A Department of Homeland Security agent testified Thursday that she nearly lost custody of her 1-year-old adopted daughter and was told that she could not own a personal firearm after she voiced concerns about a little known federal program that grants green cards to foreign investors.
Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent with a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified at a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing alongside several other whistleblowers who claim they’ve faced retaliation for reporting wrongdoing in their agencies.
Johnson, an 11-year veteran of ICE, said she began investigating a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) program called EB-5. The program grants green cards to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. companies.
Johnson testified that during her investigation she uncovered and disclosed gross mismanagement and public corruption that posed “national security risks” and threatened public safety.
“Some of the violations investigated surrounding the project included bank and wire fraud, and I discovered ties to organized crime and high-ranking politicians and they received promotions that appeared to facilitate the program,” Johnson testified.
She said that during her investigation she “discovered that EB-5 applicants from China, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia had been approved in as little as 16 days” and that case files “lacked the basic and necessary law enforcement queries.”
“I found over 800 operational EB-5 regional centers throughout the U.S.,” Johnson said, stating that she found this “disturbing” given that the U.S. allows only 10,000 EB-5 applications per year.
“I could not identify how USCIS was holding each regional center accountable or how they were tracked once they were inside the U.S.,” she added.
Johnson’s testimony comes as the EB-5 program is under intense scrutiny from a damning report released in March by DHS’ inspector general, John Roth. Roth’s report concluded that former USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas, now the second-in-command at DHS, intervened in an “unprecedented” manner to help expedite EB-5 applications.
Some of those who Mayorkas was in contact with include Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Mayorkas met with Reid to discuss an EB-5 application for the Sands Casino, a Las Vegas casino which employed Reid’s son’s law firm.
Mayorkas was in routine contact with McAuliffe who aggressively pushed for EB-5 approval for his company, GreenTech Automotive. Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, was also involved in that deal.
It is unclear if Johnson investigated Mayorkas or any applications involving Reid or McAuliffe.
After receiving complaints from “high-ranking officials” at outside agencies, Johnson’s managers shut down her investigation, she testified. From there, she says she was “subjected to a significant amount of harassment and retaliation.”
Blowback started when she was escorted from her work desk and prohibited from accessing her case files or other personal records.
She also said that her service firearm and credentials were confiscated. But the gun grab went further.
“I was told I couldn’t even carry or own a personal weapon which is a constitutional rights violation,” Johnson said.
Johnson grew emotional during one part of her testimony when she discussed how the retaliation she faced hit home, literally.
“When an adoption social worker tried to contact and verify employment, she was told that I had been terminated for a criminal offense,” Johnson said, her voice shaky.
“I almost lost my 1-year-old child.”
Technically throw a contempt citation at them…
Via Washington Times:
The Obama administration blamed a technology glitch for why it continued to approve new amnesty applications in February, even after a federal judge issued an injunction, telling the court late Friday that they are now begging about 2,000 illegal immigrants to tear up their three-year work authorizations.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency that approved the deportation amnesty applications for Dreamers despite the judge’s order, insisted it’s corrected the immigrants’ records at headquarters, but said it’s also asking the immigrants themselves to send back their three-year documents and accept two-year papers instead.
The agency also told Judge Andrew S. Hanen that more botched cases could still be found as employees dig through tens of thousands of applications.
President Obama’s lawyers are desperately trying to head off punishment by Judge Hanen after several embarrassing missteps.
According to one Democrat Congressman from, of all places, Texas – America doesn’t have a border security problem, despite the bum rush of hundreds of thousands of illegals from Central America this year.
Nope. The way to solve this influx is to hand them asylum in their home countries, before they even cross our border.
Yep, you heard right. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) visited CNN’s “State of the Nation” and uttered his little bit of crazy for a national audience.
O’Rourke actually wants us to send Homeland Security into Central America to start processing people as “refugees”, thereby allowing tens of thousands if not more, to come to the U.S.
You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out of office. A little hint to the citizens of Texas’ 16th District.
Several buses transporting undocumented immigrants to a Border Patrol station In Murrieta, Calif., Tuesday were turned back after angry protestors blocked the road to their intended destination.
