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First Amendment and Michael Quinn Sullivan on Trial in Texas

by Sarah Rumpf

Yesterday, the Texas Ethics Commission (“TEC”) held a public hearing regarding a complaint against Breitbart contributor Michael Quinn Sullivan and Empower Texans, the organization he leads, alleging that Sullivan improperly failed to register with the State of Texas as a lobbyist.

Despite having more than two years to put their case together, major weaknesses in the TEC’s case were exposed including political vendettas that motivated the complainants, failures to properly authenticate evidence, repeated attempts to undermine Sullivan’s attorney-client privilege rights, witnesses who violated procedural rules, inability to counter arguments presented by Sullivan’s counsel, and Commissioners whose own comments revealed their predetermined desire to rule against Sullivan.

The hearing lasted almost twelve hours, including breaks, and was the first in the twenty-six month history of this matter to be fully open to the public. Counsel for the TEC, Ian Steusloff, kicked off the day with an opening statement that argued that Empower Texans’ “fiscal responsibility index” scorecards, which grade legislators based on their votes and are posted on the Empower Texans website, along with Sullivan’s criticisms of Speaker Joe Straus, constituted lobbying. Steusloff said that the issue was “not just about scorecards,” but rather “who is paid to influence state government.”

Joe Nixon, Sullivan and Empower Texan’s attorney, countered that the “influence” standard in the law was too vague and there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations against Sullivan. He said that regardless, the media exception afforded protections for his activities and an exemption from the statutory requirement to register as a lobbyist. Citing the Citizens United case, Nixon stated that where the law imposes a restriction on free speech but extends an exception to the media, then that same exception must be extended to all.

The TEC’s first witnesses were two politicians who signed the complaint, State Representative Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and former Representative Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, who had earned low scores on the Empower Texans scorecard and are considered to be allies of Speaker Joe Straus. Truitt lost her seat in 2012 when a more conservative challenger defeated her in the primary. During Nixon’s cross-examination, both Keffer and Truitt admitted that they had not drafted the complaint they signed, but that it had been prepared by Steve Bresnen, an attorney and lobbyist for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. They also admitted they had gotten involved not out of their own initiative, but because their consultant, Brian Eppstein, had suggested the idea to them.

Truitt also faced questions from Nixon about her inaccurate mention of the complaint on one of her campaign mail pieces, which stated that “formal ethics complaints have been filed against [Sullivan and Empower Texans] for false attacks.” The complaint does not allege that any statements by Sullivan were false (merely that he should have registered as a lobbyist to make them) and the TEC issued a resolution late last year condemning the mention of ethics complaints filed with the TEC in campaign communications.

More troubling were the violations of procedural rules by Truitt and Bresnen. Before testimony began, the attorneys for both sides had agreed on a legal procedural rule known as the rule of sequestration. The rule requires witnesses to leave the hearing room when they are not testifying and to refrain from accessing information about the proceedings or making public comments until their testimony is concluded and they are released. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that witnesses testify based on their own knowledge and recollections, and are not unduly influenced by testimony from other witnesses or interactions with the public. Both Truitt and Bresnen violated this rule, with Truitt getting caught referring to notes she had prepared on her iPad before the hearing, and Bresnen getting caught tweeting during the lunch break when he was in the middle of his testimony. Nixon moved to strike their testimony when these violations were discovered, but those motions were denied. Truitt was instructed to email her notes to counsel for both sides and Bresnen was instructed to stay off Twitter until his testimony was concluded (disclosure: some of Bresnen’s improper tweets were to this writer, but we have never met or interacted before yesterday).

When Sullivan was called to testify, he answered the first question—to state his name for the record—but then refused to answer any other questions, simply smiling and repeating, “On the advice of counsel, I’m not going to be testifying today.” Steusloff and the Commissioners both displayed annoyance and even exasperation at times from Sullivan’s refusal to testify, stopping their questioning periodically to lecture him on why they thought he should answer their questions. Nixon explained to the TEC that his client was refusing to testify based on his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, not the Fifth Amendment, as many originally assumed when Sullivan first refused to answer.

