Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups (White House Denied This Report — DHS confirms it is 100% false)

February 17, 2017

Trump weighs mobilizing Nat Guard for immigration roundups

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the AP report was “100 percent not sure” and “irresponsible.” ”There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants,” he said.

Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact could be significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump’s executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Spokespeople for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that President Barack Obama’s administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump’s executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops’ stated role on the border at the time was to provide extra sets of eyes but not make arrests.

Bush initiated the federal 287(g) program — named for a section of a 1996 immigration law — to allow specially trained local law enforcement officials to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and check whether people held in local jails were in the country illegally. ICE trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out those checks from 2006 to 2015.

The memo describes the program as a “highly successful force multiplier” that identified more than 402,000 “removable aliens.”

But federal watchdogs were critical of how DHS ran the program, saying it was poorly supervised and provided insufficient training to officers, including on civil rights law. Obama phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013 to instead focus on deporting recent border crossers and immigrants in the country illegally who posed a safety or national security threat.

Trump’s immigration strategy emerges as detentions at the nation’s southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, the arrest tally was the fifth-lowest since 1972. Deportations of people living in the U.S. illegally also increased under the Obama administration, though Republicans criticized Obama for setting prosecution guidelines that spared some groups from the threat of deportation, including those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people around the country in what Kelly said were routine, targeted operations; advocates called the actions stepped-up enforcement under Trump.

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The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

Follow Garance Burke on Twitter at @garanceburke

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– The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four —  Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the AP report was “100 percent not sure” and “irresponsible.” “There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants,” he said.

Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact could be significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump’s executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Spokespeople for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that President Barack Obama’s administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump’s executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops’ stated role on the border at the time was to provide extra sets of eyes but not make arrests.

Bush initiated the federal 287(g) program — named for a section of a 1996 immigration law — to allow specially trained local law enforcement officials to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and check whether people held in local jails were in the country illegally. ICE trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out those checks from 2006 to 2015.

The memo describes the program as a “highly successful force multiplier” that identified more than 402,000 “removable aliens.”

But federal watchdogs were critical of how DHS ran the program, saying it was poorly supervised and provided insufficient training to officers, including on civil rights law. Obama phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013 to instead focus on deporting recent border crossers and immigrants in the country illegally who posed a safety or national security threat.

Trump’s immigration strategy emerges as detentions at the nation’s southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, the arrest tally was the fifth-lowest since 1972. Deportations of people living in the U.S. illegally also increased under the Obama administration, though Republicans criticized Obama for setting prosecution guidelines that spared some groups from the threat of deportation, including those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people around the country in what Kelly said were routine, targeted operations; advocates called the actions stepped-up enforcement under Trump.

Hundreds of immigrants arrested in ‘routine’ U.S. enforcement surge

February 11, 2017

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on February 7, 2017. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS
By Sharon Bernstein and Kristina Cooke —  Reuters

U.S. federal immigration agents arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least four states this week in what officials on Friday called routine enforcement actions.

Reports of immigration sweeps this week sparked concern among immigration advocates and families, coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations. That order is currently on hold.

“The fear coursing through immigrant homes and the native-born Americans who love immigrants as friends and family is palpable,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “Reports of raids in immigrant communities are a grave concern.”

The enforcement actions took place in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and surrounding areas, said David Marin, director of enforcement and removal for the Los Angeles field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Only five of 161 people arrested in Southern California would not have been enforcement priorities under the Obama administration, he said.

The agency did not release a total number of detainees. The Atlanta office, which covers three states, arrested 200 people, Bryan Cox, a spokesman for the office, said. The 161 arrests in the Los Angeles area were made in a region that included seven highly populated counties, Marin said.

Marin called the five-day operation an “enforcement surge.”

In a conference call with reporters, he said that such actions were routine, pointing to one last summer in Los Angeles under former President Barack Obama.

“The rash of these recent reports about ICE checkpoints and random sweeps, that’s all false and that’s dangerous and irresponsible,” Marin said. “Reports like that create a panic.”

He said that of the people arrested in Southern California, only 10 did not have criminal records. Of those, five had prior deportation orders.

Michael Kagan, a professor of immigration law at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, said immigration advocates are concerned that the arrests could signal the beginning of more aggressive enforcement and increased deportations under Trump.

“It sounds as if the majority are people who would have been priorities under Obama as well,” Kagan said in a telephone interview. “But the others may indicate the first edge of a new wave of arrests and deportations.”

Trump recently broadened the categories of people who could be targeted for immigration enforcement to anyone who had been charged with a crime, removing an Obama-era exception for people convicted of traffic misdemeanors, Kagan said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler)

Related:

Trump Administration Begins Deportation Raids Across the U.S.

February 11, 2017

Hundreds of people are detained as president proceeds with promised immigration crackdown

Guatemalan immigrants deported from the United States arrive on an ICE deportation flight on Feb. 9.  Getty Images

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Updated Feb. 10, 2017 8:04 p.m. ET

Ramped-up immigration enforcement in several cities this week has resulted in the detention of hundreds or more people in the country unlawfully, according to attorneys and advocacy groups, who said they expected most of them to be deported.

Illegal immigrants were rounded up in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; and across southern California, among others, they said.

President Donald Trump set an ambitious course when he took office through a series of executive orders, promising to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, suspend the refugee program and pause the admittance of foreign nationals from certain countries.

But his plans hit a roadblock when Seattle judge federal judges halted his travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations considered a terror threat, and the decision was upheld by the Ninth Circuit court this week.

Still, that didn’t prevent Mr. Trump from rolling out enforcement of a separate executive order targeting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the five-day enforcement “surge” began Monday and concluded midday Friday. Officials confirmed action in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, though they didn’t dispute that the operation was also under way in other cities.

“This operation is on par with similar operations we have done in the past,” said David Marin, field office director for ICE in Los Angeles, in reference to southern California.

He declined to say whether ICE offices around the country had coordinated a multicity enforcement action. He also declined to discuss President Trump’s executive order.

The agency said 160 foreigners were arrested in six Los Angeles-area counties this week, and said about 150 of them had criminal histories. Of the 10 others, five had been given final orders of removal or had previously been deported, ICE said.

ICE highlighted cases of several people suspected or convicted of serious crimes, including a Salvadoran national arrested in Huntington Park, Calif., who is wanted in El Salvador for aggravated extortion, a Brazilian arrested in Los Angeles who is wanted in Brazil for cocaine trafficking, and an Australian national taken into custody in West Hollywood who was previously convicted of “lewd and lascivious acts with a child.”

