Tag Archives: homeland security

DHS Report: Nearly Half a Million Foreigners Overstayed Visas in 2015

The Department of Homeland Security released a report on Tuesday, which claimed that out of the nearly 45 million foreigners who legally entered the United States in 2015, nearly half a million stayed after their visas expired.

In the “Entry/Exit Overstay” report, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson noted that out of the 44,928,381 non-immigrant admissions to the United States for business or pleasure, who were expected to depart in 2015, at least 527,127 of the indivuduals overstayed their visas.

By the end of the 2015 fiscal year, which ranged from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015, the report claimed that the number of “Suspected In-Country Overstays” was at 482,781. The number was then lowered to 416,500 by DHS as of Jan. 4, 2016.

Johnson noted that properly “determining lawful status is more complicated than simply matching entry and exit data,” because an individual may apply for and receive a visa extension while still in the U.S.

Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Research Center, described the report as a step in the right direction. “We’re starting to get a better picture of how people flow through the immigration system with this report,” he said. “But, it’s incomplete.”

When breaking down the number of individuals who overstayed their visas in 2015, the report found that some of the largest numbers were from countries including Germany with 21,394, Italy with 17,661 and France with 11,973.

However, the report also found that out of the “Suspected In-Country Overstays,” 219 were from Afghanistan, 681 from Iraq, 56 from Libya, 1,435 from Pakistan, 440 from Syria, and 219 from Yemen— all countries where the U.S. has conducted drone strikes during the Obama administration.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Obama Pushed Perpetual War In Seven Countries]

The Senate Immigration Subcommittee has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss and investigate the report. In a statement, the committee expressed concern about President Obama’s policies contributing to the number of “Suspected In-Country Overstays.”

“By not enforcing visa overstays, the administration has flung the border open—millions get temp visas and then freely violate their entry contracts and shred their eviction notices,” the statement said. “Further, DHS has refused to complete the legally required biometric tracking system.”

According to the report, DHS classifies visa overstay issues as “important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and immigration benefit application processing.”

LEAKED: TSA Behavior Screening Checklist is a Joke

New details of the Transportation Security Administration’s behavior screening have been leaked, and they are just as ludicrous as expected. 

The Transportation Security Administration’s checklist for spotting suspicious behavior has been leaked to The Intercept. The checklist, also known as the SPOT Referral Report,  is part of the much maligned Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques program, also known as SPOT. Under the program Behavior Detection Officers identify suspicious passengers, monitors their activity, and questions the suspect to determine threat potential.

The checklist includes 92 items with different categories including a call for further inspection based on passengers’ possible “signs of deception.” These signs of deception the TSA is trained to watch for include having a recently shaved beard, whistling, and “wearing improper attire for the location.” Critics say the checklist is further proof that the TSA is a waste of taxpayer dollars and continues to be unsuccessful at catching terrorists.

Source: The Intercept
Source: The Intercept

Passengers are given a preliminary “observation and behavior analysis,” and then, if suspected of terrorism, they are pulled aside and inspected further. At this point the checklist calls for scoring suspicious behavior based on two or more categories. This includes having “unusual items” such as”numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones.” The Behavior Detection Officers can also deduct points from passengers’ terrorism “scores”. For example, if two people are married and over the age of 55 they could each have one point deducted.

“Behavior detection, which is just one element of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to mitigate threats against the traveling public, is vital to TSA’s layered approach to deter, detect and disrupt individuals who pose a threat to aviation,” the TSA told The Intercept.

The leaked document comes one week after the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the TSA for records related to the SPOT program. The civil liberties organizations say they are seeking records related to the effectiveness of the widely criticized program, as well as the percentage of minorities that are targeted.

In November 2013 the Government Accountability Office released a report Wednesday detailing the massive financial failures of the behavior screening program.  According to the report, the program works “no better than chance” and has not proven effective even at a cost of more than $1 billion since 2007. Steve Lord, director of the investigation for the GAO, stated that the “”TSA has yet to empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of the program.”

