WEEKLY IMMIGRATION REPORT JULY 26, 2016: 3,000 DACA Recipients Already Put on Path to Citizenship

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From the Federation for American Immigration Reform

  • 3,000 DACA Recipients Already Put on Path to Citizenship
  • Trump Maintains Focus on Immigration in Nomination Acceptance Speech
  • GOP Platform Prioritizes Immigration Enforcement

3,000 DACA Recipients Already Put on Path to Citizenship

In response to a congressional inquiry, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally admitted that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) illegal aliens are being put on a path to citizenship. Specifically, USCIS sent a letter to [mc_name name=”Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”G000386″ ] and [mc_name name=”Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”L000577″ ] that revealed that 2,994 DACA have “been approved for adjustment of status” — likely receiving legal permanent resident (green card) status — after further exploiting our immigration laws by being granted “advance parole.” (See Letter from Senators Grassley and Lee, Mar. 2, 2016, and USCIS Response, June 29, 2016) Notably, this admission directly contradicts President Obama’s promise from June 2012 when he unilaterally implemented DACA, stating in the Rose Garden, “This is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship.” (See Rose Garden Remarks, June 15, 2012)

Advance parole is an administratively created tool that allows an illegal alien to leave the U.S. with a promise of being “paroled” back into the U.S. upon return. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 23, 2016) Advanced parole, which has no statutory backing, is ostensibly based on the humanitarian parole statute. (Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(d)(5)) Granting parole is significant, because it allows aliens to circumvent provisions in the law that would normally bar their admission. (See INA § 201(b)(2)(A)(i); § 245(a)) Generally, aliens who have been residing in the country illegally long term cannot simply return to the country if they leave. INA Section 212(a)(9)(B) bars the admission of aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S. between six months and a year for three years; it also bars the admission of aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S. for over a year for ten years. (INA § 212(a)(9)(B)) But, by paroling them instead of admitting them into the country, the 3- and 10-year bars do not apply. (Id.)

Furthermore, now that the alien has entered the country through parole, the alien avoids certain grounds for inadmissibility, such as INA § 212(a)(6), which applies to aliens who are present in the country without “admission or parole,” and INA § 212(a)(7), which applies to aliens who are not in possession of valid entry documents. (INA § 212(a)(6-7)) Moreover, paroled aliens who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are generally eligible to apply for a green card and citizenship. (See INA § 245(a), (c)(2); see also USCIS.gov)

Ever since Congress rejected mass amnesty legislation, the Obama administration and its allies have been working behind the scenes to help DACA apply for advance parole. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has expanded the grounds of advance parole to include “educational” and “employment” purposes to significantly expand the number of illegal aliens eligible to exploit advance parole and be put on a path to citizenship. For example, several Southern California university officials are creating “study abroad programs” for DACA students to get advance parole to essentially visit their families before returning to the U.S. with lawful status. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 23, 2016; The Fresno Bee, July 18, 2016)

The number of DACA recipients who wind up on a path to citizenship by exploiting advance parole is likely to increase significantly before the end of Obama’s presidency. According to the USCIS letter to the senators, as of December 31, 2015, 22,340 DACA have been approved for advance parole. (USCIS Response, June 29, 2016) Thus far, 5,068 DACA who received advance parole have applied for adjustment of status, and 2,994 were approved. (Id.) Importantly, the USCIS letter fails to include the number, if any, of DACA who were denied advance parole or adjustment of status. (Id.) Given the extremely high approval rate of DACA applications, it is likely that USCIS is rubber stamping advance parole and adjustment of status approvals for those who know to take advantage of the process. According to USCIS data over 800,000 illegal aliens have had their DACA applications approved through the second quart of Fiscal Year 2016. (USCIS DACA Data)

While the USCIS letter sheds some light into this scheme, many questions remain unanswered. Predictably, USCIS did not fully respond to all the questions posed by Sens. Grassley and Lee and attempted to downplay the scope of advance parole with the numbers it provided. (Compare Letter from Senators Grassley and Lee, Mar. 2, 2016, with USCIS Response, June 29, 2016) For example, USCIS omitted the numbers of applications denied and how many applications were still pending. (Id.)