Administration officials said the enforcement was similar to regular operations during the Obama administration but that their lists of targets were drawn up based on the criteria outlined in an executive order signed by Mr. Trump. That order expanded the definition of who is considered a priority for deportation beyond the rules used during the final years of the Obama administration.

Now, people convicted of minor crimes, people charged but not convicted and others who officers believe threaten public safety are all prioritized for deportation. Officials said most of the people targeted this week would have been subject to deportation under the Obama administration, which prioritized people with serious criminal records. But it is likely that at least some others with lesser offenses were included as well.

In addition, one official said, it is likely that enforcement agents encountered people in the U.S. illegally during the enforcement action who weren’t targets but who were nonetheless taken into custody. Some of those people probably wouldn’t have been subject to deportation under the Obama rules.

That encompasses immigrants charged with crimes that haven’t yet been adjudicated; who improperly received a government benefit; used a fake ID to secure work and were caught driving without a license. Those who lied on applications and forms are also targets, according to the order.

Out of the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. about 8 million participate in the economy. Many of them have used made-up Social Security numbers and lied about their status on federal forms to secure jobs, immigration experts say, though specific numbers are hard to come by.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to immediately focus on deporting two million to three million immigrants who he says are criminals. The Migration Policy Institute estimated in 2015 that 820,000 have a criminal conviction.

Lawyers said Friday that many of their clients who were detained had an outstanding removal order, because they had skipped a court day or evaded a deportation order. These immigrants weren’t previously a priority for removal, if they had been living in the interior of the country for an extended period and not committed a crime.

Tin Nguyen, an immigration attorney in Charlotte, N.C., said he has been flooded with calls. He said several immigrants whose families had contacted him Thursday for legal representation had been transferred to a larger immigration detention center in Georgia by the time he tried to meet them at a local facility Friday.

Immigration agents, sometimes backed by local police, arrested people in cars, inside their homes and at work sites, attorneys and advocates said.

Stephanie Gharakhanian, an attorney in Austin with the pro-immigrant Workers Defense Project, said activity by federal immigration authorities went “above and beyond what we have seen in the past.”

“ICE is showing up at people’s homes, showing up at places of businesses. This level of ICE activity in the community is absolutely unprecedented,” she said.

Robin Hvidston, president of We the People Rising, a group based in Claremont, Calif., which advocates for a stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, said she was supportive of the actions because they were targeting “criminal aliens.” She pointed to the statements from ICE that said it arrested people who had committed crimes against children and other felonies.

“It is just a matter of keeping our communities safe, and just a part of Trump fulfilling his campaign pledge to make American safe again,” she said. “This is about public safety, it is about the removal of criminal aliens from our state and this country.”

Only five of 161 people arrested in Southern California would not have been enforcement priorities under the Obama administration, an ICE official said. ICE agents are seen above during an arrest in Los Angeles on Tuesday

Only five of 161 people arrested in Southern California would not have been enforcement priorities under the Obama administration, an ICE official said. ICE agents are seen above during an arrest in Los Angeles on Tuesday

Photo Souce: — Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4214036/Hundreds-immigrants-arrested-routine-U-S-enforcement-surge.html#ixzz4YNUTlFBe
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In Los Angeles, a coalition of civil-rights, interfaith and pro-bono attorneys has formed a “raid rapid response network” due to the escalated enforcement.

“This cannot be the new normal, and we will fight back,” said Angelica Salas , executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

She said the organization had received an unprecedented number of reports from lawyers and community members reporting detentions Wednesday.

At a news conference, Marlene Mosqueda said her father, Manuel, was arrested when ICE agents came looking for another person in his building complex. He is undocumented but has no criminal record. Later, when an attorney intervened, he was pulled off a deportation bus, she said.

“This proves that Donald Trump was pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes talking about targeting criminals and in fact is focusing on separating families,” said California state Senate leader Kevin de León.

“There is nothing to complain about here,” said Dave Ray, director of communications, for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports immigration enforcement measures. “The vast majority of those detained today were targeted because they have criminal histories and prior felony convictions, some of them very serious.”

ICE officials highlighted that its agents carry out targeted operations on a continuing basis. For example, five separate operations in New Jersey, New York, the Mid-Atlantic states and Virginia resulted in the arrest of more than 350 people between August and December 2016.

“Obama did these for eight years,” said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta immigration lawyer and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “The difference now is that they are picking up others who might just be undocumented who happen to be in the residence or neighborhood when agents shows up.”

Write to Miriam Jordan at miriam.jordan@wsj.com , Alejandro Lazo at alejandro.lazo@wsj.com and Laura Meckler at laura.meckler@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-begins-deportation-raids-across-the-u-s-1486771279

Related:

Hundreds of illegal immigrants arrested across six states this week in what officials say are ‘routine’ roundups of people who would also have been detained under Obama

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Trump’s Deportation Force Begins Raids on Undocumented Immigrants

The White House says it’s business as usual, but critics say ICE’s raids are a major change—and might just be the beginning.

Betsy Woodruff

BETSY WOODRUFF

02.11.17 12:01 AM ET

President Donald Trump’s deportation force promise may be coming true.

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Over the last five days, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted what they call an “enforcement surge” in the Los Angeles area, arresting more than 160 undocumented immigrants. Immigrants’ rights groups and lawyers told The Daily Beast that ICE also increased its enforcement activities—including, in some cases, in apartment buildings—in a number of cities around the country, including Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Austin.

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ICE officials and the White House say this is normal. Activists, lawyers, and members of Congress say it’s a major change—and likely just the beginning.

No automatic alt text available.

“The muscle to do this kind of stuff is here—it’s just that the leash has been taken off,” said Sarah Owings, an immigration attorney in Atlanta. “They’re out and they’re hunting.”

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Owings said upward of 40 undocumented immigrants have been detained in the Savanna, Georgia, area over the last two days, according to the family of an undocumented immigrant currently detained there. And she said she knows of two apartment complexes with high concentrations of Latino residents where ICE officers went door-to-door looking for specific individuals. When people opened their doors, Owings said, the ICE officers would ask everyone present to show proof that they were in the United States legally.

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“They’re picking up and rounding up anyone they can get,” she said.

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In a statement, an ICE spokesperson criticized recent media coverage of the Los Angeles apprehensions.

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“The rash of recent reports about purported ICE checkpoints and random sweeps are false, dangerous, and irresponsible,” the spokesperson said. “These reports create panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Individuals who falsely report such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support.”

