Jessica Vaughan's blog

Director of Policy Studies


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Dispatch From "Almost America"

By Jessica Vaughan, September 16, 2014

El Paso – I had to chuckle as I read the first line of a front-page story in the El Paso Times, which I had picked up in the airport on my way home from a conference: "The average Border Patrol agent in El Paso apprehended 4.2 undocumented immigrants [sic] in 2013, according to a presentation made to lawmakers last week by two experts who study the border." Read more...

ICE Deportations Still Plummeting; Catch and Release Continues

By Jessica Vaughan, September 12, 2014

The Associated Press has published figures from ICE's weekly internal metrics showing that immigration enforcement has continued to decline in 2014. But the reasons offered sound more like spin from the DHS or ICE press office, which for years has peddled the tall tale that the Obama administration is tougher than any other on enforcement.

Writes AP immigration writer Alicia Caldwell: Read more...

A Town Near You? ICE Reveals Locations of Convicted Murderers It Freed

By Jessica Vaughan, August 22, 2014

The 169 aliens with homicide-related convictions who were freed by ICE in 2013 were booked out of detention facilities in 24 different states, with the largest number in California, according to information provided to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). ICE records show that these convicted killers were associated with 96 different cities and towns across America. The city with the largest concentration was Miami, with seven convicted murderers freed by ICE, followed by Los Angeles with six. Read more...

Border Patrol: Illegal Surge Is Mostly Families, Not Unaccompanied Kids

By Jessica Vaughan, July 24, 2014

Border Patrol statistics found buried on a government website confirm that most of the Central American illegal aliens apprehended in the recent surge are family units. Less than one-fourth (22 percent) of all those apprehended are unaccompanied alien children (UACs) from Central America. The number of illegally arriving families shot up five times faster than UAC arrivals over last year. Read more...

Enforcement Program Stifled 2001-02 Illegal Central American Flow

By Jessica Vaughan, July 23, 2014

A new Center video interview with Hipolito Acosta, a retired senior U.S. immigration official, describes a successful program in which nearly 80,000 U.S.-bound migrants from Central America were intercepted in Mexico over 12-months in 2001-02. U.S. immigration agents worked with Mexican and Central American governments to repatriate the migrants and arrest smugglers. As a result, U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal crossers from Central America were reduced by 76 percent over the period. The program cost $1.6 million – but saved the U.S. government hundreds of millions of dollars in enforcement spending by preventing the illegal crossings from occurring. The Department of Homeland Security should adopt a similar program aimed at prevention and deterrence to address the current surge of illegal families and children. Read more...

Records Reveal Few Central Americans Deported

By Jessica Vaughan, June 27, 2014

Government records confirm that very few of the tens of thousands of Central Americans apprehended by the Border Patrol or ICE in recent years have been sent home. These records show that the aspirations of tens of thousands of Central Americans now surging across the border in south Texas have been based on a realistic assessment of their chances to remain in the United States, not on false rumors, as Obama administration officials have asserted. The numbers also show that the number of juveniles deported has declined significantly since 2008. Read more...

ICE Criminal Alien Releases Continue; Still No Details from DHS

By Jessica Vaughan, June 19, 2014

Last week, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Senate Judiciary committee that, weeks after the revelation that ICE freed 36,000 convicted criminal aliens last year, he is still trying to understand what happened, and declined to provide the senators with further details on who, when, where, and why the criminal aliens were freed.

Meanwhile, the criminal alien releases continue. ICE records reveal that the total number of non-detained convicted criminal aliens has grown by nearly 17,000 since the end of last fiscal year. Read more...

Internal Memo Reveals High-Level Dissent on Border Surge Policies

By Jessica Vaughan, June 10, 2014

A draft memo from a top Border Patrol official expresses alarm that the administration's handling of the border surge in south Texas is inviting more illegal crossings and overwhelming the DHS agencies. The memo calls for the administration to stop releasing illegal crossers into the United States and instead impose harsher "consequences" on illegal crossers. Read more...

ICE Chose to Free Murderers and Other Criminals

By Jessica Vaughan, May 13, 2014

ICE has admitted that 25 percent of the murderers it freed last year were let go at the agency's discretion, not mandated by the courts, in a statement provided to Breitbart News. The statement was a response to my report revealing that in 2013 ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminals to await the outcome of their deportation proceedings, instead of holding them in custody. Read more...

ICE Policy Change on Detainers Fuels Lawsuits to Obstruct Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, April 23, 2014

A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that local law enforcement agencies must not comply with ICE detainers, a key tool used by ICE to take custody of criminal aliens for investigation and possible removal. As a result, nine sheriffs in Oregon announced that they would cease honoring detainers and begin releasing any arrested aliens who complete their sentence or bond out of jail before ICE has a chance to charge them. Read more...

