Now that the GOP has gained a House majority, Kevin McCarthy has a real opportunity to rise to the occasion. Although it wasn’t the midterm election result McCarthy wanted, by winning the House of Representatives the Republican Party has a seat at the governing table. The 55th speaker of the House is in a position to set policies and priorities in contrast to Joe Biden, and in the process make the case that a Republican belongs back in the White House in 2024.
Doing so means that McCarthy and his lieutenants will have to demonstrate they understand the value of playing the long game. Even in a complicated political environment, the incoming GOP House leader can reset the party’s internal politics – provided he can orchestrate his caucus to communicate with purpose. It’s a tall task, but this is the moment.
Republicans would be well-served to focus first on what majorities of the American people want – bringing inflation under control, lowering the cost of gasoline and groceries, leading the country out of recession, and checking President Biden’s tax-and-spend Big Government master plan.
House Republicans could be off to a quick start, focusing on issues that unify the American people. HR 1 should be an American Energy Power Plan, where we put the left on defense and finally put our nation’s energy future on solid footing. A cold winter is a bracing reminder that U.S. energy production must happen on our soil, on our terms, while bolstering American jobs and helping European allies.
Voters would also rest easier knowing that our borders are under control and that U.S. military and economic strength is a deterrent to North Korean missiles and Iranian-backed terrorism, not to mention Russian cybercrime and Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. Focus on the priorities, unify the American people, and you can go a long way toward unifying the GOP House conference.
Headline-chasing investigations should be distinct from regular oversight. There is a dire need to audit, trace, and confirm taxpayer dollars. We must know that the countless billions are being appropriately spent. And while we are being blunt, the GOP should drop the word impeachment from their vocabulary. We need to show that we can learn from the mistakes of the opposition.
We don’t need an investigation to confirm China’s responsibility for spreading COVID. Still, hearings can identify why public health systems failed and identify approaches that don’t trample civil liberties or shut down the American economy the next time we confront a pandemic. When it comes to inquiries into Biden’s business dealings, direct questions about payments to Joe Biden are far more relevant than even the most scandalous, and at this point personally tragic, revelations about Hunter Biden.
Clicks are not votes, and social media engagement is not persuasion. Elon Musk will do his best to rebuild Twitter into a public square, but compelling communication fundamentals should be the priority. Look at Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis leveraged disputes over stadium funding. Mike DeWine in Ohio led on the economy and created the political climate which helped the GOP to hold a vital Senate seat.
All of this will occur against the backdrop of the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Donald Trump is running, and he is the front-runner unless served notice by primary voters. He is a formidable campaigner, and nobody is better at delivering a one-line knock-out punch.
Like the successful 1994 “Contract with America” before it, McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” is the checklist the GOP should use to keep their focus. Nancy Pelosi will no longer be an option for punditry punchlines, and intra-party squabbles will draw the interest of a hostile establishment media. We agree with Newt Gingrich, probably the most notorious back-bench rabble-rouser of them all: Picking fights with leadership doesn’t advance the ball.
If the GOP nominee wins in ’24, it will be because they won the independent voter’s support. To get there, McCarthy first has to realign the GOP’s message.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
Terry Holt is a former Capitol Hill and presidential campaign spokesperson.
R.C. Hammond is former Capitol Hill and presidential campaign spokesperson.
The evidence is overwhelming. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now the Federal Bureau of Intimidation. Or more appropriately, the Federal Intimidation Bureau, whose acronym would spell out FIB, as in the Big Lie. Face it, nothing the FBI has said for the last six years since they joined with the Democratic Party to invent the Russia collusion hoax can be taken seriously.
Is there any need to go through the whole laundry list of lies and fabrications that the FBI, with the aid and comfort of the Justice Department, has foisted on the American public?
You can start with the extraordinary 2016 press conference when FBI Director James Comey detailed crimes committed by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton related to her improper use of a private email account to store classified material. Moments after saying she had broken the law, Comey announced with a straight face that “no reasonable prosecutor” would ever bring a case against her. Yeah, because she was a Democrat!
A couple months later, Comey set up President Trump’s National Security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, by sending agents to interview him about his supposed contacts with Russians.
“What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” wrote Bill Priestap in a memo before the interview. Priestap was counterintelligence director at the FBI, and it became evident later that the agency’s goal was indeed to get him fired – and more importantly to get Trump impeached, fired, humiliated, you name it.
Comey himself admitted that the FBI targeted Flynn and chose not to approach him through the White House legal counsel, but informally with a direct phone call to arrange an interview. As Comey later told a reporter, it was “something I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in a more … organized administration.”
What about the FBI’s abuse of Carter Page and George Papadopoulos? The agency made up evidence in support of subpoenas, FISA warrants, whatever it took to get the desired result. What about the FBI and Department of Justice targeting parents at school boards as “domestic terrorists” because they demanded that their elected representatives actually represent them? What about the unilateral rescission of executive privilege and attorney-client privilege wherever it would have protected President Trump and his advisers?
The purpose of all of this activity, along with the raid at Mar-a-Lago, was to intimidate not just Trump, but also his supporters. Anyone other than Donald Trump would have given up long ago. Who could possibly withstand the power of the state marshaled against you for six long years – through multiple FBI investigations, through two impeachments, through relentless persecution of your children and your friends and family?
Finally, what about the double standard that allows Democrats and their government allies to go unpunished for a multitude of sins? Notwithstanding Attorney General Merrick Garland’s feigned indignation on behalf of the bureau, what about the FBI agents who lied repeatedly during the Trump-Russia investigation, sometimes under oath.
Even more stunning has been the FBI’s monumental failure to investigate presidential son Hunter Biden, even though it received his laptop with extensive incriminating evidence of criminal activity in 2019.
Even when the laptop was made public during the 2020 presidential election, the FBI stood silent and thus gave tacit approval to the cynical Democratic Party talking point that the laptop was somehow a GOP dirty trick.
It would be interesting to know if the FBI had anything to do with the letter signed by 51 national security experts, falsely claiming that the laptop was “Russian disinformation”! Maybe, like Comey before him, FBI Director Chris Wray thought he could “get away with it.”
That is certainly the only explanation for the raid on the president’s personal residence. It was not appropriate. It was not reasonable. It had no precedent. The FBI claims that the pre-dawn raid by more than 30 armed agents was for the purpose of collecting presidential papers that the National Archive wanted.
The Washington Post says that Trump reportedly had documents with nuclear secrets on them, and the legacy media went ballistic with the story. But wait a minute, isn’t that the same Washington Post that won a Pulitzer Prize for collaborating with the FBI to invent the Russia collusion hoax?
Don’t believe a word from either the Washington Post or the FBI. Trump had been cooperating with the National Archive and had already turned over 15 boxes of documents, all of which he could have made a claim to legally possess. If they wanted papers turned over, they could have gone through Trump’s lawyers. No, they wanted the spectacle. They wanted the sizzle. They wanted the headlines.
This wasn’t about the rule of law; it was about the rule of the schoolyard. Bullies get what they want through force and intimidation, and there is no reason for any of us to believe that the raid had any purpose other than to intimidate Donald Trump into backing down from his plans to run for president in 2024.
Essentially what the FBI was saying is “We know where you live, and we aren’t afraid to come for you.” They even rifled through Melania Trump’s closet, as if she might have been hiding top-secret documents in her hat box. When do we find out they also spent an hour sorting through her lingerie?
This is sickening, no matter how much MSNBC and the Washington Post want you to think you can still trust the FBI. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over and over again, and I must be a Democrat.
By Mark Hemingway and Ben Weingarten for RealClearInvestigations
The historic surge of illegal immigrants across America’s southern border is fueling a hidden crime spree few in Washington seem willing or able to address: widespread identity theft by migrants who need U.S. credentials to work.
An extensive review of government reports, think-tank research, news accounts, and interviews with policymakers and scholars suggests the problem involves millions of people – though measuring it with precision is difficult because of the lack of data provided by authorities.
A telling indication of the scope of the criminality is provided by a little-known government accounting book, the Social Security Administration’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF). It reflects the earnings of employees whose W-2 wage and tax statements have names and Social Security numbers that do not match official records. The total has increased tenfold from $188.9 billion at the dawn of the millennium to $1.9 trillion in 2021.
Officials have historically ascribed a “high proportion” of the file’s growth to wages reported by illegal immigrants, and it has swelled alongside their population, which stands at a conservatively estimated 11.5 million today, 7 million of whom are employed. Among those doing so on the books, federal authorities have found that well over1 million are using Social Security numbers belonging to someone else – i.e. stolen or “shared” with a relative or acquaintance – or that are fabricated.
