OBAMA JUST PICKED A FIGHT WITH BORDER AGENTS

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Legal argument over the basic constitutionality of the president’s actions

Updated by Dara Lind on January 29, 2015, 1:30 p.m. ET @DLind dara@vox.com

The Obama administration’s starting to implement its executive actions on immigration from November 2014 — and their early guidelines just set up a fight with enforcement agents who are already ticked off at the White House.
Applications for the new “deferred action” program aren’t expected to open up until spring. But federal immigration agents are already being told to consider whether immigrants in their custody might qualify for the new program — and not to deport them if they might.

The new guidance that Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are receiving was reported by Breitbart Texas a few weeks ago, after receiving leaked documents from a Customs and Border Protection agent. (The Associated Press reported on a similar set of guidelines on Wednesday.) The leaks make it clear that the agents themselves are extremely unhappy that they’re being told not to deport immigrants who they know are unauthorized — and in fact, if anything, are being told to help them. Immigration agents have long distrusted the Obama administration’s commitment to enforcing immigration law aggressively. That relationship is about to get a whole lot rockier.

The fact that the White House is already in a fight with agents before anyone has even gotten the chance to apply for the new program is a big deal for both the political fight over the executive actions, and the policy battle over their implementation. The resistance of federal immigration agents was one big reason that the Obama administration’s first attempt to protect some unauthorized immigrants, in 2010 and 2011, didn’t work — and will make it much harder for the government to roll out the new program. On the political front, agents — and in particular their unions — have become an unlikely ally of the congressional Republicans leading the political attacks against the administration’s program. As a theoretical legal argument over the basic constitutionality of the president’s actions grows into an argument about how they’re being implemented, agents are going to play a key role.

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    hat the new guidance does

The new guidance was issued to officers in both Customs and Border Protection (which deals with enforcement at the border) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which deals with enforcement at the interior), though the detailed presentation Breitbart posts online is the version shown to officers of CBP. It lays out a very careful set of instructions for agents to follow if they think that someone they’ve apprehended might qualify for deferred action under either the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA, which was introduced in 2012 but is being expanded in February) or the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA, which was created by the November 2014 memos) — or even if they don’t qualify for deferred action, but aren’t an “enforcement priority” either. The process includes taking the immigrant to a facility that processes biometric information, running a record check, and attempting to use whatever evidence is available to figure out whether or not the immigrant would qualify for one of the programs.

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From a certain public-safety perspective, this makes perfect sense. After all, one of the problems with unauthorized immigration (as both supporters and opponents of immigration reform point out) is that the government doesn’t “know who’s in the country.” Focusing on getting immigrants registered, and then figuring out what they qualify for, reduces the number of people who are still in the shadows.

But it also highlights the corner the Obama administration is painting itself into with the notion of “prosecutorial discretion.” It’s defending deferred action in court by saying that immigrants won’t be protected from deportation simply by meeting the broad standards they laid out in November 2014 memos; but it’s telling immigration agents, who are the actual prosecutors in immigration cases, that they don’t have the power to decide who should be protected and who shouldn’t. In the eyes of agents, the administration is promising them that they get to make decisions based on the facts in any individual case — and then taking that promise away.

    The longstanding tension between immigration agents and the administration

Some ICE and CBP agents are already angry about this, and they’re only going to get angrier. One source described the policy to Breitbart as “catch and release 2.0.” “Catch and release” was originally used for a border policy that released some immigrants back into Mexico rather than formally deporting or imprisoning them, but has been used more generally to refer to policies where immigration agents don’t deport everyone they apprehend.

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This is something that agents have been complaining about for years. Immigration agents suffer from some of the lowest morale in the federal government, and union reps generally tie this to a feeling that they’re not being allowed to do their jobs by deporting unauthorized immigrants. This feeling long predates the president’s 2014 executive actions — in fact, it predates any actual policy limiting deportations. The National ICE Council, the union representing ICE agents, issued a vote of no confidence in then-director John Morton in summer 2010 — before any memos had been released attempting to limit deportations.

