The Obama administration has been instructed to put the brakes on its executive amnesty programs, but the building leased to house the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees who would have carried out that workload will not be sitting vacant.
USCIS has confirmed to Breitbart News that the Arlington, Virginia facility — located in the Crystal City neighborhood — initially leased to process applications for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program — will now be used as a fifth agency service center.
It will be called the Potomac Service Center (PSC).
“The Potomac Service Center (PSC) will process applications and petitions to help balance workloads and add capacity. The agency’s existing service centers in Texas, Nebraska, California, and Vermont are operating at maximum capacity,” A USCIS spokesperson said in a statement to Breitbart News.
USCIS anticipates that PSC will begin processing “workloads” by August and is already hiring for the new PSC location.
“USCIS is now proceeding with hiring to staff the Potomac Service Center who will adjudicate caseloads that are not subject to the injunction there,” the spokesman added. “Shifting some open positions from the four other service centers to a fifth site will allow the agency to maintain the existing centers at a more manageable size while devoting adequate resources toward meeting processing timeframes.”
According to USCIS, the idea of adding a fifth service center has been under consideration for “the past few years”. The agency had expected all along that the Crystal City facility, in addition to processing executive amnesty, would also help to process some of the workload from the already strained service centers.
“After the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division issued a preliminary injunction on February 16 prohibiting USCIS from taking any further actions to support implementation of DAPA, USCIS again reviewed its workload, staffing and facility needs and arrived at the same conclusion — the agency needs another service center to process applications, petitions and other requests that are not affected by the injunction. To be clear, no activities at this service center or any other USCIS facilities are currently underway that are covered by the injunction,” the spokesman noted.
As the Washington Post reported Sunday, with the February injunction halting the executive amnesty programs — DAPA and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the Obama administration suspended plans to hire 1,000 new employees who would have been housed in the Crystal City facility and charged with implementing DAPA and another 400 new employees housed at other facilities to process expanded DACA.
While the administration has assured that it is complying with the injunction and not doing any further ground work, critics remain skeptical.
Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News that she is not reassured by administration claims that it has ceased activities that would violate the injunction.
“They are very careful to parse their words and claims to try to deceive the public about what is really going on,” she emailed. “[DHS Sec.] Jeh Johnson, their in-house lawyer, is especially prone to legalistically describing their acts as legal and pious and scrupulous, even when they are flagrantly in violation of the law and working against the best interests of Americans.”
USCIS declined to discuss whether the building would ever be used to handle executive amnesty caseloads due to the injunction.
A congressional aide had another take, anticipating that the facility would end up aiding the 2012 executive amnesty (DACA) that was not affected by the injunction.
“I assume it will be used to help get the DREAMer amnesty – which continues every day – to as many people as possible. Regardless, DACA is still going on full throttle. This is a major issue for the presidential aspirants, since both Rubio and Jeb have said they would leave DACA in place until the DREAM Act was put into law,” the aide reminded.
USCIS notes that like the other four service centers, PSC will not be open to the public.