House Deputy Whip Says Obama Immigration Action Would Hand Control of Senate to Republicans

Josh Siegel /

A Texas lawmaker says if President Obama were to try to revamp immigration law on his own, it would change the course of November’s midterm elections and effectively hand-deliver control of the Senate to Republicans.

There has to be checks and balances against a president who is overreaching, says @RepKevinBrady

In an interview with The Daily Signal on immigration, Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican deputy whip, said he would fight Obama’s proposed action—which the president is reportedly considering delaying until after the midterms to avoid political blowback.

“We’ll fight it on constitutional grounds, we’ll fight it through the law that’s sitting in the Senate and we’ll fight it in the courts if need be,” said Brady, alluding to the Senate’s failure to pass its $2.7 billion border bill before August recess.

I think it [Obama executive action] will add more fuel to the fire that the Senate has got to change hands. There has to be checks and balances against a president who is overreaching in an unprecedented fashion. People really believe in the checks and balances of the Constitution. And this will convince them even more that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Photo: White House/Pete Souza

Photo: White House/Pete Souza

Obama declared in late June that he would act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system after Speaker John Boehner said the House wouldn’t act on comprehensive immigration reform this year.

The president originally hinted he would reveal his plan by the end of the summer.

But mindful of the potential electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, Obama “hasn’t made a decision on the timing,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday.

What’s Under Consideration

The possibilities for Obama’s plan reportedly include not only deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants but also providing new green cards for high-tech workers and for the relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

More than a year ago, the Senate passed its own comprehensive bill to clear the way for millions of illegal immigrants to gain a pathway to citizenship.

“The status quo on the border just isn’t acceptable,” says @RepKevinBrady

But since a humanitarian crisis involving millions of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied children, erupted this summer, Republicans have said they will not pursue comprehensive reform until the Obama administration shows it can secure the border.

A month ago, House Republicans passed a $694 border funding bill, that, among other things, tweaks a 2008 human-trafficking law to allow for quick return of the unaccompanied minors to their home countries.

In a separate bill—which Brady cosponsored—the House voted to stop Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the president implemented in 2012.

A youth from Central America jumps between cars of the cargo train called "The Beast" on the way to the Mexico-U.S.border. (Photo: Elizabeth Ruiz/Newscom)

A youth from Central America jumps between cars of the cargo train called “The Beast” on the way to the Mexico-U.S.border. (Photo: Elizabeth Ruiz/Newscom)

Focus on Border Security

Brady, who has served his Southeast Texas district in Congress since 1997, says the House border funding bill represents the only solution worth considering right now.

“The solution … not to manage the problem, but to stop it, was passed by the House before we left [for recess], and it’s sitting in the Senate,” Brady said. “It’s a smart solution: securing the border, deterring families from sending kids on a dangerous journey and reuniting them back in Central America.”

Brady, who also serves as chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, wants any decision on legalization to be made after improvements in border security.

“I think there is a need to address this [immigration reform] sooner rather than later,” Brady said.

Step-by-Step Solution

“The status quo on the border just isn’t acceptable. It’s going to take a step-by-step solution, starting with securing the border. [Only when] we can do that with confidence, steps two and three—which are addressing the workforce needs of the country and resolving what we do with those living here illegally today—can follow.”

Would an executive order on immigration alter November’s midterm elections?

Unlike some of his conservative colleagues, Brady downplayed talk that Republicans would call for Obama’s impeachment or another government shutdown if the president uses executive action.

Brady said a unilateral move by Obama would show the president is focused on securing his legacy.

“What I see here, not knowing exactly what the president will do, is that his proposed action contradicts his own insistence for several years that only Congress has the power to change immigration law,” Brady said. “That leads me to believe this is a very cynical political move.”

During Obama’s Presidency, National Debt Has Grown by $61K Per Household - Daily Signal

During Obama’s Presidency, National Debt Has Grown by $61K Per Household

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent /

You may have heard pundits time and time again dismiss America’s debt problem, touting that the deficit has fallen by 50 percent since 2009.

Yet that sidesteps the real issue: the massive amount of debt the country has taken on in the past six years has put the nation in a vulnerable position as entitlement spending is set to take off and big-spending policies continue to pile on debt. Indeed, the United States has added $7.06 trillion of debt since President Obama took office—far more than under any previous president.

obama

Don’t worry, folks, the deficit has fallen! (Photo: Newscom)

This is bad news for tomorrow’s Americans who could face slower economic growth and higher taxes as America’s mounting debt continues to climb and outpace growth of the economy.

