Deportations Hit 10-Year Low as Obama Prepares Exit

BY BOB PRICE

Deportation of illegal immigrants hit a 10-year low during President Obama’s last full fiscal year in office. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also appeared to be cutting back on information provided about all three of its law enforcement agencies.

The administration waited until the last Friday of the year to release its final FY 2016 report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal operations.

“It’s no wonder that they waited for a day when hardly a soul was paying attention; the numbers for ICE are abysmal, even worse than 2015,” Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughn reported this week. If there were an award for government reports that aim to obfuscate and spin, I would nominate this one.”

Vaughn wrote that the annual reports have historically provided basic statistics from all three of the department’s law enforcement agencies. This year, the report sneaked out by DHS officials on the last working day of the month normally, in two versions, was scaled back to provide only a fraction of the information normally disclosed. The reported is compiled by the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) which has a new director, Marc Rosenblum.

Vaughn listed the following as key findings from the annual report:

  • Deportations credited to ICE in 2016 increased by 2 percent. All of the increase came from cases of aliens arrested by the Border Patrol, not interior enforcement.
  • Interior deportations fell from 69,478 in 2015 to 65,322 in 2016, out of a population of illegal aliens now estimated at 12 million.
  • Deportations of criminal aliens fell from 63,127 in 2015 to 60,318 in 2016, out of an estimated population of two million.
  • The total number of deportations under the Obama administration is not easily comparable to prior administrations because of the number of border cases included, but it certainly is not record-breaking, as Obama has claimed.
  • DHS maintains that CBP arrests have always been a large share of ICE deportations, but in fact this is a new development under the Obama Administration. In prior administrations, only a third of deportations credited to ICE were border cases; now about two-thirds are.

One of the priorities of the Obama Administration was supposed to be deporting criminal aliens and others designated under the Priority Enforcement Program introduced in November 2014. Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby dubbed the program “Catch and Release 2.0” in an article published in January 2015.

“Before these changes,” a federal agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Breitbart Texas at the time, “all illegal aliens arrested by Border Patrol were required to enter the deportation system where they would be scheduled for a deportation hearing at a future date. Under this new system, the illegal aliens are not even required to show up for a hearing ever.”

“Not only are we releasing these people with no hearings scheduled, no notice to appear, but the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] is forcing Border Patrol to prepare the initial paperwork for the illegal aliens’ work permits.” The source added, “Americans really need to think about the terrorism-related implications of this. Illegal aliens who are suspected of having terrorism ties, but not convicted, could be permitted to stay in the country.”

The impact of the new program has been dramatic in a negative way. The charts below show the dramatic decline of interior deportations (called removals by the DHS) and the removal of criminal aliens from the U.S.:

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Vaughn reported that 98 percent of all interior deportations were convicted criminals. This means that other migrants who have been crossing the border in massive numbers for the past several years are simply allowed to stay.

Even though the removal of criminal aliens made up nearly all of the interior deportations, the numbers of criminals being deported also continued to fall from previous years. This is not because the country is running out of criminal aliens to deport.

“The main reason for the decline is the Obama administration’s prioritization scheme that has steadily narrowed the types of cases that ICE officers are permitted to pursue.

The total number of removals (deportations and voluntary returns) increased by less than 5,000 in FY 2016 compared to FY 2015. However, the total deportation number of 240,000 aliens is 41 percent lower than the peak FY 2012 numbers.

“Obama has the lowest rate of deportations since the Nixon Administration,” Vaughn stated. “The administration and its allies frequently point out that more than two million removals have occurred since 2009, an accomplishment that they characterize as record-breaking.”

Vaughn explains why this is not true:

But counting only removals as deportations presents a misleading picture of the level of enforcement. Removals are just one form of the deportation process that can be executed by any of the three DHS enforcement agencies (ICE, Border Patrol, and CBP officers at the port of entry). All three enforcement agencies also can process deportable aliens as a return (sometimes known as voluntary return), which is a lesser consequence. In general most border deportations are processed as returns and most interior deportations are processed as removals, but in recent years many more aliens apprehended at the border have been turned over to ICE for a brief period of detention and then removed in recent years, in a departure from the traditional “you catch ’em, you clean ’em” policies, where the arresting agency typically handles the deportation process. In addition, illegal border-crossers who have been removed previously, or who are prosecuted for smuggling or other crimes are turned over to ICE for processing. Under these scenarios, the Border Patrol will count the case as an apprehension, which is their marquee enforcement metric, and ICE will count the case as a deportation.

