Video: Destroyer USS Nitze Harassed by Iranian Patrol Boats

Posted on: August 24, 2016

Sam LaGrone | USNI

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

The following is an Aug. 23, 2016 video of guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) harassed by four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) patrol boats.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) was followed and harassed by four Iranian patrol boats on Tuesday in the Persian Gulf, defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

The destroyer was in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz when four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy high-speed patrol boats came at the ship without responding to hails or warning flares fired from Nitze,according to a video of the incident provided to USNI News.

“This is USS Nitze reporting from the Southern Arabian Gulf,” said a voice on the video reporting the ship’s location and speed.
“We have visual contact with four Iranian… WPBs… Bridge to bridge COMMS were conducted but no response. Weapons uncovered… appears to be unsafe, unprofessional.”

While the voice is making the radio report, the four patrol boats speed in a serpentine formation toward Nitze with their deck weapons uncovered.

Flares from the destroyer attempt to warn away the patrol boats as they close in on the ship.

Nitze’s crew attempted to hail the boats a dozen times, fired 10 warning flares at the patrol boats and blasted the ship’s whistle to sound a maritime danger signal to no apparent effect, a defense official confirmed to USNI News late Wednesday.

Two of the patrol boats came within 300 yards of the destroyer before slowing and breaking off their chase.

“The Nitze and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) assessed the interaction as unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessels not abiding by international law and maritime standards including the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) maritime ‘Rules of the Road’,” a defense official told USNI News.
“The Iranian high rate of closure on a Unites States ship operating in accordance with international law while transiting in international waters along with the disregard of multiple warning attempts created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures byNitze.”

USS Nitze (DDG-94) Destroyer

Burke Class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) on June 24, 2016. US Navy Photo

 

Officials said Nitze was operating with the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) and was exiting the Persian Gulf when Nitze was approached by the Iranian patrol vessels with no warning.

Nitze is part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, centered on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). The CSG is in the region conducting strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). In late June, another ship in the strike group — USS San Jacinto (CG-56) — was harassed in the Eastern Mediterranian by a Russian frigate.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy

IRGCN patrol boats

An undated photo of IRGCN patrol boats.

Unlike the regular Iranian Navy, the IRGCN is a paramilitary organization that reports directly to Iran’s sectarian leadership.

Since 2007, the IRGCN has been responsible for the coastal defense of Iran and has been at the center of several violations of international maritime law involving the U.S. and U.K.

That same year, IRGCN forces captured 15 U.K. Royal Navy personnel embarked in a small boat from HMS Cornwall in international waters.

Last year, the IRGCN captured the U.S. flagged commercial ship M/V Maersk Tigris and held the ship for more than a week in Iran.

In January, the IRGCN captured ten U.S. riverine sailors and held them overnight on Farsi Island after the sailors strayed into Iranian waters.

SOURCE: USNI

The 2016 Election Has Awakened a Sense of Urgency among Christian Conservatives

Posted on:

American Culture and Faith Institute

As the summer winds down and Americans get ready to return to their normal routines, the presidential campaigns of the major-party candidates continue to search for a viable pathway to enough votes to win the upcoming election. A new survey released by the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) provides a range of insights into one of the critical bases of support that Donald Trump must win – Christian conservatives – if he is to triumph in November.

No Time to Lose

SAGE Cons – the Spiritually Active, Governance Engaged Conservatives tracked in the ACFI research – have a mindset that there is no time to lose in leading America onto a different track for the future. They consider the 2016 election to be a major life event: 98% say the outcome of the election will make a difference in their life. Nearly three-quarters of them (71%) say it will make a “big difference.” That sense of urgency is much greater among the SAGE Cons who plan to vote for Donald Trump: 75% of them say the election will make a big difference, compared to only 50% of those who say they will not vote for Mr. Trump holding the same perception of the elevated importance of the election.

Various factors contribute to their concern about the election. For starters, more than four out of five SAGE Cons (83%) say they are extremely or very proud to be an American. That contrasts with just two-thirds of the SAGE Cons (67%) who do not plan to vote for Donald Trump.

More than nine out of ten SAGE Cons (92%) are angry about the current state of America. Given that sentiment it is not surprising that the survey revealed that a similar proportion of them (93%) are completely or mostly dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.

Their attentiveness to the election is heightened by the fact that a majority of Christian conservatives (52%) say they are worse off now than they were in the past. Consequently, seven out of ten SAGE Cons (69%) say that they are “worried about the future.”

