While the executive amnesty snafu that violated a federal judge’s injunction was unintentional the totality of the matter is unclear due to unreliable data, the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog has concluded.
A DHS Inspector General audit released Thursday did not find any evidence that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services deliberately violated U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s executive amnesty injunction when it continued to issue prohibited three-year work permits to illegal immigrants granted deferred action, as opposed to the acceptable two-year permits.
While the violation was not purposeful, and USCIS has said that it issued and subsequently recouped or rectified the vast majority of erroneously issued three-year permits, the IG revealed that it could not confirm the total number of post-injunction permits.
“USCIS could not provide reliable data on the actual number of [Employment Authorization Documents] held in [National Production System] that were subsequently produced and mailed. USCIS also continues to discover EADs that were produced or issued after the injunction but not included in the 2,128 originally identified. Therefore, we cannot validate the number of 3-year EADs produced or issued after February 16, 2015,” the report reads.
As to how the mistake occurred in the first place, the IG report pointed to a combination of issues and miscommunications.
“USCIS Service Center Operation Directorate (SCOPS) management was not specific in its direction to USCIS Office of Information Technology (IT) staff. In addition, SCOPS management was mistaken in its assumptions about what IT staff was able to do or had done in halting production of 3-year EADs,” IG John Roth summed up in a letter this week to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson.
“Finally, within IT, we conclude there was a lack of understanding about the consequences of actions taken related to release of the EADs that had been held from production,” Roth added.
Hanen — the judge presiding over 26 states’ legal challenge of executive amnesty — halted Obama’s executive amnesty programs in February. Administration officials are slated to appear in his court to answer for the illegally issued permits later this month.
USCIS has said that as of July 29 it had recovered or terminated most of the outstanding three-year permits although in the process of recouping the permits it discovered additional, three-year permits.