The new details of the behavior screening program reveal how arbitrary TSA training methods truly are. With over a billion dollars spent on this failure of a program, it has become even more obvious that the U.S. government’s Fear Campaign built around the War on Terror is yet another farce in a long line of lies from the alleged authorities.

Senate Democrats Agree to DHS Funding Bill to Protect Obama’s Immigration Order

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-2 on a bill that would continue to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The bill, which comes three days before a partial DHS shutdown, has created controversy between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and was only agreed upon after Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, removed provisions added by the House that would have reversed President Obama’s executive immigration action.

The Hill reported that the two votes against the bill were from Republican Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid, called the bill a “clean Homeland Security funding substitute,” and said that Democrats in the Senate would only support it on the condition that it did not reverse Obama’s immigration order.

According to the Huffington Post, under the agreement presented by McConnell, the Senate will “resolve the DHS funding issue and then vote on a separate bill” from Republican Senator Susan Collins “to block Obama’s executive actions.

The Associated Press noted that the bill will now be sent to the House, where some conservatives called the new plan a “surrender to the White House.”

The Hill reported that several Republicans criticized this “clean” plan, and many of them vowed they would “not vote to fund agencies that would be carrying out Obama’s immigration order.”

As previously reported, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed the possibility of a shutdown, while on Meet the Press on Sunday. While also commenting on threats made against the Mall of America by Islamist militants in Somalia, Johnson said it was “bizarre and absurd” that the U.S. government was having this discussion “in these challenging times.”

Following Johnson’s comments, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron released a statement admitting that the department was not “aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center.”

Homeland Security Admits: No Credible Terrorist Plot Against Mall of America

Following threats from Islamist militants in Somalia against the Mall of America, and the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s warning that visitors to the mall should be “particularly vigilant,” the department later admitted that it was not aware of any credible plot from the militants.

On Sunday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson appeared on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Johnson said that the American public needed to be “particularly vigilant” in response to the militant’s threats.

We’re in a new phase in global terrorist threat right now which involves core al-Qaeda, but now other groups, the ISIL group being the most prominent example of that,” Johnson said.

This terror threat comes at a time when Homeland Security is waiting for Congress to pass legislation to continue funding the department. The upcoming deadline is Feb. 27.

Regarding a possible shutdown, Johnson said, “It’s bizarre and absurd that we’re even having this discussion in these challenging times, given the global terrorist threat we’ve just been talking about, given the harsh winter we’re in the midst of, and all the other things that we do.”

The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, released a statement regarding the threat:

Mall of America is aware of the threatening video that was released, which included mention and images of the mall. We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. We have implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests and others won’t.”

Reuters reported that while security officials are “worried about the risk of an attack on U.S. soil by a solitary militant,” the group al Shabaab “has not appeared to gain much traction with most Somalis in the West, including in Minneapolis.”

Following Johnson’s comments, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron released a statement on Sunday saying that the department has worked with both the FBI and “private sector partners,” and has found no evidence of a credible threat to the mall.

“We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center,” Catron said.

DHS Delays Funding on Obama’s Immigration Plan after TX Judge Grants Injunction

Following a temporary restraining order from a federal judge in Texas on Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Tuesday that it will not go forward with its original plan to implement President Obama’s executive immigration order on Wednesday.

The New York Times reported that the injunction, which was filed by judge Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, “prohibited the Obama administration from carrying out programs the president announced on Nov. 20 that would offer protection from deportation and work permits to as many as five million undocumented immigrants.”

Texas is not alone in its efforts to halt Obama’s executive order, and is part of a coalition of 26 states that have filed a lawsuit against the federal government to block the order on immigration.

According to the Huffington Post, while the injunction is “not a final ruling on the constitutionality of Obama’s action,” it will “prevent the policies from moving forward as the lawsuit proceeds.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said that although he “strongly disagrees” with the injunction, the DHS recognizes that it “must comply” and will suspend the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, along with the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program.

“Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned,” said Johnson. “Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said that Senate Democrats, “especially those who’ve voiced opposition to the president’s executive overreach,” should end their “partisan filibuster” of DHS funding.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said that he felt this ruling was “very unlikely to be upheld.

It’s perfectly appropriate to take this issue to court,” said Schumer. “But it is completely unacceptable for Republicans to hold up funding for the Department of Homeland Security while the case wends its way through the legal system.”

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said he will continue to “follow the case as it moves through the legal process.”

The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed,” said Boehner. “Hopefully, Senate Democrats who claim to oppose this executive overreach will now let the Senate begin debate on a bill to fund the Homeland Security department.”

In a video from Reuters, Obama addressed the injunction, saying that he disagrees with Hanen’s ruling and the Justice Department will appeal:

Report: DHS Spends Millions and Still Fails Pandemic Audit

Given the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, tensions are high, and Americans are questioning whether or not the virus will spread to the United States.

Following a recent audit, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a federal report, which showed that if a potential pandemic were to occur, the United States would be “ill-prepared.”

The report stated that, in 2006, Congress “appropriated $47 million in supplemental funding to DHS for necessary expenses to plan, train, and prepare for a potential pandemic.”

The DHS reported that it spent this funding on “personal protective equipment, pandemic research, exercises, and medical counter measures.

The audit found that the DHS “did not adequately conduct a needs assessment prior to purchasing pandemic preparedness supplies,” and that it “did not effectively manage its stockpile of pandemic personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures.”

The report showed that the DHS has an inventory of “approximately 16 million surgical masks without demonstrating a need for that quantity,” and that it has a stockpile with 4,184 bottles of hand sanitizer that were expired, “some by up to 4 years.”

The report also revealed that, “81 percent of antiviral drugs acquired by the DHS Office of Health Affairs Component will expire by the end of 2015,” and that the stock of equipment for a possible pandemic includes 200,000 respirators that are past the five-year manufacturer’s guaranteed usability.

DHS and its components do not know where its personal protective equipment is located, how much it has, and the usability of the stockpiles that exist,” the report said.

In a statement from Inspector General John Roth, he said, “DHS is responsible for ensuring it is adequately prepared to continue critical operations in the event of a pandemic.”

We will work with them to see that this vital program is strengthened,” Roth said.

U.S. Officials Claim Islamic State Does Not Pose a Direct Threat of Attack on the United States

On Wednesday, senior United States Officials said that while there is the danger of the Islamic State spreading through the Middle East, and into Europe, the group does not pose an urgent threat of an attack in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, Francis Taylor, said that the DHS is “unaware of any specific credible threat to the U.S. homeland” from the Islamic State.

Taylor added that while the Islamic State was not a direct threat to U.S. soil, the group still has capabilities most terrorist organizations don’t possess, and it “constitutes an active and serious threat within the region and could attempt attacks on U.S. targets overseas with little or no warning.”

According to the Washington Post, the FBI has arrested “more than a half dozen people trying to travel to Syria to support the Islamic State,” and about a dozen people from the United States “are believed to have joined the Islamic State.”

Deputy Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen, acknowledged that the Islamic State’s “ability to carry out complex large-scale attacks in the West is currently limited.”

The Associated Press reported that, “More than 100 Americans have traveled to Syria to fight for various militant groups or tried to make the journey.”

The Washington Post noted that after the group’s leader threatened a “direct confrontation” with the United States in January, Islamic militants have struck out at the U.S. recently by beheading two American journalists after the United States began bombing Islamic State forces in Iraq.

The Director for the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, acknowledged that the United States is concerned that an Islamic State sympathizer, who is  “perhaps motivated by online propaganda,” is capable of conducting a “limited, self-directed attack here at home with no warning.”

While the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 has sparked rumors that members of the Islamic State will lash out directly at the United States, Olsen said, “In our view, any threat to the U.S. homeland from these types of extremists is likely to be limited in scope and scale.”

These statements from senior U.S. officials follow a recent video from former Texas Congressman, Ron Paul, in which he quoted the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who said that there is “no evidence there is anything imminent or planned” by ISIS for the United States, and that we shouldn’t “expect them to do anything here in the United States.

