Jessica Vaughan's blog

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House Appropriations Boss Initiates Crackdown on Sanctuaries

By Jessica Vaughan, February 1, 2016

Today the chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee in charge of funding the Department of Justice, John Culberson (R-Texas), put the Obama administration on notice that it must take steps to rein in sanctuary jurisdictions or risk problems getting approval for its own budget requests. In addition, Culberson announced that he will begin requiring local jurisdictions to follow federal law and stop obstructing communication with immigration agencies as a condition for receiving certain federal law enforcement funding. Read more...

DHS Reports Huge Number of Visitors Overstayed in 2015

By Jessica Vaughan, January 20, 2016

A long-awaited report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirms that overstays are a significant source of illegal immigration. The report identified just over 527,000 foreign visitors who apparently did not depart as required when their authorized stay expired in 2015. Approximately 484,000 were presumed to be still in the United States at the end of 2015, and 416,500 had not departed as of January 4, 2016.

Of these overstaying visitors, 43 percent had entered on a business or tourist visa, 29 percent had entered under the controversial visa waiver program (VWP), and 28 percent had entered from Canada or Mexico. Read more...

Setting the Record Straight: NPR Corrects Mischaracterization of CIS Stance on ICE Operation

By Jessica Vaughan, January 7, 2016

On January 6, NPR's "Morning Edition" ran a story on the recent ICE operation to remove Central American adults and children who arrived illegally in the surge of 2014, who have failed in their request for legal status and been ordered removed in person by an immigration judge, but who have not departed. The story included comments from me that were over-edited and presented an incomplete and therefore misleading impression of my opinion on ICE's operation. Read more...

Major Screening Gap: Sponsors of Immigrants Not Fully Vetted Under Current Policy

By Jessica Vaughan, December 15, 2015

According to an internal USCIS document, immigration officers are not routinely utilizing the full range of available database checks to identify high-risk individuals, such as San Bernardino jihadist Sayed Rezwan Farook, who are trying to sponsor an immigrant. The most extensive checks are done only on prospective immigrants, not sponsors. This is a significant gap in the screening process that has been known for years, but never corrected. It's an easy fix, and if USCIS had done so years ago, when it recognized the gap, the government might have been more cautious about admitting Farook's partner and fiancé, Tashfeen Malik, and perhaps others who pose a similar risk. Read more...

Feds Lose Track of Most Border-Surge Teens After Release

By Jessica Vaughan, November 5, 2015

New information from a variety of sources further demonstrates that the Obama administration's handling of the continuing influx of illegal Central American family and youth border-crossers has been nothing short of a disaster. Government agencies and NGO contractors have lost track of most of the youth who have been released (or escaped) from shelters. Immigration court records show that about half of the "unaccompanied" alien children (UACs) do not appear for immigration court hearings. A recent murder of one UAC in Virginia by three others is a reminder that some of the kids are involved in gangs. And, because we let them, they keep coming; the number of new arrivals spiked again at the end of the summer, with twice as many Central American youth and families arriving in September 2015 as arrived in September 2014. Read more...

Central American "Refugee" Program Admits Few Actual Refugees

By Jessica Vaughan, October 21, 2015

Most of the youths being approved under the Obama administration's new Central American Minors Refugee/Parole (CAM) Program do not qualify as refugees, but are being admitted as parolees, according to new data released in a stakeholders' teleconference last week, confirming earlier reports. Read more...

Rounding Up Criminal Aliens

By Jessica Vaughan, September 3, 2015

Last week, ICE officers in California took to the streets for four days to round up 244 criminal aliens in six southern California counties. Billed by ICE as a "fugitive operation", as if these criminal aliens had fled from the law, in fact this was really a mop-up action necessitated by the release of these offenders under California's sanctuary policy. If the number of non-cooperative jurisdictions continues to grow (there are now more than 310), and Congress does not take action, ICE increasingly will be obliged to do its important work in this manner. And that's the way the Obama administration wants immigration enforcement to be: inefficient, expensive, and frightening to immigrants. But it doesn't have to be this way. Read more...

Concerns About the New Priority Enforcement Program

By Jessica Vaughan, August 6, 2015

Remarks of Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies, Center for Immigration Studies

Press Conference hosted by the Texas Sheriffs Association, State Capitol, Austin

August 5, 2015

The implementation of ICE's new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) is a major setback to rule of law in our country. It further scales back immigration enforcement by ICE and it explicitly facilitates sanctuary jurisdictions in obstructing ICE efforts to take custody of criminal aliens. This has enormous implications for public safety in Texas. Read more...

Here to Stay

By Jessica Vaughan, June 26, 2015

Most of the illegal border crossers from Central America who arrived in last year's surge have skipped out on their hearings, according to immigration court statistics obtained by Fox News. Only about 1 percent of the total have been awarded legal status or relief from deportation by immigration judges, but a significant number (37 percent) of the unaccompanied juvenile arrivals have had their cases closed or terminated, which indicates that they most likely also will be allowed to avoid deportation. In spite of these facts, yesterday the Obama administration announced that it will release the few illegal crossers who were detained, as well as any new arrivals who "state a claim" for asylum. Read more...

