Suspect In ‘Top Model’ Killing Is One Of Obama’s ‘Dreamer’ Immigrants

Twitter/Mirjana Puhar

An illegal immigrant charged with the first degree murder of a contestant in “America’s Next Top Model” and two others had been granted amnesty under President Obama’s so-called “dreamer” policy.

As reported by Western Journalism, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) sweep conducted earlier this month netted over 2000 illegal immigrants, guilty of criminal activity who were residing in the United States. Among those, 15 were “dreamers” part of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, established by executive order.

Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, (Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., confirmed in a letter released on Friday that Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez also avoided deportation through Obama’s DACA policy. Grassley first raised concerns about Rangel-Hernandez’s status in the country last month in a letter to Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson.

Grassley’s and Tillis’ inquiry revealed that Rangel-Hernandez had been placed in the removal process by ICE following drug charges in 2012, but his proceedings were dismissed in 2013 after his approval for the Obama’s deferral program. The senators noted: “Whistleblowers allege that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application despite knowledge that he was a gang member.”

Rangele-Hernandez and David Ezequel Lopez, both 19, are accused of triple homicide in the deaths of ANTM contestant Mirjana Puhar, 19; her boyfriend, Jonathan Alvarado, 23; and his roommate, Jusmar Isiah Gonzaga-Garcia, 21, on February 24, 2015 at Alvardo’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Daily Mail reported: “James Jackson, stepfather of Alvarado…said robbery was the reason behind the shooting, explaining that Emmanuel Rangel got the wrong impression that Alvarado had a lot of money on hand after he had paid $1,500 for a car the week before.”

Puhar came to the country legally with her family from Serbia after the Kosovo War when she was five. She appeared in the 21st cycle of ANTM, which aired starting last August.

In light of this terrible tragedy, Grassley and Tillis have some pointed questions for DHS Director Johnson:

1. Since DACA’s creation, how many applications have been approved? Please provide the answer by fiscal year.

2. Of the DACA applications approved, please provide the number of applicants that: a. Had known gang affiliation; b. Suspected gang affiliation; c. Had criminal affiliations.

3. Please explain why USCIS approved DACA applications for known or suspected gang members and others with criminal affiliations.

4. By fiscal year, how many DACA applications have been denied because of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation?

5. By fiscal year, please provide the number of DACA terminations as a result of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation.

6. What steps is USCIS taking to ensure that known or suspected gang members or criminally affiliated applicants are denied DACA or approved DACA is terminated once knowledge of gang affiliation or other criminal affiliation is known?

The senators requested a response by the end of the month.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Wolf Is Guarding The Hen House: The Government’s War On Cyberterrorism

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The game is rigged, the network is bugged, the government talks double-speak, the courts are complicit and there’s nothing you can do about it.”—David Kravets, reporting for Wired

Nothing you write, say, text, tweet, or share via phone or computer is private anymore. As constitutional law professor Garrett Epps points out, “Big Brother is watching…. Big Brother may be watching you right now, and you may never know. Since 9/11, our national life has changed forever. Surveillance is the new normal.”

This is the reality of the internet-dependent, plugged-in life of most Americans today.

A process which started shortly after 9/11 with programs such as Total Information Awareness (the predecessor to the government’s present surveillance programs) has grown into a full-fledged campaign of warrantless surveillance, electronic tracking, and data mining, thanks to federal agents who have been given carte blanche access to the vast majority of electronic communications in America. Their methods completely undermine constitution safeguards; and yet no federal agency, president, court, or legislature has stepped up to halt this assault on our rights.

For the most part, surveillance, data mining, etc., is a technological, jargon-laden swamp through which the average American would prefer not to wander. Consequently, most Americans remain relatively oblivious to the government’s ever-expanding surveillance powers, appear unconcerned about the fact that the government is spying on them, and seem untroubled that there is no way of opting out of this system. This state of delirium lasts only until those same individuals find themselves arrested or detained for something they did, said, or bought that runs afoul of the government’s lowering threshold for what constitutes criminal activity.

All the while, Congress, the courts, and the president (starting with George W. Bush and expanding exponentially under Barack Obama) continue to erect an electronic concentration camp the likes of which have never been seen before.

