Illegals benefited from $750M in ObamaCare subsidies…

Capture

Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.

The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed to FoxNews.com on Monday that 471,000 customers with 2015 coverage failed to produce proper documentation on their citizenship or immigration status on time – but stressed that this does not necessarily mean they’re ineligible.

“Lack of verification does not mean an individual is ineligible for financial assistance, but only that a Marketplace did not receive sufficient information to verify eligibility in the time period outlined in the law,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said.

The Senate report also accused the administration of lacking a solid plan to get that money back – and predicted that in the end, the IRS will be “unable to fully recoup the funds.”

“The information provided to the Committee by the IRS and HHS reveals a troubling lack of coordination between the two agencies … and demonstrates that the IRS and HHS neglected to consider how they would recover these wasteful payments,” the report says.

Under the law, the feds can dole out these payments on a temporary basis if a recipient’s legal status is unclear, but are supposed to cut off funding and coverage if the recipient does not later come up with the paperwork. Up to a half-million “ineligible” people, according to the report, applied in this way — with their credits paid in advance to the insurers. The IRS, though, is supposed to get overpayments back from the individuals themselves.

The Senate report, based on a review launched by committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., derisively describes this approach as “pay and chase.”

In other words, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pays credits and subsidies to the insurance companies on behalf of the applicants – and the feds then “chase” after any overpayments to ineligible people once they are discovered.

“This ‘pay and chase’ model has potentially cost taxpayers approximately $750 million,” the report says. The 500,000 individuals in question have been removed from coverage, according to the findings, as the government seeks to get the money back.

The Senate report says the IRS and HHS initially failed to coordinate on a plan for recouping funds, and claimed that a subsequent plan from the IRS to recoup the money is still “ineffective and insufficient.”

In a July letter to Johnson, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen assured that the agency is “committed to identifying and efficiently addressing” improper payments. He reiterated that anyone “not lawfully present” who enrolls for ObamaCare coverage “must repay” the advance premium credit payments, and would be breaking the law if they don’t.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and FoxNews.com’s Judson Berger contributed to this report.

U.S. schools ‘flooded with foreign students’…

Capture

BY EMMA BROWN

As U.S. presidential candidates fight over the best way to address the influx of Central Americans across the Southwest border — with debate about building walls and deporting immigrants — the nation’s public schools have opened their doors, taking responsibility for helping tens of thousands of children find their footing here.

It’s not an easy task.

Many of the new arrivals don’t speak much English and are behind academically. They often come with scars, having fled desperate poverty or violence or both. Many endured difficult journeys, sometimes leaving their families behind or rejoining parents in the United States after years of separation. And U.S. schools, already strapped for resources, are trying to provide special services, including ­English-language instruction and mental-health care.

The schools have to, because it’s the law: Children who are living in this country have a right to a public education, regardless of their immigration status. But for many educators it’s also more than a legal obligation, it’s the moral thing to do.

“The United States is founded on human rights,” said Sandra Jimenez, the principal of High Point High School in Prince George’s County, Md., a Washington suburb where the immigrant population has grown rapidly. “The only reason these people are here is because they are desperate. These people are coming to survive.”

There were more than 630,000 immigrant students nationwide in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the latest federal education data available, which defines immigrants as children born outside the country and enrolled in U.S. schools for less than three years. That figure has grown since immigration across the southern border surged two years ago: Between Oct. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015, federal officials released more than 95,000 unaccompanied minors into U.S. communities, virtually all of them entitled to enroll in public school.

High Point, like many other schools flooded with foreign students, has had to adjust. A school with an enrollment of 2,400, it has registered 282 new immigrants so far this school year. Last year, it took on 396 new immigrants; the year before that, 307. Some of them immigrated legally, and others did not.

Many arrived from December to March — a time of natural transition, because the Central American school year ends in December, Jimenez said.

“This is normal for us,” Jimenez said. “We plan for the influx from the beginning of the year.”

Newcomers are enrolled in classes with other newcomers, and Jimenez changed staffing so that some teachers had room in their schedules to add classes as more children arrived. She hired bilingual staff members in key positions, including administrators, secretaries and security guards. There are evening workshops on family reunification. When students need housing or health care, counselors work to connect them with community groups that can help.