The irony here is that the new policy is in line with what ICE agents have long claimed they’re under orders to do — and management’s long denied. Chris Crane, head of the National ICE Council, testified under oath in 2011 that his agents were being given secret, unwritten instructions not to arrest unauthorized immigrants except in very limited circumstances. When pressed by Democrats in Congress, Crane said he couldn’t offer any documentation to support his claims, and that no other agents would be willing to corroborate them out of fear — so his claims of a super-secret unwritten policy started seeming a lot like the West Wing’s “secret plan to fight inflation,” and were generally ignored by Democrats and the press. (So while the new guidance is being described as “catch and release 2.0,” it’s not clear whether the agents believe catch and release 1.0 ever went away.)

But for all that agents complain, ICE field offices have demonstrated — especially during Obama’s first term — that they didn’t have much of a problem deporting immigrants who were supposed to be “low priorities” anyway. This was actually the entire reason the initial deferred-action program was developed in 2012 to begin with. There were already memos asking ICE agents not to deport unauthorized immigrant students who’d been in the US for years. And on the basis of those memos, President Obama and senior officials said confidently that they weren’t “rounding up students.” But those memos weren’t actually sufficient to keep students from getting deported. So the administration had to develop a way for immigrants to apply themselves, proactively, for protection from deportation — rather than relying on ICE and CBP agents to follow guidance.

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There is a big difference between this round of policy changes and previous rounds in 2011 and 2012, though: this time, there’s an actual line of accountability for agents. As one of the November 2014 memos indicated, when ICE wants to deport someone who isn’t supposed to be a “deportation priority,” it’s expected that the head of the field office will sign off on it. That holds agents accountable to their supervisors — and it holds field-office directors accountable to higher-ups in Washington, if an attempt to deport a parent of US citizens turns into a publicity headache for the administration.

So while immigration agents have been claiming for years that they don’t have any power to deport anyone without a criminal record, it looks like that’s going to be truer now than it’s ever been. The unions representing ICE, CBP, and even US Citizenship and Immigration Services agents (who are responsible for processing applications, including those for the deferred-action programs) have never exactly been quiet about how they’d prefer immigration policy to work. Expect them to get even more outspoken — and to have their concerns lifted up even more by Republican critics of the administration.

Russian spy ship in Havana ahead of US delegation’s historic visit

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    A Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov at the port in Havana, January 20, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)

The Russian Navy’s intelligence collection ship, the Viktor Leonov, has docked in Havana just a day before the arrival of an American delegation. The Russian warship is moored in open view of a pier usually used for cruise ships.

The ship’s visit, unannounced by the Cuban authorities, comes as the US and Cuba are attempting to restore diplomatic ties broken in 1961.

The Americans will conduct the first official negotiations with the Cuban leadership in more than half a century.
The Viktor Leonov is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet and is fitted with a wide range of intelligence equipment, a crew of 220 and high-tech electronics.

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“It’s not unprecedented. It’s not unusual. It’s not alarming,” a US defense official told AFP.

In 2014, the Viktor Leonov called at Havana at least twice, in February and March, and those visits were also unannounced. In April, the ship was spotted operating along the US East Coast, in close proximity to a nuclear missile submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, and other American military facilities in the area.

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The Soviet Union and subsequently Russia used to have a huge signal intelligence center (SIGINT facility) in Cuba’s Lourdes, located a mere 250km from continental USA.

In July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied media reports that Russia was planning to reopen the SIGINT facility in Lourdes.

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Embargo remains in place
The high-level talks begin in Havana on Wednesday. The US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson is leading the American delegation, with Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, heading the Cuban negotiators.

The talks will aim to elaborate a roadmap for putting diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US back on track, normalizing ties and re-opening embassies.

The US authorities announced plans to allow American companies to offer their services in Cuba, creating infrastructure on the island and improve communication links with mainland US. America is also likely to unblock the personal accounts of Cuban citizens and companies frozen in American banks. Foreign vessels that dock off Cuba’s coasts will be allowed to call at US ports.

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Some revisions to the decades-old embargoes between the United States and Cuba came into effect on January 16, implementing major changes to the long-standing trade and travel restrictions between the neighboring nations.

READ MORE: New US-Cuba trade, travel rules to take effect Friday, 1st steps to end embargo

New policies, announced by the Obama administration on Thursday this week, are expected to allow American travelers within 12 categories to travel to Cuba without applying for specialized visas, alleviating restrictions that have largely excluded the US public from the island for more than 50 years.