Today, the country is saddled with more than $17.6 trillion of gross debt, an increase of more than $61,000 per American household during Obama’s presidency alone. Median household income in the U.S. is about $51,000. This means that during Obama’s presidency debt per household grew by more than the typical American family earns in a given year.

No, that's not a typo. (Photo: Getty Images)

No, that’s not a typo. (Photo: Getty Images)

If that’s not alarming, take a look at how this debt stacks up:

Need a new ride? Obama and Congress could have bought each American household a Mercedes Benz E-Class sedan (MSRP $51,400-$61,400) with the debt accumulated during Obama’s presidency.

Every American household could buy a Mercedes Benz E-Class sedan with the nation's debt. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Every American household could buy a Mercedes Benz E-Class sedan with the nation’s debt. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Perhaps that could have worked out better than the $3 billion that was squandered on the failed “Cash for Clunkers” program.

The debt increase seen over the past six years is massive enough to eclipse the entire annual production of other top economies around the world. The $7.06 trillion added during Obama’s tenure exceeds the combined 2013 output of Germany and France, the two largest economies in Europe.

Frankfurt, the financial capital of Germany. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Frankfurt, the financial capital of Germany. (Photo: Wikimedia)

It is also roughly equal to the combined 2013 GDP of Japan and Brazil, the third and seventh largest producers in the world, respectively.

Cristiano Renaldo, the highest-paid soccer player in the world, made $80 million last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Mutsu Kawamori/AFLO)

Cristiano Ronaldo at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Mutsu Kawamori/AFLO)

In order for him to pay off the debt accrued during Obama’s presidency, he would have to play soccer for 88,250 years. To work off the total U.S. debt, Renaldo would have to spend an astounding 220,000 years on the pitch.

But how hard would the richest of the rich need to work to run up this kind of tab? With an estimated fortune of $79.1 billion, Bill Gates is the currently the wealthiest person in the United States.

'To pay off the entire national debt, we’d need more than 220 Bill Gateses willing to fork over their net wealth to the U.S treasury.' (Photo: Newscom)

‘To pay off the entire national debt, we’d need more than 220 Bill Gateses willing to fork over their net wealth to the U.S treasury.’ (Photo: Newscom)

However, he would need to donate his entire fortune more than 89 times over to pay off the debt incurred since Obama took office. To pay off the entire national debt, we’d need more than 220 Bill Gateses willing to fork over their net wealth to the U.S treasury.

Unfortunately, this could only be the beginning. If you think the $7 trillion under Obama’s watch—or the national debt of $17.6 trillion—is excessive, compare that to Medicare’s (part A) and Social Security’s unfunded obligations  over the next 75 years, which  currently totals $49 trillion.

Take that in ... $49 trillion in unfunded obligations over the next 75 years. Whoa. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Take that in — $49 trillion in unfunded obligations over the next 75 years. Whoa. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

That’s almost three times the size of today’s national debt . That is $49 trillion the country will not have to pay the benefits it is expected to give out under current law.

This massive growth of debt is troubling, and shows little sign of slowing down. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that deficits will return to near trillion-dollar levels in the next 10 years and expects another $7.2 trillion to be added to the debt by 2024.

Unfortunately, the $17.6 trillion debt could only be the beginning -- and it falls on the American people. (Photo: Newscom)

Unfortunately, the $17.6 trillion debt could only be the beginning — and it falls on the American people. (Photo: Newscom)

In order to reverse this trend, the country needs to seriously address its spending problem, starting with an evaluation of its biggest culprit: swelling entitlement programs. Continuing to put off the problem will leave the next generation more indebted and economically weak than any before it—and that is not the American way.

Mother of Jailed Marine Asks White House to Expedite Release From Mexico Prison - Daily Signal

Mother of Jailed Marine Asks White House to Expedite Release From Mexico Prison

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson /

Nearly 135,000 people have signed a petition demanding the release of Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi from a Mexico prison, prompting an official response from the White House and a rebuke from the reservist’s mother.

“The U.S. State Department continues to provide extensive consular assistance to Mr. Tahmooressi,” stated the official White House response. “We continue to urge the Mexican Authorities to process this case expeditiously.”

