JW Files Lawsuit against Cook County, Ill. Sheriff for Refusal to Honor ICE Immigration Detainers

censored-constitutionFrom the beginning, the Obama administration has made the claim that the “selective deportation” scheme it initiated did not apply to dangerous criminals. Only peace-loving, law abiding illegal aliens would be allowed a “stay” of deportation proceedings, they explained. Just the good guys.

But how is this permissive deportation policy working “on the ground” in municipalities across the country? Let’s consider Cook County, Illinois.

JW this week filed a lawsuit in the Cook County Circuit Court challenging Sheriff Tom Dart’s refusal to honor ICE immigration detainers or cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in identifying deportable criminal aliens. Cook County jails have released as many as 1,000 criminal aliens sought by ICE in the past 18 months alone!

And are any of these individuals dangerous? You bet.

We filed our lawsuit, in partnership with Illinois counsel Christine Svenson, on behalf of lifetime Cook County resident Brian McCann, whose brother William “Denny” McCann, was run over and killed in June 2011 by an unlawfully present criminal alien who had just completed a two-year term of probation for a 2009 DUI conviction.

The illegal alien, Saul Chavez, was charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence, but was released by Dart from a Cook County jail in November 2011 despite an ICE immigration detainer. (ICE issues detainers when it learns that criminal aliens are being held by state or local law enforcement officials. The detainers require that criminal aliens be held for an additional 48 hours to enable ICE to take custody of them before they are released.)

But Chavez was not detained and turned over to authorities as instructed by law. He was instead released, and is believed to have fled to Mexico.

Federal and state laws are clear. They require Dart to honor immigration detainers and cooperate with ICE investigators. So how did this happen? Evidently, Dart, instead of following federal and state laws, chose to abide by a September 2011, Cook County ordinance directing him to refuse ICE detainers. He also denied federal agents access to Cook County facilities for investigative interviews.

You read that correctly. A county ordinance instructed Dart to ignore federal immigration laws, a move so egregious, even ICE Director John Morton, the “father” of selective deportation, was shocked to hear it!

In a January 2012 letter to Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle, ICE Director John Morton wrote, “Of great concern is the serious impediment the ordinance poses to ICE’s ability to promote public safety through the identification of criminal aliens.”

Too little, too late to save the life of Mr. McCann. But there is still an opportunity to hold Dart accountable, to make certain this sanctuary policy is stopped and to help protect other families from criminal aliens.

Our lawsuit argues that Dart’s “failure to carry out his legal duties under both federal and state law is not authorized, excused, or justified by the ordinance because that ordinance is preempted by federal law.”

(To see a sample of the significant news coverage of our Chicago press conference announcing the lawsuit, click here.)

Now, as I mentioned, the release of Chavez is one of more than 1,000 instances cited by Judicial Watch where Dart has “regularly and routinely refused to honor immigration detainers issued by ICE, citing the provisions of the Ordinance.” Here are some other details on this unlawful practice:

  • “At a public hearing on February 9, 2012 before the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Defendant testified that, in the five month period between the enactment of the Ordinance on September 7, 2011 and February 9, 2012, Defendant released 346 prisoners in his custody who were the subjects of immigration detainers issued by ICE, and 11 of these persons subsequently committed new offenses.”

  • “By April 24, 2012 ICE had issued 432 immigration detainers to Defendant since the enactment of the Ordinance, but Defendant failed to honor any of the detainers.  According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to [then-]U.S. Senator John Kyl on that date, Defendant’s failure to honor ICE’s immigration detainers had “prevented ICE from considering removal proceedings against all but 38 of these individuals whom ICE had to locate independently and arrest following their release into the community.”

  • “Between April 24, 2012 and March 1, 2013, Defendant received approximately 503 additional immigration detainers issued by ICE, and, on information and belief, has declined to honor any of them, resulting in the release into the community of hundreds of additional prisoners sought by ICE.”

And there’s more.

The lawsuit also alleges that, despite Dart’s refusal to honor ICE immigration detainers or cooperate with ICE investigators, Cook County applied for and received nearly $2.3 million in State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funds from the federal government in 2011 and over $1.7 million in SCAAP funds in 2012. Over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012, Cook County reportedly applied for and received nearly $15 million in SCAAP funds from the federal government. SCAPP funds are designed to fund the costs that state and local governments incur for holding criminal illegal aliens.

So, in other words, they got the funding specifically targeted for detaining illegal aliens, and then released 1,000 of them onto the streets. So what happened to the money?

In the lawsuit, McCann asks the Circuit Court to compel Dart to comply with his legal duties to honor ICE detainers and to cooperate with federal immigration officials.  It also asks the Circuit Court to declare the Cook County ordinance to be preempted by federal law.

The federal government has determined that certain criminal aliens should not be let loose into the community and that releasing them undermines public safety. And there is no question Dart is thumbing his nose at the federal government and replacing federal immigration priorities with Cook County’s own immigration policy.  Releasing these criminal aliens before they can be taken into custody by ICE endangers the public and Dart is not above the law.