The data held in the ESF would enable authorities to pursue many of the fraudsters, but the IRS and other agencies responsible for enforcing the law have been reluctant to investigate, and regulations have prevented meaningful information-sharing among them. This identity-related crime is providing a windfall for the U.S. government.
A 2017 study from the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform found that the federal government collects about $22 billion annually in tax receipts from illegal aliens, with the bulk going toward Social Security ($12.6 billion) and Medicare ($5.9 billion) – programs from which noncitizens are ineligible to receive benefits. FAIR estimated that illegal migrants also paid $3.3 billion in federal income tax – a smaller proportion primarily due to illegal aliens’ lower wage levels – and another $1 billion in state income taxes.
In other words, the fraud has the effect of bolstering financially shaky federal programs. In one of the agency’s rare direct statements on the issue, Social Security Administration Chief Actuary Stephen Goss told CNN in 2014 that without “undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009.
” Leading progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal echoed this observation in 2018, arguing that a “complication of [then-president] Trump’s plans to limit immigration is the effect to our Social Security Earnings Suspense File – money that keeps our Social Security system afloat,” including that provided by “undocumented immigrants.”
Another complication of Trump’s plans to limit immigration is the effect to our Social Security Earnings Suspense File – money that keeps our Social Security system afloat.
The tax money of undocumented immigrants goes to this file, which held $1.2 trillion at the end of 2012. pic.twitter.com/q6sz4ksxpE
Given Washington’s bipartisan willingness to tolerate illegal immigration – whether driven by the multicultural left or businesses interests seeking cheap labor – authorities have focused on this apparent windfall to the U.S. Treasury. But they have largely ignored the costs. These include the significantstrain illegal immigrant households place on public finances, which FAIR and others estimate vastly outweigh their tax contributions, their impacts on crime and the job market – and on the victims of identity theft.
Reports dating back over a decade show that hundreds of thousands of Americans are unknowingly “sharing” their Social Security numbers with illegal immigrants. Such victims may face tax bills for income they didn’t earn or depleted benefits.
Worse, some may experience the burden of bad credit histories and criminal records inaccurately attributed to themselves after being issued SSNs that illegal aliens had previously invented and used. The overall impact on American citizens is largely unknown because federal, state, and local governments as well as financial institutions have generally failed to notify them even when fraud is suspected.
The relevant agencies were largely non-responsive to RealClearInvestigation’s requests for updated figures on the size, scope, and extent of the fraud. Nor have lawmakers recently given voice to the victims.
Congress seems to have last held a hearing spotlighting the defrauded over a decade ago. Related legislation aimed at reducing Social Security number fraud in employment has typicallylanguished, and many lawmakers RCI contacted indicated only a passing knowledge of the issue.
One thing experts do agree on is that the problem is likely to get worse as more illegal immigrants cross the border and seek work.
Immigration Reform Spurs Fraud
The growth in illegal immigrant identity fraud, reflected in part by the booming Earnings Suspense File, serves as an ironic instance of regulation becoming the mother of criminal innovation.
In 1986, Congress for the first time made it explicitly unlawful for employers to hire illegal immigrants. The Immigration Reform and Control Act required those seeking employment to fill out I-9 forms attesting to citizenship or work-authorized immigrant status, and provide corroborating documentation and a valid Social Security number.
The law, signed by President Reagan amid great fanfare, was supposed to end the problem of illegal immigration, and as part of the grand bargain nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants, most of them from Mexico, were granted U.S. citizenship. But the law did not slow the pipeline of immigration as it was intended to do, and it would drive many illegal aliens – not only those crossing the border under cover but also those not allowed to work while awaiting court hearings that can take months or even years to take place – to fraud.
According to the libertarian CATO Institute, the 1986 law spurred the “creation of a large‐scale black market for legal documents in the United States. The value of document fraud increased after ICRA because false documents became necessary for illegal immigrants to fill out an I-9 form to work.”
Aliens can procure SSNs in severalways: Some simply conjure a nine-digit SSN out of thin air. Others use the numbers of their children who were born in the U.S. Still others steal them directly from individuals, purchase them from dealers for $80 to $200 along with a green card as can be done in Los Angeles, or via the dark web for as little as $4.
In a rare instance of enforcement, in June the Department of Justice announced that a joint operation between the IRS Cyber Crimes Unit and the FBI had seized the “SSNDOB marketplace” – a series of lucrative websites touted on the dark web that sold illegally obtained Social Security numbers of more than 20 million Americans. But “synthetic identity fraud” persists – the most common form of ID theft, where fraudsters create an entirely new identity by stealing the Social Security numbers of children or poor adults with little credit history.
While some illegal immigrants work off the books, the Social Security Administration has previously said that 75% are using fake or stolen numbers. By doing so, they gain access to broader employment opportunities. There is another powerful incentive for paying taxes as well.
By dint of their generally low income levels, illegals can receive reimbursements through making use of deductions and exemptions, as well as rebates via refundable credits – leaving many with tax liabilities of zero or even as net recipients of government largesse. Immigration proponents contend that many do so in the hope that paying their taxes through employer withholding will weigh in their favor in a future amnesty, reflecting good behavior.
Their fraud can be detected each year when employers submit W-2s. The Social Security Administration analyzes the W-2s to detect inaccuracies, such as mismatched names to the numbers it has on file.
This is where the Earnings Suspense File comes into play. ESF, established in 1937, was long an accounting for wayward tax and Social Security payments – for instance when a newly married woman changed her name but forgot to notify the SSA. Should a legitimate taxpayer find he didn’t get tax refunds or Social Security benefits because of a mix-up with his Social Security number, ESF records ideally would help him get what he was owed. Unreconciled filings would remain in the ESF.
For decades relatively little money was recorded in the file. According to the Government Accountability Office, in the three decades between 1950 and 1980 just $33 billion in uncredited earnings were recorded.
Contributions to the ESF exploded after passage of the ICRA in 1986, as a Social Security Administration inspector general report providing a chart showing annual contributions to the fund makes clear:
Uncredited earnings rose to $77.3 billion in the 1980s, would double in the 1990s to $188.9 billion, and then grow by a factor of 10 over the next two decades to an accumulated $1.9 trillion today – surging by $409 billion between the years 2012 and 2016 alone, according to documents obtained by the mass migration-skeptical Immigration Reform Law Institute via FOIA request.
A 2015 audit from SSA’s IG reports that in a given year as many as one in 25 American workers supplied their employers with false information – “each year, SSA posts to the ESF 3 to 4 percent of the total W-2s and 1.4 to 1.8 percent of the total wages received from employers.”
A 2018 Treasury inspector general report documented more than 1.3 million cases of employment-related identity theft from 2011-2016, and 1.2 million cases in which illegal aliens used Social Security numbers that belonged to someone else or were fabricated in 2017 alone. The Social Security Administration projects this number will rise to 2.9 by 2040.
A 2020 GAO report on employment-related identity fraud identified more than 2.9 million Social Security numbers with “risk characteristics associated with SSN misuse.”
“There’s massive amounts of fraud, the SSA knows it’s happening, and they know it’s your Social Security numbers…being used. These IG reports make it explicitly clear,” said Jon Feere, a former Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official now with the “pro-immigrant, low immigration” Center for Immigration Studies. “And they basically say that they believe that one of the main reasons for this fraud is because of the employment of illegal aliens.”
Known Fraud, Little Enforcement
The existence of the ESF means the Social Security Administration and the IRS, with which it coordinates, are sitting on a database containing a substantial population of fraudsters against American citizens. For the better part of two decades, government watchdogs have encouraged these agencies to put the data to use, but they have been reticent.
A 2005 Social Security Administration IG report stated: “Although SSA continues to coordinate with DHS on immigration issues, it does not routinely share information regarding egregious employers who submit inaccurate SSNs. In our opinion, any serious plan to address SSN misuse and growth of the ESF must allow SSA to share such information with DHS,” reads the report.
A 2006 GAO report similarly recommended that the SSA, IRS, and DHS share data to address this problem. However, federal law severely limits the SSA and IRS from sharing information from tax forms, in part on privacy grounds. The ACLU called attempts to coordinate information-sharing between the SSA and immigration enforcement authorities during the Trump administration an “all-out assault on our legal rights and our immigrant communities.”
Since SSA lacks enforcement authority, the George W. Bush-led Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency proposed a rule setting forth potential penalties for employers who did not respond to SSA “no match letters” – notifications sent to employers informing them of employees whose SSNs don’t match government records.
The proposed rule kicked off a firestorm of opposition from immigrant advocates. In 2008, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated 33 employees who had been fired by their employer after receiving a no match letter. The court ruled a no match letter alone wasn’t sufficient to determine whether employees were in violation of the law.
