Jessica Vaughan's blog

Director of Policy Studies


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Administrative Amnesties Create More Problems Than They Solve

By Jessica Vaughan, May 25, 2012

An article in the May 24 Boston Globe highlights the problems created when the executive branch tries to make an end run around Congress by using its rule-writing authority to allow illegal aliens to remain here in virtual amnesty, but then cannot deliver the green cards. Read more...

Obama's Catch-and-Release Policies Blunt Secure Communities

By Jessica Vaughan, May 8, 2012

Desperately seeking to acquire some credibility with the vast majority of American voters who want to see immigration laws enforced, the Obama administration is on a steady pace to complete implementation of the Secure Communities (SC) program in every state, perhaps even ahead of the 2013 target date. With Louisiana and Nevada most recently completed, the map is nearly all colored in. Rumor has it New England, possibly including the sanctuary states of Vermont and Massachusetts, could be finished next.

Will the full activation of Secure Communities nationwide mean the end of sanctuaries for criminal aliens as we know them? Not quite. Read more...

DHS Report Confirms ICE Officers Use Secure Communities Properly

By Jessica Vaughan, April 11, 2012

A new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal audit of ICE's implementation of Secure Communities finds that, contrary to critics' allegations, the program is effective in identifying criminal aliens and that ICE officers are not being overzealous in selecting aliens for removal. If anything, officers are erring on the side of not pursuing removal of criminal aliens when warranted.

Among the highlights of the report: Read more...

Reality Check on Operation Cross Check

By Jessica Vaughan, April 4, 2012

On Monday, ICE announced the results of the latest installment of Operation Cross Check, an initiative that locates and apprehends aliens with serious criminal records who are at large. Agents arrested more than 3,100 of these criminal aliens in March. That's helpful. But it also would be helpful if ICE would do what it takes to keep these criminals from being "at-large" so that they don 't need to be staked out and rounded up, but merely held until they can be removed. Read more...

Local Employer Audits Work to Reduce Illegal Hiring

By Jessica Vaughan, April 3, 2012

The Obama administration's half-hearted and spotty record of immigration enforcement at the workplace creates a big vacuum for state and local lawmakers to jump into. E-Verify mandates are a great start. State employer auditing programs are another effective tool, either in lieu of an E-Verify mandate or to enhance compliance with E-Verify and other requirements. Statistics from such initiatives in South Carolina demonstrate the value of employer auditing at the state and local level. Read more...

ICE Detention: "More Like Recess"

By Jessica Vaughan, March 29, 2012

On Wednesday, I testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Immigration and Policy subcommittee hearing on new policies implemented by the Obama administration for softer immigration detention standards. Read more...

Less Profit, More Oversight Needed for Exchange Sponsors

By Jessica Vaughan, March 21, 2012

An excellent NBC Rock Center expose discussed yet another sad side to the appallingly under-regulated foreign exchange visitor program. The story revealed how the State Department's lax rules have resulted in dozens of high school exchange students being placed with hosts who sexually molested them, even as their non-profit sponsors rake in millions of dollars a year. One young victim described this centerpiece of American public diplomacy as a "scam". Read more...

National Sheriffs Association Supports E-Verify Mandate, 287(g), and Full Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, March 1, 2012

The nation's sheriffs are united in support of full enforcement of immigration laws and want to be involved. The sheriffs want Congress to provide more resources for enforcement, pay more attention to worksites (including mandatory E-Verify), and expand the 287(g) program according to a position paper developed by the group's Immigration and Border Security Committee and approved by the organization’s national board of directors. Read more...

Obama Administration Proposes to Cut 287(g) Funding

By Jessica Vaughan, February 13, 2012

The Obama administration intends to cut funding for the popular and effective 287(g) program, according to the DHS budget summary document just released today. If approved by Congress, this move would leave more than a dozen local agencies at the altar waiting for training programs promised by ICE. Read more...

Federal Judge Rejects Illegal-Alien Lawsuit Against County Sheriff

By Jessica Vaughan, February 11, 2012

A federal judge in Maryland this week dismissed a $1 million discrimination lawsuit brought by illegal alien Roxana Orellana Santos against Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, the two deputies who arrested her, and the County Board. This is a big win for local law enforcement agencies that follow proper policing practices, even when they expose illegal aliens – in this case, one who was the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant. Read more...

ICE Names "Public Advocate" – Call Him!

By Jessica Vaughan, February 7, 2012

Today ICE announced the creation of a new office to serve as a point of contact for those who have "concerns, questions, recommendations or important issues they would like to raise." Boy, do we!

