Emails, Catherine Frazier, press secretary, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, June 23-27, 2014

Sent: Monday, June 23, 2014 4:00 PM

To: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Subject: Re: Inquiry

 

http://washingtonexaminer.com/on-immigrant-surge-white-house-story-falls-apart/article/2549755

 

EXCERPT:

And now comes word that Border Patrol agents in the most heavily-trafficked area of the surge, the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas, recently questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came. The results showed overwhelmingly that the immigrants, including those classified as UACs, or unaccompanied children, were motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States -- and not by conditions in their homelands. From a report written by the agents, quoting from the interviews:

The main reason the subjects chose this particular time to migrate to the United States was to take advantage of the "new" U.S. "law" that grants a "free pass" or permit (referred to as "permisos") being issued by the U.S. government to female adult OTMs traveling with minors and to UACs. (Comments: The "permisos" are the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens, when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge.) The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration "permisos" until the end of June 2014…The issue of "permisos" was the main reason provided by 95% of the interviewed subjects.

On immigrant surge, White House story falls apart

By Byron York| June 16, 2014 | 2:58 am

At any other time, the growing crisis on the Mexican border, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied young people crossing illegally into the United States, might dominate the news. Yet the situation has received less attention than it might amid the furor over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary defeat, the collapse of Iraq, the continuing Bergdahl matter, and Hillary Clinton's book tour. They're all genuinely important news stories, and they've crowded out disaster at the border.

But whether or not many people noticed, this was the week in which the Obama administration's attempts to deflect blame for the border crisis fell apart.

Most of the illegal immigrants are what Border Patrol officials call OTMs. That is, while they are crossing into the United States from Mexico, they are actually from other countries -- in this case, mostly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador -- and are classified as Other Than Mexican immigrants.

Top administration officials have tried to attribute the surge in crossings to violence and poverty in those countries. "The situation is motivated primarily by the conditions in the countries that they're leaving -- El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala," said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. "Violence, poverty -- I believe that is principally what is motivating the situation."

For its part, the White House dismissed arguments from Republicans that President Obama's DACA decree -- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in this country if they came at a young age -- created, in effect, a magnet for young people to try to enter the U.S. illegally. At the White House briefing on June 9, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest was asked about statements from House and Senate Republicans "that this was sort of the byproduct of the president putting together DACA, and so, because of the way that that's been sort of filtered through, immigrant children believe that they can cross the border and stay here."

"I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the ability of Republican members of Congress to divine the thoughts and insights of children in Central American countries," Earnest answered. "My point is, I'm not sure this withstands a whole lot of scrutiny."

As it turns out, the Republican explanation does withstand a whole lot of scrutiny. Recent days have been filled with anecdotal reports, from local news outlets in Central America to major American newspapers, citing immigrants who say they came because they believe U.S. law has been changed to allow them to stay. And now comes word that Border Patrol agents in the most heavily-trafficked area of the surge, the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas, recently questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came. The results showed overwhelmingly that the immigrants, including those classified as UACs, or unaccompanied children, were motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States -- and not by conditions in their homelands. From a report written by the agents, quoting from the interviews:

The main reason the subjects chose this particular time to migrate to the United States was to take advantage of the "new" U.S. "law" that grants a "free pass" or permit (referred to as "permisos") being issued by the U.S. government to female adult OTMs traveling with minors and to UACs. (Comments: The "permisos" are the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens, when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge.) The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration "permisos" until the end of June 2014…The issue of "permisos" was the main reason provided by 95% of the interviewed subjects.

The report added that a "second reason" cited by the immigrants is "the increased gang-related violence in Central America that authorities are unable to contain." In addition, other immigrants said they came because they had finally gotten enough money, either from savings or funds sent from relatives in the United States, to make the trip. Still others cited unemployment, poverty, and domestic abuse in their countries. Nevertheless, the report concluded that "the issuance of 'permisos' to family units was the primary reason for leaving their countries."

The report suggests that this new wave of illegal immigration is building on previous waves of illegal immigration. "All of the interviewed subjects stated that they had family members or, to a lesser extent, friends already living in the U.S.," the report said. "Many of the relatives and friends are undocumented aliens, who have been living in the U.S. for periods ranging from several months to 10+ years."

Several Republican senators cited the Border Patrol report in the hearing with Secretary Johnson last week. Johnson said he had not seen the paper. "The document you read from, I have never seen," Johnson told Republican Sen. John Cornyn. "It's supposedly a draft document. I don't know that I agree with the assessment there."

