A group of 73 organizations has sent DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano a list of their demands -- I mean recommendations -- on how the Obama administration's new DREAM Amnesty should be implemented. Here's what they want:
1. Confidentiality for anyone applying, and for their family members, and for anyone who might accompany them to appointments at immigration offices. The groups ask DHS to see to it that no evidence submitted by DREAMers, or any other information gathered in the application process, can be used to pursue removal or otherwise prosecute any of these "de facto Americans", as some call them. This is problematic for several reasons. First, as was the case with the 1986 amnesty, such a provision will impede many criminal investigations, as USCIS will be unable to share information with other law enforcement agencies on criminal suspects who apply for the amnesty. This would include names, aliases, addresses, relatives, employment, entry date, fingerprints, etc. Presumably this would mean that, for example, a wanted fugitive could feel safe in giving fingerprints to USCIS, knowing that they would not be shared with any law enforcement agency. The advocates don't suggest that there be an exception to the confidentiality guarantees in the case of application fraud, as was provided in the 1986 amnesty.
Such confidentiality could be a significant impediment to transparency. It would make it very difficult for any outside observers to study how the program is implemented and what the results are. This administration should be reminded that there is no statutory basis for shielding the identity of deferred action applicants, as the Privacy Act applies only to citizens and lawful permanent residents.
2. The government should adopt a very liberal definition of the disqualifying "significant misdemeanors". For example, the memo suggests that underage drunk driving should not be a bar to eligibility, nor should any juvenile delinquency adjudication. Criminal convictions from long ago should not necessarily disqualify an applicant.
3. No interviews. The advocates see no need for any USCIS officers to actually lay eyes on or speak to any applicants; for example, to make sure that the applicants can answer any questions about themselves or the application. This would be too "elaborate" and "time consuming and inefficient". After all, they are "de facto Americans", right?
4. Deny no one without supervisory review.
5. Give people a second bite at the amnesty apple. The group asks that illegal aliens have the opportunity to fall back on deferred action to gain legal status even if they choose to seek other forms of relief in immigration court and are refused. Similarly, if they were previously offered voluntary departure (and presumably declined to actually depart) they should be allowed to apply for deferred action. This is a real stretch. Why should USCIS adjudicators be able to override the ruling of an immigration judge who has found no merit in an illegal alien's request to stay?
6. Expand deferred action and prosecutorial discretion to cover "other individuals" besides illegal alien youths. We knew this was coming, didn't we? Specifically, the advocates think that parents and family members of this class of deferred action beneficiaries should also be considered for amnesty.
It is becoming clear that the administration is unlikely to impose even the most basic measures to ensure that this amnesty will be restricted to meritorious cases. Last week, Napolitano admitted to the House Judiciary Committee that her agency has no idea how many people might qualify, that they do not intend to require a school transcript or other evidence that the illegal alien has graduated or is in school, and that some people may be able to obtain the legalization without paying a fee.
Napolitano also claimed that the deferred action amnesty was necessary because the DREAMers were clogging up the immigration court dockets. She offered no statistics to back up that claim, however, and others at ICE say that there are almost certainly no cases of qualified DREAMers in custody any more, and haven't been for a long time. However, despite the administration's best efforts to dismiss deportation cases, the backlog continues to grow.