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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Plan to Burn American Flags in New York City Ahead of the 4th.

An American flag burns during a 2011 protest in Pakistan. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A group calling for the immediate disarmament of the New York Police Department plans to burn American flags in a Brooklyn park on Wednesday, just days before the Fourth of July holiday.
“Disarm NYPD” announced the “Burn the American Flags” event on Facebook, inviting individuals to join the organization at Fort Greene Park to “set fire to this symbol of oppression.”
Organizers said accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof wasn’t an “isolated actor,” but a “product of a consistent pattern of state-sponsored terrorism and radicalized dehumanization in America.” The event originally was aimed at burning the Confederate flag, but later changed to focus on the stars and stripes.
“There will be no peace until we tear down this system of oppression,” the group wrote on Facebook. “It isn’t enough to take the flag down; we must put an end to white supremacy once and for all.”
Image source: Facebook
Image source: Facebook
After the event attracted online attention, “Disarm NYPD” defended the event in an online statement.
“We find it a sign of the times that people can care so much about a piece of cloth, while at the same time be so quiet about black churches being burned all over the country,” a post on Facebook said. “Perhaps this is the great difference between us and the so-called ‘patriots’. While they express their loyalty to symbols, we express our loyalty to the lives of the oppressed.”
“We do not believe the ideals of America are anything to be revered.”
It continued, “We do not believe the ideals of America are anything to be revered. We are building something that will be much better than America. While the so-called patriots yell that we should just leave, we instead choose to dream. We dream of what real freedom looks like: freedom from paramilitaries occupying our communities, beating and killing our sons and daughters; freedom from our communities being destroyed by the speculative capital of gentrification; freedom from mass surveillance; and freedom from systemic racism.”
“So, we will burn the American flag, a symbol of oppression and genocide, and in the same action, dismantle our stunted, cynical expectations of what is possible in the world,” the group’s statement concluded. “The current trajectory of history is unsustainable. It is completely unrealistic to desire things stay as they are, and more unrealistic, even abominable, to desire to ‘go back to our roots’. We, the dreamers, are the true realists. We know things can’t continue this way, so we commit to building a better world. A world better than America.”
According to the “Disarm NYPD” Facebook page, the group’s mission is to “take away power from the powers that be.” The group calls for the immediate disarmament of the NYPD and demands the “demobilization of the police form our neighborhoods.”
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan expressed contempt for the American flag last week, telling hundreds gathered in a D.C. church that it is a symbol of racism and needs to be brought down.
Last Tuesday, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh made a prediction that the American flag would “come under assault” after the Confederate flag. At the time he said, “Do not doubt me.”

Greece Defaults on IMF Loan Despite New Push for Bailout Aid

European finance chiefs shut down Athens’s last-minute request for emergency financial aid

A man buys a ticket for the Parthenon temple in Athens on Tuesday.

