Last Updated: June 17, 2013
Recent documents obtained by Judicial Watch, Inc., pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, show that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) went on a spending binge and created abandoned ordinary background check procedures in order to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications spurred by President Obama’s extralegislative DREAM Act. The documents also show that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, announced by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano as applying only to minors who came to this country illegally “through no fault of their own,” actually created a new avenue of chain migration, whereby immediate relatives of DACA requesters could be approved for amnesty, literally “inundating” border towns with petitions for admission.
Based on a tip from a whistleblower at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Judicial Watch filed a records request on October 26, 2012 for “all communications, memoranda, emails, policy guidance, directives, initiatives, and any other correspondence respecting the scope and extent of background checks to be performed (or not) on aliens applying to the Obama administration’s DACA program” from “November 1, 2011 through the present.” The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., directs USCIS to maintain “direct and continuous” contact with the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – among other law enforcement agencies – “for the purpose of obtaining and exchanging information” necessary to determine whether an alien is ineligible to enter or remain in the United States due to criminal conduct, among other disqualifying factors. INA also mandates the “coordinated, uniform, and efficient” implementation of such background checks among all classes of immigration applicants. The statute concurrently directs the Attorney General and FBI actively to assist in determining an applicant’s eligibility for admission or continued stay by proactively alerting the State Department and USCIS whether an alien applying for permission to enter or remain in the United States is indexed in the National Crime Information Center’s Interstate Identification Index (NCIC-III), Wanted Persons File, or any other files maintained by the National Crime Information Center, which allows users to interface with all 50 states via the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS).
Instead of the foregoing, what Judicial Watch found was an ad hoc background check protocol that changed from week to week in price and application. For instance:
“There is a general presumption that DACA requestors . . . are not generally anticipated to have independent means. Absent evidence of sufficient independent financial resources, the Form I-765WS is sufficient to establish economic need, without any further economic analysis.”
“As you are already aware they will not be as complete and interview ready as we are used to seeing. This is a temporary situation – I just can’t tell you when things will revert back to the way they used to be.”
Then, without warning or further explanation, the entire agency was directed to halt all background checks in an email chain starting on November 9, 2012, that was relayed from staffer to staffer through November 14, 2012. The Washington Times reports that it was on November 9, 2012, that Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) expressed to Obama (re-elected as president three days earlier) a willingness to engage in a compromise respecting “immigration reform.”
There are no later-dated documents in the production to indicate how or when USCIS resumed background checks of DACA applicants, if at all. However, documents Judicial Watch obtained via FOIA from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month reveal that a former intern of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) had filed a fraudulent DACA application with the Vermont Service Center on September 3, 2012. USCIS did not issue a denial, however, until more than three months later, on December 4, 2012.
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