By Joe Guzzardi
April 5, 2012
Slow news days like weekends or holidays are the best time for the federal government to sneak in an announcement that would otherwise outrage the public. With immigration occupying the front and center stage, a pro-illegal alien policy decision that would rile up enforcement-minded citizens is best done in the cloak of darkness.
In its non-stop effort to eviscerate immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security operating with President Obama’s blessing posted an item in the little read Federal Register stating that certain aliens would soon be granted “unlawful presence waivers.” Simply put, illegal aliens who can prove they have a U.S. citizen relative will get a waiver that allows them to remain in the country until their legal residency application is processed.
Previously, such individuals had to leave and then apply from their native country. The explanation offered for the radical policy departure is an age-old favorite: breaking up families is a hardship. Advocates often toss around references to “families” and “children” to defend blatant immigration violations.
DHS bureaucrats quickly but unpersuasively noted that the waivers don’t automatically mean that adjudication will be successful. The administration also argues, without offering evidence, that relaxing the existing rules “creates efficiencies for both the U.S. government and most applicants.” However, insisting that legal residency applications be submitted from abroad helps reduce fraud and illegal employment. Best of all, if the application is denied, the party is already outside of the U.S. and no extra taxpayer money has to be spent to remove him.
The family waiver is the latest politically motivated maneuver to circumvent immigration laws. More than a year ago, DHS introduced prosecutorial discretion, also referred to as backdoor amnesty, wherein any alien in deportation proceedings that isn’t a convicted felon and who can offer a half-baked excuse to stay is allowed to. In DHS’s eyes, good reasons include being too young, too old or too sick. Most non-criminal healthy aliens have been allowed stay too. Coincidentally, DHS also announced this week that immigration courts in Detroit, Seattle, New Orleans and Orlando with heavy prosecutorial discretion backlogs have temporarily shut down to enable federal prosecutors to decide behind the scenes which pending cases to arbitrarily decide in the aliens’ favor.
If you’re keeping score on how successful the anti-enforcement Obama administration has been, here’s a partial list of its dubious actions. Government efforts to protect or assist aliens include toll free Department of Labor 800 numbers for illegal immigrants to report what they perceive as unfair wage practices, a White House appointed “official alien advocate” as well as the aforementioned prosecutorial discretion and unlawful presence waivers.
At the same time, the White House has effectively scotched the 287 (g) and Secure Communities programs that would expedite deporting—or at least identifying—dangerous aliens.
To his credit, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith continues to flail at windmills with little help from either side of the aisle. Smith’s Legal Workforce Act that would mandate E-Verify, an online program that identifies legally authorized workers, remains stalled on Capitol Hill. The Federal Register offers a 60-day window for citizens to register their concerns about “unlawful presence waivers.” Assuming that’s an attempt to placate angry Americans about another immigration outrage, it comes up short.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. His columns have been nationally syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]