Under Obama, a much larger number of Border Patrol cases were transferred to ICE for processing than had been the case under prior administrations. In 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, just over a third of deportations credited to ICE were border cases, and two-thirds were interior cases. In 2016, more than two-thirds of the deportation cases credited to ICE were border cases, and less than a third were interior cases.

Rather than using removals as the measurement, Vaughn suggests that a more “apples-to-apples” comparison can be made by examining interior deportations and border removals separately. “Neither the Border Patrol nor CBP publishes the total number of deportations executed, and many of the cases are transferred to ICE, so year-by-year comparisons of border deportations alone are impossible using open source statistics,” she stated.

Using these methods, Vaughn concluded that the Obama Administration has completed a total of 5.3 million deportations (both interior and border removals. That number represents about half of those same actions under the administration of then-President George W. Bush. It is not the Obama Administration that holds the record for deportations. Rather, it is the Clinton Administration record with 12.3 million deportations reported.

The following chart provided by the CIS reveals the average number of deportations reported annually:

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Vaughn was extremely critical of the content of the new annual report released by first-year Director Rosenblum. ”The first set of reports prepared under the tenure of new OIS Director Marc Rosenblum, formerly of the Migration Policy Institute, are of dubious value,” she stated. She explained that the previous year’s reported provided numerous data tables and explanatory materials providing a more neutral view of actions taken by the department. Typically, those reports would provide data covering multiple years for comparison.

“The new reports include only one set of actual enforcement statistics with only five numbers drawn from DHS systems — repeat, five enforcement statistics,” Vaughn reported. “Specifically, OIS is reporting: the number of inadmissibility determinations at the port of entry; the number of Border Patrol apprehensions; the number of ICE arrests, the number of book-ins to detention, and the total number of deportations. No numbers are provided for prior years, but percentage changes from 2015 are reported.”

Vaughn concluded that the immigration issue will continue to be one of the most important and contentious policy matters facing the new President and his administration. “The incoming Trump administration and Congress must insist that DHS return to a relatively standardized and apolitical manner of publishing the vital statistics of the immigration agencies in order to support this discussion.”

REPORT: RINOS MCCAIN & GRAHAM BLOCKED TRUMP’S TOP DHS PICK OVER AMNESTY

Turncoat senators threatened veto of immigration patriot Kobach

GotNewsJANUARY 5, 2017

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain blocked President-elect Donald J. Trump’s first pick for Secretary of Homeland Security Kris Kobach over Kobach’s opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens, according to a highly-placed source familiar with the transition process.

The source told GotNews that anti-immigration Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was Trump’s first pick for the head of the Department of Homeland Security, but that he eventually had to go with General John Kelly for the position because Graham and McCain swore to block Kobach’s confirmation in the Senate.

Graham and McCain reportedly blocked Kobach over his strict opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.

Kobach’s hardcore plans were previously leaked and reported here on GotNews as including building a wall “rapid[ly]”, deporting a “record number” of illegal aliens, and ending election fraud.

President-elect Donald J. Trump has also privately said that endorsing John McCain for re-election in the Senate was his “biggest regret”, as GotNews exclusively reported earlier today. It’s unclear if McCain’s efforts to block Kobach factored into Trump’s assessment.

Although Kobach may not head the DHS, reports say he may yet join the Trump administration as President Trump’s “immigration czar.”

You won’t hear this stuff from the lying mainstream media. Keep the GotNews mission alive: donate at GotNews.com/donate or send tips to editor@gotnews.com. If you’d like to join our research team, contact editor@gotnews.com.

GotNews’ anonymous sources are the best in the world. They helped us break the story that Dana Rohrabacher was in consideration for the post — later confirmed publicly by Kellyanne Conway — and the story that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani had taken himself out of the running, later confirmed by President-elect Trump himself.

Our anonymous sources also let us break the story that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was picked for the position of Secretary of State 3 full days before The New York Times — and we even got the exact day of the announcement right.

