What If They Had an Amnesty and No One Came?

By David North on May 4, 2014

You have to feel sorry for USCIS and the Obama administration.

They are, yet again, in a situation in which they are offering legal status to some illegal aliens, and the response is apparently well below expectations — probably because of the near-total lack of interior enforcement of immigration law. Why pay fees and fill out papers when there is no real danger of deportation?

A few well-publicized ICE roundups of illegals in some big cities on the East Coast and the problem would be solved — but not to the administration's liking.

On May 2, in a particularly incomplete press release, USCIS announced that it was extending the re-registration period for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians until July 22, 2014. The deadline had been May 2.

The offer applies to Haitians who already have TPS, but who want to extend it — a rolling amnesty, if you will — to January 22, 2016. This was an offer to Haitian nationals who would otherwise be in illegal status were it not for their previous registrations, but it was not open to newly arrived illegals. One can work legally with TPS status.

The press release was flagrantly incomplete for at least three reasons:

  1. It did not link the low level of response to the earlier offer to the reason for the minimal turnout — the lack of interior immigration law enforcement. (Perhaps that would be expecting too much.)

  2. It encouraged eligibles to renew their eligibility — it expires after 18 months — and to pay the needed fees, but does not disclose them. They are $85 for biometrics and $380 for an Employment Authorization Document, for a total of $465. It is only $85 for those not wanting to work, and there are provisions for fee waivers.

  3. It stated that 51,000 were expected to apply, but it did not mention the number who had applied before the earlier May 2 deadline, nor did it report the fact that the administration had calculated the size of this population at about 120,000 in the past.

I spent enough time in my life writing government press releases to know that these were not oversights of a busy pressie; the agency leadership simply did not want any of these variables mentioned.

This is not the first time that this agency, unhappy with the re-registration turn-out of Haitians for TPS, has expanded the sign-up period. In December 2012, according to an earlier blog of ours, Hurricane Sandy gave the government an excuse for such an expansion.

There is, of course, some reason for a slight shrinkage of TPS populations over time; some of the aliens involved die, a handful go to other countries or return to Haiti, and some secure other legal status, primarily through marriage. There cannot be very much of this, however, and those factors are well known to USCIS.

While I am not speculating about the agency's motivations, it is appropriate to note that USCIS is more than 90 percent funded by fees, and 51,000 persons paying $465 fees each would produce a total of $23,715,000.