Homeland Security

Grassley charges 'colleges' selling visas to foreigners

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is confronting the Department of Homeland Security about a special program under which groups “pose as education institutions in order to secure visas for tuition-paying foreign students.”

The students, the senator points out, are then able to obtain three-year work permits and are exempted from payroll-tax requirements.

“Visa mills are those marginal educational institutions that provide visas and work permits to foreign students, but little in the way of actual schooling,” explains the Center for Immigration Studies.

The work permits under the Optional Practical Training program “actually give the alien students’ employers a tax break for hiring them instead of comparable citizen and green card students.”

Grassley, in a letter with pages of questions posed to DHS, pointed out that the foreign students are given three-year work visas, even if they aren’t offered any reasonable education.

“These ‘visa mills’ profit from the foreign student tuition and face little governmental oversight when issuing work visas under the program, which is not available to American students,” the senator explained.

“Employers also benefit from hiring foreign student over American workers, as neither the employer nor the foreign students is required to pay payroll taxes for the work,” he said.

Grassley said that with all of the financial incentives granted the students, schools and employers, it’s not surprising “that foreign student enrollment has exploded, while recent American grads are un- or under-employed.”

“Unfortunately, our government has delegated much of the authority surrounding foreign student employment to the very individuals and entities that benefit the most, schools and school officials,” he said.

David North at the Center for Immigration Studies noted, “To my knowledge, this is the first time that DHS has been asked by Congress about visa mills and OPT; one hopes that it will stir some interest in DHS about issues long neglected by that agency.”

He previously noted action taken against a visa mill that that had been described in India as “an academic rip-off.”

Grassley said foreign students “contribute to a growing population of non-immigrants who overstay their visas.”

“In 2016, more than 79,000 foreign students overstayed their visas – an overstay rate nearly three times greater than that of the general non-immigrant visa population.”

He pointed out that many reputable colleges enroll foreign students, but there are others.

“These institutions, many of which operate as section 501(c)(3) (tax-exempt) educational institutions, are costing American workers millions of dollars in lost taxes and employment opportunities, and contribute disproportionately to the large and growing population of foreign students and exchange visitors – nearly 80,000 in 2016 – who overstay visas to remain in the United States without legal authorization.”

It’s also a national security concern, he said.

There were more than a quarter-million “foreign students working in one of these government-approved, alien-only, paid ‘training’ programs, as of August 2017,” he noted.

Students are drawn by the money, and schools want to maximum revenue. To do that, he explained, schools such as Pomona College, Williams College, Yale and MIT “all recently reclassified their economics programs so that they qualify for the Department of Education’s ‘STEM’ designation, because foreign students in STEM fields can work in the U.S. for three years or more after graduation.”

U.S. employers also cash in because they are exempted from payroll taxes for the workers.

Grassley said the problem is huge.

“Tri-Valley University (TVU), was certified to admit 30 foreign students in 2009 but by May 2010 – when ICE began an investigation – had enrolled 939. The next fall, Tri-Valley had 1,555 foreign students, before the school was shuttered due to an astonishing list of criminal activity by the school’s founder, Susan Su. TVU ‘students’ reportedly took no classes, but exchanged tuition and fees for I-20s and work approval. After closure, hundreds of TVU students were, mystifyingly, permitted to transfer to other schools.”

Grassley is asking DHS how the work permits are monitored, who looks at students’ training plans, how problems are corrected and more.

 

MS-13 Resurgence: Immigration Enforcement Needed to Take Back Our Streets

The Trump administration has declared war on MS-13, the notoriously brutal gang based in El Salvador. A similar initiative launched by the Bush administration in 2005 stifled the gang's activity after several years, but the gang has been able to rebuild itself here since 2012.

Center researchers reviewed more than 500 cases of MS-13 gang members arrested nationwide since 2012. We conclude that this resurgence represents a very serious threat to public safety in communities where MS-13 has rebuilt itself. The resurgence is directly connected to the illegal arrival and resettlement of more than 300,000 Central American youths and families that has continued unabated for six years, and to a de-prioritization of immigration enforcement in the interior of the country that occurred at the same time.

All criminal gangs are a threat to public safety, but MS-13 is a unique problem because of the unusually brutal crimes its members have committed, its success in using intimidation to victimize and control people in its territory, and its focus on recruiting young members, often in schools.

Nevertheless, because such a large share of MS-13 members are not citizens, they are especially vulnerable to law enforcement, and many can be removed from the communities they terrorize. Strategic use of immigration enforcement is a necessary element to disrupting and dismantling MS-13 gangs and any other transnational criminal organization operating in our communities.

The proliferation of sanctuary policies that interfere with cooperation between state and local law enforcement agencies threatens to hamper efforts to stifle MS-13 activity. The federal government must take steps to clarify how federal law permits such cooperation and also must set up consequences for those jurisdictions and officials who impose sanctuary policies.

Key findings:

  • We found 506 MS-13 members arrested or charged with crimes that were reported in 22 states. The most cases were reported in California (92), Maryland (85), New York (80), and Virginia (63).
  • MS-13 crimes are not primarily petty nuisance crimes; 207 MS-13 members were charged with murder. In addition we found more than 100 accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others for drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion.
  • While most of the reports of MS-13 suspects in our case set did not include information on the immigration status of the individual, we could determine that 126 of the 506 suspects (and 38 of the 207 murder suspects) were illegal aliens.
  • The median age of MS-13 gang members identified was 23, and suspects ranged in age from 14 to 57.
  • The median age of their victims was 19, and victims ranged in age from 14 to 74. Sixty of the victims were under the age of 18, including 52 of the murder victims.
  • 120 of the 506 MS-13 suspects in our case set arrived as UACs (Unaccompanied Alien Children), including 48 of the murder suspects.
  • The location of these MS-13 crimes corresponds with locations of large numbers of UACs who were resettled by the federal government.