Trump Maintains Focus on Immigration in Nomination Acceptance Speech

Donald Trump formally accepted the 2016 Republican nomination for president last Thursday, emphasizing the key theme of his campaign — immigration. (CNN, July 22, 2016) In the primetime speech — which ran 1 hour and 16 minutes — Trump pledged to keep Americans safe from those who exploit our immigration system, secure the border, restore the rule of law, and protect American workers.

Trump noted that there are nearly 180,000 criminal aliens with final orders of removal roaming free in America. (SeeTranscript of Donald Trump’s Speech, July 21, 2016) To illustrate the threat that these criminal aliens pose to the general public, he mentioned the tragic story of Sarah Root, a promising 21-year-old killed by an illegal alien in a drunken street race. (Id.) Root’s killer, who had twice previously failed to appear in court on state charges, was charged with vehicular homicide and released on bond after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refused to take custody of him. (Id.) He is now a fugitive from justice. (Id.) “I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family,” Trump said. (Id.) “But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting.” (Id.)

The Republican nominee also touched on Kate Steinle’s tragic murder in San Francisco by an illegal alien with seven convictions and five deportations under his belt. (Id.) Steinle’s death last year was a direct consequence of San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city — state and local jurisdictions with polices that obstruct immigration enforcement. (Id.) Trump asked, “Where was sanctuary for Kate Steinle? Where was sanctuary for all the other Americans who have been brutally murdered, and who have suffered so horribly?” (Id.) He then pledged in their honor that countless families will be spared the awful fate of losing a loved one at the hands of an illegal alien. (Id.)

After a year of deadly terrorist attacks in Europe and America, Trump stressed that we must “immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.” (Id.) “I only want to admit individuals into our country that will support our values and love our people,” he added. (Id.)

Regarding border security, Trump reiterated his pledge to build a border wall in order to stop illegal immigration, violence, and drugs from pouring into American communities. (Id.) He stressed, however, that his plan for a secure border does not end there. (Id.) “By ending catch-and-release on the border, we will stop the cycle of human smuggling and violence. Illegal border crossings will go down [and] peace will be restored.” (Id.)

After nearly eight years of a presidency marked by unrestrained use of executive discretion to ignore U.S. immigration law, Trump pledged to go in the opposite direction. (Id.) “On January 21st of 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced,” he said. (Id.)

Trump also stressed the need to have an immigration system that puts the American people first. (Id.) “Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers,” he pointed out. (Id.) “We are going to have an immigration system that works, but one that works for the American people.” (Id.)

GOP Platform Prioritizes Immigration Enforcement

On the first day of the GOP convention in Cleveland, the party ratified its official platform — a nonbinding document that serves as a guide for Republican policymaking at every level of government. (ImmigrationReform.com, July 19, 2016) This year’s platform calls for an immigration system that serves the national interest of the United States, and contains strong stances on amnesty and interior enforcement. (Id.) The highest priority, according to the platform, is to secure the border stating, “That is why we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry. The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” (Id.)

“America’s immigration policy must serve the national interest of the United States, and the interests of American workers must be protected over the claims of foreign nationals seeking the same jobs,” the platform reads. (See 2016 GOP Platform) “In light of the alarming levels of unemployment and underemployment in this country, it is indefensible to continue offering lawful permanent residence to more than one million foreign nationals every year.” (Id.)

The platform also takes a firm stance against amnesty and President Obama’s executive overreach. (Id.) “We oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by breaking the law, have disadvantaged those who have obeyed it,” the new platform states. (Id.) “The executive amnesties of 2012 and 2014 are a direct violation of federal law and usurp the powers of Congress as outlined in Article I of the Constitution. These unlawful amnesties must be immediately rescinded by a Republican president.” (Id.)

In order to strengthen the interior enforcement of our immigration laws, the platform calls for mandatory use of the E-Verify workplace enforcement program, “so that more jobs can be available to all legal workers.” (Id.) It also demands that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “use its authority to keep dangerous criminal aliens off our streets and to expedite expulsion of criminal aliens. (Id.) Further, the platform says that federal funding should be withheld from dangerous sanctuary city jurisdictions — places where laws are not enforced and illegal aliens can go unnoticed and uninterrupted. (Id.)

The sections of the platform that address immigration can be found in their entirety here.