If you think that creativity is a good thing, you have to admire the Obama administration for the innumerable ways it manages to dream up new classes of agency-defined, specialized quasi-amnesties for subsets of illegal aliens, all without any help from Congress.
We have written about how illegal aliens can secure legal status if they claim that they have been abused by a now-dead Cuban entrant they once lived with, and how similar benefits are available for alien step-parents who have been abused by their citizen step-children. And then there is the administration's proposal to grant legal status to supposedly useful but not-very-skillful alien entrepreneurs who have lived in the United States for years, and who still cannot figure out how the immigration law works.
The New York Times reminded us on Saturday of the growing number of people in yet another of these artfully contrived statuses. It reports that the government this year placed about 24,000 aliens (mostly illegals) in the semi-demi status of "administrative closure".
This was one of those typical Times reports on illegal immigration, devoted largely to hearts-and-flowers descriptions of the aliens, barely outlining the immigration specifics and never touching on the impact of these flows on the rest of the population. For example: The heroine of the story, Bianca, and her once-deported husband both apparently entered the nation illegally twice, but that is not made explicit. They are from Honduras.
As best I can tell from the fuzzy reporting, the class that is getting this benefit consists of asylum applicants whose applications are unconvincing but who have not committed any criminal acts known to the government, or who have committed none. The government has given these aliens (again mostly illegals, but this is barely mentioned) the option of withdrawing their applications with the assurance that they will not be deported. Why this offer is made in some cases but not others remains a mystery.
These agreements are doubly useful to the administration as they allow it to not deport clearly deportable aliens (which is its clear preference), while at the same time removing cases from the dockets of the overworked immigration judges. It uses a form of "prosecutorial discretion" to reach these goals.
As the Times does not tell us, equally illegal aliens who have not applied for asylum apparently do not get these offers.
The article tells us that the "administrative closure" status does not put the aliens on the road to a green card and bars them from returning to the country legally once they have left it.
Can they work here legally? The Times punts: "Some qualify for work permits depending on the details of their cases", which probably means that the vast majority do qualify. There is an equally irritating passing reference to one such family receiving food stamps; this, as the article does not state, presumably relates to U.S.-born children and not to the parents in this new status.
The article focuses not on the fact that the aliens involved have been given a remarkable benefit — non-deportation despite their clear lack of legal status — but on the decision-making process by which some of the aliens think about turning down the offer in the hopes of securing an even better benefit package, which would come with asylee status.
My colleague Jerry Kammer, has written frequently about how this newspaper handles these issues.