During his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Obama insisted that he has the authority to carry out strikes against ISIS and yet, the fact that there is no direct threat to the United States actually disqualifies the President from that authority.

Under the Constitution, the Commander in Chief must obtain a declaration of war from the U.S. Congress in order to carry out strikes against any nation or group unless the United States is under immediate threat.


Homeland Security Pours Billions into Militarizing Police with “Little Oversight”

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed under the Bush Administration in 2002, as a response to 9/11. In 2014, the DHS has 240,000 employees, and among other things, it is responsible for giving police departments grants for military equipment.

Grants given to local police departments from the DHS have received a great deal of scrutiny recently, after protests in Ferguson, Missouri were met with militarized local law enforcement.

The Executive Director for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and a columnist for The Guardian, Trevor Timm, referred to the DHS as the “primary arms dealer for out-of-control local cops in Ferguson and beyond,” and criticized the fact that the DHS was “handing out tens of billions of dollars in grants for military equipment in the last decade with little to no oversight and even less training on how use it.”

From an oversight perspective, DHS grant programs are pretty much a mess,” an anonymous congressional aide told The Guardian. “They don’t know what’s been bought with the money, how that equipment has been used, or whether it’s made anyone measurably any safer.”

An audit from 2012 found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is in charge of overseeing the grant program, “exists with little oversight.”

FEMA did not have a system in place to determine the extent that Homeland Security Grant Program funds enhanced the states’ capabilities to prevent, deter, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies before awarding more funds to the states,” the audit said.

Timm pointed out that although the DHS doesn’t have missiles like the ones used in Pakistan and Yemen, it does have its own “fleet of Predator drones roaming the US border and far beyond, which it has loaned out to police over 500 times for myriad unknown reasons.”

Homeland Security is also handing out millions of dollars to local police to ‘accelerate and facilitate the adoption’ of smaller drones that police can fly themselves,” wrote Timm. “Cops claim they want these ‘middleman’ drones for ’emergencies,’ but in places like California’s Alameda county, documents show they’ll end up using them for ‘crowd control’ and ‘intelligence gathering.'”

The criticism of Homeland Security’s actions was so great, that according to the New York Times, the White House announced that they would conduct a review regarding “whether the government should continue providing such equipment and, if so, whether local authorities have sufficient training to use it appropriately.”

White House Requests $3.7 Billion To Address Surge Of Young Immigrants Crossing US Border

The White House requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding Tuesday, which would be divided among several government agencies, to address the surge of tens of thousands of children who have crossed the United States border.

The $3.7 figure is considerably higher than President Obama’s original expected request, which was $2 billion back in June.

A large portion of those funds, $1.8 billion, would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide better housing and care to the children and parents accompanying them. Housing for the immigrants has become unsurprisingly scarce, and HHS has been utilizing Department of Defense buildings in California, Texas and Oklahoma.

The Department of Justice would receive $64 million to hire more immigration judges and provide legal counsel to children undergoing removal procedures. Officials say that the White House will also seek a change in federal law that will accelerate deportation proceedings.

The Department of Homeland Security would get $1.1 billion to boost immigration and customs enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection would receive $433 million. $300 million would go to the Department of State to assist Central American countries in repatriating the deported civilians.

The White House has asserted that the funds are needed to cover costs like increased man hours from border patrol agents, increased surveillance, and temporary care and legal services for the inpouring of immigrants.

“The law will be enforced,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday. “And what that means is it means that these children who have been apprehended will go through the immigration court process and if they are found to not have a legal basis for remaining in this country, they’ll be returned.” Earnest also said that the majority of the immigrating children would be unqualified for humanitarian relief.

Over 52,000 immigrants have crossed the border since last October. Obama has criticized Republicans for stalling immigration reform, while Republicans have accused Obama of willful ignorance surrounding the influx, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, who said last month, “I’ve known about this for two years. The president has known about this.” Obama and Perry plan to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

The request of funding will go to a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.