"Well, they're interviews with 230 of the people detained coming across the border," Cornyn said.

"I'm not sure I agree that that is the motivator for people coming in — for the children coming into south Texas," Johnson answered. "I think it is primarily the conditions in the countries that they are leaving from."

As some Democrats on the committee had already suggested, Johnson told Cornyn that, if there, in fact, are misperceptions about U.S. law among illegal immigrants, the way to clarify the situation is to pass comprehensive immigration reform. "If comprehensive immigration reform is passed, the uncertainty that may be existing in people's minds about our law gets resolved," Johnson said.

Others, including the White House spokesman, have made the same point in what has become the administration's fallback position: If you don't like what is happening at the border, pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is essentially a concession that yes, the young illegal immigrants flooding across the border are coming because they've heard that Obama administration policies will allow them to stay. But it's also a sign that the White House has no intention to do much about the problem.

From: <Selby>, Gardner Selby <wgselby@statesman.com>

Date: Monday, June 23, 2014 5:23 PM

To: Catherine Frazier

Subject: RE: Inquiry

 

Thanks. Do you have a copy of the described report?

From: Frazier, Catherine (Cruz)

Sent: Monday, June 23, 2014 5:00 PM

To: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Subject: Re: Inquiry

 

I do not, appears it was leaked, per Washington Post

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/influx-of-minors-across-texas-border-driven-by-belief-that-they-will-be-allowed-to-stay-in-us/2014/06/13/5406355e-f276-11e3-9ebc-2ee6f81ed217_story.html

 

A leaked internal memo written by Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley offers additional evidence of such perceptions. The document was distributed to reporters and congressional offices this week by the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for limited immigration. It is a summary of interviews on May 28 with 230 youths and women from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who were apprehended trying to enter the United States.

 

The main reason the migrants had crossed into the United States was “to take advantage of the ‘new’ U.S. law that grants a free pass or permit” from the government, referred to in their home countries as “permisos,” the memo stated.

From: <Selby>, Gardner Selby <wgselby@statesman.com>

Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:28 PM

To: Catherine Frazier

Subject: Follow-up

 

We spoke today to several immigration lawyers, each of whom said any paperwork given the immigrants discussed doesn’t amount to amnesty. We asked each of them to look over the document put into the record by Sen. Grassley. Let me know if you have more for us to consider?

 

From our interviews:

 

Elizabeth Lee Young of the University of Arkansas School of Law, who emailed us a “Notice to Appear” document, called the notice is an immigration court summons. “Most of the people know it’s a notice to go to court,” Young said. Anyone who doesn’t show up for their court date, she said, is subject to immediate deportation. Significantly, Young said, no one fields a work permit, which is how she said she interprets the word “permiso.”

 

Apart from being given the court-appearance notice, the lawyers told us, detainees can be housed in in a government facility or released into the country--as children and women with children often are--on personal recognizance.

 

Toni Maschler, an attorney in Washington, D.C., said her sense is a permiso is typically a permit, like a driver’s license. That would not be the notice to appear for an immigration hearing, she said. She speculated the document’s references to permisos were really to the document releasing someone on their own recognizance.

 

Lisa Brodyaga, a lawyer in San Benito, which is close to the Texas-Mexico border, also said the document’s references to permisos refers to the releases on personal recognizance that clear the way for women and unaccompanied children to move on; men, for the most part, are kept in detention, she said.

 

Each release “allows you to get out of detention, allows you to travel, it allows you to go be with your family,” Brodyaga said, “and, as long as you go to your hearings when you have them, it allows you to stay in the United States. It’s a ‘permit,’ until you get deported.”

 

“It’s nowhere near amnesty,” Brodyaga said, which would mean “you are forgiven for something. You’re not forgiven. You’re subject to the laws of the United States… This does not entitle them to remain indefinitely.” Similarly, Maschler said the release on personal recognizance is “not amnesty. It doesn’t give anybody a permanent right to stay in the United States.”

Young said: “Amnesty would indicate some form of legal waiver of your undocumented presence or entry. That is not the situation.”

 

I hope to complete our review of Cruz’s statement Thursday.

 

g.

(Frazier)

10:38 a.m.

June 27, 2014

We aren't saying that the papers give them amnesty. We are referring to the survey that shows the children come here because they believe they will be able to stay. And that is true – the administration is letting them stay.  

I don't contest that these comments are correct in describing what the papers really are, but that is irrelevant. Per the survey, the kids think it is their ticket to stay.