Obama delays action on aliens after ruling (Quote by Jenny Beth)

“Jenny Beth Martin, a founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement that the ruling “points out the lawless, overreaching nature of President Obama’s actions.”



Courts unlikely to defuse immigration stalemate in Congress





How One Nebraska Woman Lost Her Health Insurance Three Times Under Obamacare

“Dec. 26, 2014, was strike three for Pamela Weldin. The day after Christmas, Weldin, of Minatare, Neb., had logged on to Facebook to find a message from a friend of hers. Included in the note was a link to an article from the Omaha World-Herald announcing that CoOportunity Health, a nonprofit health insurance company offering plans in Nebraska and Iowa, had been taken over by state regulators. The insurer, one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or co-ops, started with the backing of the federal government and received $145 million in loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But, CoOportunity’s expenses and medical claims would far exceed its revenue for 2014. “Merry Christmas to me,” Weldin, a dental hygienist turned Pampered Chef director, said in an interview with The Daily Signal of when she read the article. A month later, Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart announced his intent to liquidate CoOportunity Health and encouraged those who were covered by the nonprofit to seek insurance elsewhere. For Weldin, 58, the insurer’s liquidation marked the third time she would lose her health insurance under Obamacare, the third time she would head to HealthCare.gov to shop for coverage, and the third time she would have to purchase a brand new plan. “I’ve been pulled into the middle of all this through no fault of my own,” she said, “and there’s nothing fair about it. It is what it is, and you move forward.”…”




“Last year, the Obama administration announced to much fanfare that it cleared 8 million Obamacare enrollments but later admitted it inflated those figures by 1.3 million. In the wake of the bogus numbers revelation, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell apologized for the “unacceptable mistake” and held meetings to solicit ideas on how to repair HHS’s tarnished image. Moreover, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner resigned and blamed unbuilt computer systems for the phony numbers scandal. Now, the White House is at it again, claiming that 11.4 million people have “signed up” for Obamacare. Even if that number were accurate–and it’s not–it would still fall well short of the 13 million target the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected should have enrolled by now. Still, Obama’s latest number represents the number of people it claims have filled out paperwork, not the number who have paid their first month’s premium and activated coverage. The figure also includes individuals who are ineligible but filled out forms anyway–a segment of individuals that numbered in the hundreds of thousands during the last enrollment period. Indeed, even the Huffington Post was forced to concede “the enrollment tally is bound to come down in the coming months.” As Forbes’ Avik Roy notes, if the prior 84% retention rate holds this time–and assuming HHS is not fudging its numbers again–Obamacare will “end up with 9.5 million enrollees” for 2015. Again, CBO predicted Obamacare would have 13 million by year’s end. What’s more, millions of those individuals are simply the 5 million people who had their insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare and were forced into the health exchanges. Roy calculates that just 5.4 million of those signing up for Obamacare this year are previously uninsured individuals–a far cry from the 11.4 million figure Obama is touting. Worse for Obamacare is the realization many are coming to that having an insurance card is not the same thing as having real coverage. Case in point: the New York Times’ devastating expose revealing that complex Obamacare plans mask true out-of-pocket costs to individuals, have radically shrunk options and networks, and have left many so frustrated they have stopped seeing doctors altogether. “The new fees are so confusing and unsupportable that they just avoid seeing doctors,” the Times explained…”



Contra White House, Obamacare Exchanges Enroll Roughly 5 Million Uninsured, Not 11.4 Million

“Last night, the White House tweeted that “about 11.4 million Americans are signed up for private health coverage” through Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. President Obama claims that this figure proves that his health law is working. But once you unravel the spin, what the latest numbers show is that the pace of enrollment in Obamacare’s exchanges has slowed down by more than half. If previous trends hold,  Obamacare exchanges have enrolled roughly 5 million previously uninsured individuals: a far cry from 11.4 million. Only 84% of ‘signups’ enroll in coverage. As you may remember from our coverage of this issue last year, there are two important ways in which President Obama’s claims about Obamacare enrollment diverge from the facts. The first is that “signups” don’t equal enrollment. In order to actually gain health insurance coverage—that is, a health insurer will pay for your health care claims when you go to the doctor—you have to pay the first month’s premiums. Not everyone does. Last year, the Obama administration reported that about 8 million people signed up by “selecting a marketplace plan” on one of the Obamacare exchanges. By the end of the enrollment year, 6.7 million people were actually enrolled in Obamacare-sponsored private insurance plans: a retention rate of 84%. That Obamacare lost some people over the course of the year isn’t anything to fret about. That 84% retention rate is fairly similar to that experienced by private insurers in the conventional, employer-sponsored private insurance market. But still, you didn’t hear the White House trumpet the 6.7 million number as loudly as they had the 8 million one. Applying the same retention rate to the new 11.4 million figure leads to an estimate that Year Two of Obamacare will end up with 9.5 million enrollees: an increase of 2.8 million from the previous year.”



Obamacare sign-ups top 11 million, White House says

“More than 11 million people signed up for subsidized private health insurance under President Obama’s law this year, the White House announced Tuesday evening. But that preliminary estimate – 11.4 million people – comes with a couple of asterisks: The final number could grow because the administration is offering a grace period for people who started applications – but couldn’t finish them – before last Sunday’s official deadline. They have until February 22, this coming Sunday. Also, Democratic lawmakers are pressing Mr. Obama to grant a second chance to sign up for uninsured people facing tax penalties. But the final number could also shrink if consumers who’ve enrolled for 2015 coverage don’t follow through by paying their share of premiums. “The Affordable Care Act is working,” Mr. Obama said in a White House video. “It’s working a little better than we anticipated. Certainly, I think, working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on.” Last year, 8 million people had initially signed up. But by fall, just 6.7 million were still in the program. Some of those who left found other coverage, through a job, for example…”



Obama admin takes victory lap over Obamacare figures after signup deadline

“Obamacare is working and here to stay, the administration declared Wednesday in extolling last-minute activity that pushed signups to 11.4 million nationwide, including 8.6 million from the HealthCare.gov marketplace that serves 37 states and is under threat at the Supreme Court. Preliminary data shows that 2.8 million customers signed up on the insurance portals run by 13 states and the District of Columbia, although a patchwork of enrollment deadlines in those states will force the administration to update their data in the coming days or weeks. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the three-month enrollment period that ended Sunday had been a strong one, buoyed by a last-minute push that set a single-day enrollment record over the weekend. She also argued the law has taken root across the country, even as Republican lawmakers and looming court challenges threaten to unravel it. “The Affordable Care Act is now an important part of the everyday lives of millions of Americans,” she said. “They finally have the financial and health security that comes with affordable health coverage.” The 2015 enrollment period began Nov. 15 and officially ended Sunday, although customers standing “in line” at the deadline have been given extra time to finish up…”



Dems gloat over ObamaCare numbers



Obama & HHS Secretary Reenact Moment She Told Him 11 Million Enrolled In Obamacare

“President Obama and Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, re-enact the gripping moment when the president learned his signature achievement health reform law had reached 11 million enrollees. “Well that’s great news,” he says. “This kind of outreach on a grassroots level… really was the original vision of the Affordable Care Act.”



Fewer than 150,000 phone applicants still in line for ObamaCare

“There are fewer than 150,000 phone applicants still in line to sign up for health insurance through the ObamaCare exchange, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday. Those people, who had started their applications but were unable to complete them by the Sunday deadline, have been given an extended deadline by HHS. The new deadline is Feb. 22. The extra time had raised the prospect of adding significant numbers to the 11.4 million who signed up by Sunday, but 150,000 is a fairly modest figure. Still, a HHS spokesperson later clarified that the number does not include people who applied online, rather than by phone, and may have left their applications incomplete or been stymied by technical problems.  State-run exchanges have also extended their deadlines. There is the prospect of yet another chance to sign up as well. HHS is considering allowing another enrollment period around tax-filing season for people who realize then that they have to pay a tax penalty if they do not have insurance. Burwell reiterated her previous position that a decision on that extra period will come within two weeks. She did say the consumer was the focus, which could be read as leaning toward allowing consumers an extra chance to sign up…”



Maryland ObamaCare signups double from last year

“Maryland roughly doubled the number of people who signed up on its ObamaCare health exchange from last year, avoiding the technical problems that plagued the effort in 2014. Around 119,000 people enrolled in private health insurance plans through the exchange ahead of Sunday’s deadline. Last year, around 63,000 people did. The results come in a stronger year for sign-ups nationally, as well. The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that 11.4 million people have enrolled, compared to around 7 million last year.  Last year, the Maryland exchange website, like the federal one, suffered from major technical problems. The complications were a headache for then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who is considering a run for president in 2016.  While some pressed for the state to adopt the federal website, it instead rebuilt its site following last year’s enrollment period using software from Connecticut’s exchange, which became a model for other states.”



Florida has highest number of enrollees under health law

“Florida has eclipsed California to become the state with the highest number of consumers buying health coverage through new insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, according to federal statistics released Wednesday. Florida’s roughly 1.6 million enrollees include both first time enrollees and some of the nearly 1 million Floridians who enrolled last year. California led the country last year with 1.2 million consumers, but lagged behind this year with a total of 1.4 million – 300,000 fewer than the state’s goal. The state has struggled to target hard-to reach populations including Latinos. Florida’s enrollment win comes despite significant Republican opposition in the state and a much smaller population than California, which has embraced the law, spent millions on outreach efforts, and established its own state exchange. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 3.8 million of Florida’s 19.5 million residents were without health insurance, making it the third-highest in the nation at 19.5 percent. By comparison, 6.5 million of California’s nearly 38 million residents were without health insurance, about 17 percent…”


New state becomes largest consumer of Obamacare



About 1.2 million Texans signed up through health exchange

“Nearly 1.2 million Texas residents purchased health insurance under the U.S. Affordable Care Act in time for the 2015 enrollment deadline, marking the second highest enrollment among states relying on a federal online marketplace, according to data released Wednesday. Sunday was the nationwide deadline for the second enrollment period, which began last November, under President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law requires that all Americans have insurance or face a tax penalty, with plans offered through either a federal or state-run websites, also known as marketplaces. More than 80 percent of Texas consumers who signed up qualify for a federal subsidy that on average covers about $240 of their monthly premiums, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”



Enrollment under Affordable Care Act increases 58 percent in Wisconsin to 205,000 people



Illinois health law sign-ups exceed 347,000



Ohio Affordable Care Act enrollment up 50 percent

Another 471,340 Ohioans enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program through Jan. 16. In Kentucky, 51,631 have enrolled in Medicaid coverage.



Obamacare signup extension available in Ky

“Kentuckians who were unable to sign up for Obamacare health coverage by the Sunday deadline because of technical problems or call-center waits will now have until Feb. 28 to sign up. And like other states and the federal government, Kentucky officials are also considering a “special enrollment period” for those who find out at tax time that they’ll have to pay a penalty if they’re not insured.”



Deadline brings rush for Obamacare insurance



After Obamacare surge, officials consider special sign-ups

“State and federal governments saw a huge, last-minute surge in Obamacare sign-ups ahead of last Sunday’s deadline, boosting total enrollment that surpassed the administration’s expectations. Of the 11.4 million Americans who have newly enrolled or re-enrolled in private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this year, 8.6 million signed up through the federal marketplace and about 2.8 million through state-based exchanges, federal officials said Wednesday. The Department of Health and Human Services had predicted up to 11.2 million enrollees for 2015. “In the final day, more new consumers signed up for health coverage than on any other day this open enrollment or last.,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. Many consumers in the 37 states using HealthCare.gov enrolled close to the Feb. 15 deadline, pushing up wait times at the federal call center. The average wait time in the final week was 22 minutes and 41 seconds, compared with 8 minutes and 16 seconds for the entire enrollment period. “It was a blowout weekend for us,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Healthcare.gov. Officials in states running their own exchanges said during a conference call hosted by Families USA that they experienced similar surges in the final days of open enrollment. For example, in Kentucky — where a total of 27,000 people newly enrolled in qualified health plans and about 75,000 re-enrolled — 6,000 enrolled last week, three times the typical 2,000 a week. And in Washington state — where a total of 160,000 residents enrolled or re-enrolled — 20,000 signed up in the last week, said Richard K. Onizuka, chief executive officer of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. On Monday, federal officials extended the deadline a week, until next Sunday, for those who couldn’t enroll in ACA insurance plans on the Healthcare.gov site over the weekend because of computer glitches or long waits. They will still be able to get coverage that begins March 1. Fewer than 150,000 people were still in line on hold with the call center when the deadline hit and are able to sign up before this Sunday. HHS didn’t disclose the number that couldn’t complete their enrollment because of technical issues… Now many officials are considering a special enrollment period for Americans who discover at tax time they’ll face a penalty for not having insurance. Burwell said federal officials will make a decision in the next two weeks. Minnesota announced Wednesday that it would extend its deadline through tax season; Washington state announced it would do so earlier this week. Exchange officials from Kentucky, New York and California also said they are considering a similar special enrollment period for residents who discover they face a fee. Under the ACA, the fee for not having coverage in 2014 is $95 a person or 1% of annual household income, whichever is higher. The fee for not having coverage in 2015 is $325 per person or 2% of household income, whichever is greater. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said many people in his state signed up for coverage after visiting with tax professionals and realizing they would face that penalty for the first time. “This is a teachable moment,” Lee said. “This is the first time in our history that health care and taxes are totally intertwined.”



U.S. deciding whether to extend Obamacare enrollment

“Americans who have started enrolling for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act can still sign up, and the U.S. government is weighing whether to open a special enrollment period for those who missed Sunday’s deadline, the health secretary said on Wednesday. So far, 11.4 million Americans have enrolled in private health insurance through the health reform law known as Obamacare during the open enrollment period that ended on Sunday, according to the White House. The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance or face a financial penalty. But some people may not realize they face a penalty for not having coverage until they file their tax returns in coming weeks. HHS will decide within the next two weeks whether to allow another special enrollment period for consumers, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters in response to a question about those consumers amid the looming April 15 tax-filing deadline. “We’re going to analyze it, we’re going to think about it, and we’ll be back. And we will be back quickly on it,” she said at a news conference. Separately, Burwell said fewer than 150,000 people were “in line” as of Sunday to get health insurance coverage through the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act. They will have until Feb. 22 to complete their application, she said.”



Could uninsured Americans get a second chance to avoid a fine?

