toward a national identification system, Wired.com reports.

The reform bill would create a “photo tool” — a huge federal database — that would be administered by the Department of Homeland Security, Wired reports.

It would contain the names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the nation with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be required to check the database for every new hire to verify that they match their photo, Wired reports.

The database seeks to curb the employment of undocumented immigrants, but privacy advocates fear widespread abuse on many levels.

“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state. You do have to get permission to do things,” Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Wired. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”

The legislation currently allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes — though such limitations haven’t lasted long historically, privacy advocates say.

They cite the Social Security card, created in 1936 to track individual government retirement benefits.

Now, the number is necessary virtually any major purchase, including health insurance.

“The Social Security number itself, it’s pretty ubiquitous in your life,” Calabrese said.

David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the libertarian think tank, agreed.

“The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities — and it can be used to restrict activities,” Bier told Wired. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet examined this part of the immigration bill, formally known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

Debate is scheduled to continue on Thursday.

Gov't acknowledges thousands released from jails

The Obama administration reversed itself Thursday, acknowledging to Congress that it had, in fact, released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from immigration jails due to budget constraints during three weeks in February.

The director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, said his agency had released 2,228 illegal immigrants during that period for what he called "solely budgetary reasons." The figure was significantly higher than the "few hundred" immigrants the Obama administration had publicly acknowledged were released under the budget-savings process. He testified during a hearing by a House appropriations subcommittee.

Morton told lawmakers Thursday that the decision to release the immigrants was not discussed in advance with political appointees, including those in the White House or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He said the pending automatic cuts known as sequestration was "driving in the background."

"We were trying to live within the budget that Congress had provided us," Morton told lawmakers. "This was not a White House call. I take full responsibility."

The Associated Press, citing internal budget documents, reported exclusively on March 1 that the administration had released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants since Feb. 15 and planned to release 3,000 more in March due to looming budget cuts, but Napolitano said days later that the AP's report was "not really accurate" and that the story had developed "its own mythology."

"Several hundred are related to sequester, but it wasn't thousands," Napolitano said March 4 at a Politico-sponsored event.

On March 5, the House Judiciary Committee publicly released an internal ICE document that it said described the agency's plans to release thousands of illegal immigrants before March 31. The document was among those reviewed by the AP for its story days earlier.

The immigrants who were released still eventually face deportation and are required to appear for upcoming court hearings. But they are no longer confined in immigration jails, where advocacy experts say they cost about $164 per day per person. Immigrants who are granted supervised release _ with conditions that can include mandatory check-ins, home visits and GPS devices _ cost the government from 30 cents to $14 a day, according to the National Immigration Forum, a group that advocates on behalf of immigrants.

Morton said Thursday that among the immigrants released were 10 people considered the highest level of offender. Morton said that although that category of offender can include people convicted of aggravated felonies, many of the people released were facing financial crimes. Four of the most serious offenders have been put back in detention. Other people released include immigrants who had faced multiple drunken driving offenses, misdemeanor crimes and traffic offenses, Morton said.

After the administration challenged the AP's reporting, ICE said it didn't know how many people had been released for budget reasons but would review its records.

DHS plans to release 5,000 illegal immigrants due to sequestration

House investigators learned Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials developed plans to release about 5,000 illegal immigrant detainees, although Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has denied responsibility for the decision.

“An internal document obtained by the House Judiciary Committee shows that Administration officials at ICE prepared cold calculations to release thousands of criminal aliens onto the streets and did not demonstrate any consideration of the impact this decision would have on the safety of Americans,” committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced.

The ICE document contains a table that proposes “reduc[ing] invoiced daily population by 1,000 weekly.” Between February 22 and March 31st, this plan would drop the number of detainees from 30,748 to 25,748.

“The decision to release detained aliens undermines the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to keep our homeland secure and instead makes our communities less safe and more vulnerable to crime,” Goodlatte said. “[R]egardless of sequestration, DHS actually has plenty of funding to pay for the detention of criminal aliens. Unfortunately, it seems Administration officials are more interested in using sequestration to promote their political agenda than as an opportunity to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.”

Napolitano said that it wasn’t her decision, even though ICE is part of DHS. “Detainee populations and how that is managed back and forth is really handled by career officials in the field,” she told ABC.