Greece became the first developed country to default on the International Monetary Fund, as the rescue program that has sustained it for five years expired and its creditors rejected Athens’s last-ditch efforts to buy more time.
The Washington-based fund said the Greek government failed to transfer €1.55 billion ($1.73 billion) by the close of business Tuesday—the largest single missed repayment in the IMF’s history.
The failure to pay the IMF was a dramatic, if anticipated, conclusion to a day full of unexpected twists and turns. On Tuesday morning—with the clock ticking toward the midnight expiration on the European portion of Greece’s €245 billion bailout—officials in Athens made known that they were working on a new solution to the four-month old impasse with its creditors.
By the afternoon, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had asked for a new rescue program—the country’s third in five years—to help pay for some €29.15 billion ($32.52 billion) in debt coming due between 2015 and 2017.
And by evening, Greek officials were raising doubts over their plans for a referendum planned for Sunday, in which the government had asked its citizens to vote against pension cuts and sales-tax increases demanded by its creditors. Some officials suggested that Mr. Tsipras and his ministers could campaign for a “yes” if a better deal was on the table while others indicated that the vote might even be called off altogether.
Whether any of these developments would keep Greece from financial meltdown and secure its spot in Europe’s currency union was still unclear. But the prospect of more rescue loans, however dim, might help buffer some of the effects of the nonpayment to the IMF.
European stocks and bonds fell and the euro declined against the U.S. dollar. But most of the moves were smaller than those suffered a day earlier, after a weekend in which Athens called a referendum on whether to accept the terms that creditors are offering and shut down its banking system for six days to prevent money leaving the country.
U.S. President Barack Obama played down the potential impacts of Greece’s worsening crisis on the U.S. economy. “That is not something that we believe will have a major shock to the system,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has been urging his European counterparts to press ahead with bailout talks to find a “pragmatic compromise” that includes both tough economic overhauls and debt relief, to prevent Europe’s economic problems from dragging on U.S. growth.
But in Berlin, ChancellorAngela Merkel and other senior officials sought to lower expectations for a quick fix to the crisis.
Before Greeks have voted on the measures demanded by creditors, “we will not negotiate about anything new at all,” Ms. Merkel said. Her deputy and coalition partner, Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats, urged Greece to cancel the referendum altogether. “
Then one could very quickly gather for talks, initial talks. If that’s not the case, then we should certainly do this after the referendum,” Mr. Gabriel said.
But in Berlin, ChancellorAngela Merkel and other senior officials sought to lower expectations for a quick fix to the crisis.
Before Greeks have voted on the measures demanded by creditors, “we will not negotiate about anything new at all,” Ms. Merkel said. Her deputy and coalition partner, Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats, urged Greece to cancel the referendum altogether. “
Then one could very quickly gather for talks, initial talks. If that’s not the case, then we should certainly do this after the referendum,” Mr. Gabriel said.
But in Berlin, ChancellorAngela Merkel and other senior officials sought to lower expectations for a quick fix to the crisis.
Before Greeks have voted on the measures demanded by creditors, “we will not negotiate about anything new at all,” Ms. Merkel said. Her deputy and coalition partner, Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats, urged Greece to cancel the referendum altogether. “
Then one could very quickly gather for talks, initial talks. If that’s not the case, then we should certainly do this after the referendum,” Mr. Gabriel said.
Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss Greece’s bailout request, along with new proposals for budget cuts and policy overhauls, in a teleconference Wednesday morning. Greek Finance MinisterYanis Varoufakis told his counterparts Tuesday that these plans would be close to the creditors’ latest demands, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said on Austrian television ORF.
Mr. Varoufakis also suggested that his government may campaign for a “yes” in the referendum if its new proposals were accepted, Mr. Schelling said.

Greece’s next payments

See all debt due →

€1.55 billion on June 30, 2015 
Owed to: International Monetary Fund
€2 billion on July 10, 2015 
Owed to: Treasury bill holders
€453.1 million on July 13, 2015 
Owed to: International Monetary Fund
Other officials were more skeptical that, after four months of sometimes acrimonious negotiations, Mr. Tsipras’s left-wing government was finally giving in to creditors demands.
“The political stance of the Greek government doesn’t appear to have changed,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who presides over the talks with his eurozone counterparts. Mr. Dijsselbloem already said over the weekend that the government would have a hard time convincing creditors and investors that it would implement measures it has to far opposed.
The expiration of the existing bailout and a default on the IMF aren’t expected to have immediate consequences for Greece’s economy. Its banks have already been ordered closed until Monday, after the European Central Bank capped on Saturday froze emergency loans to Greek lenders. Cash withdrawals by Greeks have been limited to €60 a day for each account-holder since Monday.
On Wednesday, eyes will again be on the ECB, whose governing council is due to meet in Frankfurt.
The council, which includes central bankers from the eurozone’s 19 member states, is reluctant to take any additional steps for now that would inflict more pain on Greek banks, for instance by forcing them to pay back the outstanding loans just days ahead of the referendum, people familiar with the matter said, despite a growing level of impatience over the central bank’s exposure to Greece.
One largely symbolic option would be for the ECB to raise somewhat the amount of collateral needed for emergency central bank-credit, but calibrate the haircuts so that Greek banks would still have enough to cover the existing €89 billion loan pile.

Obama defies federal judge, fails to rescind wrongly issued amnesties

Not all recipients have returned documents

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Washington, about the Supreme Court upholding the subsidies for customers in states that do not operate their own exchanges under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Washington, about the Supreme Court upholding the subsidies for customers in states that do not operate their own exchanges under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Stephen Dinan

