Heroin Epidemic Lays Waste New England States.

heroin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)  continued to raise concerns this week at the federal level about New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic, urging Attorney General Eric Holder to use an “all hands on deck” approach to combat the crisis and calling on Senate appropriators to prioritize funding that supports drug-trafficking enforcement efforts.

Ayotte joined several Senators from both parties in a letter to Attorney General Holder that called for the Department of Justice to leverage the best criminal justice and public health practices currently available to address heroin and prescription opioid abuse.

“Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has become one of our nation’s most challenging public health issues, affecting our neighborhoods and communities in ways far worse than anyone might have imagined,” the Senators wrote. “To effectively address the problem of heroin and opioid dependence in our country, an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that recognizes the value of prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention and the utilization of all opioid addiction treatments is required.”

In a separate letter today to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services, Ayotte highlighted the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program — a critical tool to help disrupt drug-trafficking operations in New England and across the country.

“Today, my home state of New Hampshire is facing a heroin addiction crisis that is taking lives and ruining families. The HIDTA Program continues to be a critical tool in helping to disrupt national and regional drug trafficking operations, and we continue to rely on their expertise and experience to fight alarming regional heroin use trends in New England,” Ayotte wrote. 

She continued, “The regional collaborative approach allowed by [New England HIDTA] is critical to combating this program in New Hampshire, as law enforcement reports that much of the supply of heroin in New Hampshire passes through Connecticut and Massachusetts before reaching end-users in New Hampshire communities.”

As New Hampshire attorney general from 2004 to 2009, Ayotte led the New Hampshire Drug Task Force and worked closely with state and local law enforcement to boost efforts to combat drug abuse, drug-trafficking and other drug-related crimes. She has been a strong advocate for Byrne JAG which helps augment crime-fighting and drug treatment efforts at the state and local levels .

At two recent hearings on Capitol Hill, Ayotte questioned Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Defense Department officials about efforts among federal agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies to curb drug-trafficking.

skull

Do Foreign Criminals Find Safe Haven in the United States?

cop

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) this week sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson seeking information on recent media reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encountered and released 68,000 illegal aliens with criminal convictions in 2013.

The letter is attached and below.

April 3, 2014

 

 The Honorable Jeh Johnson

Secretary of Homeland Security

U. S. Department of Homeland Security

Nebraska Avenue Complex

3801 Nebraska Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C.   20528

 

Dear Secretary Johnson:

According to recent media reports, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) encountered and released 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions in 2013. We were surprised to learn this information, particularly in light of two letters we sent to your department on the issue of criminal detainee releases in connection with sequestration.

Last year, we wrote to Secretary Napolitano requesting information on the release of illegal aliens with criminal records detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).  Through that request, we learned that many of the 622 detainees released from ICE custody in February 2013 had significant criminal records.  ICE provided information about the criminal records, without names, of 32 detainees with multiple felony convictions (Level One offenders), 24 of whom were subsequently redetained, and at least 80 detainees with criminal backgrounds amounting to level two offenses.  Earlier this month, we wrote additionally to seek information on last year’s detainee release and inquire whether ICE or DHS has taken any actions to ensure accountability for what occurred. We have yet to receive a response to this bipartisan request.

It appears that those 622 released detainees represent a mere tip of the iceberg, in comparison to the figures cited in recent media reports. In 2013, ICE reportedly encountered and released 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions. ICE documents apparently indicated that in Phoenix, Arizona, 42 percent of criminal aliens encountered – most of whom had been incarcerated after being arrested by local authorities – were released in 2013.

The Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) issued a report in July 2012 that found that between 2008 and 2011 over 26,000 illegal aliens with criminal records were released instead of deported and that these former detainees went on to commit nearly 58,000 crimes soon after their release. These additional crimes were found to include 59 murders, 21 attempted murders, more than 4,000 major felonies and 1,000 other violent crimes.

Due to the importance of these findings, please provide answers to the following questions:

1.         Media reports indicate that the number of aliens with a criminal conviction encountered and released by ICE added up to nearly 68,000.  That figure was reportedly based on ICE’s Weekly Departures and Detention Report from October 2013.  Can you confirm whether this number is accurate?  Please provide a copy of each Weekly Departures and Detention Report for the year 2013. 

2.         Regarding the reported 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions who ICE encountered and released:

a.         Please provide a breakdown on the nature of ICE’s encounter with the aliens in question. 

b.         How many “encounters” resulted from an arrest by local or federal law enforcement? 

c.         How many were detained by ICE?