Vast Ramifications in Senate Obamatrade Vote Tuesday

By Jessica Vaughan, June 22, 2015

Tomorrow the Senate will have to vote again whether to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements that will have an enormous impact on the U.S. economy and future job prospects for U.S. workers — and significantly constrain congressional authority over U.S. immigration policy. Read more...

Senators Vote to Allow Visa Waivers for Poland

By Jessica Vaughan, June 22, 2015

On Thursday, a Senate committee voted to add Poland to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at the request of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), despite the fact that Poland has too high a visa refusal rate to participate. Expanding this risky program to unqualified countries at a time when immigration laws are not enforced, particularly against visa overstayers, would only invite even more illegal immigration.

The measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee as an amendment to the Senate's version of the DHS appropriations bill (the House version has not yet been finalized). Read more...

The Non-Deported: ICE Still Releasing Criminal Aliens at a Rapid Pace

By Jessica Vaughan, May 28, 2015

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published an investigative report on violent criminals released by ICE. Aptly titled "Convicted, but free to roam: Giving little notice, federal authorities have released thousands of detained undeportable immigrants — sometimes with grave results", the article tells the story of a rapist and a murderer turned loose by ICE. Such criminal alien releases are continuing at an alarming pace in 2015. Read more...

President's Policing Task Force Targets Immigration Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, May 21, 2015

The president's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was formed in the wake of Ferguson and other controversial policing events last year (none of which had anything to do with immigration), unfortunately has become another opportunity for anti-immigration enforcement activists to fabricate "mainstream" support for the continued crippling of DHS enforcement agencies by the Obama administration. Read more...

Myths about LA County's Successful 287(g) Program

By Jessica Vaughan, May 11, 2015

On Tuesday, May 12, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a proposal to end its longstanding and successful 287(g) partnership with ICE, which is one of the largest in the country. Activists for illegal aliens are pulling out all the stops to pressure the board members to cancel the program and have sent a barrage of emails and phone calls in favor of fewer criminal alien deportations. Read more...

Free Trade, Not Free Admission of Workers

By Jessica Vaughan, May 5, 2015

Trade agreements, the trade negotiating process, and trade pact approval measures (i.e. "fast track" authority) all must be carefully monitored to ensure that the trade deals do not cause increases in admissions of foreign workers or erode congressional authority over visa rules. The current fast-track proposal (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would have Congress surrender its authority over guestworker policies to the executive branch and its trade negotiators and ultimately to international trade tribunals. This means that we would be stuck with the dysfunctional guestworker programs that we now have and kept on a one-way street allowing only more access for foreign workers to U.S. jobs, with no means to reverse direction. Read more...

Waiting List for Legal Immigrant Visas Keeps Growing

By Jessica Vaughan, April 16, 2015

More than 4.4 million people are on the legal immigrant visa waiting list according to the State Department's annual tally. That is 100,085 more people waiting for legal immigrant visas than at the same time last year. Ninety-eight percent of those waiting have been sponsored by a family member in the United States. Read more...

Influx of Central American Teen and Family Arrivals Continues

By Jessica Vaughan, March 31, 2015

More than 2,000 illegal alien juveniles have been apprehended and taken into federal custody in each of the last several months, according to DHS statistics. While Obama administration officials emphasize that these numbers are lower than last year, they are still the second highest level ever for arrests of illegal alien minors, about midway between 2013 and 2014 levels. Most of those apprehended are male teenagers, with the largest number from Guatemala. Read more...

New Data Show Immigrant Gang Arrests

By Jessica Vaughan, March 27, 2015

Violent immigrant and transnational gangs such as MS-13, the Sureños, and 18th Street continue to present a significant public safety threat in many parts of the United States, according to arrest records released by ICE to the Center for Immigration Studies.

In 2013 (the most recent year available), ICE arrested significant numbers of gang members in California, Texas, Chicago, and the New York City and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas. Large concentrations also were arrested by ICE agents in Atlanta, Charlotte, and south Florida. Read more...

USCIS Favors Illegal Alien Applicants over Americans and Legal Immigrants

By Jessica Vaughan, March 12, 2015

A USCIS document provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee details exactly which categories of legal immigrants were disadvantaged by the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the amnesty for the so-called illegal alien "Dreamers". The document reveals that processing of most applications for legal immigration benefits, including the highest priority family categories, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, were de-emphasized so that the agency could instead focus on approving the DACA applications. Read more...