The Obama administration put an end to no match letters altogether. Jason Hopkins, the investigations manager for the IRLI, told RCI that the Obama administration did so in service of its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“Dreamers”) program, which allowed illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children exemption from deportation and eligibility for work permits.
“If they went in [and] applied for a DACA application, and they had to actually admit they put in fake social security numbers, they’d be essentially admitting to perjury,” Hopkins says. “So that would have scared them off, and Obama wanted them to apply for this program.”
In 2019, the Trump administration-led Social Security Administration resumed sending out no match letters, delivering 1.6 million notices across 2019 and 2020. The Biden administration again discontinued the practice.
The SSA did not respond to RCI’s multiple attempts to contact it regarding related policies.
The IRS has enforcement powers the SSA lacks, but has historically disavowed responsibility for dealing with illegal alien ID theft. In 2016 then-IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who faced impeachment hearings for defying congressional subpoenas and the destruction of evidence, told Congress, “We have Social Security and immigration authorities and others who enforce that part of the law, and if we start looking behind the system and doing their job for them, we’re going to discourage a lot of people from paying the taxes they owe.”
Consistent with this view, a 2020 GAO report on employment-related identity fraud found that the IRS was not tracking numerous forms of employment-related identity fraud.
The IRS’ Internal Revenue Manual, which governs employees’ policies and practices, refers to those engaged in ID fraud as “borrowers,” defending this language as neutral, given that some may be “borrowing” an SSN from another family member to work, rather than engaging in “actual identity theft.”
When CNS News asked the IRS in 2018 how many taxpayer accounts it had referred for criminal prosecution, of the 1.3 million Treasury’s inspector general had flagged for identity fraud, the agency said “We do not have this information.” Similarly, the IG report recommended that the IRS notify the 458,658 victims of ID theft identified in 2017 – and the IRS does not appear to have notified anyone.
When RCI asked the IRS about its policies for handling ID theft, the agency did not confirm it had done anything in response to the IG’s findings or identity fraud specifically related to illegal immigration. A spokesman said that “in recent years, we’ve referred people” – that is, from the general U.S. population – “for prosecution all the time, and where appropriate, we work with other law-enforcement agencies.”
The IRS’s guide to employment-related identity theft highlights notices it might send to taxpayers indicating potential fraud, but it is not clear how many such letters it sends out, and the burden overwhelmingly falls on the victims to be vigilant and take steps to clear their names.
Meanwhile, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has curtailed worksite enforcement. Between halting no match letters and DHS’ leniency, Spencer Raley, a researcher with FAIR, told RCI, “From a strictly immigration-enforcement standpoint, nothing is being done to combat the issue of illegal aliens committing document fraud in order to obtain employment.”
RCI asked a series of questions of ICE, which leads criminal investigations into both document fraud and worksite enforcement, on the nature and extent of its targeting of those engaging in ID theft/fraud in employment, and whether and to what end it coordinated with other agencies on identifying such individuals for investigation. As of the time of publication, it had not responded to the questions.
Law enforcement agencies have periodically made illegal alien ID fraud busts in recent years, but not at meaningful levels relative to the previously reported number of fraudsters.
Given that Medicare is a beneficiary of the fraud, RCI posed a series of questions to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pertaining to ESF, and whether it was aware of, or did anything to contact those whose SSNs might have been fraudulently used associated with Medicare contributions. A CMS spokesperson referred RCI to the Social Security Administration.
RCI posed similar questions to tax authorities in both California and Texas – states dominated by opposing political parties but each with substantial illegal alien populations – to ascertain whether they, like the federal government, were tracking taxes paid by those potentially using fraudulent IDs, including illegal aliens, and doing anything to pursue them.
California’s Franchise Tax Board told RCI that it does not have a state Earnings Suspense File, nor does it track how much tax revenue annually is attributable to individuals misrepresenting themselves on filings. It did note, “If we suspect identity theft on an individual tax return, we send a notice to the taxpayer to let them know they may be a victim and how to verify the authenticity of the tax return on file.” With respect to enforcement, the board indicated “Fraudulent claims and suspected ID theft cases may be sent to” its Criminal Investigations Bureau, which partners with other state law enforcement authorities. The board emphasized that California further partners with “state, city, federal and industry partners” to “protect the entire tax ecosystem,” with a focus on “widespread fraudulent schemes and threat groups,” rather than those filing and paying taxes.
As of the time of publication, Texas had not responded to RCI’s inquiries.
Banks and credit agencies also have their own extensive “sub-files” for people who share the same Social Security number, but privacy laws make it impossible to get information on someone who has stolen one’s SSN from a third party, even though the behavior of the person stealing one’s number may end up affecting one’s ability to get government benefits or credit.
Credit rating agencies Equifax, Experian, and Transunion did not respond to RCI’s queries around illegal alien identity fraud.
What Victims Face
Marcus Calvillo, a father of six from Grand Prairie, Texas, experienced one of the more harrowing episodes of identity fraud on record, at least in the eyes of the prosecutor who helped bring him justice. Calvillo’s life was upended after an illegal immigrant named Fernando Neave-Ceniceros was first arrested on drug trafficking charges in Kansas in 1993, then a slew of other ones, including a sex crime involving a minor, and his twice failing to register as a sex offender.
The criminal activity was recorded under Calvillo’s stolen identity – Neave-Ceniceros’ fingerprints were linked to Calvillo’s name in national criminal databases – making it difficult for the innocent Calvillo to pass the cursory background checks required to hold a job and support his family.
At one point, Calvillo was working as a cable installer when he was abruptly fired. When asked why, he told the Associated Press he was only told, “You know what you did.” Calvillo also had disputes with the IRS over taxes on wages that had been paid to Neave-Ceniceros but recorded under his name.
After years of struggling to get help – a struggle similarly encountered by other victims – Calvillo contacted Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson, who had been pursuing another identity theft case, who helped him get justice. In 2016, Neave-Ceniceros was convicted on a series of charges including aggravated identity theft and misuse of a Social Security number. “I don’t know of a case where the theft of an identity had a more devastating impact than this one,” Anderson told the Associated Press.
Despite wreaking havoc on Calvillo’s life, Neave-Ceniceros was only sentenced to one year and a day in prison for his crimes.
Horror stories such as Calvillo’s still abound. “I’ve been fired from jobs and have been accused of crimes I didn’t commit because my identity was stolen,” identity theft victim Adrian Gonzalez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last year. “I don’t know what to do anymore, I think I might need to change my name.”
Linda Trevino, a Chicago suburb resident, was another victim, one of the hundreds of thousands NBC News cited in a report from over a decade ago. She had been denied a job at a local Target because someone using her SSN also worked there. Her number, in fact, had been used to obtain employment at 37 other employers, leaving her haunted by the IRS with letters asking her to pay others’ taxes, and facing creditors.
Children are victims of fraud too, and in fact may be prime targets given the clean records their IDs provide for thieves, and that conduct engaged in in their names may go undetected for years. Former California congressman Elton Gallegly wrote in The Hill in 2012 of a number of child victims of illegal immigrant fraud, including among them:
A 3-year-old issued an SSN already in use for years by a twice-arrested illegal alien, impacting the child’s credit, medical, and work history.
A 9-year-old denied Medicaid due to wages reported on his SSN.
A 13-year-old denied as a dependent on her family’s return for supposedly making too much money.
Immigration advocates downplay the criminality involved. “Most workers are buying documents they believe to be false,” a representative of the National Immigration Law Center told the Los Angeles Times. “There isn’t really any intention of stealing someone’s identity.” But even when immigration-related identity theft lacks specific criminal intent, the confusion that ID theft creates when dealing with tax bills, receiving government benefits, facing ruined credit, and other problems can upend a person’s life.
Citizens who discover someone else is using their Social Security number will quickly learn there’s little they can do about it. According to the Social Security Administration, proof that one’s SSN has been stolen and is being used by someone else isn’t sufficient reason to change one’s Social Security number. One must prove significant harm as a result, and the process is onerous – in 2014 the agency only permitted a total of 250 people to change their Social Security number. The Federal Trade Commission details the numerous steps those who believe they might have been defrauded should take to get their lives back.
The problem is so extensive that Mike Chapple, a professor of information technology at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, told Forbes, “It’s totally reasonable to assume that your Social Security number has been compromised at least once, if not many times.”
Little Legislative Relief
One of the seminal victories for proponents of ID integrity in the workplace was the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996, which launched the E-Verify system.
That its author, Rep. Ken Calvert, another California Republican, was still struggling 15 years later to movelegislation making the program mandatory, illustrates the uphill battle the limited number of immigration hawks in Washington face.