Catch and Release: Responding to Critics

By Jessica Vaughan, April 1, 2014

My new report on the state of interior enforcement, "Catch and Release", has been denounced by ICE and pro-amnesty groups. Both critiques were expected, and neither detracts from or changes the fundamental truth that ICE is taking a pass on huge numbers of illegal aliens located by ICE officers, including an alarming number of criminal aliens. Read more...

Errors Mar Bipartisan Policy Center Report on Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, March 21, 2014

A new paper by the pro-amnesty Bipartisan Policy Center, which defends Obama administration claims of "record" deportations, is tainted by errors and mistaken assumptions.

I was most interested in the first section, "Removals (Deportations)", which includes this initial statement:

The common claim that the Obama administration deports unauthorized immigrants in record numbers is true.

Obama Preparing to Stop ICE From Targeting Immigration Offenders

By Jessica Vaughan, March 18, 2014

On Friday, a DHS official leaked to the Los Angeles Times hints of two policy changes in the works to further reduce deportations. If implemented, we can expect deportations to drop by tens of thousands per year, and the communities where they are released can expect them to renew the criminal activity that caused them to be referred to ICE in the first place. Read more...

DHS Sec. Johnson Disputes Detention Bed Mandate

By Jessica Vaughan, March 14, 2014

Two House appropriations hearings this week revealed some interesting new information on immigration detention issues.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and several deputies appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to discuss the DHS and ICE budgets. Read more...

Texas Data Confirm Declining Deportations, Cost of Alien Crime

By Jessica Vaughan, March 5, 2014

An analysis by the Texas Tribune of an annual report issued by a Texas criminal justice agency shows that immigration enforcement in Texas has declined steadily over the last 18 months, dropping 20 percent from August 2012 to December 2013.

Since 2011, the Texas legislature has required the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to collect and report on the number of ICE detainers issued and the cost to Texas county jails for complying with those detainers. Read more...

Mexico Irate Over Border Patrol Use of Force Against Rock Attack

By Jessica Vaughan, February 25, 2014

Following the shooting death last week of a Mexican illegal alien with an extensive criminal record who assaulted a U.S. Border Patrol agent with rocks (one reportedly the size of a basketball), the government of Mexico is demanding that the Obama administration prohibit Border Patrol agents from using lethal force to protect themselves. Reports CNN: Read more...

House Hearing on Asylum Reveals Rampant Fraud, More Abuse of Executive Discretion

By Jessica Vaughan, February 11, 2014

At a hearing Tuesday, witnesses told members of the House Judiciary committee that America's long-standing practice of granting political asylum to the persecuted is routinely and brazenly exploited by fraudulent applicants.

According to a USCIS document, "Asylum Benefit Fraud and Compliance Report", which the committee made public today (and which previously had been suppressed by USCIS leadership), only 30 percent of asylum cases from a random sample were confirmed to be fraud-free — meaning that 70 percent were proven to be fraudulent or had strong indicators of fraud. Read more...

Obama Deportations Definitely Not Record-Breaking

By Jessica Vaughan, December 26, 2013

In its first four years the Obama administration deported 3.2 million aliens, averaging just over 800,000 per year. Pro-amnesty advocacy groups, administration officials, lawmakers, and lazy reporters all have claimed this is a record, but it is not. In fact, according to historical DHS statistics, this is the lowest total and annual average since the mid-1970s.

Bloomberg News reporter Bill Selway wrote this last week: Read more...

Deportation Lies Continue

By Jessica Vaughan, December 18, 2013

ICE has finally come up with a public explanation for why deportation numbers are so much lower in 2013, even with the same book-cooking it has done to claim "record levels" in the past, which I reported on earlier this year.

I was told several times by mainstream reporters looking into both the drop in numbers and the administration's statistical manipulations that ICE was still "fumbling around" trying to put together a response to my reporting. That response appeared yesterday in the form of Michael Bender's article at Bloomberg News. Read more...

California Activists Demand Amnesty for Felons

By Jessica Vaughan, December 6, 2013

A group of amnesty activists in California really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel in their quest to draw public sympathy for illegal aliens who are being deported.

On Monday, November 26, three women, two of whom are illegal aliens and one who is a U.S. citizen, chained themselves by the neck to a fence surrounding the Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino, Calif. Their aim was to provoke arrest and draw attention to their demands for the release of three men being detained at the center. They were part of a larger group of activists demanding a moratorium on all deportations. The three women were arrested, spent the night in a county jail, and now face charges for misdemeanor failure to disperse, trespassing, and a felony charge of vandalism. Read more...

Enforcement Metrics Support Case for Detention Bed Mandate

By Jessica Vaughan, November 24, 2013

Anti-enforcement advocates have come up with another manufactured controversy to serve as sob-story bait for mainstream journalists — the detention bed mandate. This is a requirement imposed by congressional appropriators starting in 2009 stipulating that ICE must actually use all of the tax dollars it receives for immigration detention. While it has been portrayed in several recent stories as arbitrary, simplistic, cruel, and wasteful, looking back on the litany of Obama administration executive decrees that have suppressed and undermined enforcement, this mandate now seems downright prophetic. Read more...

