4.6 Million Waiting for Green Cards Displaced by Dreamers

By Jessica M. Vaughan on June 22, 2012

4.6 million individuals world-wide who have been approved to be sponsored for green cards by U.S. citizens, current green card holders, and U.S. employers through the established legal immigration process will now have to step aside for a while in order for USCIS to process the deferred action applications of people hoping to qualify under the Obama administration's Dream Scheme.

The vast majority of these are relatives of U.S. citizens, many of whom have been waiting for several years for their opportunity to immigrate legally. The State Department keeps track of those on the waiting list.

It is clear that there is no way the roughly one million or more potential Dreamers can be accommodated by USCIS without noticeably slowing down the processing of legal immigrants. The agency already processes about six million benefits applications per year, and these applications take three to six months (or more) to adjudicate — far too long as it is. The president's Dream Scheme would pile another million applications on to an agency that is already deep in the weeds and poorly serving those who have forked over $1,500 or more for processing (not counting the lawyer's fees), but who are not able to enter.

Speaking of the fees, it is still unclear how the administration plans to cover the cost of this amnesty program. USCIS, the agency that will have to process the Dreamers, is funded mainly by fees from those who apply for benefits. Those fees are set precisely to cover the actual cost of the processing. According to the administration's own internal analysis, apparently Congress would have to give permission for a special fee to cover a large number of deferred action applicant cases. I wonder if anyone has told the Dreamers that they might have to pay as much as $1,500 for their status and work permit (job not included!). Or, if the agency cannot or decides not to collect a fee from the Dreamers, that means those applicants who have already paid their fees — the 4.6 million on the waiting list — will be funding the processing of the illegal alien Dreamers. I can't imagine that they would mind giving up their place in line and covering the cost of legalizing the Dreamers. And then what funding will USCIS use to process the previous legal applicants when it is their turn again? It will be interesting to watch how they sort this out. There's sure to be a hangover in this for someone.