MS-13 Crime in the United States Has Rebounded. Federal and state law enforcement agencies around the country have expressed concern about the resurgence of crime and violence attributed to the MS-13 gang. The gang activity subsided for a time following successful disruption and dismantling efforts, including ICE's Operation Community Shield, which began in 2005. A key element in that success was the assertive use of immigration law enforcement tools.1 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents participated in regional gang task forces led by local law enforcement agencies, ICE field offices launched operations with the help of local agencies, ICE encouraged the formation of 287(g) partnerships to delegate immigration enforcement authority to local gang unit officers, and ICE worked to target individual gang members who were identified by local agencies, even in sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Miami. Documented gang members often were arrested on administrative immigration violations, which had the effect of disrupting the gang's activities and ridding communities of troublemakers. In addition, these lower-level arrests often led to more significant criminal investigations of gang leaders and the dismantling of local MS-13 cliques.

The Obama administration revised these policies, however, and ICE field offices were directed to cease efforts to disrupt gangs by arresting members for immigration violations or minor crimes and instead focus on major conspiracy cases. ICE officers were no longer permitted to arrest and remove foreign gang members until they had been convicted of major crimes. Gang arrests by ICE plummeted from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 1,580 in 2014.

This de-prioritization of anti-gang enforcement by ICE corresponded to an influx of unaccompanied youths and families arriving illegally from Central America, which began in 2012. During this surge, the Border Patrol has apprehended more than 300,000 UACs and families. Under Obama administration policies, most of the families were released and allowed to continue to their destination, with orders to appear for immigration court proceedings that would take place years in the future, but most have absconded from the process. The Obama administration also adopted a lenient interpretation of the law with respect to UACs, most of whom were males between the ages of 13 and 17, and who were quickly resettled with sponsors, usually family members who were already residing here illegally; some were released to non-family sponsors.2 The government has made almost no effort to monitor or keep track of these individuals. According to DHS, about two-thirds of the youths who were permitted to resettle here as UACs have applied for green cards under a special program for juveniles who claim to have experienced hardship or been abandoned by one of their parents.3

Beginning in 2015, law enforcement agencies across the country began to express concerns about the renewal of MS-13 activity in a number of locations.

For instance, the Texas Department of Public Safety determined that MS-13 had again become a top-tier public safety threat in 2015, on par with larger established gangs, noting the increasing numbers of illegal alien members arriving in Texas and an increase in violent crime associated with it:

Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) has emerged as a top tier gang threat in Texas for 2015. The influx of illegal alien gang members crossing the border into Texas in 2014, along with reports of extremely violent murders committed by its members in the Houston area, positions the gang as one of the most significant gang threats in the state for this upcoming year.

Since 2011, the number of MS-13 members encountered by U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) sector has increased each year, accelerating in 2014 and coinciding with increased illegal migration from Central America during the same period.

Although a large number of MS-13 members have been captured along the border, it is likely many more have successfully crossed into Texas and remain hidden from law enforcement. Gang members from Guatemala, Honduras, and

El Salvador could be destined for locations in Texas with large Central American communities, including the Houston and Dallas areas. Law enforcement agencies in Houston already report the highest number of identified MS-13 members in the state. …

Several recent crimes in Texas illustrate the criminal threat associated with MS-13.

  • On September 15, 2014, the mutilated body of a 14-year-old middle school student was discovered in the woods near Houston after he was murdered with a machete. … In October 2014, a 14-year-old and three adult males were arrested and charged with murder in this case. The adult males are from El Salvador, and at least two are documented MS-13 gang members. ...
  • In mid-August 2014, a 29-year-old 18th Street gang member was stabbed to death in Houston by a 16-year-old El Salvadoran member of MS-13…. According to investigators, the juvenile suspect revealed he illegally crossed into the U.S. in March 2014.4

MS-13 remains listed as at top-tier threat in the 2017 edition of the report, stating that while the illegal border influx has declined “slightly” since 2014, and that while state law enforcement agencies have made some progress, its transnational activity is still a major public safety problem for the state.5

Other state law enforcement agencies report similarly significant increases in MS-13 crime. The Montgomery County, Md., corrections head says the number of incarcerated MS-13 members has risen 20 percent, straining their ability to maintain order. Suffolk County, N.Y., reports a similar rise over the last two years. Prince William County, Va., reports a 32 percent increase in two years, and next-door Fairfax County says their MS-13 inmate population has doubled in the last year.6

506 MS-13 Cases Compiled. Using simple internet searches, Center researchers found 506 cases of MS-13 members arrested or charged with crimes since 2012. We compiled information on the name of the suspect, location of arrest, country of citizenship, age, offense, victim's name and age, and immigration history.

The map below represents the Center's review of these cases. For the purposes of the map, the accused were grouped into a single point when related, such as when multiple members were arrested for a single murder or were part of a racketeering indictment. The points were then color-coded under four general crime categories:

  1. Murder and Attempted Murder
  2. Sex Crimes
  3. Assault and Violent Crime
  4. Other Crimes.

Though a single point may be marked as a "Murder or Attempted Murder", this does not preclude the offender(s) from having committed crimes not related to murder. For details on each individual represented on the map, please download our complete list of MS-13 criminals.

This set of cases is not a full representation of MS-13 activity throughout the country during this time period, of course. Nevertheless, it gives an indication of the scale of the problem and the direct connection to immigration policy....

 MS-13 Suspects by State

MS-13 Arrests Occurred Across the Country, but Are Concentrated in UAC Settlement Areas. The cases we identified were located in 22 different states. The state with the most reported arrests was California (92), followed by Maryland (84), New York (80), and Virginia (63). Table 1 shows the arrests by state.

The arrests occurred primarily in urban or suburban locations, like Boston, Charlotte, Fairfax County, Va., and Brentwood, N.Y., but also in a number of relatively rural areas, like Frederick County, Md., Lynchburg, Va., and Seneca County, Ohio.

The parts of the country that have experienced an increase in MS-13 activity correspond roughly to the areas where there have been the largest number of UAC resettlement placements by the federal government.7 This makes sense; about 15 years ago, MS-13 made a push to expand from Los Angeles to other parts of the country with sizeable Central American communities, including many illegal aliens. Most of the MS-13 members also were in the country illegally.8 These same communities have been the destination of the recent UAC arrivals, who were joining family and friends who had arrived earlier.9

207 MS-13 Murders. The MS-13 members identified in the cases we found were accused of very serious crimes, including 207 murders. More than 100 were accused of conspiracy/racketeering, and dozens of others were charged with drug trafficking, sex trafficking, attempted murder, sexual assaults, and extortion.