Of One Mind, Politically

Interestingly, less than four out of ten SAGE Cons (38%) consider themselves to be “a political junkie.” That seems to contradict the fact that almost nine out of ten Christian conservatives (87%) say they have paid “a lot” or “quite a bit” of attention to the 2016 presidential election thus far. The apparent contradiction may simply be explained by noting that these are voters who see themselves as patriots, are concerned about the values and morals of the country, and feel a sense of obligation to serve the country by working to preserve the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities that enabled the United States to be a great nation.

Three-quarters of all SAGE Cons (74%) indicate that they support the Tea Party, the decentralized conservative movement that has advocated less government regulation and spending, lower taxes, and strong national security. SAGE Con males are more likely to associate themselves with the Tea Party (81% do so) than are SAGE Con females (66%). Similarly, the Christian conservatives who plan to vote for Donald Trump are more likely to support the Tea Party (77%) than are those who do not plan to support the GOP nominee (59%).

Perhaps surprisingly, SAGE Cons appear to feel more connected to the Tea Party than to the Republican Party. Only half of all SAGE Cons (49%) say they are “loyal to the Republican Party.” It appears that the decision to have Mr. Trump represent the party in this election has done little to more permanently connect SAGE Cons to the GOP.

Less Government, Please

There is no denying the fact that SAGE Cons are of one mind politically when it comes to their view of governance. The survey identified three governance factors that demonstrated their nearly-unanimous perspective:

  • 99% believe the federal government has too much power
  • 98% believe that the federal government is doing too many things that should be left to businesses and individuals
  • 96% oppose new taxes or increases in tax rates

These points of view were consistent across the spectrum of the SAGE Con universe, regardless of whether or not they plan to vote for Donald Trump on November 8.

The Significance of SAGE Con Support

The importance of these insights was driven home by George Barna, the Executive Director of the American Culture & Faith Institute, which conducted the survey.

“The recent softening of support for Mr. Trump among SAGE Cons should be on the radar of the Trump campaign,” commented Barna. “In the last several elections, Republican candidates have been able to count on a minimum of 80% of the Christian conservative vote, boosted by unusually high turnout rates within the group. While Mr. Trump is still running slightly above that support threshold, the downward trend in such support over the last two weeks is something his team should be cognizant of. Without a minimum of 80% support from the SAGE Con community, and strong turnout within the segment, Mr. Trump stands little chance of winning the election.”

Barna also noted that a key message for conservative candidates during this election cycle relates to the sense of urgency that many Christian conservatives feel. “Cultural transformation has traditionally occurred at a snail’s pace but that is no longer the case: the pace has picked up considerably. A growing number of Christian conservatives sense that now is a critical time for believers to stand firm and pushback against those who want to radically redefine the foundations of life and culture in America. SAGE Cons are tracking the election more closely than most voters because they are looking for candidates who will represent them in the movement to shift the cultural momentum and govern from a conservative point of view. They believe that time is running out to stop the cannibalization of America’s values and morals. In their eyes, this election may be their last realistic chance to keep America from going off the cliff.”

About the Research

The research described in this report is part of the RightView™ longitudinal survey, a national online study undertaken among spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives who are registered voters – a segment known as SAGE Cons. The survey involved 1,300 qualified adults, conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute under the direction of George Barna. The survey was fielded online in late July and early August of 2016.

In RightView™ studies SAGE Cons are identified as adults who are registered voters; conservative on political matters; have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior; are active in pursuing their Christian faith; and are actively engaged in politics and government. They represent about 12% of the national adult population, which constitutes a segment of approximately 30 million individuals.

The American Culture & Faith Institute is a division of United in Purpose, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The mission of United in Purpose is to educate, motivate and activate conservative Christians related to the political process. The organization does not support or promote individual candidates or political parties.

Additional information about this and related research is accessible on the American Culture & Faith Institute website, located at www.culturefaith.com.

Child Soldiers of Jihad

Posted on:

For jihadis, it’s not child abuse. It’s doing them a favor.