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On Feb. 9, an ICE official told reporters on background that reports the agency arrested 100 people in the Los Angeles area that day were “grossly exaggerated.” Virginia Kice, an ICE spokesperson, told The Daily Beast there were 38 arrests in the L.A. area that day.

Kice and Michael Short, a White House senior assistant press secretary, both told The Daily Beast that the enforcement activities were routine.

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Many immigration activists and Capitol Hill Democrats say they doubt that. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, told The Daily Beast that among his conference, there’s “not much” confidence in the agency’s statements. And Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership—a group based in Austin that opposes immigrant detention and deportation—said he suspected the agency may have targeted Austin because of frustration over the county sheriff’s recently announced refusal to comply with ICE’s detainer requests.

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Libal said his group estimates that about two dozen undocumented immigrants have been arrested by ICE agents on Feb. 9 and 10.

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“We have a deportation defense hotline and it’s ringing off the hook,” he said.

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He added that he wasn’t aware of a time in recent memory when that many undocumented immigrants were arrested in Austin in such a short period of time.

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“This is a level of intimidation that seems new,” he said. “And our community is not going to be intimidated.

“It very much feels retaliatory,” he added. “It feels like a vicious attack.”

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Grijalva said he thought the enforcement surge may be a response to Trump’s recent defeat in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel moved unanimously to block enforcement of his travel ban.

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“Every time he gets hit politically, like in the 9th Circuit, his reaction is to go back to that mantra and use it and use it,” Grijalva said, of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during the campaign. “Except now it’s not campaign rhetoric.

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“I’m not a conspiracy-theory person,” he added. “But it walks like a duck. It’s gotta be a duck.”

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Short said that’s completely wrong.

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“They are routine, enforcement operations targeting criminals,” Short said. “Rep. Grijalva’s comments couldn’t be further from the truth.”

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Kice said ICE’s enforcement activities are motivated solely by public safety and law enforcement concerns.

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“Our enforcement operations are lead-driven and they are targeted,” she said.

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And David Marin, who helps head ICE’s Los Angeles field office, told reporters on a conference call on Friday evening that the L.A. enforcement activity was “nothing out of the ordinary.”

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“These are targeted enforcement operations, nothing different than what we’ve been doing for the past five, six, seven years,” he said.

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Immigration activists point to one of Trump’s first executive orders as the impetus behind the enforcement surge. In a blog post, Azadeh Erfani of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition wrote that the president’s Jan. 25 executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” made upward of 8 million undocumented immigrants top priorities for deportation.

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“Our immigrant community likely will experience the paradox of being both at the margins of society and the target of law enforcement,” Erfani wrote.

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Trump hasn’t kept all his immigration-crackdown campaign promises; despite making it a key campaign issue, the president has yet to undo the temporary deportation protections that President Barack Obama made available to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

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A staffer for a Democratic congressional office that frequently criticized the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement practices said the week’s enforcement uptick was uniquely concerning. He said that though the ICE conducted raids that resulted in dozens of arrests during Obama’s presidency, this particular surge worries activists because it’s happening in so many cities around the country at the same time and in the wake of Trump’s executive order. Some Hill Democrats worry this could be the new normal, he added.

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Owings said she shares that concern—to a limit.

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“It will happen until the beds are full,” she said. “They’ll have to stop at some point, right?”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/11/trump-s-deportation-force-begins-raids-on-undocumented-immigrants.html

20,000 illegals with criminal convictions released into U.S. communities in 2015 — 86,000 in three years

April 29, 2016
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Homeland Security has made some gains in detaining criminal aliens but still released into the community
– The Washington Times – Wednesday, April 27, 2016
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Homeland Security has made some gains in detaining criminal aliens but still released into the community nearly 20,000 immigrants last year who’d already been convicted of crimes — including hundreds charges with sexual assault, kidnapping or homicide — according to figures sent to Congress this week.

Between them the aliens notched a total of 64,000 crimes, including 12,307 drunken driving convictions, 1,728 cases of assault, 216 kidnappings and more than 200 homicide or manslaughter convictions, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform ahead of a hearing Thursday.

“These are not just numbers. These are individuals in this country illegally who were arrested, prosecuted and convicted. But instead of removing these criminals, ICE put them back on American streets,” said Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz.

Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah


SEE ALSO: Donald Trump planning to give immigration policy speech soon


One of those released by ICE in 2015, Haitian illegal immigrant Jean Jacques, would go on to kill a young woman in Connecticut just months later, stabbing Casey Chadwick to death. Her mother, Wendy Hartling, will testify to the Oversight Committee alongside relatives of other victims of illegal immigrants’ crimes.

Jacques had previously served time for attempted murder and was supposed to have been deported after that. But ICE officials said he wouldn’t produce documents proving his identity, and Haiti refused to accept him without those documents. ICE said it had to release him instead.

Those kinds of releases have been a black eye for the administration in recent years, with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana saying they need to do a better job of keeping serious criminals in custody as they await deportation.

And they have made some strides, reducing the number of criminal aliens released from 36,007 in 2013 to 30,558 in 2014, and then cutting the number by more than 10,000 last year.

About half of those released in 2015 were ordered set free on bond by immigration judges — folks over whom ICE says it has no control. Another 2,000 were released to comply with a 2001 Supreme Court decision putting a six-month cap on how long immigrants can be held in detention absent extenuating circumstances.

Kathryn Steinle

“The release of aliens on bond is clearly provided for by statute, and it would not be permissible for DHS to categorically prohibit the release of certain aliens who are not subject to mandatory detention under [the Immigration and Nationality Act], and who do not pose a risk to public safety or a flight risk,” ICE told the Oversight Committee in a memo laying out the numbers.

In 89 other cases, the administration couldn’t arrange travel documents to ship someone back home in time — such as in the case of Jacques.

But in more than 7,000 cases, ICE said the releases were done at its own discretion. Those are the cases that most irk lawmakers, who wonder why anyone with a criminal conviction on his or her record is allowed to walk back into the community.

ICE insists it still takes steps to keep tabs on the criminals it releases, including using electronic monitoring or requiring them to regularly check in with immigration officers to make sure they’re keeping their noses clean.

Immigrant rights advocates say immigrants break the law at a lower rate than the native-born, and accuse Republicans of tarring the whole community for the actions of a few.

Those who favor a crackdown, however, say it’s impossible to excuse illegal immigrants who commit crimes, since, if the government did its job, they never would have been in the country to commit those crimes in the first place.

