Justice Dept. Opens New Asylum Gate For Guatemalans

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Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Department of Justice’s board of immigration appeals has decided to let Guatemalan women win asylum in the United States if they claim to be victims of domestic violence.

The decision creates a huge new incentive for Guatemalan women to cross the U.S. border, because if their asylum claim is accepted, their children get U.S. citizenship, plus the use of federal health, education and retirement programs, regardless of their initial education and work skills.

The new decision also means that many of the Guatemalan women who have already crossed the border this year have a new claim for asylum.

“Under this breaking decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals, many [migrant] women [detained at the detention center] Artesia may be eligible for asylum,” said a Aug. 26 tweet from Ben Winograd, a lawyer who is paid to help foreigners win residency and citizenship.

“This (long overdue) BIA decision should make many [foreign] victims of domestic violence eligible for asylum,” said Winograd, a liberal advocate who is based in Alexandria, Va.

The decision was announced in an Aug. 26 decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals at President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice.

The board’s decision likely will accelerate the rapid growth in asylum awards to foreigners. For example, the number of foreigners who successfully filed asylum claims in the United States almost tripled from 2012 to 2013, up to 30,393. (RELATED: Leaked Data Shows 10-Fold Increase In Obama’s Asylum Approvals)

Coyotes and migrants in Central America are exploiting the administration’s lax policies. From Oct. 1 to July 31, 55,420 adults and children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras crossed the border to file asylum claims following the White House’s 2010 decisions to relax enforcement. Another 57,525 “unaccompanied alien minors” were brought by coyotes to the U.S. border, in the expectation that federal agencies will deliver the minors to their parents and relatives already living in the United States.

Few of those who have crossed the border have been sent home.

Since 2010, the administration has relaxed immigration enforcement even though the annual supply of new labor — 4 million Americans youths, roughly 600,000 working-age immigrants and roughly 800,000 foreign guest-workers — far exceeds companies’ demand for extra labor. In response, household wages have dropped since 2010, and nearly all of the income gains since 2010 have gone to the wealthiest investors.

Under long-standing congressional laws and court precedents, people can seek asylum by showing evidence that they are persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality or political opinions or membership in a qualified social group. The “social group” is something of a catch-all category, and already includes married women from El Salvador, thousands of whom have also streamed across the border this year.

“Depending on the facts and evidence in an individual case, ‘married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship’ can constitute a cognizable particular social group that forms the basis of a claim for asylum or withholding of removal,” said the immigration board’s decision.

“We find that the lead respondent, a victim of domestic violence in her native country, is a member of a particular social group composed of ‘married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship,’” it said.

The woman and her three children entered the country in 2005. She was slated for deportation in 2009, and then appealed to the board.

Since 2009, the Department of Homeland Security quietly reversed a prior policy that said victims of domestic violence don’t count as a “social group” for immigration purposes.

Under the DHS’s new policy, DHS officials told the immigration court that “the respondent established that she suffered past harm rising to the level of persecution and that the persecution was on account of a particular social group comprised of ‘married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationships,’” according to the appeals board.

The immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice, not the judiciary.

The Aug. 26 decision is a victory for the progressive groups now trying to help many foreigners become citizens. The domestic-violence decision likely will be used as a precedent in future immigration cases that will be bought on behalf of other women in South American, African and Asia.

Outside the United States, hundreds of millions of women suffer from domestic violence, according to an advocacy report by the United Nations’ World Health Organization. “Overall, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence,” said the 2013 report, which is titled “Global and regional estimates of violence against women.”

“There is a clear need to scale up efforts across a range of sectors, both to prevent violence from happening in the first place and to provide necessary services for women experiencing violence,” the U.N. report said.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/26/justice-dept-opens-new-asylum-gate-for-guatemalans/#ixzz3Bd9KSNNy