After the hearing concluded, Nixon spoke exclusively with Breitbart Texas regarding this legal strategy, characterizing the TEC’s comments to his client that he should claim the Fifth Amendment instead as part of “a game they wanted to play.” “They wanted him to say ‘I refuse to testify because of my rights under the Fifth Amendment,’ because it sounds like you’re guilty of something,” said Nixon. “We had other privileges that we could utilize. We weren’t going to play their game.” Nixon also pointed out the potentially negative inference that could legally be drawn if Sullivan had pled the Fifth Amendment in yesterday’s hearing. “In a civil case, you can utilize the inference to imply guilt, although, to an extent, it’s a legal issue. I wasn’t going to give them the opportunity to do that. Because I didn’t need to do. They were going to make a big deal, ‘he pled the fifth!’ That speech at the end, the chairman’s speech was planned.” The actions of the Commissioners seemed to back up Nixon’s concerns about pleading the Fifth, with TEC Chairman Jim Clancy commenting after his last attempt to get Sullivan to testify, “well, then, the witness is going to have to bear the consequences of his actions.”

Throughout the hearing, there was frequent confusion about basic evidence rules that should have been well known to attorneys. Nixon made multiple timely objections to the admission of evidence based on the hearsay rule (e.g., documents prepared by Truitt’s chief of staff but of which she had no personal knowledge), improper authentication (e.g., documents where a clear chain of custody was not established), and also pushed back strongly against repeated attempts by Commissioners to get Sullivan to explain why he would not testify. The Commissioners themselves expressed confusion about some of the rules, with Commissioner Bob Long commenting at one point, “I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even understand half this stuff.”

Continue reading here.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Texas/2014/06/26/First-Amendment-on-Trial-in-Austin-Yesterday

A Green Light for Pension Hikes, Double Dipping

by Jay Root

This is one in a series of occasional stories about ethics and transparency in the part-time Texas Legislature.

Updated May 21, 11:30 a.m.: 

During the third reading of Senate Bill 1459 on Tuesday, state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, attempted again to add a measure delinking legislators’ pensions from judges’ pay. His proposal would have linked only legislators’ pay to the salary of the governor, instead.

Lawmakers in the House, though, seemed less pleased than Monday, when his proposal received a chilly reception. State Reps. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, and Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, suggested that if Isaac did not want to accept the pension, he could choose not to participate.

“If there is a representative on the floor who does not believe they are not working and doing an excellent job that is deserving of pension and retirement, they should voluntarily opt out,” Turner said.

Before lawmakers gave final approval to SB 1459, they soundly rejected Isaac’s amendment in a 101-32 vote.

Brandi Grissom contributed to this report.

Original story, May 20:

In the span of a few minutes on Monday, the Texas House gave the green light to pension increases for state elected officials and then watched the effort to ban “double dipping” by politicians crash and burn without a vote.

The measures were contained in two separate amendments to Senate Bill 1459, a pension overhaul bill designed to shore up the Employees Retirement System (ERS) of Texas.

“Clearly, people want to keep the system the way it is, and it’s probably not a great signal to the public,” said Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, author of the double dipping amendment, which he withdrew.

An amendment by Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, would have had the effect of denying a pension increase to members of the Legislature.

Isaac’s amendment would have decoupled the two and would have instead tied lawmaker’s pensions to a percentage of the governor’s salary ($150,000), leaving the amount used to calculate a lawmaker’s pension at $125,000 as it is right now.

The House turned down the amendment on a vote of 84-59, thereby giving its collective blessing to the increase. Isaac said he felt dejected but also said some lawmakers would have a hard time defending their vote against his amendment come election time.

“We weren’t sent here for the pensions,” Isaac said. “I just don’t want to be seen as increasing the pension that I may or may not receive.” He said he did not want to vote for a budget that contains an increase in his own future pension income.

The practice of double dipping was brought to light during Gov. Rick Perry’s failed run for president. In late 2011, Perry revealed on federal disclosure forms that he had taken advantage of an unusual perk reserved exclusively for longtime state elected officials. It has allowed him to draw both his $150,000-a-year state salary and a $92,000 annual pension.

Turner’s standalone measure to remove that perk from the law, House Bill 413, had died in committee for lack of support, but he had vowed to try again with an amendment to legislation that was moving. However, at the urging of the House sponsor of the underlying pension reform bill, Rep. Bill Callegari, R-Houston, Turner decided to pull his amendment down without a vote Monday.

SB 1459, which Callegari sponsored, is designed to shore up the long-term viability of the state employee pension system by gradually increasing the state contribution rate and taking steps to strengthen the actuarial soundness of the system.

Turner deferred to Callegari, saying he was not “willing to risk” failure of the bill, with just a week left in the session, in order to pass the double-dipping ban.

So it’s dead for the session.

“It will be the first bill I file in the next legislative session if I have the privilege of returning,” Turner said.