The Obama administration still hasn’t fully rescinded the 2,000 three-year amnesties it wrongly issued four months ago in violation of a court order, government lawyers recently admitted in court, spurring a stern response from the judge who said the matter must be cleaned up by the end of July — or else.
It’s the latest black eye for President Obama’s amnesty policy and the immigration agency charged with carrying it out. The agency bungled the rollout, issuing three-year amnesties even while assuring the judge it had stopped all action hours after a Feb. 16 injunction.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for overseeing the amnesty, said it’s trying to round up all of the permits, sending out two-year amnesties and pleading with the illegal immigrants to return the three-year cards.
But they are having trouble getting some of the lucky recipients to send them back.
“USCIS is carefully tracking the returns of the three-year EAD cards, and many have been returned within weeks,” the agency said in a statement to The Washington Times. “USCIS continues to take steps to collect the remaining three-year EAD cards.”
The agency didn’t answer specific questions about how many remain outstanding, nor about what methods will be used to claw back the ones that folks refuse to return.
The three-year deportation amnesty was part of Mr. Obama’s November 2014 announcement when he proposed granting a three-year tentative deportation amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. It was to be a massive expansion, in both eligibility and duration, of his 2012 amnesty, which granted two-year amnesty to so-called Dreamers.
Judge Andrew S. Hanen blocked the expansion in February, issuing an injunction that remains in place even as the administration appeals it to a higher court. The next hearing on that appeal is due July 10.
But Judge Hanen was shocked to learn that USCIS issued the 2,000 three-year amnesties even after he’d issued his injunction.
“I expect you to resolve the 2,000; I’m shocked that you haven’t,” Judge Hanen told the Justice Department at a hearing last week, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “If they’re not resolved by July 31, I’m going to have to figure out what action to take.”
Homeland Security says it’s changed the duration of the work permits from three years to two years in its computer systems, but getting the cards returned from the illegal immigrants themselves is tougher.
The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit challenging the amnesty and who won the February injunction against the policy, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the outstanding permits.
Josh Blackman, an assistant professor at the South Texas College of Law, who has filed briefs in the case opposing the Obama administration’s claims, said he believes the administration is trying to comply in good faith with Judge Hanen’s order, but USCIS’s difficulties show how difficult managing the full amnesty would be.
“The entire nature of this case was that agents were given a free rein to approve as many applications as possible. DHS can’t keep track of its own agents and who’s being approved for deferrals and work authorization,” he said.
Mr. Obama announced the policy in order to circumvent Congress, which is moving the other direction away from legalization and toward a crackdown on most illegal immigrants.
He said those that qualify — as many as 5 million illegal immigrants — could earn a two-year stay of deportation and a work permit, which would usually qualify them for Social Security numbers, which they can use to access some other benefits, including tax credits.
Judge Hanen ruled on Feb. 16 that Mr. Obama didn’t follow the law in announcing his policy because it’s a major change, and under federal law those must be put out for public notice and comment. Judge Hanen said he didn’t have to address the major constitutional issues of whether Mr. Obama stole power that belongs to Congress, though he could still reach those questions should his injunction be overturned.
Between Nov. 20, when Mr. Obama announced his policy, and the Feb. 16 injunction, Homeland Security issued 108,000 three-year permits. Their legality is questionable and Texas and the Obama administration are arguing over how to handle them.
Even after the Feb. 16 injunction, and even as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was assuring Congress no permits were being issued, his department did issue 2,000 more three-year permits — something all sides agree was illegal.


Quo Vadis, America?