Robert Spencer | Front Page Magazine

CNN reported Tuesday that “dramatic video has emerged of Iraqi police stripping an explosive belt from a child suspected in a suicide bombing attempt for ISIS.” This followed the bombing in Turkey on Saturday, when a Muslim boy between twelve and fourteen years old murdered 51 people with a jihad suicide bomb at a wedding party. These were just the latest examples of the longstanding jihadi practice of using children in jihad attacks – a practice that the jihadis themselves regard as just the opposite of child abuse, and indeed, the greatest activity in which a child or anyone else can engage.

kurdish-security-forces-detain-the-boy-who-is-thought-to-be-as-young-as-12

Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk Governorate in Iraq, asserted that the Islamic State (ISIS) had “trained and brainwashed” the child suicide bomber. “They tell them if they do this, they will go to heaven and have a good time and get everything that they ever wanted.”

Is ISIS eccentric in this idea, or twisting and hijacking the peaceful religion of Islam? The Qur’an says: “Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties, for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed” (9:111).

This is essentially a guarantee of Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah. This verse has become in the modern age the rationale for suicide bombing. The mainstream and revered Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir explains: “Allah states that He has compensated His believing servants for their lives and wealth — if they give them up in His cause — with Paradise.”

Another Qur’an commentator, Ibn Juzayy, adds: “It is said that it was sent down about the Homage of Aqaba [an early pledge of Muslims’ willingness to wage war for Islam], but its judgment is general to every believer doing jihad in the way of Allah until the Day of Rising.”

So it has been understood. Abu Abdel Aziz, a modern-day jihadist who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia, said in a 1994 interview: “I have found that the best sacrifice we can offer for the sake of Allah, is our souls, then our possession[s].” Then he quoted Qur’an 9:111.

So the Qur’an guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed,” and what do they get in Paradise? The famous virgins: “Indeed, We have produced the women of Paradise in a creation and made them virgins” (56:35-36), “fair women with large eyes” (56:22), “full-breasted” (78:33). And along with these girls come “rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey” (47:15).

And so Hussam Abdo, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was stopped by Israeli troops before he could detonate his suicide vest, explained why he wanted to kill infidels and himself: “A river of honey, a river of wine and 72 virgins. Since I have been studying Quran I know about the sweet life that waits there.”

Likewise Rabeen Ali, a 14-year-old Iraqi, was exhorted to become a jihadi by an imam. Ali recounted: “He told me about paradise, about virgins, about Islam.” And a would-be Pakistani suicide bomber explained that he had no interest in getting married on earth: “72 virgins are waiting for me in heaven – so why I should prefer only one here?”

As bizarre as it sounds, this is not some lusty adolescent’s misunderstanding of Islam. It is the real thing. A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Everyone that Allah admits into paradise will be married to 72 wives; two of them are houris and seventy of his inheritance of the [female] dwellers of hell. All of them will have libidinous sex organs and he will have an ever-erect penis’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 39).

This is not Playboy Magazine, it’s Islamic doctrine, straight from Muhammad himself. And it is just the sort of thing that would appeal most to frustrated teenage boys denied any kind of normal interaction with girls his age. If he just blows himself up in a crowd of infidels, he will have girls galore, wine, honey, and cool breezes – as Najmaldin Karim put it, suicide bombers are promised that they will “go to heaven and have a good time and get everything that they ever wanted.”

Suicide bombing recruiters believe all this is the perfect word of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad, the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21). Thus when they try to get young boys to become suicide bombers, they don’t believe they are engaging in child abuse – far from it. They believe they are performing a meritorious act that Allah will reward.

All this manifests yet again the myopia and willful ignorance of mainstream counter-terror analysts. They believe they can dissuade young Muslims from becoming suicide bombers by offering them jobs and talking about mothers crying for their lost sons. The idea of heavenly blessing and reward they do not address at all, because they don’t take it seriously and don’t believe that the would-be suicide bombers do, either.

As long as this willful ignorance continues, all Western attempts to stop this practice are foredoomed to failure. As is our entire counterterror approach, based as it is on politically correct fantasies – fantasies that are far less compelling than the ones that move young Muslim men to strap on suicide vests.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

SOURCE: FRONT PAGE MAGAZINE

France: The Religious War Few Wish to Face

Posted on:

George Igler | Gatestone Institute

  • Until a few years ago, the unique recipe for secularism adopted by the French seemed able to guarantee the assimilation of the country’s burgeoning number of Muslims, something now, by criminal and terrorist activity in the country, proven a resolute failure.
  • Next year’s election results might signal the beginning of the end for laïcité, the long-held French principle of strict prohibition against religious influence in the determination of state policies.