A good case in point is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), formerly known as CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act). Sold to the public as necessary for protecting us against cyber attacks or internet threats such as hacking, this Orwellian exercise in tyranny-masquerading-as-security actually makes it easier for the government to spy on Americans, while officially turning Big Business into a government snitch.

Be warned: this cybersecurity bill is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing or, as longtime critic Senator Ron Wyden labeled it, “a surveillance bill by another name.”

Lacking any significant privacy protections, CISA, which sacrifices privacy without improving security, will do for surveillance what the Patriot Act did for the government’s police powers: it will expand, authorize, and normalize the government’s intrusions into the most intimate aspects of our lives to such an extent that there will be no turning back. In other words, it will ensure that the Fourth Amendment, which protects us against unfounded, warrantless government surveillance, does not apply to the Internet or digital/electronic communications of any kind.

In a nutshell, CISA would make it legal for the government to spy on the citizenry without their knowledge and without a warrant under the guise of fighting cyberterrorism. It would also protect private companies from being sued for sharing your information with the government, namely the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in order to prevent “terrorism” or an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.”

Law enforcement agencies would also be given broad authority to sift through one’s data for any possible crimes. What this means is that you don’t even have to be suspected of a crime to be under surveillance. The bar is set so low as to allow government officials to embark on a fishing expedition into your personal affairs—emails, phone calls, text messages, purchases, banking transactions, etc.—based only on their need to find and fight “crime.”

Take this anything-goes attitude towards government surveillance, combine it with Big Business’ complicity over the government’s blatantly illegal acts, the ongoing trend towards overcriminalization (in which minor acts are treated as major crimes), and the rise of private prisons (which have created a profit motive for jailing Americans); and you have all the makings of a fascist police state.

So who can we count on to protect us from the threat of government surveillance?

It won’t be the courts. Not in an age of secret courts, secret court rulings, and an overall deference by the courts to anything the government claims is necessary to its fight against terrorism. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the government’s massive electronic wiretapping program. As Court reporter Lyle Denniston notes:

Daoud v. United States was the first case, in the nearly four-decade history of electronic spying by the U.S. government to gather foreign intelligence, in which a federal judge had ordered the government to turn over secret papers about how it had obtained evidence through wiretaps of telephones and Internet links.  That order, however, was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, whose ruling was the one the Justices on Monday declined to review…. One of the unusual features of the government’s global electronic spying program is that the individuals whose conversations or e-mails have been monitored almost never hear about it, because the program is so shrouded in secrecy — except when the news media manages to find out some details.  But, if the government plans to use evidence it gathered under that program against a defendant in a criminal trial, it must notify the defendant that he or she has been monitored.

It won’t be Congress, either (CISA is their handiwork, remember), which has failed to do anything to protect the citizenry from an overbearing police state, all the while enabling the government to continue its power grabs. It was Congress that started us down this whole Big Brother road with its passage and subsequent renewals of the USA Patriot Act, which drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights. The Patriot Act rendered First Amendment activists potential terrorists; justified broader domestic surveillance; authorized black bag “sneak-and-peak” searches of homes and offices by government agents; granted the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records, and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allowed the government access to your medical records, school records, and practically every personal record about you; and allowed the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited.

The Patriot Act also gave the government the green light to monitor religious and political institutions with no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they told anyone that the government had subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation; monitor conversations between attorneys and clients; search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without showing probable cause; and jail Americans indefinitely without a trial, among other things.

And it certainly won’t be the president. Indeed, President Obama recently issued an executive order calling on private companies (phone companies, banks, Internet providers, you name it) to share their customer data (your personal data) with each other and, most importantly, the government. Here’s the problem, however: while Obama calls for vague protections for privacy and civil liberties without providing any specific recommendations, he appoints the DHS to oversee the information sharing and develop guidelines with the attorney general for how the government will collect and share the data.

Talk about putting the wolf in charge of the hen house.

