Homeland Security

Detentions put counties, ICE at odds

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say that refusal by jails to cooperate with so-called “detainers” is resulting in unauthorized immigrants with violent criminal pasts – including alleged rapists, child abusers and drug traffickers – being released in New Mexico before federal authorities can take them into custody.

But the counties being asked to hold those individuals are pushing back, citing lawsuits and costs, among other objections.

Nearly every New Mexico county detention center, along with hundreds of other jurisdictions around the country, have in most circumstances stopped honoring ICE’s 48-hour “detainer” – a request to hold arrested persons whom the agency suspects are in the country illegally.

The detainers have become a flashpoint in the debate over how local law enforcement should aid federal immigration authorities and reveal a strain in that relationship after years of closer ties.

ICE provided the Journal with a half-dozen sample cases from 2014 “in which dangerous criminal aliens were released from New Mexico jails since they failed to honor ICE detainers.” Among them were:

- A 30-year-old Mexican male charged with two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, released in December.

- A 28-year-old Mexican female charged with intentional child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, released in July.

- A 39-year-old Mexican male charged with two counts of trafficking a controlled substance, three counts of child abuse, receiving or transferring of stolen motor vehicles, tampering with evidence and possessing drug paraphernalia, released in March last year.

ICE did not say whether those individuals were convicted on those charges before their release.

But New Mexico counties say ICE has no business asking them to hold people without charge – especially since counties, including Doña Ana and San Juan, are increasingly facing litigation for doing so. U.S. District Court last month said the federal government must be a party to a lawsuit by three unauthorized immigrants who claim San Juan County wrongly detained them under an ICE hold.

Counties say ICE should be held to the standards of other federal law enforcement agencies and charge people with an immigration crime, seek a warrant for their arrest or arrest them upon their release.

“County jails can’t hold a person unless they are criminally charged,” said Matt Elwell, director of the Luna County Detention Center, which stopped honoring ICE detainers three years ago. “That is the difference between a detainer and charge. A detainer says ‘just hold this person,’ and legally we can’t. If (ICE agents) have enough time to put a detainer, I say why don’t you just charge them with a criminal act?”

Counties in a bind

Here’s how the detainer has historically been used: Police arrest someone on a criminal charge such as domestic violence or a serious traffic violation. While the person awaits a chance to post bond or complete a sentence, and ICE suspects he has also violated immigration laws, ICE places a detainer, asking the jail to hold him 48 hours to give ICE a chance to assume custody – on the county’s dime and without filing an additional immigration charge.

Counties say those requests put them in a bind.

The New Mexico Association of Counties reports that at least 24 of 28 county detention centers statewide no longer honor the detainer. ICE confirmed that “most of the jurisdictions in New Mexico do not honor ICE detainers.”

San Juan County Detention Center Administrator Thomas Havel, who is named in the lawsuit, offers this message to ICE: “Don’t put us in peril, give us a bona fide charge and we’ll hold an individual. That’s all it takes.”

Additionally, when a hold is in place, ICE doesn’t foot the bill, the county does. In Doña Ana County, that amounts to $62 a day. In Santa Fe, it’s $85 a day.

“I feel very confident in saying that the vast majority of law enforcement agencies would see the need and the benefit to cooperate with ICE,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors tougher immigration controls. “They don’t feel ICE has been abusing its authority. But the problem now is the threat of litigation.”

Detainers denied

ICE issued 600 detainers in New Mexico in fiscal year 2014 but said it does not routinely track the number of detainers that aren’t honored. However, The Associated Press reported that in the first eight months of 2014, localities nationwide declined 8,800 of the roughly 105,000 detainer requests filed by immigration officers.

“The release of serious criminal offenders to the community, rather than to ICE custody for removal, undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and impedes ICE from enforcing the nation’s immigration laws,” ICE said in a statement.

ICE declined to describe its current policy for taking custody of unauthorized immigrants in New Mexico, saying it “does not discuss specific operating methods.”

‘Constitutional’ issues

Jurisdictions across the country increasingly began to deny ICE detainers thanks to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision a year ago ruling that detainers are nonbinding requests and do not carry the force of a criminal charge or warrant.

Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU’s Regional Center for Border Rights in Las Cruces, said ICE detainers “raise serious constitutional problems.”