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/05/21/green-light-pension-hikes-double-dipping/

How Lawmakers’ Pensions Would Grow Under Budget

by Ross Ramsey

This is one in a series of occasional stories about ethics and transparency in the part-time Texas Legislature.

On top of their civic responsibility, every member of the Legislature will have a personal stake in the state budget.

As it stands, the proposed budget includes a 12 percent increase in the base salaries for state district judges. That number — currently $125,000 annually — also happens to be the basis for legislative pensions. An increase in the pay for judges is an increase in the annual pension benefits for members.

The budget would raise the pay for judges to $140,000, an increase that would mean a minimum of $2,760 per year for legislators qualified to retire. Lawmakers’ regular annual pay is $7,200, plus a per diem to pay for travel, food and lodging when they’re on state business. To qualify for retirement, a legislator needs at least eight years in office. With that, a former lawmaker could begin collecting annual benefits at age 60. With 12 years in state office, that former lawmaker could start drawing retirement at age 50.

The spreadsheet below shows the tenure of every current lawmaker at the end of 2014, rounded to the nearest year; the estimated amount of their base retirement at that time; the amount it would increase with the current budget proposal; and the resulting annual total pension benefit. Actual benefits vary depending on choices lawmakers make in their plans (they can opt out, though few do so), on other pensions, and non-legislative government service and so on. Many members — 85 of the 181 in the House and Senate — won’t qualify for pensions at that point. The rest would be eligible for annual pensions of $27,760 to $140,000. One legislator, Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, would be subject to a cap of $140,000, since the benefit can’t exceed the amount of the judicial salary it’s based on. One last thing: The changes don’t just affect current members. Lawmakers who have already retired would get the increases in pension payments, too. The retired elected officials class currently includes 513 former legislators, district attorneys and others, as well as 137 survivor beneficiaries, each of whom collects an average of $44,196 in annual benefits.  Continue reading here (+ spreadsheet).

http://www.texastribune.org/2013/05/17/proposed-state-budget-has-something-each-legislato/

Texas Values’ Jonathan Saenz: Gay Activists Are Trying To “Put People In Jail”

by Luke Brinker

Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz agreed with a right-wing radio host that gay activists are trying to put Christians in concentration camps, asserting that the gay rights movement wants “to put people in jail” if they disagree with marriage equality and “the homosexual lifestyle.”

In a June 20 interview with Raging Elephants Radio, Saenz condemned a recent Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling affirming that a Denver-area baker had violated the state’s non-discrimination law by refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.

Host Claver Kamau-Imani asked Saenz whether the ruling was tantamount to sending the baker to a “concentration camp.” Saenz agreed, asserting that there’s “no question” gay rights supporters ultimately aim to imprison opponents of LGBT equality:

KANAU-IMANI: Alright, let’s get back to Colorado. So you have a baker that does wedding cakes and they say they don’t want to do a two-man wedding cake or a two-woman wedding cake with the little figurines on top or whatever. And so the homosexual couple, whether it’s man and man, woman and woman, whatever, they go to this specially created commission to deal with this, file a complaint against the business, and so the commission says ‘No, you’re gonna make this cake, plus, you’re going to go to concentration camp,’ essentially. Is that what you’re telling us, Jonathan?

SAENZ: That’s right, that’s right. You know, they tried to do something like that here in Texas – I think it was a bill by Sen. Rodney Ellis that dealt with hate crime stuff, where they would’ve forced you to participate in an event of the quote-unquote community that you had offended. And so we testified against this legislation and it ended up dying on the Senate side. But I mean, this is what they want. I mean, there’s no question. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen them try to do it with legislation here in Texas at the state level. It is a goal of theirs to put people in jail that disagree with homosexual marriage, without question – or the homosexual lifestyle. [emphasis added]

This isn’t the first time Saenz has resorted to extreme rhetoric to attack LGBT equality. A prominent opponent of local efforts to combat anti-LGBT discrimination in Texas, Saenz has also predicted “polygamy and polyandry” and marriage between step-parents and step-children as a result of marriage equality. A vocal proponent of discredited “ex-gay” therapy programs, his solution to the problem that gay people exist is telling them that “it’s never too late” for them to “change.”

As the debate over LGBT rights in Texas intensifies, Saenz’s latest remarks and his history of inflammatory rhetoric underscore why media outlets shouldn’t take him seriously.

