The Corner

Legal Immigrants Go to the Back of the Line

When the president announced his administrative DREAM Act amnesty (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA), skeptics warned that the illegal program would results in delays for people with legal immigration applications in the pipeline. Those concerns were ignored by the administration because the initiative was a campaign stunt to boost Hispanic turnout and had to be implemented before the election regardless of the consequences.

Well, the New York Times reported Sunday that chickens have come home to roost:

Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.

The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data.  …

Until recently, an American could obtain a green card for a spouse, child or parent — probably the easiest document in the immigration system — in five months or less. But over the past year, waits for approvals of those resident visas stretched to 15 months, and more than 500,000 applications became stuck in the pipeline, playing havoc with international moves and children’s schools and keeping families apart.

That’s half a million husbands, wives, and children of U.S. citizens — people whose expeditious immigration even I support, wholeheartedly — have seen their wait times triple because the administration dumped an illegal amnesty program in the lap of an overwhelmed bureaucracy at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with no additional resources to handle the workload. That means USCIS had to pull people off the processing of legal immigration applications to handle the amnesty applications of illegal aliens, leading to the increased wait times.

After Mr. Obama announced the deferral program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in 2012, he gave Citizenship and Immigration Services only two months to get it running. Agency officials scrambled. As of last week, 521,815 youths had received deferrals, with the agency handling more than 2,000 applications a day.

Note the symmetry: half a million illegal aliens have received amnesty, forcing half a million husbands, wives, and minor children of American citizens to go to the back of the line.

And they’re none too happy about it. One U.S. citizen griped:

You feel as if you did things the right way and you are penalized for it.

Amen. I wasn’t a fan of Sam Francis, but his concept of “anarcho-tyranny” describes this perfectly.

This from another law-abiding sucker victimized by Obama’s amnesty:

You end up seeing a steep decline in approvals for people like me who followed the law.

Another victim actually refused to lie to federal officials to speed up her entry into the U.S.:

Some lawyers urged Mrs. Bachert to come as a tourist to join her husband. After deliberating for two sleepless weeks, she said, she decided she would rather bide her time apart than lie to American customs officials about her intentions to remain in the United States.

Obeying the law? What’s wrong with these people?!

Before any conservative apologists for Obama decide to play “Kick the Bureaucrat,” note that this was all predictable. USCIS is funded almost entirely by fees; the fee charged for DACA amnesty applicants is $465, which is the standard fee for processing an Employment Authorization Document (a work card), which they get as part of the amnesty. But that means that there was no fee whatsoever for processing the amnesty itself — checking to see whether the applicants met the age, education, and other requirements. My colleague David North has estimated that it would cost from twice to four times that amount to properly vet an amnesty application (and some illegal aliens are complaining that the $465 is too much).

And the mismatch between the USCIS’s capacity and the workload illegally dumped on it by Obama has resulted not only in longer wait times for legal immigrants but shortcuts in the background checks. Judicial Watch FOIA’d documents last year and found that:

the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) abandoned required background checks late last year, adopting, instead, costly “lean and lite” procedures in effort to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications spurred by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive, which grants illegal aliens a two-year deferment from deportation.

The Times story notes the implications of this whole fiasco for any possible larger amnesty in the future:

The trouble that American citizens have faced gaining permanent resident visas for their families raises questions about the agency’s priorities and its readiness to handle what could become a far bigger task.

“Raises questions” indeed.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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