The remains of St. Denis, the patron saint of Paris, who was decapitated in the year 250 during the brutal pagan persecution of Christians, lie north of the French capital in the basilica that bears his name.

The church is historically noteworthy as the first proper work of Gothic architecture, a styleinfluenced by the Crusades. The basilica is now a rarely visited Parisian landmark, lying as it does within the profoundly Islamized enclave of Seine-Saint-Denis.

“You Christians, you kill us,” were the words of the ISIS knifeman who slit the throat of 85-year old Father Jacques Hamel. The elderly priest officiating at the altar of the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray — a mere three kilometres from the centre of Rouen in Normandy — was slain on July 25, as the two terrorists also took nuns hostage. The terrorists were then shot by police.

On August 5, police swept down on a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” [“Allah is the Greatest”] on the Champs-Élysées, the famous central thoroughfare of the capital of France. Video of the arrest shows passers-by: veiled Muslims, tourists, and presumably indigenous French men and women.

Both of these incidents, when aligned with recent mass outrages across France, including the Bataclan Theatre slaughter on November 13, and the mass carnage caused by a jihadist plot in Nice on July 14, point to a startling reality.

Despite the rhetoric by the government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls on removing dual nationality from those guilty of terrorism offences and closing extremist mosques (20 of France’s 2,500 alleged mosques have been closed down to date), the violent consequences of jihadism are a daily reality and concern stalking the heart of most French metropolitan districts.

At 7.5% of the population, Muslims in France make up the highest concentration of Muslims of any country in Europe, according to Pew Research.

For decades, those warning of the inevitable consequences of mass Muslim immigration, during a time in history when Islamic fundamentalist doctrine was on the rise worldwide, have been maligned, prosecuted, imprisoned or assassinated.

With the security infrastructure now proving inadequate to cope with the sheer scale ofenthusiasm for religious war amongst those Islamists born in France, and those able to enter the country — thanks to the open border policies of the EU — the threat continues to increase day by day.

Close to the Champs-Élysées, which runs between the Louvre museum and the Arc de Triomphe, lies the official residence of the president of France.

Presently occupied by the Socialist François Hollande, who closely courted the Muslim vote to gain power in 2012, many French people are looking towards the presidential electionsscheduled for April and May 2017, to provide a new occupant of the Élysée Palace in the form of Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen leads the Front National, a party with deeply disturbing roots in the form of its anti-Semitic founder Jean-Marie Le Pen (father of Marine Le Pen), who in the wake of the Bataclan attack called for the return of the guillotine.

The form of execution made infamous during the French Revolution preceded successiveRepublics in France that were rigorously antithetical to the inclusion of religious matters in political affairs.

Until a few years ago, the unique recipe for secularism adopted by the French seemed able to guarantee the assimilation of the country’s burgeoning number of Muslims, something now, bycriminal and terrorist activity in the country, proven a resolute failure.

People in France intimately link the ascendancy of the Front National with the increased incidence of terrorism in France, given the rigorous unwelcoming line the party has taken on Islamic immigration.

In response to the Nice massacre, in which a Tunisian resident of France named Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel ploughed a truck into revellers enjoying fireworks, the leader of the Front National called for the resignation of the French Interior Minister.

“In any other country in the world, a minister with a toll as horrendous as Bernard Cazeneuve — 250 dead in 18 months — would have quit,” she added.

Marine Le Pen also went on to excoriate, “the same old solemn declarations,” from France’s present government, which appear to follow every terrorist outrage — a situation that led Le Pen to remark:

“The war against the scourge of fundamentalism hasn’t started, it must now be declared. That is the deep wish of the French, and I will put all my energy so that they are finally heard and the necessary fight is finally undertaken.”

In a telling move, the president of the regional council of Nice, Christian Estrosi, added to the chorus of criticism of the government. He questioned whether, despite being in a state of emergency, France had either the policing numbers or expertise to face its terror threat.

After a cascade of terrorist massacres that began with the slaughter of the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the most terrorism-scarred country in Europe has erupted into successive outpourings of grief. Now, admits Time magazine, this grief is turning into anger.

In order for the Front National to prove successful at next year’s Presidential Elections, it will need to defeat the other right-wing force in France, and survive through two rounds of voting.

The Union pour un mouvement populaire party (UMP) is led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who exclaimed after Nice that, “Someone who shoots at French people, someone who kills, someone who wants jihad, does not have a place in France.”