But while it would be tempting to lay all of the blame for this situation at Dart’s feet, the Obama administration must share it. First off, Obama administration officials have failed to sue Dart in the president’s backyard, leaving it to concerned citizens like Brian to bravely step up to the plate to protect the public.

And then there is this: Where in the world would a county Sheriff get the idea that it is permissible to ignore federal immigration laws and allow criminal illegal aliens back onto the streets?

Back in 2010, when the Obama administration’s “selective deportation” scheme first exploded into the news, it was reported that ICE Director Morton had authorized ICE attorneys via an internal memo to block deportation proceedings for illegal aliens who were deemed “low-risk.”

Of course, this turned out to be a lie. A spreadsheet obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) listed the specific violent crimes that immigration officials were prepared to overlook. They included: sexual assault, solicitation of murder, aggravated assault, assaulting a police officer, and kidnapping, as well as numerous drug charges.

The Obama administration set the example. And now the American people are paying for it, with their very lives – in Cook County and in other cities and counties across the country.  Politicians pushing amnesty here in Washington would rather avoid talking about how the sanctuary policies that they are promoting are threats to the public safety.  But politicians (whether in DC or in Cook County) must stop putting politics over the rule of law – or they may see us in court!

Missteps by Feds Exposed on Boston Marathon Bombings

jihadistsTen days into the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings, here is what we know – or at least what we think we know:  The terrorist attack was perpetrated by Chechen national Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dhokhar.  Tamerlan was killed during a gun battle with police, while Dhokhar lies in a hospital bed recovering from wounds sustained during a dramatic manhunt last week. Three people were killed during the blast and nearly 200 others wounded.  Many victims are now without limbs. One police officer was shot and killed on the campus of MIT by the terrorists.

We know both brothers self-identified as Muslims, and we know both were “radicalized” at some point over the last few years.

And we also know, as reported on our Corruption Chronicles blog, that Tamerlan could have been deported after a 2009 domestic violence arrest.

As to the rest of the story, there is much we don’t yet know for certain regarding how these brothers fit into the overall terrorist network.

But we are beginning to get a disturbing read on the depth of the U.S. national security failures that allowed the attacks to happen in the first place, a subject considered by a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this week.  The narrative is emerging of willful blindness by Obama administration agencies to the warning signs leading up to this attack:

  • The Boston Globe notes that Russian authorities alerted the U.S. government not once but “multiple times” over their concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “including a second time nearly a year after he was first interviewed by FBI agents in Boston.”

  • Members of Congress were “particularly concerned that U.S. Customs generated an alert when Tamerlan Tsarnaev left for Russia in 2012 but no one was aware when he returned and he was not re-interviewed,” Reuters reports.

  • According to The Washington Post, the CIA had its suspicions more than a year before the bombings and urged action: “The CIA pushed to have one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday…The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year.”

Reuters also further noted that some of the accusations of “information hoarding” by intelligence agencies are cropping up again: “Some on Capitol Hill questioned whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other U.S. security agencies failed to share information about suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, even after reforms enacted to prevent information-hoarding following the September 11 hijacked plane attacks 12 years ago.”

And, of course, your Judicial Watch is the go-to source for details and analysis on this issue.  Today, we posted another Corruption Chronicles story highlighting documents dating from 1998 in that detail how Chechen terrorists Chechen terrorists use cell phones to detonate backpack bombs.  You can view this article, which is sure to make headlines, here.

Could intelligence agencies have prevented the Boston Marathon bombings?  We sure can’t rule that out. Yahoo reported that the surviving terrorist, Dhokhar, “told investigators from his hospital bed that the brothers grew radical from anti-U.S. material on the internet and acted without assistance from any foreign or domestic militant groups.”

So we’re supposed to believe the word of a terrorist? Not a chance, says Rep. Peter King: “That basically seems to be the story, but I don’t see how we can accept that,” King told CNN.

I couldn’t agree more. Authorities must investigate every shred of evidence and pursue every lead until they determine who else, if anyone, was involved in this terrorist attack on the United States.  But the Obama administration is blaming a federal magistrate for prematurely Mirandizing Dhokhar, and he has clammed up.  (The Obama administration had infamously “Mirandized” the would-be Christmas bomber.)

As you know, even before 9/11, JW launched a comprehensive investigation into terrorist networks, including the so-called moderate Muslim groups that fund acts of terror, and the rampant political correctness inside federal agencies that keep federal investigators blind to the “enemy within.”  You may be surprised to know, as The Washington Examiner editorializes, that:

It is quite possible, though, the FBI agents who interviewed Tsarnaev on both occasions failed to understand what they saw and heard because that’s what they were trained to do. As The Washington Examiner‘s Mark Flatten reported last year, FBI training manuals were systematically purged in 2011 of all references to Islam that were judged offensive by a specially created five-member panel. Three of the panel members were Muslim advocates from outside the FBI, which still refuses to make public their identities. Nearly 900 pages were removed from the manuals as a result of that review. Several congressmen were allowed to review the removed materials in 2012, on condition that they not disclose what they read to their staffs, the media, or the general public.

