DHS Stonewalls FOIA Request on Advance Knowledge of Border Surge Crisis
Apparently, President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knew well before the “surge” what the consequences of the administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws would be. On January 29, 2014, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), a division of DHS, posted a document available online entitled “Request for Information (RFI)/Sources Sought” that asked for “Escort Services for Unaccompanied Alien Children” or UACs. And Team Obama was expecting more than just a handful of UACs, the official term the federal government applies to illegal aliens under the age of 18 who have no legal parent or guardian in the U.S.
The request explicitly says the hired contractor should provide services to accommodate 65,000 UACs in total. Since October 2013, almost 70,000 UACs have entered the U.S. from Mexico, according to latest DHS figures. But it has been just since June—only a matter of months after the Obama administration’s sudden call for “escort services”—that the deluge of illegal immigrant minors streamed across the border from Mexico at an ever-accelerating pace.
On June 12—some six months after the ICE request for escorts—the New York Post reported what it described as a “‘Katrina’ of illegal immigrants flooding into border states daily.” According to a Fox News July 14, 2014, report:
Life jackets of all sizes and the occasional punctured raft are strewn along the banks of the Rio Grande, just south of Mission, Texas, where a relentless onslaught of illegal immigrants eagerly surrender to beleaguered Border Patrol agents around the clock.
It’s a cycle for which there is no end in sight.
“You’re going to be out here a long time,” Fernando, an El Salvadoran child, told FoxNews.com shortly after surrendering to Border Patrol authorities after midnight Saturday. “There are thousands of us.”
On July 3, 2014, the New York Times reported that “240,000 migrants and 52,000 unaccompanied minors… crossed the border illegally in recent months.” According to the Times article, the illegal aliens would be “turned over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and probably released to find relatives already living in the United States.” David Jennings, ICE Southern California Field Director, reportedly told the Times, “The most humane way to deal with this is to find out where they are going and get them there.”
There is good reason to believe Obama’s nullification of our immigration laws directly contributed to this security breakdown along our nation’s Southwestern border, and that it was not by happenstance.
That’s why on October 16, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DHS seeking records about that January 2014 ICE request for a contractor to provide “on-demand escort services” for 65,000 unaccompanied alien children.
Just for the record, here is part of what DHS/ICE asked for in its unusual request for escort services. As you will readily see, as far back as January, they knew something the rest of the American people didn’t. In short, they were preparing—or, more precisely, laying the groundwork—for an invasion:
The Contractor shall provide unarmed escort staff, including management, supervision, manpower, training, certifications, licenses, drug testing, equipment, and supplies necessary to provide on-demand escort services for non-criminal/non-delinquent unaccompanied alien children ages infant to 17 years of age, seven (7) days a week, 365 days a year. Transport will be required for either category of UAC or individual juveniles, to include both male and female juveniles. There will be approximately 65,000 UAC in total: 25% local ground transport, 25% via ICE charter and 50% via commercial air. Escort services include, but are not limited to, assisting with: transferring physical custody of UAC from DHS to Health and Human Services (HHS) care via ground or air methods of transportation (charter or commercial carrier), property inventory, providing juveniles with meals, drafting reports, generating transport documents, maintaining/stocking daily supplies, providing and issuing clothing as needed, coordinating with DHS and HHS staff, travel coordination, limited stationary guard services to accommodate for trip disruptions due to inclement weather, faulty equipment, or other exigent circumstances.
Judicial Watch filed the FOIA lawsuit after the Obama administration—as usual—refused to respond to our simple FOIA request. Let me show you the lawless, mendacious secrecy of the Obama gang by giving you some details I usually leave out about the hassles our investigators must go through just to get ignored by the Obama administration.
We filed our FOIA request about this issue on July 8. The DHS then told us it didn’t receive our request until July 30 and also gave itself a ten-day extension under the law, ostensibly to process the request. DHS was obligated under the law to make a determination within 30 days of receipt of our initial request whether they will supply the requested material, or inform us they will not comply and then advise us of our right to appeal if a negative determination occurs. That 30-day deadline expired, and DHS failed to act as the law requires. Even then, we gave them another month, and still no response! And now the case is in the federal court here in D.C.
Does this process and gamesmanship sound “transparent” to you? You can see why I give so much credit to our expert investigators who navigate these administrative hurdles and to our smart lawyers can make sense of the obfuscation and get results (documents) through the courts.
The effort is worth it because the public interest is served, especially in light of the threats to our security, health, safety, and pocketbooks caused by the Obama amnesty border crisis.
As JW previously reported, illegal alien minors (who are often accompanied by numerous adults) are bringing serious diseases with them across the border. This could include the swine flu, dengue fever, possibly the Ebola virus, and tuberculosis. The reckless abandonment of border security and the lack of enforcement of our immigration laws jeopardizes the hardworking taxpayers being forced to foot the bill for the Obama administration’s reckless, feckless “children’s crusade” against American sovereignty.
The surge isn’t over. I took special note of a report in the Washington Examiner that the number of illegal alien minors may approach 130,000 this year, far exceeding prior worst case estimates of 90,000:
As President Obama readies a post-election immigration plan expected to clear a path for citizenship for millions of illegals, his immigration czar on Tuesday said that the border is bracing for another surge of undocumented children, raising this year’s wave across the southern border to some 130,000.
Leon Rodriguez, the new director of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, said that the federal government is already working to “prepare for another potential surge” across the border.
You can see how our FOIA lawsuit is about more than the failure of yet another Obama administration agency to comply with the federal transparency law—it is about the future of our country.