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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration’s requirement for background checks on illegal aliens being helped under the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program – which grants a two-year deferment from deportation – has been dropped.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services abandoned the requirement for background checks late last year to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications sparked by the Obama’s plan.
The documents revealed that USCIS adopted costly “lean and lite” procedures in favor of the more time-consuming required background checks.
Judicial Watch initiated a FOIA action in October 2012 after receiving a tip from a whistle-blower at a federal law enforcement agency.
Judicial Watch asked for “all communications, memoranda, emails, policy guidelines, 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.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act requires a “coordinated, uniform and efficient” system of background checks be used for all applicants.
INA also requires USCIS to maintain “direct and continuous” contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency to determine whether an illegal alien is ineligible to enter or remain in the U.S. due to criminal conduct, and other disqualifying factors.
To ensure that illegal immigrant applicants are not registered in any crime databases, INA requires that USCIS remain in contact with law enforcement agencies.
Before approving applications, immigrants are to be cross-checked through law enforcement agencies to see if they are indexed in the National Crime Information Center’s Interstate Identification Index, Wanted Persons File, or any other files maintained by the National Crime Information Center.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch instead show a costly, haphazard and cursory review process for background checks on illegal aliens seeking “deferred status.”
The Judicial Watch investigation found a series of agency memos dated back to Sept. 14, 2012, instructing field offices to expect the National Benefits Center (which oversees collecting all DACA applicants) to only conduct “lean & lite” background checks on illegals applying for deferments.
“NBC will not perform full TECS checks or any evidence review on these cases before we ship to the field,” the memo revealed. A memo dated Oct. 14 reiterated the same policy, “Hits will be sent to the field without resolution.”
In late October, the St. Paul field director indicated the “lean and light” procedures would continue for an indefinite period of time.
An email chain from Sept. 5 to Nov. 14 brings to light agency pressure not to turn any illegal alien applicants away for failing to show a valid ID. An Oct. 3 memo explicitly directs workers, “Biometric processing should not be refused solely because an applicant does not present an acceptable ID,” the Judicial Watch investigation found.
Agency personnel were instructed to report every two weeks the number of DACA requesters who appeared for biometrics collection during that previous two-week period. The field offices were also instructed to provide the reason why the DACA requester was turned away.
Additionally, the documents revealed that the DACA program would have an added cost to taxpayers.
An email dated June 28, 2012, to all regional service managers instructed them to determine the number of new guards and the required dollar amount that would be needed to meet the new DACA processing requirements.
“In support of the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, USCIS is procuring 40 additional biometrics workstations,” the investigation revealed.
On Nov. 9, 2012, just days after President Obama was re-elected, an urgent message was sent within the agency stating, “Please put all DACA work on hold until further notice.”
To date, there are no later-dated documents to indicate how or when USCIS resumed DACA background checks or application processing.
The Judicial Watch report said “contrary to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s claim that DACA applied only to minors who came to this country illegally ‘through no fault of their own,’ the directive actually created a new avenue of chain migration, whereby immediate relatives of DACA requesters could be approved for amnesty.”
“The Obama administration seems to be throwing public safety and national security out the door in implementing its illicit and unilateral amnesty program for illegal aliens. The costs and security lapses of this program show that this administration can’t be trusted to implement any of the new security measures in the amnesty bill in the Senate,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents show a crisis in law enforcement and national security caused by President Obama’s unilateral decision to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands illegal aliens.”