Legislative Update: 11/6/2013
McCaul: No Conference with Senate Amnesty Bill
Last week, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) made it clear he opposes any effort to use H.R. 1417, the border security bill he authored with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), to go to conference with the Senate’s massive 1,200 page “comprehensive” immigration reform bill. “I’m not gonna go down the road of conferencing with the Senate CIR [comprehensive immigration reform] bill,” McCaul told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on her program. (Laura Ingraham Show, Oct. 30, 2013) “And I told [Speaker] Boehner that he needs to stand up and make that very clear that we are not going to conference with the Senate on this. We’re not going to conference with the Senate, period.” (Id.)
When the Senate and House pass different bills, they must resolve their legislative differences through a “conference committee.” After the conference committee negotiates a single bill, the new legislation goes back to each chamber to vote for final passage.
Chairman McCaul also told Laura Ingraham that he only wants the House to pass border security legislation. “I am not pushing for immigration reform, I’ve been against amnesty my entire career,” McCaul insisted. (Id.) “I’m just interested in getting the security piece done. And we have to do that, first and foremost.” (Id.)
McCaul becomes the latest in a growing chorus of House Republicans urging Speaker Boehner to oppose addressing immigration with a comprehensive bill. On the same day McCaul spoke with Laura Ingraham, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told president of the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney that “it is better to not produce any bill than to produce a bad bill and Obamacare should be the lesson for that.” (Frank Gaffney Show, Oct. 30, 2013) Last month, former member of the failed House bipartisan group, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said “it would be crazy” for the GOP to negotiate with Democrats on immigration. (National Review, Oct. 16, 2013) Then, pro-amnesty Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), chief author of the Senate amnesty bill (S. 744), said that addressing immigration piecemeal is now his “preferred option,” saying the House should not pass individual bills as a “ruse” to get to conference. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Oct. 30, 2013) To date, Speaker Boehner has sent mixed signals on his plans for immigration during this Congress. (Id.)
With “comprehensive” immigration reform’s fate in the House uncertain, amnesty champion – and Gang of Eight member – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) revealed that “reform” proponents have a back-up plan if they are unable to pass legislation this year. “I think conventional wisdom is that time is not on our side,” McCain told reporters. (Bloomberg, Oct. 28, 2013) “But there are a number of members of Congress who have primaries and when those primaries are done, they may be more inclined to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.” (Id.) Failure to pass a bill before the 2014 elections would be “very negative to the Republican Party,” McCain warned. (Id.) However, FAIR’s recent analysis reveals that passing comprehensive immigration reform would actually harm the GOP politically.
Special Interests Fund Capitol Hill “Fly-In”
Last week, hundreds of amnesty proponents flew to Washington, D.C. to urge Members of Congress to change immigration law. (USA Today, Oct. 18, 2013) A coalition of business groups, the high-tech industry, agriculture associations, and wealthy executives helped organize and financially support the “fly-in,” bringing more than 600 activists to the nation’s capital to meet with Members of Congress from 120 congressional districts in 40 states. (Breitbart News, Oct. 28, 2013; Politico, Oct. 29, 2013)
The business groups primarily targeted GOP leadership offices, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). (Politico, Oct. 29, 2013) This coalition previously sponsored a fly-in last June to lobby the Senate when the chamber was considering its mass amnesty bill. (USA Today, Oct. 18, 2013)
The so-called “conservative Republican” fly-in was sponsored by billionaires George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), who are typically large donors to Democratic candidates and give money to what are generally perceived to be “non-conservative” causes. (Politico, Nov. 1, 2013) Other sponsors consisted of special interests who seek cheap foreign labor, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, the American Farm Bureau for Reform, the National Restaurant Association, and McDonald’s. (Breitbart News, Oct. 28, 2013)
Amnesty lobbying groups like Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, Immigration Works USA, and Partnership for a New American Economy, also took part in supporting the fly-in. (Id.) Prominent corporate executives who sponsored the fly-in work at Boeing, Disney, Marriott and Microsoft — and are among the wealthiest in the world. (National Review, Oct. 29, 2013; Breitbart News, Oct. 18, 2013) In addition to bankrolling the travel and lodging for participants, two additional events were funded: a reception with Marriott’s CEO, and a panel discussion held near the White House at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Breitbart News, Oct. 28, 2013)
Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, a union representing over 7,000 ICE agents, officers, and personnel, wrote a letter to lawmakers criticizing the fly-in as an effort by “rich individuals, corporations and special interests.” (Breitbart News, Oct. 28, 2013) Crane said, “They are interested in power and money. ICE officers are pleading with you to resist their well-financed pressure campaign and stand with American citizens and the immigration officers who put their own personal safety at risk each day to provide for public safety.” (Id.)
