Jessica Vaughan's blog

Director of Policy Studies


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Latest Terror Attempt Shows State Dept. Still Shirking Security Duties

By Jessica Vaughan, January 5, 2010

The tale of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian terrorist who nearly blew up a Northwest Airlines plane landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, reveals an alarming number of vulnerabilities in our immigration system still in place, even eight years after 9/11. One of the most troubling is the State Department's persistent failure to pull its weight in preventing terrorist travel to the United States. Read more...

Pa. Labor Committee Votes for Construction Industry E-Verification

By Jessica Vaughan, December 11, 2009

On Tuesday the Pennsylvania House Labor Relations Committee unanimously approved two bills that would require the state's construction and building trades industry employers to use E-Verify and the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to avoid hiring illegal workers and confirm the Social Security numbers of all employees. Sponsored by Rep. Read more...

Napolitano Says Value of Exit Tracking System Is "Dubious"

By Jessica Vaughan, December 9, 2009

In an oversight hearing this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano answered questions on a wide range of issues, including the collapse of worksite enforcement, the lack of funding for detention space, and interior checkpoints. Most of her answers were predictable and confirmed the administration's focus on arresting and removing only those illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes, and making sure employers complete the proper paperwork in hiring. Read more...

There They Go Again

By Jessica Vaughan, November 11, 2009

Having lost the political battle over the 287(g) program, with DHS declining to end the program or restrict its use to jails and prisons, and with continuing strong interest from local law enforcement agencies, frustrated open-borders advocates have settled on a new strategy -- sue the bastards! Certainly everyone involved should be on the lookout for possible problems with racial profiling or abuse of authority. But the latest lawsuit, filed today against Frederick County, Md., Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and a host of other defendants, looks more like a public relations stunt and last-ditch attempt to avoid deportation than a serious legal challenge. Read more...

Arpaio-gate Investigation Grasping at Straws

By Jessica Vaughan, October 23, 2009

The Obama administration investigation of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration enforcement program is starting to look a little futile. A federal source revealed today that more than 40 percent of the 500-plus arrests made in Sheriff Joe's crime suppression operations were in fact "serious" criminals of the kind Janet Napolitano claims to want help from local law enforcement agencies in identifying. This is actually a higher proportion of "serious" offenders than in many other 287(g) jurisdictions. So why has Sheriff Joe been singled out? Read more...

Border Patrol Vets Express Support for Sheriff Joe

By Jessica Vaughan, October 20, 2009

A national association of veteran border patrol agents has endorsed Sheriff Joe Arpaio's efforts to help with immigration law enforcement in Maricopa County, Ariz., and criticized the Obama administration's recent efforts to "water down" immigration enforcement and the 287(g) program in particular. Read more...

The Case of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi: Déjà Vu All Over Again

By Jessica Vaughan, September 28, 2009

Overshadowed in the extensive national coverage of the Najibullah Zazi terror case is the case of Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian man arrested on Thursday, September 24, in Dallas. Smadi was taken into custody by FBI agents shortly after throwing the switch on what he believed was a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in an SUV he had parked in the basement of a 60-story Dallas office tower, in an attempt to kill thousands of people timed to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Read more...

Top Visa Lottery Countries for 2010

By Jessica Vaughan, July 16, 2009

Last week the State Department announced the lucky winners in this year’s Visa Lottery, who will be arriving in communities near you by September, 2010. Fourteen percent of the winners (13,988 people) hail from countries of special interest in the war on terror. Here are the top twelve winning countries: Read more...

ICE Adopts Catch and Release for 287(g)

By Jessica Vaughan, June 29, 2009

According to news accounts, earlier this month ICE issued a directive to one of the most productive 287(g) jurisdictions to cease holding many of the illegal aliens arrested by the sheriff’s officers, and instead release them back into the community. Just like in the commercial, where the mean guy in the suit takes away the kid’s cool truck and gives him a lousy picture to play with instead, Sheriff Daron Hall knows the difference. Read more...

Protect the Public, Not the Illegal Aliens

By Jessica Vaughan, June 9, 2009

The Rhode Island legislature is currently considering a bill to require the state’s employers to verify that all new employees are legal workers. Introduced by two Woonsocket-area Democrats, Sen. Marc Cote and Rep. Jon Brien, it passed the RI House in April, by a vote of 38-33. Massachusetts lawmakers should take note — this is a common sense approach to a problem that burdens our state as well. Read more...

Five Million waiting on Family Visas

By Jessica Vaughan, May 19, 2009

For the first time in over a decade, the State Department has released basic information on the number of people on the waiting list for family-based immigrants, reporting that more than 2.7 million people are awaiting interviews overseas for their immigrant visa. In addition, there are another 2.2 million people are waiting in the United States for USCIS to process their family visa application. Read more...