We understand that it is the most serious crimes that are most likely to be reported in the news media and by prosecutors. Nevertheless, in the aggregate, this compilation of cases is alarming, and confirms the severity of the public safety threat posed by MS-13.

At a recent roundtable of officials convened at the White House by President Trump on February 6, 2018, to discuss the MS-13 problem, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said that MS-13 members had committed 17 murders in an 18-month period, representing 38 percent of all homicides in his district. According to investigators, the number of MS-13-related murders in Montgomery County, Md., has gone from about one a year to seven in the last two years.10

Table 2 presents the most serious criminal charges or offenses for each case in our set.

 MS-13 Suspects by Cime

Many MS-13 Members Are Foreign Nationals, Often Here Illegally. The MS-13 gang was formed by illegal aliens from El Salvador who settled in Los Angeles in the 1980s, along with hundreds of thousands of others from Central America. A number of the founding members of MS-13 fought with guerilla and paramilitary groups and participated in violence in El Salvador before relocating to the United States. They held their own in the California gang environments and succeeded in carving out a niche for criminal activity, cultivating a reputation for brutality, intimidation, and zero tolerance for informants or snitching. They recruited new members aggressively, primarily other citizens of El Salvador or the children of Salvadoran migrants. Federal authorities estimated that in its heyday, 90 percent of the MS-13 members were in the country illegally.

ICE and other law enforcement agencies moved aggressively against MS-13 beginning in 2005, seeking to disrupt activities, arrest, prosecute and deport gang members and associates where possible, and dismantle individual cliques and criminal enterprises. The gang's strength was significantly diminished and soon ICE shifted focus to other gangs it considered to be a greater threat.

Today, a smaller percentage of MS-13 members is believed to be here illegally. Some are U.S.-born, others have obtained green cards or have Temporary Protected Status; some have Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). But when the gang leadership decided to launch a more concerted effort to enlarge in the United States, it was able to take advantage of the Obama administration's catch-and-release policies for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border to move in younger members from Central America. For example, one MS-13 clique leader in Frederick, Md., who had received a DACA work permit and was employed as a custodian at a middle school in Frederick, Md., and who was recently incarcerated for various gang-related crimes, reportedly was told by gang leaders in El Salvador to take advantage of the lenient policies on UACs to bring in new recruits, knowing that they would be allowed to resettle in the area with few questions asked. Several of these unaccompanied minors now have been arrested and incarcerated for various crimes, including a vicious random attack on a sheriff's deputy in 2015.

In addition, the influx of tens of thousands of teenagers, mostly male, into areas where the gang already had a presence, provided a large pool of youths from which to recruit new members. According to local gang investigators, these gangs have been aggressively recruiting recently arrived Central American children as young as 10 years old.

While most of the reports of MS-13 suspects in our case set did not include information on the immigration status of the individual, in 126 of the 506 cases (and in 38 of the 207 murder cases) we were able to determine that the suspect was an illegal alien.

According to ICE, 30 percent of the MS-13 members that ICE has arrested in recent years are UACs. We could determine that 120 of the 507 MS-13 arrests in our case set arrived as UACs, including 48 of the murder suspects.

Not all of the reports included information on the suspect's country of citizenship, but of those that included this information, 88 percent were from El Salvador. The rest were citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

MS-13 Suspects Were Young, but their Victims Were Younger. Nearly all of the reports we found included information on the age of the MS-13 suspect at the time of arrest. In these cases, the age of the gang members ranged from 14 to 57, with a median age of 23. (See Figure 1.)

 Ages of MS-13 Suspects and Victims

Information on the victims of the crimes was provided in 164 of the cases. They ranged in age from 14 to 74, with a median age of 19. Sixty of the victims were under the age of 18, including 52 of the murder victims.

The Proliferation of Sanctuaries May Complicate Disruption of MS-13. Many of the hotbeds of MS-13 activity are also places where local officials have adopted sanctuary policies. These policies prevent ICE from working effectively with local law enforcement agencies. There are approximately 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the country, and they include municipalities, counties, and states.11 About half of the MS-13 arrests in our case set (222) occurred in sanctuary jurisdictions.

In addition to information and intelligence, ICE and other immigration agencies have unique immigration authorities that can be particularly effective in addressing criminal activity from transnational gangs. These authorities include the ability to charge criminal aliens with immigration violations such as illegal entry, overstaying a visa, re-entry after deportation, failure to appear for immigration proceedings, illegal possession of a firearm, identity or document fraud, immigration fraud, alien smuggling, immigration charges based on prior commission of serious crimes (aggravated felonies) and other prosecutorial tools.12

Sanctuary policies are destructive to local and federal efforts to combat gangs because they interfere with communication and cooperation that could lead to disruption and dismantling of gangs with large numbers of non-citizens. In addition, sanctuary policies inevitably result in the release of criminal aliens back to the streets where they can and do re-offend. Finally, sanctuary policies can act as a magnet for criminal gangs whose members are in the country illegally, because they know that immigration violations will be overlooked and that their use of fraudulent documents and identities is less likely to be detected.

The practical result of such policies is the release of deportable criminal alien gang members back to the streets of the communities, where they are likely to resume their criminal activities. Acting ICE Director Tom Homan has stated that since January 2014, there have been 10,000 criminal aliens who were released by sanctuaries and who were then subsequently arrested for additional crimes. Homan said that the recidivism rate for released criminal aliens could be as high as 70 percent, which is consistent with the recidivism rate for all offenders in the United States.13

Recommendations. There are a number of steps Congress should take to assist federal and local law enforcement agencies in combating MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations. Many of these provisions are found in the Secure America's Future Act, introduced by a group of committee chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.14

These steps include:

  • Update the definition of a criminal gang in federal law, and provide for a designation process to create a bar to the admission of gang members and grounds for their removal. This ensures that the federal government can prevent the entry of known gang members and deny them access to any form of visa, permanent residence, work permit, asylum, or other immigration benefit. Currently, the government must wait for a gang member to commit a crime before disqualifying them from such benefits.
  • Require ICE and the Border Patrol to detain gang members while they are being processed for deportation.
  • Update the law to provide for more serious consequences for sanctuary jurisdictions and the officials who impose sanctuary policies.
  • Revise immigration law to allow DHS more flexibility in dealing with minors and families who are caught after crossing the border illegally.