Stay tuned for more.

Our researchers shut down Facebook’s biased left-wing trending news team. They discovered never before seen footage of a young Barack Obama whining about white privilege in Kenya. They debunked and destroyed Hillary Clinton’s narco baby mama Alicia Machado, who quit giving interviews because of us. If you’d like to hire our research team, email us at editor@gotnews.com.

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Trump Wall Team Concerned Possible DHS Cover Up, Document Fraud

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BY RICK WELLS

The Trump transition team is preparing for a return to border security and perhaps, to boldly go where no US administration has gone before. That would appear to be the case in both the nature of the structures being considered as well as their locations, to possibly include hundreds of miles on the Canadian border as well.

One thing seems certain, the change many of us were praying for is in the works. Reuters reports that in a December 5th meeting, President-elect Trump’s transition team asked their open borders predecessors currently controlling DHS for a wide-ranging list of documents and analysis. Included in that were their determinations as to all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff identified over 400 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, and roughly an equal distance along the U.S.-Canada border. Their report estimated the cost of building vehicle fencing along the northern border fence to be $3.3 billion with coverage totaling 452 miles including sections between Canada and the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Another 413 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing on the southwest border was estimated to have a cost of $11.37 billion. According to the report, pedestrian fences require more staff and would cost $11.2 million per mile versus $4.1 million per mile to build. DHS statistics, taken for what they are and with the knowledge of the track record of deception by the agency, indicate there were 2,626 illegals apprehended on the Canadian border in 2015, compared to 331,333 on the southern border.

The Trump team also requested information about DHS’ ability to expand their alien detention capacity and about the decision to drastically cut back the aerial surveillance program Operation Phalanx, which currently authorizes 1,200 Army National Guard airmen to patrol the southern border in defense against drug trafficking and illegal human crossing. At one time under George W. Bush, 6,000 airmen were deployed to the border but it was too effective and obstructed Hussein Obama’s overall invasion and repopulation plans, resulting in the downsizing.

In what is an indicator that they are fully aware the outgoing regime can’t be trusted any further than Jeh Johnson can be thrown and kicked, the Trump team asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the department about aliens, “out of concern for their civil liberties.”

A Department of Homeland “Security” official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the agency interpreted the request to mean the transition team wanted to make sure that federal workers were not tampering with information to protect DACA recipients and other illegal aliens from deportation. We can’t exclude the Democrat staple, a desire to protect their own worthless, subversive hides by eliminating evidence, a Clinton – Obama favorite.

A summary document indicates they also asked for copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009. Rep Trey Gowdy and the folks at Judicial Watch could attest to the expected response time and completeness of the documents from the Obama subversives in two words, “go fish.” They’ll be digging for what hasn’t been destroyed themselves and may already be searching NSA archives in that regard.

The Trump border wall appears to be taking shape as being on two borders as a combination of wall, fencing and technology, whatever provides the best security. That’s a strong departure from our current “philosophy” of choosing what, if any, security measures will be implemented with a priority on their ease of being defeated and the needs of smugglers and cartels to have ready access to the American interior. Putting America first already looks quite different from business us usual.

Seven Ways Obama Is Trying to Sabotage the Trump Administration

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BY JOHN HAYWARD

President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office seem dedicated to setting foreign and domestic policy on fire to make life as difficult as possible on his successor, Donald Trump. Here are some of the biggest mousetraps Obama scattered across the White House floor on his way out:

Betraying Israel at the United Nations: Obama’s refusal to block a United Nations vote against Israel, his administration’s shadowy machinations to bring that ugly motion to the floor, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s long-winded broadside against Israel will leave President Trump with a massive political crisis in the Middle East, and quite possibly a security crisis, if terror groups and their “political wings” are emboldened by the rebuke of Israel.

Obama’s Israel maneuver also damages American credibility, teaching would-be allies that the United States is not the best friend to have. America’s erstwhile battlefield allies in Syria can teach the same lesson, assuming any of them are left alive to take the podium. This comes at the very moment aspiring hegemons in China and Russia are showing their allies how Beijing and Moscow will go to the mat for them.