Audio here.

http://mediamatters.org/mobile/blog/2014/06/24/texas-values-jonathan-saenz-gay-activists-are-t/199862

Bennie Thompson Explains How Thad Cochran Can Reward Black Voters

By Joel Gehrke

Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) needs to reward the black voters who crossed party lines to support him in his runoff against tea party challenger Chris McDaniel by backing some concrete policy initiatives, according the the state’s only member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“We have historically black colleges in our state who do the best job they can trying to educate our citizens,” Representative Bennie G. Thompson told National Review Online during a Wednesday interview at the Capitol. ”I’d like to see efforts that they receive full funding. I’d like to see the health care of our citizens improved; our children die too young. I’d like to see an increased effort to make sure that the minority unemployment rate inn our state is reduced. So, there are a lot of opportunities for us to start with.”

Thompson said that it wasn’t difficult for Cochran to rally black voters against McDaniel. “I don’t know anybody black who likes the Tea Party. So, if a tea-party person is running against another Republican and you ask a black person, they’re going to support the regular Republican,” he said. “Their platform is counter to a lot of the beliefs of many African Americans. We think there is a place in government to make the lives of its citizens better; that there is a place in government to make sure that education, health care, and other things are available to all citizens. So, that’s a reasonable expectation of government. But this ‘limited government’ and other things that you hear from a lot of tea-party candidates does not resonate well with the black community.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/381247/bennie-thompson-explains-how-thad-cochran-can-reward-black-voters-joel-gehrke

Border Resident: Nancy Pelosi Should Visit My Ranch

“I’ve had a 7-year-old little girl from El Salvador with her mother come to my front door just in dire need, lost, needing help,” says Linda Vickers, who owns a Ranch in Brooks County.

“They wanted to get a ride to Houston; they didn’t want me to call border control. This ranchland is ruthless. It’s deep sand; it’s hot; it’s humid; it literally sucks the life out of a person.”

Vickers says even though her ranch is about 60 miles north of the border, bands of illegal immigrants are still crossing onto her land by circumventing border patrol check points.

“I have a set of dogs here that are a deterrent and they tend to put some of these people in trees. I’ve even had an MS-13 gang member in a tree up here in front,” says Vickers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to travel to South Texas on Saturday to meet with immigrant children at a detention facility and be briefed about the ongoing humanitarian crisis along the Texas-Mexico border.

Vickers wishes Pelosi or a member of her staff would come to her ranch to see first hand what everyday Texans are going through.

“I’d have to ask my husband if he’d have Nancy Pelosi on the property first,” says Vickers, who’s also a member of Texas Border Volunteers. “No. We’d have her here.”

Resident: Pelosi Should Visit My Ranch

166315504 Border Resident: Nancy Pelosi Should Visit My Ranch
Vickers goes onto speak about the things Pelosi might see.

“On one hand, I have women and children and young people in distress — and then on the other hand, I’ve had a criminal element of gang members,” says Vickers. “Young men that have had multiple deportations and do not want to get caught. I’ve heard them tell border patrol as they’re loading them into their vehicle ‘That’s okay, Obama’s gonna let me go.’”

Congressman Henry Cuellar (R-Laredo) says he spoke with Pelosi about her impending visit.

“We talked about it. She’s coming to Brownsville and I welcome her down to South Texas. It’s important for everybody to come down and see exactly what’s happening. South Texas has now garnered not only national but international news because we also have the first lady of Honduras visiting with members of her husband’s cabinet.”

In a statement released Thursday Pelosi stated, “The humanitarian crisis unfolding across our nation’s southern border demands Congress come together and find thoughtful, compassionate and bipartisan solutions.”

Pelosi went onto say. “We must ensure our laws are fully enforced, so that due process is provided to unaccompanied children and the safety and well-being of unaccompanied children is protected. We must also work to address the root causes of the problem.”

Pelosi will be joined by Democratic Reps. Filemon Vela of Texas, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee; Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Rubén E. Hinojosa of Texas and Steven Horsford of Nevada.

See video here.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/border-resident-nancy-pelosi-should-visit-my-ranch/

Border Patrol Looking To House Immigrants In Abandoned Warehouses Along Rio Grande

by Joe Gomez

More than 52,000 children have entered the country illegal in recent months, many of them coming into the U.S. through South Texas. Former Zapata County Sheriff Gonzales, who now works as a consult with law enforcement agencies along the Texas border, says space is running out to house the children and adults that are coming across.