She can speak at length about language acquisition, the pedagogy of teaching English as a second language and the importance of children learning grade-appropriate vocabulary in math, science and social studies — such as “commutative property,” which new arrivals were practicing in a math class on a recent weekday morning.

But Jimenez said that the most powerful thing that the school has done is to show its new immigrant students that they have support and that they are safe. “We have built an oasis. School is the place where people have your back,” she said. “If you don’t feel safe, you can’t learn.”

Advocates agree that schools play a key role in shaping the path that students take after they arrive. Many students are not only poor, struggling with English and navigating without a lot of support at home, they say, but also often are under pressure from gangs seeking new recruits.

“They have all these other factors and pressures going on. It’s critical for schools to provide a holistic, comprehensive support system,” said Zorayda ­Moreira-Smith of CASA of Maryland, an advocacy group. She said Prince George’s County, and High Point in particular, have gone to unusual lengths to let students know they are welcome, including by issuing public statements opposing immigration raids in recent weeks.

“I am deeply troubled by the fear and uncertainty that exists in so many of our school communities as a result of the actions of the Department of Homeland Security,” Superintendent Kevin Maxwell said in a statement in January, when officials said that the raids had caused a drop in attendance. “To our PGCPS students and families: We stand with you.”

Not everyone believes that the nation’s tax dollars should be used to educate immigrants who arrive in the country illegally, and others argue that forcing school districts to take on the challenge isn’t fair when resources already are stretched too thin.

“Congress should not allow the Obama administration to incentivize illegal immigration and human smuggling by rewarding those who participate,” Jessica M. Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, told a House Judiciary subcommittee Thursday, arguing that youths and other immigrants should be detained near the border. In an email to The Washington Post, she bemoaned the effects: “The cost of meeting the educational needs for the kids who are arriving illegally as part of the surge is the main way that the administration’s policy is burdensome to state and local governments.”

Services for immigrant students have caused tension in Prince George’s County. In 2014, school system officials announced that they planned to create two high schools for ­English-language learners; the NAACP objected, arguing that other students also have academic needs that deserve attention.

Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, the school superintendents’ association, said that in many cases of immigrant influxes, class sizes rise and school districts are faced with providing additional services without more funding.

“It’s a problem,” he said. “Having said that, I have to tell you that just about in all cases, districts will bend over backward to accommodate and provide for these students whatever services they need.”

About 8,000 international students enrolled in Prince George’s County schools last school year, and half of them were new to the United States, coming not just from Central America but also from nations as varied as Cameroon, Ethi­o­pia, the Philippines and Jamaica. They all registered through an intake center meant to evaluate their English skills and place them in a suitable school.

On a recent morning at the center, 12-year-old Yenifer Garcia Salguero and her mother, ­stepfather and two younger half-brothers crowded into a small room where she received her assignment to a county middle school.

Yenifer had just arrived from Guatemala and hadn’t seen her mother for a decade. How was she feeling about school, about being in the United States? “Nerviosa,” she said. Nervous.

High Point began confronting those nerves two years ago by hosting “talking circles” with its new immigrant students — a chance for them to share where they are from, what they are afraid of and what they want to achieve.

Suzanne Tchouomtseu Tochie, 19, a senior who arrived from Cameroon in 2014, said that the circles helped her feel connected at a disorienting time.

“People tell their story. They talk about what they’re going through,” she said. “You get to know the real person.”

Social worker Beth Hood and counselor Jessica Jackson held a talking circle one recent morning, inviting a dozen students to scoot their desks into a circle inside a High Point science classroom.

The students were new immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and most had been at the school for a few months. One girl said it was her second day. They listened quietly as one after the other answered the teacher’s questions: What did you imagine about the United States before you arrived? How do you feel now that you are here?

One thought he would be living at the beach, he said in Spanish, and here he was in suburban Maryland. But then the conversation deepened, with some saying they were worried about their immigration cases. Others said they had come to the United States to earn money and hadn’t expected to go to school until immigration officials told them it was required.