Pat Buchanan

"Natural law -- God's law -- will always trump common law," said Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a Christian leader in her own right, "God will have the final word in this matter."
But, for now, Justice Anthony Kennedy has the final word.
Same-sex marriage is the law of the land, as the right of gays and lesbians to marry is right there in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1868. We just didn't see it.
Tony Kennedy spotted what no previous court had detected.
The absurdity of the decision aside, it represents another stride forward for the revolution preached by Antonio Gramsci. Before we can capture the West, the Italian Marxist argued, we must capture the culture.
For only if we change the culture can we change how people think and believe. And then a new generation will not only come to accept but to embrace what their fathers would have resisted to the death.
Consider the triumphs of the Gramscian revolution in our lifetime.
First, there is the total purge of the nation's birth faith, Christianity, from America's public life and educational institutions. Second, there is the overthrow of the old moral order with the legalization, acceptance and even celebration of what the old morality taught was socially destructive and morally decadent.
How dramatic have the changes been?
Until the early 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a mental disorder. Until this century, homosexual actions were regarded as perverted and even criminal.
Now, homosexuality is a new constitutional right and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is marrying homosexuals in front of Stonewall Inn, the site of the famous 1969 gay riot against police harassment.
Similarly with abortion. It, too, was seen as shameful, sinful and criminal until Harry Blackmun and six other justices decided in 1973 that a right to an abortion was hiding there in the Ninth Amendment.
Did the Constitution change? No, we did, as Gramsci predicted.
We are told that America has "evolved" on issues like abortion and homosexuality. But while thinking may change, beliefs may change, laws may change, and the polls have surely changed, does moral truth change?
Are the Ten Commandments and Christian tradition and Natural Law as defined by Aquinas just fine for their time, but not for ours?
If what Justice Kennedy wrote Friday represents moral truth, what can be said in defense of a Christianity that has taught for 2,000 years that homosexual acts are socially destructive and morally decadent behavior?
Three decades ago, this columnist was denounced for writing that homosexuals "have declared war on human nature. And nature is exacting an awful retribution." Hateful speech, it was said.
Yet, when I wrote that line, AIDS victims in America numbered in the hundreds. Worldwide today they number in the millions. And there is a pandemic of STDs among America's young who have joined the sexual revolution preached in the 1960s.
Can true "social progress" produce results like that?
And if it is an enlightened thing for a society to welcome homosexual unions and elevate them to the status of marriage, why have no previous successful societies thought of so brilliant a reform?
The late Roman Empire and Weimar Germany are the two examples of indulgent attitudes toward homosexual conduct that come to mind.
"No-fault" divorce was an early social reform championed by our elites, followed by a celebration of the sexual revolution, the distribution of condoms to the poor and the young, and abortions subsidized by Planned Parenthood when things went wrong.
How has that worked out for America?
Anyone see a connection between these milestones of social progress and the 40 percent illegitimacy rate nationwide, or the 50 percent rate among Hispanic-Americans, or the 72 percent rate among African-Americans?
Any connection between those fatherless boys and the soaring drug use and dropout rates and the near quadrupling of those in jails and prisons over the last third of a century?
One notes a headline the other day, that, among whites in America, deaths now outnumber births. This has been true for decades in Europe, where all the native-born populations are shrinking as the Third World crosses over from the Mahgreb and Middle East.
Any connection between the legalization of abortions -- 55 million in the USA since Roe -- and the shrinkage of a population?
"God will have the final word in this matter," says King.
Certainly, in the world to come, He will. Yet, even in this world, it is hard to recall a civilization that rejected its God, repudiated the faith and morality by which it grew great, embraced what was previously regarded as decadence, and survived.
Our utopian president may see ours as an ever "more perfect union."
Yet, America has never been more disunited and divided -- on politics and policy, religion and morality. We no longer even agree on good and evil, right and wrong.
Are we really still "one nation under God, indivisible"?