Yet, for many, as the president of France from 2007-12, Sarkozy bears significant responsibility for creating the conditions in which fundamentalism was able to take root and prosper in France.

If Le Pen proves the eventual victor in the next presidential elections in France — a nation increasingly focused on religious affairs, occasioned by the country’s radically altering demography — a significant change in its political direction will undoubtedly arise.

The election results might signal the beginning of the end for laïcité, the long-held French principle of strict prohibition against religious influence in the determination of state policies.

A rising star of the Front National is Marion Marechal-Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s niece, who hasstated that, “Christians must stand up to resist Islam.” The 26-year old has also urged her fellow countrymen to join the military adding that, “Either we kill Islamism or it will kill us.”

In response to the Nice massacre, 2,500 young French people have joined the nation’s reserve forces.

A conservative Catholic favouring the “traditional family,” Marion Marechal-Le Pen has repeatedly spoken of “true French” identity, and demanded that Muslims adopt values rooted in Christianity, according to the BBC.

Echoing her niece’s views, Marine Le Pen erupted in fury at the sight of French riot police dragging a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris on August 3, prior to its scheduled demolition to make way for a parking lot.

“And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?” she said.

 St Rita in Paris

On August 3, French riot police dragged a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris, prior to its scheduled demolition to make way for a parking lot. Front National leader Marine Le Pen said in fury: “And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?” (Image source: RT video screenshot)

It is not necessary to speculate about the scenes on French streets that would result from similar footage if the same treatment were meted out to an imam and his congregation.

A new focus on religious minority issues in France, in the fraught desire to create some sort of harmonious balance in an increasingly divided nation, seems probable.

How successful such efforts are likely to be, however, remains to be seen.

George Igler, between 2010 and 2016, worked with those facing death for criticizing Islam across Europe.

SOURCE: GATESTONE INSTITUTE

Weekly Immigration Report August 23, 2016: Obamas DACA Circumvention and Sanctuary City Rapist

Posted on:

From the Federation for American Immigration Reform

  • President Obama’s DACA Amnesty at the Four-Year Mark
  • Sanctuary City Releases Accused Child Rapist

President Obama’s DACA Amnesty at the Four-Year Mark

This month marks four years since President Obama circumvented Congress and administratively implemented his executive amnesty program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion” and limited resources, President Obama announced the DACA amnesty program while seeking reelection in 2012. (See FAIR Legislative Update, June 19, 2012) At the time, he justified his unilateral action because “Congress refused to act to reform our broken immigration system.” (Id.) However, DACA is nearly identical to the DREAM Act amnesty legislation that Congress has repeatedly rejected, including in 2010. (Id.)

Thus, on June 15, 2012, then Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that DHS would circumvent Congress and administratively implement the DREAM Act by granting “deferred action” and work authorization to an entire class of illegal aliens. (Id.) Despite being sold as a temporary program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—the arm of DHS responsible for processing DACA applications—has approved approximately 90 percent of initial DACA applications and nearly all renewals. This rubber stamping of applications (which began in August 2012) and renewals (since August 2014) underscores the fact that there is nothing “temporary” about DACA.

FAIR’s Government Relations team provides the following analysis of DACA’s implementation through executive fiat, the number of illegal aliens who have benefited, and the Obama administration’s attempts to expand the program.

Eligibility Requirements

DACA is available for aliens who:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Are at least 15 years old to request DACA;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Number of Illegal Aliens Eligible:

A recent Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of 2014 U.S. Census Bureau Data determined that there are 1.7 million illegal aliens who are potentially eligible for DACA. (Migration Policy Institute Issue Brief, August 2016) It is estimated that the “DACA beneficiaries” represent about 12 percent of the total illegal alien population. (Pew Hispanic Center, Aug. 14, 2012) In 2016, MPI determined that 1.3 million aliens were immediately eligible for DACA. (Migration Policy Institute Issue Brief, August 2016) This number includes the illegal aliens who met all the requirements during the 2012 DACA rollout as well as about 250,000 aliens who had aged into eligibility since its launch. (Id.) MPI also found that there are 398,000 additional aliens that are potentially eligible for DACA if they are able to satisfy the education requirement. (Id.) Under DACA guidelines, the educational requirement is loosely defined and can be satisfied by enrollment in an “education, literacy, or career training program.” (See USCIS Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

Application Statistics

Between 2012 and March 31, 2016 (the latest date for available data), USCIS accepted 819,512 DACA applications out of the estimated 1.4 million that were immediately eligible to apply. (See USCIS Report, Mar. 31, 2016) USCIS approved 728,285 applications—nearly 89 percent. (Id.) Only 57,268 DACA applications were denied, about seven percent. (Id.) The remaining four percent, 33,959 applications, are still pending. (Id.) Importantly, the Obama administration refuses to say whether it subsequently took enforcement actions against the illegal aliens whose DACA applications were denied.