CIS Exposes Administration’s Deceptions on Deportations
According to the latest report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the Obama Administration has been manipulating statistics to hide how much it has undermined the nation’s immigration laws. The new study “Deportation Numbers Unwrapped: Raw Statistics Reveal the Real Story of ICE Enforcement in Decline,” uses internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics to reveal the extent of the Administration’s deception in reporting the number of deportations to the American people.
Jessica Vaughn, Director of Policy Studies at CIS, explained during a panel last week just how the deception works. Starting in 2011, the Obama Administration began directing the U.S. Border Patrol to bring routine border apprehensions to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) centers for processing so that such apprehensions could be counted as removals by ICE (rather than apprehensions by Border Patrol). In effect, this shift in processing of unlawful border crossers allows the Administration to make it appear as if apprehensions are decreasing while removals are increasing.
As such, the CIS report explains that the “record” number of removals by the Obama Administration in 2012 was in reality the record for highest number of Border Patrol apprehensions transferred to ICE for processing, accounting for more than half of the 409,000 removals attributed to ICE. (See CIS Report p. 6). This year, the Administration has removed even fewer aliens, and the final number it will report for fiscal year 2013 will be 364,700 according to the panel, including those coming from the Border Patrol, which CIS estimated would again be more than half.
The Center for Immigration Studies report also underscored the decline in interior enforcement under the Obama Administration. For example, CIS found that the number of deportations resulting from interior enforcement by ICE declined by 19 percent from 2011 to 2012. (See CIS Report “Key Findings,” p. 2) The Center projects deportations from interior enforcement will decline another 22 percent this year. (Id.) Moreover, the Center found that while ICE has a caseload of 1.8 million aliens who are either in removal proceedings or have been ordered deported, only two percent of that 1.8 million are currently being detained, the best way to ensure removal. (Id.) Finally, the Center found that as of July 2013, 872,000 aliens have been ordered deported, but nonetheless remain in the country. (Id.)
Napolitano Stashes $5 Million for Illegal Aliens
In her new role as head of the University of California system, former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano vowed to set aside $5 million in University of California funds to help pay for the education of illegal aliens. (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 30, 2013)
Picking up where she left off as DHS Secretary, Napolitano renewed her commitment to putting the needs of illegal aliens before those of U.S. citizens and legal residents. “[L]et me be clear,” she told the crowd during her first official speech as president of the University of California (UC) system. “UC welcomes all students who qualify academically, whether they are documented or undocumented. To help meet the special needs of Dreamers…I am setting aside $5 million — right now, for this year — to support these students with resources like trained advisers, student service centers and financial aid.” (See Transcript of Napolitano Speech, Oct. 31, 2013)
Leaders at the UC System appear to support Napolitano’s move, arguing that the $5 million set-aside will help offset the federal government’s prohibition of federal financial aid dollars to illegal aliens. “With the passage of the California dream act, undocumented students are now eligible for state and UC financial aid,” UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein told reporters in an email. (Reuters, Oct. 30, 2013) “What they are still excluded from is federal loans. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage.” The new program “will help bridge that gap,” she said. (Id.)
Despite this dramatic move, Napolitano’s plan to set aside millions of dollars for illegal aliens has been met with cynicism from amnesty supporters who continue to protest her deportation record under the Obama Administration as too high. Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of the open borders group Presente.org, said, “It’s an important step, but it hardly begins to reassure the undocumented, Latino and other student communities that Napolitano has changed her anti-immigrant ways since she oversaw unprecedented deportations across the country. $5 million doesn’t begin to heal the devastation, destruction and distrust that made Ms. Napolitano one of the single most destructive forces in immigrant life in California and in the entire United States.” (Thinkprogress.org, Nov. 1, 2013) Ivan Villasenor Madriz, an illegal alien attending UC Berkeley remarked, “As long as it’s only the first step, it’s wonderful, and if I saw her, I would say, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing… But (not) if it’s her trying to get us off her case, if it’s her shutting us up. It goes down to the distribution of these funds across the campuses and how supportive she truly is,” he said. (The Daily Californian, Nov. 4, 2013)
In addition, pro-amnesty media outlets in the State questioned Napolitano’s placement of financial aid for illegal aliens as a top priority. “She will put $5 million toward services for 900 UC students brought to the United States illegally by their parents… That’s her first big initiative as president of the University of California in a system of 239,000 students,” posed the Fresno Bee in its Sunday editorial page. (See editorial, Nov. 3, 2013) “Let us be clear. We support giving legal status to the so-called DREAM Act kids. But why is this Napolitano’s first publicly announced priority?” they questioned. (Id.)
