Texas Congressman Seeks to Stop Naturalizations until DHS Fingerprint Repository is Updated

fingerprint_scan_rotator_640In response to a scathing report released last month by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG), Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) has introduced H.R. 6198. This commonsense bill would ensure that ineligible, potentially dangerous individuals are not granted citizenship while DHS works to fully digitize its fingerprint records.

Specifically, the IG revealed that at least 858 individuals were granted citizenship despite having a final deportation order under another identity. While the report does not reveal the names of the immigrants or the countries of origin, the IG said that they are all from countries that are of concern to the national security of the United States or have high rates of immigration fraud. The report found that this egregious mistake occurred because neither the digital fingerprint repository at DHS nor the repository at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contains all old fingerprint records of individuals who were previously deported. The IG report further noted that approximately 148,000 fingerprint records of individuals from “special interest countries” who had final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives have yet to be digitized.

At the recommendation of the IG, DHS has indicated that it is currently taking steps to digitize its fingerprint records. However, until the digitization of fingerprint records is complete, 148,000 individuals who are supposed to be deported could still be naturalized. In a time of heightened concern about terrorism, the risk posed by this possibility is far too great. In fact, the IG report identified that individuals who were naturalized mistakenly have even gone on to hold jobs in national security positions.

H.R. 6198 would prohibit United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from naturalizing any individual until the remaining paper-based fingerprint records are uploaded into the DHS digital fingerprint repository known as IDENT. Importantly, the bill would not prohibit those eligible from applying for naturalization or stop DHS from reviewing applications, even though the actual naturalization will be prevented until the fingerprint database is complete. The bill would also require DHS to refer cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for civil proceedings when they have knowledge that an individual was naturalized mistakenly. This provision ensures that any mistakes made by DHS can be swiftly corrected.

To learn more about the DHS IG report and this important piece of legislation, take a moment and listen to FAIR’s interview with Rep. Culberson:

Effort to Deny Funding to Sanctuary Cities Fails for Unrelated Reason

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Prepares To Open To PublicLast week, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) introduced a FAIR-supported amendment to H.R. 5055, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, that would have denied federal funding to dangerous sanctuary city jurisdictions.

Specifically, the amendment prohibited the use of funds made available by the Act from being used to provide financial assistance to state or local jurisdictions that are not in compliance with federal law. 8 U.S.C. § 1373 prohibits sanctuary policies that impede cooperation between federal, state, and local officials when it comes to the sending, requesting, maintaining, or exchanging of information regarding immigration status. Under that provision, any federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from the federal government, information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

The amendment was approved by a near-unanimous voice vote. However, the underlying bill ended up failing 305-112 due to an unrelated, controversial amendment offered by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said that after the House returns from this week’s recess, the Republican conference will have a discussion about how to best move forward.

While the energy and water bill may be shelved for the foreseeable future, there are still several opportunities for the House to take back its constitutional “power of the purse” by passing amendments to other appropriations bills in order to prevent funds from going to sanctuary city jurisdictions. In fact, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is leading the charge along with 42 of his colleagues. In late March, the group submitted a request urging key appropriators to include language in their respective bills that prohibits federal funds from going to sanctuary cities. FAIR supports Rep. Gosar’s efforts and submitted a similar request on behalf the organization.

Sanctuary policies that impede the federal government’s ability to enforce immigration laws needlessly endanger American lives and all too often result in preventable tragedies. Simply, the 200+ jurisdictions that do not cooperate with the enforcement of federal immigration laws or refuse to honor federal immigration detainers should not receive any federal funding. By denying important funding whenever possible, the House can address a critical public safety problem and send a clear message to sanctuary city jurisdictions that their dangerous policies are unacceptable.

ICE Director Fudges Numbers on Released Criminal Aliens

ICE_ArrestAppearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldana provided misleading testimony on the Obama administration’s release of criminal aliens. According to ICE statistics, 19,273 criminal illegal aliens (with over 64,000 convictions) were released back onto the streets during FY2015. Saldana, doing her best impression that her hands are tied in the matter, told the committee that at least two-thirds of those released were because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zadvydas v. Davis. That case held that a convicted criminal alien who had completed his sentence but whose country or origin refused repatriation could not be detained indefinitely.

Apparently Director Saldana did not expect anyone to actually look into the figures (which were released just moments before the hearing started—a favored tactic by the Obama administration). In reality, of the 19,723 criminal aliens released in FY2015, only 2,166 were because of the Zadvydas case. If that number seems less than two-thirds of the overall total, you are better at math than the ICE Director. Indeed, merely 11% were released because of Zadvydas while 7,293—or 37%–were returned to the streets of America because of “ICE discretion.”