The nearly wholesale approval of DACA applications demonstrates that the program is not “enforcement guidelines,” but rather a complete re-write of our immigration laws. Indeed, the extraordinarily high approval rate indicates that USCIS employees lacked true authority to independently review and deny DACA applications on a case-by-case basis. Along those lines, the Obama administration took numerous steps to ensure that as many illegal aliens as possible would receive DACA. First, USCIS guides DACA applicants on how to navigate the application process including providing them a “to-do” checklist. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 26, 2012) The guidance even includes reminders to make sure all forms are properly signed, the correct filing fee is paid, and that no field is left blank. (See USCIS Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Finally, the administration provides a second “bite at the apple” for the aliens whose applications are denied. While the USCIS website acknowledges that there is no appeals process for illegal aliens denied DACA status because the agency will not “review discretionary decisions,” illegal aliens are told they can re-apply for the program if they feel their denial was based on an “evidentiary deficiency” rather than an inability to meet the base criteria. (Id.)

States with the Most DACA Recipients

According to MPI’s analysis of USCIS data, the top five states by DACA participation are:

California

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 499,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 231,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 46%

Texas

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 234,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 231,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 57%

New York

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 97,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 43,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 44%

Florida

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 92,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 35,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 38%

Illinois

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 86,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 44,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 51%

DACA Recipients’ Country of Origin

Additionally, MPI’s analysis determined that the top five countries of origin by DACA participation are:

Mexico

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 1,136,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 634,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 56%

Guatemala

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 93,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 22,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 24%

El Salvador

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 54,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 31,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 58%

Honduras

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 38,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 20,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 54%

South Korea

  • Immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 50,000
  • Applications accepted by USCIS: 7,000
  • Application rate using immediately and potentially eligible aliens: 15%

DACA Renewal Process

In establishing DACA’s renewal process in June 2014, DHS released a revised application form (now to be used for both initial and renewal applications) and instructions that change the education requirement of the administrative amnesty program. (See Form I-821D; Form I-821D Instructions) While initial applicants are required to demonstrate that they are enrolled in some form of “educational” program –including vocational training or even an English language course –at the time of applying, renewal applicants are not required to demonstrate that they have successfully completed, or are still even enrolled, in any such program. (See Form I-821D at p. 4) Instead, renewal applicants only need to show that they (1) did not depart the U.S. after August 15, 2012 without advance parole; (2) continuously resided in the U.S. since submitting the DACA request; and (3) have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or three or more misdemeanors, and do not pose a national security threat. (Form I-821D Instructions at p. 2)

The weakening of the education requirement was confirmed by senior USCIS officials on a “stakeholder” call shortly after the announcement of the renewal process. During the call, which included DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, these officials stated that proof of graduation or continued enrollment is not required for renewal applications and advised listeners not to provide evidence that the renewal applicant failed to complete the education program listed on the original DACA application. (FAIR Legislative Update, June 11, 2014)

The renewal process also essentially makes DACA a three-year — instead of a two-year — deferment from deportation program. Specifically, the new application form makes clear that DACA recipients can apply for renewal up to one-year after the expiration of their current deferment with no consequence. (Form I-821D Instructions at p. 1) Rather, USCIS simply “encourages” DACA renewal applicants to reapply for the program within 120 days of expiration, but does not expressly require them to do so. (Id.)

According to the most recent USCIS data available, 580,847 DACA recipients have been eligible to file for renewal. (See USCIS Report, Mar. 31, 2016) USCIS has accepted 539,008 renewal requests from these recipients – a rate of nearly 93%. (Id.)

