Jessica Vaughan's blog

Director of Policy Studies


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HHS Cutting $167 Million from Other Programs to Pay for Services to UACs for One Month

By Jessica Vaughan, November 29, 2016

An average of 255 illegal alien youths were taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) every day this month, according to the latest figures the agency provided to Congress. This is the largest number of illegal alien children ever in the care of the federal government. To pay for it, the agency says it will need an additional one or two billion dollars for the next year – above and beyond the $1.2 billion spent in 2016 and proposed for 2017 – depending on how many more arrive. Read more...

Sanctuaries Update: 1 Down, 305 to Go

By Jessica Vaughan, August 5, 2016

One of Sheriff Mark Garber's first acts upon taking office in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, last month was to rescind the controversial and misguided sanctuary policy that had been implemented by his predecessor. The approximately 300 other jurisdictions around the country that have similar policies obstructing immigration enforcement would be wise to follow suit. Read more...

Fact Checkers Can't Handle the Truth

By Jessica Vaughan, July 25, 2016

Last Thursday evening, self-described fact-checkers for Politifact, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post mobilized as soon as the text of Donald Trump's nomination acceptance speech was leaked to challenge a series of immigration facts cited by the candidate. In their haste, or maybe it was their zeal, to try to de-bunk Trump's statements on immigration, they put out sloppy work and sometimes downright false evaluations. Read more...

ICE Released 19,723 Criminal Aliens in 2015

By Jessica Vaughan, April 27, 2016

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ICE continued to release deportable criminal aliens from its custody at an alarming rate in 2015, according to figures the agency provided to members of Congress this week in advance of a hearing taking place Thursday, April 28. In 2015, ICE freed 19,723 criminal aliens, who had a total of 64,197 convictions among them. These included 8,234 violent convictions and 208 homicide convictions. While the total number of releases is lower than the past two years, since the number of arrests has declined quite dramatically, the rate of releases is approximately the same — meaning that this is no progress at all, and certainly will be no consolation for the victims of these criminal aliens. Read more...

FAA Bill Could Speed Development of Exit-Tracking Infrastructure

By Jessica Vaughan, April 14, 2016

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has offered an amendment to the pending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that would accelerate the implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system. The amendment could be voted on as early as today.

The amendment would require that in order to receive federal funding, all new airports and all existing airports making improvements must have an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to install and implement a biometric entry-exit system within two years of the act if they are a port of entry into the United States. Read more...

Immigration Enforcement Failures Felt Keenly in Texas

By Jessica Vaughan, April 5, 2016

Texas lawmakers have been using this year when the legislature is not in session to examine how the collapse of immigration enforcement has affected public safety. Texas is greatly affected, not just because it is a large border state with many immigrants, but also because south Texas currently is the hot spot for illegal entry into the United States. How Texas approaches border security and enforcement matters to the entire country. Currently, half of all immigration enforcement activity happens in the four ICE field offices that cover Texas. Read more...

USCIS Stiff-Armed ICE in San Bernardino Terror Investigation

By Jessica Vaughan, March 15, 2016

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) revealed at a hearing today that on December 3, 2015, the day after the San Bernardino terror attack, USCIS managers obstructed ICE agents from entering the USCIS office building to try to arrest Enrique Marquez, an accomplice in the December 2 plot, and possibly others. Marquez, who supplied some of the weapons used by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in their attack, had been expected at the USCIS building for an interview in connection with his sham green-card-motivated marriage to a Russian woman. The USCIS manager apparently also refused to share the file on "Mr. and Mrs." Marquez with the ICE agents. Read more...

Free to Kill: 124 Criminal Aliens Released By Obama Policies Charged with Homicide Since 2010

By Jessica Vaughan, March 14, 2016

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In response to congressional inquiries, ICE has released information on some of the criminal aliens who have been released by the agency since 2010. Specifically, ICE provided information on aliens who were charged with homicides after being released and aliens who were released multiple times by ICE. Read more...

Justice Department Agrees to End Subsidies for Sanctuaries

By Jessica Vaughan, February 25, 2016

At a House appropriations hearing yesterday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that her department has agreed to begin enforcing federal law against sanctuary policies that obstruct communication and cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Lynch's announcement is the result of pressure applied by Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who chairs the subcommittee that controls the budget for the Department of Justice. Under his plan, state and local jurisdictions maintaining sanctuary policies that violate federal law now risk losing federal funds — unless they stop protecting criminal aliens. Read more...

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...