The office will be led by Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who has been at ICE since 2008, mainly working as an advisor on reforming detention practices. Prior to joining ICE, Strait was a legal services attorney in Prince George's County, Md. Read more...

Cook County Pressured to Reverse Sanctuary Policy

By Jessica Vaughan, January 6, 2012

Commissioners in Cook County, Ill., (which includes Chicago) are starting to feel some heat over an ill-conceived ordinance they enacted in September, requiring the county sheriff to ignore ICE requests to hold criminal aliens to enable the agency to initiate removal proceedings (detainers). Read more...

In Arizona, Our Tax Dollars at Work Stopping Immigration Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, December 21, 2011

In July, 2005, then-governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano was keen on bringing an innovative public safety tool to her state to help "alleviate the strain" on local law enforcement of dealing with illegal aliens. She wrote to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, asking his agency to approve a 287(g) agreement for Arizona: "Officers often come into contact with large numbers of UDAs [Undocumented Aliens] during routine traffic or other law enforcement activities." In the letter, she approvingly noted that she would have the assistance of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in providing bed space for the criminal aliens she anticipated detaining for ICE. The Arizona Department of Corrections soon became the nation's fourth law enforcement agency to participate in the 287(g) program, followed into the program 17 months later by Maricopa County (which includes the city of Phoenix and is home to most of the state's population). Read more...

Worrying About the Wrong Citizens

By Jessica Vaughan, December 16, 2011

Opponents of Secure Communities have opened up a new front in their campaign to have the program ended. The new rallying cry against SC is that it is leading to the wrongful arrest of some unknown but deeply disturbing number of U.S. citizens. It all started with the release of a deeply flawed study from a group of anti-SC activists, which I've written about with my colleague W.D. Reasoner. Read more...

More Administrative Amnesty, This Time from USCIS

By Jessica Vaughan, November 16, 2011

The Obama Administration has issued yet another "prosecutorial discretion" (read "Let'em go!") memo, this time changing USCIS policy so that certain illegal aliens whose applications for immigration benefits such as green cards, citizenship, or temporary status are denied may nevertheless avoid being forced to leave the country. Read more...

DHS, What DHS?

By Jessica Vaughan, November 4, 2011

The White House web site says "President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history", but DHS still hasn't gotten the memo.

A reporter from FederalTimes.com, Andrew Medici, recently became frustrated at how notoriously difficult it is to reach the DHS public affairs personnel. You know, the federal government employees who get paid by us taxpayers to answer inquiries from the public. As reported in his story, "Don't call us, we'll call you", Medici filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the names, office phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of all the DHS public affairs staff. The response: 58 pages of the names of the many public affairs personnel – with all contact information blacked out. The DHS FOIA officer said that it would be "an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" to release their office contact information. Read more...

Proposal to Axe Green Cards for Unskilled Workers Considered

By Jessica Vaughan, October 28, 2011

Yesterday the House Judiciary committee declined to allow a proposal to eliminate one of many anachronisms in our legal immigration system – the green card quota for unskilled workers. Though tiny, this category serves no legitimate economic purpose and now is frequently used fraudulently to allow otherwise unqualified people to get around our rules, enriching crooked visa brokers and, possibly, unscrupulous U.S. employers in the process. Read more...

Obama: Deportation Numbers 'Actually a Little Deceptive'

By Jessica Vaughan, October 19, 2011

According to President Obama, the allegedly record-breaking deportation numbers released this week by ICE Director John Morton are "a little deceptive." I agree. They give the impression that this administration is enforcing the law more than, say, the previous administration. But other ICE numbers suggest that immigration enforcement is declining, not increasing. Read more...

The Alternative to Immigration Detention: Fugitives

By Jessica Vaughan, October 18, 2011

ICE's "smart and effective" immigration enforcement policies again have proven to be neither. It was reported this week that ICE's New England office lost track of a key witness in a high-profile illegal alien drunk driving fatality case because ICE officials decided to release the witness, Luis Acosta, an Ecuadoran illegal alien who had fled twice before and also faced state charges, on an electronic monitoring bracelet rather than detain him. Read more...

287(g): The Wages of Secure Communities Opposition

By Jessica Vaughan, September 28, 2011

If there is any ICE program the open-borders groups hate more than Secure Communities, it's 287(g). How ironic, then, that the result of their intense and hysterical campaign to derail Secure Communities in Massachusetts is the announcement on Wednesday that at least three county sheriffs have been approved and intend to launch 287(g) partnerships. Read more...