Is the U.S. government doing enough to free Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi?

During an interview on Fox News, Jill Tahmooressi, the mother of the Afghanistan war veteran, expressed her doubts this was true.

“Its been six months,” Jill Tahmorressi said. “Andrew’s case is not being expeditiously processed.”

In March, Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested after he took what he called an accidental wrong turn and crossed into Mexico. Mexican officials arrested him after finding three firearms in his truck. If convicted, he could face up to 14 years in prison for violating Mexico’s gun laws.

Islamic State Beheads a Second American Journalist, Warns of More Executions - Daily Signal

Islamic State Beheads a Second American Journalist, Warns of More Executions

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness /

The Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claims to have beheaded a second American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff.

A video of the execution was made public by jihadist monitoring organization SITE Intel Group. ISIS also threatened the execution of British hostage David Cawthorne Haines, sending a tweet today that read:

#IS Beheads Steven Joel #Sotloff, Threatens to Execute Briton David Cawthorne Haines

— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) September 2, 2014

James Carafano, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, called the Sotloff beheading “despicable and beyond the pale.”

He told The Daily Signal:

ISIS has committed countless atrocities since the invasion of Iraq began. Every one of them, including this act, is despicable and beyond the pale.

Carafano added, “The president was wrong to characterize this as a humanitarian mission — this is a war against a regime every bit as brutal as any that has ever appeared on the face of the earth.”

>>>Q&A: Should the U.S. Bomb ISIS Targets in Syria?

Sotloff, a freelance journalist who worked for Time magazine and other publications and also spoke fluent Arabic, was abducted a year ago in Syria. Last week, his mother sent a message to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, asking him to “please release my child.”

The video released by the Islamic State, titled “A Second Message to America,” closely resembles the footage of American photojournalist James Foley’s beheading last month.

Sotloff is seen in an orange jumpsuit while his executioner threatens President Obama with future attacks: “…just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

The executioner adds:

We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.

Carafano said this will not be the last atrocity committed by ISIS against America and its allies. He told The Daily Signal:

In this part of the world honor is power, and ISIS will do everything possible to show it can strike back even as it loses ground. There already has been an uptick of terrorist attacks in Baghdad and other key cities.

Carafano warned that “time is not on our side” in the war against the Islamic State and said the best way to bring justice, peace and security to the region is to help the Iraqi people take back their country as quickly as possible.

“That has to be job No. 1,” he said.

U.S officials have not yet confirmed the authenticity of the video. Sotloff’s family has been made aware of the situation and is requesting time to grieve.

Parents of Fallen Navy SEAL Voice Outrage at Obama in Emotional Letter - Daily Signal

Parents of Fallen Navy SEAL Voice Outrage at Obama in Emotional Letter

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness /

Billy and Karen Vaughn, the parents of a Navy SEAL who died in combat, recently called President Obama’s handling of terrorism “cowardly” and suggested he step down from office.

Billy Vaughn visiting Aaron at Arlington Cemetery on Father's Day 2013.

Billy Vaughn visiting Aaron at Arlington Cemetery on Father’s Day 2013.

“Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the [reins] of this out-of-control thug-fest,” they wrote in a letter addressed to the president.

Vaughn4

Billy and Karen’s only son, Aaron Carson Vaughn, was one of 30 Americans killed in August 2011 when his Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team Six, which is best known for taking out Osama bin Laden earlier that year in May.

Vaughn2

Vaughn3

Citing the on-camera execution of James Foley, an American photojournalist beheaded by the Islamic State, the Vaughns had some harsh words for Obama’s handling of the terrorist network.

As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole—not only in America’s security—but the security of the entire globe.

Obama’s actions, they added, “cost lives.”

Vaughn7

>>> James Foley’s Life in Pictures: ‘A Man of Incredible Bravery and Courage’

In the letter published Wednesday on World Tribune, the Vaughns also listed a number of “unprecedented national security leaks” that have occurred under the president’s watch:

“…The outing of SEAL Team VI on the [bin Laden] raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal ‘kill list’ to make you look tough.”

In addition, they pointed to statistics listed on icasualties.org, which state that 75 percent of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans wounded-in-action have occurred while Obama’s was in office.

First and last Vaughn family photo with Aaron. Taken just weeks after Chamberlyn was born and the week before Aaron left on deployment.

First and last Vaughn family photo with Aaron. Taken just weeks after Chamberlyn was born and the week before Aaron left on deployment.

