Legislative Update: 7/8/2015 
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Legislative Update: 7/8/2015


California Murder Suspect Had Seven Felonies and Five Deportations

Francisco Sanchez, who allegedly shot and killed Kate Steinle at San Francisco's Pier 14, is an illegal alien with seven convictions and five deportations under his belt. (SFGate, July 4, 2015) The suspect admitted to killing the young woman at the popular tourist destination in an interview released this weekend. (ABC7, July 5, 2015; Breitbart, July 6, 2015)

Sanchez was walking the streets of San Francisco, despite the most recent attempt by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") to deport him. Months prior to the killing, Sanchez was detained by San Francisco law enforcement on the basis of drug-related charges. At this time, ICE confirms it sent San Francisco law enforcement an immigration detainer requesting to be notified before Sanchez was released back into the community so federal agents could assume custody of him. (KTLA5, July 6, 2015) San Francisco law enforcement, however, refused the request pursuant to the city's sanctuary ordinance. In March, the sheriff of San Francisco released Sanchez, where he remained free until the shooting last Wednesday. (Id.) 

Sanctuary cities are state and local jurisdictions with policies intended to impede the enforcement of immigration law by federal immigration officials. Under the pressure of illegal alien advocates, many jurisdictions are instituting policies to prohibit their law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials. (Breitbart News, Oct. 26, 2014; CBS 5, Nov. 9, 2014) These policies, which proponents argue are intended to foster "trust" with law enforcement in immigrant communities, are designed to protect criminal aliens from detection and removal from the United States by restricting compliance with detainer requests, often called ICE holds. (Pew Charitable Trusts, Oct. 31, 2014; ICE Detainers FAQ)

While San Francisco's ordinance states that local law enforcement officials "shall not detain an individual on the basis of a civil immigration detainer after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody," law enforcement refused to notify ICE of Sanchez's pending release as well. (KTLA5, July 6, 2015; File No. 130764) Federal officials commented, however, that San Francisco law enforcement "didn't even need to hold him. They simply could have notified that they were going to release him and we would have gotten him." (Id.)

San Francisco has led the movement to obstruct the enforcement of immigration law against criminal aliens and was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to adopt a policy to refuse compliance with ICE's immigration detainers. In 2007, Mayor Gavin Newsom passed an executive directive prohibiting all city departments and agencies from assisting ICE in the investigation, detention, or arrest of criminal aliens. (Executive Directive 07-01) After California passed Assembly Bill 4 (the Trust Act) in 2013, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed an even more restrictive ordinance prohibiting compliance with immigration detainers. (File No. 130764) Then, in 2014, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi followed suit by completely prohibiting San Francisco's Sheriff's Department's compliance with detainers. (Press Release, May 29, 2014)

Sanchez admitted guilt for the crime during an interview at the jailhouse this weekend. When asked why Sanchez returned to the United States repeatedly after multiple deportations, he admitted that he knew San Francisco was a sanctuary city. (ABC7, July 5, 2015; Breitbart, July 6, 2015) "San Francisco is a sanctuary city, did you keep coming back to San Francisco because you knew that they wouldn't actively look for you to deport you?" (Id.)He answered, "Yes." (Id.)He reiterated his response after the same question was repeated in Spanish. (Id.)He also nodded affirmatively when asked, "So you kept coming back to San Francisco instead of Phoenix?" (Id.)

Sanchez is currently facing homicide charges for the shooting. (KTLA5, July 6, 2015) In the interview, Sanchez expressed remorse and his wish to receive the harshest punishment for the crime. (ABC7, July 5, 2015)

Judge Reprimands Administration Again for Still Defying Court Order

Last month, in a hearing in the case Texas v. U.S.A., lawyers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) admitted that the federal government still has not fully rescinded the 2,000 three-year work permits it issued in direct violation of Judge Andrew Hanen's February 16 injunction blocking DAPA and extended DACA. (Washington Times, June 29, 2015) The DOJ had assured the judge in May, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had "discovered" it had granted these permits, that the agency would take "prompt corrective steps" to convert them to two-year work permits. (FAIR Legislative Update, May 12, 2015; DOJ Advisory, May 7, 2015)

During the hearing, Judge Hanen said he was "shocked" that USCIS had failed to "resolve the 2,000" and said that he would consider ordering sanctions "if they're not resolved by July 31." (Washington Times, June 29, 2015; San Antonio-Express News, June 23, 2014) "How hard is it," he asked in apparent frustration, "to change your computer system?" (Id.) "How hard is it to change a 3 to a 2?" (Id.) According to the DOJ, 793 of 814 three-year permits issued in one of the states have been fixed with both the recipients and in the government's immigration verification system. (Id.) Apparently, USCIS is having trouble getting some recipients to send back the cards. (Washington Times, June 29, 2015)