Presentation: State & Local Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, May 8, 2009

Download "Immigration Policy and State & Local Law Enforcement" PowerPoint Presentation.

New Presentation: Immigration Policy and State & Local Law Enforcement, given by Jessica Vaughan at Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety. Read more...

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

By Jessica Vaughan, April 28, 2009

NC Community College Report on Illegal Alien Students Stresses Minor Financial Gains for System, Not the Rule of Law.

Also written by David North.

A newly released consultant‘s report on the admission of illegal aliens to the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) stresses small scale financial gains for the system and debatable benefits of ‘access’, as opposed to the rule of law and the interests of citizens and legal residents of the state. Read more...

That’s Enough Culture for Now

By Jessica Vaughan, April 6, 2009

Kudos to the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchanges for taking steps to curb use of certain temporary work visas as unemployment rates continue to rise in the United States. Deputy Asst. Secretary Stanley Colvin, who heads the bureau, recently sent a letter to organizations that sponsor summer work exchange programs asking them to voluntarily cut back on the number of visiting workers, noting that it could be very hard to place them in jobs this year. The Summer Work Travel Program is one of 15 “J visa” exchange programs run by the State Department that bring in 400,000 foreign workers, students, and exchange visitors each year. The summer workers typically work as lifeguards, ice cream scoopers, camp counselors, and produce stand clerks – the kind of jobs that would otherwise be held by American teenagers. Read more...

Paseo Del Norte, Part IV

By Jessica Vaughan, March 25, 2009

Already published from this series:
Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Border Crossing Chaos

Since sneaking over the physical border has become so difficult, those who seek illegitimate entry, whether motivated by crime or job opportunities, are more likely to try the official ports of entry. The main document Mexicans use to cross from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso is the border crossing card (BCC). The State Department has issued more than nine million BCCs in the last ten years. They account for nearly 100 million entries to the United States each year, easily dwarfing every other entry program. They supply customers for many El Paso merchants, but they also facilitate illegal employment and the smuggling of people and who knows what else across the border. Nothing in the Obama administration’s brand-new Southwest Border Security Initiative addresses this vulnerability. Read more...

Enforcement Pays

By Jessica Vaughan, March 19, 2009

Also authored by James R. Edwards Jr.

This program, known as 287(g), allows police, sheriffs, and other local law enforcement agencies to provide direct assistance to federal agents in identifying illegal alien criminals and putting them on the path to removal from the country. By expediting the removal of foreign lawbreakers, 287(g) saves taxpayers money. Read more...

Paseo del Norte, Part III

By Jessica Vaughan, March 10, 2009

Already published from this series:
Part I, Part II, and Part IV.

Don’t Mess With Texas

State and local governments (and their constituents!) have long been saddled with the economic and public safety consequences of inadequate federal efforts to control the border. In Texas in 2006, the situation was getting out of hand – Mexican organized crime organizations were smuggling drugs and people into and through the state with near impunity, leading to violence and other public safety problems there and elsewhere in the country. Gov. Rick Perry decided he’d seen enough, and launched a series of state-led operations to “take back the border.” In partnership with the Border Patrol and other federal agencies, they have largely succeeded. But the Mexican organized crime groups have not gone away; if anything, they are more determined, and this state effort deserves federal funding for expansion and possible replication elsewhere. Read more...

Paseo Del Norte, Part II

By Jessica Vaughan, March 4, 2009

Already published from this series: Part I

Holding the Line

El Paso is proud of its ranking as the 3rd safest city of its size (after San Jose and Honolulu and just ahead of New York City), and the safest border city. Considering that its Siamese twin Ciudad Juarez is probably the most dangerous city in the world, this is some achievement. One key factor in that status has to be the large Border Patrol presence and the fence. Over the last 15 years, through a combination of increased personnel, completion of the fence, technology to support agents in the field, and inventive policies, the El Paso Border Patrol sector has proven that indeed the border can be controlled. There are still some holes (literal and figurative), but it can be done. Their continued success will help keep El Paso safe and the rest of us, too. Read more...

Paseo del Norte, Part I

By Jessica Vaughan, February 27, 2009

Disturbia on the Border

El Paso is America’s largest border city, and one of the safest, friendliest and cleanest cities of its size. It is connected by four bridges and a dense web of long-standing commercial and family ties to the Mexican city of Juarez, on the other side of the border, which is perhaps the most dangerous city in North America, if not the world. At the local level, the cities’ self-conscious interdependence is celebrated. But the metropolis presents an unusual challenge to the federal immigration agencies operating there, and to the rest of the country. For all the genuine improvements in border security that have been made over the last several years, there remain a number of serious vulnerabilities. The situation is truly urgent – the escalating violence and deteriorating political stability in Juarez and other parts of Mexico are already putting new pressure on our immigration systems and could potentially provoke a long-term public safety and economic catastrophe here. Read more...