PEW SURVEY: 1/3 OF MEXICANS WANT TO MOVE TO AMERICA; 60% DISAPPROVE OF PEÑA NIETO’S ECONOMY

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by TONY LEE 26 Aug 2014

As Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto travels across California and declares America to be “the other Mexico,” a Pew Research survey has found that 60% of Mexicans disapprove of Peña Nieto on the economy. Perhaps as a result, a plurality of Mexicans think that life is better across the border, and a third want to move to America.
In addition, the Pew survey found that “two-thirds are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Mexico today” while “only 30% are satisfied with the country’s direction.” That may be why “a plurality of Mexicans (44%) believe life is better north of the border for those who migrated from Mexico” and “roughly a third (34%) still say they would move to the U.S. if they had the opportunity, including 17% of Mexicans who would do so” illegally. Fewer Mexicans, though, said they had close friends and family in the United States than in years past.
On Monday, Peña Nieto scolded governors who did not embrace open borders. California Gov. Jerry Brown was not one of them. The liberal Democrat who has turned California into a sanctuary state and given illegal immigrants driver’s licenses said that illegal immigrants from Mexico are “all welcome in California.”
Mexicans are overwhelmingly concerned with crime in their country – 79% of respondents said “crime is a very big problem in their country.” In addition, “about seven-in-ten Mexicans also worry about corrupt political leaders (72%), drug cartel-related violence (72%), water pollution (70%) and air pollution (69%).” In addition, “just over six-in-ten say corrupt police officers (63%) are a top problem.”
As Breitbart News noted, a “record 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2012,” and that estimate included “11.4 million immigrants born in Mexico and 22.3 million born in the U.S. who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin,” according to data from the Census and Pew Research. In addition, Mexicans accounted for “nearly two-thirds (64%) of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2012″ and “made up roughly 28% percent of all foreign-born residents in the United States.”
Pew Research, in conjunction with Princeton Survey Research Associates, conducted the interviews in Spanish. The poll was taken in Mexico based on “1,000 face-to-face interviews with adults 18 and older, between April 21 and May 2, 2014,” and its margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

NATO chief eyes more bases in E. Europe to confront Russia

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Under the pretext of an ‘overt’ Russian threat, NATO is pushing for a ‘readiness action plan’ that will bring the Cold War military bloc closer to Russian borders than ever – even despite objections from some NATO members.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the 28-nation military bloc, which meets next week in Cardiff, Wales, would attempt to overcome internal opposition and agree to the deployment of military bases near the Russian border.

Two NATO warships heading to Black Sea

Amid the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, which is fracturing the country along east-west ideological lines, NATO is preparing to install for the first time military “reception facilities” in Eastern European countries, including Poland and the three Baltic countries: Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

“We have something already called the NATO response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed,” Rasmussen said in an interview with several European newspapers. “Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very, high readiness. In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters.”
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The bottom line, according to the NATO chief, is that there will be “a more visible NATO presence in the east.”

Asked whether there would be permanent NATO presence in Eastern Europe, he said, “The brief answer is ‘yes’. To prevent misunderstanding, I use the phrase ‘for as long as necessary’. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan.”

Rasmussen, whose term expires on September 30, said the new NATO forces in Eastern Europe could be “deployed within hours.”

Needless to say, NATO’s militarization of the region will not sit well with Moscow, which has watched with increasing alarm since the collapse of the Soviet Union – despite pledges from the Western military bloc not to expand further east – as NATO continues its march towards Russia’s western border.

Currently, the Polish port city of Szczecin, which military experts anticipate will serve as one of NATO’s new “reception facilities,” represents NATO’s easternmost military presence.

Ironically, NATO’s latest enlargement plans are being opposed not just by Russia, but by its very members, some of whom do not see the point in aggravating tensions with Moscow.

It should come as no surprise that the United States and the United Kingdom, distant as they are from any potential fireworks on the European-Russian border, favor a military escalation in Eastern Europe. Other major NATO members, however, including France, Spain and Italy, have expressed serious reservations to the plans.

Meanwhile, Germany, NATO’s second strongest member, remains uncommitted to the expansion plans.

This should come as no surprise considering the recent deterioration in relations between Washington and Berlin.

Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team participate in training exercises with the Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland, May 1, 2014. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team participate in training exercises with the Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland, May 1, 2014. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

Germany was forced to take a critical new look at its powerful American partner following Edward Snowden’s shocking NSA revelations, which showed massive US and UK spying on German citizens. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal mobile phone was caught up in the international surveillance net.

Remarkably, Rasmussen asserted that Russia “does not consider NATO a partner,” when it was NATO that flat-out refused Russian participation in the controversial US missile defense system, also planned for Eastern Europe. Such cooperation, had it been given the green light, would have sealed the so-called reset between the two Cold War-era foes, bringing to end years of mutual suspicion and antagonism. Instead, the US and NATO opted to keep Russia on the sidelines, ensuring nothing less than another full-blown arms race.

Speaking on the subject of Crimea’s decision to hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation under the threat of military attack by pro-Kiev forces, Rasmussen commented that “nobody had expected Russia to grab land by force.”

At the same time, the outgoing NATO chief reiterated claims – surprisingly without providing any sort of unassailable proof, in this age of advanced surveillance equipment – that Russia is actively participating in the Ukrainian upheaval.

“We have seen artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine. We have seen a Russian military buildup along the border. Quite clearly, Russia is involved in destabilizing eastern Ukraine … You see a sophisticated combination of traditional conventional warfare mixed up with information and primarily disinformation operations. It will take more than NATO to counter such hybrid warfare effectively,” Rasmussen was quoted as saying.

NATO officials, however, have admitted their intelligence is not perfect.

“We can only watch from 23 miles (37km) up,” one official told the Guardian.

Ukrainian servicemen rest in the shade next to an armoured vehicle topped with a Ukrainian flag as they take up a position near the eastern city of Debaltceve, in the region of Donetsk, on July 30, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)Ukrainian servicemen rest in the shade next to an armoured vehicle topped with a Ukrainian flag as they take up a position near the eastern city of Debaltceve, in the region of Donetsk, on July 30, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is to attend the NATO summit, where the 28-member bloc has prepared four ‘trust funds’ to finance Ukraine’s military logistics, command structures, and cyber defense forces, and to pay overdue military pensions.

