Case Study: Remembrance of Amnesties Past

By David North on August 23, 2011

It is useful – say, once every six months or so – to be reminded that amnesties of illegal aliens last a long, long time.

Today's case stars one Mohammed Uddin, a Pakistani citizen, who snuck across the border back in 1984, and who last month won an interim decision in the Third Circuit that will keep him from being deported for a while, at least until his next court case is settled.

He has been in the States for more than a quarter of a century, and every so often DHS made an effort to get him removed, but, so far, he has not actually been deported.

During the 1986 amnesty, set in motion by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Uddin who never did any U.S. farm work in his life, lied about that and filed an application under the Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) provisions of IRCA. I happened to do a two-year-long study of the IRCA amnesty programs for the Ford Foundation at the time, and learned that virtually everyone connected with the program said that fraud was widespread in the SAW part of the operation.

Uddin got three successive short-term employment authorization documents (EADs) as a result of his fraudulent SAW application, and thus secured legal status in the work force for two and a half years. He was, however, a member of that unlucky minority of fraudulent SAW applicants whose applications were actually denied, in his case on April 19, 1990 – that's more than 21 years ago.

During those 21 years there was both some stability in Uddin's life and some turmoil.

He held the same job as a manager with Jembro Stores, Inc., an East Coast chain of variety outlets, the only job he has had in the States, according to the decision; he married another illegal alien; and they had four US citizen children, some of whom may now be old enough to vote.

On the other hand, he was in and out of INS custody and in and out of the courts, consistently finding new ways to postpone or thwart removal. For the details of these maneuvers you can consult the case summary on p. 1874 of the August 8 edition of Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper (which is not online) or the text of the Third Circuit's decision, which is available to PACER subscribers.

The case bears the somewhat dated title of: Mohammed Uddin v. Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration, No. 10-1801.

My sense is that a year or two from now Uddin will finally overcome DHS and will be adjusted to the legal alien status he is seeking. His argument, which the Third Circuit ordered to be heard at the District Court level, is that USCIS has inappropriately denied him the adjustment on the grounds that they used confidential information from his (totally fraudulent) SAW application in deciding the more recent adjustment application.

Unfortunately, one of the sops to the farm lobby (and the Hispanic organizations) back when IRCA was being written was a provision that the fact of fraud in a SAW application could only be used in the adjudication of that application, and in no other manner.

There are two bottom lines to this story:

1) The farm lobby and the Hispanic groups make up a powerful lobbying duo, and they can be counted on to insert similar loose language in any amnesty proposal they get their hands on.

2) The three gentlemen who wrote that language (around a kitchen table on Capitol Hill) so many years ago are all still powerful politicians, all still in office. They were then all relatively young Democratic members of the House of Representatives; they are now Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and senior House member Howard L. Berman (D-CA), formerly chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

At the time it was said that Berman represented the interests of the farm workers, Panetta the farm owners, and Schumer, who was a friend to both, wanted to play honest broker and create legislative language on farm labor that would help ease the path of IRCA. He succeeded.

Sen. Schumer is now the chair of the Senate's immigration subcommittee.