She also confirmed that the releases would continue. “We are going to manage our way through this by identifying the lowest risk detainees, and putting them into some kind of alternative to release,” Napolitano said at a Politico event, per The Daily Caller.

The New York Times profiled a “low risk” detainee released by ICE. The detainee was taken into custody “when it was discovered that he had violated probation for a conviction in 2005 of simple assault, simple battery and child abuse, charges that sprung from a domestic dispute with his wife at the time.” NRO’s Jim Geraghty asked, “If convictions for ‘simple assault, simple battery and child abuse’ make you ‘low-risk,’ what do you have to do for Janet Napolitano to consider you ‘high-risk’?”

A Washington Narrative Meets Reality

During his visit to El Paso in May 2011, President Obama mocked calls for border security. After declaring that sufficient measures had been taken to stem illegal crossings, he joked that his critics would always demand more, perhaps even calling for alligators in a moat. While the line drew howls from the national media, local residents did not laugh. The quip revealed only ignorance or callousness to the escalating dangers that are part of their daily life. Since that time the administration has repeatedly declared the border more secure than ever while simultaneously making it more vulnerable with executive pardons for whole classes of illegal aliens and calls for a mass amnesty that have triggered an exponential increase in human smuggling.

We got a local perspective of the situation during our recent tour through south Texas. Led by Jerry Kammer, our group followed the Rio Grande from Del Rio to Brownsville on an itinerary that covered more than 1,100 miles. In meetings with various people along the way, common themes emerged: Illegal crossings are soaring, violence and exploitation are routine, and area residents are increasingly alienated.

A group of ranchers who manage game lands about 70 miles from the border told us that they have seen a 500 percent increase in illegal-alien traffic since last summer. In past years the flow has fluctuated with the seasons, but there has been no recent cessation. Nearly every day they encounter groups of illegal aliens who have been left by smugglers to wander the vast landscape. Sometimes they find dead bodies or loads of drugs. The Border Patrol can take hours or even days to arrive because of staff limitations and the agents will not come at all if the number of illegal aliens reported is deemed too small. It is estimated that only 10 percent are detained.

The continuous flow of human traffic requires constant vigilance from the ranchers, who must devote considerable time to managing the dangers and disruptions. Another group we spoke to agreed with this assessment and is working closely with the county sheriff, the state’s Department of Public Safety, and volunteers in attempts to stem the flow.

Throughout the region people told us that illegal crossings have increased significantly. These observations parallel recent trends in Arizona. Just south of Laredo we stopped for a few minutes beside the Rio Grande and happened to see Border Patrol agents apprehend a group of Honduran illegal aliens who had just crossed in the middle of the afternoon. The incident occurred on private property belonging to a couple who told us that foreign nationals cross through their land on almost a daily basis.

A woman we visited near Brownsville told us that the commotion from people crossing regularly wakes her at night. She advised against driving down to the river, which is only a few hundred feet from her house, even though it was midday. She said that a local golf course has recently lost business and that the University of Texas at Brownsville has had to relocate student parking because of gunfire coming from the border.

Two of Mexico’s most notorious gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, are headquartered just across the river in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Their influence has been so devastating to civil society that some observers say Tamaulipas is a failed state. A couple years ago, authorities found the bodies of 72 Central and South Americans who were slaughtered en masse after refusing to work for a drug gang who had intercepted them on their way to America. The violence has eroded any sense of community. Jim Kuykendall, the former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Guadalajara, told us that public events such as festivals and rodeos no longer take place.

A young woman who manages a motel in Rio Grande City said that her family owns a house just across the river. They have been unable to collect rent from their delinquent tenant for four years because they will not risk venturing into the area, which she describes as a ghost town. Not one person we spoke to in the entire region still travels into Mexico.

The people who live on this side of the Rio Grande say that the cartels are always monitoring their property in order to funnel drugs and humans into the country and that theft and vandalism are rampant. Dob Cunningham, a retired border patrolman who was born and raised on the border, claims that the behavior of the crossers has fundamentally changed. Decades ago most illegal aliens came from rural parts of Mexico. They were tough young men who came on their own, respected property, and offered to do the most menial tasks in exchange for assistance. Cunningham says that illegal aliens now arrive from all over the world. They pay smugglers exorbitant fees to get them into the United States and are ruthlessly exploited, oftentimes kidnapped, raped, or forced to carry loads of drugs.