Photographs posted on social media by local reporters show dozens of protestors surrounded the buses heading to a new processing facility set up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Murrieta station to deal with an influx of migrants from Central America.
The protestors were carrying American flags and signs with messages such as “Return to sender” and “Bus illegal children to the White House.” Others called on Border Patrol to protect the border instead of look over detained migrants.
The federal government previously set up temporary processing facilities in Nogales, Ariz., to supplement overwhelmed facilities in South Texas.
Plans to transport 500 undocumented immigrants to the Murrieta facility were pared down after residents expressed discontent and Mayor Alan Long complained that the federal government’s plan would put a strain on the city’s resources.
Upon arrival the buses carrying 140 undocumented migrants Tuesday turned around for unknown reasons and drove to the Chula Vista Border Patrol facility in San Diego County, a local news station reported.
Top administration officials have directed 21,000 border patrol officers to retreat whenever illegal immigrants throw rocks at them, and to avoid getting in front of foreign drug-smugglers’ vehicles as they head north with their drug shipments.
“Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles… agents should obtain a tactical advantage in these situations, such as seeking cover or distancing themselves,” said the instructions, issued Mar. 7, under the signature of Michael Fisher, chief of U.S. Border Patrol.
Agents were also directed to keep their weapons holstered when drug smugglers drive by.
Agents can’t use guns against “a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents,” say the instructions.
The new instructions do allow agents to use guns to defend themselves from vehicles that drive at them. “Agents shall not discharge their firearms at a moving vehicle unless the agent has a reasonable belief that… deadly force is being used against an agent,” the new instructions say.
However, the instructions also suggest that officers be penalized if they don’t step back. Agents “should not place themselves in the path of a motor vehicle or use their body to block a vehicles’s path,” according to new instructions.
The new curbs were praised by advocates for greater immigration, including Juanita Molina, director of the Border Action Network. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Menendez is one of the drafters of the June 2013 Senate immigration bill, which would boost the inflow of legal immigrants and guest workers up to 40 million over the next decade. During the same period, roughly 40 million Americans will turn 18.
The new rules were issued at the direction of Jeh Johnston, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The rules match the recommendation of a report by an advocacy group that wants to reduce policing of illegal immigration.
The report by the Police Executive Research Forum was commissioned by DHS, and it said border agents should be barred from standing in front of smugglers’ vehicles or from shooting at people who are attacking them with rocks.
The commissioned report was challenged by mid-level DHS officials, who argued that the rules barring self-defense from rock-throwers “could create a more dangerous environment [especially for agents operating] in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
But Johnston overrode the internal response, and forced the implementation of the advocacy groups’ recommendations.
The PERF report was commissioned by top DHS leaders after advocates said law-enforcement agents had killed roughly seven people a year along the 1,933-mile border in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The shootings came during 67 clashes with a huge stream of armed drug-smugglers and illegal immigrants.
Three U.S. border guards have been killed in recent years, including one who was shot during a clash with drug smugglers carrying AK-47 assault weapons.
In a Friday news conference, Fisher told reporters that agents would be equipped with short-range tasers and pepper spray, plus medium-range pellet guns, to deter attacks.
But he also admitted that agents have been attacked 6,000 times since 2007. They’ve been “assaulted by rocks” 1,713 times since 2010, and have responded with deadly force only 43 times, he said.
The agents killed only 10 drug-smugglers and other attackers during the same three-year period, Fisher said.
Speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the approximately 11 million people who are in the country illegally have “earned the right to be citizens.”
“An earned path to citizenship for those currently present in this country is a matter of, in my view, homeland security to encourage people to come out from the shadows,” said Johnson, in what he remarked was one of his first public speeches since being confirmed as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief in December.
“It is also, frankly, in my judgment, a matter of who we are as Americans,” he said, “to offer the opportunity to those who want to be citizens, who’ve earned the right to be citizens, who are present in this country – many of whom came here as children – to have the opportunity that we all have to try to become American citizens.”
Johnson, who had earlier served as general counsel for the Department of Defense under Obama from 2009 to 2012, told the more than 270 mayors in attendance that enforcing immigration law was one of the main missions of DHS.