The DHS-run program, which compares employment eligibility information from I-9 forms to government records, remains required solely of federal contractors. Only a small minority of states have mandated its use by employers. Republican senators Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton tried to pass a federal law that would simultaneously mandate E-Verify and raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, but with the Senate controlled by Democrats, that legislation died.
On the House side, Georgia Republican Buddy Carter has sought to pass legislation multipletimes that would require the IRS to produce a report on whether it could use proprietary information to identify illegal aliens fraudulently working in the U.S., to no avail.
At the state level, even Republican red Texas, mired in problems pertaining to illegal immigration, has had difficulty finding the political will to police the workplace. “At least 30 bills mandating E-Verify have been introduced in Texas in the past decade,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last year. “Only one has passed, and none addressed undocumented workers, employers or temporary employment agencies using fraudulently obtained identities.”
Until recently, it wasn’t clear whether states even had the authority to prosecute identity theft by illegal immigrants. In March of 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that at least in some circumstances, they do, overturning a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that had voided the convictions of three illegal immigrants under the state’s identity theft law who had used stolen SSNs to obtain jobs.
The rapidly changing political landscape may be the only thing that could impact the broader trajectory of illegal immigration from which the fraud springs. The populist turn of the post-Donald Trump Republican Party is appealing to working class voters with a strong interest curbing illegal immigration to put upward pressure on wages.
Recent elections also show Hispanics voting for Republicans in significantly higher numbers, in part because of the Democrats’ more liberal border policies.
In the meantime, the illegal immigrant population continues to swell. The Biden administration has released over one million illegal immigrants into the U.S., in addition to the more than 700,000 “got-aways” who evaded apprehension, and over 190,000 unaccompanied minors released into the interior – for a total of nearly two million people. “To put it bluntly, the Biden administration, and other Democratic administrations, they just don’t care,” says Jason Hopkins.
The 2022 United States Senate elections can best be thought of as the classic battle between the irresistible force and the immovable object. The irresistible force is the playing field. President Joe Biden’s job approval in the RCP Average is currently 39.7%, the lowest of his presidency. That’s about 3.5 points lower than Barack Obama’s job approval was on (midterm) Election Day 2010.
President Obama’s job approval only dipped to 40% briefly, in the immediate aftermath of the botched Obamacare rollout, and it never dropped below 40%. President Donald Trump’s job approval spent much of 2017 below this mark, but in the terrible Republican election year of 2018, it never fell this low.
In other words, this is shaping up to be a worse environment than either of the last three midterms, all of which were nightmares for the party in power.
But the immovable object is real as well: To say that the GOP has failed to field its top team is an understatement. It failed to recruit its preferred candidates in almost every marquee race, including significant failures in New Hampshire, Maryland, Colorado, and Arizona. This deficiency intersects with a reasonably unfavorable map for Republicans; Democrats aren’t defending a single seat in a state that Joe Biden lost, and they have opportunities against Republicans in two states that went for the president in 2020.
Twenty years ago, it would have made more sense to emphasize the immovable object when high quality candidates routinely won in states whose underlying political orientation heavily favored the other party. But that isn’t really how elections work right now. Although candidates matter, they rarely outrun their president’s job approval by more than a handful of points.
Almost all polling in the swing states has shown President Joe Biden’s job approval languishing in the high 30s or low 40s. It’s one thing to ask candidates to run five points ahead of their president’s job approval. But 10 points or more? If their name isn’t Joe Manchin or Susan Collins, it probably isn’t happening .
With that background, here are the Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022.
Honorable Mention, Alaska (Lisa Murkowski): Democrats have effectively conceded this seat, but Murkowski might still be the most vulnerable incumbent up for reelection this year. Probably the only thing keeping her in the game as a fairly moderate senator from a decidedly red state is that the state’s ranked-choice voting procedures in the general election will give strategic-minded Democrats an opportunity to vote for her as their second choice against the more conservative Kelly Tshibaka. While this gives her a path to victory that she probably lacks in a closed primary, it also creates headaches for her; the more she does to court Democrats, the more she alienates the more numerous Republicans in the state.
Tier III Races
11. Washington (Patty Murray): This could rise up the ratings by the end of the cycle depending on how things play out. Republicans are high on their likely nominee, Tiffany Smiley, and Sen. Murray’s polling has been wobbly enough that she bought television time. This is still a very Democratic state, and Murray survived in 2010 when it was more Republican.
At the same time, it is closer to the center than Missouri, and only a point or two further out from the center than Ohio. If former Gov. Eric Greitens loses the Missouri primary, this race probably goes into the top 10, but for now it’s on the outskirts of competitiveness.
10. Ohio (Open seat): Ohio certainly isn’t a recruiting failure for Democrats – Rep. Tim Ryan has perennially been on the recruiting list for Democrats and is probably the strongest they could field. Republicans have nominated author J.D. Vance. The “Hillbilly Elegy” author is well-known but untested, and in the right year this seat could be vulnerable for the GOP. But this is not the right year.
9. Missouri (Open seat): Twenty years ago Missouri was a classic swing state, but with the “Missouruh” portion of the state moving solidly into the GOP column over the past two decades, that tradition is a thing of the past. This is now a Republican state. At the same time, Republicans are locked in a competitive primary, with a potentially problematic candidate waiting in the wings with Eric Greitens leading narrowly in polls.
Greitens has been dogged by a variety of allegations of sexual improprieties and spousal abuse, and he was facing likely impeachment and removal before resigning in 2018. Democrats would definitely choose to face off against him, and if he wins the nomination this race could move up the ratings. But he isn’t the nominee yet, and even if he is, the potential Democratic nominees are probably too far to the left for the state. Overall, the environment and lean of the state would probably leave the race as a tossup at best.
8. Colorado (Michael Bennet): Colorado is one of those states that elections analysts regularly overlook, mostly because of its notable failures for Republicans over the course of the past decade. But the state only leans toward Democrats by a handful of points, and many Republican failures in the past decade are classic “own goals,” as with Ken Buck’s repeated gaffes and Scott McInnis’ decision to plagiarize an article.
This is still a state that Donald Trump lost by only five points in 2016, and where an obscure GOP challenger came within six points of defeating Sen. Michael Bennet the same year. To be sure, 2020 was much worse for Republicans there. We can debate how much of that is Trump-specific but the point is moot; the GOP failed to lure a top-tier challenger into the race, and it is likely only flipping if the bottom truly falls out for Democrats. A missed opportunity for Republicans.
7. North Carolina (Open seat): While Democrats have continued to have success in the Tar Heel state at the state level, at the federal level it has been a series of near misses for them: Since Barack Obama carried the state in 2008, Republicans have won every presidential and Senate race in the state by less than six points.
With Richard Burr retiring, North Carolina would theoretically be a great pickup opportunity for Democrats, but Republicans have a legitimate candidate in Rep. Ted Budd, and the environment is likely too toxic for former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (who lost a state Supreme Court race in a much more favorable environment in 2020) to have much of a chance.
6. New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan): Republicans had hoped that Gov. Chris Sununu would run against Hassan, a former governor serving her first term in the Senate. Had he done so, this would probably be the most likely seat to flip. But he didn’t, and Republicans have a crowded primary where no candidate has yet raised a million dollars, against a fixture in New Hampshire politics for the past decade who has raised $21 million. But Hassan’s polling has been weak, even against relatively unknown challengers. This could still be a top-tier race by November.
5. Wisconsin (Ron Johnson): We can debate which tier this race belongs in, although Johnson certainly seems intent on doing his level best to make this a top-tier race. But Democrats face a crowded primary and Wisconsin is a swing state now, where the Democratic slate barely prevailed in a great Democratic environment in 2018. This could turn out to be close, but it doesn’t look that way now.
Tier I Races
4. Pennsylvania (Open seat): Distinguishing among the remaining races is tricky; all have a decent claim to the top spot, and all have solid reasons why they belong nearer to the second tier than the top. Pennsylvania has turned out to be something of a worst-case scenario for Republicans.
The party failed to attract a top-tier candidate, leaving Dr. Mehmet Oz (of Oprah Winfrey fame) and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick as the leading GOP candidates. Oz then emerged from the primary as the leader by just 910 votes. Making matters worse for Republicans, they nominated Doug Mastriano as their gubernatorial candidate, whose erratic behavior threatens to doom the entire GOP ticket.
But Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee, has problems of his own, including potentially serious health issues and claims that he stopped a black jogger at gunpoint. This is also a state where, absent a turnaround in national politics, the Democratic nominee is likely going to have to win around 20% of voters who disapprove of the president’s job performance. This is a Herculean task, and it isn’t clear Fetterman is the right candidate to pull it off.