3.         How many of the 68,000 aliens with criminal records who were released were level one offenders?  Please provide a breakdown of level one offenses that these aliens committed.

4.         What criteria are you using when determining whether to release illegal detainees with criminal records?

5.         Do you draw any distinction between criminal offenses when deciding whom to release?

6.         Who makes the decision to release an illegal detainee who has been found to have a criminal record?

7.         Do you agree or disagree with the findings from the CRS report from July 2012? If you agree, how will you remedy the deficiencies identified? If not, which part do you disagree with? Please be specific.

8.         Please explain why the number of criminal alien encounters and releases jumped from 26,000 over a three-year period, 2008-2011, to 68,000 over a one-year period in 2013.

9.         Given the materiality of these revelations to the issues raised in the two prior letters, why did your department not previously disclose to the Subcommittee any information about those releases?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  If you have any questions or concerns, please have your staff contact Jack Thorlin (Senator McCain) at 202/224-XXXX or Dan Goshorn (Senator Levin) at 202/224-XXXX.

 

Sincerely,

 

John McCain                                                              

Ranking Minority Member                                        

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations              

 

Carl Levin

Chairman

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

jail

 

The Latest Threat to America: Bio-Terrorists.

Terrorists may soon be able to disrupt the American food chain.
Terrorists may soon be able to disrupt the American food chain.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senators representing the Kansas City Animal Health corridor, Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have announced that the Senate approved a resolution to recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense to America’s national and economic security.

“The hardworking folks in America’s heartland understand that the protection of our region’s leading industry, agriculture, and of our nation’s food supply is of the highest importance,” Roberts said. “This resolution reminds our colleagues in Washington that addressing the critical vulnerabilities to our food supply and the agriculture economy must also be their top priority. Completion of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is critical to the nation and to our states.”

“NBAF will protect our national economy by researching foreign animal disease threats, which have very real impacts,” Moran said. “It is critical that construction begins immediately to safeguard against these threats and the devastation they would cause. The cost of an outbreak far outweighs the cost of construction, not only in the loss of human life but also its damage to the animal and agricultural industry. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to make certain NBAF remains a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration and among Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.”

“This resolution recognizes just how important biosecurity is to our country’s safety, and to the agriculture economy across the United States,” McCaskill said. “Strengthening our biosecurity starts with the completion of the facility in Manhattan, Kansas and continues with the further development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we accomplish these goals.”

“Further development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region is the next step in bolstering our nation’s biosecurity and agro-defense,” said Blunt. “Farm families in Missouri and nationwide understand the severity that these devastating attacks could have on our food supply, the agriculture industry, and our national security. I’m pleased this resolution was approved by the Senate, and I will continue to advocate for further development of the Animal Health Corridor as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

Text of the Resolution:

Recognizing the importance of biosecurity and agrodefense in the United States

Whereas following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States took notice of the global threat of terrorism;

Whereas the new reality after the attacks of September 11, 2011, led to an increase of resources focused on combatting attack from the enemies of the United States;

Whereas Congress established the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 with the intent of meeting the challenges plaguing the United States;

Whereas the attacks made visible the vulnerability of our food supply and agriculture economy;

Whereas the President of the United States issued a Homeland Security Directive entitled the “Defense of United States Agriculture and Food” on January 30, 2004;

Whereas the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, recognized the challenges of agroterrorism early on;

Whereas the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism assessed in the 2008 report entitled “World At Risk”, “the U.S. government has invested most of its nonproliferation efforts and diplomatic capital in preventing nuclear terrorism. The Commission believes that it should make the more likely threat – bioterrorism – a higher priority. Only by elevating the priority of the biological weapons threat will it be possible to bring about substantial improvements in global biosecurity”;

Whereas the threat of attack from the enemies of the United States continues and there is much remaining work; and

Whereas the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility inaugurated construction on May 28, 2013;

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that

While the United States continues to combat terrorism in all forms around the world, the safety, security, and health of our livestock and agriculture commodities must not be forgotten;

Research and investment in biosecurity and biosafety should be supported by Congress;

Providing the resources, both intellectually and materially, for the advancement of vaccines and hopeful eradication of deadly pathogens and emerging zoonotic disease in an integral part of providing homeland defense;

Without the tools necessary to protect the people, agriculture economy, and food supply of the United States, the United States remains vulnerable to attack and chaos;

The world depends on the food and fiber that the United States produces;

The world depends on the leadership of the United States in science and technology;

The United States must remain the leader in the fight against bioterrorism; and

Biosecurity and agrodefense are achievable goals for the United States in the global war on terrorism.

 

Is Uncle Sam Inviting Terrorists to Settle In the United States as College Students?