History as a Detective Story

Paul Greenberg

It began when Allen Weinstein was a young historian and typical East Coast intellectual -- and wasn't about to swallow that wild goose tale about Alger Hiss (Johns Hopkins, Harvard Law, Phi Beta Kappa, personal secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., protege of Dean Acheson and Felix Frankfurter) being some kind of Communist spy. Preposterous.
Were we talking about the same Alger Hiss who had represented the United States at one important international conference after another, and was now president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace? Impossible.
The man was the very image of respectability, the opposite of this unkempt editor at Time magazine with the bad teeth and posture to match who had made the accusation, and then only years after the events now in question. And he did so not only late but only when obliged to. Even then he hung back, changing his sworn testimony from time to crucial time. An ex-Communist who confessed to having been a Soviet espionage agent for years, his fantastic tale defied belief. Indeed, perhaps the only reason to believe Whittaker Chambers was that nobody could have made up such a story.
Alger Hiss a Communist, and a Communist spy at that? Please. He was credibility personified, even his buoyant charm held in check by his impeccable manners. He could have stepped out of a Brooks Brothers ad with his good taste and good looks, or a meeting of the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review.
To quote one observer and fellow civil servant, Lee Pressman: "I remember Alger Hiss best of all for a kind of distinction that had to be seen to be believed. If he were standing at the bar with the British ambassador and you were told to give a package to the British ambassador's valet, you would give it to the ambassador before you gave it to Alger. He gave you a sense of absolute command and absolute grace...."
But after going through the evidence for years with painstaking care, and even discovering much of it himself, from old apartment leases to everything the Soviet archives could reveal, not to mention conducting hundreds of interviews with the now widely scattered cast of characters in this historical drama, Allen Weinstein produced what is still the definitive study of one of the great political controversies and spy stories of modern American history.
Young but already experienced, Professor Weinstein's treatment of our own Dreyfus Affair was detailed but sweeping, humble but authoritative, and most of all absolutely fair to all concerned. Much too fair for Hiss partisans. And for a time it appeared everybody in the country was a partisan -- on one side or the other of this case that transfixed the American public at the height of the Cold War. The title of his book was "Perjury," which is just what Alger Hiss was convicted of after two trials and many a revelation.
The whole affair made a dramatic story, but Allen Weinstein's manner was anything but dramatic as he systematically went through Alger Hiss' ever changing and ever more dubious story, flaw by flaw. He paid scrupulous attention to each new defense the distinguished diplomat and his lawyers came up with -- till each fell apart one after the other. (See the entry in the book's wide-ranging, panoramic Appendix titled "Six Conspiracies in Search of an Author, 1948-1996").
Allen Weinstein performed many another service to American scholarship before his death the other day at 77, whether at the National Archives or the Library of Congress. At the Center for Democracy and as an advocate of freedom in general, he proved invaluable. But it is this detective story, this model of how to do history, that stands out among his many achievements. It has yet to be matched, let alone surpassed, when it comes to understanding one of the great turning points in American history. And it's doubtful it ever will be.
It has been said that "scholars dream of finding small facts pregnant with great progeny." Allen Weinstein did. And one suspects future generations will have the joy of rediscovering what he first uncovered -- with his infinite patience, absolute fairness and pure dedication. The final product would have done justice to A. Conan Doyle as a great detective story, or to C. Vann Woodward as a great work of history, for it was both, and much more. In short, a masterpiece.
No wonder, despite resolving every facet of a great controversy, Allen Weinstein's "Perjury" leaves behind a rare sense of peace in this contentious world. And admiration across the political spectrum -- from William F. Buckley on the right ("The most exciting piece of history in recent memory") to Arthur Schlesinger Jr. on the left ("The most objective and convincing account we have of the most dramatic court case of the century").
Professor Weinstein's 720-page masterwork was a ground-breaking, eye-opening, honest, detailed-laden book that still intrigues. And to think, he began as sympathetic to Alger Hiss ... but then had to consider the mounting evidence, the multitude of little clues that added up to only one verdict: guilty as charged. There was the prothonotary warbler, the Model A Ford with the sassy little trunk on the back, George Crosley's bad teeth, the microfilm hidden away in a pumpkin patch on the Chambers' little farm in Maryland (hence "The Pumpkin Papers"), the curious role of Priscilla Hiss in the affair, the Bokhara rug....
What a story. What a history, and what an historian. The reader closes the last page with admiration and satisfaction at a challenge superbly met, and then is likely to pay it the greatest of compliments: He opens the book to the first page, and begins to read it again, savoring every line as he begins to understand the whole puzzle, and how Allen Weinstein put it together.
A great history is both complete and to be continued, like a great house with many wings, door after door opened to the light at last. A great historian not only explores history, but his work makes history. For after Allen Weinstein, no fair-minded American could ever again doubt that Whittaker Chambers was telling the truth, or that Alger Hiss deserves the place in infamy that history, and a fine historian, has assigned him. 

Immigration Reform News June 30, 2015


June 23, 2015 Weekly Immigration Reform Report from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
  • DHS Reverses Course; Abandons Detention of Illegal Aliens with Minorsbald eagle head and american flag1
  • Congress Passes Trade Deal that Could Increase Foreign Workers
  • Goodlatte: Priority Enforcement Program will Result in the Release of Criminal Aliens
  • Delaware Senate Approves Bill to Give Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens

DHS Reverses Course; Abandons Detention of Illegal Aliens with Minors

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced last Wednesday, through a press release, that he is ending the practice of detaining all illegal alien minors who unlawfully cross the border with a parent. Instead, illegal alien families apprehended at the border who establish a "credible fear" of persecution — the initial threshold for seeking asylum — will be released after posting a bond that is "reasonable and realistic." (DHS Press Release, June 24, 2015) In justifying the policy change, Secretary Johnson claimed "long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued." (Id.)

Under federal immigration law, the U.S. government can grant asylum to individuals who claim a fear of persecution or torture by their government. (See INA § 208(b)(1)(A); § 101(a)(42)(A)) However, aliens who simply arrive at the border without documents and claim asylum must first demonstrate a "credible fear of persecution" through a credible fear interview. (See INA § 208; 8 C.F.R. 208.30(d)) If an asylum officer determines there is no credible fear of persecution, the alien is immediately subject to deportation without a hearing, known as expedited removal. (INA § 235(b)(1)(B); 8 C.F.R. 235.3(b))