DACA Recipients Accessing Federal Benefits

While so-called DREAMers were unlikely to be deported under the President’s lax enforcement “priorities,” DACA grants a reprieve from deportation, provides work authorization for two years, and makes certain illegal alien minors eligible for some taxpayer benefits. Specifically, aliens with deferred action are considered “lawfully present” (as opposed to having lawful status) which makes them eligible for many benefits even though they are still illegal aliens.

Importantly, DACA recipients are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN), despite being illegal aliens and having “temporary” status. With a SSN, DACA aliens are potentially eligible for Medicare and Social Security benefits. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Mar. 24, 2015) SSNs also make aliens eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Id.) Once eligible for the EITC, U.S. tax law allows a person to amend their tax returns for the past three years – even if that person was ineligible during those years.  (See FAIR Legislative Update, Apr. 19, 2016)

Additionally, DACA recipients are immediately eligible for unemployment benefits. Although unemployment insurance  is administered by the states, it is based upon the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), which provides eligibility for those who are “lawfully present.” (See FAIR Report, Nov. 17, 2014) And, being “lawfully present” also makes DACA eligible for a driver’s license provided they show proof of identity and age, and meet state residence requirements.

DACA as a Pathway to Citizenship

In his Rose Garden announcement of DACA, President Obama made it crystal clear that DACA “was not amnesty, was not immunity, was not a pathway to citizenship.” (Rose Garden Remarks, June 15, 2012) Yet, ever since Congress rejected mass amnesty legislation, the Obama administration and its allies have been working behind the scenes to help DACA apply for advance parole.

Advance parole is an administratively created tool that allows an illegal alien to leave the U.S. with a promise of being “paroled” back into the U.S. upon return. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 23, 2016)

Granting parole is significant, because it allows aliens to circumvent provisions in the law that would normally bar their admission. (Id.) Generally, aliens who have been residing in the country illegally long term cannot simply return to the country if they leave. (Id.) However, when an alien enters the country through parole, it wipes away their previous illegal entry that bars their admissibility. (Id.) Moreover, paroled aliens who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are generally eligible to apply for a green card and citizenship. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has expanded the grounds of advance parole to include “educational” and “employment” purposes to significantly expand the number of illegal aliens eligible to exploit advance parole and be put on a path to citizenship. (See FAIR Legislative Update, July 26, 2016)

USCIS recently admitted that DACA illegal aliens are being put on a path to citizenship. (Id.) Specifically, USCIS sent a letter to Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that revealed that 2,994 DACA have “been approved for adjustment of status” — likely receiving legal permanent resident (green card) status — after further exploiting our immigration laws by being granted “advance parole.” (Id.)  It is very likely that DACA recipients who wind up on a path to citizenship by exploiting advance parole will increase significantly before the end of Obama’s presidency. (Id.) Given the extremely high approval rate of DACA applications, it is likely that USCIS is rubber stamping advance parole and adjustment of status approvals for those who know to take advantage of the process. (Id.)

DACA Expansion

On November 20, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released ten immigration policy memoranda (the “Johnson Memos”) that unilaterally changed U.S. immigration law by executive fiat. (FAIR Johnson Memos Anniversary Issue Brief, Nov. 20, 2015) Through one of the Johnson Memos, the Obama administration sought to expand DACA to cover an estimated additional 270,000 illegal aliens. (Id.) This would be accomplished by eliminating the age requirement and changing the date-of-entry requirement from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. (Id.) The Johnson Memos also extend the length of deferred action granted from two-year increments to three-year terms, which applies to new applications and renewals submitted November 24th, 2014 or later. (Id.) And, as with the original DACA program, DHS will grant work authorization to DACA beneficiaries. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 24, 2014)

USCIS originally planned to start accepting applications for expanded DACA in February 2015. However, several days before applications could be submitted, Judge Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, issued an injunction that temporarily halted the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA. (See FAIR’s U.S. v. Texas Resource Page) In response, the administration took the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which upheld Judge Hanen’s injunction in November 2015. (Id.) The case then reached the Supreme Court, which dealt the administration its fifth legal defeat defending DAPA and expanded DACA. (Id.)  The high court’s 4-4 split vote meant that the Fifth Circuit’s injunction stays in place while the case returns to Judge Hanen to be litigated on the merits. (Id.) Accordingly, the President is prohibited from issuing work authorization to the estimated 5 million illegal aliens who would qualify for DAPA and expanded DACA. (Id.)