Obama’s team thinks it was clever to saddle Trump with an international edict the U.S. president cannot easily reverse. They might not have thought this all the way through, because some of the options that are available to Trump could leave internationalists, and Palestinian leaders, cursing Barack Obama’s memory.

Note that even some commentators friendly to Obama, and sources within the Obama Administration itself, have described the Israel vote as a deliberate act of sabotage aimed at Trump, because Obama is “alarmed” by some of Trump’s appointees.

A new Cold War with Russia: After eight years of relentlessly mocking anyone who said Russia was a major geopolitical threat to the United States (most famously including his 2012 presidential opponent, Mitt Romney) Barack Obama suddenly realized: “You know what? Russia is a major threat!”

He also awoke to the dangers of cyber-warfare, after an entire presidency of treating electronic espionage as a purely political problem to be minimized and spun away, because taking it seriously made him look bad. Who can forget how Obama left victims of the OPM hack twisting in the wind for weeks, because the administration didn’t want to admit how serious the attack was?

But then a top Democrat political operative fell for a crude phishing scam, and the Democratic National Committee got hacked, so Obama… well, he still didn’t take cyber-espionage seriously. He slapped the snooze bar again, because as one anonymous official put it, they thought Hillary Clinton was a cinch to win the 2016 election, “so they were willing to kick the can down the road.”

No, it was Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election, and the desperate push to damage President-elect Trump’s legitimacy, that made the president who politely ignored China hacking 25 million American citizens’ private data get tough on information security. Until now, states involved in cyber-espionage never got anything worse than a few carefully-chosen words of sour disapproval from the expiring administration, but the Russkies received a sprinkling of sanctions, and 35 diplomats were expelled.

Russia responded by unleashing an army of ducks and trolls from the depths of the Kremlin. The New Cold War is only a few days old, and it’s already weirder than the old one was.

Presumably Obama thinks he’s maneuvered Trump into a position that will make whatever rapprochement he might have entertained with Moscow more difficult, or at least more politically costly for the new President. The end result might be easier relations between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a lingering memory of how little Barack Obama cared about cybersecurity until it was politically expedient for him to freak out.

Ban on oil drilling: An overt act of sabotage directed at the American economy itself, leaving an especially heavy bootprint on Alaska. Smug administration flacks spent the past couple of weeks assuring media talking heads that Obama’s unprecedented abuse of an obscure law was impossible for his successor to reverse. It’s like they stayed up all night, looking for executive actions that can’t be undone by the new President four weeks later. (Amusingly, Obama dropped this bomb on our energy sector just a few weeks after publicly advising Trump not to abuse executive orders.)

It’s likely that legions of lawyers will battle throughout 2017, and perhaps beyond, to determine if Obama’s “latest poke at Trump” (as Politico put it) really is irreversible. What a lovely parting gift from the departing President to the country that elected him twice: a pile of gigantic wealth-destroying lawsuits!

National-monument land grab: The other theoretically irreversible presidential edict discovered by Obama’s munchkins is the ability to designate national monuments. Another 1.65 million acres in Utah and Nevada was yanked off the market in the last week of December, bring Obama’s Antiquities Act acreage up to an unprecedented 553 million acres.

“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand. I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation,” thundered Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Sixty-five percent of his state is now under the wise and compassionate environmental protection of the same government that turned the Colorado River into a toxic-waste dump.

Eliminating the national immigration registry: Just in case Trump got any ideas about using it as the basis for the “enhanced vetting” he has promised for immigrants from terrorist-infested regions, the Obama administration killed a long-dormant program called NSEERS that once committed the unforgivable politically-incorrect sin of tracking military-age males from violently unstable Muslim-majority countries.

It’s highly debatable whether the NSEERS program was of any practical use. When it pulled the plug, the Department of Homeland Security noted that the post-9/11 program called for collecting data that is now routinely collected for most foreign visitors, along with more sophisticated biometric information. Almost everyone saw the elimination of these roles as a purely symbolic act — i.e. political sabotage directed at the incoming President.

The great Guantanamo jailbreak: After paying little more than lip service to his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for much of his presidency, Obama went into overdrive in his last years, transferring over 150 detainees. A shocking number of them ended up back on the battlefield.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week to sound the alarm about Obama’s “midnight push to empty out Guantanamo.” 