On the other hand, if the asylum officer determines the alien has established a credible fear of persecution, the officer will refer the alien to an immigration judge for a full asylum hearing. (INA § 235(b)(1)(B); 8 C.F.R. 235.3(b)) However, in this instance the INA explicitly states that the alien "shall be detained for further consideration of the application for asylum." (INA § 235(b)(1)(B)(ii))(emphasis added) However, over the years various administrations have utilized parole to release illegal aliens from detention prior to the full asylum hearing. Yet, parole is only supposed to be used in narrow circumstances "on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit." (INA § 212(d)(5); 8 C.F.R. 212.5(b))(emphasis added))
But despite the clear statutory language and relevant regulations limiting the instances where parole from detention may be granted for asylum seekers, the Obama administration expanded its application by executive fiat. Although the Bush administration utilized parole for certain aliens claiming credible fear, its application was limited. (See ICE Directive, Nov. 6, 2007) But through a 2009 policy directive, then-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton significantly expanded its use, authorizing parole for any asylum applicant with a "credible fear" who "presents neither a flight risk nor danger to the community." (ICE Directive, Dec. 8, 2009) And, as part of the November 2014 executive amnesty, DHS Secretary Johnson further expanded the category of illegal aliens eligible for parole to include aliens “who demonstrate that they are primary caretakers of children..." (DHS Memo, Nov. 20, 2014)

The newly announced policy will result in the release of most aliens claiming asylum who entered the country unlawfully because there has been a substantial increase in finding "credible fear" during the Obama administration. The threshold for establishing credible fear is supposed to be high — an asylum officer is only supposed to find it "if there is asignificant possibility, taking into account the credibility of the statements made by the alien in support of the alien's claim and such other factors as are known to the officer, the alien can establish eligibility for asylum" under INA Section 208. (8 C.F.R. 208.30(e)(2))(emphasis added) Despite this significant possibility standard, asylum officers found more instances of credible fear in 2013 than they did in 2007 through 2011 combined. (USCIS Memo, Feb. 28, 2014; see FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 23, 2014) In fact, USCIS recorded a 250% increase in referrals of asylum claims to immigration judges between 2012 and 2013 alone. (Id.) And, with a current backlog of over 445,000 cases, it could take years before an immigration judge hears the initial claim for asylum. (See FAIR Legislative Update, May 27, 2015)
Unsurprisingly, once released, these illegal aliens do not show up for their hearings and disappear into the interior of the country. Last September, an ICE official revealed that 70 percent of illegal alien families who illegally crossed the border in 2014 failed to appear at required follow-up appointments with immigration agents 15 days after their release. (FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 30, 2014) Now, newly released data from the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) show that since July 18, 2014, 84 percent of alien adults with children from Central America who were released pending trial absconded. (See Fox News, June 23, 2015) By comparison, the new EOIR data show that almost all of the illegal alien families who remained in detention pending review actually showed up before a judge. (Id.) This is consistent with a June 2014 ICE report that found that released illegal aliens consider the Notice to Appear (a document that instructs them to appear before an immigration judge at a future date) to be a "permiso," or permit to remain in the country. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 15, 2014)

The decision to end family detention, at the urging of open borders activists, is a significant shift in position compared to what Secretary Johnson has supported since 70,000 illegal alien family units surged over the Texas border last year. For example, last September Secretary Johnson pointed to the opening of family detention facilities in Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes City, Texas as an example of efforts the Obama administration was taking to deter illegal alien minors and their parents from unlawfully crossing the southern border. (See DHS Press Release, Sept. 8, 2014) Then, as the school year started, DHS touted the detention schools created for these illegal alien minors that included cable television, sports facilities, a computer lab, and cafeteria. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 28, 2014) Indeed, the DHS official in charge of the Artesia facility declared at the time that the facility "provides an effective and humane alternative to maintain family unity as families await the outcome of immigration hearings or return to their home countries." (ICE News Release, Oct. 9, 2014) Even as recent as last month, Secretary Johnson supported family detention when he simply announced that families detained more than 90 days will get expedited review of their asylum claims. (See DHS Press Release, June 24, 2015)
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) blasted the administration for ending family detention. "The ongoing surge of Central American families and children arriving at our border is a crisis of President Obama's own making and today's announcement from the Department of Homeland Security only encourages more children and families to make the dangerous journey to the United States," Goodlatte charged. (Goodlatte Press Release, June 24, 2015) "By refusing to detain unlawful immigrants until their claims are proven legitimate, the Obama Administration is practically guaranteeing that they will disappear into our communities and never be removed from the United States." (Id.)

