More Administrative Amnesty, This Time from USCIS

By Jessica M. Vaughan on November 16, 2011

The Obama Administration has issued yet another "prosecutorial discretion" (read "Let'em go!") memo, this time changing USCIS policy so that certain illegal aliens whose applications for immigration benefits such as green cards, citizenship, or temporary status are denied may nevertheless avoid being forced to leave the country.

Since 2006, it has been the policy that the USCIS officers who adjudicate benefits applications were encouraged to issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) if an individual's application was rejected. The NTA is an order for an alien that the U.S. government official believes is deportable to report to immigration court, and is the first step in the removal process. This was an important policy, as it ensured that those aliens who for a variety of reasons – fraud, criminal history, poverty, communicable diseases, connection to terrorism, past immigration violations, involvement in genocide, etc. – were rejected for legal status were put on the path to removal rather than allowed to remain here.

Whoa, said the Obama administration, that needs to be reined in. According to the memo, now "USCIS must ensure that its issuance of NTAs fits within and supports the Government's overall removal priorities...." Henceforth, only those unqualified applicants who are a national security concern, who have committed marriage fraud or some other offense flagrant enough as to result in termination of status, who are "egregious" public safety cases, or who have a criminal history sufficiently serious to fit into ICE priorities (a rather high threshold these days) will be directed to appear immigration court to explain why they deserve to stay here.

Now, those who are merely illegal aliens or unqualified applicants and who unsuccessfully attempt to launder their status by applying for a benefit can get a free pass. This will include, for example, people who try to apply for a student or work visa but are not qualified, green card applicants who fail to show they can support themselves financially, people who submit frivolous applications to buy time here (often through fake job offers), applicants who have committed what DHS considers to be minor crimes, people who lack the family relationships that the law requires.

Speaking of qualifying family relationships, or lack thereof, in August USCIS and the State Department issued another little-noticed policy change to enable aliens who "regularly reside in the same dwelling as the principal non-immigrant and with whom the principal non-immigrant maintains the type of relationship and care as one normally would expect between nuclear family members" will be entitled to a temporary visa for as long as their partner, friend, great-grand-niece-thrice-removed, or whoever is here. What is not mentioned is how in the world consular officers and adjudicators are supposed to determine the authenticity of these relationships, and woe to the officer who asks too many questions.

Never mind the law, the Obama administration appointees will decide who gets to be in America.