Mind you, this is the same agency, rightly dubbed a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast,” that is responsible for militarizing the police, weaponizing SWAT teams, spying on activists, stockpiling ammunition, distributing license plate readers to state police, carrying out military drills in American cities, establishing widespread surveillance networks through the use of fusion centers, funding city-wide surveillance systems, accelerating the domestic use of drones, and generally establishing itself as the nation’s standing army, i.e., a national police force.

This brings me back to the knotty problem of how to protect Americans from cyber attacks without further eroding our privacy rights.

Dependent as we are on computer technology for almost all aspects of our lives, it’s feasible that a cyberattack on American computer networks really could cripple both the nation’s infrastructure and its economy. So do we allow the government liberal powers to control and spy on all electronic communications flowing through the United States? Can we trust the government not to abuse its privileges and respect our privacy rights? Does it even matter, given that we have no real say in the matter?

As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, essentially, there are three camps of thought on the question of how much power the government should have; and which camp you fall into says a lot about your view of government—or, at least, your view of whichever administration happens to be in power at the time, for the time being, the one calling the shots being the Obama administration.

In the first camp are those who trust the government to do the right thing—or, at least, they trust the Obama administration to look out for their best interests. To this group, CISA is simply a desperately needed blueprint for safeguarding us against a possible cyberattack, with a partnership between the government and Big Business serving as the most logical means of thwarting such an attack. Any suggestion that the government and its corporate cohorts might abuse this power is dismissed as conspiratorial hysterics. The problem, as technology reporter Adam Clark Estes points out, is that CISA is a “privacy nightmare” that “stomps all over civil liberties” without making “the country any safer against cyberattacks.”

In the second camp are those who not only don’t trust the government but think the government is out to get them. Sadly, they’ve got good reason to distrust the government, especially when it comes to abusing its powers and violating our rights. For example, consider that government surveillance of innocent Americans has exploded over the past decade. In fact, Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin has concluded that, as a result of its spying and data collection, the U.S. government has more data on American citizens than the Stasi secret police had on East Germans. To those in this second group, CISA is nothing less than the writing on the wall that surveillance is here to stay, meaning that the government will continue to monitor, regulate, and control all means of communications.

Then there’s the third camp, which neither sees government as an angel or a devil, but merely as an entity that needs to be controlled–or as Thomas Jefferson phrased it, bound “down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” A distrust of all who hold governmental power was rife among those who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. James Madison, the nation’s fourth president and the author of the Bill of Rights, was particularly vocal in warning against government. He once observed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”

To those in the third camp, the only way to ensure balance in government is by holding government officials accountable to abiding by the rule of law. Unfortunately, with all branches of the government, including the courts, stridently working to maintain its acquired powers, and the private sector marching in lockstep, there seems to be little to protect the American people from the fast-growing electronic surveillance state.

In the meantime, surveillance has become the new normal; and the effects of this endless surveillance are taking a toll, resulting in a more anxious and submissive citizenry. As Fourth Amendment activist Alex Marthews points out:

Mass surveillance is becoming a punchline. Making it humorous makes mass surveillance seem easy and friendly and a normal part of life…we make uneasy jokes about how we should watch what we say, about the government looking over our shoulders, about cameras and informers and eyes in the sky. Even though we may not in practice think that these agencies pay us any mind, mass surveillance still creates a chilling effect: We limit what we search for online and inhibit expression of controversial viewpoints. This more submissive mentality isn’t a side effect. As far as anyone is able to measure, it’s the main effect of mass surveillance. The effect of such programs is not primarily to thwart attacks by foreign terrorists on U.S. soil; it’s to discourage challenges to the security services’ authority over our lives here at home.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

‘ICE’ Nationwide Criminal Sweep Nets Aliens In Country Thanks To Obama Deferral Plan

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The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) conducted a five-day nationwide sweep for illegal alien criminals, which resulted in the apprehension of 2,059 individuals. The agency reported earlier this week that the sweep, dubbed “Operation Cross Check,” was designed to detain for deportation the agency’s “most wanted” criminal aliens.

The Associated Press reports that among those apprehended, at least 15 had been in the country under a protected status created by President Barack Obama via executive action to shield children, brought to the country illegally years before, from being deported. Fourteen of the 15 had been convicted of crimes, the Homeland Security Department confirmed late Thursday.