Vaughn10

The Vaughns, who have been outspoken on their views of the president, concluded with a harsh critique of Obama’s categorization of the Islamic State – or ISIS – as “JV.”

And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as ‘the JV team’ in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January. You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.

Vaughn's last day with his daughter, Chamberlyn.

Vaughn’s last day with his daughter, Chamberlyn.

Read Billy and Karen Vaughn’s full letter to the President here.

More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias - Daily Signal

More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky /

The Daily Caller has obtained an email that provides more stark evidence of the liberal bias of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status.  Although Lerner was hypersensitive about political activity by conservatives, she appears to have taken almost no action after being notified that labor organizations were failing to inform the IRS about millions of dollars of political spending.

Labor unions, which are classified as 501(c)(5) organizations under the tax code, are required to file a Form 990 tax return with the IRS.  In Part IV of that form, unions are asked whether they engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities.”  If so, they have to prepare a detailed schedule outlining those activities, including the amounts spent on such activities.

The U.S. Department of Labor also has a similar type of annual financial form.  Labor unions with over $250,000 in receipts have to file an LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report.  Item 51 on that form requires a union to report the amounts spent on “Political Activities and Lobbying.”  The explanation that accompanies the form says that includes all “direct and indirect disbursements to all entities and individuals … associated with political disbursements or contributions in money.”  Just like the IRS Form 990, unions have to prepare a detailed schedule outlining the disbursements. Indeed, my Heritage colleague James Sherk notes that “the Labor Department largely followed the IRS’s definition of ‘political activity’  when it updated its union transparency regulations.”

According to the Daily Caller, Lerner received a complaint in 2007 pointing out that a number of unions were reporting large amounts of political disbursements to the Labor Department, yet reporting no such expenditures to the IRS:

“In 2006, the year leading up to Lerner’s email, the national headquarters for the AFL-CIO reported no direct or indirect political expenditures with the IRS on their 990 form, leaving the line 81a blank. That same year, the AFL-CIO reported $29,585,661 in political activities with the Department of Labor.

“Also in 2006 the Teamsters Union reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $7,081,965 with the Labor Department.

“Again in 2006, Unite-Here reported no political activity with the IRS and $1,451,002 with the Labor Department.

“In 2005, the National Education Association also reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $24,985,250 with the Labor Department.”

Although Lerner had to admit that the definition of political activity required to be reported to the IRS “coincides” with the definition of political activity used by the Labor Department, she tried to excuse these huge discrepancies by saying that the Labor Department form included both political activity and lobbying disbursements and the  “Form LM-2 does not separate this reporting from the reporting of lobbying expenditures.” But in fact, the very detailed Schedule 16 that accompanies the LM-2 breaks down such disbursements, so the IRS could track political expenses vs. lobbying expenses if Lerner had bothered to actually look at, for example, the AFL-CIO’s 2006 LM-2, which is available here. It included activities like “Subsidy – Election’06 Member Mobilization Effort,” and “Election’06 Ten Point Program – Elect Ciro Rodriguez ” and “Election Mailings — $150,000.”

It is true that Lerner said that there were “some instances that raised concerns” and she referred that information to the Dallas office, but the Dallas IRS office apparently did nothing about it.  Lerner was the head of the tax-exempt organizations office at the national headquarters of the IRS, making her the chief official responsible for regulating these labor unions.  Why was she so dismissive of a complaint showing that labor unions were potentially not reporting millions of dollars of political activity to the IRS?  And why was the issue referred to a satellite office of the IRS?  Why didn’t she follow up when nothing was done about it?  Why wasn’t a major IRS investigation opened up in Washington?

Filing a false statement on a tax return is a very serious violation of federal law that can be punished with everything from civil penalties to prison time depending on the circumstances and the intent of the filer.  And Lerner had just received information about multiple violations by multiple organizations.

Given all of the information that we have today, particularly the prior emails that revealed Lerner’s hatred of conservatives, does anyone believe that if Lerner had received a complaint alleging that many Tea Party organizations were failing to report millions of dollars in “direct or indirect political campaign activities,” the complaint would have been handled this way? That is just a bit hard to believe.

Sharif Government’s Survival Crucial for Democracy in Pakistan - Daily Signal

Sharif Government’s Survival Crucial for Democracy in Pakistan

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis /

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan received a boost today when a joint sitting of parliament endorsed his leadership following two weeks of street demonstrations led by maverick politician Imran Khan.

Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has joined with Pakistani religious leader Tahir ul-Qadri to demand Sharif’s resignation for alleged vote rigging in the May 2013 elections that brought Sharif to power.

It is important that Sharif’s government survive—not for any reason having to do with him, his history, or his political agenda, but for the sake of democracy and stability in this particularly unstable part of the world. Pakistan’s transfer of power from one elected government to another last year was a milestone. It’s in the U.S. interest that it not be overturned by undemocratic means.

The protests have increased political instability and heightened civil–military tensions at a time when the army is battling terrorists who have sheltered in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and have conducted attacks throughout the nation, including a high-profile attack on the Karachi airport in June.

The parliament’s support for Sharif instilled confidence that he might weather the political storm despite allegations of a hidden army hand in the current political turmoil. Over the weekend, PTI president Javed Hashmi broke ranks with Khan, alleging that Khan was working in tandem with the Pakistan army to destabilize the government. While Hashmi had no proof for his allegations, they are not far-fetched for Pakistan, where the army often intervenes in politics. Indeed, Pakistani military leader Pervez Musharraf deposed Sharif during his previous stint as prime minister in 1999.

Sharif was re-elected in May 2013 in elections international monitors said were relatively free and fair with a surprisingly robust voter turnout—not a small feat for a country wracked by terrorism, sectarian violence, and a faltering economy. The elections also marked the first time in Pakistan’s history that one democratically elected government handed power to another elected government.

The political situation remains tense, and if violence breaks out on a large scale, the army would likely step in to restore order. While the army leadership may not be interested in taking direct control of the country, it seems likely that Khan received some encouragement from the military to move ahead with the protests. The army leadership seeks to maintain control of Pakistani policy toward India and Afghanistan and could be sending a signal to Sharif to back away from pursuing initiatives on these two fronts.

Khan is a volatile politician with strong anti-American views who has supported appeasement of Islamist extremists. While Sharif’s government has had a lackluster performance over the last year, the parliament’s support of his continued rule shows that Pakistanis respect the democratic process and are not fed up enough with the Sharif government to favor extra-constitutional means to overthrow it.

Muslim Cleric Makes 9/11 Joke, Then Says CNN Host Lacks ‘Sense of Humor’ - Daily Signal

Muslim Cleric Makes 9/11 Joke, Then Says CNN Host Lacks ‘Sense of Humor’

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team /

Muslim cleric Anjam Choudary was doing a normal sound check before appearing on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” yesterday when he suddenly stopped counting said the numbers 9/11, 7/7, 3/11 — dates of deadly terror attacks. Host Brian Stelter asked his guest, “Is this all some sort of joke to you?” Choudary’s response left Stelter speechless.

U.S. Government Lost Track of 6,000 Foreign Nationals of ‘Heightened Concern’ - Daily Signal

U.S. Government Lost Track of 6,000 Foreign Nationals of ‘Heightened Concern’

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn /

More than 6,000 foreign nationals in the United States on student visas have vanished after overstaying their time here, raising alarm at the Department of Homeland Security. The federal agency is now working to find them after losing track of their whereabouts.

Officials at the federal agency told ABC News there are more than 58,000 students who overstayed their visas over the past year. Approximately 6,000 of those foreign nationals were referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for “follow-up,” as they’re of “heightened concern.”

“My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything,” Peter Edge, deputy associate director for Homeland Security Investigations, told ABC News. “Some of them could be here to do us harm.”

“Some of them could be here to do us harm,” says one official of foreign nationals who overstayed visas.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended Homeland Security impose tighter controls on the student visa program. The group determined Hani Hanjour, the hijacker who flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, was in the country on a student visa. Hanjour, however, never showed up for school.

>>> Rep. Mike Rogers: ‘Hundreds’ of Americans Connected to Islamic State

Despite the commission’s recommendation 10 years ago, Edge said “we really have a lot more work to do” to fulfill it. ICE agents, he continued, are working to locate the 6,000 students.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, 26 foreign nationals in the United States on student visas have been arrested on terrorism-related charges.

Homeland Security has lost track of 6,000 foreign nationals who overstayed their student visas.