End Notes

1 Jessica Vaughan and Jon Feere, "Taking Back the Streets: ICE and Local Law Enforcement Target Immigrant Gangs", Center for Immigration Studies, September 30, 2008.

2 Joseph J. Kolb, "Immigration Impunity: Illegal immigrant sponsors of UACs avoid accountability for non-compliance with deportation process", Center for Immigration Studies, February 2017.

3"President Trump Holds a Law Enforcement Roundtable on MS-13", Latest.com, February 6, 2018.

4"Texas Gang Threat Assessment", Texas Joint Crime Information Center, Intelligence & Counterterrorism Division, Texas Department of Public Safety, August, 2015.

5"DPS Releases Texas Gang Threat Assessment", Texas Department of Public Safety, July 25, 2017.

6 Michael E. Miller, "'Vying for control': How MS-13 uses violence and extortion in America's jails", The Washington Post, February 5, 2018.

7 See "Facts and Data" section of the Office of Refugee Resettlement website.

8 See Vaughan and Feere, "Taking Back the Streets".

9 Joseph J. Kolb, "Brentwood, NY Consumed by MS-13 Crime Wave", Center for Immigration Studies, November 3, 2016, and "Immigration Impunity", Center for Immigration Studies, February 17, 2017.

10 J. Weston Phippen, "What Trump Doesn't Understand About MS-13", The Atlantic, June 26, 2017.

11 See the Center for Immigration Studies map and lists of sanctuary jurisdictions here.

12 For more information, see Claude Arnold, "Immigration Authorities and Gang Enforcement", U.S. Attorney's Bulletin 47, May 2006.

13 Acting ICE Director Tom Homan in remarks in Miami, Fla.; see "ICE Director: Sanctuaries 'Pulling their own funding' by disobeying feds", Fox News, August 16, 2017.

14H.R.4760 - Securing America's Future Act of 2018.

Bravo to new CIS mission statement

No longer will non-citizens coming into the U.S. from other countries be officially classified as “customers” who must be catered to.  Welcome to the return of realism and truth.  Here’s the revised mission statement of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services agency:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.

Contrast this with the former open-borders slant that prevailed for far too long:

USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.

Explaining deletion of the “customer” reference from the Mission statement, USCIS’s Director L. Francis Cissna (appointed by President Trump) said:

What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as "customers" promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law. Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve. All applicants and petitioners should, of course, always be treated with the greatest respect and courtesy, but we can't forget that we serve the American people.

Right on, Mr. Cissna!  Thank you.

Senate rejects Trump immigration plan

The Senate rejected legislation based on President Trump's framework for an immigration deal in a 39-60 vote on Thursday, leaving an uncertain path forward for Congress with nearly a million immigrants sheltered by an Obama-era program facing the prospect of deportation.

The measure spearheaded by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) needed 60 votes to clear a filibuster, but failed to meet the mark.

It was the fourth proposal in a row rejected by the Senate ...

The Grassley measure provided a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Many of these people could face deportation beginning in March as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is scaled back, though court rulings are complicating that matter.

It also included $25 billion for border security, tougher interior enforcement and new limits on legal immigration.

Supporters of the plan and the White House mounted an intense pressure campaign to win over the 60 votes needed to move forward with their plan.

"The president, in my view, has gone more than halfway to meet the Democrats and resolve this matter..." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said ahead of the vote.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also called the framework a "reasonable compromise."

And Trump, in a tweet, urged senators to "strongly consider a system of merit based immigration."

"While the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working hard to come up with a solution to DACA, they should be strongly considering a system of Merit Based Immigration so that we will have the people ready, willing and able to help all of those companies moving into the USA!" he said.

Bolstering the White House, most Senate Republicans backed the measure, despite some concerns about cuts to legal immigration. And Trump won over three Democrats — Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) — all of whom face tough reelection races in deep-red states this fall. 

“I share the President's commitment to border security," Manchin said. "That’s why I voted for his plan. That’s why I fought to ensure the $25 billion he requested for border security was included in the bipartisan deal. That’s why I opposed the Democratic proposal that did not provide a single penny for border security." 
 
Trump and McConnell threw their support behind the Grassley plan earlier this week, bolstering its chances. Republicans are wary of moving forward with an immigration bill that the president doesn't support given that the issue is a political lightning rod amongst the party's base.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of Trump's closest allies in the Senate, warned ahead of the vote that any Republicans who supported a separate bipartisan proposal should be concerned about "their electoral futures.”

But the interior enforcement measures, limits to legal immigration and nixing of the Diversity Visa Lottery program were largely considered nonstarters for Democrats.

"President Trump, since he created this problem by terminating DACA last August, has stood in the way of every single proposal that has had a chance to become law," said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Republicans tried to pressure Democrats into supporting the measure, making it the fourth of the four proposals to get a vote in the Senate Thursday. But Democrats largely scoffed at the take it-or-leave it set up.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) separately told reporters that “I think the writing’s on the wall with the Grassley proposal. … Few if any Democrats will vote for it.”

Grassley tried to win over Democratic support by pledging they would be able to offer changes if it overcame an initial procedural hurdle.

"Aren't you at a point where here the Democrats have been pleading for months and months and months for justice," he said, "why would they turn it down?"

Where the Senate's debate goes next is unclear, though Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters that both sides would keep talking ahead of the March 5 deadline.

Where the Senate's debate goes next is unclear. 

The Trump administration announced last year that they were ending DACA, which allows undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and go to school.

Under that decision Congress has until March 5 to pass a fix. But two court dates have thrown that into limbo.

McConnell said late Thursday afternoon that it had been a "disappointing week" and Democrats "couldn't take yes for an answer." 

And while noting that he had "held up my end of the bargain," the GOP leader left the door open to bringing immigration back up if a plan emerged that could pass both chambers and had the support of the White House. 

"Even though this week has been squandered, this does not have to be the end of our efforts," he said.

 

Portland sex attack suspect's 12 deportations inflame immigration debate

Sergio Martinez returned to Portland after nearly a decade's absence. But he'd been busy in the meantime: Deported 12 times. Convicted three times for illegal re-entry. A rap sheet of crimes from burglary to theft in three states.