The issue exploded onto front pages last summer with the death of Kathryn Steinle, who was shot while walking the San Francisco waterfront with her father. The illegal immigrant charged with her killing had been repeatedly deported but had snuck back into the U.S. and was free under San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

Then, earlier this year, Sarah Root, a 21-year-old woman from Iowa, was killed in Omaha, Nebraska, and police blamed an illegal immigrant they said was drag racing while drunk. Police tried to get ICE to hold the man, Eswin Mejia, but agents refused to pick him up, and he has now skipped out on his bond and is a fugitive.

ICE has struggled to explain that incident, with the agency first saying it was following President Obama’s policies. More recently, Ms. Saldana said that wasn’t true and that agents in the field made a mistake.

Mr. Mejia entered the U.S. as part of the surge of illegal immigrant children who were caught at the border over the last few years and who, under Obama administration policies, were sent to live with relatives rather than quickly deported.

In Mr. Mejia’s case, he was placed with his brother, also an illegal immigrant, who was already here.

In a letter to administration officials this week, senators demanded to know what steps the government takes to make sure it’s placing children with proper custodians, and whether social workers follow up to make sure the children are getting the right care.

Scott Root, the young woman’s father, is scheduled to testify to the Oversight Committee on Thursday alongside Ms. Hartling and Ms. Saldana.

“The common thread among the stories we are going to hear today is that each of them was preventable,” Mr. Chaffetz said in the prepared statement he will deliver at the hearing. “If ICE had only followed the law, it is highly likely these witnesses would not be sitting here today grieving the loss of a loved one.”

***************************************

On Thursday’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” on the Fox News Channel, House Oversight Committee Chairman

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) blasted the Department of Homeland Security for releasing illegal immigrants who have committed crimes, stating, “you name the violent crime, they have released them back out in the public,” that DHS wants to house fewer criminal illegal immigrants than they have the capacity for, tried to “reprogram” money that is allocated for deportations, and even wanted to give that money back rather than deport people.

Chaffetz said that the illegal immigrants released have committed “everything from homicide, to DUIs, to assault, to sexual battery, to — I mean, you name the violent crime, they have released them back out in the public, rather than either detaining them, or even better yet, deporting them.”

He added that DHS “tried to reprogram over $100 million that Congress had allocated for these deportations, they wanted to do give that money back, rather than do it. There is a minimum of 34,000 beds for these types of people. Yet, the department only wants to house about 30,000. And what they’ve done is they’ve released them out into the streets, and more than 200 of those people, that were in our detention, that had committed a crime, were released back out in the public, and committed homicide.”

Chaffetz further stated, “One of the excuses is, well those countries won’t take them back. Don’t give them any more foreign aid, and do what the law says, and that is, make sure the secretary of state does not give those countries any more visas, so more people can come to this country, get their attention.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

Chaffetz rips DHS release of criminal illegal immigrants

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Philadelphia Police probe man’s claim of shooting cop in Islam’s name

January 9, 2016

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CBS News

PHILADELPHIA — Officer Jesse Hartnett was slowly patrolling his usual West Philadelphia beat just before midnight when a man appeared out of the darkness, firing a hail of bullets at close range as he charged toward the policeman’s car.

Hours later, police say, Edward Archer confessed to shooting the officer and told investigators he was following Allah, and had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Archer said he believed the police department defends laws that are contrary to Islam, police said.

Local and federal authorities spent much of Friday trying to verify the motive and executing search warrants at two Philadelphia area properties associated with Archer, hoping for more insight into how and why the shooting happened.

Archer’s mother told The Philadelphia Inquirer her 30-year-old son had been hearing voices recently and had felt targeted by police. She said the family had asked him to get help.

A gunman identified by police as Edward Archer, inset, fires at Officer Jesse Hartnett in his cruiser in Philadelphia Jan. 7, 2016.

A gunman identified by police as Edward Archer, inset, fires at Officer Jesse Hartnett in his cruiser in Philadelphia Jan. 7, 2016.  PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT

At a news conference, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who just took office Tuesday, didn’t label the shooting a terrorist attack, though he said Archer “clearly gave us a motive.”

“It wasn’t like laying it out completely, chapter and verse for us,” Ross told reporters at the department’s headquarters as Archer was being questioned upstairs. “We’re left to say, ‘OK, he’s leaving a trail for us. Where’s it going to lead us, if anywhere?'”

Ross told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan his biggest regret was that the firearm used was stolen from a fellow police officer’s home in 2013.

“It cuts deep,” Ross said. “I mean, things happen, but it cuts deep and deeper.”

Investigators believe Archer traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and to Egypt in 2012, FBI special agent Eric Ruona said, and the purpose of that travel was being investigated by the FBI. Police said there was no indication anyone else was involved, and it is unclear if and where Archer practiced his faith locally.

Archer’s mother, Valerie Holliday, described her son as devout Muslim. Jacob Bender, the executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group, said he contacted about five inner-city mosques and found no one who knew of Archer.

At about 11:40 p.m. Thursday, Archer fired at least 13 shots toward Hartnett and eventually got up next to the car and reached through the driver’s side window, investigators said. Despite being seriously wounded, Hartnett got out of his car, chased the suspect and returned fire, wounding his attacker in the buttocks, police said. Other officers chased Archer and apprehended him about a block away.

The 9 mm pistol used by Archer was recovered at the scene of the shooting, police said. Officials said they were trying to figure out how Archer got the weapon and whether it passed through other people’s hands since the October 2013 theft.

Last March, Archer pleaded guilty to firearms and assault charges stemming from a 2012 case but was immediately released and placed on probation, court records show. Records also show he was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in suburban Philadelphia in a traffic and forgery case.

Officer Jesse Hartnett chases after a suspect identified by police as Edward Archer after Hartnett was ambushed in Philadelphia Jan. 7, 2016, in a still taken from police camera footage.

Officer Jesse Hartnett chases after a suspect identified by police as Edward Archer after Hartnett was ambushed in Philadelphia Jan. 7, 2016, in a still taken from police camera footage.  PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT

The attorney who represented him in the firearms case was unavailable for comment Friday because he was in court, his office said. His lawyer in the forgery case did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Surveillance footage of the attack showed Archer dressed in a white, long-sleeved tunic. When asked if the robe was considered Muslim garb, Ross said he didn’t know and didn’t think it mattered.

“We’ve already established why he believes he did it, and that’s probably enough,” Ross said.