“No right is more firmly ingrained in our Constitution … than the right not to be left in jail indefinitely without charges filed or an opportunity to post bail,” she said. “States and municipalities would open themselves to liability if they treated ICE detainers as if they were sentences imposed by a court.”

New Mexico counties have been faced with tort claims for wrongful detention.

Doña Ana County was one of the last New Mexico counties to stop honoring the detainers, ending the practice last May. The county got tangled in litigation when two Mexican women sued after the jail prohibited them from posting bond and imprisoned them for two months on the basis of a 48-hour ICE hold.

The women, sisters Hortencia and Maria Acahua Zepahua, had been living in New Mexico for 12 years and had applied for legal residency.

“We are under more scrutiny than ICE would be,” said Chris Barela, director of the Doña Ana County Detention Center. “There was a time when we used to ask the citizenship. That is no longer allowed.”

New priorities

Cooperation between local and federal law enforcement on immigration issues in recent years had been dictated by the Secure Communities program, under which detainers were issued until U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson discontinued Secure Communities in a Nov. 20 memo to ICE.

“The goal of Secure Communities was to more effectively identify and facilitate the removal of criminal aliens in the custody of state and local law enforcement agencies,” Johnson said in the memo. “But the reality is the program has attracted a great deal of criticism, is widely misunderstood and is embroiled in litigation; its very name has become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws.”

Johnson instructed ICE to replace requests for detention with requests for notification. Rather than ask a county jail to hold individuals beyond their release date, Johnson told ICE to ask local law enforcement to inform the agency of a pending release.

DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron said a transition is underway to replace Secure Communities with the “Priority Enforcement Program,” which reflects the administration’s focus on targeting unauthorized immigrants who are also convicted criminals.

“ICE will now only seek transfer under PEP of an individual in state or local law enforcement custody if that individual has a conviction for a criminal offense, is suspected of terrorism or espionage, or otherwise poses a danger to national security,” Catron said in a statement.

New reality

New Mexico counties describe varying degrees of communication with ICE, from solid working relationships to minimal interaction. Several detention centers said they provide ICE with a daily roster of inmates so that the agency can run the names and determine whether to bring immigration charges.

Elwell in Luna County described a good relationship with local ICE agents. On the other end of the spectrum, Barela said Doña Ana doesn’t communicate with ICE at all – not even emailing a daily roster – to protect itself from liability. ICE agents drop by “every couple of days” in person to review the list, he

“We don’t send them anything anymore,” he said.

Mark Caldwell, warden of the Santa Fe Adult Detention Facility, said, “Once the detainers were not honored, we really haven’t been in communication.”
 

AZ lawmakers urge DHS, ICE not to release illegal immigrant with TB

FLORENCE, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) - Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, as well as Rep. Paul Gosar, AZ-District 4, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, AZ-District 1, sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana. [Click here to read the letter.]

Gosar's office said Pinal County Director of Public Health Thomas Schryer was notified this week that ICE is planning to release an illegal immigrant with drug-resistant tuberculosis into the Pinal County community.

Schryer said there are about 35 cases of TB that go through the ICE facility in Florence each year and they are usually treated and then deported.

But Schryer said they have been unable to treat this immigrant's case.

He's been in the facility for the last seven months.
 

Judge delays ruling on unblocking Obama immigration executive actions

A federal judge signaled Monday that he has no plans to act soon on the Obama Administration's request to stay an order blocking President Barack Obama's latest round of executive actions on immigration.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen said in an order issued Monday afternoon that he views as serious claims that federal government lawyers may have misled the court about the implementation of new immigration policies the president ordered in November.

Last week, the Justice Department advised Hanen that the federal government issued new 3-year "deferred action" grants and work permits to 100,000 people between November 24 and when Hanen blocked the Obama moves on February 16.

The group of 26 states whose lawsuit persuaded Hanen to block the Obama immigration actions recently filed a motion calling the federal disclosure "surprising" and asserting that Justice Department lawyers had assured the court that no action would be taken to implement Obama's new policies until mid-February.

Obama's moves announced in November expanded eligibility for the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" program and initiated a new program for illegal immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. However, there was a third part to Obama's new actions: he extended the "deferred action" period protecting certain immigrants from deportation from two years to three, and authorized the issuance of three-year work permits as well.

