By Jon Feere, CIS.org
The Obama administration’s latest attempt at amnesty is a lawless act and an end run around American citizens and their representatives in Congress. It is also a hostile act toward the millions of legal residents looking for jobs. Legalizing illegal aliens is unpopular and this plan may well drive voters away from the Obama campaign. If this were not the case, Obama would have announced his administrative amnesty plan on a Monday morning and followed with a week of fanfare; instead, the White House decided to drop this bombshell on a Friday afternoon while refusing to take questions from the press.
The amnesty memo, “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children”, is available online. Though details are scarce, the plan raises a number of questions.
If the plan were narrowly-tailored and designed to benefit only young people brought her by their parents, the plan might find some support. Unfortunately, the president’s plan is much more broad in scope than its supporters are willing to admit. Some of the myths spread by supporters are addressed here.
“It will only benefit 800,000 people.” The White House is claiming that this administrative DREAM Act amnesty will benefit 800,000 illegal aliens, but the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 1.4 million people will qualify for the amnesty. These estimates assume no fraud, and the number of individuals who will ultimately benefit under the act will be much larger if history is any guide. In 1989, Roberto Suro, writing in the New York Times, described the 1986 amnesty as “one of the most extensive immigration frauds ever perpetrated against the United States Government”, noting that “federal officials and immigration experts place the number of fraudulent applications at somewhere between 250,000 and 650,000.” And that was when the nation’s total illegal alien population was less than half of today’s 11 million. Mass legalizations like Obama’s new administrative DREAM Act will undoubtedly benefit thousands of people who are technically ineligible under the administration’s memo.
“It’s for those with no criminal history.” Advocates claim this grant of work permits would benefit illegal aliens who are already here working and are leading “law-abiding lives”. Yet illegal aliens who hold jobs have acquired their positions through fraud and are not, by definition, leading law-abiding lives. For example, illegal aliens regularly engage in ID theft, Social Security fraud, and I-9 Form fraud. This is in addition to any immigration violations.
The White House claims that before an illegal alien can benefit from its administrative amnesty plan, he or she must pass a background check. There are two problems. First, just because a person does not have a rap sheet, it does not necessarily follow that he or she is not violating a number of laws. Most illegal aliens have not been prosecuted for their ID theft, for example, because the White House has made a decision to not go after these so-called “low priority” offenders. The result is that a background check may turn up nothing, even though the alien could easily be prosecuted if the Obama administration was interested in upholding the rule of law.
Second, an alien’s background is potentially unknowable. A background check will likely be a simple name search in U.S. databases. One problem is that the alien has likely been using a number of aliases during his or her stay in the United States, making a background check difficult. Furthermore, a background check is unlikely to include a search of foreign databases, yet the alien may be a serious criminal in his or her home country. Amnesties are notorious for granting legal status to problematic individuals — such as the 1993 WTC bombers — and there is no reason to believe this plan would be any different.
“It’s for children.” The plan would benefit illegal aliens up to age 30, and anyone 18 or older is an adult. This is not just for youths. Furthermore, this plan will benefit any older illegal alien who can successfully make a fraudulent claim as to his or her age. Illegal aliens are already involved in serious ID fraud and ID theft, so falsifying one’s age to the Obama administration shouldn’t be too much of a problem. As history shows, amnesties are full of fraud. It is very likely that this amnesty will benefit many people who do not fit into the categories set forth in the administrative memo.
“It’s only for those brought here by their parents.” Obama’s proposal would benefit illegal aliens who snuck into the United States on their own. Like the failed DREAM Act, this plan does not include any language requiring that illegal alien beneficiaries actually be “brought” into the United States by their parents. This is a fictitious description that amnesty advocates have created in the hope that it creates sympathy, and ultimately support, for amnesty. It is well known that teenage aliens frequently enter the United States illegally on their own volition. Put another way, people who knowingly and willingly violated U.S. sovereignty will benefit from Obama’s plan. The only reason that “children brought into the United States” are sympathetic is because they did not make the decision to violate U.S. sovereignty. The same cannot be said for many of the potential beneficiaries under this plan.
Even Janet Napolitano’s memo contains an inconsistency. She writes that it is for “certain young people who were brought to this country” yet in the nuts-and-bolts section of the memo, she explains that the plan would apply to all illegal aliens who “came to the United States under the age of 16″. Legally and morally culpable illegal aliens will benefit under the plan.
“They must have lived in United States for five continuous years.” It is well established in immigration law that the “continuous residence” requirement does not actually require an alien to be continuously resident in the United States. Immigration attorneys have been successful in getting immigration courts to whittle this down to a point where it is almost meaningless. For example, an alien seeking naturalization must also prove five years of continuous residency, but that can still be met even if the alien has been absent from the United States for up to six months. And the alien can have multiple six-month vacations over the course of five years. If Obama’s administrative DREAM Act follows established precedent, the five-year residency requirement will not mean much.
“It will not lead to citizenship.” The entire goal of President Obama’s administrative DREAM Act is to put illegal aliens on a pathway to citizenship. The White House knows it cannot get an amnesty through Congress, so its new goal is to provide illegal aliens as many benefits of U.S. citizenship as possible today, so that full citizenship simply becomes a matter of filling out paperwork tomorrow. This plan will result in work permits being granted to illegal aliens. Does anyone really think that once the illegal aliens are granted work permits, the administration won’t decree that these illegal aliens also have a right to driver’s licenses so that they can get to work? And why shouldn’t they be allowed to vote? This is all part of an ongoing agenda to legitimize a population of people who have chosen to violate multiple U.S. laws. It starts small, like recognizing unverifiable foreign consulate cards such as Mexico’s matricula consular so that the alien can open a bank account, get a loan, open credit cards, and so forth. Eventually, the illegal alien acquires all of the benefits of U.S. citizenship with few civic responsibilities. It is important to deport illegal aliens at the first possible opportunity.
The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research organization that examines the impact of immigration on the United States. Mr. Feere began working at the Center early 2002. He received his B.A. in political science and communications from the University of California, Davis and his J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law. While in law school he worked in the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, specifically, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims. He also interned as an Assistant Prosecutor for the Montgomery County Maryland Office of the State’s Attorney. Mr. Feere has been quoted by the national media including the Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and many other newspapers.
Cross-posted with permission.
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