Officer Jesse Hartnett
Officer Jesse Hartnett
PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT

Hartnett, 33, was shot three times in the arm and will require multiple surgeries, but was listed in stable condition at a hospital. Archer was treated and released into police custody.

Ross repeatedly called Hartnett’s survival “absolutely amazing.”

“It’s nothing short of miraculous and we’re thankful for that,” he said.

The officer’s father, Robert Hartnett, said his son was in good spirits.

“He’s a tough guy,” he said.

Hartnett served in the Coast Guard and has been on the Philadelphia force for four years. He always wanted to be a police officer, his father said.

When Hartnett called in to report shots fired, he shouted into his police radio: “I’m bleeding heavily!”

Jim Kenney, in his first week as mayor of the nation’s fifth-largest city, called Archer’s actions “abhorrent” and “terrible” and said they have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.

“This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers,” he said. “It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”

Related:

Suspect says he shot Philly cop ‘in the name of Islam’ — Mayor Jim Kenney played down the Islam connection — “It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”

January 8, 2016

 

Philadelphis Mayor Jim Kenney just made the city a “sanctuary city”

, USATODAY
January 8, 2016

The suspect in the wounding of a Philadelphia police officer in an execution-style ambush told officers that he carried out the attack “in the name of Islam,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Friday.

Ross said the suspect, Edward Archer, 30, fired 13 shots from a semiautomatic pistol that hit Officer Jessie Hartnett and his car Thursday night. The 33-year-old officer returned fire, hitting the gunman at least three times.

Ross said Archer, who was wearing a long white robe over dark pants during the attack, “confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam. He said he believes that the police defend laws that are contrary to the teaching of the Koran.”

The commissioner said Hartnett, who was hit three times in his left arm, sustained “very serious injuries.”

A police captain involved in the interrogation of Archer told reporters that the suspect told them he pledges allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, follows Allah and that he was called upon by his faith to commit the shooting.

Surveillance video, apparently taken from a building or post behind the incident, shows the gunman running into the street and right up the police car. He puts the gun directly into the driver-side window and fires at point-blank range.

Officer Jesse Hartnett. (Philadelphia Police Dept)

Mayor Jim Kenney, who also spoke to reporters Friday afternoon, played down the Islam connection. “This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers, ” he said. “It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.”

Ross said the weapon was a stolen police gun.

“Shots fired! I’m shot! I’m bleeding heavily!” Hartnett can be heard shouting on the police radio, KYW-TV reported.

The suspect was quickly taken into custody by other officers after running from the scene.

The gunman, wearing multiple layers of clothing, flagged down Hartnett’s police car on 60th street and opened fire..

“This is absolutely one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen,” Ross told reporters. “This guy tried to execute the police officer. The police officer had no idea he was coming.”

Philly.com quoted Archer’s mother, Valerie Holliday, as saying her son suffered head injuries from playing football and a moped accident. She said he has “been acting kind of strangely lately, talking to himself … laughing and mumbling.”

Kenney, who is in his first week as mayor of Philadelphia, said: “There are just too many guns on the streets and I think our national government needs to do something about that.”

******************************

Jim Kenney Rescinds Policy, Philly a ‘Sanctuary City’ Again

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Image: Jim Kenney Rescinds Policy, Philly a ‘Sanctuary City’ Again
New Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on election night. (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

By Nick Sanchez | Wednesday, 06 Jan 2016 08:10 AM

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on his first day in office rescinded a policy set up by his predecessor in order to restore the city’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

“Executive Order 5-16 states that city authorities will not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests for undocumented citizens who are arrested and would have otherwise been released from custody, unless the individual has committed a first or second degree felony involving violence,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, Metro US reported.

Previous Mayor Michael Nutter ended city cooperation with ICE in 2014, but last month reversed course and issued an order increasing such coordination.

Kenney’s executive order to rescind cooperation with federal agents made good on a promise he made during the Nutter administration’s last days.

In addition to signing the executive order, Kenney said he had recently spoken with the  Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who is promoting a new “Priority Enforcement” program over an old “Secure Communities” plan.

According to Philly.com, Kenney said ICE representatives will soon visit the city and brief his administration on the new program.
Latest News Update

 

“But until that happens,” he said, “we are going back to our old situation.”

That means that—like it was between April 2014 and last month—police are barred from telling ICE agents about undocumented prisoners’ pending releases unless that person was convicted of a felony and ICE had made a request accompanied by a warrant.

Sanctuary cities came to nation attention after 32-year-old San Francisco woman Kathryn “Kate” Steinle was allegedly shot and killed this past summer by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Lopez-Sanchez, a convicted felon, has been deported many times, but had returned illegally to reside in San Francisco, a longstanding sanctuary city.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Steinle’s death was tragic, and that American cities needed to end their sanctuary policies because they grant safe haven to criminals.

In addition to the sanctuary city orders, “Kenney also signed executive orders establishing the position and office of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, re-establishing the office of Chief Integrity Officer and creating the Offices of Planning and Development and Chief Administrative Officer,” Philly Voice reported.
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(CNN) A 30-year-old man has confessed to shooting a Philadelphia police officer in the name of the “Islamic State,” presumably referring to the terrorist group ISIS, officials said Friday.

Officer Jesse Hartnett, 33, was hit three times on Thursday night and suffered “some very serious injuries that will require multiple surgeries,” police Commissioner Richard Ross told reporters.

Despite being seriously injured, the four-year police veteran got out of his patrol car and shot the assailant, who later was apprehended by other officers, Ross said.

The alleged assailant appeared to be targeting a police officer, Ross said. “He was trying to assassinate this police officer.”

James Clarke, police homicide captain, told CNN the suspect said to investigators: “I follow Allah. I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic State and that’s why I did what I did.”

The alleged gunman was identified by police as Edward Archer, of Yeadon, a Philadelphia suburb.

Hartnett shouted desperately into his police radio after someone, authorities say, approached his patrol car and shot him as he sat there Thursday night.

“Shots fired! … I’m bleeding heavily!” Hartnett shouts in a recording of his radio call for backup. “I’m bleeding. Get us another unit out here!”

Hartnett managed to fire back and wound the gunman after what authorities say was an apparent attempt to execute the officer at a city intersection.

The gunman fired 13 shots from a semiautomatic pistol into Hartnett’s car as the officer sat in the driver’s seat, a law enforcement source told CNN. The shooting happened about 11:30 p.m. in west Philadelphia, CNN affiliate KYW reported.

Hartnett was shot three times in an arm and returned fire, the source said.