“The White House has repeatedly released detainees to countries it knew lacked the intent and capability to keep the detainees from returning to terrorism. The results have been deadly,” Royce wrote, challenging the wisdom of such Obama administration brainstorms as dropping al-Qaeda’s top bomb maker into Bosnia, a country with “limited security services” but plenty of radical mosques and unemployed military-age males. Royce’s committee has been investigating allegations the administration tried to pay the bomb-maker $100,000 to refrain from passing his deadly skills along to eager apprentices. Hunting down the rest of the transferred prisoners who transferred themselves right back into the global jihad will be a job for the Trump administration.

Depicting Trump’s election as a disaster: Let’s not forget Obama’s acts of rhetorical sabotage, such as describing Trump’s presidential campaign as a crime against American class and racial harmony, or his wife wailing that all hope was lost for America’s children. Trump himself has taken note of the “many inflammatory President Obama statements and roadblocks.”

It’s hard to remember a previous instance of the outgoing president attacking the legitimacy of his successor this way, especially during the transition, before the new chief executive has actually done anything. And it’s probably not over yet. The time for big executive orders is growing short, but Obama is always just one day away from calling a press conference and saying something else that will make the transition more difficult.

Of course he can still talk all he wants after January 20th, and he’s given every indication he won’t follow the dignified path of his predecessors and allow the new president time to chart his own course, but there’s no substitute for the bully pulpit of the presidency. The timber of Barack Obama’s political voice will be very different on January 21st than it was on January 19th. More likely than not, he’ll use it before he loses it.

CENTRAL AMERICANS CONTINUE TO SURGE ACROSS U.S. BORDER, NEW DHS FIGURES SHOW

U.S. officials are grappling with a 15 percent surge in illegal immigration

BY ABIGAIL HOUSLOHMER

U.S. officials are grappling with a 15 percent surge in illegal immigration, reflecting continued failures by the Obama administration to deter illegal immigration along the country’s southwestern border.

Homeland Security officials apprehended 530,250 illegal immigrants and sent 450,954 people back to their home countries over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

The majority of those apprehended come from Central American countries and include 137,614 families and unaccompanied children, part of an ongoing flight from high crime and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which human rights advocates have urged the administration to treat as a refu­gee crisis.

The number of families and children in the past year also exceeded figures from 2015 and 2014, when illegal immigrants from Central America overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol stations at the Mexican border and President Obama called the flow of children an “urgent humanitarian situation.”

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Administration officials said Friday that the latest “removal” figures reflect a concerted policy shift to target convicted criminals over others.

“We continued to better focus our interior resources on removing individuals who may pose threats to public safety — specifically, convicted criminals and threats to national security,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “This prioritization is reflected in actual results.” More than 99 percent of those forcibly removed from the country over the most recent 12-month period fell into the administration’s three priority categories.

Overall deportations have dropped over the past few years, from a peak of more than 400,000 during Obama’s first term.

Immigration human rights advocates, including J. Kevin ­Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies, say the priorities were a good move — probably resulting in fewer deportations overall — but have come too late.

“In the end, the president will be remembered as a deporter, not a reformer. In the first four years, he set record numbers in removals, much to the dismay of the immigrant community,” Appleby said.

Immigration advocates have repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for its increased reliance on detention facilities, particularly for Central American families, who they argue should be treated as refugees fleeing violent home countries rather than as priorities for deportation.

They also say that the growing number of apprehended migrants on the border, as reflected in the new Homeland Security figures, indicate that home raids and detentions of families from Central America isn’t working as a deterrent.

According to the Homeland Security report released Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed 352,882 people in detention facilities in fiscal 2016, a sharp rise from 193,951 people placed in detention last year.

Officials said Friday that the shifting demographic — from predominantly Mexican adults trying to cross the border 10 years ago to a larger proportion of Central Americans crossing today — has placed an added strain on Homeland Security resources due to the costs of sending people back to Central America and because of longer processes for people with security concerns.

Many of those arriving from Central America have applied for asylum with claims of “credible or reasonable fear of persecution” in their home countries, Homeland Security officials said.

After pressure from immigration rights advocates, the administration last summer announced plans to expand a State Department program to allow Central American minors to apply for refu­gee status.