"The Top 10 Laws You Didn’t Know ICE Enforces"

By Jessica Vaughan, October 28, 2013

The ICE website currently features this gem: "The top 10 laws you didn't know ICE enforces." I immediately clicked on it, expecting to see the Immigration and Nationality Act listed as Number 1, based on the findings of a new report we're releasing next week, showing immigration enforcement in steep decline. Read more...

Obama Administration Rewrites Law to Forgive False Citizenship Claims by Minors

By Jessica Vaughan, September 27, 2013

Aliens who have been caught in the serious fraud of falsely claiming to be U.S. citizens are no longer prevented from obtaining immigrant visas or other immigration benefits if they made the false claim before they were 18 years old — despite what the law says — thanks to a new directive from the Department of Homeland Security. Read more...

Declining Enforcement a Likely Contributor to Growing Illegal Population

By Jessica Vaughan, September 24, 2013

Amnesty proponents will bravely spin the new Pew Hispanic Center report showing increasing illegal immigration as evidence that enforcement doesn’t work, as if the Obama administration has actually made an effort to enforce immigration laws. Unfortunately, internal ICE statistics show otherwise. The upward trend in the size of the illegal population is more likely at least partially the result of a significant decline in enforcement, especially in the interior, where we notice it the most. Internal ICE statistics show that the number of aliens expelled from the interior of the country declined by 20 percent from 2010 to 2012. Removals and returns are on track to decline another 20 percent in 2013. Read more...

New Amnesty for Parents and Nannies

By Jessica Vaughan, August 30, 2013

One of the first acts of the Obama administration's new ICE Director, John Sandweg, was to expand the president's amnesty-by-executive fiat beyond the so-called DREAMers to cover also illegal aliens who are parents or caretakers of children — anybody's children, anywhere, of any immigration status. Like the other decreed amnesties, this directive issued on August 23, is so broadly written that it could cover potentially millions of illegal aliens. It is the next step in the gradual dismantling of enforcement, and perhaps signals a White House understanding that it probably cannot get the mass legalization it seeks the old-fashioned constitutional way, through Congress, and that instead it must resort to the more familiar method of executive action. Read more...

Enforcement Declining Despite High Rates of Alien Crime

By Jessica Vaughan, August 23, 2013

For the first time since 2006, the U.S. Sentencing Commission is reporting a decline in the number of immigration cases in federal court, echoing other indications of a significant decline in immigration enforcement, despite continued high levels of illegal immigration. Read more...

More Evidence of Enforcement Stagnation

By Jessica Vaughan, July 27, 2013

A new report tracking the number of ICE detainers issued confirms that interior immigration enforcement has declined significantly in recent months. This report corroborates my previous analysis of another set of ICE statistics that revealed a considerable deterioration in interior enforcement since 2011. Read more...

Even Safe Cities Need the SAFE Act

By Jessica Vaughan, July 19, 2013

The case of Cesar Benitez, an illegal alien serial rapist with numerous prior offenses, including repeated immigration violations, illustrates the pressing need for the SAFE Act, now under consideration in the U.S. House as a welcome alternative to the Schumer-Rubio bill.

Benitez was arrested in April 2012 for hiding in a women's bathroom at a Target store in Allen, Texas, and peeping at a 13-year old girl in the next stall. They caught him in nearby Plano, where police also sought him for similar offenses, charged him with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and set bond at $1,500. Read more...

Schumer-Corker-Hoeven Overstay Provisions Overstated

By Jessica Vaughan, June 24, 2013

Among the faux enforcement improvements being hyped by supporters of the deceptive Schumer-Corker-Hoeven substitute amendment to the Gang of Eight bill is a new section titled "Removal of Nonimmigrants Who Overstay Their Visas". Not exactly.

The new provision (Section 1201) says that no later than six months after the enactment of the bill, the DHS Secretary shall begin dealing with those foreign visitors who arrived after the bill's enactment and who overstayed their temporary visa by at least six months. The Secretary is required to deal with at least 90 percent of the overstayers. Read more...

Pro-Amnesty Stance Not Enough to Earn Latino Support

By Jessica Vaughan, June 18, 2013

Sen. Lindsay Graham's (R-S.C.) absurd notion that Latino voters will flock to Republican candidates if they embrace amnesty and "comprehensive immigration reform" has been once more refuted, this time a Massachusetts special election to fill John Kerry’s U.S. Senate seat. On Friday, El Planeta, the state's largest Spanish-language newspaper, endorsed Democrat Ed Markey, a long-serving member of the House who only occasionally actually sets foot in his district, over Republican newcomer and fellow Latino Gabriel Gomez, son of Colombian immigrants, who often gives his campaign speeches in Spanish followed by an English translation and who is an enthusiastic supporter of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill.

From Friday's Boston Globe: Read more...