Hanen, who sits in Brownsville, Texas, said Monday that he wants a more complete explanation of what happened.

"Due to the seriousness of the matters discussed therein, the Court will not rule on any other pending motions until it is clear that these matters, if true, do not impact the pending matters or any rulings previously made by this Court," Hanen wrote. He set a hearing on the matter for March 19 and ordered that Justice Department lawyers "be prepared to fully explain to this Court all of the matters addressed in and circumstances surrounding" the notice the feds sent the judge last week.

A Justice official who asked not to be named said Hanen's ruling was being reviewed.

Hanen's decision appears to indicate that he won't be meeting a deadline of sorts the Justice Department set last week, warning it could move to an appeals court to block Hanen's original injunction if he didn't act on a stay request by the close of business Monday.

A few weeks ago, federal government lawyers set a similar timing target for Hanen, but did not move to the 5th Circuit after he failed to rule by that time

Collapse of immigration law enforcement detailed to House Committee

 
Jessica Vaughan, a security expert with the Center for Immigration Studies, testified on February 25, 2015 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittees on National Security and Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules.  The Committee was holding a Hearing to review DHS policies and procedures for the apprehension, detention, and release of non-citizens unlawfully present in the U.S. 
 
Ms. Vaughan’s lengthy testimony used the government’s own statistics along with information from sheriffs and ICE employees in the interior of the country, to describe in detail what the current, dangerous situation is.
 
Her statement begins:
 
 “…There can be no doubt that immigration enforcement is in a state of collapse. Border apprehensions, which are considered an indicator of illegal crossing attempts, are rising and many of the illegal crossers are being released into the country instead of repatriated. Hundreds of thousands of temporary visitors are overstaying their visas each year. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics show clearly that over the last several years the number of deportations has plummeted and the number of illegal aliens allowed to stay and work in the United States has increased. The vast majority of illegal aliens residing in the interior face no threat of deportation, regardless of when or how they arrived, or if they have been deported before. Many deportable aliens who are encountered and apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are released soon after, even if they have come to ICE's attention after being arrested by local authorities. 
 
"This state of affairs can be traced directly to policy changes put in place by the Obama administration. While administration officials claims that these policies are 'smarter and more effective' and allow the agencies to better focus on aliens who represent a threat to the public, in reality the intent, and certainly the result, has been the dismantlement of effective enforcement. It is no exaggeration to say that DHS is running a massive catch and release program.  …"
 
 

There Is No Executive Order for Amnesty! - It Is Far Worse

NOTE:  DHS issued ten memorandums to implement Obama's executive amnesty.

As we enter the last two years of the Obama Administration, the outlook on immigration issues is as bleak as it is complex and potentially overwhelming.

No, there is no Executive Order for amnesty for illegal aliens. The media coverage of President Obama’s “executive order on amnesty” has been loud, repetitious, and wrong. Many news organizations have used the terms “Executive Order” and “Executive Action” and “Executive Memorandum” interchangeably, and incorrectly.

As of January 23, the White House website for Executive Orders1 shows no amnesty for illegal aliens.

What is being done is far worse for our country and our culture.

On the day of the President’s supposed Executive Order, November 20, 2014, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued ten memorandums.2

The timeline of what happened: The news reported President Obama’s impending announcement on “executive order amnesty” for over a week.

At 8:00pm ET on November 20, 2014, President Obama did give a speech3 that was filled with lies and misinformation. He lied about border security and the number of illegal aliens entering our country. He repeated the idiocy about how our immigration system is “broken.” He made the same claim in his January 20 State of the Union address to Congress. (Just how the system is broken, nobody has ever honestly or accurately described.)

Obama surrendered on enforcement:

…tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.

He also called it, “impossible.” But, nobody could know what is possible or “impossible” because real enforcement hasn’t been tried in decades.

No “Executive Order Amnesty” was announced on November 20, only the usual shibboleths about immigration.

However, earlier in the day Secretary of DHS Jeh Johnson issued ten memorandums dealing with legal and illegal immigration, immigration enforcement, prosecutorial discretion, DACA, etc.4

On Friday, November 21, President Obama traveled to Las Vegas, gave a speech, and signed two Presidential Memorandums, not Executive Orders as the media, once again, erroneously reported.5

In the first memorandum, “Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the twenty-first century,”6 Obama twice invokes the “broken” lie and says;

We have worked to simplify an overly complex visa system, one that is confusing to travelers and immigrants, burdensome to businesses, and results in long wait times that negatively impact millions of families and workers. But we can and must do more to improve this system.