But human rights activists ­expect detentions to increase under the administration of ­President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to step up the deportation of illegal immigrants and build a wall on the Mexican border.

Earlier this month, Trump said he would nominate retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, a border security hawk, to run the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly has warned about cross-border threats from Mexico and Central America.

Homeland Security figures released Friday showed that nearly 84 percent of the people removed from the United States in fiscal year 2016 were categorized as Priority 1, which includes ­“national security threats, convicted felons or ‘aggravated felons,’ criminal gang participants, and illegal entrants apprehended at the border,” according to the department’s report.

It was also unclear how many of those convicted were violent criminals or national security threats, as opposed to those whose offenses related only to crossing the border illegally. Twenty-two percent of those sent back to their countries also had no prior criminal convictions, the report said.

Political retribution? Trump press sec questions Russia sanctions, brings up unanswered ‘China hack’

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The incoming White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, said it makes him wonder if President Obama’s anti-Russian measures were “political retribution,” given that a massive hack of federal data in 2015 linked to China saw “not one thing happen” in response.

*

Spicer brought into question the magnitude of the new sanctions approved by Barack Obama, which included the expulsion of 35 diplomats and the closing of two diplomatic facilities while speaking to ABC’s This Week program hosted by Jonathan Karl and aired on Sunday.

READ MORE: ‘I always knew he was smart’ – Trump responds to Putin’s reaction to sanctions

“I think one of the questions that we have is, ‘Why the magnitude of this?’ I mean you look at 35 people being expelled, two sites being closed down, the question is, ‘Is that response in proportion to the actions taken?’ Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t – but you have to think about that,” Spicer said, adding later, “If you look at our history, you haven’t seen a response like that in modern history for any action.”

*

Donald Trump’s team member then went on to contrast Obama’s decision with the apparent lack of action on what has been branded the biggest security breach in US government history, when millions of federal employees had their unique fingerprint records stolen. While US officials have accused China of being behind the hack that made headlines in June 2015, the furthest Obama went was to warn Beijing of economic sanctions as President Xi Jinping was visiting the US.

“Hold on let’s look at this, in 2015, China took over a million records, sensitive data of people like me who had worked in the government at any time, classified or personal information, where we lived, things we had written down on our applications, our security clearances and… a White House statement wasn’t even issued. No action publicly was taken. Nothing, nothing was taken when millions of people had their private information, including information on security clearances [compromised],” Spicer said.

China has denied it has anything to do with the hacks. After meeting Xi in Washington, DC in September 2015, Obama claimed US and China had agreed not hack each other’s intellectual property.

READ MORE: China repeatedly hacked US, stole data on nukes, FBI & war plans – security report

Spicer, however, argues that following the hack the only thing the White House did was to “send everyone who had worked in the government a letter saying that you get free monitoring of your credit.”

“Not one thing happened. So, there is a question about whether there’s a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response,” he added, alluding to the fact that it was the Democratic National Committee’s servers that the White House says “state-sponsored” Russian hackers intruded, and that the information leaked was ultimately damaging to the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

*

Spicer was cautious when assessing if the incoming president, should reverse the sanctions, echoing Trump’s promise to get a separate intelligence briefing on the hacking allegations.

“The President-elect needs to sit down with the heads of the intelligence communities next week and get a full briefing on what they knew, why they knew it, whether or not the Obama administration’s response was in proportion to the actions taken,” Spicer said.

When pressured by Karl with a question about whether the new FBI/DHS report made Trump “accept the fact that Russia was behind the DNC hack,” Spicer responded that the report did not actually talk about the Russian government being responsible for the hack.

“While the media played it up as this report about the hacking, what it actually is, if you look through it, and its available online, is a series of recommendations that should be taken, like changing passwords, changing administrative rights. What it shows is that by all measures the Democratic National Committee had a very lax IT support,” Spicer pointed out.