Immigration agents noticed his name on a Multnomah County list of jail inmates last December. They asked the Sheriff's Office to alert them before releasing Martinez so they could send him back to Mexico one more time.

But they never heard a word. Martinez spent a night in the downtown jail, then was out.

Police in Portland arrested Martinez five more times over the next six months. Each time, he was booked into jail. Each time, immigration agents had no idea that he'd been arrested, booked and released.

Sergio Martinez's deportations, federal prosecutions

Records show federal authorities deported Martinez 12 times and sent him back to Mexico a 13th time...

On July 24, seven days after his last release, Martinez, 31, crawled through a window in a 65-year-old woman's Northeast Portland apartment, tied her up with scarves and socks and sexually assaulted her, police said.

That night, he grabbed a 37-year-old woman at knifepoint as she walked to her car. He forced her into her car, but she escaped and he followed, tackled her and repeatedly bashed her head into the concrete until others arrived and he ran off, police said.

Martinez's record has become Exhibit A in a polarized political landscape that pits the Trump administration's vigorous push to curtail illegal immigration against states like Oregon with powerful sanctuary movements.

Martinez's latest arrest inflamed a national debate that shows no signs of waning. Top federal law-and-order leaders from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams decried the local jail's silence on a criminal who had earned the label of "serial immigration violator." Multnomah County itself had labeled Martinez's chances of committing another crime and failing to appear in court as "100 percent."

"The fact that these things happened to these two women is inexcusable,'' Williams said.

Williams and immigration officials say the sheriff has misconstrued state and federal law...

"We can't do our job and enforce federal immigration law without that shared information,'' Williams said....

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese defended the jail's actions, saying it was following state law and federal case law....

Reese said he felt "distressed and heartbroken'' that Martinez is accused of preying on women after his release from jail.

How others in Oregon handle ICE requests for inmate information

If Sergio Martinez had been arrested in Washington or Yamhill counties, immigration agents would have learned of it right away.

But he said sheriff's deputies will notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about an inmate or hold that person longer only when they get a federal criminal arrest warrant signed by a judge. The ICE "detainer" for Martinez was an administrative request and doesn't meet the jail standard, he said....

"We're trying to build relationships of trust with immigrant communities. Having our police officers involved in immigration enforcement would damage our ability to keep our community safe,'' the sheriff said.

Michael Kagan, a legal expert on immigration issues, said the law allows the jail to make a simple notification to ICE about an inmate's release...

But Kagan added that there's nothing to stop immigration officials from seeking an arrest warrant to detain someone. He noted that ICE isn't set up to do that and hasn't devoted the resources to change.

ACLU of Oregon attorney Mat dos Santos said he believes immigration agents have the wherewithal to check jail rosters and pick up people they want. They don't need to enlist local help.

"The problem with information sharing," he said, "is it sweeps up many, many people who have low-level offenses into this increased enforcement regime.''

COMMUNICATION WITH ICE EVAPORATED OVER TIME

Multnomah County, with by far Oregon's busiest jail system, now follows the strictest interpretation of the state's sanctuary law, essentially cutting off direct communication with immigration agents on inmate arrests and releases.

From 35,000 to 38,000 people get booked into the system here each year, including an estimated 4 percent who report being born in other countries.

Sergio Martinez's arrests in Oregon, 2016-2017

The Martinez case highlights how the county's relationship with ICE has evaporated over time, but especially after President Donald Trump's election. It also has exposed a gap in sharing jail fingerprint records that immigration agents can use as a back-up way to find people.

Reese changed the rules shortly after Trump took office.

Oregon's statute on "Enforcement of federal immigration laws'' was designed to prohibit the use of public resources to arrest people "whose only apparent violation of law'' is their illegal immigration status – a civil offense, not a crime. The 1987 law was intended to prevent police from using immigration regulations to profile or harass people based on their race, testimony on the bill showed.

Before its adoption, legislators added an amendment at the request of Oregon State Police to make sure local authorities could exchange information with ICE for people arrested on a non-immigration criminal offense.

For years, immigration agents had regular shifts at Multnomah County's downtown jail, allowed to review booking registers to look for people who faced deportation.

But that stopped after a federal magistrate judge in 2014 ruled Clackamas County was liable for damages after it held an inmate beyond her release date at the request of immigration agents who were still investigating her immigration status.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart decided that Clackamas County violated Maria Mirandas-Oliveras' Fourth Amendment right by keeping her in jail 19 hours after settling her state case for violating a domestic violence restraining order.

The judge ruled that ICE hadn't provided sufficient probable cause to hold her and the jail shouldn't have honored the request. The ruling started a ripple effect in the state, causing jails and police to no longer agree to such civil detainers.

Instead, Multnomah County and other jails started providing weekly reports to immigration officers on all people born outside the country booked into their jails, their names, ages and charges.

But on Jan. 27, Multnomah County stopped sharing those reports. That change came two days after the sheriff stood at a news conference with county Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury, the ACLU's dos Santos and others, pledging to defy President Trump's call to hold undocumented immigrants for deportation amid threats to withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities...

Instead, he said, immigration agents can access the sheriff's public website on inmates in custody or contact the corrections records unit for public information if they want to track arrests.

"Our public website is our source of sharing information with everyone, including ICE,'' the sheriff said.

Elizabeth Godfrey, a regional supervisor for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations based in Portland, said county officials have "grossly mischaracterized and misinterpreted'' the state law.

"Concluding that the law somehow prohibits information sharing is frankly inaccurate and is unsupported by its legislative history and relevant case law,'' she said.

Local jails clearly could follow the sanctuary law's provision for exchanging information in cases like Martinez's -- when accused offenders face criminal charges, she said.

The county sheriff also has misapplied the federal judge's ruling, Godfrey said.

ICE, though, no longer requests that Oregon sheriffs hold someone on a civil detainer beyond their typical release date, she said, recognizing that the 2014 court case "aroused concern among local law enforcement."

But the sheriff's stance of requiring a criminal arrest warrant is unrealistic because it can take days or weeks and ICE isn't set up to do that, she said. Very few illegal immigrants that the agency encounters are subject to federal criminal prosecution, she said, and in those cases, agents must first know they've been arrested, which requires an exchange of information.

"We weren't given that opportunity'' in the Martinez case, Godfrey said.