Outlook

Because President Obama implemented the DACA program through executive action and it is not codified, the future for recipients remains somewhat uncertain, subject to the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

Regarding the programs themselves, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has said that if elected, she would “continue to defend DAPA and DACA, and do everything possible under the law to go further to protect families.” (See FAIR’s Election 2016 Resource Page) She also pledged to “introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation with a path to citizenship within [her] first 100 days in office.” (Id.) While his positions on immigration have shifted dramatically at times, GOP nominee Donald Trump has maintained that he would rescind both DAPA and DACA (original and expanded) upon taking office. (Id.)

SOURCE: FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM

Sanctuary City Releases Accused Child Rapist

Public outrage is spreading after an illegal alien released as a result of Philadelphia’s sanctuary policy was subsequently arrested for raping a child under the age of thirteen. (Breitbart, Aug. 4, 2016) The suspect, 45-year-old Ramon Aguirre-Ochoa, is a previously deported criminal alien who was released by Philadelphia law enforcement agents early last year despite federal immigration officials lodging a detainer against him. (Id.)

Aguirre-Ochoa was previously in Philadelphia law enforcement custody for a domestic aggravated assault charge. (Philly Voice, Aug. 10, 2016) At that time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents issued a detainer against him, requesting that Philadelphia Police notify the agency of his pending release so ICE could obtain custody of him. (Id.) The Philadelphia Police, however, were forced to ignore ICE’s request for cooperation because of the city’s sanctuary policy, resulting in Aguirre-Ochoa’s release in January 2015. (Id.) He is now charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, indecent assault on a person less than 13, indecent exposure, and simple assault. (Breitbart, Aug. 4, 2016)

Despite the Obama administration’s lenient policies, Ramon Aguirre-Ochoa fell squarely within the federal government’s restrictive enforcement priorities. Under the Obama administration’s guidelines, federal agents may only issue a detainer request for an alien with a criminal conviction who has already been determined to be a threat “to national security, border security, and public safety,” including any alien “engaged in or suspected of terrorism or espionage.” (DHS Immigration Detainer Form; DHS Request for Notification Form)

As ICE explained in its press release, “As a prior deportee, Aguirre-Ochoa was slated to have his removal order reinstated and be removed in 2015 after local criminal charges stemming from March 2014, against him were dismissed. At that time, Aguirre-Ochoa was released from local custody when Philadelphia authorities failed to honor an ICE detainer. He remained at large until his most recent arrest.” (Breitbart, Aug. 4, 2016)

The child-rape case caught the attention of Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (R), who has since urged Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) to repeal the city’s sanctuary policy. (Philly Voice, Aug. 10, 2016) “This is one of the most heinous crimes that is possible to commit — committed against a young child,” Senator Toomey said during a press conference. (Id.) “It should not have been possible — and it would not have been possible — but for the fact that Philadelphia is a sanctuary city.” (Id.)

Despite this tragedy, Mayor Kenney is unlikely to rescind the policy. Mayor Kenney issued Philadelphia’s sanctuary policy by executive order in January 2016, shortly after being sworn into office. (FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 18, 2016) The executive order prohibits law enforcement from complying with a detainer unless the criminal alien has already beenconvicted of a first or second degree felony and the detainer is accompanied by a judicial warrant. Under Mayor Kenney’s order, very few, if any, criminal aliens will be transferred to federal authorities.


Special Report on U.S.-Israeli Relations – Live from Israel [radio]

Posted on: August 23, 2016

USA and Israel

IMPRESSIONS OF ISRAEL TODAY
US-ISRAELI RELATIONS
LIVE Saturday (8/20) 8 AM EST!!!

This Saturday, we bring you a special edition of the USA Transnational Report, broadcast live from Israel.

While the United States is in the midst of one of the most, if not the most, consequential presidential elections in modern history, the Middle East is undergoing fundamental changes that will shape its future.  Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, is closer than at any other time.  This is, at least in part, due to the rising influence and stature of Iran in the world, who represents a common enemy.

Topics of Discussion:

  • First Impressions from a visitor to Israel
  • U.S.-Israeli Relations and Israeli thoughts on U.S. Presidential Election
  • Trump’s campaign shakeup

& more….

Call-in #: 855-853-5227
You can listen to USA Transnational Report live on JJ McCartney’s Nightside Radio Studios.

You can subscribe to USA Transnational Report podcast on iTunes here.

You can also subscribe to our podcast with Podbean, here.

All previously recorded shows are available here, at the links above, or through Spreaker.