DACA program is unwise and harmful to citizens

Letter date: 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Letter publisher: 
Letter author: 
Elizabeth Van Staaveren
Letter body: 

From its earliest days, President Obama’s administration has ignored U.S. immigration laws and imposed its own immigration agenda without respect to the legislative process. The DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) illustrates Obama’s autocratic and unwise immigration policies.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), was for 6 years, through December 2012, Chair, House Judiciary Committee, overseeing immigration issues. He presented a critique at a panel discussion, Amnesties: Past, Present, Future, on January 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies. Citizens should read his full statement. Here are some of the salient points.

Tracing the history of the DACA program, he pointed to the Dec. 2010 memo by top DHS officials, leaked to the media, which suggested that administrative powers be used to legalize millions of illegal immigrants, including those eligible under the proposed Dream Act.

When Rep. Smith, as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, asked DHS for further information, his immigration subcommittee staff was told that the memo was simply a “brainstorming exercise."

However, in June 2012, DHS officially announced an administrative amnesty, DACA, for illegal immigrants who had come to the U.S. before the age of 16.

It immediately became clear that there was little advance planning for implementation of the program. Announced on a Friday, with a stakeholder conference call held the following Monday, the heads of USCIS, ICE and Customs and Border Protections replied to question after question: Not yet decided.

Nevertheless, on August 15th, 2012, USCIS began implementation of DACA. “If history is any indication, DACA will be accompanied by significant levels of fraud,” said Rep. Smith. “Remember that it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of the applications for special agricultural workers in the 1986 amnesty were fraudulent – two-thirds.”

While USCIS lists types of acceptable proof of each of the requirements, there is no requirement that these records be certified or validated. Identity documents can easily be forged even on a home computer. Tellingly, DHS retains the flexibility to decide whether or not to prosecute fraud for fraud crimes.

“Furthermore,” states Rep. Smith, “ the administration claims that DACA provides no path to citizenship, but advanced parole is a loophole in DACA that again contradicts the administration’s reassurances. …”

From June to October 2012, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Smith sent 11 letters to DHS, USCIS and ICE, regarding DACA and its implementation. He received only one formal response to these letters. It appears the White House instructed DHS not to respond to letters from Congress.

Rep. Smith’s conclusion: “The DACA process is President Obama’s test run for a mass amnesty. Given the lack of detail, transparency and attention to fraud prevention, such a mass amnesty will provide legal status and ultimately voting privileges to potentially millions of unqualified illegal immigrants. This cannot be good for our country, our democratic institutions or our rule of law. …”

Citizens should contact their legislators and urge them to stop these unlawful amnesties.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren is a member of Oregonians for Immigration Reform. She can be contacted at ofir@oregonir.org