Senators probe plan to process DACA applications with legal immigration forms

US Department of StateFrom Press Release


Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson are requesting an explanation for plans to process applications for deferred deportation in an electronic system that has been riddled with challenges and ballooning costs. The plan, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, would also flood a system designed to prioritize legal immigrants with applicants who violated immigration laws.

“This electronic system has been rife with flaws and weaknesses from day one. Its cost has grown from about a half million to nearly $2.5 billion, and it still fails to sufficiently detect fraud.  Given these realities, I can’t imagine why we’d want to flood an already struggling system with a whole new category of applications from people who have ignored our immigration laws. It’s unfair to the folks who have paid for rapid service or waited in line in the legal immigration process,” Grassley said.

“It is extremely concerning that this administration continues to prioritize illegal immigrants over legal immigrants.  It is certainly up for debate how so-called ‘dreamers’ should be handled under our immigration laws, but it cannot be debated that a program paid for by fees imposed on businesses and legal immigrant applications should prioritize the processing of those business and legal immigrant applications,” Johnson said.

Citizenship and Immigration Services officials recently confirmed that the agency plans to load applications for deferred deportation under President Obama’s executive order into the Electronic Immigration System, which is currently used to process renewals for green cards and other forms for legal permanent residents. The system has struggled to function properly since it was launched in 2013 and has repeatedly failed to adequately identify fraud and national security risks.

The agency’s current technology infrastructure is not equipped to handle virtual processing of application packages despite billions spent on implementation, and the agency’s director said it may not be fully operational until 2018.

In a letter to the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the senators and five colleagues expressed concern that the plan would increase risks of fraud and national security threats.  It would also jeopardize the government’s ability to efficiently meet the needs of legal immigrants and those who pay a premium for expedited services.

The letter is also signed by U.S. Sens. Orin Hatch, Mike Lee, David Perdue, James Lankford and John McCain. A signed copy of the letter is available HERE.