TOPIC: Dept. of Homeland Security

Immigration reform dreams deferred

Pat Quinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the “DREAM Act” into law Monday, legislation that will create privately-funded scholarships for documented and undocumented immigrants to attend public and private colleges in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune’s Monique Garcia reports that Illinois DREAM Act supporters “will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, noting the new state law is a small but important step forward.” But Washington can’t deal with the federal version of the DREAM Act, much less comprehensive immigration reform. (more…)

Detroit-area Latinos don’t believe ICE

John Morton

Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press reports on Latino leaders’ charges in the Motor City area that the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agency has abused and wrongfully racially profiled Latino citizens in Michigan. John Morton — the head of ICE — had agreed to conduct a study on these charges when they were brought up in April. A just-released ICE report, though, calls the charges baseless — and now Michigan residents are questioning the credibility of the federal study.

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…)

Border Patrol shooting ignites controversy

The FBI and San Diego police as well as Mexican authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of a Mexican citizen by a US Border Patrol agent late Tuesday night.

According to a Los Angeles Times story by Richard Marosi, 40-year-old Jose Yanez Reyes, while perched on the actual border fence, had allegedly thrown a rock and a nail encrusted piece of wood at agents after one of his two compatriots was caught and arrested just inside US territory. When he prepared to throw a second rock, a shot rang out and Reyes was struck in the head. The force of the blast sent his body tumbling back over the fence into Tijuana. (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…)

Obama administration tries to protect undocumented from legal scams

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Georgia Pabst reports that the Justice Dept., Federal Trade Commission, and Dept. of Homeland Security are launching an investigation into notary publics that scam illegal immigrants. Immigrants mistakenly think that the notary publics are licensed attorneys who can help them apply for citizenship status, but there have been cases where these notaries have taken money without providing any authorized legal guidance. The federal effort includes the creation of an online consumer database that will log complaints against notary publics.

ICE program on slippery slope as Los Angeles supports opting out

Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program received another legislative flogging Tuesday when the Los Angeles city council voted nearly unanimously to back legislation allowing cities and towns to opt out of the voluntary program, Paloma Esquivel of the Los Angeles Times reports.

The governors of Illinois, Massachusetts and New York have all refused to sign on to the initiative under which local law enforcement forwards copies of the fingerprints of arrestees to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Federal officials then determine if the arrestees are in the country legally and if not, detain them and begin deportation proceedings.

The resolution, which was approved 11-1, calls for assurances that the program allows communities to opt out and urges that it focus on “truly dangerous criminals.” The program has come under fire for facilitating the deportation of people were arrested but not subsequently convicted of a felony, and those detained for misdemeanor offenses or infractions such as traffic violations.

Massachusetts joins Illinois in leaving Secure Communities

Massachusetts has become the third state to leave U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Communities immigration deportation program joining New York and Illinois. The New York Times’ Julia Preston reports that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is leaving for the same reasons that New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Illinois’ Pat Quinn opted out: the program is not targeting illegal immigrants who are serious criminals, as ICE said it would.

However, the program relies on the FBI and ICE sharing fingerprints collected from local jails and, as I reported on, it is unclear if state governments have the power to stop the FBI and ICE from continuing to share this information. Preston notes that each governor who has pulled out is a Democrat presiding over pretty liberal states. So even if nothing substantial is accomplished by leaving Secure Communities, the Obama administration is being challenged on its immigration polices from the left.

Disaster relief: Regarding hearts and minds, government isn’t even in the battle

The federal government doesn’t see itself as the public’s protector or even the provider of essential services in times of trouble.  That’s one conclusion you can draw from Andrew Adam Newman’s reporting in the New York Times on how companies like Procter & Gamble are “providing disaster relief directly” in tornado-stricken states like Alabama.  It’s hard to argue with free laundry services, free batteries, and cellphone charging stations, right?  With a gloss of charity overlying the obvious (and understandable) profit motive, companies are bringing people in weather-ravaged communities what one observer called “a modicum of normalcy, a moment of humanity.” So what’s the problem? (more…)