The Obama administration has created a new immigration path to the U.S. without Congressional approval, Sen. Jeff Sessions says. The Alabama Republican chaired a hearing looking into the Obama administration’s new program to fly Central Americans as refugees and asylees to the U.S.
USCIS Associate Director For Refugee, Asylum And International Operations Joseph Langlois confirmed that illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty would be eligible to apply to have their relatives flown to the U.S. from El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala under the administration’s Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program.
“They would qualify to apply for their child and spouse. However the child and spouse would still need to meet the eligibility criteria for refugees,” Langlois testified before the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
Sessions, the subcommittee’s chairman, pointed out that the Obama administration is moving forward with the program without Congresses approval.
“I just want to say, Congress rejected this. So the President is executing it on his own,” Sessions said.
“It’s a new program and in fact, in effect establishes a new system of immigration to the United States,” he added.
Sessions further took issue with a new USCIS guidance on refugees, arguing that the criteria appear to have been liberalized and highlighted that the number of refugees from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have in the past not been low.
State Department official Simon Henshaw testified that, to date, they have received 565 applications: 439 from El Salvador, 114 Honduras, 12 Guatemala and that they are currently being proceed.
The administration announced the CAM program last year in response to the surge in illegal immigration by unaccompanied minors from Central America at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program provides certain qualified minors in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States,” a description on U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website explains.