GOP Sens. Press USCIS On Plan To Process Amnesty Applications Through Legal Immigration System

Maryland DACA AP
Associated Press

Republican senators are expressing concern over the Obama administration’s plan to process applications for executive amnesty — specifically deferred action — with an expensive but fraud-vulnerable electronic system that is intended for legal immigrants.

“This electronic system has been rife with flaws and weaknesses from day one. Its cost has grown from about a half million to nearly $2.5 billion, and it still fails to sufficiently detect fraud,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Tuesday. “Given these realities, I can’t imagine why we’d want to flood an already struggling system with a whole new category of applications from people who have ignored our immigration laws.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials revealed the plan to process amnesty applications with the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) — a system currently devoted to services for lawful immigrants — to staffers last month.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) further took issue with the idea that DACA applicants are receiving more focus than legal immigrants.

“It is extremely concerning that this administration continues to prioritize illegal immigrants over legal immigrants.  It is certainly up for debate how so-called ‘dreamers’ should be handled under our immigration laws, but it cannot be debated that a program paid for by fees imposed on businesses and legal immigrant applications should prioritize the processing of those business and legal immigrant applications,” Johnson said.

Grassley and Johnson led a letter U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez Monday demanding more information about the system and highlighting the security and fraud risks.

“According to USCIS officials present at the April 9th meeting, the decision to move [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] or [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents] applications into the ELIS platform was based on three elements: (1) potential surges; (2) simplicity; and (3) large volumes. These three elements are not enough to base a decision that will have long lasting effects on our immigration landscape,” the senators wrote.

“This decision is not only a potential burden to taxpayers and disservice to those that pay the premium processing fees, but may very well increase fraudulent activity,” they added.

In the missive, also signed by Sens. Orin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), David Perdue (R-GA), James Lankford (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ), goes on to press USCIS for more information about the cost and security of the system as well as the reasoning behind the plan and recent injunction on the executive amnesty program. They call for answers by May 25.