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Wednesday that the administration will decide within two weeks whether to offer a special open enrollment period to consumers facing tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act because they opted not to purchase health insurance. The health care reform law requires adults to sign up for coverage or pay a fine. Those who lacked health insurance in 2014 will have to pay either a flat fee of $95 or 1 percent of their annual income — whichever is higher — when they file their returns this April. The penalty for lacking coverage in 2015 increases to either 2 percent income or $325, and in 2016, that penalty will jump to 2.5 percent of income or $695. Thanks to a series of exemptions that have pushed wide swaths of Americans out of the reach of the individual mandate, the penalty may affect fewer households than expected. Most of the 14 exemptions offered by the administration deal with hardship like domestic violence, property damage from a fire or flood, or the cancellation of an insurance plan. And those exemptions come on top of the groups that were carved out of the law when it was written in 2010, including illegal immigrants, Native Americans, and certain religious groups…”



Second state extends ObamaCare enrollment

“Minnesota will give the public another chance to sign up for ObamaCare around tax-filing season, the state’s exchange announced Wednesday, as other states and the Obama administration consider similar periods. The announcement makes Minnesota the second state to establish the new enrollment period, following Washington’s decision on Monday. The Obama administration is considering a similar extra chance for the roughly three-dozen states that use the federal HealthCare.gov website. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell says the decision will come within the next two weeks. The idea behind the extra chance is that many people will not realize until they file their taxes that they owe a penalty for not having health insurance. Without a new enrollment period, they will be unable to sign up at that point, because the deadline passed on Sunday. Minnesota’s period will run from March 1 to April 30; Washington’s runs from Feb. 17 to April 17. The Minnesota exchange said in a statement that the period will “raise awareness and lessen the tax burden” on Minnesota residents. California, Kentucky, and New York are among the other states that are considering the new period.  “This is a teachable moment,” Peter Lee, the California exchange executive director, said on a conference call organized by the advocacy group Families USA on Wednesday. “This is the first time ever in our history that healthcare and taxes are completely intertwined.” Officials in multiple states said that the tax penalty was playing a larger role in driving enrollment this year, and people were frequently signing up after learning from tax advisors that they would have to pay a penalty if they did not have insurance.  But many more will not find out until the rush to file taxes, said Ron Pollack, Families USA’s executive director. “Millions upon millions of people are unaware about these penalties,” he said.”



With ObamaCare Sign-Ups Light, Taxed Get 2nd Chance

“With ObamaCare’s second-year sign-up period now in overtime, it looks like paid enrollment will — barring a miracle — finish even further short of forecasts than it did in 2014. Even assuming that the 11.4 million sign-up figure announced with fanfare by the Obama administration grows by several hundred thousand during a weeklong extension, the final tally is on pace to dip below 11 million once nonpayers (15% of last year’s total) are winnowed out. The Congressional Budget Office had projected 12 million at the start of 2015. The main laggards this year have been blue states with their own exchanges. Washington, to this point, has seen slightly lower enrollment than in 2014. One reason may be that the lowest-cost bronze plan premium in Seattle soared 40% after subsidies. California saw sign-ups increase just 1% from a year ago. The big gainers were virtually all states that have so far spurned the Medicaid expansion. Florida, which overtook California as the biggest exchange, saw sign-ups grow 616,000 to 1.6 million. Other big gainers included Texas (456,000), Georgia (220,000), North Carolina (202,000) and Virginia (168,000). States Eye Special Extensions – But in a last-ditch effort to get young and healthy adults to sign up, a handful of states are giving anyone slapped with the individual mandate penalty on their tax return until late April to get coverage for their 2015 taxes. Washington state and Minnesota have already announced the special extension and other states running their own exchanges are mulling the idea. The Obama administration will soon announce whether HealthCare.gov will remain open for mandate-penalty payers in the three dozen states using the federal exchange. That would give people a chance to avoid next year’s penalty when they find out they just got hit with a fine for not having coverage in 2014. Yet the first-year penalty — $95 per person or 1% of taxable income — may be too small to provoke a big reaction. Next tax season, the penalty will rise to a minimum of $395 or 2% of taxable income. Sign-Ups Looking Older – Officials haven’t specifically said they’re using the special extension because of a shortfall in young-adult sign-ups, but that might be a motivation. Data through mid-January showed that just 26% of the nearly 7.2 million people who signed up via HealthCare.gov were in the 18-to-34 age group vs. 28% during last year’s open enrollment. Minnesota, the only state disclosing its demographic mix for 2015, said 18-to 34-year-olds account for 24% of the total, below last year’s 24.3%. That result may have been affected by low-cost insurer PreferredOne’s decision not to offer subsidized plans on the exchange this year. Young adults represent about 40% of the potential exchange pool. Analysts expect second-year enrollment to be somewhat younger and healthier relative to first-year enrollees, both because of the ramping up of the individual mandate and because those most in need of health care had reason to be among ObamaCare’s early adopters. Time is winding down for the exchanges to get the young and healthy on board. ObamaCare provided insurers three years of protection from losses to encourage them to jump onto the exchanges. As that support phases out, the health of the group insured by each exchange needs to improve, or else big premium increases could follow…”



The ObamaCare Burden

Some Americans are in for an especially bad tax season.

“The designers of ObamaCare were politically clever in at least one respect: They wrote the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so that its most burdensome provisions wouldn’t take effect for years. Although Democratic members of Congress paid a heavy price anyway, President Obama was able to win re-election (with the help, to be sure, of the Internal Revenue Service). That means his “signature achievement” is largely secure against repeal efforts until 2017. ObamaCare’s central provisions—the “individual…”



Obamacare tax troubles popping up

“…Affordable Care Act tax issues – As the filing season kicked off in January, Treasury and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials warned that millions of filers could owe Affordable Care Act, or ACA, taxes. Some filers will face penalties because they didn’t get required insurance coverage. This is the individual shared responsibility tax. Others will find they got too much government help to buy insurance and must pay it back. This is the premium tax credit, which millions used to help pay for the coverage they bought through a marketplace exchange. While the IRS hasn’t yet issued any data as to how many taxpayers are in such ACA payment predicaments, we are starting to get anecdotal reports. Costly life changes –  One California woman recently told CNN that she’s using her savings to pay back the subsidy, officially known as the advance premium tax credit, that she received to buy her coverage through her state’s exchange. But, she admits, her surprise tax bill is her fault. When she got a job after buying her policy thanks to the tax credit, she didn’t let the exchange know of her income increase. Her situation is just one that was noted in Bankrate’s story on the possible Obamacare tax costs that many might face…”



In Last Minute Move, IRS Spares Small Employers Big Obamacare Penalties For 2014

“You’ve got to hand it to the IRS. It may improperly target political groups, inexplicably lose critical email evidence, abusively attempt to govern tax preparers in an overreaching manner, and callously refuse to answer the phone when we are in desperate need of assistance, but when the tax industry is struggling with complicated law changes, the Service sure as heck knows how to provide some last minute relief. Two weeks ago, the IRS woke up and realized that a large percentage of the taxpayers who bought insurance on a state or federal exchange and were therefore eligible for the premium tax credit would, by virtue of the advanceable nature of the credit, actually be required upon filing their 2014 return to repay the IRS for the excess advance credit they received. To ease the pain, the IRS published Notice 2015-9, which provides that if a taxpayer’s tax liability is comprised entirely of a repayment of the premium tax credit, the IRS will not assess a late filing penalty or an underpayment of estimated tax penalty. Last Friday, just as the tax industry was close to collapsing under the collective weight of the Forms 3115 it had prepared, the Service published Rev. Proc. 2015-20, which provides relief from certain reporting and compliance aspects of the dreaded “repair regulations.” Although as one miserable pessimist explains, the relief may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Then, earlier today, the IRS  bailed many taxpayers out of a large penalty that until recently, few even realized existed: the $36,500 Section 4980D penalty (per employee!) assessed on employers who reimburse the health insurance premiums of its employees…”



Obamacare Created or Hiked 13 Taxes, Networks Ignore Them in 87 Percent of Stories

“Obamacare has increased the tax burden on taxpayers and companies, a fact ignored in recent broadcast news reports. Obamacare created or hiked at least 13 taxes, Forbes reported February 17. Forbes contributor and tax lawyer Robert Wood said that for the average American, “it’s easy to be overwhelmed” by all the new taxes and forms that come with Obamacare. In addition to three new IRS forms, Wood wrote that Obamacare taxes included a 40 percent excise tax on high-end “Cadillac” plans, a $63 fee on all plans to help insurance companies cover “the costs of high-risk pools,” and a “tax penalty” of $95 or 1 percent of income per adult without health insurance up to $285 per family for 2014. But the morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC failed to mention Obamacare would raise taxes at all in 87 percent of stories and news briefs (3 out of 23) that mentioned both healthcare and taxes between Novembe 17, 2014 and February 17, 2015. Washington Post reporter Jason Millman wrote on February 17, that the tax penalty for not having insurance will increase to $325 or 2 percent of income per person for the 2015 tax year, and that “it’s likely that a lot of people who will have to pay don’t know it yet.” Millman said that most people will not find out they owe this money until they file their taxes, after it is too late to do anything to avoid the penalty. The networks’ failure to properly inform viewers about the many taxes in Obamacare may be part of the reason so many taxpayers will be left in the dark. During a story about President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, co-host Natalie Morales highlighted President Barack Obama’s plans were “designed to help the middle class” during NBC’s “Today” January 21. Morales described how Obama proposed “paid sick leave, free community college and tax hikes on the wealthy” during his State of the Union address…”



Stanford study shows rural disadvantages under Obamacare

A Stanford study found that small, rural coverage regions under the Affordable Care Act have fewer insurers to choose from and higher prices relative to similar rural markets that get grouped in with larger urban markets nearby.

“One year after the launch of Obamacare, some rural residents face significant disadvantages, a new Stanford study shows. “Small and rural regions appear to attract fewer entrants. Insurers also charge higher premiums to rural residents,” wrote Michael J. Dickstein, an assistant professor of economics, in a policy brief for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. The brief originated from a research article by Dickstein; Mark Duggan, the Wayne and Jodi Cooperman Professor and a senior fellow at SIEPR; and Stanford economics doctoral students Joe Orsini and Pietro Tebaldi. In 2014, nearly 8 million American residents signed up for private health insurance coverage through new state-run marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Under it, individual states have discretion in how they define coverage regions. In the study, Dickstein examined how health insurance markets fared in the first year of the new health care operation, using data from 33 states. In particular, he studied the size and composition of coverage regions within a state and across states. He found significant effects for people living in small and rural markets.  “When states combine small counties with neighboring urban areas into a single region, the included rural markets see 0.6 to 0.8 more insurers, on average, and savings in annual premiums of between $200 and $300 for the benchmark plan,” he said in an interview.”



Affordable Care Act Information Reporting Creates Data Privacy and Security Issues

“During this year, businesses will be hearing a lot about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) information reporting requirements under Code Sections 6055 and 6056. Information gathering will be critical to successful reporting, and there is one aspect of that information gathering which employers might want to take action on sooner rather than later – collecting Social Security numbers (SSNs), particularly when required to do so from the spouses and dependents of their employees. There are, of course, ACA implications for not taking this step, as well as data privacy and security risks for employer and their vendors. We address the latter here…”



Democrats Keep Running Away From ObamaCare

“Hypocrisy: If ObamaCare is so great, why do Democrats repeatedly try to hide its more unpleasant features? The latest example is their desperate effort to grant still more exemptions to the law’s individual mandate. This week, three House Democrats who helped usher ObamaCare through that chamber — Sander Levin, Jim McDermott, and Lloyd Doggett — sent a plea to the White House, asking it to grant the uninsured another chance to enroll. Their concern: Millions who are about to file taxes will learn they owe a penalty — sorry, “shared responsibility payment” — for not having coverage. At the same time, they’ll be out of luck getting coverage this year, since open enrollment is already closed. Which means they will owe a far bigger penalty next year, when it more than doubles. “Without a special enrollment period, many people (who will be paying fines) will not have another opportunity to get coverage this year,” the Democrats said in a statement. Boo hoo. When ObamaCare was put together, these same Democrats insisted that the law would only work if everyone were required to buy insurance. That’s because ObamaCare bans insurance companies from denying the sick coverage or charging them more, thereby encouraging people to wait until after they get sick to buy insurance. As in states that had already tried these reforms, the result would be a death spiral of rising premiums. Democrats promised they could avoid this by forcing everyone to buy coverage. And the only way to do that, they argued, was to both restrict enrollment to a few months a year and impose stiff penalties on scofflaws. They also knew that even with the fine, millions would still refuse to buy insurance. In fact, they counted on it. Official projections at the time had the penalty bringing in $3 billion a year. Yet instead of defending their law, these same Democrats pretend they didn’t see this coming. Even in a town known for its cravenness, this is stunning. Since Obama has already granted innumerable exceptions and delays to make other parts of his signature law somewhat more politically palatable, there’s no reason to think he won’t grant this one. But Democrats should be forced to stand by the law they shoved down the country’s throat. Or join with Republicans to see it repealed.”



The irony of ObamaCare: How liberals came to love Big Business

“It’s not every day that Mother Jones describes a policy as effective because corporate America says so. ObamaCare seems to be an exception to the rule. “If getting rid of ObamaCare is such a good idea,” asks reporter Stephanie Mencimer, “why isn’t corporate America getting behind King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case designed to demolish the Affordable Care Act?” Indeed, the piece not only notes the lack of big business support for King, but also emphasizes that the Hospital Corporation of America is on the administration’s side. For once, liberals are arguing that a surge in corporate profits is proof that a law is working. Cue Mitt Romney: corporations are people, my friend. But industry support for ObamaCare shouldn’t be surprising. Mandating and subsidizing the purchase of health insurance is just one of the ways it benefits companies, not just consumers. The only reason this is news is because of the conventional wisdom that ObamaCare stuck it to the man at big health insurance companies, a misconception that President Obama has found politically useful to reinforce. His law, he says, means “insurance companies can’t jerk you around.” In the run-up to passing ObamaCare, the president also told “the story of hardworking Americans who are held hostage by health insurance companies.” But as The New York Times has reported, “Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.” Under ObamaCare, “share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent.” Even before the law was passed, insurance companies successfully opposed the government-run public option, but were on board with a lot of other provisions that meant more money and customers for their product. “Health insurers supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and were one of the key constituencies consulted when policymakers crafted the legislation,” notes Modern Healthcare in a report on the health insurance stock boom….”



Administration: Millions don’t want ObamaCare ‘taken away’

“The Obama administration is touting its better-than-expected ObamaCare enrollment period as it turns to next month’s pivotal Supreme Court fight over the healthcare law. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell argued Wednesday that the 11.4 million sign-ups show the law “is now an important part of everyday lives of millions of Americans.” She also argued that people are “tired of the back and forth here in Washington” about the law, which she stressed was here to stay. “While we have more work to do, the numbers tell the story, and the story is clear. The Affordable Care Act is working and families and businesses and taxpayers are all better off as a result,” Burwell told reporters.”



If administration loses looming Supreme Court case on ObamaCare, what’s next?

