Posts Tagged: Department of Homeland Security

Illegal immigration and WI dairy farms

Georgia Pabst of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a critical — and flawed — piece Saturday on E-Verify, the joint Dept. of Homeland of Security/Social Security Administration program that makes employers check the citizenship status of their workers. Right now, E-Verify is voluntary — but new legislation would make it mandatory. Pabst implies this would be bad for Wisconsin dairy farmers, the vast majority of of whom employ illegal immigrants. But it could have the positive effect of curbing the exploitation of these workers. (more…)

Chicago mass transit’s crazy camera binge

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch reports that the Chicago Transit Authority is making major, major increases in the number and sophistication of its surveillance cameras thanks to a $16 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant. Most CTA train stations have only one camera now — but the plan is that they will each have 10-30. Moreover, the cameras installed are “high-resolution digital video cameras capable of recording even faint facial features from a distance.”

Why in the world is this a priority? A DHS grant usually is intended for emergency prevention and response like counterterrorism, but CTA wants to use the cameras to catch pickpocketers. Meanwhile, the CTA itself is in disrepair, with the whole system needing to be modernized and entire parts of the city not served by rail. CTA needs money from the Dept. of Transportation, not DHS.

Safety and surveillance in Chicago: Lights, camera…action?

Among American cities, only New York City has a more extensive network of surveillance cameras in public spaces than Chicago, and the number of cameras here is poised to increase under new mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago Sun-Times Fran Spielman reports that Emanuel will use a $650,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to install surveillance cameras near the Board of Trade, Federal Reserve, and AT&T switching center. The cameras keep getting installed with DHS cash even with mixed evidence about whether they deter terrorism or crime.  Chicago’s more than 10,000 public and private surveillance cameras have alternately been a point of pride and consternation. (more…)

DHS decides Milwaukee not prime target for terrorists

Janet Napolitano

The Dept. of Homeland Security distributed $2.1 billion in urban grants last week, and smaller cities were shut out of money. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Larry Sandler reported that the Milwaukee area lost all of the $4.2 million it got in 2010 to prepare for natural disasters and terrorism. The grant announcement’s timing was not great, as it came on the heels of terrorism concerns after the CIA killed Osama bin Laden. But these cuts are fiscally wise.

Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano said that, “We are maximizing limited grant dollars by setting clear priorities.” (more…)

Not everything that happens is a reason to raise the terrorist threat level

Fond du Lac, WI — under seige?

The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most obvious, but also one of the most questionable federal responses to 9/11. Now that the CIA has killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, what happens to this federal agency, particularly in a political moment focused on budget cuts? The answer in the Midwest, so far, appears to be more of the same. (more…)

DHS Hearts Chicago

The eight year-old U.S. Department of Homeland Security will start a community outreach program in Chicago, reports Sophia Tareen of the Associated Press. In theory, DHS outreach to Chicago’s diverse, immigrant-heavy population is admirable: a perpetually maligned agency deserves a platform to explain improvements in national security and immigration policy, particularly changes made by the Obama administration. But the timing of  is suspicious, coming on the heels of a failed DHS effort to get Chicago involved in the “Secure Communities” deportation program.

Tareen reports that the program will launch Monday “in hopes of undoing stereotypes, mistrust, and misinformation about the department and its agencies.” (more…)

Obama continues Bush immigration enforcement agenda

Kari Lyderson reports for the Chicago News Coop that the White House unsuccessfully pressured Chicago and Cook County to adopt “Secure Communities,” a program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement meant to target illegal immigrants with a criminal record. Lyderson’s reporting is a reminder that the Obama administration has continued Bush administration ICE polices, including the flawed expansion of Secure Communities. (more…)

I can’t get this camera to work

Reporters and Dept. of Homeland Security auditors documented gross mismanagement by Cook County (which includes Chicago) in their implementation of “Project Shield” — a post 9/11 national security initiative that basically installs a bunch of surveillance cameras. Now, though, the FBI is involved. The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Carol Marin and NBC-5 Chicago’s Don Mosely report that something in the latest DHS audit (one requested by Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley and new Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican) sparked the intelligence agency’s interest. (more…)

Forget Arizona: The real immigration changes are in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Johnson of the suburban Chicago Pioneer Local has a nice piece today that walks through the local and national political battles recently waged over immigration policy. What her reporting shows, though, is that immigration advocates have largely overlooked major changes made by the Obama administration. (more…)

Does DHS impact the illegal immigrant population?

The Chicago Tribune’s Dahleen Glanton reports that Illinois has “bucked a national trend” with an increase in its 2009 illegal immigrant population. A Pew Hispanic Center study finds that they were 525,000 illegal immigrants in Illinois last year compared to 475,000 in 2008. Nationally, the number of illegal immigrants continues to gradually drop — from 12 million in 2007 to 11 million in 2009.

What is interesting about these numbers is how little they have to do with deportation policy under the Bush and Obama administrations. (more…)