Many said they had expected that they would finally be able to spend time with their parents after years apart but that they hardly saw their parents, who were always working. The girl on her second day at High Point said she had been crying because she missed her mom, who was still in El Salvador.

“You have our respect,” Hood told the students in Spanish. “You are not alone in your experiences. This stage of getting used to everything is not forever.”

Hood had invited a 20-year-old junior, Wilson Santos, to offer hope and advice. He had worked on a farm in Guatemala in grinding poverty until three years ago, when he saw no other option than to come to the United States. He walked across the desert, he said, and was stopped by immigration officials while trying to cross the U.S. border.

He never expected to go to school, he said, and yet school became his anchor. He now is a legal resident, he said, and is working a construction job on weekends. He expects to graduate from High Point next year and hopes to own a business someday.

“I feel more than anything proud of myself,” he told his fellow students, speaking in Spanish.

Many students drop out before they get a diploma, and High Point’s on-time graduation rate — though it has climbed in recent years— is 64 percent, far lower than the national average of 82 percent.

Hood, the social worker, said that the figure masks the important progress that students are making in school — including those who drop out. She said they are learning English, learning how to access services and advocate for themselves, and learning how to survive.

Company tracked Iowa caucusgoers’ phones…

Capture

BY DONOVAN SLACK

Who needs exit polls when you can track caucusgoers’ phones?

That’s what one company did. Dstillery, which has been called “Picasso in the dark art of digital advertising,” turned its intelligence-collection capabilities to the Iowa caucuses last week.

The company used location data to identify more than 16,000 devices at caucus locations across the state.

“We can take a population in a discrete location — in this case a polling, a caucus site — and sample that population and go and then look at characteristics of that population that no one’s been able to discern before, because we have this incredibly rich behavioral view of American consumers based on all the digital behaviors we observe,” Dstillery CEO Tom Phillips said in an interview.

The results are interesting, if scientifically inexact. The company could not tell how individual caucusgoers came down by candidate but could determine, in counties decisively won by certain candidates, the dominant online behaviors of attendees:

  • Caucusgoers who were expecting a child or had a young baby tended to be Republican, and they showed up in greater numbers where Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was victorious.
  • Other family behaviors – those associated with both working and stay-at-home parents, buyers of kids’ clothing and back-to-school supplies – were high at caucus sites that went to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. On the Democratic side, they were split between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
  • Caucusgoers in counties won decisively by Donald Trump tended to have stronger household interests – grillers, do-it-yourselfers, lawn and garden and hardware. He didn’t do well with business leaders — those whose online behavior indicates they are business owners or executives. More of those folks showed up where Rubio support was decisive.
  • Sports fans (NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, baseball and fantasy leagues) showed up in greater numbers at caucuses won by Rubio and Sanders. NASCAR fans, however, correlated with Trump and Clinton support.
  • Techies – information-technology decision-makers and technology buyers – correlated with Rubio and Sanders support.

In a harbinger of more (slightly spooky) technologies that could be ahead for political campaigning — if they aren’t already in use — Dstillery also cross-referenced which devices had been used on university campuses during the previous two weeks to determine how many caucusgoers were students — roughly 5.4%, according to the analysis. And those voters showed up in greater numbers where Sanders and Rubio scored decisive wins.

Phillips said caucusgoers should not be concerned that their privacy was compromised.

“All this is totally anonymous,” he said. “We don’t really care who the person is and we don’t have any knowledge of who the person is… We just want to know what the consumer behaviors are attached to that particular device.”

Dstillery, which has not worked with political clients, mainly sells targeted advertising to large companies, including Microsoft, Citibank, Comcast and Verizon.

“We find their audiences for them using machine learning and massive data sets,” Phillips said. “That’s what we do. This is a byproduct of what we do, it’s a fun byproduct of what we do.”

He said the company is at the forefront of taking intelligence data and mapping it to broader digital behaviors. “That’s pretty new. No one’s really doing that, and there’s lots of reasons for that. No one really gets that right,” Phillips said. “So we’ve been able to do that, and we like to show it off.”

BUSH SURPRISE NH: POPS TO #2 IN POLL

Capture

With the New Hampshire primary happening tomorrow, a new Emerson College statewide survey shows Republican Donald Trump poised to win in the Granite State with 31% of likely GOP primary voters. The battle is on for second place, with the next four candidates separated by just 5 percentage points: Jeb Bush (16%), John Kasich (13%), Marco Rubio (12%) and Ted Cruz (11%). In the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders maintains a lead over Hillary Clinton, 54% to 42%.

The survey, conducted from Thursday until late Sunday afternoon, reflects how voter sentiment fluctuates in response to fast-moving events. On Friday, following the Democratic debate, Sanders had a significant bump in his daily numbers to 61%, while Clinton fell to 34%. However, Clinton bounced back by Sunday, closing the gap.

Volatility also characterized the GOP race during this same period. Trump skidded from 37% on Thursday to 22% on Saturday. However, he surged to 33% on Sunday, following his GOP debate performance. Overall, Bush trended upward, from 12% on Thursday to 19% on Saturday and 21% on Sunday. His gain seemed to be at Rubio’s expense. Rubio fell from a high of 17% on Friday to single digits on Sunday.

SAUDI ARABIA PREPARES TO INVADE SYRIA

Capture

150,000 troops from Sunni Arabic countries marshaled for effort

BY KURT NIMMO

CNN’s Arabic division in Dubai reports Saudi Arabia is planning to invade Syria and has mobilized 150,000 troops in the kingdom.

Two sources cited by CNN say “trainees” preparing for the effort are from Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Turkey. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will also participate.

The invasion scheduled for March will be led by the Saudis and Turks and will originate in Turkey, according to CNN.

Last week the US Defense boss Ash Carter said he welcomed a Saudi offer to participate in ground operations. “That kind of news is very welcome,” he told reporters while on a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Carter will meet in Brussels this week with the Saudis. The Saudis confirmed they will also be in Brussels to discuss details of the invasion.

Last week Saudi Brig. Gen. Ahmad Asiri told the United States his country is willing to send troops into Syria. On Friday Saudi officials announced the formation of the Sunni coalition and said military exercises will be held in preparation for an invasion.

Iran mocked the Saudi plan. “They claim they will send troops (to Syria), but I don’t think they will dare do so,” Maj. Gen. Ali Jafaritold reporters in Tehran, according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency. “They have a classic army and history tells us such armies stand no chance in fighting irregular resistance forces.”

Middle East experts believe the move by Saudi Arabia is not about defeating the Islamic State but confronting Iran.

Iranian security and intelligence services are advising and assisting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in his fight against US and Gulf Emirate proxies. In addition to sending the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force to fight on the ground in Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah has taken on a direct combat role. Iraqi Shi‘a brigades are also involved in the fighting.

“Saudi Arabia’s strategic goals in Syria are very different from ours. And any new introduction of foreign ground troops into Syria would be greatly complicating efforts to focus attention on ISIS as the threat,” Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, told US News & World Report. “The Saudis know what their goal is. They want to overthrow Assad. Period.”

“I would consider any introduction of foreign ground troops [into Syria] to be destabilizing. You’re pushing Saudi Arabian power closer and closer to Iran,” Kinzer added. “That kind of ground deployment would certainly undermine the already weak efforts toward peaceful resolution of this conflict.”

Last week UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Misturapostponed Syria peace talks brokered by the internationalist organization. The State Department has blamed Russia “in part” for the failure of the talks.

The proxy forces have refused to participate in talks unless the al-Assad government stops attempting to regain territory overtaken by al-Nusra, IS and other jihadist groups.

Almost half of newly-issued California driver’s licenses went to illegal immigrants

Four out of ten California drivers’ licenses issued in 2015 went to immigrants who were in the US illegally, under a new and controversial state law. The time, effort and expense required by the program have got some citizens grumbling.