Take cover, Lady Liberty!
Take cover, Lady Liberty!

Grassley: GAO Report Reveals Extensive and Alarming Mismanagement

of Foreign Student Program

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released a report from the Government Accountability Office that shows serious integrity issues with the Optional Practical Training program.

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows foreign students to obtain temporary work in their major area of study during and after completing an academic program in the United States.  The number of students approved annually for this program has more than quadrupled in the last six years.

 

Grassley requested the Government Accountability Office report after hearing concerns that employers were targeting foreign students with OPT status and learning that there was an atypical upward trend in participation.  The report is a follow-on to previous studies about the Student Exchange Visitor Program, which the GAO has evaluated and found serious flaws for several years.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassley wrote, “The GAO report reveals extensive and alarming DHS mismanagement of the OPT program, proving serious program integrity issues that bring to light potential risks to national security.  I’m writing today to ask that you place an immediate moratorium on the program until these serious problems are fixed.”

The report highlights several deficiencies in the program.

  • ·         Foreign students, sometimes aided by school officials, are currently abusing the OPT program to acquire unauthorized employment in the United States.
  • ·         The federal government does not know where tens of thousands of foreign students in the OPT program are located, who they are working for, or what they are doing while staying in the United States.
  • ·         There is a lack of coordination within ICE, inconsistent collection of information by ICE, and inadequate monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure program compliance.

 

 

‘Free Pass’? Lawmakers say administration flouting law by releasing asylum seekers

Over ten-thousand per month.
Over ten-thousand per month.

Republican lawmakers have  accused the Obama administration of flouting the law by releasing asylum seekers into the community while their cases are being heard, on the heels of a controversial new directive that raised security concerns about the asylum system.

“It is apparent that the rule of law is being ignored,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said Tuesday, speaking generally about the asylum system.

Lawmakers, though, specifically cited a newly uncovered Immigration and Customs Enforcement document that showed thousands of asylum seekers were released while awaiting a decision. The document, obtained and reviewed by FoxNews.com, showed that in fiscal 2012, just 2,508 of the more than 24,000 asylum seekers were kept in custody.

Goodlatte, in a written statement, argued that the administration is violating laws that “require detaining certain individuals seeking asylum.”

“These laws are in place to allow immigration authorities to expeditiously determine whether the individual in question is truly facing persecution or trying to game the system, and to prevent bad actors from being released into our communities,” he said. “Because our immigration laws are so loosely enforced by the Obama administration, we should not be surprised to see so much fraud in the system.”

The ICE document showed that a total of 22,000 were released that year, though a few thousand were actually deported and a small percentage had their asylum requests granted. But thousands more were released on bond, released under supervision, or released under some other status. The document also indicates that officials may have lost track of some asylum seekers. Several hundred individuals are listed in a category that includes people who escaped.

The cases are scattered all over the country, but concentrated in cities near the southern border, like Phoenix and San Antonio.

More asylum seekers have been released following a 2009 ICE directive encouraging officials to not detain those who claim to face a “credible fear” of harm in their home countries, provided they present “neither a flight risk nor danger to the community.”

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies with the Center for Immigration Studies, acknowledged the law allows certain individuals to be released on a case-by-case basis but said the administration has broadly interpreted those provisions.

“This is another example of them abusing discretion that’s given to them under the law, that’s supposed to be used very rarely,” she said. Vaughan said CIS’ own estimates show that many asylum seekers don’t show up for hearings after they’ve been released, raising concern that they could drop off the map.

The asylum report comes after the Obama administration last week unilaterally eased restrictions on asylum and refugee-status seekers with loose or incidental ties to terror and insurgent groups.

The change was approved by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry. It would allow some individuals who provided “limited material support” to terror groups to be considered for entry into the U.S.

Supporters of the change, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., argued that the current ban on anyone who has ever aided terrorists has unfairly blocked thousands of refugees.

A Department of Homeland Security official said these individuals have been “adversely affected by the broad terrorism bars of” the law, and offered several examples of how the change might help otherwise innocent refugees — including a restaurant owner who served food to an opposition group or a Syrian refugee who paid an opposition group to get out of the country.

But Republican lawmakers said the change raises security concerns, and cited a separate 2009 report that took a look at 2005 cases and found up to 70 percent of them showed signs of possible fraud.

“An overwhelming amount of fraud exists in the process,” Goodlatte said Tuesday, claiming many individuals are seeking a “free pass.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., though, downplayed the findings given how dated they are, and said it’s a “gross mischaracterization” to say the system is rife with fraud