Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obama’s Administrative Amnesty Does Nothing To Fix The Problem

Don Crocetti, a very highly respected former colleague of mine at legacy INS, who subsequently worked for USCIS until he retired from Government service, recently asked me to share some of the thoughts and insights that he, and other former colleagues who make up the Immigration Integrity Group, have regarding the recent executive order which, in effect, grants administrative amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country.

These insights appear in the article below. While I may not agree with all of the opinions set forth in this article, I find them to be very thoughtful and worthy of consideration, and I am hoping they trigger a healthy discussion on the InsideINS blog.

Additional information relating to Don and his group can be found on the IIG website at:


While we welcome your comments and feedback, you should also feel free to provide comments directly to Don via the survey tab on his Immigration Integrity Group (IIG) website.

Ben Ferro
benferro@insideins.com

What Does President Obama’s Executive Action Do To Reform Our Broken Immigration System?

By Don Crocetti

To be blunt, nothing. It doesn't “fix" a thing. It merely satisfies special {or should I say “self-”} interest groups whose interests are clearly not enhancing national security or instilling integrity in our legal immigration system. The President’s actions equate to an endorsement of violating longstanding immigration law and will only perpetuate the discussion about a larger amnesty program. It will drive an increase in the number of illegal entries, overstays, and other violations. It will have a negative impact on those seeking immigration benefits in accordance with existing law and regulation, as the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) eligibility criteria could increase USCIS’ workload by as much as 70%, causing major backlogs.

The ‘wink and nod’ message heard by millions of foreign nationals in and outside the U.S. is that they’re welcome to live and work in the U.S. in violation of immigration law, as long as they don’t pose a threat to national security or commit any egregious acts of violence. And if they abide by this unwritten rule, and perhaps {another wink and nod} have a child and/or marry a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, they may qualify for the next amnesty program or under some other provision. Not quite an encouragement to comply with U.S. law, is it?

No, the President did not discourage illegal entry, overstaying one’s visa, working without authorization, or any other immigration violations. Quite the contrary, his so-called law enforcement actions will actually make it easier to live and work in the U.S. in violation of longstanding law and regulation. I say this because: 
  • It prohibits our primary immigration law enforcement agency (ICE) from enforcing immigration law by limiting their focus on aliens who pose a threat to national security or commit egregious acts of violence.
  •  It proposes to increase the salaries of ICE officers in an effort to minimize their outcry. In other words, he will pay them more to do less and keep their mouths shut. Apparently he doesn't intend to pay USCIS officers for doing much more.
  •  To ensure state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) don’t try to enforce or support the enforcement of immigration law, the President will preclude them from communicating with ICE on other than national security and egregious public safety threats. 
  • To further appease the undocumented population and self-interest groups, the President will circumvent longstanding and existing employment-based laws, regulations, and quotas by expanding the interpretation and application of parole authority to “highly skilled” foreign-born nationals, so that they can work in this country notwithstanding ineligibility under existing law.
If the President was truly interested in controlling our borders, instilling integrity into this country’s legal immigration system, and holding violators accountable, he could just as easily have undertaken executive action that encourages compliance with the law, deters violations, and provides agencies the tools needed to better enforce existing laws and operations. For example: 
  1. Require much more rigorous employer education, audit, and sanctions programs and operations.
  2.  Provide employers incentives to participate in E-Verify {in that a national mandate would likely require legislation}.
  3.  Require state and local LEAs to provide information on foreign nationals arrested and/or charged for criminal acts, and to honor all ICE detainers. Prohibit the granting of federal funds to those who fail to comply.
  4.  Authorize ICE to apply a more expansive use of existing expeditious removal authority to undocumented aliens who are clearly removable, do not possess a credible fear of persecution upon return to their homeland, and do not have any form of statutory relief available.
  5.  Apply a more conservative standard to exceptional and extreme hardship, so as to discourage the granting of waivers to applicants who chose to violate immigration law. At least require violators to depart the U.S. prior to receiving an immigration benefit. Pursue legislation that also requires the payment of a fine.
  6.  Require a more rigorous development and roll-out of the automated entry-exit system and overstay database, so that those who overstayed their visas and/or violated other conditions of admission are not able to re-enter the U.S. Pursue legislation that requires the payment of a fine before being eligible to return and/or receive an immigration benefit. 
  7.  Require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to perform fraud assessments and compliance reviews to more effectively identify fraud patterns and indicators. Also require a percentage of DACA applicants to be interviewed. This is essential to detecting, deterring, preventing, and combating immigration benefit fraud, and is entirely within the discretion of the Executive Branch. Unfortunately, it may need to be legislated to ensure these actions are undertaken.
  8.  Direct the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) to work in partnership with DHS/USCIS and State DOLs on the development of a database that tracks actual labor/occupational shortages in real time by geographical areas. Incorporate a capability that enables employers to post job vacancies and lawfully authorized workers and foreign nationals pursuing employment-based visas to seek employment. Get away from the current antiquated, subjective, and special interest-driven labor process. This is also entirely within the discretion of the Executive Branch.
  9.  Direct the Social Security Administration to partner with DHS on the development of a strategy and multi-year plan aimed at transitioning to a biometrics-based social security card and employment verification system.
  10.  Authorize the use of additional National Guard to support DHS in securing our land borders. Require the development of a long-term border strategy. Determine the correct mix of staffing, equipment, and technology to support the strategy.
While the President’s action may have driven the partisan wedge even deeper, let’s hope it puts immigration reform back on the table in the interest of the United States of America!