Recently retired Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez has spent more than 30 years enforcing the law in Zapata County. He served his last 16 years as sheriff after his predecessor was indicted for drug smuggling, an offense that is now routinely committed by law enforcement officials along the border. The sheriff told us stories of nihilistic violence as he showed us around San Ygnacio, Zapata, and Falcon Lake.

He said that the Mexican side is patrolled by young gang members armed with automatic weapons. The cartels, always looking for ways to shock and intimidate competing organizations, have resorted to gruesome methods of execution. Severed torsos and bodies that have been boiled to death have been found. The violence is mostly meted out on rival syndicates, but sometimes innocents get caught in the struggle. This is what Gonzalez alleged happened in the highly-publicized murder of David Hartley, who was sightseeing on Falcon Lake with his wife. Mexican authorities later arrested a Zeta member in the case.

Sheriff Gonzalez explained that spillover violence in Zapata has typically been home invasion burglaries. Wealthy border residents with no apparent connection to the drug trade have been targeted. What is more prevalent, however, is a type of capitulation along the border. While showing us around downtown Laredo, Kuykendall explained how vibrant and exciting the city was in his youth. Those days are gone as fancy shops and hotels have been replaced with thrift stores and rundown housing. Days before we visited, three grenades exploded feet from the U.S. consulate across the river in Nuevo Laredo. Such incidents have had a depreciating effect on local enterprise. Longtime border residents have witnessed dramatic changes. Kuykendall says that there are so many illegal aliens in Laredo nobody really makes a distinction. Two nations have become one. This includes the influence of the cartels, which employ a growing number of people on this side of the border.

In the midst of all this, residents are alienated. Mexican authorities have proven incapable of combating the cartels and they actually encourage illegal immigration. But more frustrating than the corruption there, is the political environment here. Despite his years in the Border Patrol, Cunningham emphatically stated that he fears being prosecuted by the United States federal government more than being harmed by foreign nationals. He knows several people who are serving lengthy prison terms for trying to stop illicit activity.

The perception that federal prosecutors are focused on diplomacy and accommodation rather than law and order also applies to the Department of Homeland Security. Most of the people we spoke to have good working relationships with their local Border Patrol agents. But climbing the political hierarchy brings disillusionment. Washington has repeatedly made decisions that undermine enforcement, so much so that the Border Patrol unions devote a considerable amount of time fighting management to retain their stated responsibilities. Swaths of the border go unmonitored due to inadequate numbers and agents who do their job face political obstacles. This has led Sheriff Gonzalez to believe that the only way to secure the border is through local control.

Recent declarations that the border is secure are intended to encourage congressional passage of a mass amnesty. The politicians and activists who are pushing this couch their efforts in humanitarian terms, questioning the morality of those in opposition. But what they do not understand is that amnesty benefits human smugglers. Their business of exploiting the desperate booms every time a careless politician or commentator starts self-righteously talking about a pathway to citizenship. Such talk creates chaos on the border and undermines the rule of law.


 


 

DHS releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants, blaming budget cuts

The Department of Homeland Security has started releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants held in local jails in anticipation of automatic budget cuts, in a move one Arizona sheriff called politically motivated -- and dangerous.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Tuesday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement released more than 500 detainees in his county alone over the weekend. A spokesman for Babeu told FoxNews.com that ICE officials have said they plan to release a total of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants.

The numbers, though, are in dispute. ICE officials said that it's unclear how many ultimately might be released and that only 303 have been released from four Arizona facilities so far, though all those are in Pinal County. According to ICE, 2,280 detainees are still in custody in those facilities.

Babeu described the move as a "mass budget pardon" and suggested the administration was going to unnecessary lengths to demonstrate the impact of the so-called sequester.

"President Obama would never release 500 criminal illegals to the streets of his hometown, yet he has no problem with releasing them in Arizona. The safety of the public is threatened and the rule of law discarded as a political tactic in this sequester battle," he said.

An ICE spokeswoman confirmed the plans without specifying how many illegal immigrants might be released.

Spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said ICE had directed field offices to make sure the "detained population" is "in line with available funding." She stressed that ICE would continue to prosecute the cases while keeping them under supervision.

"Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention," she said. "All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings. Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety."

The announcement comes after DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday warned about the potential impact of the cuts. She said the department "would not be able to maintain the 34,000 detention beds as required by Congress."

"We're doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester. But there's only so much I can do," she said. "I'm supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those?"

Republicans in Congress, though, have challenged the numerous Obama Cabinet secretaries warning about the devastating impact to their departments. With cuts set to take effect Friday and no deal in sight to avert them, Republicans claim the administration is trying to make the cuts seem worse than they are -- some want to give the administration more leeway so that high-priority agencies don't get hit as hard.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., called the move to release illegal immigrants "abhorrent." "By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives," he said in a statement.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., also said "these savings could be much more safely and rationally achieved."

In Arizona, Babeu slammed the move, painting his community as a victim of gridlock in Washington.

"Clearly, serious criminals are being released to the streets of our local communities by this mass budget pardon. These are illegals that even President Obama wants to deport. This is insane that public safety is sacrificed when it should be the budget priority that's safeguarded," he said.
 

Real Border Control Has to Come First in Any Immigration Deal

A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators has proposed an immigration reform plan that appears to broadly reflect what voters would like to see. But there's a catch.

Most Americans (56 percent) want our nation to have a welcoming policy of legal immigration. With such an approach, the only people who would be excluded are national security threats, criminals and those who would seek to live off our generous system of welfare and other benefits. Sixty-one percent of Republicans favor such a policy, along with 55 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of unaffiliated voters.

But while favoring such a welcoming policy of legal immigration, voters want to stop illegal immigration. Eight out of 10 think this is an important policy goal, including 58 percent who say it's very important. Once the borders are secure, people are quite willing to support almost any proposal to legalize the status of illegal immigrants already in this country: 64 percent see this as an important goal, including 33 percent who say it's very important.

With this background, it's no surprise to find initial support for the plan rolled out by the senators. It provides a combination of improved border security with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. Fifty-nine percent of voters nationwide favor the approach, while only 18 percent are opposed. Most Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters are on board.

Especially popular is the inclusion of strict penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Sixty-four percent support this provision. Voters have long been supportive of penalizing employers and landlords who profit from illegal immigration. They would rather punish them than penalize the immigrants. For most Americans, it's easier to understand why people would want to better themselves by coming to America than to tolerate U.S. companies that knowingly encourage them to break the law.

Yet despite the broad support for the outlines of the bipartisan legislation, the prospects for its passage are far from clear. The reason has little to do with the immigration issue itself and everything to do with the lack of public trust in the government. If the proposal were to become law, only 45 percent of voters believe it is even somewhat likely that the federal government would make a serious effort to secure the borders and reduce illegal immigration. That figure includes just 15 percent who think the government is very likely to make such an effort.

As on most issues, Democrats are far more trusting of the government. Two-thirds of those in the president's party think the government is likely to enforce the entire law. However, 69 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of unaffiliated voters think the government is unlikely to follow through on the provisions to reduce illegal immigration.

Overcoming this skepticism is the key to maintaining support for any comprehensive reform. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the group of eight, has said that the enforcement provisions will have to be working before the pathway to citizenship can be opened. That's consistent with public opinion. But Rubio and his colleagues have their work cut out convincing voters that the plan really will work that way.

To find out more about Scott Rasmussen, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 SCOTT RASMUSSEN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Be at the Capitol - Tuesday, Feb. 26 - DRUG WARS: Silver or Lead screening

Alert date: 
February 22, 2013
Alert body: 

If you couldn't make it to the showing of DRUG WARS: Silver or Lead last month, you're in luck.

Tuesday, February 26 from 9-11am, OFIR will be showing the documentary again at the Oregon State Capitol Building - Room 257.

Every concerned citizen should attend and find out what's really happening. This is not an issue confined to the US-Mexican border. Like a cancer, it's spreading throughout the entire US. Citizen APATHY is one of the greatest tools used by drug cartel operatives. Now, they want our drivers licenses!

Your attendance is encouraged! Before or after the event, please plan to visit your Senator and Representative. Tell them about your concerns. If they aren't available, make an appt. for a later date (or make one before you come).