FINGERPRINT SNAFU FURTHER HAMPERS ICE

Martinez's mother brought him to the United States when he was not yet 1. His father died when he was a few months old and his stepfather died when he was about 10...

His record in California includes convictions for burglary in 2008 and battery, theft and obstructing an officer in 2015.  California authorities typically alerted ICE when Martinez was released from prison there, as state corrections officials do in Oregon. Federal authorities said he also was charged in Texas in 2012 with misdemeanor criminal mischief under a false name.

Last year alone, Martinez was deported to Mexico from California three times before he was arrested by Beaverton police in December on a 2008 Multnomah County arrest warrant, charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle and nine other charges.

He was taken to Portland and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 9:40 a.m. on Dec. 7.

Immigration agents learned of Martinez's arrest through the sheriff's weekly report to the federal agency on foreign-born detainees before Reese halted the practice. They then faxed a detainer form to the jail, asking for notification before Martinez's release.

Martinez was released from jail the next day at 1:35 p.m. A Multnomah County prosecutor dropped the 2008 charges because eight years had gone by – long past the three-year mark for a speedy trial.

Martinez was booked into the jail five more times from February to June:

-- Feb. 13: On a failure to appear warrant on a January allegation of criminal trespass from a disturbance at Pioneer Place mall. He was released on his own recognizance the same day.

-- March 3: On warrants alleging possession of methamphetamine and failure to appear for the trespass charge. By then, court officers highlighted that he had five earlier felony deportation violations, three failures to appear in Multnomah County court and a history of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse. He was released the same day and ordered to report to a pretrial supervision officer.

-- March 21: On another failure-to-appear warrant for the trespass allegation. He was released on his own recognizance the same day.

-- April 6: On an accusation of interfering with public transportation and theft of services in an alleged TriMet fare jumping case. He was released the same night on his own recognizance.

-- June 16: On an escape warrant from a Feb. 17 encounter with police when he ran as officers tried to serve him with a warrant in the trespass case. This time, he was held for 31 days. A court officer called Martinez an unsuitable candidate for release, citing his lack of stability, history of drug and alcohol use, criminal record, history of missing court dates, mental health problems, earlier deportations and a score of 8 on a risk assessment tool that correlated to a "100 percent failure rate.''

On July 17, Martinez pleaded guilty to interfering with an officer. His other charges were dismissed. He was sentenced to time served and released from custody that day.

Even without the notification from the jail of the releases, immigration agents thought they had a stopgap way to track Martinez, but that failed, too.

The jail is expected to take fingerprints of everyone booked into jail and is supposed to send them electronically to Oregon State Police, which then shares them through the National Fingerprint File with the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Typically, immigration officers would have received alerts when Martinez's fingerprints appeared in their system each time he was booked into the downtown jail. But they got none after his five arrests this year....

Maj. Tom Worthy, a supervisor with the state police Public Safety Services Bureau, said police can scan and immediately send biometric prints, so there's no reason why the prints shouldn't go to state police every time someone gets booked.

"We want to have a definitive record of people committing crime in Oregon," he said.

On July 24, Martinez entered a woman's apartmen....and sexually assaulted her, threatening her with a metal rod in his hand, police said. Martinez then left with her keys and phone and drove away in her Prius.

The woman ran to a neighbor's unit for help....

About 6 p.m. that same day, Martinez is accused of pulling a knife on a woman as she was walking to her car....

...he insisted he just wanted to talk, though he added, "If you say another word I will kill you,'' according to police. He ordered her into her car and locked the doors. She unlocked them and ran out. He tackled her and she screamed, "Help, he has a knife. He's trying to kill me!'' He ran back into her car and tried to drive off but couldn't, then fled on foot as police chased after him.

Police followed him as he ran into an apartment on Clackamas Street. An officer, with his Taser drawn, ordered Martinez to the ground.

Martinez is now being held on $3.6 million bail. He's pleaded not guilty to a 27-count indictment, charging him in the two assaults on the women, including multiple charges of sodomy, sexual abuse, kidnapping and robbery.

FEDS WANT 'SHARED RESPONSIBILITY'

Oregon's U.S. attorney and immigration officials said they hope Martinez's case will spur change.

They no longer hold out hope that sheriffs in Oregon will keep someone in their county jail on an immigration hold.

But they're asking sheriffs in Oregon to give ICE agents as much advance notice as possible before releasing inmates sought by immigration officers.

They also want to allow immigration agents to pick up the inmates within a jail entry or other controlled space to safeguard officers and avoid a potential escape.

"Tell me we don't have a shared responsibility not to release people like this individual back into our community to commit more crimes,'' Williams said.

Godfrey, the deputy ICE field office director, said she would sit down with sheriffs to address their concerns.

"Of course we want people who are committing really dangerous and violent crimes to be held accountable, but it seems to me they're using this example to try to get Portland to walk back on what it stands for – protecting documented and undocumented members of our community,'' said dos Santos of the ACLU.

Kagan, the Nevada law professor, suggests a middle ground: Have the jail alert immigration agents about the release of people considered dangerous and streamline a system to notify the immigration agency about people it wants to pick up for deportation proceedings.

So far, Multnomah County isn't budging.

If ICE wants to pursue an inmate for illegal entry into the United States, Reese said, "We suggest they seek a criminal arrest warrant.''

Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams says the sheriff has misconstrued state and federal law, arguing that nothing prevents local police and jails from sharing information with federal agents about people in the country illegally who face criminal charges. "This is information going from one law enforcement agency to another and it's about public safety. It's that simple,'' he said.(Stephanie Yao Long | Staff )

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in an Aug. 16 address in Miami, cited the arrest of Sergio Martinez in a sex assault case and blasted Multnomah County's refusal to alert immigration officers of his release from jail in December. "How can these politicians hear this story and do nothing?'' he asked. "By protecting criminals from immigration enforcement, cities and states with so-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe.'' (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese in late January stopped sharing with federal immigration officers the jail's weekly reports on bookings of foreign-born inmates. He said he changed the jail's practice after "robust conversations with county counsel and stakeholders." He said he was advised that providing reports specifically to ICE may violate the state's 1987 sanctuary law. (Beth Nakamura|Staff )

Sergio Martinez was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland five times between February and June, but federal immigration officers had no idea. (Oregonian File Photo 2010)

Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams says the sheriff has misconstrued state and federal law, arguing that nothing prevents local police and jails from sharing information with federal agents about people in the country illegally who face criminal charges. "This is information going from one law enforcement agency to another and it's about public safety. It's that simple,'' he said.