3. Georgia (Raphael Warnock): Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee, is not the candidate most Republicans wanted leading the charge against Sen. Raphael Warnock, the charismatic pastor who won a special election to give Democrats control of the Senate in 2021. Walker is a political novice who faces a flurry of stalking allegations and other claims of violence toward women, as well as embellishing his resume.
But Walker, a star University of Georgia football player in the 1980s, is a legend in much of the state, and has managed to stay on message for most of the cycle so far. Moreover, with Warnock and Stacey Abrams on the Democratic ticket, this is one state where Democrats definitely don’t have to worry about a drop-off in African American turnout.
Georgia has been trending toward Democrats, but some of the swing in 2020 was likely Trump-specific and it was still a couple points to the right of the country as a whole. Warnock already trails in the polls, and in this environment it will be difficult for Warnock to hold on to the seat.
2. Arizona (Mark Kelly): Arizona has trended sharply toward Democrats the past few cycles. Mitt Romney carried the Grand Canyon State by nine points in 2012, but Donald Trump won by just three points in 2016 before losing it by a fraction of a point in 2020. During this time, Republicans lost both Senate seats as well, also narrowly. Arizona is largely a suburban state, and with the suburbs swinging against the GOP nationally, the impact of perceived Democratic Party shortcomings is felt more here.
The Republican frontrunner is unclear, but all of the contenders have been outraised by Sen. Kelly, a popular former astronaut, who picked up the seat in 2020 and now has to defend it just two years later. Kelly is a solid incumbent who has most other things going for him except for the overall political environment. If Biden’s job approval were to rise, or if the GOP were to nominate a problematic candidate, this race would probably move down the rankings quickly. For now, however, Kelly is in deep danger.
1. Nevada (Catherine Cortez Masto): After moving sharply toward Democrats during the 2000s, Nevada has swung back toward the GOP over the past few cycles. Cortez Masto defeated Congressman Joe Heck by just 2.5 percentage points, and Biden beat Trump by a similar margin in 2020, despite winning by almost double that margin nationally. While Adam Laxalt isn’t necessarily the GOP’s top choice, he has a famous family name, and no trouble fundraising.
In the terrible Republican year of 2018, he lost by only four points. The polling has generally shown Cortez Masto languishing in the low-to-mid 40s, which is a dangerous place for an incumbent to dwell. Overall, the incumbent is weaker and the challenger stronger than in Georgia, and the state (for now) lacks the internecine feuds that beset the state parties in the other top-tier races. That’s ultimately what earns this race top billing. Were Laxalt to lose to his main primary opponent, disabled Afghanistan war veteran Sam Brown, this race could tighten.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
Sean Trende is senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is a co-author of the 2014 Almanac of American Politics and author of The Lost Majority.
In his 2016 bestselling autobiography “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance thanks his grandparents – his “Mamaw” and “Remember in 2019 when workers were doing well in this country, not struggling terribly. Thanks [to] the president for everything, for endorsing me.”
Tuesday night, as Vance stepped closer to his goal of joining the most exclusive club in the country – the U.S. Senate – he thanked his grandparents again, along with President Trump.
“I absolutely gotta thank the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, for providing, ladies and gentlemen, an example of what could be in this country,” Vance, 37, said in his primary victory speech. “Remember in 2019 when workers doing well in this county, not struggling terribly, thanks for the president for everything, for endorsing me.”
Vance then pulled a trademark Trump maneuver, slamming the “fake news media” for wanting to write a story that “this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump’s America First agenda … Ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t the death of the America First agenda.”
It’s been a heady, evolutionary six years for Vance, the Yale law school graduate and venture capitalist who burst on the scene with his book about growing up “dirt poor’ in Appalachia. Coastal elites immediately embraced his life story as a way to understand Trump’s appeal among the white working class.
During the 2016 campaign, though, Vance declared himself a Never Trumper, dubbing the casino-developer-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-politician “cultural heroin” for the masses, and argued he was leading working-class voters into a dark place.
However, during the Trump presidency, Vance shifted sharply to become an avid Trump supporter, citing the tumultuous Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a significant turning point. (His wife, Usha Chilukuri, had clerked for Kavanaugh when he was an appeals court judge.)
Meanwhile, Ohio transformed from a Republican-leaning swing state to a solidly red GOP bastion, supporting Trump by nine percentage points in 2016 and double digits in 2020.
Vance’s win brings to a close a crowded and contentious Republican contest to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, a respected moderate. It also marks a major victory night for Trump, who has taken the unusual step for a former president of picking sides in primaries – a way to solidify his role as party kingmaker while he weighs another White House run in 2024.
Trump undoubtedly tilted the race in Vance’s favor. Before his endorsement, Vance was trailing former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel, another Trump acolyte, 28%-23%, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average of polls. Meanwhile, State Sen. Matt Dolan faded in the final stretch.
With more than 95% of the vote reporting late Tuesday night, Vance won 32.2% compared to Mandel’s 23.9% and Dolan’s 23.3%.
Before and after Trump endorsed Vance, his GOP opponents spent millions of advertising dollars reminding voters that Vance had called himself a “Never Trumper” just a few years ago. The conservative Club for Growth’s sister PAC, which backed Mandel, funded an ad that Factcheck.org labeled “misleading” for suggesting that Vance had said some Trump supporters were motivated to back him because they are racist. In fact, the full Vance quote said most of Trump’s voters were inspired by his economic policies or “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal, channeled $13.5 million into a political action committee backing Vance in the race. Vance had worked for Theil as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley before moving back to Ohio. Thiel, along with Trump, influenced Vance’s politics, especially when it comes to opposing China and placing stricter limits on immigration. Despite the infusion, Vance continued to run behind in the polls until Trump’s endorsement.
“The question presented in this primary was, ‘Do we want a border that protects our citizens? Do we want to ship our jobs to China or keep them right here in America for American workers? Do we want a Republican Party who stands for the donors who write checks to the Club for Growth or do we want the Republican Party for the people right here in Ohio?” he asked the crowd Tuesday evening.
Even though Trump’s endorsement inevitably boosted Vance’s candidacy, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Just two days before the primary, Trump appeared to flub J.D. Vance’s name when citing his endorsement, seemingly merging it with Vance’s opponent’s last name. A Newsmax host claimed that it wasn’t a gaffe by Trump but a way to hedge his bets in the race.
“We’ve endorsed … J.P? Right?” Trump asked during his Ohio stumping on Vance’s part Sunday. “J.D. Mandel – and he’s doing great.”
On Monday, Vance minimized the gaffe, saying Trump speaks with such enthusiasm and so often that he was bound to “misspeak” sometimes. Vance now faces Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan, who handily won his party’s primary with 69.7%, with approximately 96.1 of the votes counted, according to the Associated Press.
Another big boon for Trump in Ohio Tuesday was the primary victory of Max Miller, a former Trump campaign and White House aide, who won the Republican nomination for the newly written 7th Congressional District in Northeast Ohio. Miller led the pack as of late Tuesday night despite abuse allegations from his ex-girlfriend, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. Miller has denied it.
Miller was initially recruited to challenge Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment. But Gonzalez opted to retire instead.
J.R. Majewski, an Air Force veteran who painted a giant “Trump 2020” sign on his front lawn ahead of the last presidential election, won a crowded GOP nomination and this fall will face Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives. (Kaptur was first elected in 1982.) Majewski defeated Theresa Gavarone, Craig Riedel, and Beth Decker.
And in a close contest in Ohio’s 13th district, southeast of Cleveland, Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, a lawyer, political commentator, and former Miss Ohio whom Trump endorsed, is projected to win her crowded GOP primary, defeating six other Republicans. She will face Emilia Sykes, the former House minority leader, who ran unopposed in her primary.
At the top of the Ohio state ticket, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also survived the primary even though he is considered a moderate who does not back Trump. Still, the crowded primary kept DeWine’s showing under 50% even though he has served in some elected capacity in the state for more than 40 years.
DeWine was widely criticized by Republicans over the state’s COVID shutdowns, drawing three Republican opponents, including U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, former state Rep. Ron Hood, and farmer Joe Blyston. The three, however, split the Trump vote, leaving DeWine to pick up a solid 48.1% compared to Renacci’s 28%, Joe Blyston’s 21.8%, and Ron Hood’s 2.1%. DeWine will face Democrat Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton in the general election.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics’ White House/national political correspondent.
While a federal court has stayed the Biden administration’s attempt to lift pandemic-prompted restrictions on immigrants pouring across the southern border, that is just one setback in a largely successful push by the president to make it easier for migrants to enter, live, and work in the U.S.