However, the US embargo placed on Cuba in 1962 will remain in place until the US Congress votes to lift it.

In a statement ahead of the talks, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry noted that ties between the two countries could only be normalized when Washington drops the unilateral sanctions against Havana.

Cuba’s official Granma newspaper acknowledged that “certain aspects of the blockade against Cuba are changing.”

But they stressed the measures announced by the US authorities are “just a step in a right direction,” and there is still “a long way to go,” the newspaper said, as quoted by Itar-TASS.

Embedded German Reporter: ISIS Plans to Kill ‘Hundreds of Millions’ in Religious Cleansing

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Jan, 2015
by Cassy Fiano

Liberals keep insisting that Islam is a religion of peace, but what these Islamic terrorists really are, is this generation’s reincarnation of the Nazis. Case in point? ISIS is allegedly on a mission to kill hundreds of millions in a “religious cleansing”.

ISIS killing

Jurgen Todenhofer, the first Western reporter to embed with Islamic State fighters and not be killed in the process, spoke to Al Jazeera about his time with the terror group.

Todenhofer lived side by side with the jihadist fighters for ten days in the Islamic State-stronghold city of Mosul, Iraq. He was accompanied only by his son, who served as his cameraman.

“I always asked them about the value of mercy in Islam,” but “I didn’t see any mercy in their behavior,” explained Todenhofer. He added, “Something that I don’t understand at all is the enthusiasm in their plan of religious cleansing, planning to kill the non-believers… They also will kill Muslim democrats because they believe that non-ISIL-Muslims put the laws of human beings above the commandments of God.”

The German reporter then elaborated on how shocked he was about how “willing to kill” the ISIS fighters are. He said that they were ready to commit genocide. “They were talking about [killing] hundreds of millions. They were enthusiastic about it, and I just cannot understand that,” said Todenhofer

Typical liberal idiot journalist, embedding with terrorists and being just shocked, shocked!, to hear that they are monsters intent on genocide, when anyone else with a functioning brain stem wouldn’t be the least bit surprised by that news. What else could this moron possibly have expected from a group like ISIS?

Iraq: Isis publicly execute 13 teenagers for watching Asian Cup football match

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By Vasudevan Sridharan

An Isis terrorist from Britain called Abu Hajar al-Britani has blown himself up in Iraq
An Isis terrorist
An activist group which secretly documents life inside the Islamic State-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa has reported that militants publicly executed 13 teenage boys for watching the Asian Cup football match between Iraq and Jordan.

Syria Being Slaughtered Silently, quoting Jordanian news agency Petra and other unspecified Iraqi media, reported that the teenagers were rounded up and shot by firing squad in the IS-stronghold of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

According to the report, the boys were caught watching the match and were being accused of breaking Islamic principles.

In a response to IBTimes UK, the group has confirmed the executions have taken place after corroborating the information with local Iraqi activists.

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“The bodies remained lying in the open and their parents were unable to withdraw them for fear of murder by terrorist organisation,” the group also wrote on their website.

Before the victims were executed, their ‘crimes’ were announced on the streets of Mosul on a loud-speaker, the activists said.

The report has not been confirmed by international news agencies or Iraqi authorities and IBTimes UK cannot independently verify it.

The activist group secretly documents the executions carried out by the Sunni Islamist group in various places controlled by them.

The latest chilling execution emerges alongside the threat made by an IS militant, suspected to be “Jihadi John”, to behead two Japanese hostages if their ransom demands are not met.

The masked man – who is believed to be the same militant who appeared in earlier videos executing western hostages James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Alan Henning – has asked for $200m (£132m) within the next 72 hours to free the Japanese captives.

Defiant Obama to Go On Offense in State of Union

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(Washington Post) – The tone and tenor of the Obama White House since Democrats suffered a crushing defeat during the November midterm elections have been anything but conciliatory and have raised doubts about whether the president can — or wants to — break through partisan gridlock before voters choose his successor next year.

The president will enter the House chamber Tuesday night for his sixth State of the Union address riding a wave of confidence driven by an improving economy and brightening public approval ratings. And he seems as defiant as ever.

Although Obama has vetoed just two bills in his six years, the White House has threatened to veto five measures from Congress this month alone — including legislation that would authorize the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, tie funding of the Department of Homeland Security to a rollback of Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and impose new economic sanctions on Iran.