A 9mm Glock 17 was recovered from Archer, police said. The gun was reported stolen from the home of a police officer in 2013.

Hartnett was taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for a broken arm, KYW reported.

A picture — one that the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper says is a still frame from surveillance video of the shooting — shows a person standing right next to the car with his arm through the lowered driver’s-side window, close enough to be shooting someone at point-blank range.

A gun sits by a marker after Thursday night's shooting in west Philadelphia.

The Inquirer did not report where it got the picture. But Ross told reporters that he had seen video of the incident and that it was “absolutely one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.”

CNN hasn’t independently confirmed the authenticity of the image. Information on the origin of the video that Ross referenced and what Hartnett had been doing in the moments leading to the shooting wasn’t immediately available.

“This guy tried to execute the police officer. The police officer had no idea he was coming,” Ross said. “It’s amazing he’s alive.”

Ross said it appears Hartnett suffered significant nerve damage.

“Fortunately, he’s awake. He was coherent. He’s OK,” Ross said.

The shooting caught the attention of Gov. Tom Wolf, who said he is “thankful that Officer Hartnett is alive and not facing life-threatening injuries after being ambushed.”

“We wish him and his family the best during his recovery. This alleged intentional act of violence against an officer seeking to help a fellow citizen is horrifying and has no place in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Obama administration had “secret policy” to not include social media reviews in vetting for entry to the U.S. because of a fear of “bad public relations” — Fourteen Americans died in San Bernardino, in part, because of that policy

December 14, 2015

By Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, James Gordon Meek and Josh Margolin

ABC News

Crude prices plunge on diminishing Chinese imports — After Iran nuclear deal, Iran will double output in six months

June 9, 2015

Investing.com –

Investing.com — Crude futures fell sharply on Monday as energy traders continued to react to the long-term ramifications of OPEC’s decision last Friday to keep its production ceiling above 30 million barrels per day.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for July delivery fell 1.00 or 1.70% to 58.12, extending a recent skid over the last week. U.S. crude futures traded between 57.88 and 59.12 on a light day of trading.

On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent crude for July delivery dipped 0.69 or 1.07% to 62.62, falling for the fourth time in five sessions. The spread between the international and U.S. benchmarks of crude rose to $4.50, above Friday’s level of $4.23.

At a semi-annual meeting of its members on Friday in Vienna, OPEC decided to maintain production at its current level – a move which caused crude to spike roughly 1.5% on the session. While in Vienna, Iran oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said he is optimistic that his nation could double production from its current level of 3 million bpd within the next five years if it can increase its crude exports exponentially.

Moving forward, energy traders will focus intently on Iranian exports as the nation works toward completing a comprehensive nuclear deal with Western powers later this month. Once a deal is reached, Iranian officials said at the meeting that it could double exports with six months of the removal of longstanding economic sanctions. An outflow of Iranian oil into the global markets is considered to be bearish for crude prices, which has been weighed down by a glut of oversupply in recent months.

Iran oil minister BijanNamdarZanganeh

Traders will also monitor a bid by Indonesia to return to OPEC. Indonesia, which suspended OPEC membership in 2008 when its import level exceeded its amount of crude exports, announced its intention to pursue full membership in the cartel at the meeting. The inclusion of the Southeast Asian emerging nation could help level the global supply-demand balance. Indonesia consumes around 1.5 million barrels of crude per day and is seeking supply agreements with OPEC members in order to import more oil, according to reports.

Also on Monday, crude prices slid amid disappointing import and export data in China. In May, the Asian nation’s trade surplus widened to $59.5 billion, up from $34.2 billion a month earlier. Exports fell by 2.5% on a year-over-year basis, while imports declined by more than 17%. In terms of crude, Chinese imports fell to 5.47 million bpd a decline of 26% on a year-over-year basis. In April, China became the world’s largest importer of crude. Chinese imports fell sharply last month, as the nation’s state-owned oil company drew from its enormous stockpiles while its tankers off the Strait of Malacca continued to horde cheaper crude.

Energy traders await the release of weekly U.S. crude stockpiles at the middle of this week for further indications on current supply levels. Last Friday, oil services firm Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) said that the number of oil rigs nationwide fell by four on the week to 642, the lowest level since August, 2010. It marked the 26th consecutive week of weekly rig declines. Though U.S. shale producers have been forced to slash drilling due to the lower price of crude, they have still maintained high production levels by keeping their more efficient rigs online.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, plummeted 1.09% to 95.34.

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China: Scandal of Linxiang mayor found naked and high on Ice highlights drug addiction among cadres

May 10, 2015

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Case of city chief found naked and high on Ice is part of a growing problem of addiction and corruption among party cadres, say ex-officials

Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
South China Morning Post

Customs official in Humen, Guangdong province, burn packages containing heroin seized following a crackdown there. Photo: Xinhua

When police caught up with rising political star Gong Weiguo last month, he was allegedly naked and high on the drug Ice.

The last public appearance of the mayor of Linxiang a city of just over half a million people in Hunan province, had been on April 7.

A week later, Gong, 43, was admitted to a Guangzhou hospital, suffering from depression, according to The Beijing News. Within days, police had launched an investigation into his suspected drug-taking, and by April 21 he had been removed from office.

Jiang Zongfu, a former deputy mayor of Linxiang, said on his personal microblog that he was extremely saddened for the city. “[Gong] is simply a hooligan, a drug addict,” he wrote. “When the vice squad arrived, he was completely naked.”

The scandal triggered public dismay at yet more apparent corruption within a top office, but it also highlighted the problem of drug abuse among cadres – experts say job pressure and a lack of oversight is fostering a legion of drug-addled grass-roots officials.

About a year ago, the problem had become so great that state news agency Xinhua published an article labelling drug abuse among officials as “hurting, painful and disgusting”.

The same article said drug abuse was usually linked to corruption cases, in which officials either received drugs as a bribe or had easy access to them through their ties with law enforcement. Others used the money obtained through corruption.

It added that officials found to have a history of drug abuse and corruption would also often engage into promiscuous relationships with women.

The official media trail of these kinds of cases goes back to 2008, when an unnamed tax official in Xiong county, Hebei province, was arrested for drug abuse. The following year, Chai Siqing, deputy party secretary of Shanxi province’s Yantou township, also fell from grace over drugs.

Then, in 2011, Yang Hongwei, former head of Chuxiong, in Yunnan province, was sacked for taking more than 10 million yuan (HK$12.6 million) in bribes. During his case, Yang was accused of being addicted to ku ka, a mix of opium and a local plant, commonly found on China’s border with Myanmar.