The 2,000 three-year work permits are not the only three-year work permits still at issue in the case, however. In March, DOJ revealed that USCIS had approved over 100,000 three-year work permits to DACA applicants before Judge Hanen's February injunction, even while lawyers from the DOJ assured Judge Hanen that no actions pursuant to the November memos would be taken until February 18. (FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 10, 2015) In April, Judge Hanen issued an order calling the DOJ's behavior in misleading the court "misconduct," and granted the plaintiff states discovery to conduct a targeted investigation into how the misconduct had come about. (FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 14, 2015) According to news reports, Judge Hanen indicated during the hearing that he may ultimately expect the Administration to revoke the 100,000 three-year approvals as well, but he acknowledged that doing so will take longer to remedy. (San Antonio-Express News, June 23, 2015)

Law professor Josh Blackman, who has filed an amicus brief in support of the states, pointed out that the Administration's inability to control just these 2,000 permits reveals how unprepared USCIS is to manage the implementation of the full amnesty policies currently blocked by the court. (Washington Times, June 29, 2015) Because the Administration had given its agents "free rein to approve as many applications as possible," he said, the Department of Homeland Security "can't keep track of its own agents and who's being approved for deferrals and work authorization." (Id.)

Nevertheless, the Administration continues to fight for the chance to implement DAPA and extended DACA in the Court of Appeals. Judge Hanen's order blocking their implementation remains in effect while the court hears the case because a three judge panel of the 5th Circuit refused to stay his ruling in a 2 to 1 decision in May. (FAIR Legislative Update, June 2, 2015) However, the appellate court has yet to rule on the merits of the injunction itself, and a new three judge panel will be deciding the issue. (Id.) Last week, the 5th Circuit announced which judges would be on the new panel, and, as it turns out, two of the judges, Judge Jerry Smith and Judge Jennifer Elrod, were on the previous panel and ruled against the Administration by refusing to stay the injunction in May. (Politico, June 29, 2015; 5th Circuit Calendar) The new panel will hear oral argument on the merits of the injunction this Friday. (Id.)

Stay tuned to FAIR as further details unfold...

Obama Administration Misleading Public about Surge of Illegal Alien Minors

Government documents recently obtained by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) show that the Obama administration has not been forthcoming about the surge of unaccompanied alien minors (UAC) who unlawfully crossed the Southern border last year. The 24-page PowerPoint dated April 22, 2014 and prepared by the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and State for Congressional appropriators contradict public statements made by Obama administration officials about the UAC surge.

The documents suggest that the Obama administration knew ahead of time the UAC surge in 2014 would happen. While there were only 6,560 UAC in 2011, the document predicted 60,000 UAC in 2014, noting that is an increase "by nearly a factor of 10." (Obama Administration PowerPoint, Apr. 22, 2014 at 5) The slide also estimated the number of UAC in 2015 to total 127,000 "if these growth rates continue." (Id.at 10) Notably, these are similar numbers OMB and HHS provided then-Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski last May. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 4, 2014) These projections directly contradict President Obama's claim that the surge of UAC was unexpected and "an urgent humanitarian situation." (See Presidential Memorandum, June 2, 2014)

The internal documents also indicate that HHS is mischaracterizing certain illegal aliens as UAC in order to delay returning them to their home countries. Because of a loophole in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) unaccompanied minors from noncontiguous countries (other than Mexico and Canada) are given extra layers of hearings before being removed from the country rather than being promptly returned. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Aug. 5, 2014) Yet, the PowerPoint notes that HHS is treating two classes of illegal aliens as UAC even though they do not meet the definition. Indeed, the document states that "[c]hildren arriving at border with non-parent relative are now treated as UACs" and "[w]hen children are apprehended throughout the interior of the United States, they may be treated as UACs even if residing with a relative at the time of apprehension." (Obama Administration PowerPoint at 19) Improperly classifying illegal aliens as UAC is significant because most never show up for their hearings, believing that the Notice to Appear is actually a "permisos" or permit to remain in the country. (See FAIR Legislative Update, July 15, 2014; FAIR Legislative Update, June 30, 2015) 

After reviewing the internal documents, Sen. Cruz sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell demanding answers. "I have received independent information indicating that the Department has, according to its own internal documentation, adopted practices and strategies that, at best, could be deemed ineffective, and at worst, do not accord with current federal law," the letter reads. (Cruz Letter to Burwell, June 23, 2015) Noting that the slideshow accurately predicted the 60,000 UAC surge, Cruz wrote "[f]ar from being an unforeseen crisis, the high number of UAC that approached the United States-Mexico border last summer appears to have been calmly predicted, although not addressed." (Id.) Regarding the reclassification of certain illegal aliens as UAC, Cruz said, "These proposals, if they have in fact been adopted, could violate current immigration law, particularly with respect to congressionally established enforcement requirements." (Id.) Accordingly, Cruz requested Secretary Burwell to retain and produce all relevant documents relating to UAC and provide answers to seven questions (and sub-questions) by July 8. (Id.)