Translation: “Even though the United States lets in more legal immigrants per year than almost all the rest of the countries in the world added up…we are going to accelerate the process.” In the second memorandum, “Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees,”7 Obama provides an overview of the plan to accelerate legal immigration and to naturalize over 13 million Legal Permanent Residents before the 2016 Presidential election....

[Read the original article for an explanation of each of the ten DHS memorandums]

Sen. Merkley to hold town hall tomorrow

Alert date: 
2015-02-15
Alert body: 

Senator Jeff Merkley will hold a Town Hall on Monday, Feb. 16 in Aurora. His website announcement says: "Senator Merkley will update constituents on his work in Washington, DC and answer their questions and invite their suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America."

When: February 16, 2015 @ 4:00 PM
Where: Willamette Aviation Education Hangar, 23115 Airport Rd. NE, Aurora, OR 97002

Get Directions

Here are some suggestions for questions or comments to Sen. Merkley:

Ask Sen. Merkley to vote yes on H.R. 240 which funds the Department of Homeland Security, but excludes funding for Obama's unconstitutional amnesties.

If the bill doesn't pass, the Democrats in the Senate will have de-funded the DHS at a time when the threat of terrorism is growing all over the world.

***The choice before you is whether to support President Obama’s massive amnesties by blocking the House-passed DHS funding bill (H.R. 240), or to allow debate on the bill. It’s hard to see how any patriot would put amnesty for illegal aliens ahead of protection for citizens and our country especially at this time when international terrorists threaten us.

***I am disappointed that you’re defending President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders that grant amnesty to millions of people and provide them work permits when 18 million Americans cannot find a full time job.

 

Congressional oversight on immigration is actually Congressional overlook;

Following paragraphs are from the article.

“…When the issue of immigration comes up most people purely focus on the lack of integrity to the border that is supposed to separate the United States from America. Clearly that border lacks integrity and represents little more than a speed bump to smugglers who transport illegal aliens and contraband including record quantities of dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine into the United States.

“However, there are many more components to the immigration system including systems by which aliens are granted visas to enter the United States and various immigration benefits such as conferring employment authorization to aliens in the United States and also include the adjudication process by which aliens are granted lawful immigrant status and even United States citizenship.

“All of these systems of the immigration system lack integrity. …”

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio.

 


 

Activists prepare for the worst in lawsuit to block immigration actions

Prominent immigration advocates have all but conceded that federal judge Andrew Hanen – a staunch critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policies – will block the president’s executive actions just weeks before the measures are slated to kick in.

Advocacy groups are bracing for Hanen, a U.S. district court judge, to decide this week on a lawsuit that could unravel the president’s unilateral measures to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation....

“We all think the judge is going to rule in favor of the plaintiffs here. That much is almost assumed at this point.”
Marshall Fitz, Center for American Progress

...Advocates remain confident that the law is on the administration’s side...

Hanen did not mince words in a scathing court opinion in 2013 when he accused the Department of Homeland Security of engaging in a “criminal conspiracy” ...

If Hanen decides against the Obama administration, he could block the implementation of the executive measures, which are scheduled to kick in Feb. 18...

...With an unsympathetic judge on the bench, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, immigration reform advocates are bracing for the worst...

Pro-immigrant groups point out that scores of legal experts, elected officials and law enforcement authorities support President Obama’s executive actions, which would provide a shield from deportation and grant temporary work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants...

... the White House has remained steadfast in asserting that the president has the discretion to prioritize which people should or should not be deported.

“Presidential use of executive discretion has been pretty consistent in the last 20 or so years,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, associate professor of political science at the University of Houston. “I don’t think the court would overturn that.”

Karen Tumlin, managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, hoped the decision will not deter undocumented immigrants from coming forward to take advantage of the executive action once enrollment opens – either in a few weeks or further down the road.

“People have been waiting so long for a chance to come forward and be able to work with authorization and not be looking over their shoulder all day long,” she said. “We’re really trying to send the message that this should be business as usual.”