Fast forward to November, 2014, and Yunnan’s anti-graft watchdog announced that 41 officials from Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in the west of the province had been stripped of their Communist Party memberships for similar offences.

“None of these officials was forced to do drugs. The officials did it voluntarily and gradually developed a habit,” Xinhua quoted an Anhui drug rehabilitation official as saying.

There are no official numbers on drug-addicted cadres, but a criminal lawyer specialising in drug cases said the problem was serious.

“The number of officials doing drugs could be potentially huge, more than we could imagine. There aren’t many people in China who can afford drugs on a long-term basis – a gram of Ice costs 800 yuan in Beijing and about 400 yuan in Guangzhou,” the lawyer said.

“With more money than they need and without faith or religion, some officials seek relief [from work pressures] in drugs.”

According to Yang Bin, a former Guangzhou prosecutor who heads Tianxiang Compassion, a non-government organisation that helps criminals, much of the pressure comes from having to constantly bow to superiors.

“They are forced to act like dogs in front of their superiors and are not allowed to speak their mind. It twists their heart and soul,” Yang said.

Yang said it was common for officials to resort to excesses as a way to alleviate the pressure.

“I heard that one Guangzhou official would often take Russian sex workers to a resort in Huadu [district]. It seems luxury, money and women were not enough to satisfy their twisted souls – it was all within easy reach for them,” she said.

“No matter how tough the anti-graft campaign, Chinese officialdom will not improve as a whole unless the Communist Party ends its adherence to formalism,” she said, referring to the party’s fostering of a controlled, insincere form of behaviour commonly found among cadres

One former Hunan official told the Sunday Morning Post it was not uncommon to find drug addicts among officials, especially at the lower levels.

“This is a topic that is rarely discussed even among officials and usually swept under the rug,” the official said. Drugs had emerged as a new enticement that people offered as bribes to cadres, the official said.

“I understand that drug abuse is more prevalent among grass-roots officials. Some even skip work to do drugs because oversight is lax and anti-drug efforts inadequate in rural townships.”

Official reports of Chinese officials detained on suspicion of drug use

2008
A former tax division chief in Xiong county, in Hebei province is held for drug use.

2009
Chai Siqing, former deputy party secretary of Yantou township, in Shanxi province, is arrested for drug abuse. Later he is sacked and stripped of his party membership.

2011
Yang Hongwei, the former head of Chuxiong, in Yunnan province, is placed under investigation for corruption in May 2011. At his trial that December he is accused of being addicted to ku ka – a mix of opium and a local plant for more than a year. He is jailed for life in February 2013 for taking bribes of more than 10 million yuan (HK12.6 million).

2014
Two officials are placed under an investigation: one is a former deputy director of Susong county investment promotion bureau, in Anhui province, the other a former deputy director of the county’s transport management bureau. Both are found to have used narcotics on three occasions. They are sacked and stripped of their party membership.

April 2015
Gong Weiguo, the former mayor of Linxiang, in Hunan province, is alleged to have been addicted to the drug Ice for at least two years. He checks himself into a hospital in Guangzhou for depression on April 14. He is removed from his post on April 22.

‘Breaking Bad’ in China: how meth is spreading across rural heartland

May 3, 2015

Meth has overtaken heroin as the most widely used drug in Asia’s most populous country – and it could pose an even greater threat.

By Peter Ford
The Christian Science Monitor

Paramilitary police carried away some of the three tons of crystal meth seized in Lufeng, a village in Guangdong Province, in December 2013. Reuters/File

Ah Chao first came across drugs as a teenager, when his cousin asked him to hold his tourniquet while he shot up heroin.

Now a stocky 32-year-old in jeans and a black nylon jacket, Ah Chao (not his real name) recalls between slurps from a bowl of noodles how frightened he was.

“Heroin did not appeal to me at all,” he says. But the experience did not put him off other drugs.

Recommended: How much do you know about China? Take our quiz.

Instead, a few years later, like a growing number of young Chinese, he turned to bingdu (ice), as methamphetamine is known.

Ah Chao is a witness to the silent spread of crystal meth into China’s vast rural areas, a blight sweeping the countryside – but out of the public eye – in a striking echo of America’s experience. In China today, says Zhang Yongan, a drug policy expert at Shanghai University, “the era of synthetic drug abuse is arriving secretly.”

Nobody can yet put exact numbers on the phenomenon; it has barely been studied. But researchers who have looked say ketamine and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as meth are more and more plentiful, even in out-of-the-way towns and villages.

“I cannot say with certainty the degree of the problem, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that the problem exists and it is substantial,” says Marek Chawarski, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University who is pioneering the study of rural drug users in China.

Chinese officials say they believe meth has now overtaken heroin as the most widely used addictive drug in China, and that it poses a greater threat: Meth is easily made, its users seem unaware of the dangers it poses, and there is no equivalent of methadone, a substitute drug that China has used widely to combat heroin addiction.

“In my village, when I was growing up, there were no drugs,” adds Deng Qijian, a doctor working with Professor Chawarski in the central province of Hunan. “In the last few years ice has become very popular. Many, many people use it.”

“Five years ago or so, ATS were mostly used by rich people,” says Lu Lin, a drug abuse expert who now runs Peking University’s No. 6 Hospital, which specializes in mental health. “Now it’s mainly poorer people who are taking them.”

Meth surge in Asia Rich Clabaugh/Staff

Heroin use down after an education effort

A 150-YEAR-OLD PROBLEM

China’s drug problem dates back more than 150 years to the days when the British began forcibly importing huge amounts of opium from India. By the end of the 19th century, historians have estimated that 1 in 5 Chinese men was an opium addict.

That debilitating drug use is intimately bound up with the ruling Communist Party’s narrative of “national humiliation” at the hands of foreigners. Within a few years of the 1949 revolution, China’s new rulers had all but eliminated drugs from national life – a feat that eluded the defeated Nationalist government.

But as China opened to the world in the 1980s, a boom in foreign trade, a steady rise in incomes, and the introduction of Western habits brought drugs back into China.

Until recently the drug of choice was heroin, smuggled into the country from the so-called Golden Triangle where Myanmar (Burma) borders Thailand and Laos or, more recently, from Afghanistan, the world’s biggest opium exporter.

Last year, though, for the first time since the Chinese authorities began keeping records, the number of registered users of ATS – mostly methamphetamine – outstripped the number of those using opiates such as heroin.