Since Joe Biden’s first day in office, when he signed seven executive orders on immigration that, among other things, suspended deportations and ended the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program that had eased the crush of those awaiting asylum hearings, the president has in word and deed sent signals that migrants have interpreted as welcoming.
The initiatives include reviving the Obama-era policy known as “catch and release,” “paroling” illegal border crossers so they can enter the country, resettling migrants through secret flights around the country, and ending the “no match” policy that had helped the government identify people who were using fraudulent credentials to find work.
At the same time, the administration has deflected responsibility for the surge of immigrants. Initially, Biden’s team claimed there was no significant spike in immigration, later attributing it to “cyclical” and seasonal trends. Even as a record number of migrants from around the world were streaming across the border, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared last year that “the border remains closed.”
Many people on the front lines of the border – where a record 1.9 million people were apprehended during fiscal 2021, hundreds of thousands of whom were then released into the county – say the Biden administration’s policies have exacerbated the surge.
“We’re stopping nobody coming into our country,” said Clint McDonald, the executive director of the Texas/Southwestern Texas Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, “and we have no idea who is in our country.”
McDonald and other critics blame what they see as an ideological crusade by Biden officials to dissolve or ignore various laws and regulations that once checked or limited the influx of illegal immigrants – whom the administration now refers to as “irregular migrants.”
“We don’t know how else to put it,” said Spencer Raley, the director of research for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors curbs on illegal immigration. “Since the day he took office, Biden has not signed a policy that would enhance border security. Instead, everything that has been put into place was designed not just to undo policies of the Trump administration but to reflect an unending desire to bring more and more people into our country.”
Biden’s presidential campaign was perhaps more transparent about his intentions than the official line since his inauguration. At several points in 2020, the campaign signaled that enforcement of the U.S. border would be significantly relaxed and opportunities for amnesty expanded. Criticism of the Trump administration’s allegedly harsh border policies were a staple of Biden and his fellow Democratic Party candidates throughout that election year.
Within hours of taking office Biden began to make good on his signals, moving aggressively against the existing infrastructure that dealt with illegal immigration at the southern border. In addition to temporarily suspending deportations and ending the “Remain in Mexico” program, he issued an executive order stopping work on Trump’s border wall.
Policy memos from the Homeland Security also gave Border and Customs Protection and ICE agents more latitude in how they handle people encountered crossing the southern border without papers. These policy directives effectively ended ICE’s usual practice of taking custody of immigrants released from local or state jails, and placed more restrictions on the ability of federal authorities to arrest illegal immigrants.
During Trump’s last three months in office, apprehensions along the southern border held steady at an average of 75,000. In the first two months of Biden’s tenure, that number shot up by 120%, reaching a peak of 213,593 last July.
Despite those sharp increases, the Biden administration continued its relaxed border policies. Agreements the Trump administration had reached with Mexico and Central American countries, known as Asylum Cooperative Agreements, which were designed to constrict the flow of immigrants, were scrubbed so that immigrants no longer needed to request asylum in the first country they enter after leaving home.
The administration also reinstituted an Obama-era policy known as “catch and release.” It moved in the opposite direction of the Trump administration by lifting travel bans on some countries – bans upheld by the Supreme Court. Biden’s team has also expanded the list of countries whose residents can be granted “Temporary Protected Status” – which prohibits deportation because those countries are deemed unsafe – and extended the safe harbor period for residents of nine covered countries.
The Biden administration has once again expanded the ability of Border Patrol and ICE agents to grant illegal immigrants what is known as “parole.” Although the law granting this power is specific – it allows the government to temporarily admit people on a “case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian or medical reasons” – various administrations have interpreted the law differently.
The Biden administration has reversed Trump’s strict interpretation of that language, reverting to the policy in place under President Obama that allows much wider discretion for granting of “parole” to accept hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Some states have challenged the Biden administration’s expansion of parole, although those cases are still being litigated.
The Biden administration has even further euphemized liberals’ use of language regarding immigration. Advocates of more open border policies long preferred “undocumented aliens” to “illegal immigrants,” but now even that has been abandoned for the new phrase, “irregular migrants.”
RealClearInvestigations reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, its subordinate organizations of Customs and Border Protection and ICE, and the SSA for comment on the overall impact of Biden administration policies, but did not receive a response. An ICE spokesperson responded that it would defer to CBP, which did not respond.
Most recently, the Biden administration insisted on ending Title 42, a clause from a 1944 public health law the Trump administration had used to limit illegal immigration during the COVID pandemic. Experts predicted its removal would lead to a tsunami of more illegal immigrants, and at least 10 congressional Democrats, including those up for reelection this year such as Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, have voiced reservations about lifting it.
When pressed last month on the reasoning behind the plan to do away with Title 42, White House spokesperson Vedant Patel said: “As always is the case, this administration is working every day to provide relief to immigrants, restore order, fairness and humanity to our immigration system and bring it into the 21st century.”
Critics such as Raley of the Federation for American Immigration Reform say such language shows that Biden’s team sees the issue from the perspective of migrants rather than that of American citizens. “They’re changing the terms because they want to conflate illegal immigrants at the southern border with legal immigration,” he said.
Although there have been rumblings that Republicans might move to impeach Mayorkas if they regain the House next year, most of the pushback to the administration’s immigration policies has come from the states. Various lawsuits filed by Texas, Louisiana, Ohio, Arizona, Alabama, and Montana have sought to check ICE’s refusal to take custody of immigrants released from prison, and another suit this week seeks to block the administration’s plan to give asylum granting powers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees rather than immigration court judges.
Lawyers for the state of Texas contend, however, that the rule violated the Administrative Procedures Act and unduly shifts power from immigration courts to UCIS workers. Their lawsuit argues that the proposed rule “upends the entire adjudicatory system to the benefit of aliens,” the lawsuit said.
The impact of the administration’s policies is clear to would-be migrants around the world, Sheriffs’ Coalition leader McDonald said. “There is a widespread idea among them that the border is open,” he told RCI. “Last week, illegal immigrants on the Rio Grande wanted to take pictures with sheriff’s deputies they encountered. They were FaceTiming people back in their home countries shouting, ‘We’re here! You can come!’ They know our government is not going to do anything about it.”
McDonald spent 21 years as sheriff of Terrell County, Texas, and when he first won his badge he said that perhaps two corpses a year would be found along the border. Last year it was 22. “It’s just unreal,” McDonald said. “Some of these small counties can’t even cover their morgue bills anymore.”
What did Barack Obama and Joe Biden know about the Russiagate collusion hoax their fellow Democrats ginned up to kneecap Donald Trump – and when did they know it? How much did their chicanery contribute to Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the Ukraine?
Drawing on a wide range of documents, many never previously reported, Sperry details how the Obama administration worked closely with the Clinton campaign and a foreign government – Ukraine – in a “sweeping and systematic effort” to interfere in the 2016 election. It turns out Democrats were guilty of every false charge they lodged against Trump.
Their maneuverings began in 2014 when Obama officials supported the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych because he was too close to Putin. Biden, then the vice president, was the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Sperry reports that leaked transcripts of conversations between two high-level officials in both the Obama and Biden administrations – Victoria Nuland and Jake Sullivan – reveal that Biden gave his blessing to the formation of a new coalition government.
Sperry writes that Nuland even “traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters.”
A few months after the anti-Putin government took power next door to Russia, Putin marched into Crimea. Eight years later, he invaded Ukraine.
Top Obama administration officials continued to influence Ukraine’s internal affairs. Biden, for example, would later boast of threatening to withhold aid until the government fired its chief anti-corruption prosecutor – who, among other matters, was investigating the gas company Burisma that was paying his son, Hunter Biden, $83,333 a month for a largely ceremonial position for which he had no qualifications other than his family name. [In 2019, House Democrats would impeach Trump for temporarily withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure it to investigate the Biden family’s dealings there.]
During its final two years, the Obama administration’s dealing with Ukraine became increasingly focused on the 2016 election. Sperry reports that Nuland received some 120 reports on Ukraine from an outside contractor – Christopher Steele.
A former British intelligence officer, Steele would soon start working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion’s crown jewel was the so-called Steele dossier, a series of salacious and false memos allegedly cobbled together by Steele that formed the basis of the Trump/Russia collusion theory.
Steele and his Fusion colleagues weren’t the only political operatives working behind the scenes in the Obama administration. In April 2015, the Democratic National Committee hired a Ukrainian-American activist named Alexandra Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant.
Chalupa was convinced that Trump’s Achilles heel was Paul Manafort, a lobbyist who had done work for the party led by Viktor Yanukovych. Her effort to attack Trump by exposing Manafort’s alleged Russian ties was the seed of the collusion hoax. Sperry reports that the DNC operative visited the White House at least 27 times during 2015 and 2016.