“A looming Supreme Court case reviewing a key component of the Affordable Care Act is raising questions about what would happen if the Obama administration loses. On March 4, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether the IRS illegally extended subsidies to millions of Americans in order to underwrite the cost of their health insurance policies under ObamaCare. The language of the law says the subsidies will be awarded in states that set up their own exchanges, but more than three dozen states opted not to do that. Despite that fact, the IRS extended subsidies into those states. Earlier this month, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told a Senate committee that a decision from the Court striking down the current subsidy structure would be “devastating,” but refused to say if the administration has a back-up plan. Some conservatives see that as an opening. Grace-Marie Turner, founder of the Galen Institute, which advocates for free market health care reform, said GOP leaders are ready to step in. Galen also said lawmakers could offer a temporary solution that would give states more control over subsidies, but stop short of gutting the ACA. “I do think there’s a chance that if they do this right, if they play their cards right, that the president would, in fact, sign it,” Turner added. Republicans, who control Congress after having won the Senate in November, say dismantling ObamaCare remains a priority. But they appear to think their best chance of undoing the 2010 law is the court case. And they have so far taken a wait-and-see approach, instead of trying to immediately repeal the law or dismantle it in parts. Some ACA critics fear the Supreme Court may hesitate to block the current subsidies because of a lack of confidence in the legislative branch in general. In an interview earlier this week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summed up her thoughts on Congress’ ability to step in where laws need to be updated or fixed. “The current Congress is not equipped really to do anything,” she said. The Justices have extended oral arguments from the usual one-hour limit to 2.5 hours, with a decision due by late June. The number of uninsured could rise by 8 million if the subsidies disappear, two independent think tanks have estimated. “We have to have a contingency plan,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said last week. Republicans and Democrats agree that a ruling for the plaintiffs could wipe out subsidies for millions of Americans, in three-fourths of U.S. states.”



Testing Obamacare

President Obama illegally rewrote the ACA. Will the Court reverse him?

“Two weeks from today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, the most important challenge to Obamacare since the Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate in 2012 (thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’s bizarre legal interpretation). Given the possibility that the case could punch a very large hole in the health-care law’s implementation, it has unsurprisingly been the subject of much commentary and analysis. Unfortunately, most of that commentary and analysis has been wrong. For example, the case has nothing to do with the constitutionality of Obamacare. No matter how the Court rules, it will not “strike down” the Affordable Care Act. The case concerns one provision of the law, subsidies provided through the exchanges, and whether those subsidies can be offered through federally run exchanges as well as through exchanges “established by a state.” That’s an important provision, to be sure, but even if the Court rules that subsidies cannot be offered through a federal exchange, most provisions of the law will remain in effect. In fact, it could be agued that the plaintiffs are actually seeking to have the law implemented precisely as written. Nor would a decision to strike down the subsidies necessarily mean that millions of Americans will lose their insurance overnight. No doctor is going to rush into someone’s hospital room and pull the IV out of his arm. Insurance plans don’t work that way, not in the real world. One can fairly say that those raising the alarm about canceled or unaffordable policies have had a rather late conversion, since Obamacare itself notoriously forced the cancellation of some 6 million insurance plans that failed to meet its criteria. Obamacare also drove up the cost of insurance for millions of Americans. But that is exactly why those now complaining about unaffordable insurance have something of a point. Because Obamacare outlawed many affordable policies and drove up premiums generally, its operation is extremely dependent on shifting much of that cost to taxpayers through subsidies. Therefore, if some of those subsidies are ruled illegal, there will be Americans who will have difficulty paying their premiums — especially at Obamacare’s inflated prices. In a sense, removing the subsidies simply brings the law’s full cost home. Does that mean some people may choose to give up coverage? Possibly, but fewer than commonly thought. To date, roughly 10.5 million Americans have signed up for insurance through an exchange. But roughly 2.75 million of them live in the 14 jurisdictions (13 states plus the District of Columbia) that have state-run exchanges. They would be unaffected no matter how the Court rules…”



Do Obamacare’s Challengers Have A ‘Nutty,’ ‘Stupid’ Or ‘Screwy’ Interpretation Of The Law?



Have some GOP lawmakers flip-flopped on Obamacare and subsidies?





Administration memo tells border agents they can release drunk drivers

“The Obama administration is telling Customs and Border Protection agents in a busy stretch of the U.S.-Mexico crossing that they don’t have to arrest intoxicated drivers, sparking backlash from advocacy groups and others. The Department of Homeland Security issued the advisory, which informs agents in the Tucson, Ariz., sector that they have three options if they encounter suspected drunk drivers — detain them at the request of local law enforcement, detain them without the involvement of another agency or let them go. In stark terms, the bulletin explains which options put the officers at greatest risk of being sued. The bulletin warns the first option poses the “greatest threat” to an agent of a lawsuit. Instead, the advisory, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, highlights the third option – letting them “go on their way.” The advisory makes clear agents have no legal obligation to intervene in state crimes and that with the third option, “there is generally no liability that will attach to the agent or agency for failing to act in this situation.” The bulletin, reviewed by FoxNews.com, goes so far as to say agents wouldn’t be liable if they allow the driver “to continue down the road and they kill someone.” Jessica Vaughan, a policy director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said Tuesday the advisory is consistent with the administration’s long-held strategy of trying to end federal agents’ close cooperation with state and local law enforcement, which has led to deportations. Vaughan argues that most border communities are so rural and have so few resources that local and federal officers must share responsibilities — a practice known as “comity” in legal circles. “That’s the reality on the ground,” she told FoxNews.com. “But the administration thinks Border Patrol agents have too much discretion, and it wants to draw a bright line between federal and other agents.” The leader of the union representing the majority of Tucson sector agents suggested they will continue to detain those suspected of drunken driving, despite the memo. “I can assure you that the agents I represent and the people I work with just would not release someone who was severely intoxicated,” Art Del Cueto, president of Local 2544, told a local CBS TV station…”



ICE’s risk assessment on illegal immigrants ‘not effective,’ IG report finds

“U.S. officials have little idea whether some illegal immigrants commit crimes or flee from authorities after being set free by law enforcement, a new report has found. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, uses a process called the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program for some illegal immigrants as an alternative to detention. Immigrants are released with an expectation that they will return for their court appearances, and they are closely monitored by immigration officials. Only officials haven’t always been keeping track of the participants, said a report released this week by the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog, the Inspector General. That makes it difficult to know if the program is working. “ICE cannot definitively determine whether the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program has reduced the rate at which aliens, who were once in the program but who are no longer participating, have absconded or been arrested for criminal acts,” the IG’s report said. On top of that, the agency’s procedures are “not effective in determining which aliens to release or under what conditions,” investigators said. Among the problems, immigration officials asked illegal immigrants if they had a medical condition that could affect their attention or release. But some officers relied simply on the immigrant’s answers without conducting a medical evaluation, the report said…”




“An estimated 5,000 aliens were either arrested for committing crimes or absconded over a three year period while they were participating in a supervision program that allowed them to be released from detention and into U.S. communities, the latest publicly available data shows. In an audit released earlier this month, John Roth, the inspector general (IG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), revealed that a total of 2,010 aliens were arrested for committing crimes while they were participating in a supervised release program in 2010 (576), 2011 (729), and 2012 (705). Furthermore, the DHS watchdog found that a total of 2,760 aliens absconded while they were enrolled in the same scheme over the same period — 2010 (927),  2011 (982), and 2012 (851). The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of DHS, is charged with detaining illegal aliens and legal immigrants who commit deportable offenses while they are processed for deportation and await final disposition of their removal cases. ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) provides an alternative to detention. The program is one of several means used to release aliens from detention. Some aliens are liberated after they are granted some sort of benefit or relief. Others are freed after they agree to leave the country voluntarily. “Under the program, ICE supervises aliens it has released from detention, and monitors them electronically,” explained the DHS auditor in a report on ICE’s alternatives to detention. “As a condition of release, ICE requires aliens to appear in immigration court for removal proceedings and comply with removal orders from the United States.” Electronic monitoring and case management is provided through a government contractor who uses either GPS ankle bracelets or voice recognition software for telephone-based reporting. “The intent of this supervised release is to increase compliance with release conditions, appearances in immigration court for removal hearings, and final removal orders that immigration courts may issue,” later added the inspector general. According to the auditor, the program is used “in conjunction with the less restrictive release conditions associated with payment of a bond, or having to report periodically to an [ICE] field office.” Roth concluded that it is uncertain whether the program has reduced the rate at which released aliens have absconded or committed criminal acts. ICE releases aliens “by means of bond; order of recognizance (unsupervised); order of supervision (which can consist of nothing more than a periodic telephone call to a designated ICE telephone number); an alternative to detention (such as an electronic ankle bracelet, or other form of tracking device); or parole (a form of legal status),” explained the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The inspector general revealed that 1,341 ISAP program participants violated the conditions of their supervised release, but added that ICE “does not have sufficient resources to re-detain participants who willfully violate [the program’s] terms of supervision, such as those who tamper with GPS monitors or miss appointments.”



Biden On ‘Wave’ Of Immigration: ‘It’s Not Going To Stop’ [VIDEO]

“During introductory remarks at a three-day summit to address violent extremism on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden welcomed future waves of immigration which he predicted are “not going to stop.” Forty religious, business and civic leaders are convening at the summit to address extremism in the wake of Islamic terrorist attacks in France, Canada, Belgium, Australia and Denmark. “I’m proud of the American record on culture and economic integration of not only our Muslim communities but African communities, Asian communities, Hispanic communities,” Biden said. “And the wave still continues. It’s not going to stop. Nor should we want it to stop. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the things I think we can be most proud of.” Embracing immigration was part of the theme of the summit — stated numerous times by Biden — that “inclusion counts.” The key to preventing young people from gravitating towards extremism is to form coalitions to ensure that “every child in every minority community in America — particularly now in the Muslim-American community — is able to feel like we see them,” Biden said…”



Key issues in the states’ lawsuit over immigration



Obama’s ‘Complete Abdication’ of the Law

A Texas judge explains that the president’s action on immigration is an attempt to create law from scratch.

“On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). This executive action purported to rely on “prosecutorial discretion” to defer the deportations of up to 5 million aliens and grant them work authorization. Only two weeks later, former attorney general, and now-governor Greg Abbott challenged DAPA in federal court in Brownsville. On February 16 — only two days before the Department of Homeland Security would begin accepting new applicants — Judge Hanen ruled that DAPA was unlawful and must be stopped. Judge Hanen’s methodical opinion begins by explaining how DAPA injures Texas and warrants a remedy in federal court. Specifically, DAPA beneficiaries would be able to receive Texas driver’s licenses. Providing licenses to the aliens comes at a financial cost to the state, only part of which is borne by the applicant. Although it might seem like a trivial cost, any burden, even as small as a dollar, is concrete enough to justify standing to sue. The government countered that Texas could simply change its laws to deny driver’s licenses to DAPA beneficiaries, but Judge Hanen called their bluff. Earlier this year, the DOJ had told Arizona that it would be unconstitutional to deny driver’s licenses to beneficiaries of the president’s 2012 executive action. Texas chose to avoid this constitutional dilemma by challenging DAPA. After establishing that Texas had standing to sue in federal court, Judge Hanen turned to the lawfulness of the executive action. DAPA was decreed on November 20, 2014, in a series of memorandums, without any opportunity for the public to comment beforehand. Judge Hanen found fatal the government’s failure to comply with the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). But the court went further, finding that DAPA was not an exercise or prosecutorial discretion. Rather, DAPA amounted to a decision to “‘consciously and expressly adopt[] a general policy’ that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities.” The president was willfully disregarding the laws of Congress that he did not agree with. Specifically, DAPA “does not simply constitute inadequate enforcement; it is an announced program of non-enforcement of the law that contradicts Congress’ statutory goals.” This policy, Hanen concluded, is unlawful and must be halted. The court did not need to address the constitutional issue, and it did not address whether the president failed to comply with the Constitution’s requirement that he “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Judge Hanen, however, showed his hand by explaining that the president had engaged in a “complete abdication” of the law. Rather than enforcing the law, Hanen saw Obama’s actions as making law: The executive is “is not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch.” This is the role of Congress, not the president. Even if the administration complies with the notice-and-comment process of the APA — unlikely with only 20 months until the next election — such a broad policy of non-enforcement would still run afoul of the Take Care clause. This case will soon be appealed by the DOJ to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, but Judge Hanen’s thoughtful opinion has shifted the tenor of the debate. No longer can critics scoff at the argument that DAPA is unlawful. Hanen’s workmanlike decision has moved the arguments from “off the wall” to “on the wall.” The decision from Brownsville, on the literal and figurative border between the federal and state governments, is a first step toward restoring the separation of powers and ensuring that the president faithfully executes the laws.”



Why the Federal Court Blocked Obama’s Executive Amnesty, in One Sentence

“Having read through the 123-page opinion, I think it’s fair to say that the key sentence is this one, on page 112: “In sum, this Court finds, both factually based upon the record and the applicable law, that DAPA is a “legislative” or “substantive” rule that should have undergone the notice-and-comment rule making procedure mandated by 5 U.S.C. § 553.” What this means is that the president’s executive amnesty is not an exercise of prosecutorial discretion at all, but rather an attempt by an executive branch to adopt a regulation subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). That may not sound like much, but it’s potentially huge. It goes to the very heart of what Obama has done here and elsewhere, which is to elevate the power of case-by-case prosecutorial discretion to a general legislative power.  The issue that’s ultimately at stake here is constitutional, and goes to the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. But the court didn’t reach the constitutional issue, because it found a statutory basis for its ruling, namely the Administrative Procedure Act, which carefully defines what an executive agency must do when it exercises rulemaking authority. The reason DHS didn’t resort to a full-blown APA rulemaking in the first place is the real key to this whole story: Congress has not delegated DHS the authority to adopt the substantive elements of the executive amnesty as a regulation. “In fact,” writes Judge Hanen in the decision, “the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed.” When proponents of the executive amnesty criticize the court’s decision, they should be asked specifically whether they think the Congress has delegated to DHS the authority to adopt the amnesty as a regulation. If they answer “yes,” then they should be asked whether the administration erred in not going through the process spelled out in the APA. If they answer “no” then that should be the end of the story.”



McConnell: Court ruling on immigration bolsters GOP bill to defund executive actions

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday a federal court injunction against President Obama’s executive action on immigration should send a signal to Democrats to stop blocking legislation that would curb it. “This ruling underscores what the President has already acknowledged publicly 22 times,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “He doesn’t have the authority to take the kinds of actions he once referred to as ‘ignoring the law’ and ‘unwise and unfair.’ Senate Democrats, especially those who’ve voiced opposition to the President’s executive overreach, should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding.” A bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security has stalled in the Senate, thanks to a Democratic filibuster. The Democrats oppose a provision in the bill that would defund Obama’s immigration directives that allow millions of people living here illegally to obtain work permits and some federal benefits…”



Don’t count on McConnell to make a deal on immigration

“Don’t count on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to play dealmaker in the fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. The Kentucky Republican is under intense pressure from conservatives to hold the line against President Obama’s immigration actions, and he shows no signs of backing down. McConnell on Tuesday used a judge’s injunction against Obama’s immigration order to increase the pressure on Democrats, saying the onus is on them to stop filibustering legislation that would fund the DHS and stop an illegal power grab by the White House. “Senate Democrats — especially those who’ve voiced opposition to the President’s executive overreach — should end their partisan filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding,” McConnell said in a statement. McConnell could have seized on the injunction to push conservatives toward funding the DHS while the court fight plays out. The fact that he didn’t, Senate Democrats say, is a sign that McConnell won’t be coming to the negotiating table. “He certainly has not looked that way thus far,” said a senior Democratic aide. “He could have said, ‘This issue is being discussed in the courts; that’s the appropriate venue. Let’s keep the fight there and fund DHS in the meantime.’ “He cares more about scoring points with the hard right of his caucus than doing the right thing,” the aide said. McConnell stepped in at the last minute to defuse three major crises in that past four years: the standoff over raising the debt limit in 2011; the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts in 2012; and the government shutdown in 2013. Lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol may be looking for him to reprise his role as fixer, especially given his declaration after Republicans captured the Senate: “There will be no government shutdowns.” The difference now, GOP sources say, is that McConnell does not have a willing negotiating partner in the White House or in Senate Democrats. “What’s the administration’s incentive to work with Republicans? They know Republicans’ backs are against the wall. All they have to do is sit tight. If the department shuts down, Republicans get all the blame. It’s a win-win for the Democrats and Obama,” said a Republican source familiar with the Senate leadership’s thinking. A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday showed Republicans would bear the brunt of the blame if the DHS shuts down on Feb. 28. Fifty-three percent of Americans would point the finger at Republicans, while only 30 percent would hold Obama primarily responsible, the poll found…”



Immigration ruling emboldens Republicans in Homeland Security funding fight

“…A federal judge in Texas late Monday issued a temporary injunction to stop states from having to comply with Obama’s immigration directives, which provide millions of illegal immigrants with access to work permits and federal benefits. Republicans want to halt the implementation of the immigration directive permanently by blocking it in a $40 billion Department of Homeland Security funding bill that passed the House in January. Democrats are preventing debate on the bill in the U.S. Senate. “This stay has only increased the urgency for Congress to deny funds for an illegal amnesty that robs Americans of their constitutional protections,” Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Washington Examiner. Support for the Texas ruling was nearly universal among Republicans. “Today’s ruling reinforces what I and many others have been saying for a long time,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. “That President Obama acted outside the law when he went around Congress to unilaterally change our nation’s immigration laws.” Even Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who both back allowing certain illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, said they believe Obama has exceeded his power by issuing the immigration orders. “Last year, the president overstepped his executive authority and, in turn, hurt the effort toward a commonsense immigration solution,” Bush posted on his Facebook page hours after the Texas court ruling. “Now, more than ever, we need President Obama to work with Congress to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system…”



Greg Abbott: We’ll Win Amnesty Lawsuit Because Of ‘Obama’s Words Himself’ [VIDEO]

“ABBOTT: We will win because of Barack Obama’s words himself. If you recall, he said 22 times he didn’t have the authority to pass a sweeping law like he did through executive action. And then, the day after issued the executive action he said, “I just changed the law.” And then yesterday again, when he was commenting on this lawsuit, he said he had to act because Congress failed to act. What all that does is that it sets in the problem with his theory behind this, and that is only that Congress, not the president, has the authority to issue laws on immigration. The president is making up these laws out of whole cloth. In fact, that is what the judge said in this case, and that is the president through the DHS was making this up from scratch. That contradicts the authority granted to the executive branch in the Constitution.



Texas governor expects immigration ruling to stick

“Top Texas officials took a victory lap Wednesday, celebrating this week’s judicial order blocking enforcement of President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration and predicting that this win in U.S. District Court won’t be their last. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s confident the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will side with Texas and 25 other states in trying to halt Obama’s efforts to let some undocumented immigrants receive work permits and a temporary form of legal status. The administration has said it will immediately appeal the ruling. “It is abundantly clear that the Obama administration has violated the Administrative Procedure Act. And on that issue alone we will win all the way up through the appellate ranks,” Abbott said in a news conference at the Texas Capitol, referring to a statute that governs what the executive branch can do when it makes new rules. “That ruling will be held up on appeal.” Abbott was joined by fellow Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The appeals court decision could come next week and will have an immediate impact on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked over a House-passed bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security past Feb. 27, but block Obama’s immigration actions. If the court stays District Judge Andrew Hanen’s temporary injunction, the battle over Obama’s immigration policies could shift from the courts and back to congressional efforts to confront the president. Or if Abbott is correct, Republicans in Congress could find a way out of their DHS funding fight and leave the battle against Obama to the courts. But Cruz indicated he will continue taking a hard line regardless of the legal machinations. After running against Obama’s immigration policies last fall, House and Senate Republicans now must “honor the promises we made to voters” and block his actions, Cruz said…”



Cruz: Amnesty Injunction ‘Major Victory for Rule of Law’

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) praised a federal judge’s injunction blocking President Barack Obama’s executive order as “a major victory for rule of law” in a press conference Wednesday in Texas. “This victory this week, the decision from the federal court was a major victory for rule of law. All of us have reason to be proud that Texas led the way, standing up to President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty. All of us have reason to be proud that our Governor Greg Abbott and our Attorney General Ken Paxton led the way, standing up and fighting against lawlessness,” Cruz said. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the administration had exceeded its authority and blocked implementation of Obama’s executive order on immigration while a lawsuit seeking to permanently stop the order goes through the courts. “It’s worth underscoring what the federal district court ordered was very simple: It was that the president’s amnesty order of November of last year was on its face illegal,” Cruz said. “The federal court looked to the president’s asserted justification that it was ‘an exercise of prosecutorial discretion,’ and the federal court quite powerfully said that that was not an accurate description of what the president’s executive amnesty did, because it was not simply declining to prosecute some 4.5 million people who are here illegally, but it was rather as the district court said, ‘an affirmative act of issuing work authorizations that are flatly contrary to federal law,’” Cruz added. “Printing up documents, in effect what the Obama administration was doing was counterfeiting immigration documents, because the work authorizations that the administration was printing are directly contrary to the plain text of federal law that says that those who are illegally are not authorized to work,” he said. Cruz said any efforts by the Department of Homeland Security – such as the hiring of additional employees – to implement Obama’s order, would be in violation of the federal court’s injunction…”



Cruz decries Obama’s immigration actions as “counterfeiting” documents

“Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is celebrating a Tuesday court ruling that blocked Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. Flanked by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, Cruz attacked the president’s recent executive actions that would have deferred the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in a press conference Wednesday. “By printing up documents, in effect what the Obama administration was doing was counterfeiting immigration documents,” Cruz said with several high-ranking Texas officials by his side. This lawsuit, filed while Abbot was still Texas’ attorney general, marks the 31st time he has sued the Obama administration. He said Wednesday that this lawsuit “may turn out to be the one with the greatest constitutional consequence.” Cruz reiterated his view that Mr. Obama’s executive actions were “illegal.” He said that the president’s executive action was not a simple decision to not prosecute illegal immigrants, but was, “rather an affirmative act of issuing work authorizations that are flatly contrary to federal law.”



Ted Cruz warns Obama to stop spending on amnesty plans for illegal immigrants

Ruling undercuts Senate Democrats’ homeland security funding filibuster, Texas Republican says

“Sen. Ted Cruz warned the administration Wednesday that it needs to stop even planning for an eventual amnesty for illegal immigrants, saying a federal judge’s broad injunction means it would be illegal for the Homeland Security Department to spend any money on President Obama’s immigration plans. The Texas Republican also said Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s ruling late Monday undercuts the basis of Senate Democrats’ ongoing filibuster to block homeland security spending, which the president’s allies have launched to try to defend the White House’s immigration policies. The warning to Mr. Obama to stop spending money on the amnesty opens the door for another potential fight between Mr. Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress and could leave the president open to another legal challenge as well…”



GOP Double-Crossing Traitors

“Now that a federal judge has held Obama’s illegal executive amnesty unconstitutional, perhaps U.S. senators will remember that they swore to uphold the Constitution, too. Back when they needed our votes before the last election, Republicans were hairy-chested warriors, vowing to block Obama’s unconstitutional “executive amnesty” — if only voters gave them a Senate majority. The resulting Republican landslide suggested some opposition to amnesty. Heading into the election, college professor Dave Brat took out the sitting House majority leader and amnesty supporter Eric Cantor in a primary, despite being outspent 40-1. It was the greatest upset in history since the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” at the Lake Placid Olympics: Never before has a House majority leader been defeated in a primary. And Brat did it by an astonishing 55.5 percent to 45.5 percent. Again, the voters seemed to be expressing disquiet with amnesty. After that, even amnesty-supporting Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was denouncing Obama’s executive amnesty. “If the president were to do that,” he said, “and we have a Republican majority in the United States Senate, why, we have a number of options that we don’t now have to remind him to read Article I of the Constitution.”



Obama Promises To Break Judge’s Amnesty Injunction

“Despite the unambiguous Feb. 16 injunction from a federal judge, President Barack Obama said he will press ahead with his plans to launch his unpopular unilateral amnesty. “We’re not going to be actually taking applications in until this case is settled,” Obama told reporters in a brief meeting Tuesday. “But we are doing the preparatory work because this is a big piece of business,” he said. He repeated his determination to continue preparations, despite the judge’s injunction. “The Department of Homeland Security will continue in the planning because we want to make sure as soon as these legal issues get resolved, which I anticipate they will in our favor, that we are ready to go,” he told reporters…”



White House puts immigration plans on hold after ruling

“The Obama administration put its new deportation-relief program on hold Tuesday on the eve of its launch, complying reluctantly with a federal judge’s order that roiled immigrant communities nationwide and seemed to harden an already-tense stalemate on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama promised an appeal and predicted he’d prevail. But for tens of thousands of immigrants in line to begin applying Wednesday for work permits and deportation stays under his directives, their plans were canceled, at least temporarily. Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said he disagreed with the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas that the administration had exceeded its authority. But he said that, for now, he must abide by it. Key issues in the states’ lawsuit over immigration “We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling,” Obama said, but he added that administration officials would continue to prepare to roll out the program. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side,” he said. On Capitol Hill, the Homeland Security Department stood 10 days away from losing funding, but Hanen’s ruling made a compromise on that dispute look more distant than ever. Republicans are blocking funding for the agency unless Democrats agree to cancel Obama’s immigration orders, and they seized on the ruling as validation for their position. “Congress must reassert its waning power. We must re-establish the constitutional principle that the people’s representatives control the purse,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a leading immigration hardliner. Yet Senate Democrats, who have been blocking a House-passed bill that would fund the department but also undo Obama’s actions, said the ruling from Hanen did nothing to budge them. “Democrats remain united in our belief that funding for the Department of Homeland Security should not be used as a ransom by Republicans, period,” said Chuck Schumer of New York. The agency’s $40 billion budget runs out Feb. 27, and with Congress now on recess lawmakers will have only a few days to reach an agreement once they return to Washington next week. One possibility is a short-term extension of current funding levels, but House Speaker John Boehner said over the weekend that the House had done its job and he would “certainly” let a shutdown occur if the Senate didn’t act. If the political impasse seemed severe, so were the implications for millions of immigrants in the country illegally who have cheered Obama’s executive directives in the face of congressional inaction. “We feel powerless but not defeated, sure that it will all work out,” 46-year-old Claudia Ramon, a native of Colombia, said at a rally in Houston, one of dozens nationwide where immigrants and their advocates vowed to continue with preparations under Obama’s programs…”



Delay in Obama’s immigration program leaves illegal aliens in limbo

“The Obama administration was forced to delay its expanded immigration-relief program Tuesday to comply with a federal judge’s order, leaving millions of undocumented residents in a holding pattern. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Jian Ling Lin, a Chinese-born mom of three facing deportation, told The Post through an interpreter. She and more than 4 million others were counting on Obama’s executive order — which allows parents of US citizens to remain in the country for three years — to avoid deportation and ­secure work permits. In a sharp blow to Obama’s plan, Texas federal Judge Andrew Hanen sided with 26 GOP-led states opposing the immigration action and issued a temporary restraining order halting implementation, just a day before the launch date. “The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” said Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee. The expanded application process was to open Wednes­day for about 290,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, while applications for 4 million parents of US citizens were to be processed in May. Both programs were suspended as the administration announced it would appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. “We expect to prevail legally and we’ll be ready to implement these programs when that happens,” said Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Obama told reporters: “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side.” Attorney General Eric called the ruling an “interim step in a process” potentially heading to the Supreme Court. Republicans cheered the judge’s decision, which adds ammunition to their standoff with Democrats over blocking the immigration actions as a condition for funding the Department of Homeland Security past Feb. 27.”



Obama administration mum on legal strategy following immigration setback

“The White House Wednesday declined to say specifically how the administration would respond to a federal judge’s ruling temporarily halting President Obama’s executive action to spare up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that the Justice Department would decide within the next few days how to pursue an appeal to the decision by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen putting the brakes on Obama’s unilateral action. Obama’s top spokesman would not say whether the Justice Department would request an emergency stay of Hanen’s immigration ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. A stay would allow Obama’ s deportation deferrals to move forward as judges review Hanen’s decision. Typically, the circuit court would rule on such a request within a few weeks. However, the panel of judges, primarily made up of conservative appointees, could rush a decision since Obama’s plan was already slated to go into effect…”



Obama Administration Unlikely to Seek Emergency Stay on Immigration Ruling

“While President Obama has made it clear his administration will appeal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling blocking his executive action on immigration, the president’s immigration plan will likely be on hold for months or longer. Though no final decision has been made, Obama administration sources told ABC News today that the Department of Justice is unlikely to seek an emergency stay to block the judge’s order. The reason is simple: While DOJ thinks it will ultimately prevail on the overall appeal, department officials believe they would not succeed in seeking an emergency stay of Judge Hanen’s ruling. The judge’s ruling is likely to remain in place while the case is appealed before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and, quite possibly, to the Supreme Court. That process is likely to take six months — or longer. That means the 5 million undocumented immigrants who would have benefited from the president’s executive action will have to wait. President Obama expressed confidence today that his executive actions on immigration will ultimately be upheld after a Texas district court injunction blocked the plans from being implemented. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side,” President Obama told reporters in the Oval Office today. The ruling came just a day before applications for DACA, which expand upon the president’s previous 2012 DACA program to remove age restrictions, were set to begin. The judge’s order also put a pause on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) applications, which allow parents of American citizens to seek legal status. DAPA applications were not set to be accepted until later this year. “I disagree with the Texas judge’s ruling and the Justice Department will appeal. This is not the first time where a lower court judge has blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful,” the president said. “I’m confident that it is well within my authority and the tradition of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion to execute this policy.” The president said the Department of Homeland Security will adhere to the ruling and not move forward with applications for DACA and DAPA, but he noted the department will continue to prepare to administer the plans once the legal issues are resolved. “We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling. The law is the law in this country, and we take things a step at a time,” Obama said. Judge Hanen’s ruling does acknowledge the administration’s right to exercise prosecutorial discretion about who is targeted for deportation, but said the DACA and DAPA programs went a step further and changed legal status of the population. While the undocumented immigrants covered by the president’s executive actions will not be able to apply for work permits, the department can decide which people and cases to prioritize for deportation. The department has previously said it will not go after “moms with kids,” but without DACA and DAPA there is no way for the population to register with the government and legally be reprieved from deportation. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference today that the DOJ is still reviewing the decision and determining how the administration will proceed with the appeals process. But he said the judge’s ruling is just one ruling, and it is an “interim step” on an issue that will ultimately be decided by a higher court. The ruling comes at a time when Congress is embroiled in a fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security that expires Feb. 27. Democrats have repeatedly filibustered a Republican-backed measure to fund the department that includes provisions that would halt the president’s recent executive actions from going into effect…”



Obama: Deferred-Deportation Plan Will Win in Appeals Court

“An immigration ruling by a federal judge in Texas is just a temporary interruption that will not succeed in blocking deportation relief offered to at least four million undocumented immigrants in the United States, President Obama and top White House advisers said Tuesday. “This is not the first time where a lower court judge has blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately is going to be lawful, and I’m confident that it is well within my authority,” said Obama, referring to his executive order in November creating the deferred-deportation program. On Monday, the judge temporarily halted Obama’s executive order, giving a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit to permanently bar it. The administration’s reaction to the judicial setback comes during a showdown between the White House and the Republican-led Congress over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Conservatives seek to legislatively thwart Obama’s immigration executive actions using DHS appropriations as leverage, and face a late-February deadline to resolve differences. Obama’s policies are being squeezed in the judicial and legislative branches, and while court action dominated headlines Tuesday, Congress’s funding deadline looms next week. In the background are Republicans interested in succeeding Obama in 2017 – potential candidates who are uniformly critical of his policies but sharply divided over how Congress should tackle immigration. The president, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said he is confident his immigration executive actions, which expire at the end of his term, are legal and constitutional. He predicted the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen would be overturned after the Justice Department appeals the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Many analysts predict the complaints tied to the president’s unilateral powers will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. DHS’s programs remain in place, but the U.S. District Court ruling freezes “for the moment” an expanded effort to offer deportation relief to qualifying youth and parents of some children brought to the country illegally decades ago, Cecilia Muñoz, the president’s domestic policy adviser, said in a conference call. On Wednesday, DHS was to begin the process of selecting new beneficiaries of deportation discretion known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. The application process, now suspended, relied on Obama’s policy, announced Nov. 20. “For those who are now wondering whether or not they should apply, we are going to refer those questions to the Department of Homeland Security that has already begun the planning process. And we will be prepared to implement this fully as soon as the legal issues get resolved,” the president said. The administration’s 2012 deferred-deportation initiative known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “is not affected” by the injunction, Muñoz said. That program, which many prominent conservative legal scholars agree is constitutional, helped about 700,000 avoid the threat of deportation with a new status. Obama restated his frustration that lawmakers, who in 2013 passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate but not in the House, risk shutting down DHS to register political opposition, and appear intent on deporting some of the estimated 11 million illegal migrants living in the United States…”



White House facing rocky legal road on immigration

“A carefully targeted lawsuit by states opposed to President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions hit a bulls-eye Tuesday, forcing postponement of a key element of the president’s plan hours before it was to get underway. But the injunction issued late on the President’s Day holiday by a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush could just be the beginning of a rocky legal ride for the Obama White House. Obama vowed to appeal the ruling, but that challenge will head to a court considered the most conservative federal appeals court in the country: the 5th Circuit. Its active judges are Republican by a 2-1 margin. Still, the president sounded optimistic that his legal position will ultimately be vindicated. “I disagree with the Texas judge’s ruling, and the Justice Department will appeal,” Obama said at a meeting with new Defense Secretary Ash Carter that was hastily opened to access by journalists.

“This is not the first time where a lower court judge blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful. And I’m confident that it is well within my authority and position of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion to execute this law,” the president said in response to questions. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side.” The White House’s best chance to get Obama’s immigration efforts back on track may lie with the Supreme Court, which issued a 5-3 ruling in 2012 backing strong discretion for the federal government in immigration enforcement. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from that decision but seems likely to back Obama in the latest fight.)…”



Obama faces fights over immigration, DHS funding

“President Obama’s administration plans to appeal the ruling of a federal judge who temporarily blocked Mr. Obama’s immigration overhaul. At the same time, Congressional Republicans say they will only fund the Department of Homeland Security if Obama abandons his executive action on immigration. Major Garrett reports from the White House.”



Obama to meet with Harry Reid amid concerns on immigration and ISIS

“President Barack Obama plans to meet with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid as Congress debates a series of issues at the top of the president’s agenda. The White House says Obama will meet with Reid Wednesday afternoon. The meeting comes a day after a federal district court judge’s decision halting implementation of Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The Senate is debating legislation to finance the Homeland Security Department, which oversees immigration enforcement. Republicans want language in that spending bill that would reverse the executive actions. Obama has said he would veto legislation with those conditions. Congress is also reviewing Obama’s request for authority to use military force against Islamic State militants for three years. Republicans say the request is too narrow; many Democrats say it is overly broad.”



White House Struggles on Immigration Ruling

“President Obama’s lawyers, facing what could be months of delay on the White House’s immigration efforts, are struggling for a response to a Texas judge’s ruling that has imperiled one of the president’s potential legacy achievements. A top administration official said Wednesday it was unclear whether the Department of Justice would seek an emergency order that would allow the president’s immigration programs to go into effect while an appeal proceeds. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said that no decision had been made on an emergency application to an appeals court, but she pledged to fight all challenges to the president’s actions. Monday’s late-night 123-page ruling by Judge Andrew S. Hanen forced Mr. Obama to halt plans to protect millions of undocumented immigrants. White House supporters attacked the judge’s ruling as “shaky.” Conservative legal critics hailed it as a powerful argument. Regardless of which side prevails, the Texas ruling did show how deft Mr. Obama’s adversaries had become in their efforts to delay — if not derail — a program that immigration advocates have been intensely clamoring for. In the meantime, the clock on Mr. Obama’s presidency is ticking. “I think it’s a significant threat,” said David E. Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University. “My guess is that this reflects some real concern that’s out there.” Monday’s ruling from Judge Hanen had none of the hallmarks of a legal blockbuster. Its language did not appear to be aimed at reshaping the power of the presidency or changing the constitutional framework for future occupants of the Oval Office. Indeed, the judge acknowledged vast presidential power in his ruling. Instead, Judge Hanen wrote, Mr. Obama had gone astray by failing to seek public comment before implementing the program. That, the judge said, probably violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which lays out the steps that must be completed before some changes in federal agencies’ policies can go into force. Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said Judge Hanen’s holding was, in a sense, “trivial.”



Obama, immigrants refuse to be stopped by court decision

Amnesty application process suddenly on hold pending further legal battles

“Both the White House and illegal immigrants said Tuesday that they would not be swayed by a federal judge’s decision in Texas halting President Obama’s deportation amnesty as overstepping the bounds of his powers. Within hours of the decision, immigrants had said they would still prepare to apply for the program and the White House was vowing to appeal the ruling that accused Mr. Obama of granting “benefits and privileges” to people that the law says should be deported. In a ruling late Monday, Judge Andrew S. Hanen said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was “not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch” when he wrote the amnesty, which could have granted tentative legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to more than 4 million illegal immigrants. Judge Hanen issued an injunction halting the program until he can hold a full trial. The administration was poised to start accepting amnesty applications Wednesday, but it found itself scrambling to regroup while insisting it will eventually win the court fight. On Capitol Hill, Republicans said now that a judge has ruled the president’s actions are likely illegal, Democrats should stop filibustering the Homeland Security spending bill, which they have been blocking as part of their defense of Mr. Obama’s immigration plans. Judge Hanen’s 123-page ruling doesn’t mean any of the illegal immigrants who would have been approved for the amnesty will be deported. The judge said Mr. Obama does have the discretion to decide whom to deport given the resources he has, and the president has said he won’t deport longtime illegal immigrants without serious criminal records…”



Immigration advocates press Obama to act quickly

“Immigrant rights groups are pressing the Obama administration to take steps to ensure the president’s lenient new deportation policies go forward quickly despite a federal judge’s ruling blocking them. Administration officials say they’ll appeal Monday’s decision by Andrew S. Hanen, a Texas-based U.S. district judge, to halt a pair of executive actions providing deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. But the appeals process could take months, and the advocates want the White House to jump-start the immigration programs by asking the courts for an emergency order – known as a “stay” – that would essentially undo Hanen’s ruling and allow the new initiatives to launch while lawsuits against them proceed.

“This seems like a no-brainer to do an emergency stay. … We were expecting that it would be sort of automatic,” Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights group, said Wednesday. “We want to get this program rolling. We’ve got a lot of people’s lives who are on hold.” Marielena Hincapié, head of the National Immigration Law Center, echoed that message, warning a long delay could suppress participation at the expense of immigrant families. “Each day that passes will represent a lost opportunity for advocates, organizers and community members to encourage their friends and loved ones to come forward and apply,” she said. “If there isn’t an emergency stay filed, that means [Hanen’s] injunction would stay in place … for three, four, five, six months,” Hincapié added. “We don’t have a sense of that [timeline], but we do know the difference would mean a matter of weeks versus a matter of months.” Administration officials, who were quick to commit to an appeal, say they’re still weighing all other legal options, including that of an emergency stay. “The Department of Justice intends to appeal and it will determine within the next couple of days any additional next steps that may be appropriate,” DOJ spokesperson Kevin Lewis said Wednesday in an email. “No decision has been made on whether to seek a stay.” The administration declined to comment on what specific factors it was weighing. But some legal experts noted that one consideration might be the fact that the request for a stay must first go to Hanen – a step that could delay not only the stay but the underlying appeal. “They may just want to focus their time and resources on the appeal,” said Melissa Crow, the legal director of the American Immigration Council, which is backing the stay option. The administration’s indecision has agitated some advocates, who have hailed Obama’s executive actions but have also long-been critical that he didn’t announce them much sooner. “Our community has waited too long, and we need the president to lead in this moment,” Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, said Wednesday.  Hanen’s ruling came as he weighs a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states challenging two new initiatives announced by Obama just weeks after November’s mid-term elections. One would expand an existing program – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative – halting deportations and allowing work permits for illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. The other – dubbed the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) – would extend similar benefits to the undocumented parents of both American citizens and legal permanent residents. The White House and other supporters of the changes say the administration is merely exercising its authority to use discretion in prioritizing deportations given the limited resources allotted by Congress…”




“A federal judge’s Monday injunction against President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty has angered DREAMers. Steven Arteaga, a DREAMER who met with President Barack Obama at the White House, said he was “mad” when he heard about the injunction “because they are playing with people’s lives.” He said he had been encouraging his mother to apply for Obama’s executive amnesty before he heard about the injunction that Judge Andrew Hanen issued. “What they are doing to the community, they are taking what little hope they have from not being deported or having a work permit or having a better view of the American Dream,” Arteaga told NBC News. “They are taking what little vision we have and are throwing it away and tearing it apart.” The Department of Homeland Security decided the Obama administration would “comply” with the injunction and not accept temporary amnesty applications until the case was resolved. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the injunction was “sad for our impacted DREAMers and their families.” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of La Raza, said the injunction is “only a delay” and urged illegal immigrants to continue gathering amnesty documents. “We are very confident that both DACA and DAPA will move forward,” she said. “In the meantime, it is of the utmost importance that those who are eligible continue gathering all necessary materials and prepare to submit their applications as soon as the program starts.” She also accused detractors of attacking immigrant families.”



Gutierrez Warns GOP: Executive Amnesty Pushback Will ‘Come Back To Haunt You’ In 2016 [VIDEO]

“Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez has a warning for the GOP: Don’t mess with the president’s executive action on immigration if you want to win elections. In an interview with MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart Wednesday, the congressman and immigration activist warned Republicans that their continued efforts to block President Barack Obama’s executive action will “come back to haunt” the GOP at polls come 2016. Gutierrez added that the “militancy” of the immigrant community will be unleashed “in an unprecedented manner” due to “voter anger” at the GOP. Gutierrez’s remarks come two days after a federal judge in Texas blocked the president’s unilateral plan to award work permits to four million illegal immigrants. “[T]he Republican Party is making a critical mistake,” Gutierrez said. “The militancy that will be activated throughout the immigrant community, voter participation, voter anger at the Republican Party as a party on the United States, I think you’re going to see it in unprecedented manner.”



Gutierrez Warns of Unprecedented Immigrant ‘Militancy’ After Anti-Amnesty Ruling

“Illinois Democratic congressman Luis Guiterrez cautioned Republicans against celebrating a federal judge’s decision to halt the White House’s unilateral push for illegal alien amnesty, predicting unprecedented “militancy” in the immigrant community against the injunction. The long-time advocate for illegal immigration angrily denounced the Texas judge’s decision that the Obama administration’s overstepped its executive authority. But Gutierrez also took aim at those who supported the judicial ruling. “The Republican party is making a critical mistake,” he said. “The militancy that will be activated throughout the immigrant community — in terms of voter registration, voter participation, voter anger at the Republican party as a party in the United States — I think you’re going to see it in an unprecedented manner.” “Look, you may think you won today, but your victory is going to be very short-lived,” the lawmaker warned his GOP colleagues. “And November 2016 is coming right around the corner, and this will come back to haunt you.”




“On Wednesday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) predicted that a federal judge’s injunction against President Barack Obama’s temporary amnesty program will activate an unprecedented “militancy” in the immigrant community that will drive them to the polls against Republicans. Gutierrez, who vowed that pro-amnesty advocates would not be “deterred” by Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction, told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz Balart that the “militancy that will be activated throughout the immigrant community in terms of voter registration, voter particiaption and voter anger at the Republican Party… I think you are going to see it in an unprecedented manner.” “You may think you won today, but your victory is going to be short-lived, and November 2016 is coming right around the corner–and this will come back to haunt you,” Gutierrez, who has urged illegal immigrants to get amnesty to punish Americans against illegal immigration at the ballot box, warned Republicans. He also accused Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), who led the fight against Obama’s executive amnesty, of disrespecting Obama and the office and the institution of the presidency by referring to Obama as “Barack Obama.” Abbott, though, has referred to Obama as “President Obama.”



Luis Gutierrez: There will be unprecedented “militancy” among immigrants now that Obama’s amnesty has been blocked



Rep. Luis Gutierrez irked by Texas governor’s referring to president as ‘Barack Obama’

“Rep. Luis Gutierrez appeared incensed Wednesday about a recent interview given by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in which he repeatedly referred to President Obama by his first and last name. A clip was played on MSNBC’s “The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart” that showed the Republican governor saying “Barack Obama” several times while discussing a federal judge issuing an injunction temporarily blocking the president’s executive order amnesty, Breitbart reported. “I think it’s sad when you listen to the governor of the state of Texas refer to the president of the United States in his first and his last name,” said Mr. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat. “Barack Obama. Barack Obama. It shows a disrespect for the office and for the institution and for the president himself. That kind of shows what underlines.” “See, the governor thinks he just beat Barack Obama, the president of the United States. President Barack Obama. It’s not what he did,” he continued. “This is an attack against American families, against an immigrant community across this nation, and those who love and cherish them, and those in America who want a fair and sensible immigration policy. So for those who think this is a fight between Republicans and the president of the United States, you fail miserably and [are] not considering this is a fight against American families.”










“New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city will continue to prepare for executive amnesty and encourage illegal immigrants to get ready to sign up, despite a court ruling temporarily blocking the executive actions. “New York City will continue to prepare for implementation of the President’s executive action, and encourage immigrant communities to step forward and sign up when programs go live—these programs are lawful and secure,” he said in a statement, adding “and we have your back.” Monday a federal judge in Texas temporally blocked the Obama administration’s executive amnesty, ruling in favor of 26 states challenging the president’s actions. Tuesday, the Obama administration said it would appeal the court’s decision but acknowledged that it would abide by the ruling. “Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents ],” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said. The delay is not causing supporters of the executive actions to wait…”



Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, unions, advocacy group rally for Obama’s immigration reforms

“Less than 24 hours after a federal judge in Texas put President Obama’s executive action on immigration on hold, supporters of immigrant rights gathered on Tuesday in Portland to voice their support for expanding protections to undocumented immigrants. They included Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who joined 11 other states, including Washington and California, to file a motion in January with the federal court supporting Obama’s executive orders on immigration. “This is unfortunate,” Rosenblum said Tuesday at a news conference at the Center for Intercultural Organizing in North Portland. “This decision is not permanent. I’m confident that the court system will eventually reject this meritless lawsuit. Labor leaders also spoke in favor of Obama’s immigration reform along with Yuri Hernandez a 21-year-old student at the University of Portland who obtained legal residency after initial reforms were adopted in 2012. Yuri Hernandez, a 21-year-old student at the University of Portland, is now able to work and drive, thanks to a deferral program for undocumented immigrants. “It makes you feel human,” Hernandez said. “I no longer cringe when asked for photo ID and when driving.” All of the speakers expressed confidence that the judge’s injunction will eventually be overturned. But that setback also worries Andrea Millier, executive director of Causa Oregon, an immigrant rights group. “Even though we believe that long term it will be found that Obama’s action is constitutional,” Miller said, “what concerns us is that it creates massive fear and confusion for applying for this program.”



Mexico condemns judge’s ruling halting Obama amnesty

“Mexico condemned a federal judge’s decision this week to halt President Obama’s deportation amnesty, saying the court ruling denies fair treatment to illegal immigrant Mexicans who have worked supporting the American economy. The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “regrets” Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s injunction, which halted the program just hours before the first applications were supposed to be accepted. “These programs are a just remedy for millions of families and have the potential to strengthen the important contributions that Mexican immigrants make to the American economy and society,” the ministry said in its statement. Judge Hanen late Monday issued an injunction blocking the new amnesty Mr. Obama announced in November, which would grant three-year legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. The amnesty would also expand a 2012 policy that has allowed hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers to gain tentative legal status and work permits. Analysts say Mexicans make up a majority of the illegal immigrant population in the U.S., which is estimated to total between 11 million and 12 million. The Mexican government has for years pushed its northern neighbor to enact a legalization program so its citizens can remain in the U.S., and had begun issuing new Mexican identity documents to illegal immigrants to use to gain status under Mr. Obama’s amnesty. The Foreign Ministry said it will keep watching to see if Judge Hanen’s injunction is lifted, and will keep its citizens up to date on their ability to apply to stay in the U.S…”






Rep. Steve King bristles at ‘lawless land of Mexico’ criticizing judge’s immigration ruling

“Rep. Steve King said Wednesday that a federal judge’s ruling has undercut Democrats’ filibuster of the homeland security funding bill, and urged his colleagues to stand strong on defunding not only the new deportation amnesty but also the 2012 program that granted tentative legal status to so-called Dreamers. Mr. King, Iowa Republican, also bristled at Mexico’s criticism of the ruling, which halted the new amnesty and which the Mexican government said it “regrets” because it denies illegal immigrant Mexicans benefits they’ve earned. “I shouldn’t be surprised that the lawless land of Mexico doesn’t understand the Constitution or the rule of law in the United States,” Mr. King said in a telephone interview. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, a federal district judge in Brownsville, Texas, ruled this week that Mr. Obama’s program announced in November 2014 to halt deportations and give work permits and Social Security numbers to illegal immigrant parents likely broke administrative laws. The judge issued an injunction, which also halted an expansion of a 2012 program that halted deportations and gave work permits to Dreamers, who are illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. But the judge didn’t upend Mr. Obama’s original 2012 program for Dreamers, which has granted tentative legal status to more than 600,000. House Republicans have passed a spending bill that halts both the 2012 and 2014 amnesties, while funding the rest of the Homeland Security Department. Senate Democrats, though, are filibustering that legislation in order to defend Mr. Obama’s amnesties. With the two sides at a deadlock, some Senate Republicans have called on their colleagues to drop the 2012 amnesty provisions from their bill and only try to cancel the new 2014 program, arguing that otherwise they will be seen as trying to deport young adults who are the most sympathetic figures in the immigration debate…”



Why Republicans Might Want to Rethink Their Victory Lap on Immigration

“Republicans, especially some of the potential 2016 presidential candidates, were quick to claim a victory this week after a judge in Texas ordered a temporary halt to some of President Obama’s controversial immigration actions. “The Texas court decision reached last night is a major turning point in the fight to stop Obama’s lawless amnesty,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday. “This is a major victory for the rule of law; the District Court’s ruling states that President Obama must now stop implementing these policies in ‘any and all aspects.’” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal added: “Louisiana joined this lawsuit [that 26 states filed against Obama] because what the president is doing to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens is unconstitutional, and we’re glad the court agreed. “On his own volition, President Obama ignored the law and the will of the American people.” Another potential 2016er, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, called Obama’s action a “blatant overreach of executive power, an affront to the rule of law, and put partisan politics in front of lasting solutions.” But it could be a short-term victory because immigration is a potential landmine for Republicans who will be seeking the White House in 2016. A poll out Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute found that most Americans — 73 percent — support Congress moving forward to pass a comprehensive bill rather than working to undo some of President Obama’s executive actions, including the ability of nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and legal safety from deportation. Looking to 2016, and those GOP candidates, it’s even more apparent why there’s a question about whether the federal judge’s ruling is a victory for Republicans. The poll found there is a stark racial divide, with 80 percent of both blacks and Hispanics agreeing that Obama should have taken executive action, with 53 percent of whites agreeing. Additionally, in a press call with top Republican donors Tuesday, including Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman, the issue of immigration was one they advocate for fixing. On the call, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants and a former economic adviser to Romney, highlighted about 35 percent of Hispanic voters in swing states who reported having an immediate family member or close friend at risk of deportation, saying “people vote with their hearts.” He also said that the three-quarter of purple states that will decide the next election are moderate- or high-growth states for Hispanics. As for 2016, viewing the judge’s decision, whether it stands or not, as a victory depends on which voters you ask.”



House Judiciary hearing will challenge Obama’s immigration executive actions

“The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week that will challenge President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The hearing will take place on Feb. 25, two days before Congress must pass a critical Homeland Security spending bill or face a potential shutdown of the agency. Democrats are blocking the bill because it includes language that defunds two Obama administration directives providing millions of illegal immigrants with access to work permits and federal benefits. “The President’s decision to recklessly forge ahead with a plan to change our immigration laws on his own ignores the will of the American people and flouts the Constitution,” panel Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said. “At next week’s hearing, members of the House Judiciary Committee will examine the constitutional questions surrounding President Obama’s unilateral actions and will hear from several legal scholars on this unprecedented power grab,” The hearing was scheduled two days after a federal court in Texas issued a temporary injunction against Obama’s November immigration directive benefiting five million illegal immigrants. Witnesses include Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman. Lawmakers have yet to reach a deal to pass the homeland security funding bill. Republicans hope to increase pressure on Democrats to let the bill proceed in the Senate, but Democrats haven’t budged. The $40 billion measure would fund the Homeland Security department through September. Democrats say they’ll keep blocking the bill unless Republicans strip out the language blocking Obama’s immigration directives. A temporary Homeland Security funding bill runs out on Feb. 27.”



Despite Court Injunction, DHS Shutdown Continues to Approach

“Two days after a Texas judge halted President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, nothing seems to have changed in the congressional showdown over funding the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS runs out of cash in 10 days, and Democrats and Republicans appear as dug in as ever on the appropriations bill. A House-passed measure would block Obama’s executive action, as well as a number of other immigration provisions, including an earlier executive action on child immigrants. But that House bill has gone exactly nowhere in the Senate, with three failed cloture votes on the motion to proceed yielding zero Democratic votes. After a week of recess, both chambers return next week, and the Senate is scheduled to take another vote on Feb. 23 — just in case the fourth time is the charm. Absent a sudden change of heart, however, the Senate will be no closer to passing a DHS funding bill than they were more than a month ago when the House sent over its version of the legislation. And even though Senate GOP leadership has alluded to the fact the House might want to send over a new bill — perhaps one without conservative provisions blocking the president’s executive action — House Republicans have been just as insistent that it’s the Senate’s turn to act. “The House has passed a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security and blocks President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration,” Speaker John A. Boehner’s press secretary, Michael Steel, told CQ Roll Call Wednesday. “Hopefully, the court’s action will convince Senate Democrats to drop their filibuster and allow the Senate to begin debate on that bill.” The official line from Boehner’s office, even after the Texas court injunction, remains the same. This is a problem of Senate Democrats’ making, they say, and Senate Democrats will be to blame if the DHS experiences a lapse in funding. On Sunday, Boehner told Fox News he was “certainly” ready to let DHS slip into a shutdown. “The House has acted,” the Ohio Republican said. “We’ve done our job.” After a Texas judge stepped in late Monday night to block the president’s newest executive action on immigration from taking effect, Boehner and other Republicans doubled down on that line, saying this was more evidence of why Senate Democrats should take up their bill. But no one — Senate Democrats, first and foremost — seems to be convinced by that rhetoric, and, increasingly, it looks like it will be up to Republicans to make a move on DHS funding. Last week, House conservatives on a monthly panel said an injunction could change their calculus on a DHS funding bill, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. The House Freedom Caucus, a newly formed coalition of 30 to 40 conservatives, issued a news release Tuesday saying it was time for Senate Democrats to follow the will of the American people and “allow debate on the House-passed bill.” Already, though, some in the GOP are hoping the Texas court injunction will make that truth a little more palatable for more conservative members…”



White House Points to Republicans as Partial DHS Shutdown Looms



Homeland Security shutdown showdown: What we know, and what we don’t

“A potential shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security is just 10 days away. Here’s how we got here and what could happen next…. What We Know About Congress’s Steps: Congress, regardless of the judicial rulings, has a Feb. 27 deadline. When funding was approved for almost the entire federal government in December, Republicans refused to allow DHS to get its full share because of a pending executive action granting protections to millions of additional adult illegal immigrants. A compromise gave them until the end of this month, which allowed Republicans to formally claim the Senate majority. The House approved its version of DHS funding, plus riders blocking Obama’s executive action, in mid-January, and the Senate has been stymied ever since by unified bloc of Democrats filibustering the legislation. Even some Democrats who oppose Obama on the immigration actions have said this is the wrong vehicle for tackling the issue. / What We Don’t: Can this be resolved without a shutdown? Public statements by key leaders have only heightened the chances of some brief shutdown of DHS. Last week House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to consider passing any other legislation and publicly called on Senate Democrats to “get off their ass” and debate the bill. McConnell has been more circumspect, saying that the Senate is “stuck” and that the House would probably have to make the next move. But both the House and Senate are on a 10-day break; they won’t have a full legislative day together until Feb. 25, before the Friday-night deadline. / What We Know About a Potential Shutdown: The outlines of how DHS would shut down are pretty clear, since an unrelated battle with Obama in October 2013 led to a full shutdown of the federal government for 16 days. “Essential” workers would report to duty but without pay; they would be at the borders protecting against drug dealers, manning airport security spots, preparing for emergency responses to natural disasters. Congress would probably provide back pay when funding came through. Tens of thousands of administrative staff would be furloughed; given what has happened in past shutdowns, they also would probably eventually be paid. / What We Don’t: How long could it last? In the fall of 2013 House Republicans dug in and started approving rifle-shot bills to fund key federal agencies to provide political cover for their rank-and-file. But support for Republicans in Congress cratered and after little more than two weeks, McConnell was handed the task of negotiating surrender with Reid. National parks had closed, and the public had felt the sting of the shutdown. The shutdown of one agency probably would not be as widely felt…”



Rubio Amnesty Cave? Says ‘We Can’t Let Homeland Security Shut Down’

“Republican Senator and presumed 2016 presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is turning heads with comments he made while on his book tour in Las Vegas. It appears Rubio is breaking with House GOP leadership and joining Democrats in calling for funding the Department of Homeland Security without provisions that would defund and essentially block President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. “We have to fund Homeland Security,” Rubio said. “We can’t let Homeland Security shut down.” After the remarks hit the Internet, Rubio’s office offered a clarification: “Senator Rubio does not support shutting down DHS. But he does support stopping the new executive order on immigration and is willing to support any approach we could get passed to stop it. But the President had made clear he will veto any effort to stop his unconstitutional order. And Senate Democrats have made clear they will not even end there filibuster on the DHS funding bill. The result will be a DHS shutdown which would be harmful to our national security. “The answer is not for Republicans to surrender and pass a clean funding bill. The answer is for the President and Senate Democrats to abandon the executive order and cooperate in passing a series of immigration bills beginning with real border security.”



Rubio: Pass Homeland Security bill without immigration provisions

“During a visit to Las Vegas, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio suggested Wednesday Congress should pass a bill to fund Homeland Security without conditions, essentially stepping back from a battle with President Barack Obama over his executive actions on immigration. The possible Republican presidential candidate said national security is too important to hold up funding, although he disagrees with Obama’s moves to go around Congress to halt deportations of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. Obama’s order would allow immigrants here illegally to get work permits, collect Social Security and Medicare and gain tax credits as well. “We have to fund Homeland Security,” Rubio told reporters during a brief news conference. “We can’t let Homeland Security shut down.” Rubio, who is from Florida, noted that Obama has threatened to veto any bill that would reverse his executive actions on immigration, including the measure to pay for Homeland Security. Also, the Senate doesn’t have enough votes to pass the bill that ties the two issues together, Rubio said. He suggested Congress needs to pass a clean Homeland Security funding bill although he stopped short of calling for such a move. Rubio’s comments came after he spent an hour signing copies of his new book, “American Dreams, Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.”



Rubio draws challenge on immigration during Vegas book stop






Senate Democrats Choosing Illegal Immigrants Over Border Patrol Agents

“Allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse or engage in the legislative process. Those are the only two options Senate Democrats have at this point. Everything else transcribed in the press or recited by television pundits is nothing more than a distraction. Senate Democrats, of course, deny that binary choice, but their denials are only accepted by those who can’t — or won’t — understand the wonderfully complex rules of the United States Senate. Before diving into the process, it is worth taking a minute to understand the politics. The implication of the Democrat-led filibuster is that Homeland Security funding will lapse and our nation’s border patrol agents will have their paychecks withheld after Feb. 27. While those fine men and women continue to work without pay, the Department of Homeland Security will be preparing to grant legal status and work permits to those who are in the country illegally. To make matters worse, some of these individuals will use their newly issued Social Security numbers to claim four years’ worth of tax credits. For those looking for a 30-second campaign ad, this is political gold: President Obama and Senate Democrats are trying to give illegal immigrants a $24,000 check while border patrol agents will have their paychecks withheld. It also has the added benefit of being true. (Warning: here comes the procedural tutorial.) Before the Senate can begin debating and amending the House-passed bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, they must first vote to proceed to that bill. By refusing to proceed to the bill, Senate Democrats are blocking senators from debating and amending the bill. A new report from the Congressional Research Service lays out procedural options for “ending consideration of a motion to proceed.” Democrats have zero procedural options for moving off the current motion to proceed to the House-passed Homeland Security funding bill. They have just two options: 1) continue blocking consideration of the bill; or 2) agree to the motion to proceed and begin the promised amendment process. Here again Democrats say, no, that isn’t true. They have a bill to pay border patrol agents and allow illegal immigrants to collect their amnesty bonus. Setting aside the obvious policy concerns, their solution runs into two problems. First, as mentioned previously, they cannot simply call up their bill. Second, as a standalone measure that bill is unconstitutional. The Constitution is quite clear on this point. So clear that even Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) understands — or understood. In 2007 he declared, “Everyone knows, even in elementary school, that under our Constitution revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives.” If Senate Democrats believe their alternative can prevail, they should vote to proceed to the House-passed bill and offer it as an amendment. There simply is no other way, no matter what anyone else suggests. Left unsaid by most is that Democrats are well aware they would lose a vote on their amendment, so they are hiding behind procedural hurdles…”



It Was Unconstitutional Before It Wasn’t: Democrats in Their Own Words

“Hypocrisy is a given in Washington. So much so that Senate Democrats must believe no one notices just how much of it they are guilty of in their attempts to prevent Congress from funding the Department of Homeland Security. First, Democrats say they want to fund Homeland Security–yet they have filibustered any and all attempts by Republicans to even bring the bill up for debate. Second, while numerous Democratic senators have made public statements saying President Obama was wrong to take executive action to change the country’s immigration laws without consent from Congress, none of these folks now appear willing to vote for or even discuss the Department of Homeland Security funding bill that would prevent Obama’s executive amnesty plans from taking place. And then late last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made the suggestion that the Senate do something he said just a few years ago was unconstitutional.  He recommended the Senate create its own Homeland Security funding bill, pass it, and send it to the House.  But back in 2007, Durbin was emphatic that the Constitution required all spending measures to begin in the House.  During a debate with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) over appropriations, he said the following:..”



Wall Street Journal calls on GOP to fund DHS with Obama’s immigration policy

“All four of the major national newspaper editorial boards — including the conservative editorialists of the Wall Street Journal — called on congressional Republicans to pass a bill that fully funds the Department of Homeland Security, including President Obama’s controversial immigration orders. The left-leaning editorial boards of the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today voiced similar opinions on the current showdown between the GOP and the president. After a federal judge earlier this week issued a temporary injunction against implementing the president’s immigration order pending resolution of a suit brought by 26 states, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board said Tuesday the GOP should see the decision as an out. “Judge [Andrew] Hanen’s decision is an airlift for Republicans in Congress if they have the wit to accept the relief,” the editorial said. “Immigration hardliners are attempting to defund Mr. Obama’s order but lack a legislative strategy whose end-game isn’t shutting down all of [Homeland Security]. If the [court’s] injunction is sustained on appeal, the president’s unilateralism will be a dead letter until the case is resolved, which should persuade the GOP’s deportation caucus to stand down before another self-defeating flameout.” Some congressional Republicans threatened in November shortly after voters gave the party majorities in both houses of Congress, to withhold funding from the Department of Homeland Security if it couldn’t be passed minus money for Obama’s executive order. The ruling against the Obama administration was interpreted by some as a way for Republicans to drop the fight on immigration, at least for now, and go through with fully funding the Department of Homeland Security. Many Republicans, however, maintained that they wanted to pass funding for Homeland Security with language that stripped money that would support the new immigration policies in the event that Hanen’s decision was overturned. President Obama has said he would veto any bill that did not fully fund Homeland Security, including his new immigration directives. He is backed by Democrats in the Senate, who have filibustered attempts by the GOP to send their proposed funding to Obama’s desk. The Journal editorialized on the issue more than a week ago, saying it was “defensible” for the GOP to attempt to thwart the president but that without support from some Democrats, “Republicans are now heading toward the same cul de sac that they did on the ObamaCare government shutdown.” A federal government shutdown in 2013 resulted in damage to the GOP’s image among voters, though Democrats’ favorability also dropped. The 16-day shutdown occurred after Congressional Republicans attempted to exclude funding for Obama’s new healthcare law from a fuller government budget. Congress eventually passed funding and implementation for the health care law began. After the November midterm elections, which saw big gains for Republicans, the Times editorialized: “Once Republicans take over both houses of Congress next year, they have every right to pass an immigration bill of their choosing, which Mr. Obama would have a right to veto. But threatening to shut down the government or any part of it to achieve their aims is outrageous.” “At this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether the stalemate can be broken,” said the Washington Post on Monday. “Congress returns Feb. 23 from recess, at which point it will have just five days to resolve the deadlock. House Republicans are so far refusing to budge, imagining they will be able to shift the blame for another shutdown onto the Democrats. This is magical thinking.”






California issues 59,000 driver’s licenses to immigrants

“California issued 59,000 driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally during the first month their applications were accepted, state officials said Wednesday. Overall, a total of about 236,000 immigrants in the country illegally began the application process during January, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said in a statement. California expects to issue 1.4 million licenses during the next three years under the program to license drivers regardless of their immigration status. Last week, the DMV said it would offer more appointments to applicants as officials try to keep down wait times. In early January, hundreds of immigrants lined up at designated DMV offices for walk-in appointments. Most new license applicants must make more than one trip to a DMV office. First, they have to submit documents and take a written test, and later, they must take a road test…”



Panel OKs bill to extend teacher licenses to more immigrants

“A bill that would make it easier for immigrants with temporary legal status to get a Nevada teaching license has passed its first legislative hurdle. The Assembly Education Committee passed AB27 on Wednesday. It heads to the Assembly floor for a vote. The bill could affect students who have work permits through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA recipients or DREAMers. Existing law allows the state superintendent to give a teaching license to someone who is not a citizen but has a work permit only if there’s a teacher shortage for a subject the person can teach. The bill would allow those immigrants to get a teaching license if a district has a teacher shortage of any kind…”



Woman accused of supplying terrorists to remain jailed

“A Bosnian immigrant accused of funneling money and military supplies to terror groups in Iraq and Syria will remain in federal custody, after her lawyer told a judge Wednesday that he wants clarity on her immigration status before seeking bond. Sedina Hodzic, 35, of St. Louis County, is among six people named in a federal indictment earlier this month. Her husband, Ramiz Hodzic, and another St. Louis County man were also named, along with two people from Illinois and one from New York State. Sedina Hodzic’s attorney, Paul D’Agrosa, waived her request to be released on bond during a brief court appearance, but said he will revisit the request once her immigration status is made clear. Afterward, D’Agrosa said that immigration authorities would detain Hodzic if she were freed, so she would simply move from one jail to another. “I don’t want to say she’s an illegal immigrant because I don’t believe that’s true,” D’Agrosa said of his client, who has been in the U.S. 18 years. But, “There are too many uncertainties.” The indictment says that the Hodzics have been living in the U.S. as refugees. A message seeking comment Wednesday from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman was not immediately returned. D’Agrosa said there is concern about Hodzic’s three children, ages 16, 12 and not quite 2. The children are staying with a friend while both parents are jailed…”



Could Jeb Bush convince conservatives on immigration?



Woman accused of supplying terrorists to remain jailed





Oil boom makes North Dakota least dependent on federal dollars

“A public policy group now ranks North Dakota as the state least dependent on federal funding, but that may have more to do with the state’s recent surge in local funding than a decline in federal dollars flowing into the state. “Backed by a booming economy, North Dakota is now the state with the lowest amount of federal support,” a report from State Budget Solutions states. “North Dakota had the largest drop off in federal financial support from 2012 to 2013, 23.4%, falling to 19% of all general revenue, making it one of the lowest totals of any state in the last decade.” The group measures federal dollars in proportion to general state revenues to calculate a percentage of dependence on federal funding. While North Dakota has seen a slight decrease in federal funding, the larger factor is the state’s surge in revenues driven by booming oil production. State Budget Solutions used a year-over-year comparison for North Dakota revenues, although the state actually budgets based on a two-year biennium. Due to caps on oil tax revenues flowing into the general fund, a year-to-year comparison of revenues can sometimes result in inaccurate measures. But federal dollars for North Dakota have been in decline. According to data prepared by Legislative Council, the state saw a $322.2 million drop in federal spending from the 2009-2011 biennium through the current 2013-2015 biennium, an 8.75 percent decline. Revenues during that same timeline have soared. During the 2009-2011 biennium, the state took in over $3.24 billion in general fund revenues. By the next biennium that total had increased more than 58 percent to $5.15 billion. Through December 2014 in the 2013-2015 biennium, which ends on June 30, the state has collected just over $4 billion in revenues. This trend away from federal dependence may be reversed in coming years, however. Lawmakers issued a revenue forecast last month projecting as much as $5.5 billion in revenue declines due to falling oil prices. Gov. Jack Dalrymlpe’s executive budget for the 2015-2017 biennium also projects a $311.8 million increase in federal funding…”



Feds to spend $232M on emergency bridge repairs

“The Department of Transportation (DOT) is preparing to spend $232 million on repairing roads and bridges that have been damaged by recent storms, the agency announced on Wednesday. The funding, from Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program, is being distributed to 26 states and Puerto Rico, according to the department.  “We are committed to getting transportation facilities restored as quickly as possible following natural disasters and other emergencies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “These funds will certainly repair roads and bridges, but most importantly, they are helping people who rely on them every day to arrive at their jobs and pick up their children at school.”  The infrastructure funding comes as Foxx is attempting to convince Congress to approve President Obama’s proposal to spend $478 billion on transportation projects over the next six years. Foxx is on a bus tour of southeastern states touting Obama’s proposed legislation, which is known as the Grow America Act. Transportation Department officials said the emergency repair funding that was announced on Wednesday is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of infrastructure funding that is needed to improve the U.S. transportation system.”



Remember IRS Stonewalling When Filing Your Taxes





NSA planted surveillance software on hard drives, report says

Security vendor Kaspersky outs a group capable of inserting spying software onto hard drives around the world, while Reuters fingers the NSA as the culprit.

“The National Security Agency is able to infect hard drives with surveillance software to spy on computers, Reuters said on Tuesday, citing information from cyber researchers and former NSA operatives. In a new report, Kaspersky revealed the existence of a group dubbed The Equation Group capable of directly accessing the firmware of hard drives from Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron, Samsung and other drive makers. As such, the group has been able to implant spyware on hard drives to conduct surveillance on computers around the world. In a blog posted on Monday, Kaspersky said this threat has been around for almost 20 years and “surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques.” The security researcher called the group “unique almost in every aspect of their activities: they use tools that are very complicated and expensive to develop, in order to infect victims, retrieve data and hide activity in an outstandingly professional way, and utilize classic spying techniques to deliver malicious payloads to the victims.” Surveillance software implanted on hard drives is especially dangerous as it becomes active each time the PC boots up and thus can infect the computer over and over again without the user’s knowledge. Though this type of spyware could have surfaced on a “majority of the world’s computers,” Kaspersky cited thousands or possibly tens of thousands of infections across 30 different countries. Infected parties and industries include government and diplomatic institutions, as well as those involved in telecommunications, aerospace, energy, nuclear research, oil and gas, military and nanotechnology. Also, included are Islamic activists and scholars, mass media, the transportation sector, financial institutions and companies developing encryption technologies. And who’s responsible for this sophisticated spyware? Kaspersky didn’t name names but did say that the group has ties to Stuxnet, a virus used to infect Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA has been accused of planting Stuxnet, leading Reuters to finger the agency as the source behind the hard drive spyware, especially based on outside information. Kaspersky’s analysis was right, a former NSA employee told Reuters, adding that the agency valued this type of spyware as highly as Stuxnet. Another “former intelligence operative” said that the NSA developed this method of embedding spyware in hard drives but said he didn’t know which surveillance efforts used it. Lead Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu told Reuters that the creators of the spyware must have had access to the source code for the infected hard drives. Such code can pinpoint vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious-software writers. “There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,” Raiu said. A spokesperson for Western Digital told Reuters that the company had not “provided its source code to government agencies.” A Seagate spokesman said the company takes secure measures to guard against tampering or reverse engineering of its hard drive firmware. And a Micron spokesman said that “we are not aware of any instances of foreign code.” However, the NSA has ways of accessing source code from technology firms, Reuters said, including simply asking for it directly and posing as a software developer…”



Former head of Obama’s Solyndra program says Tea Party ‘cost taxpayers 10s of millions’

“Jonathan Silver has had success as a private sector investor. As an investor of the public dime, however, he’s been caught up in failure. Silver was the head of the Department of Energy office that administered loan guarantees to green-energy manufacturers, including failed solar panel maker Solyndra. Silver came to the department after the original guarantee was issued, but he’s fiercely defended the program, and also worked to subordinate taxpayers to the private investors in Solyndra — increasing the risk taxpayers would take a haircut. Of course, taxpayers did take a haircut on Solyndra — more than half a billion dollars. So it’s a bit rich that Silver is now blaming the “Tea Party shenanigans” and a “partisan … witchhunt” for costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars…”



State Department, EPA launch effort to monitor pollution globally

“The Obama administration announced on Wednesday the expansion of pollution monitoring at diplomatic posts across the world.  The State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the joint endeavor on Wednesday in a signing ceremony, which highlighted the administration’s climate change agenda. Secretary of State John Kerry identified air pollution as a “serious and growing health threat worldwide” and said he hopes the new program will encourage international cooperation to curb pollution. The program will build on EPA’s AirNow system by setting up monitoring posts in various countries to improve data and information on pollution. “Accurate, timely information on air pollution is absolutely critical,” EPA chief Gina McCarthy said on Wednesday.”



