Nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, are calling for an audit of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for adjudicating immigration applications and carrying out much of President Obama’s executive amnesty.
In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, 22 Republicans House members expressed concern about USCIS’s annual, largely fee-based budget and the potential for misuse of those funds.
According to the agency’s FY 2016 budget request, 96.8 percent of the agency’s $4 billion annual budget comes from immigration applicant fees.
“While Congress determines the categories of aliens that are to be admitted to the United States, it does not always set the fees USCIS charges or constructively control how USCIS allocates its resources. This fee-generated portion of its annual budget, translating to $3.874 billion in FY16, appears to be completely fungible,” the 22 wrote in their Wednesday letter to GAO.
They note that, given the lack of control, it is possible for the fees to be used for unauthorized purposes.
“This arrangement created the potential for USCIS to, in effect, create slush funds and skim off congressionally authorized fees imposed on legal immigrants and their sponsors in order to fund programs that may not be specifically authorized by Congress,” they write.
The letter goes on to reference testimony from USCIS’ CFO Joseph Moore dealing with a rolling reserve balance of $600 million that is used to cover unexpected surge activity. Notably he said this reserve would help USCIS cover the early expenses of executive amnesty until those fees are able to cover the costs.
The 22 lawmakers write that it is unclear how Congress can be sure the funds are used for their appropriate purposes. They further point to recent actions by the administration in its preparations for executive amnesty as cause for concern.
“The above-information raises very serious concerns about the legal and fiscal details related to the implementation of the Secretary Johnson’s November 2014 memoranda and whether or not this agency has violated the Misappropriation Act of potentially breached the Anti-Deficiency Act throughout the course of its dealings,” they write.
They call on the GAO to look into the agency, including 15 detailed matters largely dealing with USCIS’ finances and executive amnesty.
“It is critically important that we have a complete investigation into this government entity for potential waste, fraud and any type of corruption fueled by a political agenda,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) one of the letter’s signers said in a statement. “The American people deserve to be protected, not spied on, lied to and forced to pay for DHS ignoring the law and Constitution.”