Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and 21 other members of Congress are demanding the Government Accountability Office conduct a formal audit of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services out of growing suspicion that money is being improperly used to fund President Obama’s unilateral immigration actions in violation of court order.
Of greatest concern to Gohmert and the other members is the allocation of fees collected by the government through the legal immigration process and whether money charged of those in the country legally is actually being used to secure legal status for those who broke the law to get to the U.S.
“They raise most of their money through fees,” Gohmert said in an interview with WND and Radio America. “They used the fees for things they lied about using them for. We need the Government [Accountability] Office to get to the bottom. What are they using those fees for?”
The issue is triggering more concern for numerous reasons, the most recent of which stems from a confrontation inside the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday between Gohmert and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldena.
Gohmert asked Saldena why the government has already granted three-year deferrals to more than 108,000 illegal immigrants who ought to be deported and where the authorization came from. Saldena said the authorization did not matter to her since it came from Citizenship and Immigration Services, or CIS.
When Gohmert wondered if Saldena was not bothered by the prospect of so many people receiving fraudulent benefits, she insisted she was concerned about potential fraud.
“If you don’t like fraud, does it bother you that your Homeland Security Department that you work for has actually instigated a fraud among the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas?” asked Gohmert at the hearing.
“Representative Gohmert, with all due respect, I would appreciate you not yelling,” Saldena said.
That exchange may have been the last straw.
“That further accentuated the need to get some answers,” he said, noting that the more suspicious the government’s actions, the less helpful the administration is in responding to those concerns.
“The administration sends directors like the one from CIS over, who at one time had done great things and been noble participants in government,” Gohmert said. “Then all of a sudden they become in a position of leadership in this information and their job seems to be to obfuscate, to hide, to prevent people from finding out what was done illegally or unconstitutionally.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas:
“It is clear that Homeland Security and CIS has been violating the law, the Constitution, and in particular, United States District Judge Andrew Hanen’s order not to be granting amnesty that the president spoke into being,” said Gohmert, noting Obama never actually signed any orders to try and change the law but instead directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to issue a memorandum noting the change.
With the government providing very little help in clarifying how immigration fees are being used and whether the administration is complying with the law, Gohmert sent an investigator to CIS offices in Arlington, Virginia.
“They have massive Grade A space. I’m shocked that they would feel the need to lease or purchase or create this Grade A business space for something that could virtually be done in a warehouse,” he said. “How did they get this space? Who paid for it? How much did they pay for it? Who is being hired?”
The investigator was sternly rebuffed when asking for more details on CIS operations.
“We couldn’t get any of that information,” he said. “They were stonewalling on everything, everybody saying, ‘You’ll have to talk to this person or that person.’ Nobody was willing to get answers, nobody was willing to let a representative sent by a congressman in to review the facilities they’ve hired.”
Gohmert said the good news is that Congress does not need to pass anything to force the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, to conduct a formal audit.
“They are supposed to do audits where they see that they’re necessary,” he said. “Congress can direct them to specifically do audits, but we hope by bringing this to GAO’s attention, they will say, ‘This is true. This is not money that’s appropriated. They say they only need $600 million on hand for a rainy day fund, and yet they have $1.2 billion. So we we better take a look at this.’”
Congress has demanded answers in other investigations into this administration only to find that key data no longer exists or numbers have been fudged. Gohmert said he’s not overly worried about that happening in this fight.
“It may be that we’ll run into the same problem that we had with the IRS or with the State Department,” he said. “Gee, all of a sudden everything that would show what they’ve been doing gets deleted. But if it happens that they’ve deleted spending records, then they will have run into some criminal violations and be looking at prison.”
In the meantime, the investigation continues into whether the Obama administration is abiding by Judge Hanen’s order and suspending deferrals of deportation until the issue is settled in court or whether the government is directly violating court orders. Gohmert said the evidence following Hanen’s first ruling strongly suggests the latter.
“They finally had to come in, I believe it was March 3, and admit, ‘Gee, since November 20, even though we told you we would not violate your order and would not be granting these, there have been 108,081 that have been granted,” Gohmert said.
He said the administration has an explanation for that, but its veracity is very much in question:
“They said those were just renewals from the prior amnesty program, but there’s some question about that at this point.”