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano was pivotal in instituting the Obama Administration’s prosecutorial discretion initiatives, including: memoranda by former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton instructing his agents to ignore illegal aliens unless they have committed certain crimes; a case-by-case review of all illegal aliens in deportation proceedings, granting a reprieve to those who did not meet the Administration’s enforcement “priorities;” and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, granting deferred action and work authorization to certain illegal aliens up to the age of 30. (See Morton Memos Summary)
Alabama Officials Collapse under Pressure and Agree to Gut HB 56
Last Tuesday, October 29, Alabama officials caved under the pressure of a lawsuit filed by illegal immigration advocacy groups and agreed to a settlement that guts Alabama House Bill (HB) 56, called the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” which was signed into law on June 9, 2011. (New York Times, Oct. 29, 2013)
The United States Department of Justice, as well as other organizations including the Hispanic Interest Coalition, the Southern Poverty Law Center and private individuals challenged HB 56 in federal court soon after its enactment. (U.S. v. Alabama, 813 F. Supp. 2d 1282 (N.D. Ala. 2011); Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137846 (N.D. Ala. Sept. 28, 2011); see also Feds Sue Alabama to Make Sure No One Enforces U.S. Immigration Law, FAIR Media, Aug. 11, 2011). The trial courts in both cases issued rulings temporarily enjoining several provisions until trial on the merits of the lawsuits. Those rulings were upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. (Hispanic Interest Coalition v. Governor of Alabama, 691 F.3d 1236 (11th Cir. 2012); U.S. v. Alabama, 691 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2012)). Alabama filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, but the petition was denied on April 29, 2013. (Alabama v. U. S., No. 12-884 (Apr. 29, 2013)) The next step would have been to proceed to trial on the merits of the lawsuits.
On Tuesday, however, Alabama officials admitted defeat and agreed to a settlement that permanently blocks the following challenged sections of HB 56:
- Section 10 – prohibits willful failure to complete or carry alien registration documents
- Section 11(a) – criminalizes the knowing application for work, solicitation of work, or performance of work by an unauthorized alien
- Section 11(f) & (g) – prohibits illegal aliens from applying for, soliciting or performing work as an employee or independent contractor within Alabama
- Section 13 – criminalizes the concealment, harboring, or shielding from detection of any alien; criminalizes encouraging or inducing an alien to come to or reside in Alabama; criminalizes transporting, attempting to transport, or conspiring to transport an alien in furtherance of the alien’s unlawful presence in the United States
- Section 27 – prohibits state courts from enforcing a contract to which an unlawfully present alien is a party, provided that the other party had direct or constructive knowledge of the alien’s unlawful presence and that performance of the contract would require the alien to remain in the state for more than 24 hours after its formation, excepting a contract for overnight lodging, purchase of food, medical services, or transportation to facilitate the alien’s return to his country of origin
- Section 28 – provides a process for schools to collect data regarding the immigration status of students who enroll in public schools
Alabama officials also agreed to limit the enforcement of the following provisions contained in HB 56 in exchange for the plaintiffs dropping all present and contemplated legal challenges regarding the same:
- Section 12 – requires law enforcement officers to determine a lawfully seized individual’s immigration status when the officer has reasonable suspicion that the seized individual is unlawfully present in the U.S.
- Section 18 – requires law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of a person that does not produce a driver’s license when requested
- Section 19(a) – requires a person unlawfully present to be considered a flight risk for bail purposes
- Section 20 – requires notification to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Alabama Department of Homeland Security when a criminal alien is released from custody
Alabama officials agreed to interpret Sections 12, 18, 19(a), and 20 of HB 56 to neither require nor authorize state or local law-enforcement officers to stop, detain, arrest, or prolong the detention of any person for the purpose of ascertaining that person’s immigration status or because of a belief that the person lacks lawful immigration status. State officials also agreed to interpret Section 19(b), which requires a person to be considered a flight risk if they are unlawfully present in the U.S., to only apply to persons charged with a capital crime. Sections 12 and 18 were challenged in the litigation, but upheld by the Eleventh Circuit. Sections 19(a) and 20 were never challenged.
ACLU director Cecillia Wang said her organization plans to monitor the State’s compliance with the agreement and threatened further legal action if State officials do not follow through on their end of the bargain. (NBC Latino, Oct. 29, 2013)
In the concession, Alabama officials also agreed to pay $350,000 in legal fees and costs to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The settlement agreement is pending approval by a federal judge. (New York Times, Oct. 29, 2013)