Obama vowed in a private meeting with Democrats last week that he will play “offense” during the final two years of his presidency, building on the aggressive executive actions he laid out over the past two months. The legislative proposals he has previewed — including a plan for free community college and a revamping of the tax code — have been based firmly on his terms, drawing objections from Republicans.

In the weeks leading up to the speech, Obama has toured the country trying to build momentum, putting Republicans on the defensive. Twenty-three guests will join first lady Michelle Obama in her box during the prime-time address, as the president seeks to illustrate his priorities for improving the lives of middle-class Americans. And the White House announced that Obama will travel to Boise, Idaho, and Lawrence, Kan., this week to follow up on his speech in a pair of deep-red states — including one, Idaho, that he has never visited as president.

The Washington Post looks back at some of the top issues of 2014.
“America’s resurgence is real,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback. That’s what I’ll focus on in my State of the Union — how to build on our momentum, with rising wages, growing incomes and a stronger middle class. And I’ll call on this new Congress to join me in putting aside the political games and finding areas where we agree so we can deliver for the American people.”

White House aides said they see no contradiction in Obama’s approach to dealing with the GOP-controlled Congress this year, and they point out that some of his proposals received Republican support in the past. They say Obama is eager to work with the GOP in areas where there is common ground, such as free trade and infrastructure. Republicans — including Obama’s 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney — have been adopting a more populist message on the economy, emphasizing mobility and wage growth, ahead of the 2016 presidential race.

Yet as Obama takes his case to the American public in his address, he has made clear that he doesn’t intend to cede much ground to his rivals.

“Some of them are going to be legislative proposals Republicans may not love, but we’ll push them,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He emphasized that the administration will use “every lever we can — whether it’s with Congress, on our own or using the bully pulpit.”

The president’s proposal to raise $320 billion in new revenue over 10 years by increasing taxes and fees for wealthy Americans and big financial institutions angered Republicans, who had cited tax reform as a potential area of compromise.

“I would guess the president would love for Republicans in Congress to take the bait or to somehow have our heads turned away from working toward constructive solutions in some cases,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in an interview, when asked about Obama’s strategy. “Our goal should be to perform, to show we can legislate responsibly, to show that we are steady, to show that we look out in advance for oncoming issues that need to be dealt with, and that we don’t have the herky-jerky, stop-start, government-on and government-off method that’s been occurring in recent times.”

Corker was one of three congressional Republicans who flew aboard Air Force One with Obama to Knoxville, Tenn., two weeks ago for the president’s announcement of his community college plan — which the White House said would cost the federal government at least $60 billion over 10 years. Their presence on the presidential jet suggested, at least symbolically, that Obama intended new outreach across the aisle. But Corker said that he doesn’t agree with the community college plan — and that he and Obama did not discuss it during their flight or subsequent ride together in the presidential limousine. Rather, he said, they focused on foreign policy. Corker is the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Inside the West Wing, presidential advisers said they don’t think Obama’s aggressive rollout of executive actions and new proposals would further poison the political environment or diminish his chances of working with Republicans on what could be lasting achievements. Rather, aides said, the GOP will pursue bipartisan legislation when it is in their best interest, pointing to Republican support for a $1 trillion spending plan last month to keep the government open.

White House allies have been buoyed by the president’s newly vigorous posture. After two years in which the White House often found itself on the defensive amid a series of domestic and international crises, the president and his advisers have made “a tactical change,” said Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network, a liberal think tank. “They’re doing a better job at creating attention around the fact that they actually have a plan, a series of things they want to do.”

But Republicans insist that won’t be enough. The GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to pursue the proposals he has put forward and instead will begin to put bills on Obama’s desk and dare him to stop them.

“Given how poorly the election went for them, they need to find some way to derive a narrative,” David Winston, president of the Winston Group, a conservative consulting firm, said of the White House. On the president’s executive actions, he added, “There’s only so many he can do. . . . Ultimately, they have to figure out as a White House how to actually interact and get things done at a national level.”

– See more at: http://www.teaparty.org/defiant-obama-go-offense-state-union-78299/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=defiant-obama-go-offense-state-union#sthash.RtL13HIH.dpuf