Published July 30, 2010
A group of Republican senators has written to top immigration officials in the Obama administration asking them to reveal whether large-scale plans are under way to provide a so-called non-legislative version of amnesty.
The lawmakers cite an 11-page draft document written by staff to the director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service that says they are reviewing several executive orders and other mechanisms that effectively would serve as a substitute for comprehensive immigration reforms.
The objective would be to promote “family unity, foster economic growth … and reduce the threat of removal for certain individuals present in the United States without authorization."
Among the suggestions, the document offers proposals for rewriting legal opinions to allow unaccompanied minors, victims of human trafficking or extreme hardship and others who've overstayed their visas to remain in the U.S.
For instance, the four aides who wrote the document told Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas that general counsel at the CIS has reinterpreted legal opinions of the definition of "admission" for those entering under "temporary protected status" -- in the face of war or environmental disaster -- so that they can change their status to stay in the United States permanently.
"Opening this pathway will help thousands of applicants obtain lawful permanent residence without having to leave the U.S.," reads the memo, which was provided to Fox News by the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
A statement released by the USCIS warned that internal draft memos should not be equated with official action or policy by the department.
"We will not comment on notional, pre-decisional memos. As a matter of good government, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will discuss just about every issue that comes within the purview of the immigration system. ... Internal memoranda help us do the thinking that leads to important changes; some of them are adopted and others are rejected. Our goal is to implement policies wisely and well to strengthen all aspects of our mission," reads the statement.
"Nobody should mistake deliberation and exchange of ideas for final decisions. To be clear, DHS will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation's entire illegal immigrant population," it continues.
A DHS official told Fox News that the memo was never signed, and more importantly, never sent to the intended recipients, including the director of the agency.
Though the Department of Homeland Security last month denied to FoxNews.com that it had any plans to grant blanket amnesty to the "entire illegal immigrant population," it did not address the possibility of giving a selective reprieve to the segment of the population holding expired visas -- as opposed to those who crossed into the country illegally.
The department, while affirming its authority to grant the extensions "on the merits of cases," said they are applied on a "case-by-case" basis.
"DHS does not grant deferred action without a review of relevant facts," the statement said. "To be clear, DHS will not grant deferred action to the nation's entire illegal immigrant population."
The DHS expressed the administration's support for a stalled Senate immigration overhaul, calling it "a step in the right direction."
Grassley and several other Republicans wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday asking for the number of deferrals and paroles granted in the past five years.
A second letter written last week to President Obama suggested that "the administration would be wise to abandon any plans for deferred action or parole for the illegal population. Such a move would further erode the American public's confidence in the federal government and its commitment to securing the borders and enforcing the laws already on the books.
The letter to the president was signed by Sens. Grassley, Thad Cochran of Missouri, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, David Vitter of Louisiana, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Jim Bunning of Kentucky.
"And I think people that support comprehensive immigration reform don't support amnesty either. What we need to do again is try to figure out how we're going to secure our borders, deal with those that are here, but do it in a comprehensive way and do it at a federal level," he said.