Jessica Vaughan's blog

Director of Policy Studies


Contact - Biography - Publications - Twitter

Rounding Up Criminal Aliens
The easy way and the hard way

By Jessica Vaughan, September 3, 2015
The easy way and the hard way

Last week, ICE officers in California took to the streets for four days to round up 244 criminal aliens in six southern California counties. Billed by ICE as a "fugitive operation", as if these criminal aliens had fled from the law, in fact this was really a mop-up action necessitated by the release of these offenders under California's sanctuary policy. If the number of non-cooperative jurisdictions continues to grow (there are now more than 310), and Congress does not take action, ICE increasingly will be obliged to do its important work in this manner. And that's the way the Obama administration wants immigration enforcement to be: inefficient, expensive, and frightening to immigrants. But it doesn't have to be this way. Read more...

Concerns About the New Priority Enforcement Program

By Jessica Vaughan, August 6, 2015

Remarks of Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies, Center for Immigration Studies

Press Conference hosted by the Texas Sheriffs Association, State Capitol, Austin

August 5, 2015

The implementation of ICE's new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) is a major setback to rule of law in our country. It further scales back immigration enforcement by ICE and it explicitly facilitates sanctuary jurisdictions in obstructing ICE efforts to take custody of criminal aliens. This has enormous implications for public safety in Texas. Read more...

Here to Stay
Court statistics reveal Obama policy on surge crossers is a failure

By Jessica Vaughan, June 26, 2015
Court statistics reveal Obama policy on surge crossers is a failure

Most of the illegal border crossers from Central America who arrived in last year's surge have skipped out on their hearings, according to immigration court statistics obtained by Fox News. Only about 1 percent of the total have been awarded legal status or relief from deportation by immigration judges, but a significant number (37 percent) of the unaccompanied juvenile arrivals have had their cases closed or terminated, which indicates that they most likely also will be allowed to avoid deportation. In spite of these facts, yesterday the Obama administration announced that it will release the few illegal crossers who were detained, as well as any new arrivals who "state a claim" for asylum. Read more...

Vast Ramifications in Senate Obamatrade Vote Tuesday

By Jessica Vaughan, June 22, 2015

Tomorrow the Senate will have to vote again whether to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements that will have an enormous impact on the U.S. economy and future job prospects for U.S. workers — and significantly constrain congressional authority over U.S. immigration policy. Read more...

Senators Vote to Allow Visa Waivers for Poland

By Jessica Vaughan, June 22, 2015

On Thursday, a Senate committee voted to add Poland to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at the request of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), despite the fact that Poland has too high a visa refusal rate to participate. Expanding this risky program to unqualified countries at a time when immigration laws are not enforced, particularly against visa overstayers, would only invite even more illegal immigration.

The measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee as an amendment to the Senate's version of the DHS appropriations bill (the House version has not yet been finalized). Read more...

The Non-Deported: ICE Still Releasing Criminal Aliens at a Rapid Pace

By Jessica Vaughan, May 28, 2015

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published an investigative report on violent criminals released by ICE. Aptly titled "Convicted, but free to roam: Giving little notice, federal authorities have released thousands of detained undeportable immigrants — sometimes with grave results", the article tells the story of a rapist and a murderer turned loose by ICE. Such criminal alien releases are continuing at an alarming pace in 2015. Read more...

President's Policing Task Force Targets Immigration Enforcement

By Jessica Vaughan, May 21, 2015

The president's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was formed in the wake of Ferguson and other controversial policing events last year (none of which had anything to do with immigration), unfortunately has become another opportunity for anti-immigration enforcement activists to fabricate "mainstream" support for the continued crippling of DHS enforcement agencies by the Obama administration. Read more...

Myths about LA County's Successful 287(g) Program

By Jessica Vaughan, May 11, 2015

On Tuesday, May 12, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a proposal to end its longstanding and successful 287(g) partnership with ICE, which is one of the largest in the country. Activists for illegal aliens are pulling out all the stops to pressure the board members to cancel the program and have sent a barrage of emails and phone calls in favor of fewer criminal alien deportations. Read more...

Free Trade, Not Free Admission of Workers

By Jessica Vaughan, May 5, 2015

Trade agreements, the trade negotiating process, and trade pact approval measures (i.e. "fast track" authority) all must be carefully monitored to ensure that the trade deals do not cause increases in admissions of foreign workers or erode congressional authority over visa rules. The current fast-track proposal (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would have Congress surrender its authority over guestworker policies to the executive branch and its trade negotiators and ultimately to international trade tribunals. This means that we would be stuck with the dysfunctional guestworker programs that we now have and kept on a one-way street allowing only more access for foreign workers to U.S. jobs, with no means to reverse direction. Read more...

Waiting List for Legal Immigrant Visas Keeps Growing

By Jessica Vaughan, April 16, 2015

More than 4.4 million people are on the legal immigrant visa waiting list according to the State Department's annual tally. That is 100,085 more people waiting for legal immigrant visas than at the same time last year. Ninety-eight percent of those waiting have been sponsored by a family member in the United States. Read more...