“The local governments are being overwhelmed because of the possibilities for diseases. There are people that are being apprehended that are coming in with warrants for murders or prior convictions for child abuse, and these are the guys that are coming in the same groups with 12 year olds and 5 year olds,” says Zapata. “They’re looking at some centers in the valley… abandoned buildings where they’re going to put fences inside the buildings to create detention cells and just throw people in there. “

Zapata says the situation is unprecedented, but the closest comparison would be to how the Astrodome in Houston was used during Hurricane Katrina, when 25,000 evacuees were housed inside of it.

“They’re going to go in there and divide the whole building into 4 pieces or 8 pieces using a hurricane fence or a cyclone fence and just put people in… until they’re processed.”

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who works closely with agents along the border, confirmed the border patrol’s intentions to create additional housing areas.

“Its basically a former warehouse and they’re working on retrofitting that to re-house the kids,” says Cuellar. “There’s really no other places to do this, but we’re trying to do the best that we can.”

Customs and Border Patrol has been shipping illegal immigrants to facilities all over the country and reportedly are even looking at using an abandoned Walmart in New York, according to Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY).

“It is unacceptable the federal government is trying to force the hardworking taxpayers of New York to foot the bill to house undocumented immigrants,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “The President’s actions have fueled the current crises along the southern border, and now New York residents are being directly impacted by his irresponsible actions. If President Obama was committed to enforcing the immigration laws currently in place, this would not be an issue. Instead, the President has decided to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce, creating an environment where wrongdoing goes unpunished.”

In San Antonio, federal officials say a child in a temporary shelter is still recovering from swine flu.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says the unaccompanied child was recently hospitalized after being diagnosed with swine flu, or H1N1. Wolfe says officials believe this is an isolated incident but are closely monitoring all children at Lackland and other similar shelters the agency is operating around the country.

“That tells you that when you’ve got kids coming in from some of these countries where they don’t have great health systems, we gotta watch out,” says Cuellar. “I’ve talked to border patrol down in McAllen. They’ve seen TB; they’ve seen chicken pox; they’ve seen scabies. And according to Border Patrol, 4 or 5 of their agents have tested positive for those diseases.”

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/report-border-patrol-looking-to-house-immigrants-in-abandoned-buildings-along-rio-grande/

Report: Mexican Military Chopper Crosses Into US, Shoots At Border Agents

Border Patrol agents in Arizona were reportedly fired upon by a Mexican military helicopter that traveled across the border.

KVOA-TV reports that Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico.

Art del Cueto, Border Patrol Tucson Sector union president, tells KVOA that they called and apologized for the incident.

“The incident occurred after midnight and before 6 a.m. Helicopter flew into the U.S. and fired on two U.S. Border Patrol agents,” del Cueto said in a statement to KVOA. “The incident occurred west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The agents were unharmed. The helicopter went back into Mexico. Mexico then contacted U.S. authorities and apologized for the incident.”

Andy Adame, Border Patrol spokesperson, said that Mexican authorities fired two shots at the border agents.

“Two shots were fired from the helicopter but no injuries or damage to U.S. property were reported,” Adame told KVOA.

The incident is under investigation.

http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/report-mexican-military-chopper-crosses-into-us-shoots-at-border-agents/

Anti-Amnesty Group Asks Americans To Mail ‘Gently Used Underwear’ To Obama, Boehner

by Benjamin Fearnow

The anti-amnesty group, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), is calling on Americans to mail their “gently used underwear” to President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in response to a government request for new briefs for the recent surge of illegal immigrants being held by border patrol.

ALIPAC is responding to a Department of Homeland Security solicitation seeking thousands of pairs of “White 100% Cotton Men’s Briefs” – ranging from medium sizes to hundreds of 6X-large pairs – to meet the basic clothing needs of thousands of immigrants detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

“Obama and Boehner have proven once and for all that their talk of passing immigration reform amnesty, instead of enforcing America’s existing border and immigration laws, only brings more unwanted and destructive illegal immigration!” said William Gheen, president of ALIPAC, on the group’s website.

“Instead of using our tax money to buy illegals 42,000 pairs of new underwear, we would like to send the illegals and DC politicians a message by mailing them our used underwear, and some of our pairs are in really bad shape due to the bad economy and all of the jobs illegal immigrants are taking from Americans.”

The ICE solicitation placed earlier this month through Federal Business Opportunities cites that the thousands of pairs of underwear are bound for El Paso, Texas. In a statement to Breitbart, an ICE spokesperson said: “This [request for quote] is a normal solicitation for routinely procured items needed at ICE-owned detention facilities around the country. At ICE-owned detention facilities, the agency is required to provide basic necessities in order to feed and clothe detained aliens.”