 

Call your US Senators TODAY!

Alert date: 
2015-02-02
Alert body: 
First Senate Vote on De-funding Amnesty TUESDAY
 

The Senate will cast its first vote TUESDAY on the House-passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that de-funds President Obama's executive amnesties. Tuesday's vote at 2:30 pm is a procedural vote - called a motion to proceed to debate the bill - and it simply determines whether the Senate moves forward to debating and amending the bill.
 

However, pro-amnesty Democrats are planning on obstructing the legislative process by filibustering the motion. If successful, they will be able to prevent the Senate from even discussing the common sense House bill that defunds the executive amnesty. Instead, Senate Democrats are demanding that the Senate pass a "clean" Homeland Security funding bill, one that does not limit the President's ability to exercise "prosecutorial discretion" in immigration matters. In reality, that means a bill that fully funds President Obama's amnesty programs!
 
Call your Senators today and tomorrow and tell them there is no such thing as a "clean" funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
 

Tomorrow's vote is critical because it takes 60 votes to defeat a filibuster. Importantly, there are at least seven Democratic Senators who voiced opposition to the executive amnesty after voters overwhelmingly rejected President Obama's immigration policies in the November elections. If they uphold their word by voting YES, the DHS funding bill will advance to floor debate.

There is no time to waste! Call your Senators NOW!

FAIR is calling on our members, activists, and supporters to take action NOW to ensure the Senate de-funds President Obama's executive amnesty. There is no time to waste!!! President Obama is already taking steps to implement his new amnesty programs. The Senate must approve the House-passed bill and send it to the President's desk. Then, President Obama will have to decide what is more important to him: funding the Department of Homeland Security or protecting illegal aliens.

Supporting President Obama's executive amnesty is unacceptable; hard-working, taxpaying Americans deserve better than another amnesty and the dismantling of immigration enforcement!

Call your Senators NOW!

Senator Ron Wyden - Phone: (202) 224-5244

Senator Jeff Merkley - Phone: (202) 224-3753
 

Tell them:
 

  • You oppose President Obama's executive amnesty
  • You expect them to vote YES on the motion to proceed
  • You want Congress to stop the President's abuse of power, now and in the future
  • You demand that Congress act NOW to rein in President Obama's abuse of power and restore respect for our immigration laws.

Oregon's unauthorized immigrants clustered around Portland

WASHINGTON — Unauthoriized immigrants in Oregon are largely clustered in and around big cities, as they are nationwide, which could pose a challenge for advocates hoping to reach those in rural areas who may qualify for programs giving them temporary legal status.

Almost two-fifths of those in Oregon eligible for deportation relief live in its two largest counties, according to new projections by the Migration Policy Institute. Of the estimated 64,000 of Oregon's 124,000 immigrants who qualify, either as parents of lawful residents under President Barack Obama's recent executive order or as someone who came to the U.S. as a small child, 25,000 live in Multnomah and Washington counties.

This mirrors the national trend, where 3.5 million of the 5.2 million immigrants who are eligible for the two programs reside in just 117 of the country's 3,143 counties, according to an analysis of census data released Thursday by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonpartisan think tank that advocates intelligent management of international migration.

The vast majority of those eligible — more than 75 percent — live in the 10 states with the largest immigration populations, which include California, Texas, New York and Washington, but not Oregon.

An overwhelming share of those eligible reside in a handful of counties. It's not just a handful of states, it's a handful of counties," said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst and demographer with the institute.

Outreach efforts are easier in urban and suburban areas with large immigrant populations, particularly when they predominantly speak Spanish, she said. In Los Angeles County, which contains almost one-tenth of the unauthorized immigrant population for the entire nation, radio ads on Spanish-language stations are an effective way to alert people to their potential eligibility for the programs.

Unauthorized immigrants in Oregon (53 percent) are more likely to have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or longer than those nationwide (47 percent), the institute found. They are also more likely to speak English not well or not at all (53 percent in Oregon, 51 percent nationally) and less likely to have finished high school (57 percent versus 50 percent).

Financially, a higher percentage of Oregon's unauthorized immigrants (36 percent) live below the poverty line than do those nationwide (31 percent).

These factors can pose significant obstacles that prevent unauthorized immigrants from coming forward to apply for the government programs,...
 

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