Remarkably, amnesty advocates say the ending of family detention does not go far enough. "This is a step in the right direction, but these policies should not have been in place from the beginning," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, the chairman of the committee on migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (New York Times, June 24, 2015) Judiciary Ranking Member Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the "small steps" but that they "must be implemented quickly, and only as a first step toward ending the misguided policy of family detention." (Id.)

Congress Passes Trade Deal that Could Increase Foreign Workers

After weeks of attempts to pass the fast track trade promotion authority (TPA), which could allow President Obama to implement parts of his immigration agenda through trade deals, Republican Congressional leadership pushed the trade deal through Congress. (The Hill, June 23, 2015, see FAIR Legislative Update, June 16, 2015) The President's trade agenda was widely considered to be stalled two weeks ago when companion legislation, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) failed to pass the House. (Id.) The House had agreed on rules that required both bills to pass to advance to the President's desk. (Id.)

Allying with the President on the issue of trade, however, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) managed to get the House to narrowly pass the TPA as stand-alone legislation on June 18, by 218-208. (USA Today, June 18, 2015; see Roll Call Vote #374) Though 50 Republican members went against the wishes of House Leadership and voted no, 28 Democrats voted yes to save the legislation. (Id.) The President then worked to get enough Senate Democrats on board to pass the House's version of TPA even without TAA included. (The Hill, June 23, 2015)

The Senate voted to proceed with debate on TPA (called cloture) by 60 to 37 — meaning that every vote for cloture was the deciding vote. (See Roll Call Vote #218) The vote count remained at 59 for several tense minutes on the Senate floor, indicating that many Senators voting for the TPA may have done so under pressure despite fear of backlash from their constituents. (See video) Ultimately, five Senate Republicans voted against the bill and 13 Democrats voted yes, the same members who had voted for the TPA in May. (See Roll Call Vote #176) Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who in May was a supporter of the TPA, voted against cloture last week, explaining that since the first vote, Wikileaks had revealed troubling details about the trade deals to be negotiated under TPA. (, June 23, 2015) The draft of one of these deals, the Trade in Services Agreement, in fact contains provisions that explicitly contain changes to federal immigration law, despite the assurances of TPA supporters to the contrary. (Id.)
The next day, the Senate passed the TPA itself, 60 to 38. (See Roll Call Vote #219) The President praised Congress for passing his trade agenda and is expected to sign TPA soon. (, June 25, 2015)

Goodlatte: Priority Enforcement Program will Result in the Release of Criminal Aliens

Last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) revealed that the newly launched Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) will result in the release of criminal aliens back onto the streets. The Department of Homeland Security started releasing details of PEP, the criminal alien identification program intended to replace the successful Secure Communities program, last week. (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, June 23, 2015; PEP Brochure, June 2015; see FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2015) In response, Chairman Goodlatte explained that the PEP, though called the "priority" enforcement program, will actually ignore aliens that the government still considers a "priority" for enforcement. (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, June 23, 2015)

PEP's predecessor, Secure Communities, worked by comparing the fingerprints of individuals booked into state or local jails to federal databases and flagging those who were deportable aliens. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2015) Only a year ago, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson voiced support for the program as a way to identify those illegal aliens the Administration deemed deportable. (PBS News Hour Transcript, May 15, 2014) He said then: "In my judgment, Secure Communities should be an efficient way to work with state and local law enforcement to reach the removal priorities that we have, those who are convicted of something." (Id.) However, by November, the administration announced that it was disbanding the program as part of the President's executive amnesty. Secretary Johnson later justified by claiming the program was "politically and legally controversial." (See FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 28, 2014)

To replace Secure Communities, DHS created PEP, a program designed to identify and work to remove only convicted criminals in federal prisons. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2015) First, according to the House Judiciary Committee, PEP will only allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer aliens from state and local law enforcement custody if the alien has been convicted of a crime serious enough that the administration deems "significant." (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, June 23, 2015) That means if an illegal alien is arrested and charged with a crime, but is released from state or local custody before the conclusion of criminal proceedings, DHS will allow the illegal alien to remain on the streets until he or she is actually convicted. (Id.)
Second, PEP's implementation ignores the classes of aliens that DHS itself has defined as enforcement "priorities." (Id.) For example, the Obama administration still considers recent border crossers, aliens who illegally reenter after deportation, significant visa abusers, and aliens with final orders of removal to be removal "priorities." (Id.) But, according to PEP, if such illegal aliens are in state or local custody, they will be released and the administration will not begin deportation proceedings. (Id.)