The ALIPAC request for Americans to send their “gently used” underwear is specifically noted because “DC is already full of dirty laundry.”

The ALIPAC statement goes on to say that the Obama administration is wasting taxpayer money for illegal immigrants by assisting pushes for immigration reform, amnesty and inadequate enforcement of current laws. The statement adds that “Obama is releasing most of the illegal immigrants into America in violation of US laws.”

The message concludes: “Americans who want to help the illegals and Americans who are upset that John Boehner and Barack Obama are throwing the future for American children under the bus along with their Oaths of Office, the US Constitution, the outcome of our elections, and the current laws of Congress, are encouraged to mail their used underwear to Barack Obama at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, and John Boehner at Office of the Speaker, H-232 The Capitol, Washington, DC 20515.”

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/06/26/anti-amnesty-group-asks-americans-to-mail-gently-used-underwear-to-obama-boehner/

The Dire Warning Representatives of Immigration and Border Officials Just Gave to Congress

by Pete Kasperowicz

Representatives of U.S. immigration and border enforcement officials told Congress Wednesday that the U.S. needs to stop talking about amnesty for illegal immigrants and start enforcing border laws, or the flood of child immigrants will only get worse.

People who represent these officials issued that stark warning at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, where they said the Obama administration’s “catch and release” policy for illegal immigrants and overall relaxed enforcement of the laws is the main reason thousands are trying to cross the southern U.S. border.

“Over the last four years, our union has repeatedly advised Congress and America that the administration’s immigration policies are failing in the field,” said Chris Crane, president of the union who represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, in his prepared testimony to the committee.

Crane said his group has told ICE for years that the administration’s policies are failing, and he said things will only get worse if things don’t change. “If the administration continues with its current policies, it can expect the current crisis to further escalate, and crises in other areas to potentially emerge,” he said.

Crane’s comments are a slap to the Obama administration, which has continued to insist that its support for amnesty-style immigration changes are not the cause of the border rush.

In 2011, just 6,500 unaccompanied children came across the border. But in the same Judiciary hearing, officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ICE said by mid-June of this year, 52,000 have been apprehended, more than double the 24,000 seen all last year.

Officials have recently taken these steps. But many Republicans say President Barack Obama’s clear support for eased immigration rules continues to draw people. Crane agreed with that assessment on Wednesday, and said this discussion is only serving to put more pressure on the border.

“Continued talk in the United States of amnesty and legalization without appropriate law enforcement safeguards first put in place, will continue to draw millions like a magnet to our southern border,” he said. “The most humane thing that we can do as Americans is to deter crises like this one through consistent enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”

Crane said his group called the border situation a “humanitarian crisis” in February, and said the administration only admitted that four months later.

He also described a situation in which border enforcement resources are being stretched very thin, as the administration is sending more people to deal with the crisis.

“ICE officers around the national are under orders to be packed for overnight travel and ready to respond at any time day or night — and responding they are,” he said. He added that some border functions are being shut down as resources are redirected to help the so-called unaccompanied alien children, including operations of Enforcement and Removal Operations.

“Ironically, as ICE ERO and the Border Patrol spend millions of dollars and shift resources from vital programs to process family units and UACs, it is unlikely that a significant number of these illegal entrants will be removed form the United States unless changes are made to current immigration policy,” he said. “Without removals it is doubtful that the influx of those illegally entering the U.S. will subside any time soon.”

Crane’s comments were backed up by Brandon Judd, who represents the 16,500 U.S. border patrol agents. Judd said a key step the government needs to take is to stop the administration’s “catch and release” program.

“This program is bad policy and encourages people from countries other than Mexico to enter the United States illegally,” he said. “Under this policy, and in most cases, individuals entering the U.S. illegally know they will be released if apprehended.”

“The result is no one is afraid of breaking the law.”

Judd said he administration also needs to be clear that no special status will be given to illegal immigrants, in order to take pressure off the border.

“We need to be crystal clear that unaccompanied minors and their families till not be rewarded for breaking the law through special or legal status after being arrested,” he said.

“In the end, the current crisis needs to be addressed through consistent enforcement of the laws we already have, and through adequate manpower at the border.”

Crane agreed that enforcement of current laws should be enough, which would send the message to others that they cannot rely on amnesty once they arrive in the United States.

“The answer of course is that we aggressively enforce our immigration laws and quickly remove those who enter the country illegally,” Crane said.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/25/the-dire-warning-representatives-of-immigration-and-border-officials-just-gave-to-congress/