DHS creates path to citizenship for Dreamers: report
By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2015
The Obama administration quietly told Congress this week that its deportation amnesty programs will, in fact, include a pathway to citizenship, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who said that breaks a promise President Obama made to the country when he announced the program.
In a conference call with congressional staffers, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would allow so-called Dreamers applying for the deportation amnesty, known as DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to also apply for “advance parole,” which is a separate program that also serves as a shortcut to a green card, which is the key step on the path to citizenship.
In a letter Friday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Mr. Goodlatte demanded he put an end to the new program, which could open an avenue for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to bypass the regular rules and gain citizenship, which carries voting rights and eligibility for taxpayer-funded benefits.
“Under the expanded program, DACA requestors will now be able to file applications for advance parole at the same time they file their DACA application,” Mr. Goodlatte wrote. “Such a process encourages advance parole applications and thus encourages DACA to be used as a path to U.S. citizenship.”
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did USCIS, the agency that will actually process the applications.
Advance parole is permission for illegal immigrants to leave the country and return. Under current rules, they can request regular parole upon their return, which eases their path to getting a green card. Green card holders are entitled to apply for citizenship after five years.
Current Dreamers who have applied for advance parole had an approval rate of 88 percent, which suggests a large number of the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants eligible for the new program will likely also be put on a path to citizenship.
Mr. Goodlatte said immigration lawyers are already well aware of the advance parole citizenship pathway loophole, as judging by their online notices advertising their ability to help illegal immigrants apply.
Mr. Obama announced the program for Dreamers in June 2012, and began taking applications in August of that year. More than 600,000 persons who were brought to the U.S. as children have been approved.
In November, the president announced he would expand the program to lift age limits, and create a new program for illegal immigrant parents whose children are already U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. That program could apply to as many as 3.85 million illegal immigrants, the administration says — though it says only about half of those will be apply.
It is unclear whether the adults would also be given an immediate change to apply for advance parole.
Mr. Obama took unilateral action to announce the programs, drawing the ire of congressional Republicans who said he overstepped his powers and only Congress can set immigration policy.
The president rejected that, saying while he could halt most deportations by setting priorities, he could not create a pathway to citizenship. Mr. Goodlatte, in his new letter, said the administration appears to have found a way to do that.
USCIS will begin taking applications for the new deportation amnesties for Dreamers and advance parole on Feb. 18.
Congressional Republicans are currently fighting to try to halt the expanded amnesties, and a federal judge in Texas is considering a lawsuit by more than two dozen states who have sued to stop the new policy. A ruling on that case is expected at any moment.