Senate Hearing Exposes Billion-Dollar Amnesty Slush Fund and Other USCIS Improprieties

By Jessica Vaughan, March 6, 2015

On Tuesday, March 3, three senior USCIS managers appeared before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to answer questions about the agency's implementation of the president's executive amnesties, the latest (and largest) of which is now held up by a legal challenge from 26 states. Read more...

Correction: Number of Work Permits Was Actually 7.4 Million

By Jessica Vaughan, February 9, 2015

According to government statistics obtained from USCIS through a FOIA request, the total number of work permits issued by USCIS from 2009 to 2014 is 7.4 million. Due to a spreadsheet error, my original report on the encrypted data received from USCIS incorrectly stated that the total number of work permits issued in these years was 5.5 million. We regret the error. Read more...

The Human Cost of "Prosecutorial Discretion"

By Jessica Vaughan, January 28, 2015

An illegal alien now under arrest for murdering a 21-year-old convenience store clerk in Mesa, Ariz., on January 22, 2015, was previously in ICE custody in 2013 after a drug- and gang-related felony burglary conviction, but was released on bond after just a few days. This incident tragically illustrates the human cost of the Obama administration's "prosecutorial discretion" policies, otherwise known as "catch and release".

ICE says in a statement that it offered the man, Apolinar Altamirano, release on bond pending a deportation hearing (that still has not taken place two years later), because he had "only" the one felony burglary conviction. It seems that not even all felons are considered to be eligible for enforcement, despite ICE's insistence that it is focused like a laser on removing aliens with criminal convictions, with even "non-violent" felons supposedly ranked as a high priority for deportation, and the president's insistence that the focus is on "Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids." (Emphasis added.) As my colleague Jon Feere has said, it appears that bloodshed is a prerequisite for immigration enforcement these days. Read more...

House Border Bill Advances Without Improvement

By Jessica Vaughan, January 24, 2015

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security committee rubber-stamped Rep. Michael McCaul's flawed border security bill (HR399) without meaningful improvements. The barely-tweaked bill reportedly is scheduled to be considered by the full House next Wednesday, January 28. Read more...

House Border Security Bill Is an Empty Green Suit

By Jessica Vaughan, January 20, 2015

On Wednesday, January 21, the House Homeland Security Committee will take up H.R.399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, introduced by the committee's chairman, Michael McCaul (R-Texas). While this bill is an improvement over the border security bill approved by this committee in the previous Congress and, if implemented, would greatly improve our understanding of what actually goes on at the border and ports of entry, it falls far short of what is needed to slow the flow of illegal immigration and prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals. It proposes to spend $10 billion of taxpayer money without ensuring that a single illegal alien will be sent home. Read more...

ICE Begins Releasing Deportable Aliens to Work in the U.S.

By Jessica Vaughan, January 14, 2015

Most of the attention directed toward the president's executive actions on immigration has been focused on the plan to issue work permits to potentially five million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). But these are not the only illegal aliens who are getting work permits as part of the executive amnesty. Read more...

Contrary to Administration Claims, Only a Tiny Fraction of 'Surge' Border-Jumpers Deported

By Jessica Vaughan, December 24, 2014

An investigative report by a Houston television station exposed that only a tiny fraction of the families and children who crossed in the border surge of 2012-14 are being returned to their home countries, despite Obama administration claims that the cases are a priority. According to immigration court records obtained by the station, only a few of the illegal family or child arrivals are qualified to stay in the United States, and the vast majority (91 percent) have simply absconded from their proceedings after release and joined the resident illegal population, where they are no longer a priority for enforcement under the new, expanded "prosecutorial discretion" policies. Read more...

House Hearing on Impact of Executive Amnesty

By Jessica Vaughan, December 3, 2014

A few interesting items from yesterday's House Homeland Security Committee hearing with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, entitled "Open Borders: The Impact of Presidential Amnesty on Border Security":

  • Johnson acknowledged under questioning from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that DHS currently has no metrics to measure or evaluate the security of the border or his agencies' success in stemming illegal immigration. One obvious metric should be the size of the illegal alien population. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the size of the illegal population peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, declined to 11.3 million by 2009, and has budged little since then. In light of these trends, it's hard to argue that any progress has been made under the Obama administration.

Blue Light Special on Naturalization to Help Fund Obama's Amnesty

By Jessica Vaughan, November 20, 2014

11/21/14 Update: In one of a series of memos released Thursday night providing the details on the president's executive amnesty plan, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson stated that the plan to offer discounted naturalization to low-income applicants would not be implemented at this time, apparently because USCIS leaders said that the agency couldn't afford it. The memo is available here. Read more...

Who Might Benefit from Executive Amnesty?

By Jessica Vaughan, November 17, 2014

The marquee item in the president's planned executive amnesty reportedly will be legalization and work permits for several million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizen or legally resident children. Pro-amnesty advocates obviously are calculating that the public will find this group sympathetic and appropriate beneficiaries who should not be a target for deportation – but are they really?

Let's take a look at some cases of illegal aliens who would qualify. Read more...