Judicial Watch Statement on the Potential Violation of Law in President Obama’s Proposed Expansion of DACA
FEBRUARY 12, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding potential criminal and civil violations of law in the implementation of President Obama’s executive actions for immigration, which may be in violation of the Antideficiency Act:
“Judicial Watch calls upon Congress, its committees, or its members to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate, analyze, and opine on the following issues:
“Whether Congress has specifically appropriated the funds or has specifically authorized the assessment of fees necessary for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to implement the plans to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and establish Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA);
“To the extent no funds have been specifically appropriated, whether USCIS is using funds appropriated, including any monies raised by fees assessed by USCIS, for a different, designated purpose to fund the implementation the plans to extend DACA and establish DAPA;
“To the extent any funds, including any monies raised by fees assessed by USCIS, are being used to implement the plans to extend DACA and establish DAPA, whether the use of such funds is unauthorized or prohibited.
“Whether USCIS is using property or employees designated for a specific purpose to implement the plans to extend DACA and establish DAPA, regardless of such designation.
“The legal issues involving the improper use of taxpayer dollars are urgent given that the USCIS may have already entered into or imminently will enter into contracts and/or obligations in excess of the amount of government funds available to it – without the authority to do so. This unauthorized spending may be a direct violation of the Antideficiency Act, which makes it a violation of law, with potential civil and criminal penalties, for government officials to spend monies that have not been appropriated by Congress. President Obama’s nullification of immigration law is broad and involves numerous policies in multiple federal agencies, but the center of the storm is in USCIS, where monies are being misspent in ways contrary to the fundamental purpose of that law enforcement agency.”
The Antideficiency Act generally prohibits an officer or employee of the U.S. government from:
- making or authorizing an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund for the expenditure or obligation; or
- involving the U.S. government in a contract or obligation for the payment of money before an appropriation is made unless authorized by law.
31 U.S.C. §1341(a)(1)(A) & (B).
To the extent an officer or employee may be in violation of the Antideficiency Act, Congress mandates that the Comptroller General, the head of GAO, conduct an investigation of the matter. 31 U.S.C. § 712(1) & 31 U.S.C. 717(b). An investigation may be commenced upon request by Congress, its committees, or its members. 31 U.S.C. § 717.
On January 27, 2015, Senators Grassley (R-IA), Johnson (R-WI), and Sessions (R-AL) reissued to the public their November letter to Joseph Moore, Chief Financial Officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which states in part:
On November 20, 2014, the President announced several executive actions, including plans to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and to extend “Deferred Action to Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” (DAPA). These events raise serious legal questions and may have significant budgetary consequences. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is “the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.” The President’s directives will redirect scarce resources from this core mission to activities that Congress has never approved, and will very likely jeopardize the financial health of the agency. If USCIS has a budget shortfall, the agency will no doubt ask the taxpayers to shoulder the burden.