Rapid REPAT Anyone?

By Jessica Vaughan, February 12, 2009

The Associated Press reports that judges may order the California correctional system to release one-third of its 158,000 adult inmates within a few years, due to severe prison overcrowding. Law enforcement agencies and residents are understandably concerned. Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed several eyebrow-raising measures, but not the obvious – remove the illegal aliens who are incarcerated to their home country instead of back to the streets of California. ICE has a program, known as Rapid REPAT to do just that. Read more...

US Visa Express All Over Again

By Jessica Vaughan, February 9, 2009

In the name of work load reduction, US embassies and consulates are in the process of rolling back certain security improvements imposed by Congress and the State Department after 9/11, with potentially serious public safety implications. Specifically, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has decided to allow posts to waive the interview requirement for applicants who are applying to renew temporary visas. The move represents a return to the reckless assembly line corner-cutting mentality that facilitated the entry of the 9/11 terrorists (read Janice Kephart's work, Joel Mowbray’s award-winning coverage and the GAO's report). Read more...

SC County’s Innovative Business Auditing Program Curbs Illegal Employment

By Jessica Vaughan, January 10, 2009

Beaufort County has made great strides in creating a lawful employment environment in the South Carolina Low Country by implementing a creative and pioneering auditing program to help local businesses achieve compliance with immigration laws while exposing problems with fraudulent documents that enable illegal workers to get jobs. The effectiveness of this effort is further enhanced by strong state laws on illegal hiring and the county’s participation in the 287(g) program. These enable local law enforcement agencies to prosecute violators and have illegal workers removed. Local officials report signs that the illegal alien population in Beaufort County has been noticeably reduced. Read more...

Numbers from US-VISIT

By Jessica Vaughan, December 24, 2008

A look back at the annual report on US-VISIT, the automated entry (and hopefully someday exit) screening program, provides stark reminders of both the value of the program and of how much work still remains to be done. The program is doing a good job finding needles, but is working in only part of the haystack. The incoming Obama administration could establish some credibility on its commitment to homeland security by making the completion of the entry-exit system at land, air and sea ports a top priority.

Of note: Read more...

US-VISIT Expanding Soon to New Immigrants and Some LPRs

By Jessica Vaughan, December 19, 2008

Check another one off Secretary Chertoff’s Bucket List. Soon in the new year, DHS is to begin screening several new categories of aliens, getting another border security enhancement in place before the regime change. Beginning January 17, 2009, all those arriving on immigrant visas, new refugees and asylees, some green card holders, and a few other categories will be enrolled in US-VISIT at the Port of Entry. Read more...

New Jersey LEA alien screening initiative boosts criminal alien removals

By Jessica Vaughan, December 8, 2008

Since an August 2007 order from New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, which requires NJ local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of everyone arrested and report illegal aliens to ICE, the number of criminal aliens in the state who have been identified for removal has dramatically increased. Read more...

Judge agrees to emergency need for E-Verify

By Jessica Vaughan, December 3, 2008

Yesterday Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer agreed with Gov. Don Carcieri’s rationale for immediate implementation of his executive order requiring all state contractors, vendors and grantees to use E-Verify to avoid hiring illegal workers. Read more...

Immigrant Gangster Charged in DC Double Murder

By Jessica Vaughan, December 1, 2008

The Salvadoran man charged in the double-murder of Michael and Virginia Spevak, a kindly and beloved retired Washington, DC couple is reported to be a member of Street Thug Criminals, a violent street gang already well-known to local police and ICE. Since 2005, ICE has arrested at least 10 other members and leaders of this gang, all but one citizens of El Salvador (see below). Read more...

Houston, We Have a Problem

By Jessica Vaughan, November 19, 2008

This week the Houston Chronicle published an extensive three-part series reporting on the disturbing number (thousands) of illegal aliens who commit crimes and are processed through the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, but manage to avoid removal and often remain in the community to progress in their criminal career. The series does a service by pointing out the issues involved in dealing with the hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens living in this country. But it gives the misleading impression that local law enforcement agencies are helpless, with no recourse but to sit and wait for ICE to take all these bad people off their hands. Read more...

Coalition of the Willing-to-do-anything-for-visa-waivers

By Jessica Vaughan, October 31, 2008

“Mission Accomplished” was the clever slug line on a double news item circulated today to consular officers around the globe through the list-serv known as the Town Crier (conoffs@yahoogroups.com). Read more...

Visa Waivers: Ready or Not, Here They Come

By Jessica Vaughan, September 23, 2008

A new GAO report sharply criticizes the Dept. of Homeland Security for its reckless disregard of legitimate security and law enforcement concerns and standard operating procedures in pressing forward to offer visa waivers to visitors from at least nine new countries, mostly in Eastern Europe. Read more...