Wednesday, December 16, 2015
AZMEX I3 16-12-15
AZMEX I3 16 DEC 2015
Note: No stats available for AZMEX border.
Unprecedented border crossings prompt CBP commissioner visit to RGV
Kerlikowski: CBP is handling the surge and is prepared if it continues
Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:16 pm | Updated: 8:24 pm, Tue Dec 15, 2015.
KRISTIAN HERNANDEZ | STAFF WRITER
Posted on Dec 15, 2015by Kristian Hernandez
McALLEN—The man tasked with overseeing the largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States visited the Rio Grande Valley Sector on Monday in the midst of an unprecedented end of the year spike of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally.
United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske stopped by the Border Patrol Holding Station in McAllen, where most of the 6,465 unaccompanied minors that crossed between Oct.1 and Nov. 30 were processed. This was a more than 101 percent increase compared to the same time last year, according to CBP statistics.
"The numbers have been increasing, and it's certainly of concern to me and to the rest of the Department of Homeland Security," Kerlikowske said during a news conference. "Historically at this time of the year, the numbers would not be at the levels that we see right now."
The Border Patrol central processing center for unaccompanied immigrant children at 3700 W. Ursula Ave. was opened in the summer of 2014, when nearly 69,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border illegally in South Texas.
The center can house up to 1,000 children but is also being used to process family units which have also hit unprecedented numbers during last two months. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, more than 8,500 family units crossed the South Texas border through the Rio Grande Valley Sector, which stretches from the mouth of the Rio Grande in Cameron County to the Starr-Zapata county line.
Gov. Greg Abbott's response to the recent surge was to order the Texas National Guard troops on Tuesday to remain at the South Texas Border, extending a mission that began in 2014 after the first surge of unaccompanied minors.
"Texas will not sit idle in the face of this challenge," Abbott said in a news release. "We will not be victimized as a state by a federal government's apathetic response to border security."
Kerlikowske said he does not think this is an issue of border security but said he welcomed the continued presence of the Texas National Guard. Acting Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Robert M. Duff echoed Kerlikowske's praises of state law enforcement working alongside their agents.
"Daily, we are co-located. We exchange information for operational deployment the National Guard," Duff said. "My entire career I worked closely with them and DPS here. Like the commissioner said, it's an excellent working relationship."
Kerlikowske said they have sufficient Border Patrol agents, "particularly in this area," and have the option of temporarily bringing additional agents from other sectors but have not found the need to do so despite the recent surge.
When asked what he thought about Abbott's comments, Kerlikowske said he had not seen or read them.
"I'm not so much in the political realm. I'm much more in the realm of trying to manage Customs and Border Protection to get the job done to make sure that people are protected and taken care of," Kerlikowske said.
Most unaccompanied minors apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley in the past two months are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, Kerlikowske said.
"The greater question is how long will this continue, and what is Congress going to do about immigration reform?" Kerlikowske said. "What are these longer term improvements that are needed particularly in those three Central American countries?"
In January, President Barack Obama requested more than $1 billion to help improve the economies and safety of the three Central American countries, but it has not been approved by Congress.
Meanwhile, CBP is outfitting a warehouse next to the McAllen center to house more unaccompanied children and family units in case the numbers remain high, Kerlikowski said.
The Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services have begun a process to expand temporary capacity of current providers from 7,900 to 8,400 beds in November and is preparing for temporary bed space in the event that additional beds are needed, according to CBP's website.
"We are adequately financed. We have resources in the Border Patrol through Secretary Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security. We are going to be fine to deal with this even at this level," Kerlikowske said.
Reminder: The driver's license is the primary ID for purchase of firearms.
Pew: 10 States And Counting Supplying Unauthorized Immigrants With Driver's Licenses
By: Jason Ralls, Staff Writer
12/07/2015 ( 9:27am)
Unauthorized immigrant access to driver's licenses has been a hotly debated issue among states this year. Amid this controversy, Pew Charitable Trusts' Immigration and States Project released two briefs last month analyzing and providing updates on how states are designing and implementing laws which allow unauthorized immigrants to apply for driver's licenses.
The briefs were published on the heels of a previous study by Pew, Deciding Who Drives, released in August 2015. Pew identified four main areas of study when looking at each states' alternative licensing program: scope, eligibility standards, issuance procedures and outreach and education.
The study revealed that as of the summer of 2015, ten states have issued driver's licenses, or similar documents referred to by different names, to unauthorized immigrants. 37 percent of unauthorized immigrants live in a jurisdiction where they may obtain a license.
These states, with the addition of the District of Columbia, include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Delaware and Hawaii have enacted legislation making unauthorized immigrants eligible for driver's licenses, but, at the time the Pew report was written, had not begun issuing licenses.
The first brief, Factors Influencing the Number of Alternative Driver's Licenses Issued by States, explained that it is too soon to draw definitive conclusions regarding the number of licenses that have been issued, since these states have been issuing license to unauthorized immigrants for less than two years.
The brief revealed that as of September 30, 2015, more than 900,000 unauthorized immigrants in eight jurisdictions (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, DC), have receive alternative licenses, with 513,000 of those licenses issued in California in just the last nine months.
Over the next five years, these states estimate to issue more than 2.8 million alternative licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Numbers are sure to surge as Delaware and Hawaii begin to issue licenses in the coming weeks, and as additional states follow suit.
Pew identified five core factors that may impact estimates for the number of immigrants seeking licenses: learning permit requirements, appointment availability, eligibility requirements, fraud and public outreach and education. Pew notes that estimating the number of applications is critical to planning for the cost of implementation, anticipated revenue and staffing needs.
The brief also explained that even if a state prepares for all these factors, it may still experience unanticipated events affecting the number of expected applications. In Vermont, for example, the number of driver's privilege cards issued as of October 18, 2015—more than 53,000—far exceeded the initial estimate of 1,500.
Pew's second brief, Alternative Driver's Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants, stated both Delaware and Hawaii still need to make implementation-related decisions. In particular, the two states need to decide whether appointments will be needed to screen applicants, and how fraudulent applicants will be handled.
Pew noted the experience of other states should inform the discussion on how Delaware and Hawaii will make these important decisions before they begin issuing alternative licenses.
Providing driver's licenses to unauthorized immigrants is a contentious issue in many states. Under the 2005 REAL ID Act, states are authorized to issue licenses to unauthorized immigrants as long as those licenses are distinctly different from a regular driver's license that would be held by a legal resident.
The REAL ID Act implemented the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the government set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. The act prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. One of the goals of the REAL ID Act was to strengthen the security of federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and federally regulated aircraft from terrorist attacks.
Earlier this year, Homeland Security Today reported some security experts believe putting licenses in the hands of unauthorized immigrants is a practice that is antithetical to the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.
"REAL ID was intended to carry out key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which revealed that our nation's permissive system of issuing driver's licenses was a glaring vulnerability that was exploited by the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," said FAIR President Dan Stein in a statement.
Stein added, "REAL ID is a textbook example of what happens when the vital interests of the American people run up against the interests of powerful business interests, the illegal alien lobby and bureaucratic foot-dragging. The interests of the American people – even the security of our nation – get sacrificed."
The Pew Charitable Trusts takes no position on federal, state or local laws or policies related to immigration or driver's licenses.