In a new Obama administration guidance from the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), all individuals covered by President Obama’s executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will now be considered “lawfully present” in the United States of America. The guidance is a direct challenge to four states, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska, which refused to grant driver’s licenses to DACA recipients, arguing they were not lawfully in the USA.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security released its most recent statistics regarding DACA, and those statistics raise some eyebrows, especially considering the history of the agency taking the lead in its implementation, USCIS.
The new guidance was issued on January 18, 2013, and it was an augmentation to the Q&A section of the website of USCIS. Here’s the pertinent portion of the web page.
An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect.
In breaking the news, the website Immigration Impact claimed that the adjustment was a direct affront to four states, the aforementioned Arizona, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska.
Acting under the belief that DACA recipients are not “lawfully present” under federal law, four states—Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska—have refused to issue driver’s licenses to DACA recipients.
Led by Arizona, governors in each of the four states issued their own executive orders forbidding their state’s licensing agencies from issuing licenses to these folks, arguing that President Obama’s executive order did not amount to giving them legal status. Here’s part of a story on Arizona’s decision to do this.
Gov. Jan Brewer, who does not see it that way, last year barred the state Motor Vehicle Division from issuing those in the program any licenses. Brewer contends the policy announced by President Obama says only that these people would not be deported, not that they are authorized to be in this country.
None of the four governors have changed their own stances yet, so it appears the long-term effect of the new guidance has yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, the latest statistics have been released by DHS regarding DACA. So far, 154,404 illegal aliens have been fully approved and thus given “lawful status” under DACA. According to a site tracking DACA, it takes about 100 days for the entire process to complete.
Some estimates had more than one million people taking advantage of this program when it’s fully implemented.
Meanwhile, a curious omission from the data should raise eyebrows. In the chart, there is a box for rejected applications. So far, 13,366 applications have been rejected, but USCIS has a very narrow definition of rejected. Here’s the statement given exclusively to Front Page Magazine by Steve Blando, Public Affairs Officer at USCIS.
(Rejections) means deferred action applications submitted to the lockbox that were improperly filed and couldn’t be accepted.
All these rejections have to do with an individual that didn’t fill out the plethora of forms correctly. Not included in that definition are applications rejected because their profile didn’t meet the standards laid out by DACA.
After all, with millions of people applying, it’s reasonable to expect that some will try and get approved for the program even though they don’t qualify. Those numbers are not listed anywhere in the statistics provided by DHS. There is no box for “denied,” for instance.
This should raise a lot of questions because USCIS, the agency charged with approving DACA, was the subject of an award-winning investigation into rubber stamping Visa applications.
That investigation, done by Sarah Ryley at the Daily, found that at the direction of the Director of USCIS, Alejandro Mayorgas, managers were putting pressure on staff to increase the number of Visa applications that were approved. The events detailed in Ryley’s investigation occurred during President Obama’s first term, and even though major corruption was exposed, Mayorgas continues to be head of USCIS.
Ryley received the 2012 Eugene Katz for Excellence in Covering Immigration from the Center for Immigration Studies for that series.
Front Page Magazine has not found any evidence that DACA applications are being rubber stamped, however, the lack of transparency in the data, especially given the corrupt history of the agency in charge of administering the program, is troubling.
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