Senate Republicans are pressing the Obama administration on its newly revealed plans to use a facility initially leased to house employees who would process executive amnesty — currently blocked by a court injunction — as a general immigration service center without consulting Congress.
As Breitbart News reported Thursday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has confirmed that it will be using the building leased in Arlington, Virginia’s Crystal City neighborhood to process executive amnesty workloads to instead process other immigration benefits not held up in the courts.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan and General Services Administration Acting Administrator Denise Turner Roth, Republican Members of the the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees, express concern about the unilateral decision and warn it could violate the ongoing injunction blocking executive amnesty.
“It appears USCIS intends to circumvent Congress yet again, this time by not consulting with Congress or the public regarding the designation of a new Service Center. Following the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) established four Service Centers in California, Texas, Nebraska and Vermont to process benefits applications arising from that legislation. The Service Centers were established as a direct result of Congress passing a legalization program and expanding benefits to a certain defined class.”
According to the Senators, not only does the establishment of a new Service Center raise questions not just of congressional authority and use of government resources but, they warn, also could be a violation of the court injunction on the executive amnesty programs — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“USCIS’ decision to unilaterally establish and open another Service Center – without prior congressional consultation and despite the passage of any law that expands authority to grant benefits to foreign nationals – calls into question the need for such a center, whether taxpayers and legal immigrants will be unjustly harmed, and whether such a center is being established, in potential violation of the injunction issued by the District Court in Texas, to put hundreds of adjudicatory personnel in place in order to immediately implement the DAPA program were the injunction to be lifted,” the senators write.
They further note that USCIS has not given them a real explanation about why the new Service Center is needed and press the administration for answers on a series of questions — including why it plans to hire 750 new staffers for the facility.
“USCIS informed the Committee that it will hire 750 staff to work at the Crystal City facility. If the injunction on implementation of DAPA is lifted, would any of the staff at the new Service Center be re-directed to work on DAPA adjudications?” the senators asked. “If so, it would appear that the hiring of the 750 staff – nominally to work on regular service center adjudications, but in reality hired to be in place to implement DAPA immediately upon any lifting of the injunction – would constitute a potential violation of the injunction prohibiting any preparatory work on DAPA implementation.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) signed the letter.