Obama Administration Rewrites Law to Forgive False Citizenship Claims by Minors

By Jessica M. Vaughan on September 27, 2013

Aliens who have been caught in the serious fraud of falsely claiming to be U.S. citizens are no longer prevented from obtaining immigrant visas or other immigration benefits if they made the false claim before they were 18 years old — despite what the law says — thanks to a new directive from the Department of Homeland Security.

On December 6, 2012, the Department's General Counsel informed the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that consular officers and benefits adjudicators should stop denying applicants under Section 212(a(6)(C)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section says:

(I) IN GENERAL- Any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself or herself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act (including section 274A) or any other Federal or State law is inadmissible.

Pretty clear. The only exception Congress created is for the extremely rare case where the alien's parents are or were U.S. citizens and the alien lived in the United States before the age of 16.

Congress, in its sole authority to write immigration laws, has deemed it fit to provide exceptions for juveniles in other parts of immigration law, notably other criminal offenses, but not this one. Aliens who are caught knowingly lying about being a citizen for any reason, whether to avoid being discovered as an illegal alien or to obtain some benefit, such as a driver's license or in-state tuition, may not receive a green card or immigrant visa, period. Until now.

This new (illegal) directive came to light after Senate Majority Leader and amnesty-enthusiast Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote to the State Department on August 1, 2013, complaining about a case in which a consular officer followed the law and denied an immigrant visa to an applicant who apparently had made a false claim to citizenship as a juvenile. It seems that State Department headquarters hadn't quite gotten around to updating its guidance to the field, and a rogue officer who looked to the real law for guidance went off the reservation by denying the applicant, who must have good contacts in Nevada. I suppose that some consular officers' careers are now severely damaged, but the applicant who got caught lying gets the immigrant visa.

The American Immigration Lawyer's Association recently posted the documents on their web site to spread the word.

This and other examples help explain why many are so skeptical of the President's stated commitment to enforcing immigration laws. Reps. John Carter and Sam Johnson of Texas recently abandoned efforts to write a bipartisan reform bill on these grounds:

Instead of doing what's right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress – the body most representative of the people – in order to advance his political agenda. . . . If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president's enforcement will not be faithfully executed. It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system. The bottom line is – the American people do not trust the President to enforce laws, and we don't either.