Influx of Central American Teen and Family Arrivals Continues

By Jessica Vaughan, March 31, 2015

More than 2,000 illegal alien juveniles have been apprehended and taken into federal custody in each of the last several months, according to DHS statistics. While Obama administration officials emphasize that these numbers are lower than last year, they are still the second highest level ever for arrests of illegal alien minors, about midway between 2013 and 2014 levels. Most of those apprehended are male teenagers, with the largest number from Guatemala. Read more...

New Data Show Immigrant Gang Arrests
Disproportionately associated with the most violent Central American gangs

By Jessica Vaughan, March 27, 2015
Disproportionately associated with the most violent Central American gangs

Violent immigrant and transnational gangs such as MS-13, the Sureños, and 18th Street continue to present a significant public safety threat in many parts of the United States, according to arrest records released by ICE to the Center for Immigration Studies.

In 2013 (the most recent year available), ICE arrested significant numbers of gang members in California, Texas, Chicago, and the New York City and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas. Large concentrations also were arrested by ICE agents in Atlanta, Charlotte, and south Florida. Read more...

USCIS Favors Illegal Alien Applicants over Americans and Legal Immigrants

By Jessica Vaughan, March 12, 2015

A USCIS document provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee details exactly which categories of legal immigrants were disadvantaged by the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the amnesty for the so-called illegal alien "Dreamers". The document reveals that processing of most applications for legal immigration benefits, including the highest priority family categories, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, were de-emphasized so that the agency could instead focus on approving the DACA applications. Read more...

Senate Hearing Exposes Billion-Dollar Amnesty Slush Fund and Other USCIS Improprieties

By Jessica Vaughan, March 6, 2015

On Tuesday, March 3, three senior USCIS managers appeared before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to answer questions about the agency's implementation of the president's executive amnesties, the latest (and largest) of which is now held up by a legal challenge from 26 states. Read more...

Correction: Number of Work Permits Was Actually 7.4 Million

By Jessica Vaughan, February 9, 2015

According to government statistics obtained from USCIS through a FOIA request, the total number of work permits issued by USCIS from 2009 to 2014 is 7.4 million. Due to a spreadsheet error, my original report on the encrypted data received from USCIS incorrectly stated that the total number of work permits issued in these years was 5.5 million. We regret the error. Read more...

The Human Cost of "Prosecutorial Discretion"

By Jessica Vaughan, January 28, 2015

An illegal alien now under arrest for murdering a 21-year-old convenience store clerk in Mesa, Ariz., on January 22, 2015, was previously in ICE custody in 2013 after a drug- and gang-related felony burglary conviction, but was released on bond after just a few days. This incident tragically illustrates the human cost of the Obama administration's "prosecutorial discretion" policies, otherwise known as "catch and release".

ICE says in a statement that it offered the man, Apolinar Altamirano, release on bond pending a deportation hearing (that still has not taken place two years later), because he had "only" the one felony burglary conviction. It seems that not even all felons are considered to be eligible for enforcement, despite ICE's insistence that it is focused like a laser on removing aliens with criminal convictions, with even "non-violent" felons supposedly ranked as a high priority for deportation, and the president's insistence that the focus is on "Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who's working hard to provide for her kids." (Emphasis added.) As my colleague Jon Feere has said, it appears that bloodshed is a prerequisite for immigration enforcement these days. Read more...

House Border Bill Advances Without Improvement
Scraps Border Fencing, Delays Biometric, Preserves Catch-and-Release, Allows Work Permits for Border-Crossers

By Jessica Vaughan, January 24, 2015
Scraps Border Fencing, Delays Biometric, Preserves Catch-and-Release, Allows Work Permits for Border-Crossers

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security committee rubber-stamped Rep. Michael McCaul's flawed border security bill (HR399) without meaningful improvements. The barely-tweaked bill reportedly is scheduled to be considered by the full House next Wednesday, January 28. Read more...

House Border Security Bill Is an Empty Green Suit

By Jessica Vaughan, January 20, 2015

On Wednesday, January 21, the House Homeland Security Committee will take up H.R.399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, introduced by the committee's chairman, Michael McCaul (R-Texas). While this bill is an improvement over the border security bill approved by this committee in the previous Congress and, if implemented, would greatly improve our understanding of what actually goes on at the border and ports of entry, it falls far short of what is needed to slow the flow of illegal immigration and prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals. It proposes to spend $10 billion of taxpayer money without ensuring that a single illegal alien will be sent home. Read more...

ICE Begins Releasing Deportable Aliens to Work in the U.S.

By Jessica Vaughan, January 14, 2015

Most of the attention directed toward the president's executive actions on immigration has been focused on the plan to issue work permits to potentially five million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs). But these are not the only illegal aliens who are getting work permits as part of the executive amnesty. Read more...

Contrary to Administration Claims, Only a Tiny Fraction of 'Surge' Border-Jumpers Deported

By Jessica Vaughan, December 24, 2014

An investigative report by a Houston television station exposed that only a tiny fraction of the families and children who crossed in the border surge of 2012-14 are being returned to their home countries, despite Obama administration claims that the cases are a priority. According to immigration court records obtained by the station, only a few of the illegal family or child arrivals are qualified to stay in the United States, and the vast majority (91 percent) have simply absconded from their proceedings after release and joined the resident illegal population, where they are no longer a priority for enforcement under the new, expanded "prosecutorial discretion" policies. Read more...