Assembly Bill 60, which was adopted in 2013 and came into effect last January, granted the right to acquire a driver’s license in California to people living in the state illegally. Out of the 1.4 million total licenses in 2015, an estimated 605,000 had been issued to undocumented immigrants under the AB-60 program, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the first six months of 2015, of the 759,000 original driver licenses issued in the state, more than half – 397,000 – were AB-60 licenses, the DMV said in July.

“We believe that this new law increases safety on California roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel,” California DMV spokesman Artemio Armenta said.

A total of 830,000 undocumented immigrants applied for licenses, putting the acceptance rate at around 73 percent.

The program is expected to cost the state $141 million over a period of three years, according to the Orange County Register.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in 2013, as part of a trio of immigration reform measures that included the removal of the word “alien” from California’s labor code as a term describing illegal immigrants. Among other things, the new laws will also allow noncitizen high school students to serve as poll workers in elections.

Until the 1990s, states did not explicitly restrict driver’s licenses to legal residents. The push for the bill came from state leaders and law enforcement officials arguing that roads would be safer with more licensed drivers.

“DMV committed to successfully implementing this new law to increase safety on California’s roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto in a statement. “One year after AB 60 implementation there are 605,000 more drivers on the road who have passed all testing requirements and demonstrated their knowledge of California’s rules of the road.”

However, licenses granted to illegal immigrants have the words “federal limits apply” printed on them, which means that police officers in other states aren’t required to accept them as a valid form of identification.

READ MORE:  Illegal immigrant allowed to practice law in New York faces death threats

There are an estimated 2.4 million undocumented immigrants in California, meaning that the initiative has been enormously successful if measured by the proportion of illegals that now have licenses. In fact, the DMV had to hire around 1,000 temporary employees and opened four new processing centers to handle the surge in applications. It also extended hours of operation to included Saturday. Despite this increased capacity, many applicants in 2015 were unhappy with increased wait times at the DMV.

“I have mixed feelings,” 76-year-old Kent Moore told the Orange County Register. “These folks have jobs. And they support families. If they go through the credential process, they shouldn’t be denied.

“But I paid my dues. I’ve been a model citizen. I don’t feel I should have to wait in line for hours, behind newly arrived people who are here illegally.”

The DMV has since returned to its regular hours, and only 200 temporary employees will remain on staff by 2017.

Besides California, nine other states and the District of Columbia allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

 

Hacker posts info of 20K FBI employees, 9K DHS staff

 

Names and addresses of 20,000 FBI employees and over 9,000 Homeland Security workers were dumped on the internet by unknown hackers after they tricked their way into a Department of Justice computer.

Tweeting as @DotGovs, the hackers posted a link pointing to a plain-text post on CryptoBin listing names, job titles, work emails, phone numbers and the states for thousands of employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI. The list includes computer specialists, procurement officers, budget analysts, directors and senior advisers.

Capture

Several news outlets were contacted by the hackers on Sunday evening and given a preview of the data, including Vice’s Motherboard blog and FedScoop. According to the sites, the information in the leak was accurate.

Capture

“We take these reports very seriously, however there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information,” DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said in a statement Monday morning.a

The hackers told Motherboard they accessed the information by compromising an email account of a Justice Department official. They used the email address to “social engineer” access to the DOJ intranet, calling technical support to give them a password.

“So I called up, told them I was new and I didn’t understand how to get past [the portal],” one of the hackers told Motherboard. “They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said ‘that’s fine – just use our one’.”

At that point, the hackers gained access to about a terabyte of data, and managed to download about 200 gigabytes.

“This is for Palestine, Ramallah, West Bank, Gaza, This is for the child that is searching for an answer,” the hackers said at the beginning of their CryptoBin post. Both the message and the method used in the hack resemble those of a different group of anonymous hackers that last year breached the private email accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

Hit by a series of high-profile data breaches in recent years, the US government is demanding more cyber security funding. Last week, Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested nearly $7 billion for the Pentagon’s cyber operations budget in 2017, to “further DOD’s network defenses… build more training ranges for our cyber warriors; and also develop cyber tools and infrastructure needed to provide offensive cyber options.”

The Pentagon’s cyber budget for the current fiscal year is $5.5 billion.

Capture