The agency in charge of enforcing immigration law is set to honor an activist whose life’s work has been aimed at tearing some of those laws down.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday will confer its Outstanding American by Choice initiative to Antonia Hernández, president and CEO of the California Community Foundation. According to the department, she “leads the foundation in its mission to lead positive systematic change that strengthens Los Angeles communities.”
“It’s a real slap in the face to people who feel immigration law should be enforced and also a complete abandonment of DHS’ mission.”
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The nonprofit organization ranks in the top 100 foundations in the country by size and giving, with an endowment exceeding $1 billion. One of its focuses is “immigrant integration,” according to its website. The group has worked with the Open Society Foundations, the organization of billionaire liberal activist George Soros, to fund a number of left-wing organizations.
A sampling of the California Community Foundation’s news releases over the years indicates that much of that work has concentrated on preventing illegal immigrants from getting deported. The group blasted this year’s divided Supreme Court vote that left in place a temporary nationwide ban on President Obama’s executive action shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation and granting work authorization to qualifying illegal immigrants.
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It also took a leading role in sheltering 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America who flooded the border in 2014. The Obama administration chose to place the children in communities throughout the country to wait out a decision on their asylum applications. Advocates for stricter enforcement have said determinations should be made quickly, with those who do not qualify getting sent back home.
The Department of Homeland Security has given its Outstanding American by Choice award since at least 2006 to recognize the outstanding achievements of naturalized citizens. The decision to honor Hernández met with immediate ridicule from critics.
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“It’s a real slap in the face to people who feel immigration law should be enforced and also a complete abandonment of DHS’ mission,” said Joseph Guzzardi, a spokesman for Californians for Population Stabilization. “DHS has the nerve to give out an award to an open-borders advocate? Really disgraceful.”
But Guzzardi said he is not surprised.
“To honor somebody who advocates for illegal immigrants and more illegal immigration is consistent with the corrupt and near-criminal Department of Homeland Security,” he said. “They have done nothing, or very little, to carry out their mission.”
William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said the award indicates that the Department of Homeland Security is not fulfilling its core mandate.
“This exemplifies why we have called for the Department of Homeland Security to be abolished. It’s full of politicians,” he said. “It’s not as focused on stopping terrorism as it is on bringing in more immigrants.”
Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism for the Washington-based NumbersUSA, said federal immigration authorities would be better served by recognizing people who support the law as written.
“It’s unfortunate that the Department of Homeland Security is giving an award to someone who helps them undermine existing immigration law,” he said.
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