Among the government officials she worked closely with was Eric Ciaramella, the CIA detailee to the White House who would later be the “whistleblower” regarding Trump’s 2019 call with the Ukrainian president that led to his first impeachment.
At the same time, the Obama administration was politicizing its foreign policy for domestic goals. In one of the more damning passages in his article, Sperry reports:
The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma.
“Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
As it became increasingly clear that Trump would be the GOP’s 2016 nominee, Chalupa and the administration ratcheted up the pressure on Ukrainian officials to denounce Clinton’s rival in order to sanitize their dirty tricks. [Fusion GPS did the same with Steele, having him present himself as an independent former British intelligence agent – while hiding his ties to Clinton – so that his smears would seem apolitical.]
Democrats collaborated with several Ukrainian lawmakers who supported them. This is not surprising because, Sperry reports, while Ukraine might have been a relatively small and poor nation, one of its oligarchs contributed more money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was secretary of state than any other group of foreign nationals, including the Saudis.
On March 30, 2016 Chalupa wrote to her contact at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington requesting that they express their grave concerns about Trump and Manafort. “Within minutes of sending the email,” Sperry reports, “Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, ‘The ambassador has the messaging.’ Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain.”
Sperry reports that these efforts paid dividends in August 2016, when Manafort was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign manager because of his previous work in the Ukraine. [Manafort would later be sent to prison on various tax and other charges, none of which involved him doing Russia’s bidding.]
After Trump’s election that November, a Ukrainian lawmaker who had worked with Fusion GPS in the effort to damage the Republican told the Financial Times that his nation believed “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He said that most of Ukraine’s politicians were “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”
That, of course, was not the end of the story. Democrats, their allies in the FBI, CIA, and other branches of the government, as well as Never-Trump Republicans – all with the active collaboration of the media – would continue to peddle the Russiagate hoax to damage the commander in chief. On Jan. 5, 2017, just days before they left office, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and others met with then-FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office.
The next day, Comey briefed President-elect Trump about the bogus Steele dossier. CNN then used that meeting as a pretext for trumpeting the false claims of collusion, sparking a media feeding frenzy that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate the charges bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign.
Sperry’s reporting strongly suggests that Obama and Biden were involved in this scandal well before then. The hydra-headed smear campaign against Trump deployed the powers of the executive branch to take down a political rival.
It is long past time for the media to begin the process of restoring its integrity. It could start by correcting the record – and then pressing Barack Obama and Joe Biden to explain why they accused Donald Trump of doing precisely what they did so effectively, which was involve a foreign nation in a U.S. presidential election.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.
While the world focused on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last week, little attention was paid to the ineffably consequential decision by Democrats to go all-out in their assault on American democracy.
Just as Julius Caesar invited civil war by crossing the Rubicon, the partisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol let it be known that it will recommend bringing two sets of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump regarding the 2020 election.
One allegation is that that he tried to obstruct the lawful counting of votes. The other is that he engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States through his false claims of a stolen election.
Given how divided our country is, and the wide support Trump still enjoys, his indictment would be an incalculably reckless act. It would be tantamount to the first round of live fire across the bow. Even if the left honestly believes its claims that conservatives are itching to take up arms against the Republic – that Jan. 6 was just a dress rehearsal for a second civil war – why would they consider striking this match?
If Democrats had a slam dunk case against Trump, one could argue that they might have some justification for putting the nation at such risk. They do not. The New York Times tersely noted that it is “far easier for the committee to claim that Mr. Trump had committed a crime … than it would be for prosecutors to win a criminal conviction over the same facts.”
It underscored this point by noting, “In publicly sharing its work, the committee has only escalated expectations that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted, regardless of whether its evidence meets the standard that a federal prosecutor must clear to secure a unanimous guilty verdict.”
To prove the conspiracy charge, for example, prosecutors would have to show that Trump knew he had lost the election but recklessly argued otherwise. The existing evidence so far suggests that Trump truly believes the delusion that he won more votes. The committee, which is a finely tuned machine designed to leak cherry-picked damaging information about the former president, has provided no evidence to support that claim. Nor has it shown that he directed the mob to attack the Capitol to obstruct the vote count.
So far, their argument – which echoes the larger left-wing push to punish and erase all narratives that do not support their preferred version of reality – appears to be that there is a single truth, their truth, and that Trump’s unwillingness to embrace it is a crime.
It is impossible to overstate the danger of this mindset, which is a profound assault on free speech and a dramatic escalation of the effort to criminalize political differences. It is, as Democrats like to say, a page torn straight from Putin’s playbook.
Politics in free nations is necessarily rough and tumble. It is a contest of ideas that often lack scientific precision. It makes room for debatable claims that may contain falsity as well as kernels of truth. The best evidence shows that Trump did not win as many votes as Biden in 2020, but also that it was a highly unusual contest filled with troubling irregularities. Prohibiting people from making that case is un-American.
If Trump can be charged with a crime, what about Joe Biden, who repeatedly claimed that Trump was not legitimately elected in 2016? What about Rep. Jamie Raskin, a leading member of the Jan. 6 committee who objected to the certification of Florida’s electors by making the bogus argument that they were not qualified to serve under state law?
Once a precedent is set, it becomes the norm. Do we really want to go down this road of indicting – rather than just challenging and debunking – those whose only crime is holding problematic opinions?
Why would Democrats place our republic in such peril? The answer is that they want this conflict. As polls show their effort to transform America meeting ever wider resistance, they seem eager for a final battle that will allow them to vanquish the right once and for all. Unable to achieve their ends through democratic channels, they are intent on blowing up the system.
I know that sounds crazy. It’s impossible to imagine how this battle would unfold and how victory could even be achieved. But Democrats are convinced that only they possess the truth and that those who disagree with them are beneath contempt. They see their venomous tactics as virtuous.
If you have ever confronted hard-core Democrats about these issues, you know there is no talking to them. All they have is their certainty.
Truth be told, Democrats have paid little price so far for their war on American norms. Unwilling to accept Trump’s victory in 2016, they advanced the sulfurous claim that the president was an agent of Russia. We now know that false narrative was concocted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and embraced without evidence by the Obama White House, much of the media, the FBI, and other aspects of the Deep State.
The incendiary path Democrats are heading down is unimaginably destructive, not just to the United States but to the world. As Putin continues his war in Ukraine and intensifies, united American leadership is indispensable. Instead of bringing us together, criminal charges against Trump would burn down our house.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.
A majority Americans begin 2022 full of worry and dread. During President Biden’s first year in the White House, societal anxiety surged, including among voters who identify as independents and Democrats. In the newest Axios/Momentive year-end survey, 2021 saw a 50% increase in fear about what 2022 will bring among independents. Democrats weren’t much more sanguine. They began last year with refreshing optimism as their party took control of the White House and Congress, with only 19% of Democratic voters declaring themselves fearful about 2021. By year’s end, that number had surged to 45%.
Reflecting this dour assessment, the RealClearPolitics polling average of Joe Biden’s approve/disapprove ratio also receded sharply for the last year, from a stellar 20-percentage-point surplus in his favor on Inauguration Day, to a minus- 10-point rating.
Given this environment, Republicans naturally grow more confident about the midterm elections. But taking nominal control of Capitol Hill won’t be enough. Will Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy and their lieutenants be content with stopping the woke and socialist-inspired agenda of progressives? Or will they boldly implement a full-throttle populist nationalist “America First” agenda?
Doing so requires focus, not a scattershot approach. The next Republican-majority Congress must concentrate intensely on a short list of the most pressing issues, where only the populists can rescue everyday Americans from the abuses of oligarchs and their handmaidens in both major political parties.
The first issue is inflation. This is the factor that explains the 30-point approval swing that has buried Biden’s White House in a matter of months. Inflation is, essentially, a tax — and a highly regressive one at that. After decades of restrained inflation, Americans understandably fear the continued loss of prosperity as their standard of living erodes by the day. For eight straight months, real wages have declined under Biden.
The ravages of inflation, predictably, hit the working classes the hardest. For example, a recent Gallup poll found that among modest earners making $40,000 or less per year, 71% report that inflation is a severe or moderate hardship. In contrast, among workers earning $100,000 per year or more, only 2% cited inflation as a severe hardship. A November Quinnipiac survey found that Biden still enjoyed a slight positive approval rating on the economy among those with college degrees, 50%-49%. But among non-degree holders, Biden languishes 54 percentage points underwater, with only 20% approval and 74% disapproval. Inflation helps explain this huge chasm.