Yet somehow Rasmussen was able to say of Russia’s embattled neighbor.

“Ukraine follows its own path…It is actually what we will decide to do at the summit, to help them build the capacity of their security sector, modernize it,” he said.

Meanwhile, it looks as if Rasmussen will be passing around the proverbial hat during next week’s summit, looking to collect more money from NATO members, even as their own countries are facing economic turmoil amid IMF-enforced austerity measures.

“Since the end of the Cold War we have lived in relatively good weather. Now we are faced with a profound climate change. That requires more investment,” said the NATO chief.

It will be interesting to see how many member states take up this latest challenge, which threatens to ratchet up European-Russian tensions to levels not seen since the Cold War.

Meanwhile, there is no question as to how Russia views NATO’s relentless eastward encroachment.

“No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on,” President Putin said in July at an emergency Security Council meeting in Moscow. “As it stands, NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.”

Putin stated that NATO’s military build-up near Russia’s border, which includes the US-built missile defense system, is not just for defensive purposes, but is an “offensive weapon” and an “element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland.”

US intelligence: 300 Americans fighting alongside Islamic State

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The United States government is tracking as many as 300 Americans supposedly fighting with Islamic State, the jihadist group with a heavy presence in parts of Syria and Iraq, according to senior US officials.

Washington is worried that radicalized foreign fighters could become a risk to the US if they return to employ skills learned overseas to carry out attacks, anonymous US officials said, according to the Washington Times.

“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” a senior US official said. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”

Past reports have put the possible number of Americans who have flocked to the fundamentalist extremist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL) at around 100. IS, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, gained strength fighting Bashar Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war before turning to cross the border into Iraq, where they have made swift gains in western and northern sections of the volatile country.

The US State Department did not respond to the Washington Times when asked to comment on Americans fighting in Iraq or Syria.

The news of as many as 300 Americans fighting with IS comes one day after reports that a 33-year-old American, Douglas McAuthur McCain, was killed over the weekend in Syria while battling alongside Islamic State against members of a separate opposition group. Family members confirmed his passing to NBC News, and senior US officials acknowledged that they were aware of the man’s death.

McCain had expressed support for IS on his Twitter account.

Other IS supporters have taken to social media to inspire anxiety among the US government. In recent weeks, photos were posted on Twitter showing the Islamic State flag unfurled in front of the White House, and, in front of the Old Republic building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, a message in Arabic was shown, reading, “We are in your state, we are in your cities, we are in your streets, you are our goals anywhere.”

The Secret Service is investigating the photo near the White House. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued last week a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies to be alert without identify a specific threat.

“We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

The alleged IS killer of kidnapped American journalist James Foley, shown in a video last week before he was supposedly beheaded, said that militant Muslims are proliferating throughout the world, not just in Iraq and Syria.

“You’re no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by large number of Muslims worldwide,” Foley’s executioner said. “So effectively, any aggression towards the Islamic State is aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who has accepted the Islamic caliphate as their leadership. So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”

The Obama administration believes any potential attack by American jihadists returning to the US would likely be carried out on a small scale, such as suicide bombings, and not a time-consuming long-range plan such as the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Senior US officials said, according to the Washington Times, that intelligence agencies will put any Americans affiliated with IS on an appropriate watch list or no-fly list.

“I know that law enforcement agencies in Homeland Security are mindful of some Americans who have become radicalized, and some have taken up with [the Islamic State],” an official said.

An image grab taken from YouTube video ‘ISIS Beheading of Journalist James Foley Captures World’s Attention’An image grab taken from YouTube video ‘ISIS Beheading of Journalist James Foley Captures World’s Attention’

How the Department of Homeland Security would track such Americans was not immediately clear, according to the report.

Despite all the consternation in official Washington over such potential threats, observers note that IS has gained strength from the financial backing of United States’ allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Elite donors of American allies in the Persian Gulf region have poured an immense amount of resources into rebel groups like IS in efforts to advance on three general goals: opposing Iran, its ally Bashar Assad and his government in Syria, and fomenting the Sunni-Shia divides in the region.

Meanwhile, the United States has also supported so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels with both lethal and non-lethal aid, lending to fears that arms sent with the help of the Gulf states were channeled to the likes of IS.

In addition, Western incursions in the region, namely the 2003 invasion of Iraq that ushered in a brutal sectarian war that still divides the country today, have led to extreme instability, creating a power vacuum for militant groups to fill.

In light of IS advances across Syria and Iraq, the US Department of Defense is considering a number of options for President Obama to consider, including airstrikes against militant positions in Syria, similar to those the US has recently carried out against IS in Iraq. The US insists, though, that there are no plans to coordinate anti-terror attacks with the Syrian government.