"Expedited" option could cut backlogs of deportable aliens

 
“Expedited removal” is a term in ICE lingo which means the removal of a recently arrived illegal alien without the need to present the illegal alien to an immigration judge for a removal hearing first.  There are hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens now in the U.S. whose cases have been tied up in immigration court appeals for years while the alien continues to live here, perhaps taking a job that would otherwise go to a citizen.
 
As described by Dan Cadman, a retired INS-ICE official with many years of experience in immigration law enforcement, “expedited removal” has been possible since 1997 but has never been fully implemented, even though the DHS has the legal authority to do so.
 
Cadman explains that expedited removal  “ … is applicable, should the DHS secretary choose to extend it by rule, to any alien, anywhere in the United States, who has not been admitted or paroled, and who cannot prove to the satisfaction of the immigration authorities that he or she has been continuously present in the United States for at least two years.”
 
Cadman concludes:
 
“There is no excuse for not expanding its reach to the fullest potential permitted by law, certainly not when:
 
• There are somewhere around 11 or 12 million aliens residing and working illegally in the United States;
 
• There are finite resource limits to the number of officers and agents, all of whom could be used more effectively and efficiently with full implementation of expedite removal; and
 
• The immigration courts are so backlogged that the nationwide docket is the highest it's ever been: in excess of 610,000 pending cases as of May 2017, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
 
“A decision by Secretary Kelly to expand expedited removal proceedings is clearly the right thing to do; in fact, it's long overdue.”
-----------------
The complete blog, entitled The time has come to expand the reach of expedited removal to its full statutory potential, is posted on the Center for Immigration Studies’ website here.

ICE chief: 80% jump in illegal targets, readies national 'sanctuary' crackdown

Empowered by a president who has "taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement," the nation's chief immigration official revealed Tuesday that deportation targets have surged and that he's planning to deploy more agents and resources to "sanctuary cities" to arrest illegal criminals.

Thomas D. Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview that since Trump entered office, illegal border crossings have crashed by almost 70 percent, "an historic low," arrests inside the country have jumped 40 percent and that demands for illegal criminals in local jails has skyrocketed 80 percent.

"You can like President Trump, not like him, like his policies, not like his policies, but one thing no one can argue with is the effect they've had," said Homan, the former chief ICE enforcement boss and a 30-year immigration agency veteran.

He said that the change in immigration enforcement has been radical — and welcome — under Trump. "You'd think everybody would be celebrating these policies," he said during the 45-minute interview in his office.

One group he says are cheering: Border Patrol and ICE agents. "Now they have meaning to their jobs," said Homan. "What this president has done is taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing immigration laws," he added.

The drop in illegal crossings has given ICE a chance to redirect resources to interior United States and immigrants locked up in jails, illegally working jobs and on the run.

A key target is the 300-plus sanctuary cities and counties that do not cooperate with ICE and ignore requests that they detail criminal illegals for ICE arrest and deportation proceedings.

Homan called sanctuaries "ludicrous," adding, "In the America I grew up in, cities didn't shield people who violated the law."

A New York native who took his first immigration job during the Reagan administration, Homan said that he plans to flood sanctuary cities with agents. He has been OK'd to hire 10,000 new agents and many will help track down illegals in those havens.

"The president recognizes that you've got to have a true interior enforcement strategy to make it uncomfortable for them," he said.

He ripped cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco that refuse to let ICE officers into jails to seize illegal criminals. He explained that it is much safer for ICE targets, police and citizens to make the arrest in jails than on city streets.

What's more, he said that the sanctuary policies create more fear in immigrant communities by forcing ICE agents to hunt down fugitives at their homes or work. "I'm going to arrest him and anybody else with him because there is no population off the table any more. So if you really want to tap down the fear in the immigrant community, I would think the counties would want me in their jails," he said.

Homan testified before Congress recently that under Trump, no illegal immigrant is safe from deportation, though the administration is prioritizing criminals, fugitives, threats to national security and those who illegally reentered the U.S.

"I don't think that there is a magic number that we need to get to," said Homan.

"What I want to get to is a clear understanding from everybody, from the congressmen to the politicians to law enforcement to those who enter the country illegally, that ICE is open for business. We're going to enforce the laws on the books without apology, we'll continue to prioritize what we do. But it's not OK to violate the laws of this country anymore, you're going to be held accountable," he added.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com

Oregon GOP Chair Applauds SCOTUS Ruling on Travel Suspension

Wilsonville, OR - The Oregon Republican Party issued the following statement from Chairman Bill Currier in reaction to today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) lifting the lower court injunctions against President Trump’s Executive Order suspending the entry of travelers and refugees from 6 nations identified by both Congress and the Obama Administration as providing insufficient vetting information to keep terrorists out of the U.S.

SCOTUS Rules On Travel Suspension “We applaud the Supreme Court's Nine to Zero ruling restoring the Presidential prerogative to enforce immigration laws and protect the country from threats such as terrorism that were clearly delegated by Congress, but which the misguided lower courts ignored. It is not, and never was, a "Muslim" ban, but rather an effort to ban terrorists and their sympathizers from taking up residence in our neighborhoods where they can do massive harm to innocent civilians,” stated Oregon GOP Chairman Bill Currier.

The Trump Administration asserted that it has clear legal authority under 8 U.S. Code § 1182 (f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President.  However, this authority was largely ignored by lower courts in their rulings blocking implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order.

“Lower courts, such as the frequently reversed 9th Circuit Court, should never have tried to substitute their discretion and authority for that expressly delegated to the Executive Branch on national security,” said Currier. “The ruling also rejects judicial overreach by reaffirming the importance of leaving it to the Executive Branch to negotiate with countries who are either unable or unwilling to give the U.S. Government what it needs to vet visitors and refugees before granting them entry to our country.”

The six countries affected comprise only a small fraction of the world’s 42 Muslim-majority nations and population, and were cited as being one or more of the following:

  1. A state sponsor of terrorism
  2. Significantly compromised by terrorist organizations
  3. An active terrorist conflict zone(s).