What solutions should be offered? For starters, stop unfair labor competition so that workers have a chance to keep pace with the soaring prices of Biden’s inflation surge. Stop allowing millions of largely unvetted, illegal migrants to simply waltz into America under the bogus pretense of seeking asylum.
For our citizens, end obstacles to work, including the administration’s capricious and unscientific workplace vaccine mandates.
Return to the pro-energy policies of the previous administration: oil pipeline construction, rejuvenated drilling, and aggressive exploration on government lands so that Americans can benefit from cheap, abundant, domestic fuel.
Longer term, continue the process that President Trump began of demanding fairness and reciprocity in trade deals, especially with China. Once an America First president is elected in 2024, change tax and tariff policies permanently to compel the on-shoring of production back to the United States, especially in critical industries like semiconductors and medicines.
But healing the economy alone is not enough.
Our society suffers a sickness of the soul as well, and legions of everyday Americans feel silenced and intimidated by ruling class elites who insist that we pretend to believe fundamental myths, like the existence of dozens of genders. It’s high time for politicians to speak publicly the way the vast majority of Americans speak privately regarding hot-button cultural issues.
As a recent Rasmussen poll revealed, 75% of Americans agree that only two human sexes exist. Only 18% believe in multiple genders, and yet that small minority drives education policy and makes nearly every important cultural decision for our society, declaring the massive supermajority of Americans to be hopeless bigots for accepting the reality of humanity as male and female.
From a policy standpoint, the America First agenda must embrace this issue for elections, from school boards all the way to the U.S. Senate. Stop radical teachers and their unions from sexualizing young children and indoctrinating them with unscientific gender-fluid psychobabble. Forbid any public buildings or funds for such atrocities as drag-queen story times for children. Make illegal the infiltration of girls’ and women’s sports by biological males.
The common theme with these two issues is protection. Right now, powerful forces collude to oppress the masses, via financial and cultural repression. Only the emerging populist nationalist movement can protect citizens in both realms. Restoring wages and restoring gender sanity represent an agenda worthy of a great movement in this new year.
The president loves baseball, and has said the earliest memories he has are of the sport: a glove under his pillow the night before his first game and a too-big Little League jersey that hung past his knees. Given a chance to pick between an inning on the mound in the majors or the vice presidency, a much younger Joe Biden wouldn’t hesitate.
“I would have pitched!” the then-vice president told a crowd gathered for the final game of the 2009 Little League World Series, before following through with his trademark addendum, “By the way, I’m not kidding.”
Biden’s whimsical yearning was a variation on an old anecdote told by Dwight Eisenhower, and the crowd laughed appreciatively. He told them how he started at shortstop in elementary school but was playing centerfield by high school.
The lesson he learned along the way, Biden said that day in Williamsport, Pa., is that “we owe our best to whoever is watching.” Here, Biden was paraphrasing Joe DiMaggio, as he acknowledged, adding that he hoped “I have done that in my career.”
Almost a dozen years later, Biden is in the Oval Office. Mixing sports with politics, however, may have led to a few errors in his still-new presidency.
It included an ESPN interview; he said he would “strongly support” pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to protest new voter laws in Georgia. It ended with an extended rundown, caught between angry fans and legislators.
The White House now insists, contrary to fact, that Biden never weighed in on where the “Midsummer Classic” should or should not be played.
Like most Democrats, Biden opposes the new voting law, which requires a photo ID to cast a ballot, sets limits on absentee voting, and reduces the number of ballot drop boxes.
But the president erred when he said during his first press conference that the law “ends voting early” at 5 p.m. (it actually extends early voting hours and keeps Georgia’s 7 p.m. Election Day voting hours intact). He called it “un-American.”
The Washington Post fact-checker gave his claim “four Pinocchios.” The error has not been acknowledged, let alone corrected, and corporations have started making business decisions in response to public pressure on the issue.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot oppose the law. Outside of Georgia, Apple, JPMorgan, and United Airlines issued similar statements. This kind of posturing isn’t unusual and usually only spooks the local chamber of commerce when a company actually decides to act instead of issue press releases.
Late last week, Biden was asked about “the possibility that baseball decides to move their All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of this political issue” by ESPN’s Sage Steele.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them, they’re leaders,” Biden replied.
The exchange was almost Trumpian. No, Biden didn’t shout. But he went beyond politics. He talked about sports and politics, almost like a talking head — and exactly like his press secretary promised he never would act.
When reporters pressed Jen Psaki earlier this year on the impeachment trial of former President Trump, she demurred, saying Biden wouldn’t comment because “he is not a pundit.”
The answer about the All-Star Game, however, has opened the president up to a host of related topics. Now that he’s weighed in on baseball in light of the Georgia voting law, for instance, will he do the same regarding the U.S. participating in the Beijing Olympics given the anti-democratic tendencies of the Xi regime?
RealClearPolitics put that question to Psaki on Friday, and while the press secretary punted, saying that the U.S. Olympic Committee would play a “big role,” she insisted that the president “did not” weigh in on baseball.
“I don’t know if you heard the answer, the question and the answer that happened a few minutes ago where we addressed this, and I answered the question. And I give a little more context, but maybe you weren’t paying attention to that part,” Psaki replied.
Another reporter had asked earlier in the briefing if Biden believed businesses should consider pulling out of Texas as that state considers a bill similar to Georgia’s new law.
“Well, first, he didn’t call for businesses to boycott. Businesses have made that decision themselves, of course. He also was not dictating that Major League Baseball move their game out of Georgia. He was conveying that if that was a decision that was made, that he would certainly support that,” Psaki said.
But the president had weighed in on the question, and less than an hour after the briefing wrapped, MLB announced that there would be no All-Star Game in Atlanta.
Georgia Gov. Kemp laid the decision at the feet of Biden, saying that it was “the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections.”
Abrams, a Democratic activist and former gubernatorial candidate who led the opposition to the law, released her own statement praising the league and its players “for speaking out.” At the same time though, she added that she was “disappointed” that the MLB is relocating the game due to its economic impact. She wasn’t the only Democrat to do so.
Newly elected Sen. Jon Ossoff broke with Biden, telling National Review, “I absolutely oppose and reject any notion of boycotting Georgia. Georgia welcomes business, investment, jobs, opportunity, and events.”
The solution, he said, was to “stop any financial support to Georgia’s Republican Party, which is abusing its power to make it harder for Americans to vote.”
Republicans reacted at the national level by condemning the move, and South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan even announced he was drafting legislation to strip MLB of its federal antitrust exemption. And while that is a doomed effort so long as Democrats control the House, it was indicative of a shift on the normally corporate-friendly right.
The Georgia House of Representatives threatened to pull Delta’s tax cuts on jet fuel, the Texas GOP is reportedly mulling a similar response to corporate criticism, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw a brush-back pitch at the business community. He argued in a statement that corporations were acting like a “woke alternative government” with their boycotts.
If that continued, McConnell warned, their actions would “invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from the constitutional order.”
At a moment when Republicans are fighting to keep the White House and Democrats in Congress from increasing the corporate tax rate, McConnell likened the threatened boycotts to “economic blackmail.”
Psaki responded to that statement Monday by saying, “We’ve not asked corporations to take specific actions. That’s not our focus here.” And without going into details Tuesday, she declined to comment on MLB moving the All-Star Game to Colorado even though that state has laws similar to Georgia’s, other than to say “the Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.”
The White House has not backed down from Biden’s false claim that the Georgia law limits voting hours. But the president appeared to moderate his tone and acknowledge the economic harm that boycotts cause to local communities.
When asked about a different sport in the same state, the president demurred. And if he was a cheerleader who was “very supportive” of MLB’s decision to can the Georgia All-Star Game, he was more libertarian this week when it came to golf.
Should the Masters tournament relocate? “I think that is up to the Masters,” Biden said after remarks about the pandemic in the State Dining room at the White House. Talking sports this time, he was more cerebral, weighing the pros and cons of boycotts.
“Look, you know, it is reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are,” he said.
“The other side to it too is: When they, in fact, move out of Georgia, the people who need the help the most — people who are making hourly wages — sometimes get hurt the most.
“I think it’s a very tough decision for a corporation to make or a group to make, but I respect it when they make that judgment, and I support whatever judgment they make,” he started to conclude, before adding that “the best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up. Stop it. Stop it. It’s about getting people to vote.”
Before Biden spoke to reporters, State Department spokesman Ned Price announced that the U.S. is considering a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2022.
The president had previously said that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, didn’t have “a Democratic bone in his body,” and Price told reporters that a boycott “is something that we certainly wish to discuss.”
State then appeared to quickly flip-flop. A senior department official, speaking anonymously, told CNBC in that “our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.”