A Homeland Security Department official, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said at least one of those 15 had his status renewed by the Obama Administration despite being a convicted felon. No criminal record is supposed to be one of the eligibility requirements for participating in the program.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more than 675,000 young immigrants have been granted a work permit and reprieve from deportation since August of 2012.

Regarding the sweep overall, ICE announced in a press release Monday that Operation Cross Check, conducted from March 1 – 5, led to the apprehension of those convicted criminals “who pose the greatest risk to our public safety.” Of the 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 were known members of gangs or affiliates–and 89 were convicted sex offenders. The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for repeat DUI crimes.

All the targets for the nationwide sweep fell under two top priorities Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson established in a memorandum last November entitled Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants. As stated in the ICE release:

Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets have convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.

The criminals detained during Operation Cross Check, who are not being criminally prosecuted, “will be processed administratively for removal from the United States,” according to ICE.

Last month, a Texas federal district court judge blocked President Obama’s plans to expand the number of those illegal aliens eligible for a protected status from deportation. His administration filed a petition in circuit court seeking to lift the temporary stay on implementing the program.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

DHS Secretary: Administration ‘Should Give Voice To Plight Of Muslims Living In This Country’

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is urging those in government and the administration – amidst the turmoil, persecution, and slaughtering of thousands in the Middle East at the hands of Islamic radicals – to focus on the “plight of Muslims living in this country” and the “discrimination they face.”

“I personally committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face,” Johnson said at the Countering Violent Extremism summit. “And the fact that there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and that the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood.”

h/t: Clash Daily

What do you think? Is the plight of the Muslims here greater than the plight of those suffering in the Middle East? 

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Obama Admin Just Advised Border Agents To Consider Letting Drunk Drivers Go Free

Image Credit: Wiki Commons

As the legal battle rages over President Obama’s now-blocked executive order on amnesty for illegal immigrants, there’s another legal matter that’s stirring controversy for Border Patrol agents in Arizona.

Imagine if these law enforcement officers were told by their superiors — explicitly advised in a written memo — that they could, and possibly should, let drunk drivers go free. In other words, a preferred option for dealing with intoxicated drivers whom those agents stop would be…to let them keep on driving, even if they pose a serious safety risk to themselves or to others.

You don’t need to imagine such an unthinkable scenario — it’s apparently a reality, one that appears to be an offshoot of the Obama administration’s argument about exercising “prosecutorial discretion” at the border.

According to a Fox News report on a memo obtained by the ever-vigilant Judicial Watch: “The Obama administration is telling Customs and Border Protection agents in a busy stretch of the U.S.-Mexico crossing that they don’t have to arrest intoxicated drivers, sparking backlash from advocacy groups and others.”

Of the three options the advisory from Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) presents to border agents in the Tucson, Arizona, region, the recommended alternative for dealing with drunk drivers is to simply let them go on their way. This advisory apparently pertains to encounters with both illegals immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.

The reason DHS reportedly gives for the “let the drunks” go advice, says the Fox News post, is to try to keep the Border Protection agents out of legal trouble.

The advisory makes clear agents have no legal obligation to intervene in state crimes and that with the third option, “there is generally no liability that will attach to the agent or agency for failing to act in this situation.”

The bulletin, reviewed by FoxNews.com, goes so far as to say agents wouldn’t be liable if they allow the driver “to continue down the road and they kill someone.”

The president of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, believes the DHS advisory to be more about politics than protection for the border agents. But whatever the reason for it, says Fitton, the policy hurts public safety.

“’Families across America are now at risk on the roads, as President Obama and his appointees at the Department of Homeland Security have given illegal aliens a license to drive drunk,’ he said.”

MADD — Mothers Against Drunk Driving — is also mad about the DHS memo and its implications. The Fox News report quotes the president of the organization as saying that all law enforcement officers — no matter who they are or for which agency they work — should follow “standard procedures” when they encounter a drunk driver.

“’Law enforcement is the first line of defense in preventing drunk and drugged driving, and their efforts are crucial to keep our roadways safe.’”

h/t: Fox News

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom