Saturday, December 10, 2016

Border Control

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gun shows

According to recent reports along the U.S. border with Mexico, the number of illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States is again spiking, and could rival the wave of illegal crossings in 2014. Facing this problem, one would hope that a priority for federal immigration officials would be to focus on employing new technologies to improve chances for catching criminals who have thus come into our country. Federal immigration officials, however, appear more interested in using new-fangled technology to intimidate and harass American citizens who decide simply to drop by lawful gun shows.

As discovered in an analysis of government emails by the Wall Street Journal, a joint program between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials has been using license plate-reading technology to track gun show attendees. According to the Journal, the program dates back to 2010, and likely spread far beyond the original target area of southern California. It is possible that if you have attended a gun show in any state in the last the half-decade, your personal information is now stored in a government database.

To make matters worse, ICE apparently has no explicit policy in place limiting the use of license plate readers, or how information gathered thus far is shared with other agencies, or how it is stored and for how long. As we’ve seen previously in states like Maryland, which allegedly used concealed carry permit data shared with them through the shady and unaccountable network of intelligence “Fusion Centers,” it is conceivable that personal information collected from gun shows can be, and likely will be, used to target innocent Americans now and in the future. After all, a person would not even have to purchase a firearm at one of these gun shows to end up in a law enforcement database.

Such schemes attempting to link gun ownership to border crime is all too familiar for an Administration responsible for the “gun-walking” debacle known as “Fast and Furious.” But this latest revelation is a frightening reminder of just how far the Obama Administration is willing to go to chill law-abiding citizens’ exercise of their Second Amendment-guaranteed rights.

President Bill Clinton’s support for gun control measures was well-known. And, during the first two years of his Administration, when the Congress remained under firm Democratic Party control, Clinton pressed his anti-Second Amendment agenda through legislative measures; resulting in the so-called “Brady Bill” which he signed into law in 1993, and the “Assault Weapons Ban” the following year.

Barack Obama, however, not having a compliant Congress to work with (other than during his first two years, from 2009 to 2010), clearly prefers sneakier ways to move his anti-gun agenda forward. Thus, the use of federal regulatory agencies with no clear or even lawful jurisdiction over firearms, to limit the Second Amendment. Abusing the regulatory powers of the FDIC to pressure banks into severing ties with companies that engage in lawful firearms transactions in “Operation Choke Point,” is but the most outrageous example of this approach; there are numerous others, ranging from those involving the departments of State, Health and Human Services, or the Centers for Disease Control.

The recently revealed license plate-reading scheme, however, is a particularly nefarious tactic by the Obama Administration, insofar as it indiscriminately ensnares anyone who attends a gun show for any reason. All such persons become suspects in the eyes of law enforcement officials; including people who might merely be shopping for knives, or who had dropped by to view or participate in non-gun related exhibits popular at such shows.

This program illustrates the fundamental problem with dragnets such as these employed by ICE: potential “guilt” is determined not by any evidence of criminal forethought or activity, but by algorithms and connecting dots that fit the government’s perception of “suspicious activity”; even if such activity is completely legal and constitutional. For example, it is not far-fetched to envision that a person tracked at a gun show, and then tracked again at a school, could suddenly find himself surrounded by SWAT teams ready to shoot what the government’s computer program concludes is a possible killer, but is in reality nothing more sinister than a father picking up a child at school after dropping by a lawful gun show.

The government may see its gun show surveillance program as a clever way to catch gun “runners,” but it is simply another way to chill our Second Amendment rights.

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Obama-ICE

During a town hall even hosted by the MSNBC cable network, President Barack Obama pointedly warned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to implement his illegal executive amnesty order or else.

The president’s warning came in response to concerns expressed by some in attendance that the Administration might resume the deportation of illegal immigrants following an injunction signed by Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen to enjoin Obama from suspending the deportation of more than 5.5 million illegal aliens living in the United States.

Talking about the legal battle underway to stop Executive Amnesty in the courts, Obama said:

“Until we pass a law through Congress, the executive actions we’ve taken are not going to be permanent; they are temporary. There are going to be some jurisdictions and there may be individual ICE official or Border Control agent not paying attention to our new directives. But they’re going to be answerable to the head of Homeland Security because he’s been very clear about what our priorities will be. . .”

“If somebody’s working for ICE … and they don’t follow the policy, there’s going to be consequences to it.”

Earlier in the week, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) echoed the president’s warning with this prediction. The federal judge’s injunction against (the president’s) temporary amnesty program would activate an unprecedented “militancy” in the immigrant community that will drive them to the polls against Republicans. Left out of Gutierrez’s warning is the issue of illegal immigrant voting at the center of his argument.

Gutierrez continued by saying that pro-amnesty advocates would not be “deterred” by Judge Hanen’s injunction telling MSNBC’s Jose Diaz Balart that the:

“(M)ilitancy that will be activated throughout the immigrant community in terms of voter registration, voter participation 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 also directed his wrath against Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) who is leading the fight against Obama’s Executive Amnesty. Gov. Greg Abbott told CBS’s “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer that:

“Already this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people come across the border, apprehended, unauthorized. And so we have an ongoing problem on the border that Congress must step up and solve.”

In a separate report published in Breitbart News at the time the federal court injunction against the implementation of Obama’s Executive Amnesty was signed, then Attorney General Abbott said:

“President Obama abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat, and Judge Hanen’s decision rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks. . .”

“We live in a nation governed by a system of checks and balances, and the President’s attempt to by-pass the will of the American people was successfully checked today. The District Court’s ruling is very clear — it prevents the President from implementing the policies in ‘any and all aspects.’ “

In a rebuttal published in The Weekly Standard, President Obama explained his threat to act against ICE officers who failed to follow his executive action with this military analogy. . .

“In the U.S. military, when you get an order, you’re expected to follow it. It doesn’t mean that everybody follows the order. If they don’t, they’ve got a problem. And the same is going to be true with respect to the policies that we’re putting forward”.

President Obama is only half-right. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Section 16c(1)(c) states:

“A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States, or lawful superior orders or for some other reason is beyond the authority of the official issuing it.”

In his injunction against the enforcement of Obama’s Executive Amnesty order, Judge Hanen affirms exactly that.

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