Obama Executive Orders Target Federal Lands

“President Barack Obama plans to use his pen and phone to designate thousands of acres in three states as national monuments, bringing the total number of national monument designations to 16 under the president. The move to designate Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii and Pullman National Monument in Chicago comes just weeks after Obama asked Congress to designate all of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge as a “wilderness,” making it off-limits to oil and gas drilling. Environmentalists have cheered the announcement, saying the order would protect thousands of acres of lands for public enjoyment. “These proclamations remind us that the spaces commemorating our nation’s heritage come in a rich variety of shapes and sizes,” said Matt Keller, national monuments campaign director with the Wilderness Society. “They include sites where people stood up for their rights for freedom and fair wages, places where thousands experienced the injustices of war, and landscapes that provide habitat for wildlife and heart-stopping adventure on whitewater rivers.” The GOP has criticized Obama in the past for using executive orders to circumvent Congress on monument designations.”



Obama to designate 3 national monuments

“President Barack Obama is designating three new national monuments for protection as historic or ecologically significant sites, including the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago where African-American railroad workers won a historic labor agreement. The White House said Obama will be in his hometown Thursday to announce the Pullman National Monument. The neighborhood on the city’s South Side was built by industrialist George Pullman in the 19th century for workers to manufacture luxurious railroad sleeping cars. The neighborhood was crucial in the African-American labor movement. Obama also is expected to announce designation of Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese-American citizens and prisoners of war were held during World War II; as well as Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, a 21,000-acre site along the Arkansas River popular for whitewater rafting. The White House said the three new monuments “help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans.” The three sites will bring to 16 the number of national monuments Obama has created under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which grants presidents broad authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites without congressional approval…”



Obama to declare Colorado canyon a national monument



Obama to declare national monuments Thursday in Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois

“Call it national monument week: President Obama will designate both Colorado’s Browns Canyon and the Honouliuli Internment Camp as protected areas under the Antiquities Act Thursday, according to White House officials, in addition to Chicago’s Pullman Park District. Conservation and Asian-American activists have lobbied for years to give the sites in Colorado and Hawaii federal recognition. The Browns Canyon designation will include 21,000 acres around the Arkansas River, a stretch of water that runs through Browns Canyon that boasts both a wild trout fishery and whitewater rafting. The Honouliuli Internment Camp, which is on the island of Oahu, incarcerated more than 4,000 people as Hawaii’s largest and longest operating World War II prison camp. Throughout Obama’s time in office, the administration has sought to protect a combination of places that are ecologically valuable and historic areas that resonate with Americans of color. A White House official, who asked for anonymity because the president had not yet made the designations, wrote in an e-mail that take together, the three “monuments help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans.” Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, said in a statement, “As a new national monument, Honouliuli will be a great gift to our state and nation.” “On behalf of the Japanese American internees and their families, I want to thank President Obama for vindicating the honor of those who were incarcerated and for recognizing the historic site as a lesson in injustice and forgiveness for all Americans and for future generations,” she added. Ryan Bidwell, campaign director with the Conservation Lands Foundation, said in a statement that the two “are places among America’s public lands that represent vital parts of our country’s history, and places that provide opportunities for our kids and grandkids to explore and experience the outdoors.”



Hill assails Obama’s latest executive ‘land grab’

“President Obama is creating three more new national monuments to the 10 already established, this time highlighting black history, the nation’s dark internment record, and classic American scenery. And late Wednesday key House Republicans slapped Obama’s latest “land grab.” With the snap of his finger, Obama this week will grant monument status to Colorado’s Brown’s Canyon, Chicago’s Pullman Historic District, home to the first black union, and Hawaii’s Honouliuli Internment Camp. His moves — in the past drawing fire from critics of executive action and the president’s protection of vast amounts of land — are already winning support from liberal groups like the League of Conservation Voters, who said in a statement, “We can’t wait to see what’s next.” But Republicans miffed with past monument decisions and the president’s promise to go around Congress to build his presidential legacy jumped on the moves…”



Colo. Republicans blast ‘King Barack’ for latest national monument: ‘Land grab’

“Not everyone was thrilled by President Obama’s plan to designate another national monument in Colorado, this time a 21,000-acre area around the Arkansas River called Browns Canyon. While Democrats and environmental groups cheered the pending announcement, some Western Republicans were fuming Wednesday over Mr. Obama’s repeated use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to bypass the legislative process and create national monuments on his own. Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican, issued a statement calling on Mr. Obama to “cut it out.” “He is not king. No more acting like King Barack,” Mr. Buck said. “That is not how we do things in the U.S. Actions like this lead the American people to view Mr. Obama’s presidency as an imperial presidency.” Browns Canyon becomes the third national monument to be designated by Mr. Obama under the Antiquities Act in Colorado and the 16th nationally. The president is slated to make the announcement Thursday in Chicago. Mr. Obama is also expected to designate Thursday two more national monuments: the Pullman Historic District in Chicago, a 203-acre site, and the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii, which spans 440 acres in Oahu…”



Obama taps Joseph Clancy to permanently lead the Secret Service

“President Obama will appoint Joseph Clancy, currently the acting director of the Secret Service, to lead the embattled agency on a permanent basis, the White House announced Wednesday. The news, first reported by the New York Times, immediately drew divided reactions from Congress, which has been investigating the Secret Service in the wake of a series of high-profile security breaches in recent years. House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, criticized the president for not heeding the advice of a Department of Homeland Security panel, which urged the president last December to put an outsider in charge of the agency as it seeks to regain its footing…”



Obama taps Clancy to lead Secret Service



Obama picks Secret Service acting director to lead agency, despite call for outsider

“President Obama on Wednesday chose the former Secret Service special agent he installed temporarily in the wake of security breaches to become the agency’s next director, brushing aside an independent panel’s conclusion that the job should go to an outsider. Joseph Clancy will fill the position after four months as acting director. Clancy is a 27-year veteran of the agency and was previously the head of the service’s presidential protective division. He was hurriedly appointed on an interim basis last year after then-Director Julia Pierson was forced out. A panel responsible for reviewing the Secret Service and making recommendations for improvements had concluded earlier this year that the agency was too “insular” and “starving for leadership,” recommending the hiring of an outsider as the next director. “The next director will have to make difficult choices, identifying clear priorities for the organization and holding management accountable for any failure to achieve those priorities,” the group wrote after interviewing 50 Secret Service employees. “Only a director from outside the (Secret) Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require.” On Sept. 19, a fence-jumper carrying a knife was able to run deep into the executive mansion, prompting the agency to put a second layer of fencing around the presidential complex. Obama initially told aides he was satisfied with the changes, but then wanted new leadership after he learned that he rode an elevator with a security contractor that the Secret Service didn’t know was. Four of the agency’s highest-ranking officials were reassigned recently in response to a series of embarrassing problems inside the Secret Service. Earlier this month, the agency’s No. 2, Alvin “A.T.” Smith was also ousted and was transferred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Both agencies are part of the Homeland Security Department. ICE Director Sarah Saldana told her staff that Smith would be a “senior adviser” for cybercrime.”



Obama picks Secret Service insider Joseph Clancy to lead troubled agency



Billionaire Mark Cuban Says Net Neutrality Will ‘F**k Everything Up’ (Video)



Trey Gowdy: Time for a Select Committee to Investigate the IRS Scandal

“At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS’s scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.  “I’m glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi,” said Gowdy, a former prosecutor who chairs that panel. “I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn’t have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?” The congressman, flanked by colleagues Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan, took most of the questions at the $25-per-head voter briefing. Mulvaney encouraged fellow Republicans to win the moral argument about immigration reform, instead of allowing the issue to be frozen and polarized. “If you hear us talking 10 percent about the Constitution and 90 percent about something else, that’s why,” he said. Gowdy described the ways that Democrats had undermined his committee—mostly by portraying it as heartlessly partisan…”



‘The Obama Administration Is the Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom in a Generation’: Read This NYTimes Reporter’s Epic Rant Against Obama and Eric Holder



Rand Paul is running for president. Here are the people trying to get him elected.



Jeb Bush: ‘I love my father and my brother…but I am my own man’



California voters want Condoleezza Rice for Senate: poll






Obama: Extremists Have “Legitimate Grievances”

“As the White House kicks off day-two of a summit on combating generic violent extremism, President Obama has published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled, “Our fight against violent extremism.” While the administration has overtly refused to specifically name “Islamic” terror, the piece finally acknowledges (albeit inadvertently) the regular existence of violence inside Islam. Still, Islamic extremism isn’t specifically named and won’t be during the three-day conference at the White House this week.  The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We’ve decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11. At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.  Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam. We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet. Claiming “core Al-Qaeda has been decimated” is extremely misleading. While former leaders like Osama bin Laden are dead, Al Qaeda has not been decimated. In fact, it’s grown or “evolved” as Obama argues and recent attacks in western cities like Paris and Copenhagen display their comeback.  But the President touting a victory about core Al Qaeda isn’t the most bizarre part of the piece. Further down, Obama claims those engaging in violent extremism have “legitimate grievances” that must be addressed. Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies.  What, exactly, does Obama mean when he says “legitimate grievances”? The grievances Al Qaeda and ISIS hold are against infidels and Muslims who don’t go far enough to wage jihad on the West. These “grievances” aren’t economic, despite what the State Department would like us to believe.  And finally, despite admitting he isn’t aware of all the facts, President Obama implies that the three Muslim students shot dead in Chapel Hill last week were killed as a result of their faith. The killer was an atheist who was enraged over a parking dispute…”


Obama says world should address ‘grievances’ that terrorists exploit



Obama says U.S. must win ‘hearts and minds’ of young Muslims

“As he hosts a summit in Washington on countering violent extremism, President Obama says the U.S. must engage with local communities to win the “hearts and minds” of young Muslims to prevent their recruitment by terrorist groups. “The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam,” Mr. Obama wrote in an op-ed in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times. “We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.” Mr. Obama said U.S. military might alone “cannot solve this problem” of global terrorism. “Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians,” he said. “We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.” The president said groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State “promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.”

Mr. Obama is hosting a conference of local leaders and foreign ministers to examine the root causes of violent extremism…”




“President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Islam is not the cause of the Islamic State’s (ISIS) brutality. “No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism,” Obama said at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.” Obama added, “They are not religious leaders. They are terrorists. We are not at war with Islam — we are at war with people who have perverted Islam.” Obama has come under fire for his refusal to call the Islamic State Islamic extremists. The president said the battle against ISIS “is a generational challenge” but cautioned that “there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist.” Obama added, “There’s no way to predict who will become radicalized.” The president said he believes attaching religious identification to Muslim terrorists offers legitimacy to their claims. “Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” said Obama. “We must never accept the premise that they put forth because it is a lie.”



Obama: Don’t grant terrorists legitimacy by labeling them Islamic



Obama on “Hatred, Bigotry and Prejudice” Of Muslims: “It Doesn’t Just Aid Terrorists, It’s Wrong”

“PRESIDENT OBAMA: The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890’s. America’s first mosque, this was an interesting fact, was in North Dakota. Muslim-Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders and protect our nation by serving in uniform and in our intelligence communities and in homeland security. And in cemeteries across our country, including in Arlington, Muslim-American heroes rest in peace having given their lives in defense of all of us.  Of course that is the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It is also a story every American must never forget because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive, it doesn’t just aid terrorists, it’s wrong. It is contrary to who we are.”



Obama At Extremism Summit: ‘There’s No Way To Predict Who Will Become Radicalized’

“At the second day of a White House summit on violence extremism, President Obama asserted that there is no way to predict who will become a terrorist, and also addressed criticism that he’s been vague about radical Islam’s role in terrorism. “We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist. There’s no way to predict who will become radicalized,” Obama said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography or one period of time.” Obama’s comments are ironic given that the extremist summit is aimed at addressing elements rising up in the Muslim community. The administration has struggled to square the focus of the summit — as well as the recent spate of Islamic terrorist acts — with its claims that all groups are equally susceptible to spawning terrorism and extremism. The three-day summit will bring together religious, community, and civil leaders from over 60 countries.”



Obama: We Must Never Accept The Premise That The West Is At War With Islam



Obama: U.S., West at War With Extremists, Not Muslims

President wades into debate over terminology used in global conflict at summit



Joe Biden: Extremists Commit Violence ‘In The Name Of The Bible’



Obama refuses to acknowledge ‘Muslim terrorists’ at summit






Krauthammer: Obama’s Extremism Speech Sounded Like “A Community Organizer Talking About Outreach To Aggrieved Communities”



Andrea Mitchell: Obama’s Terror Summit ‘A Dog And Pony Show’ [VIDEO]



Ed Henry: When Obama Said Summit Was to Air “Legitimate Grievances,” Does That Apply To ISIS?



Watch Ed Henry Grill WH Spokesman on Islamic State: ‘Why Did You Not Say 21 Christians Were Killed?’



Cruz: Obama “An Apologist For Radical Islamic Terrorists”



Ted Cruz: Obama Has Become ‘An Apologist For Radical Islamic Terrorists’ [VIDEO]




“On Wednesday’s broadcast of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf declined to backtrack on remarks she had made previously on the the same network’s show “Hardball” earlier this week in which she said that the United States couldn’t “kill” its way out of the ISIS problem in the Middle East. “[We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them, so are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians they’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war,” Harf said on “Hardball.” “We need, in the longer term, medium and longer term, to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs.” Harf doubled down on her “Morning Joe” appearance. “I’m not sure I would take a mulligan on this one, but I think he went on to say something I would agree with,” Harf said. “In the short term, and I said this on ‘Hardball,’ we are killing them and will continue killing ISIS terrorists that pose a threat to us. We’re very good at that. Gen. [Michael] Hayden can to speak to that better than anyone.” “But in the longer term, and this isn’t specific to ISIS, military commanders, politicians of both parties, counterterrorism experts all agree that if you’re going to prevent terrorist groups from spreading to other places and getting more recruits, you have to look at root causes that can lead people to extremism,” she added. “You have to do it all it. You have to take them on military, but you have to look at things like governance, like opportunity, so these groups aren’t able to get more people to their cause.”



State Dept.: Jobs-for-Terrorists Comments May be ‘Too Nuanced for Some’



U.S. officials, in blunt language, say Israel distorting reality of Iran talks



State Dept. Admits It’s Not Telling Israel Everything About the Iran Nuclear Talks



U.S. Won’t Back Egypt’s Attacks on ISIS

Two long-time allies are attacking ISIS—and growing frustrated with one another. That’s good news for the so-called Islamic State.



‘Boats Full of Terrorists’: New Documents Say Islamic State Aims to Use Libya as a ‘Strategic Gateway’ to Southern Europe



Is Former Libyan Dictator’s Ominous Prediction About Islamist Militants Coming True?