The Capitol is YOUR building and the people inside should be working for Oregonians. Your Legislator has regular visits from lobbyists and advocates working to advance the agenda of illegal aliens. Have they seen you? If not, you should introduce yourself and tell them YOU are a constituent. Thank them if they are working to protect Oregon jobs and American sovereignty.

NOTE: Bring quarters for the meter (75 cents an hour). Plan to stay at least the first hour and a half...the last half hour will be Q&A. The documentary is 1 hour and 21 minutes long.

Hope to see you there!

Mexican drug war topic of film

Showings of “Drug Wars: Silver or Lead,” a 2008 documentary about drug trafficking in Mexico and its implications for the United States, will be sponsored by Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

One showing will start at 1 p.m. Wednesday [February 20th]; the other will begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 26. Both will be in Room 257 of the Capitol. The film runs 82 minutes.

The group has been critical of federal immigration policies and hopes to influence state legislative debate on related issues.

— Peter Wong

 

Missing the point on immigration

A recent report on immigration enforcement from the Migration Policy Institute, touted in these pages by one of its authors Beyond secure borders, op-ed, Jan 7, was both mistaken and missed the point. The news release about the report announced: "The U.S. government spends more on federal immigration enforcement than on all other principal federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined."

This finding was the basis of widespread media coverage and will, as intended, be cited in the coming congressional debate over President Obama's plans to legalize the illegal-immigrant population and increase legal immigration beyond the level of 1 million people each year. The political purpose of the report is to enable supporters of the president's approach, both Democrats and Republicans, to claim that the "enforcement first" demand that sank President George W. Bush's amnesty effort in 2007 has finally been satisfied, so no legitimate objection remains to "moving beyond" enforcement.

The first problem with this is that the report's central claim is false. As the names of the relevant agencies suggest — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — much of what they do has nothing to do with immigration. Recent ICE news releases, for instance, highlight a drug seizure, the sentencing of a child pornographer and a guilty plea by someone trying to smuggle dinosaur fossils. Important activities, no doubt, but ones clearly unrelated to immigration enforcement.

Beyond that, the report focuses on the wrong thing. In typical Washington bureaucratic fashion, it confuses resource inputs with policy results. There has indeed been a significant increase in funding for immigration enforcement, and this increase was desperately needed after decades of neglect — something that became undeniable after 9/11. But to claim, as Doris Meissner wrote in The Post, that a certain percentage increase in appropriated funds has allowed the nation to build "a formidable immigration enforcement machinery" is incorrect.

The report suggests that the billions spent on immigration enforcement have reached a point of diminishing returns. But take the example of the U.S. Border Patrol, a CBP agency. The number of agents has doubled over the past decade, to more than 21,000. That seems impressive until you consider that the Border Patrol is still smaller than the New York Police Department — and has 8,000 miles to monitor. It's certainly possible that the Border Patrol doesn't need more agents, but that's not evident merely by doubling the previously small number of agents.

Something similar can be said of deportations: As the report and administration spokesmen have pointed out, the number of people deported (technically, "removed") is at a record level: about 400,000 per year. But the steady growth in the number of deportations, starting in the Clinton administration, came to a halt with Obama's inauguration. Perhaps 400,000 deportations a year, out of 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants, is enough but not just because it's a record.

And although one might be able to argue that the U.S. immigration enforcement machinery is adequate at the border or for deportations, fundamental pieces are still not in place despite the money that has been spent. For instance, the online E-Verify screening system is still not used for all new hires. The Social Security Administration and the IRS know the identities and locations of millions of people who are in this country illegally but shield them based on a fanciful interpretation of privacy law. The United States has only the most rudimentary system for tracking the departures of foreign visitors — and if you don't know who has left the country, you can't know who is still here. This is important because nearly half of the illegal-immigrant population came here legally but then didn't leave.

These are not trivial, last-minute agenda items designed to postpone consideration of an amnesty. An immigration enforcement machinery that lacks these elements is simply incomplete.

And any law enforcement infrastructure is only as effective as the use to which it is put. The Obama administration has made clear that it views immigration violations as secondary matters, like not wearing a seat belt, which can lead to a citation only if some other, "real" law is violated. The most lavishly funded, gold-plated enforcement system in the world can't make up for systematic nullification of the immigration law through prosecutorial discretion, deferred action and other means used by this administration to protect illegal immigrants.

Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
 

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