House Hearing on Impact of Executive Amnesty

By Jessica Vaughan, December 3, 2014

A few interesting items from yesterday's House Homeland Security Committee hearing with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, entitled "Open Borders: The Impact of Presidential Amnesty on Border Security":

  • Johnson acknowledged under questioning from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that DHS currently has no metrics to measure or evaluate the security of the border or his agencies' success in stemming illegal immigration. One obvious metric should be the size of the illegal alien population. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the size of the illegal population peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, declined to 11.3 million by 2009, and has budged little since then. In light of these trends, it's hard to argue that any progress has been made under the Obama administration.

Blue Light Special on Naturalization to Help Fund Obama's Amnesty

By Jessica Vaughan, November 20, 2014

11/21/14 Update: In one of a series of memos released Thursday night providing the details on the president's executive amnesty plan, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson stated that the plan to offer discounted naturalization to low-income applicants would not be implemented at this time, apparently because USCIS leaders said that the agency couldn't afford it. The memo is available here. Read more...

Who Might Benefit from Executive Amnesty?

By Jessica Vaughan, November 17, 2014

The marquee item in the president's planned executive amnesty reportedly will be legalization and work permits for several million illegal aliens who are the parents of U.S. citizen or legally resident children. Pro-amnesty advocates obviously are calculating that the public will find this group sympathetic and appropriate beneficiaries who should not be a target for deportation – but are they really?

Let's take a look at some cases of illegal aliens who would qualify. Read more...

President Will Ignore Democratic Process and Amnesty 5 Million

By Jessica Vaughan, November 13, 2014

The executive actions reportedly planned by President Obama, as outlined by Fox News, are shocking in their scope and disregard for the well-being of Americans, not to mention their contempt for the democratic process and the wishes of the public. It is not an overhaul of immigration policy, or a set of reforms, but a dismemberment of immigration law. Read more...

Lawsuit by Career ICE Attorney Exposes Obama Anti-Enforcement Campaign

By Jessica Vaughan, November 11, 2014

Last week Patricia Vroom, an attorney with an exemplary 26-year career at ICE filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona that depicts in shocking detail how a tightly-knit band of her superiors apparently bullied her and other career lawyers to force compliance with the Obama administration's immigration enforcement suppression scheme. In addition to describing a hostile work environment spoiled by sexual harassment, threats, insults, and other deplorable behavior of these top managers, Vroom's complaint provides alarming examples of how personnel were told to ignore the law and routinely release and dismiss charges on entire categories of criminal aliens, including certain convicted felons, drunk drivers, DACA applicants, and illegal juveniles from the border surge. Read more...

National Day of Remembrance for Those Killed by Illegal Aliens

By Jessica Vaughan, November 3, 2014

Yesterday was the fourth annual National Day of Remembrance to honor the lives of thousands of Americans killed by illegal aliens. Events were held around the country, organized with the help of The Remembrance Project, a growing national organization dedicated to supporting the families of the victims and educating the public about the human cost of failing to enforce immigration laws.

I attended the Massachusetts Day of Remembrance event in Milford, which was organized by the Project's state director, Maureen Maloney, whose son Matthew Denice was killed in August 2011, just a short distance from the park where the ceremony was held. Read more...

Lax Immigration Policies May Have Shielded Killer of California Deputies

By Jessica Vaughan, October 27, 2014

The man accused in Friday's horrific killing and carjacking spree near Sacramento, Calif., which resulted in the deaths of two sheriff's deputies and the wounding of two others, is a citizen of Mexico who was deported twice previously, but who apparently has been living in the United States for more than a decade. Read more...

Dallas Ebola Patient Was Another Visa Mistake

By Jessica Vaughan, October 1, 2014

Look up "likely visa overstay" in the dictionary, and you should find a picture of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who is the first Ebola case diagnosed within the United States, and who is now being treated in a Dallas hospital.

This looks like another good case for the consular officers training manual of a non-immigrant visa that never should have been issued, but which could have serious public health consequences, not to mention monetary costs. Read more...

Dispatch From "Almost America"

By Jessica Vaughan, September 16, 2014

El Paso – I had to chuckle as I read the first line of a front-page story in the El Paso Times, which I had picked up in the airport on my way home from a conference: "The average Border Patrol agent in El Paso apprehended 4.2 undocumented immigrants [sic] in 2013, according to a presentation made to lawmakers last week by two experts who study the border." Read more...

ICE Deportations Still Plummeting; Catch and Release Continues

By Jessica Vaughan, September 12, 2014

The Associated Press has published figures from ICE's weekly internal metrics showing that immigration enforcement has continued to decline in 2014. But the reasons offered sound more like spin from the DHS or ICE press office, which for years has peddled the tall tale that the Obama administration is tougher than any other on enforcement.

Writes AP immigration writer Alicia Caldwell: Read more...