Third, PEP implicitly authorizes "sanctuary city" policies by ending ICE detainers in nearly all situations. (Id.) ICE, rather than issuing detainers, will issue "Requests for Voluntary Notification of Release of Suspected Priority Alien" to state and local law enforcement. (Id.) In the rare cases where ICE does issue detainers, it will issue a form entitled "Immigration Detainer-Request for Voluntary Action." (Id.) This form contains a stringent checklist requiring DHS to tell the state or local jurisdiction exactly which enforcement priority the alien fits into as a method of holding ICE agents accountable for following the administration's priorities. (Id.)

Chairman Goodlatte blasted the administration for implementing a program designed to let criminal aliens onto the streets. (Id.) The "only priority contained in the Priority Enforcement Program," he said, is to ensure that our immigration laws are not enforced in the interior of the United States." (Id.) President Obama, he continued, is "needlessly endangering our communities" by "scrapping" an effective law enforcement tool and replacing it with a program that "permits the release of criminal aliens." Goodlatte also promised that the House Judiciary Committee would examine the PEP during an oversight hearing next month. (Id.)
The Administration has been on a campaign to persuade states and localities to cooperate with DHS in implementing PEP. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 21, 2015; Saldaña Testimony, Apr. 14, 2015) In April, ICE Director Sarah Saldaña told the House Judiciary Committee that an "increasing" number of jurisdictions — at that time over 200 — were either partially or wholly refusing to cooperate with ICE's enforcement efforts, and she hoped the implementation of PEP would stop the trend. (Id.) Yet, even though DHS has made PEP toothless, it has not had much success in getting these sanctuary jurisdictions to sign on. (House Judiciary Committee Press Release, June 23, 2015) According to the Committee, of all the sanctuary jurisdictions DHS has approached, it only managed to get Los Angeles County to join — and it is still unclear to what extent even Los Angeles County will adhere to PEP. (Id.; see also LA Times, May 12, 2015) DHS has not revealed just how far the lack of cooperation in the other sanctuary jurisdictions goes, such as whether these sanctuary jurisdictions have been refusing to identify criminal aliens using fingerprints altogether. As Chairman Goodlatte said in April to Ms. Saldaña, "politely asking" for cooperation rather than aggressively defending its own authority appears to be "a fool's errand." (FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 21, 2015)

Delaware Senate Approves Bill to Give Driver's Licenses to Illegal Aliens

 On June 23, the Delaware Senate approved Senate Bill ("S.B.") 59 to allow illegal alien residents in the state to receive driver's licenses. The Senate voted 17-1 to advance the bill for approval in the House of Representatives. (WBOC, June 23, 2015)

S.B. 59 allows illegal alien residents of Delaware who have filed state income tax returns for the preceding two years to receiving driving privilege cards. (S.B. 59) If an illegal alien applicant has not submitted an income tax return, but was claimed as a dependent for the preceding two years, the applicant is also eligible for a driving privilege card. (Id.) In addition, S.B. 59 requires the state to keep all identifying information collected during the application process confidential and prohibits the driving privilege card from be used as a valid form of identification for any purpose. (Id.)The card must be marked "Not Valid for Identification" on its face. (Id.)

Senator Colin Bonini voted against S.B. 59 because he believed such legislation is unfair to taxpayers and legal immigrants. (Delaware Online, June 24, 2015) "We're asking Delaware taxpayers to pay half a million dollars for services for illegal immigrants," stated Senator Bonini. (Id.) Legal immigrants, he said, "are waiting in line, lawfully and legally, to get into this country." (Id.) Legislators estimate S.B. 59 to cost nearly $320,000 to implement the program, and about $113,000 annually to keep it running. (Id.) These costs would come on top of the $305 million Delaware taxpayers spend annually to subsidize illegal immigration. (FAIR, 2010)

Other opponents raised concerns that S.B. 59 will increase security risks, as driving privilege cards may be mistaken as a valid form of identification. A driving privilege card does not meet requirements set by federal law under the REAL ID Act to be used for federal identification purposes, which include boarding an aircraft or entering a federal building. (REAL ID Act of 2005) A Delaware driving privilege card differs from a standard Delaware driver's license because the driving privilege card may only be accepted for driving purposes only.

The House of Representatives must approve of S.B. 59 before the end of the legislative session on June 30, before the bill can be sent to Governor Jack Markell's desk for signature. If passed, Delaware will become the twelfth state to provide driving privileges to illegal aliens.