“We live in a new era in which terrorist groups like ISIS have vowed to, and in Europe, have succeeded in covertly infiltrating terrorists as refugees and visitors into countries they have targeted for attack," noted Chair Currier. “Today’s SCOTUS ruling rightly puts the safety and security of America First.”

The Oregon Republican Party is the state’s arm of the Republican National Committee. It’s Chairman and officers are dedicated to preserving and advancing Republican principles within the state of Oregon and to improving the lives and livelihoods of Oregon’s working families through economic freedom and equal protection under the law.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday 06/26/17–3:00 PM PDT
Contact: ORP Communications Director
communications.director@orgop.org (link sends e-mail) – (503) 902-4671

SUPPORTERS VISIT https://oregon.gop/get-updates TO SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR GRASSROOTS EMAIL UPDATES

 

IRLI Files Brief Defending Trump Sanctuary City Executive Order

(Washington, D.C.) - Yesterday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has filed an amicus curiae brief (attached here) in the case of City of Seattle v. Donald J. Trump in support of President Trump's January 25, 2017 Executive Order (EO) cracking down on sanctuary cities. The EO threatens to cut off federal funds to any sanctuary city that does not comply with a federal statute that bars states and localities from prohibiting their employees from sharing immigration status information with the federal government (8 U.S.C. section 1373). Seattle, a notorious sanctuary city, has sued to halt the EO's implementation, claiming it violates the Spending Clause of the Constitution.

Seattle is concerned because it municipal code forbids city officers and employees to "inquire into the immigration status of any person, or engage in activities designed to ascertain the immigration status of any person." In its brief filed today, IRLI argued that Seattle's law violates, and is preempted by, section 1373. Even apart from section 1373, IRLI argued that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with a wider federal program and works to thwart congressional objectives. IRLI concluded that because the city's lawsuit is premised on an unlawful and unconstitutional policy, it should be dismissed.

IRLI's Executive Director Dale Wilcox commented, "This is yet another lawsuit by a city desperate to evade President Trump's emphasis on enhancing public safety through enforcing our immigration laws. Information sharing is a crucial component of that enforcement, and Seattle knows that if cities refuse to cooperate, enforcement will flounder." Wilcox continued, "The court should make clear that sanctuary-city policies like Seattle's are illegal to begin with, even apart from President Trump's Executive Order, and that cities can't legitimately complain about being coerced to refrain from illegal policies."

For additional information, contact: Olivia de la Peña • 202-232-5590 • odelapena@irli.org

 

No apologies: ICE chief says illegal immigrants should live in fear of deportation

Illegal immigrants should be living in fear of being deported, the chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday, pushing back against a growing sentiment among Democrats on Capitol Hill and activists across the country who have complained about agents enforcing the laws on the books.

Thomas D. Homan, acting director at ICE, said anyone in the country without authorization can be arrested and those who have been ordered deported by judges must be removed if laws are to have meaning.
 
His comments marked a major shift for an agency that President Obama forbade from enforcing the law when it came to more than 9 million of the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Unshackled from Mr. Obama's strictures, agents have dramatically increased the number of arrests.
Advocacy groups are enraged and demand leniency for traumatized immigrants.
 
Mr. Homan makes no apologies.  "If you're in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried,  Mr. Homan testified to the House Appropriations Committee. No population is off the table."
 
The Trump administration is asking for significant boosts in spending for both border and interior enforcement, but it is meeting resistance from Democrats who oppose a crackdown.  Democrats will not accept a penny of funding for a new deportation force or a border wall,” said Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
 
Border Patrol acting Chief Carla Provost defended the 74 miles of fencing that President Trump wants to erect next year, saying the wall will plug holes where illegal activity is still a problem in San Diego and parts of Texas.
 
She said the southwestern border is at medium risk of penetration and needs the wall to assist. She said construction on the 74 miles would start in either March or April.
 
Mr. Homan, meanwhile, said he needs a major infusion of detention beds to hold the larger population of illegal immigrants, now that his agents have been unshackled from the restrictions under Mr. Obama.
 
He said the number of countries refusing to take back their deportees has been cut in half, while the number of jurisdictions looking to have their police and sheriff's deputies trained to process illegal immigrants in their jails has nearly doubled and will likely triple by the end of the year.
 
In addition, some 400,000 illegal immigrants ordered removed by judges but who were ignored under the Obama administration are now back on the list of priorities.
 
All of that means more illegal immigrants to be detained in preparation for deportation.
 
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, told Mr. Homan not to try deporting drunken drivers.  DWI or traffic is not really considered to be the type of people that are hurting our country,  he said.
Mr. Homan, though, said drunken driving sounds like a public safety risk.  "They should be removed," he said.
 
Mr. Homan said anyone in the country without authorization is a target for enforcement.  "We shouldn't wait for them to become a criminal," he said.
 
That angered immigrant rights advocates, who said it showed antipathy toward illegal immigrants.
 
"Wow. How revealing," said Frank Sharry, executive director at America's Voice. "Homan makes it clear that the ICE strategy is to indiscriminately target the entire undocumented population in America and to intentionally spread fear throughout millions of deeply rooted families."  He called Mr. Homan's testimony extremist.
 
Mr. Homan pushed back against such criticism. He said his agents are enforcing the laws as written and no other branch of law enforcement faces the abusive questions his employees do.
 
He said the illegal immigrants deserve the blame for separating families. When a U.S. citizen commits a crime and goes to jail, he said, the police who catch him aren't blamed for keeping him from his family.
 
Mr. Homan said the increased risk of enforcement is part of the reason illegal immigration across the southwestern border is at its lowest level in decades.
Democrats, though, said his officers need to show more discretion.
 
Ms. Lowey raised the case of a 19-year-old man in New York who was arrested on the day of his high school prom, which she said sent the wrong signal.
She said the man had kept out of trouble and was arrested while waiting at a bus stop for school.
 
Mr. Homen defended the arrest as valid. He said the young man committed a crime when he sneaked across the border and ignored an immigration judge's order to be removed.
 
"He lost his case, and because we don't like the results of that case we forget about it?'   Mr. Homan asked Ms. Lowey.  "I don't know where else in the American justice system any other agency is told to ignore a judge's ruling."

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