This is the second article on data shared with CR by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. You can read the first article here.
Congress and even the president are floating an amnesty proposal that lists a bunch of criteria for eligibility. But exclusive data provided by the USCIS in answer to specific requests from Rep. Steve King shows that many of the people who already received the first amnesty weren’t eligible and/or have a stolen identity. Shouldn’t we first learn the lessons of DACA before codifying it into actual law?
We were all told that “Dreamers” are as pure as the wind-driven snow and that we shouldn’t deport entrepreneurs, etc.; rather, we should focus our enforcement on criminals. We should therefore expect that on this data point, perhaps more than any other, the government would meticulously document all self-reported and discovered criminals among the applicants, record the data, and obviously deny them DACA status.
Once again, criminal information on only 87,076, roughly 10 percent, of the initial applications was stored in the electric “ELIS” system. The DACA form asks applicants if they “[h]ave ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor[…]?” Of the small universe of recorded data for initial renewals, Rep. King was informed that 3,507 had self-reported as having a criminal record. Bizarrely, the USCIS said that criminal information on 5,835 of the applications was “not available.” Most disturbingly, 66 percent, or 1,191, of those self-reported criminals were approved, and 4,946 (85 percent) of the “not available” category were approved! That might not sound like a lot of people, but remember, these are just the self-reported criminals. You can imagine how many lied and didn’t check that box.
Naysayers might contend that in such a case, they would have been discovered through the FBI background check and would have been disqualified. However, if such a large percentage of self-reported criminals were given status anyway, isn’t it likely that an equally large share of an unknown number of non-reported criminals were given status?
This point is accentuated by the fact that when it comes to renewals, which were mainly after the electronic records were in place in late 2015, 33,709 self-reported as criminals, and 94 percent, or 31,854, were granted approval. An additional 9,218 renewal applications were listed as having the criminal status “not available,” of which 97 percent were approved!
Indeed, USCIS just published new data since sending Steve King the original criminal data showing that a total of 59,786 DACA recipients have been arrested while in the U.S. Arrest records show some were apprehended for assault, rape, drug charges, and even murder — and yet were still given status.
What we do know is that a number of DACA recipients have turned out to be drug smugglers and MS-13 members, and UACs/“dreamers” as a whole are supplying the surge of drugs and MS-13. One disturbing fact about the data is that those who applied under the age of 14 were never even fingerprinted. Now, one might say there is no need to look at the criminal record of people that young, but this means there is no basic way of verifying their identity. And remember, when they are too young to provide us a glimpse into their threat assessment, that means we cannot say they are harmless, especially when they are of the prime recruiting age for MS-13.
Would any important program run for American citizens who have the right to be here and do not engage in rampant identity fraud be treated this callously and carelessly?
Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies observes that to begin with, eligibility criteria were “more lenient on criminality than the green card standards, explicitly allowing people with multiple criminal convictions to qualify.”
“People with multiple misdemeanors and even felony convictions for ID theft, for example, can qualify. From this data, we can see that four percent of the applicants admitted to a criminal history on their application, and two-thirds of them were approved anyway. Extrapolating that to the larger DACA-approved population, that means more than 21,000 self-admitted criminals obtained DACA.”
All valedictorians? No
One of the big talking points propagated in support of DACA is that these are the best and brightest, who are well educated and stand to be net contributors to society. Officially, DACA recipients were required to either be currently attending school or (if older) have a high school diploma or GED. It turns out that for a whopping 69 percent of the 817,798 total approved applications, the USCIS does not have readily available information on education status. Of the remaining pool of recipients for whom there is information, only 15.4 percent have a high school diploma or GED, and only 13.3 percent have up to one year of college. Only 235 individuals (0.1 percent) have an associate’s degree, and 246 have a bachelor’s degree; 16 individuals have advanced degrees.
If so much of the critical criteria for the most important eligibility factors went unreported in 14 million pages of paper documents, and much of what is reported downright betrays those conditions, it’s hard to imagine that the data that indicates that prima facie eligibility was verified carefully.
What this portends for the amnesty debate: Lawlessness begets lawlessness
Overall, it’s hard to fully assess the makeup of the amnestied population, because the reported data is so incomplete. But that in itself is the story. Lawlessness begets lawlessness. When there is a one-directional political movement and momentum (not among the people, but among the politicians) for amnesty – without any balance of interests for the American people – the presumption is amnesty until proven otherwise. The pressure is put on the USCIS to issue status to as many people as possible, quickly as possible. Thus, all the talking points — being sure we get the best of the best and that they are all productive, were brought here young, never left the country, and are certainly were not criminals — are bogus.
Even ardent proponents of amnesty should agree that the presumption should always be that status is not issued unless the criteria are absolutely fulfilled and absolutely independently verified, so that the default is that no American is harmed by such an amnesty rather than the default being “leave no illegal alien behind.” But that is not the guiding principle of DACA, and that will not be the reality of any proposed amnesty of an even larger group of people. All political and legal norms are put aside to serve these chosen people. American interests are placed last.
Some might suggest that these are the drawbacks of an unauthorized program but that if Congress were to officially authorize the amnesty, it would work better. The opposite is true. If there was this much pressure to offer status indiscriminately when the program was completely elective (not mention illegal), one can imagine that when there is a legal mandate to offer status, adjudicators will be very reluctant to deny applications that don’t meet the criteria.
Based on the information we are seeing, it defies reality to assume the USCIS will scrupulously verify entry dates, ongoing educational status, criminal records, and age and that if they find problems they will categorically reject them. The pressure would be too insurmountable and the lack of resources would force them to err on the side of the alien, not the American people.
This is why Jessica Vaughan believes that the “American people should know what we’re getting into” before moving another amnesty. “Congress should not move another inch forward on any amnesty or legalization for DACA beneficiaries until a meaningful audit has been done for fraud or mistakes.”
There is also the judicial side of this issue. If illegal aliens are already suing for being denied status – and even winning – when the program is completely illegal, one can imagine the pressure the ACLU and MALDEF will bring to bear after scrutinizing every application. The political class wants amnesty at all costs, and they want it now. The “conditions” are just talking points to get the bill passed.
The moral of the story is that, in this political environment, there is no right way to do amnesty. It will never work for the American citizen.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.