A report issued by the National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) at the end of March said that 49.4 percent of registered drug users – those known to police – use ATS, while 49.3 percent use opiates. Ten years ago, 86 percent of registered users used opiates.

Officials acknowledge that their figures are sketchy. The new report puts the number of registered drug users at 2.95 million, up nearly threefold in the last decade, but the head of the police’s Narcotics Control Bureau, Liu Yuejin, said last November that “the actual number of drug addicts is estimated at 13 million … and about half are suspected of taking methamphetamine.”

“China is facing a grim task in curbing synthetic drugs including ice, which more and more Chinese drug addicts tend to use,” Mr. Liu warned.

If Liu’s estimate is accurate, it means that China has a much lower overall rate of illegal drug use than the United States. But China’s estimated rate of methamphetamine abuse – 0.5 percent of the population – is more than double that in the US, where 595,000 people – 0.2 percent of the population – are current meth users, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

HEROIN USE DOWN AFTER AN EDUCATION EFFORT

Though it is hard to be precise in the absence of widespread studies, Chinese drug experts say that a noticeable drop in the use of heroin has clearly been matched by a rise in the use of ATS such as meth.

Heroin use is down partly because of the success of public health campaigns in schools, says one drug counselor in Beijing, a former heroin addict herself who asked not to be identified.

“After so many years of education people know the harm and the dangers of heroin,” she says.

“Ice today is like heroin in the ’90s,” she adds. “People say it gives them energy, makes them feel good, and they don’t think it’s addictive.”

In an academic survey last year in Changsha, researchers found that 59 percent of meth users believed occasional use posed them no danger, and 57 percent said that even regular use was only moderately risky.

Not long ago, meth was the rich kids’ party drug in China. Today, according to the little research that has been done, it is also popular among truckers, migrant workers, and other laborers who value the energy burst they get from amphetamines, both for work and pleasure.

And away from the bright lights of China’s megacities, meth is spreading into small towns and villages where “there is not much in the way of entertainment,” says Yale’s Chawarski. “Taking meth is like taking a short vacation.”

A TALE OF DRUG ADDICTION

Ah Chao may have stayed clear of heroin, but when he met some young women in a karaoke bar who told him about ketamine, a hallucinogenic drug that is popular in East Asia, it was not long before he was taking it several times a week. That was his gateway to meth, or ice.

For a couple of years, he says, “Ice is all I’d do, all I thought about. I’d take a room in a hotel with another guy and a couple of girls. We’d smoke the meth, have sex, and then play cards. We’d get high for three or four nights and days in a row, take a break for a day or so to eat and sleep, and then do it again.”

Living in a small town 70 miles southwest of Changsha, a regional capital, Ah Chao makes money as a loan shark, a profitable but illegal business. A meaty young man who says he is glad not to be doing a regular job and not afraid of living in the shadows, he agrees to talk freely about his meth habit over lunch on the condition that he stays anonymous.

Nowadays, he says, he is not making enough money to party 24/7. But every week or so “when friends call and ask me to go do drugs with them I can’t say no. I regret it later, but I still go.”

Meth use, Chawarski says, like drug use elsewhere, is “an infectious disease. The most frequent way of getting into the drug scene is through friends. If you have one drug user in a village, pretty soon you have two, then five, then 20.”

Whether it is closer to one or to 20 is almost impossible to tell in most places in China. “Government narcotic control management in rural areas is still loose,” says Professor Zhang. “Many places are still at the stage of non-management.”

But it is clear that ATS “are very easy to get in the countryside as well as in the cities,” says Li Jianhua, head of the Yunnan Institute for Drug Abuse in the southwestern city of Kunming. “They are easily made, and easily bought.”

DRUG BUST YIELDS 2.4 TONS OF METH

That is largely because such drugs are now made in enormous quantities in China, replacing illicit imports from Myanmar and, reportedly, from North Korea. Last year the NNCC warned that “the problem of domestic drug manufacture is increasingly deteriorated.” This year’s report noted that “almost all the crystal methamphetamine and Ketamine in the domestic drug consumption market were locally manufactured.”

There have been some spectacular busts. In February, police seized 2.4 tons of meth from a lab in the southern province of Guangdong. In December 2013 some 3,000 police and paramilitary forces raided the village of Boshe, a notorious center for drug manufacturing in Guangdong, confiscating nearly three tons of meth and arresting 182 people, including the village’s former Communist Party secretary.

But the Boshe raid did nothing to reduce the street price of meth, says a US Drug Enforcement Administration official who follows the drug trade in China, suggesting that many other meth labs picked up the slack.

“China has robust chemical and pharmaceutical industries,” says the DEA agent, who asked not to be identified. “A lot of precursors and reagents are going to these [illegal] labs.”

They are also going abroad; Mexican police have confiscated shipments of Chinese chemicals destined for meth labs making drugs for sale in the US. And things work the other way, too; two years ago Chinese police arrested a Mexican meth cook who had set up his facility in a remote pig farm in central Hunan Province.

DETOX CENTERS AND PRISON TIME FOR USERS

Since 2006, the Chinese authorities have tackled heroin abuse by decriminalizing the drug’s use and opening nearly 900 methadone clinics to wean addicts off it. But no drug like methadone that would help methamphetamine users break their habit has been found, so no such medical approach has been possible.

Some caught using meth are encouraged to attend voluntary detoxification centers; most – especially if they are caught a second time – are sent to compulsory detox facilities in former prisons and held for as long as two years with no judicial or medical intervention.

Ah Chao is not afraid of being caught. Once, somebody in a hotel reported him to the police. He was locked up in a cell for seven days, but then he was released. If he is caught again, he could be sent to a detox camp for two years, “but if you’ve got connections it can be less. I could get out quickly,” he says.

In 2012, the United Nations urged member states to close drug detention camps, a message aimed at China and other countries in East Asia. The UN appeal said there was “no evidence that compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres represent an appropriate and effective environment for the treatment of drug dependence.”

Government agencies in China are divided on what to do with ATS users, says Jia Ping, a lawyer seeking reform of the current detox system. He has “not seen any concrete steps or plans” to try an alternative approach.

Meanwhile, even as the police ramp up campaigns against manufacturers, traffickers, and users of methamphetamine, their own statistics suggest that so far they are fighting a losing battle. And as meth abuse becomes more than just an urban phenomenon, the battle will only get harder.

“We have a big population in China,” says Dr. Lu at Peking University’s No. 6 Hospital. “If rural people start using these drugs the police could not control such an epidemic. This is tomorrow’s problem for China.”