Time to Sanction the Sanctuaries

By Jessica Vaughan, September 13, 2011

Cook County, Illinois (which includes the city of Chicago) passed an ordinance last week instructing the sheriff to disregard requests from ICE to hold suspected removable aliens who are arrested. This irrational directive already is sending violent criminal aliens back to the streets instead of into ICE custody, where a few of them might actually be deported, sparing future victims. ICE director John Morton probably doesn't care if Cook County keeps his agents from doing their job, but if Congress does, there is an easy fix – stop rewarding Cook County with millions of dollars in annual SCAAP payments until they start honoring the ICE detainers. Read more...

Milford, Mass., Tells Ecuador (and ICE): Enough Already!

By Jessica Vaughan, September 8, 2011

On August 20, Matt Denice, age 23, was out riding his motorcycle in his home town of Milford, Mass., when, according to police and witnesses, he was struck, dragged, and killed by an Ecuadoran illegal alien drunk driver, Nicolas Guaman. It was a horrific crime that has sparked widespread public outrage and renewed resentment toward Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's sanctuary policies and ICE's reluctance to implement the Secure Communities program here. What I have found most interesting and refreshing, though, is the reaction of Milford officials, who have wasted no time in taking steps locally to address the conditions that encourage illegal settlement. Read more...

An Unhappy Hershey Experience

By Jessica Vaughan, August 21, 2011

The recent guestworker protests at the Hershey chocolate plant in Palmyra, Penn. provide welcome exposure of the State Department’s cultural exchange visa charade. Billed as a form of public diplomacy to help foreigners better understand America, in fact most of these are cheap guestworker programs, wrapped up in the pretense of a cultural exchange. Read more...

More Secure Communities Kabuki

By Jessica Vaughan, July 11, 2011

Boston Mayor Tom Menino is the latest addition to the growing chorus of the nation’s liberal politicians who are making a show of wringing their hands over the Secure Communities program, which uses the existing federal fingerprint-sharing system to help ICE find foreign nationals who have been arrested and should be removed. Read more...

State Dept. Policy: No Mexican Left Behind

By Jessica Vaughan, July 7, 2011

The recent New York Times article celebrating the supposed end of illegal Mexican migration to the United States offers little to inform a discussion of the illegal immigration problem, but does usefully illustrate the extent to which legal and illegal immigration feed off of one another. Read more...

That’s Alright, That’s OK, We’ll E-Verify Anyway

By Jessica Vaughan, June 28, 2011

One of the first acts of newly-elected Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (who squeaked into office in a three-man race) was to rescind his predecessor Don Carcieri’s popular and court-approved executive order requiring all state agencies, contractors and grantees to use E-Verify. Read more...

Secure Communities: Just Do It

By Jessica Vaughan, June 8, 2011

Related: Video

A vital and effective immigration law enforcement program – Secure Communities – that should have been an easy immigration policy score for the Obama administration is now in a state of disarray, all because the president and his Get Smart-like immigration appointees cannot bring themselves to stand up to sanctuary cities and a trio of governors who would rather see residents of their states killed by illegal aliens (see here and here) than to allow local police and sheriffs to help with immigration enforcement. Read more...

Lamar Smith Acts to 'Keep Our Communities Safe'

By Jessica Vaughan, May 25, 2011

Every year, ICE releases about 4,000 criminal aliens back into U.S. communities because their home countries will not accept them for deportation, and because the Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot be detained indefinitely. This group includes murderers, rapists, cop killers, child predators, and gang members who are then free to continue their life of crime here, and they get a work permit in case their crime doesn't pay enough. Read more...

Security Gaps Still Present in Visa Waiver Program

By Jessica Vaughan, May 19, 2011

A new GAO report discloses a fairly lackluster implementation of security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by the Department of Homeland Security. The report reinforces the reputation that DHS has for putting travel facilitation above security considerations. Proponents of VWP expansion often tout the security enhancements as a justification for extending visa waiver privileges to more countries, but these GAO findings provide no support for this perennial proposal. Read more...

Illinois Governor Moves to Protect Illegal Alien Criminals

By Jessica Vaughan, May 6, 2011

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has announced his intention to cancel the state's agreement with ICE to allow law enforcement agencies in his state to share arrest information with ICE under the Secure Communities Program, saying he was "not satisfied" with the results. Quinn expressed concern that ICE has removed a large number of illegal aliens who committed minor crimes in addition to dozens of criminal aliens with convictions for serious felonies. Read more...