READ MORE: Report on ‘Russian hacking’ offers disclaimers, barely mentions Russia

Despite being menacingly titled “GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity,” the December 29 report did not provide any evidence the hacking groups described there had any connection to Moscow. The details of the hack itself remained vague, with the target being described as only “a US political party” and no indication given to which batch of leaked emails it referred – DNC’s or Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta’s. The 13-page report does provide nine pages of security improvement recommendations, as well as a disclaimer saying the DHS “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

*

Elsewhere in US mainstream media, where the story of the “Russian hacking” has been aggressively pushed, the Washington Post had to walk back on its story alleging that “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility” which posed a risk “to US electrical grid security.”

The article cited unnamed officials, but the company in question, Burlington Electric, then publicly clarified that there was only “suspicious internet traffic” detected on a laptop not even connected to the grid.

The Post added an editorial note saying, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the US electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far.” The headline, however, was still claiming that, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility,” as of late Sunday, accompanied by a picture of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) building in central Moscow.

California DMV licensed 800,000 illegals under 2-year-old law…

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BY TATIANA SANCHEZ

On the day that California officials implemented a controversial law that allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, DMV offices throughout the state were packed with immigrants looking to take advantage of the opportunity.

Two years after the implementation of AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. About 14,000 of these licenses were issued in November alone, the DMV said.

The law has allowed undocumented residents to come out of the shadows and drive safely in their neighborhoods, according to Maricela Gutierrez, executive director of the immigration advocacy organization, SIREN.

“Many of them have been able to drive their kids to school and to run errands, when many times they were taking buses that would take them up to three hours to get from point A to point B,” she said. “It opened up new opportunities.”

One San Jose resident who applied for a license just a few days after AB 60 went into effect received his license in the mail shortly after.

“It’s a completely different feeling because you no longer have to worry about seeing a police car,” said the 46-year-old, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Ramon. “You’re much more at peace when you drive. You can drive long distances with your family — to Disneyland or to the Monterey Bay Aquarium — with confidence. You don’t live in fear.”

But as President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed an illegal immigration crackdown as a candidate, prepares to take office, the law is coming under renewed scrutiny.

Many of those who received driver’s licenses under the law now fear they’ll become deportation targets if federal immigration authorities can access their DMV information, despite assurances from state officials that it won’t happen.

“We have definitely been hearing about a lot of fear from our community, especially with a new administration coming on board and the anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s been out there,” said Gutierrez. “Everything is theoretical as we speak, but we are definitely taking precautions.”

The organization hosts workshops to inform immigrants of their rights and has advised AB 60 recipients to be cautious on the road.

The law aimed to ease deportation fears that proved a barrier for undocumented residents to be tested and licensed to drive, a potential safety concern in a state that is home to an estimated 3 million illegal immigrants. Access to a license also makes it easier for those residents to find work and put their kids in public school.

Opponents argued the law would weaken immigration enforcement and questioned the public safety benefit, noting it didn’t guarantee undocumented immigrants receiving licenses would buy auto insurance.

Critics also point to another state “motor-voter” law, AB 1461, that starting in 2017 will automatically register most licensed California drivers to vote, arguing it could lead to election fraud if non-citizens barred from voting in federal elections become registered. State officials said there are safeguards in the system to prevent undocumented licensees from being registered to vote.

The DMV said law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, can obtain driver’s license information — such as name, gender/description, address, date of birth and driver license number — through certain data-sharing systems. But the information doesn’t indicate their immigration status or whether they received licenses under AB60.

“The California Department of Motor Vehicles takes very seriously the protection of personal information for all license holders,” the DMV said in a statement Tuesday following concerns about personal information being released to authorities.

DMV officials also said “the President cannot unilaterally repeal AB 60 and AB 1461.”

California lawmakers have vowed to protect the rights of all immigrants, no matter their legal status.

“I have spoken to the Governor’s Office, the DMV and leaders of both houses, and all are committed to protecting all the information submitted to the DMV by AB60 applicants,” said former Assemblyman and Monterey County Supervisor-Elect Luis Alejo, who authored AB 60. “California is ready to fight back against anti-immigrant policies by the Trump administration. We are doing everything possible to ensure that AB60 remains a success story in our state.”

To qualify for a driver’s license under AB 60, applicants must prove their identity and residency in California; pass the written exam and a driving test; submit thumbprints and show proof of insurance, among other requirements. AB 60 licenses are marked with the words, “federal limits apply.” They have language on them indicating that the card is for driving purposes only and may not be used for identification.