Amnesty by Hook or By Crook

Published on December 6th, 2013

A recent CAPS homepage story underlines the White House’s ongoing commitment to administrative amnesty.

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security initiated what it called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that removed many young illegal immigrants from possible deportation. DHS argued since most had arrived as young children and without either their knowledge or consent, it was unfair to deny them work authorization.

Then, earlier this year, DHS also excused illegal immigrant parents and guardians of American citizen children, as well as the alien families of military personnel.

The administration applied the new military policy to all active-duty members of the armed forces, to reservists including the National Guard, and to all veterans. Their spouses, children and parents will be eligible for “parole in place,” a term that means they will be authorized to remain in the United States; most can apply for legal residency.

The latest immigration largess goes to those who entered on the visa waiver system but have overstayed their 90-day period of admission. According to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Nov. 14 policy memorandum, some visitors who arrived from the 37 countries in the visa waiver program and who have immediate U.S. citizen relatives may be allowed to stay permanently. [“Obama Administration Quietly Authorizes Immigration Policy Change for Visa Waiver Program,” by Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press, November 27, 2013]

As with the previous administrative amnesties outlined above, USCIS has taken enormous liberties with the original provisions of the law. While the visa waiver program does allow for a spouse, adult child or parent to petition on behalf of the visitor, that request must be filed during the three-month period of lawful presence and assumes that no fraud has been committed during the application process. Once the designated period for the business or pleasure visit has expired, the then-illegal aliens cannot adjust their status.

The USCIS memo governing the changes in the visa waiver program mentions DHS “discretion” and USCIS’s use of such “discretion” on behalf of DHS. But immigration analysts insist that federal government agencies have no such “discretion” – just as they did not when they adjusted the status for DACA and parental and military programs that deferred participants from deportation.

A frightening inverse relationship has unfolded. The further away a congressionally approved comprehensive immigration reform bill gets from becoming reality, the more piecemeal programs the administration puts in place that achieve the same goal – amnesty.

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