Thursday’s hearing is just the latest example of Director Saldana being out of touch when it comes to protecting the safety of Americans. At a number of prior hearings she has insisted that ICE was “forced” to release criminal aliens (because of Zadvydas) when they really wanted to keep them detained. The actual numbers show this claim is patently false. Additionally, just a few weeks ago Saldana had the audacity to say that ICE refused to assume custody of the illegal alien who killed Sarah Root while drag racing drunk because this did “not constitute a crime of violence.”

Sarah Root’s father—who testified at this same hearing—and mother—who testified at a different hearing last week—would beg to differ that the senseless death of their daughter was not a “crime of violence.”

Unfortunately, Sarah Root is just the latest example of needless American deaths at the hands of illegal aliens because the Obama administration prioritizes criminal aliens over U.S. citizens.

Illegal Immigration is Not a Victimless Crime

“The House Judiciary Committee today released a video on the real costs of the Obama Administration’s lack of immigration enforcement. In the video, Laura Wilkerson, whose son was tortured and murdered by an unlawful immigrant, and Michelle Root, whose daughter was killed by an unlawful immigrant who was driving drunk, discuss their stories and call on the Obama Administration to enforce the United States’ immigration laws,” noted a news release from the committee. Watch the video below.


Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to End Special Immigration Policies for Cubans

cuba_car_flickr_com_photos_didierbaertschiger11785935544_cc_675x450President Obama’s visit to Cuba last week marks a historic rapprochement with the island nation that should also signal the end to the outdated immigration policies that treat Cubans differently than citizens of every other nation on earth.

Specifically, the reestablishment of full diplomatic relations with Cuba must result in the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and “wet foot/dry foot” policy, elimination of the minimum annual allocation of visas for Cubans, termination of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, an end to automatic refugee status for Cubans, and a commitment by Cuba to accept repatriation of criminal aliens.

Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans who reach the United States are allowed to remain and receive an extremely fast pathway to citizenship. In addition, under the Refugee Education Assistance Act, Cubans are the only immigrant group with immediate access to federal benefits because they are presumed to be refugees.

As relations between the United States and Cuba continue to normalize, a feared end to the special immigration status and generous benefits bestowed on Cubans is driving a new wave of migration. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 43,124 Cubans entered the United States last fiscal year, an amount nearly double that of the previous year. The influx shows no signs of slowing, as 25,806 Cubans have already entered the country in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

Faced with an influx of Cubans and preferential immigration policies that are unfair relics of a bygone era, President Obama has made no effort to pursue reforms. However, Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) have introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that Cubans are treated under the same immigration policies as citizens of other counties with which the United States has diplomatic relations.

Their legislation, the Correcting Unfair Benefits for Aliens (CUBA) Act of 2016, does the following:

Repeals the Cuban Adjustment Act

The bill repeals the Cuban Adjustment Act and subsequent “wet foot/dry foot” policy. The Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act allows Cuban citizens or nationals who reach the United States, regardless of whether they have done so legally or illegally, to remain and adjust to permanent resident status after one year. According to the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, all Cubans intercepted at sea en route to the U.S. are repatriated (“wet feet”), while those who step on American soil (“dry feet”) are eligible for preferential treatment under the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Defunds the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program

The bill prevents the use of funds to implement or administer the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program (CFRP). Created by a policy memorandum in 2007, the CFRP allows eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for their family members in Cuba. Once in the United States, CFRP beneficiaries may apply for work authorization while they wait to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

Ends Abuse of Refugee Resettlement Benefits by Cubans

To address rampant abuse of taxpayer dollars, the bill amends the Refugee Education Assistance Act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act to terminate the automatic eligibility for federal benefits for Cuban nationals under the Refugee Resettlement Program.

Requires a Social Security Administration OIG Report

Since many people are living in Cuba and still collecting federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the bill would require the Social Security Administration Officer of the Inspector General to submit a report to Congress on how it is enforcing the regulatory provision that prevents anyone from collecting SSI benefits while living abroad.

While this legislation does not address repatriation of criminal aliens or the annual allocation of visas, it effectively addresses the most egregious policies that provide immediate amnesty to Cubans and rob American taxpayers of billions. Enactment of this legislation would stop the influx of Cubans at the southern border by eliminating outdated policies that incentivize migration, save billions of dollars, and restore a level playing field for those who seek to enter the country. For these reasons, FAIR strongly urges passage of the CUBA Act.

A complete bill summary can be found here.