James Carafano, a leading authority on national security at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that Homeland Security’s failure to keep track of foreign nationals in the country on student visas is “disheartening.” He added:

“The U.S. government made a major investment post-9/11 in updating the system to track student visas and crack down on fraud, overstays, we well as improve customer service and the effectiveness of the system. These kinds of results are disheartening. Why did the taxpayers shell out money to fix a system and then do nothing to enforce the system?”

More than 9,000 schools are on a government-approved list to accept foreign applicants on student visas. The list includes Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Yale, but also trade schools that teach horseshoeing, acupuncture and hair braiding. Some lack accreditation and state certification.

“We know we have a lot of non-accredited universities that are using this system to bring people in, collect money and not educate them at all,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told ABC News. “To me, it’s a mess.”

Coburn, along with Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is pushing for reforms to the student visa system.

>>> There is a ‘Real Threat’ That Islamic State Fighters Could Enter U.S.

Despite ICE’s failures in keeping track of foreign nationals on student visas, agency officials told ABC News that the government has taken steps to address visa fraud. ICE is taking on a new program deploying field representatives to inspect schools that received approval to accept foreign students on visas. Carissa Cutrell, spokeswoman for ICE, said 15 field representatives have already been hired. The agency plans to employ 60 total.

”To me, it’s a mess,” says Sen. @TomCoburn of the student visa program.

Another initiative—launched and implemented at one airport—alerts customs inspectors if a student whose status has been flagged by a school official is trying to re-enter the United States.

Since 2003, the number of foreign nationals who received visas to study in the United States has grown from more than 662,000 to 1.2 million, congressional investigators found.

“Our work has only begun,” Edge said. “We have a lot more work to do in this space.”

 

Q&A: Can the World Count on the U.N. to Fight ISIS Terrorists? - Daily Signal

Q&A: Can the World Count on the U.N. to Fight ISIS Terrorists?

Josh Siegel / Michael Sargent / Alex Anderson / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harkness / Hans von Spakovsky / Lisa Curtis / Video Team / Melissa Quinn / Brett Schaefer / Kelsey Harkness /

Top officials for the United Nations last week announced the terrorist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, committed crimes against humanity “on an unimaginable scale.” On Monday, the international organization followed up by sending a fact-finding team to Iraq to investigate these claims.

Whether the U.N. will act on its findings is yet to be seen.

U.N. expert Brett D. Schaefer, who is the Jay Kingham senior research fellow in international regulatory affairs at The Heritage Foundation, argues that the United States must be “realistic” in dealings with the organization.

What that means, he explains, is “supporting it where U.S. interests can be advanced while being unafraid to explore alternative options when it proves unproductive.”

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, Schaefer, editor of the 2009 book “ConUNdrum,” assesses the U.N.’s report on ISIS, sharing where he thinks the organization will help – or hinder – America’s fight against the terrorist threat. In some cases, he says, America must act alone.

>>> Commentary: 11 Reasons Why ISIS Might Be More Dangerous Than al-Qaeda

Q: The United Nations just put out a report stating ISIS, or the Islamic State, has committed crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria. What does the U.N. mean and why did it take so long for the world body to respond to an international crisis?

A: Crimes against humanity are serious crimes – murder, slavery, torture, rape, etc. – committed against a civilian population in a widespread and/or organized manner. The first notable definition was codified under the Nuremberg trials after World War II. The U.N. report accuses ISIS of torture, murder, acts tantamount to enforced disappearance, and forcible displacement of a civilian population committed at a scale rising to crimes against humanity.

The report is the eighth report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, which was established in August 2011. Thus, the U.N. actually has been paying attention to events in Syria for quite some time.

However, it is important to note that the U.N. report was not initiated in response to ISIS, but as an inquiry into “alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic.” Although ISIS has existed for over a decade in various iterations, it first became really prominent as a concern only a couple of years ago.

The crimes of ISIS have been included in the report because they have been committed, in part, in Syria, and fall under the mandate of the commission. It is fortunate that an existing inquiry was underway that could look into ISIS acts in Syria. In response to ISIS actions in Iraq, the Human Rights Council voted to send a fact-finding team, which is expected to report back in March 2015. This will complement the work of the commission.

Q: What is your assessment of the recommendations in the U.N. report?

A: For the most part they are non-controversial. Calls for sustaining funding for humanitarian efforts, for instance, are justified and are consistent with current actions of the U.S. and other nations.