“The five core missions of the Department of Homeland Security are guarding against terrorism, securing our borders, enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, safeguarding cyberspace and critical infrastructure in partnership with the private sector, and supporting emergency preparedness and response efforts at every level,” Johnson said.
Then he concluded his remarks by calling for “comprehensive, common sense, immigration reform.”
“Common sense immigration reform is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, businesses, and if the polls (are) to be believed, the majority of the American people,” Johnson said. “Border security is inseparable from homeland security.”
“And border security must and should be part of comprehensive immigration reform – protecting our borders, securing our ports, promoting the lawful flow of trade and travel through our ports to cities and other communities,” he said.
Johnson touted the alleged improvement in border security over the last four years and said comprehensive immigration reform also would increase that security.
“Comprehensive immigration reform would also promote a more effective and efficient system for enforcing our immigration laws, and should include an earned path to citizenship for the approximately 11-and-a-half-million undocumented immigrants present in this country, something like 86% of whom have been here almost 10 years,” Johnson said.
“An earned path to citizenship for those currently present in this country is a matter of, in my view, homeland security to encourage people to come out from the shadows, to be accountable, to participate in the American experience, the American society,” he said.
“It is also, frankly, in my judgment, a matter of who we are as Americans,” said Johnson. “To offer the opportunity to those who want to be citizens, who’ve earned the right to be citizens, who are present in this country – many of whom who came here as children – to have the opportunity that we all have to try to become American citizens.”
More immigrants facing deportation in immigration courts across the nation are having their court cases closed because of Obama’s prosecutorial discretion policy, researchers at Syracuse University found.
Meanwhile, the number of removal proceedings initiated in immigration courts by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has dropped since the new policy was implemented.
In fiscal 2013, immigration courts cited the exercise of “prosecutorial discretion” (PD) as the reason to dismiss 16,306 cases.
That is a 68 percent increase from the 9,684 cases that were tossed in 2012 for the same reason.
In total, from October 2011 when Obama’s discretion policy was implemented through December 2013, there were 28,983 PD-related closures in immigration courts across the U.S.
The number of deportations proceedings initiated in immigration courts by ICE has also dropped since Obama’s discretion policy was implemented.
In fiscal 2013, ICE initiated 190,277 removal proceedings in immigration courts, a 21 percent drop from the 239,504 in fiscal 2011, the year prior to the beginning of prosecutorial discretion.
Overall, the number of ICE removals has also dropped ten percent in 2013.
As a percentage of all cases closed, the number of prosecutorial discretion closures in court is also on the rise.
In fiscal 2013, 8.5 percent of all case closures were based on prosecutorial discretion, up from 4.7 percent the previous year.
Some immigration courts reported that prosecutorial discretion resulted in almost three out of every ten cases closed.
“The Seattle Court led the nation with 29.8 percent PD closures. The Tucson court was in second place with 26.0 percent PD closures, while the Los Angeles Court was third with 23.7 percent. Rounding out the top five were the Omaha Court at 23.1 percent and the Phoenix Court at 20.7 percent,” according to the Syracuse University analysis.
Houston saw one of the lowest percentages of case closures based on Obama’s policy.
Syracuse University researchers found that “Houston was at 1.7 percent PD closures, New York City 3.7 percent, Chicago 5.0 percent, and Miami 6.3 percent.”
The prosecutorial discretion closures mentioned in this report only refer to those cases that actually make it to court. Some immigration cases are dealt with administratively by the Obama administration.
John Morton, then-Obama’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, first announced the prosecutorial discretion policy in an October 2011 memo.
The new policy directed immigration enforcement officials to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding which illegal aliens to remove from the U.S.
According to the memo, the purpose of the policy was to remove the worst criminal offenders while allowing other aliens such as those who were brought into the country as children to remain in the country.
One purpose of the policy is to reduce a backlog of cases in immigration courts, according to the White House.
However, Syracuse University found that the policy is also being used to deal with new immigration court cases.
The White House has extended the use of prosecutorial discretion to immigration law violators who are military veterans and the spouses of active-duty military personnel.