The Department of Homeland Security announced that Temporary Protected Status will terminate in 18 months for 200,000 El Salvador nationals who sought refuge in the U.S. when their homeland was struck by an earthquake. The event that triggered TPS-sanctioned migration occurred 17 years ago and, DHS said, it is time for the temporary program to end. Many of the Salvadorans were already living illegally in the U.S. and used TPS to acquire work permits and to qualify for various welfare programs. The DHS announcement was decried by the AFL-CIO because it “cruelly strips away work authorization” from Salvadorans (many of whom are now dues-paying union members). Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform called it “long overdue and welcome, sending the strongest signal yet that rampant abuse of the TPS program will no longer be accepted.” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said it would “disrupt the lives of TPS recipients and their families, and devastate the local economies they have contributed to for years.”
Large cocaine bust in Philadelphia
Customs inspectors at the Area Port of Philadelphia broke open compartments in several pieces of furniture and seized 709 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $22 million. The narcotic was concealed in a shipment of kitchen and bedroom cabinets that originated in Puerto Rico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. The cocaine-loaded cabinets were found while examining shipping containers at a seaport in Pennsauken, N.J.
Bank fraudster draws three-year sentence
Ronald Van Den Heuvel, 62, of De Pere, Wis., was given a three-year prison sentence for defrauding a Green Bay bank out of $1.25 million by posing as a successful businessman and philanthropist. The bank cut off Van Den Heuvel’s credit after making a $250,000 loan, but he kept borrowing money by taking loans in the names of straw borrowers, the Department of Justice said. In another case, Van Den Heuvel was indicted for fraudulently borrowing more than $9 million to start a business, but he used the money to buy Green Bay Packers tickets and make court-ordered support payments to his ex-wife.
Lawsuit finally ends with payments for former guards
Sixteen female guards who formerly worked at two Arizona prison facilities will be sharing $550,000—about $34,375 apiece—under a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit they brought seven years ago against the GEO Corp., a nationwide operator of state prisons, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said. The women prison guards claimed they were subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation from superior male officers. According to the EEOC, GEO responded to the women’s complaints by disciplining them, forcing them to quit, or placing them in unsafe conditions. GEO, formerly the Wackenhut Corp., manages 140 prisons in states throughout the country.
Data breach leads to FTC civil penalty
VTech Electronics Ltd., of Hong Kong, will pay a $650,000 civil penalty to settle violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act stemming from a mid-2015 breach of unprotected customer data, the Federal Trade Commission said. According to news media reports, computer hackers with rudimentary skills invaded VTech’s data and stole the identities of 4.8 million parents and their 6.4 million children.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Monday, January 8