In many cases, however, they are unlikely to be realized. For example, there are a number of pleas for improved behavior by the combatants, e.g. to respect and comply with human rights and international humanitarian law, reject violence and respect freedom of religion, to cease using illegal and indiscriminate weapons, and to allow access to the country by the commissioners, human rights monitors and humanitarian workers.

Obviously, these outcomes would be good. But experience over the past few years, with repeated willful violation of these principles by multiple combatants, provides little reason to believe that such appeals will be successful.

Q: Would following these recommendations counter the threat of ISIS? How much action would the U.S. be required to take unilaterally?

A: The commission calls on the international community to enact an arms embargo and on the U.N. Security Council to “enhance the enforcement and implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law through the range of powers and measures at its disposal.”

The Security Council passed resolution 2170 on Aug. 15, which condemns terrorist acts committed by ISIS and its indiscriminate killing and deliberate targeting of civilians and other atrocities; calls for those committing crimes to be held accountable; and applies an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo “to ISIL [or ISIS], ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida.”

The resolution also demands that ISIS cease all violence and terrorist acts; demands that foreign fighters supporting ISIS withdraw; and calls on states to impede the movement of individuals seeking to join ISIS, block transfer of financing, supplies and arms to ISIS, and observe sanctions to six specified individuals linked with ISIS.

ISIS has little interest in entering the international community, and moral appeals and ostracization will a have minimal impact. Although it has a part to play, the U.N. lacks the capacity and means to back and impose its demands, and relies on its member states to support, implement and enforce them.

The U.N. doesn’t have its own army – the member states must provide troops tor peacekeeping – and, regardless, U.N. peacekeepers have proven to be poor war fighters historically. Compliance with Security Council resolutions can be haphazard among nations, either from disagreement or limited capabilities. Few countries outside the U.S. are willing or capable of taking military action to deter ISIS.

Q: When it comes down to it, if the U.N. does want to act, is it correct that a country such as Russia or China could block action because it’s a Security Council decision? How does that work?

A: Under the U.N. Charter, the Security Council can adopt a resolution that is, in theory, binding on all member states. However, it is not uncommon for countries to ignore or only partially comply with resolutions.

There are 15 members of the Security Council. Ten members are elected by the General Assembly. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the victorious allies of World War II) are permanent members of the Security Council.

A resolution can pass the Security Council with nine positive votes. However, each of the permanent members of the Security Council possesses a veto and can unilaterally block any resolution.

Q: What is the point of the U.N. if it can’t or doesn’t act during such a crisis?

The United Nations was created to maintain international peace and security, promote self-determination and basic human rights, and protect fundamental freedoms. Regrettably, the U.N. has produced more disappointment than success in realizing these high aspirations. A great deal of the blame for this failure is due to divergent interests among the member states that have prevented the organization from taking decisive, timely action.

However, the U.N. can serve a valuable purpose as a forum where nations can debate shared concerns and collaborate on joint efforts to address them and some initiatives, like peacekeeping missions, are often more politically acceptable as a U.N. operation than they would be otherwise.

The United States must be realistic in its dealings with the U.N. and have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, supporting it where U.S. interests can be advanced while being unafraid to explore alternative options when it proves unproductive.

Q: Is there anything in this situation that the U.N. is uniquely qualified to address?

A: The U.N. inquiry does provide, in this instance, an objective assessment of the situation in Syria, and its condemnation of the actions of the Syrian government and ISIS is useful. The U.N. is also an important vehicle for providing humanitarian assistance.

Because nearly every nation is a member of the U.N., the organization can be uniquely helpful in mobilizing resources and conveying assistance. If, for instance, the U.S. tried to provide assistance directly, its efforts would be viewed as partisan by some combatants and its citizens would be targets. While not immune – U.N. workers are occasionally targeted – they are typically seen as neutral actors.

Q: What’s the question here about the U.N. that isn’t being asked or understood?

Although the U.N. frequently condemns terrorism, as it did in resolution 2170, it is important to understand that the U.N. has never agreed on a definition of terrorism.

The main impediment is that Muslim countries insist, as stated in the 1998 Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism: “All cases of struggle by whatever means, including armed struggle, against foreign occupation and aggression for liberation and self-determination, in accordance with the principles of international law, shall not be regarded as [a terrorism] offense.”

In other words, Palestinian acts of terrorism against Israel must be excluded. The failure to define terrorism inhibits U.N. efforts to combat it.