You can trust that Judicial Watch is on the case and is actively litigating and investigating this terrorist-front-inspired bowdlerization of our national security establishment’s counter-terrorism training materials.

We will have more for you on the Boston Marathon bombing next week or as news events warrant.

Judicial Watch Uncovers USDA Records Promoting US Food Stamp Program for Illegal Aliens

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on the Fox News Channel’s Hannity program to talk about food stamp fraud. The title of the show was “Boomtown 2: The Business of Food Stamps,” and it laid bare an Obama administration scheme to use the food stamp program to foster a massive redistribution of wealth.

(Click here to find out how Obama and his friends have actually found a way to meld corporate cronyism with food stamp abuse to line their pockets while undermining our election systems.)

Well, this week Judicial Watch released explosive new details regarding a new corruption of the food stamp program perpetrated by the Obama administration – this time involving illegal aliens

On Thursday, we released documents detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal aliens in the U.S. food stamp program.

The promotion of the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.

Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, “You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.”

We got the records pursuant to a FOIA request made to USDA on July 20, 2012, seeking “Any and all records of communication relating to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, and migrant communities, including but not limited to, communications with the Mexican government.”

What we received in response was truly shocking.

According to the records, USDA officials are working closely with their counterparts at the Mexican Embassy to widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify, or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls.

In an email to Borjon Lopez-Coterilla and Jose Vincente of the Mexican Embassy, dated January 26, 2012, Yibo Wood of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sympathized with the plight of illegal aliens applying for food stamps, saying, “FNS understands that mixed status households may be particularly vulnerable. Many of these households contain a non-citizen parent and a citizen child.

The email from Wood to Lopez-Coterilla and Vincente came in response to a request from the Mexican Embassy that the USDA FNS step in to prevent the state of Kansas from changing its food stamp policy to restrict the amount of financial assistance provided to illegal aliens. In a January 22, 2012, article, the Kansas City Star had revealed that the state would no longer include illegal aliens in its calculations of the amount of assistance to be provided low-income Hispanic families in order to prevent discrimination against legal recipients.

Here are some other gems from the records:

  • March 30, 2012 – The USDA seeks approval of the Mexican Embassy in drafting a letter addressed to consulates throughout the United States designed to encourage them to enroll in a webinar to train Mexican embassy staffers how to promote increased enrollment among “the needy families that the consulates serve.”

  • August 1, 2011 – The USDA FNS initiates contact with the Mexican Embassy in New York to implement programs already underway in DC and Philadelphia for maximizing participation among Mexican citizens.The Mexican Embassy responds that the Consul General is eager to strengthen his ties to the USDA, with specific interest in promoting the nation’s food stamp program.

  • February 25, 2011 – USDA and the Mexican Consulate exchange ideas about getting the First Ladies of Mexico and United States to visit a school for purposes of creating a photo opportunity that would promote free school lunches for low-income students in a predominantly Hispanic school. Though a notation in the margin of the email claims that the photo op never took place, UPI reported that it actually did.

  • March 3, 2010 – A flyer advertises a webinar to teach nonprofits how to get reimbursed by USDA for serving free lunch over the summer. The course, funded by American taxpayers, is advertised as being “free for all participants.”

  • February 9 , 2010 – USDA informs the Mexican Embassy that, based on an agreement reached between the State Department and the Immigration & Naturalization Service (now ICE), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) food voucher program does not violate immigration laws prohibiting immigrants from becoming a “public charge.”

Now while these records might be news to many folks, Judicial Watch has been on this story since 2006, when our Corruption Chronicles blog revealed that the USDA was spending taxpayer money to run Spanish-language television ads encouraging illegal immigrants to apply for government-financed food stamps.

The Mexico Consul in Santa Ana, California, at the time even starred in some of the U.S. Government-financed television commercials, which explained the program and provided a phone number to apply. In the widely viewed commercial, the Consul assured that receiving food stamps “won’t affect your immigration status.”

In 2012, Judicial Watch reported that in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions questioned the Obama administration’s partnership with Mexican consulates to encourage foreign nationals, migrant workers and non-citizen immigrants to apply for food stamps and other USDA administered welfare benefits. Sessions wrote, “It defies rational thinking for the United States – now dangerously $16 trillion in debt – to partner with foreign governments to help us place more foreign nationals on American welfare and it is contrary to good immigration policy in the United States.”

The revelation that the USDA is actively working with the Mexican government to promote food stamps for illegal aliens should have a direct impact on the fate of the immigration bill now being debated in Congress. These disclosures further confirm the fact that the Obama administration cannot be trusted to protect our borders or enforce our immigration laws. And the coordination with a foreign government to attack the policies of an American state is contemptible.

Our work on this issue earned national and interzznational headlines educating untold numbers about this Obama corruption and abuse.  The documents will be seen this evening, Friday 26, on the Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” We aren’t letting go of this issue and have ramped up our investigations accordingly.  I will be sure to keep you apprised of what we find.

Until next week…

Tom FittonTom Fitton

Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.