The top Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary committees warned this week that President Obama's plan to delay the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will end up being one of the most fraud-ridden programs in the history of U.S. immigration programs.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were reacting to an Aug. 3 announcement from the Department of Homeland Security, which outlined how DHS will accept applications for deferred deportation action.
But in a Monday letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Smith and Grassley said there do not appear to be any anti-fraud provisions in place.
"While potentially millions of illegal immigrants will be permitted to compete with American workers for jobs, there seems to be little if any mechanism in place for vetting fraudulent applications and documentation submitted by those who seek deferred action," they wrote. "This administration will undoubtedly preside over one of the most fraud-ridden immigration programs in our history.
"Illegal immigrants will be eager to purchase or create fake documents showing that they arrived in the United States before the age of 16 and meet the continued physical presence requirements," they added. "DHS will be sorely taxed by the burden of disproving the evidence presented in each application."
Their letter cited immigration fraud in a program that granted amnesty to Special Agricultural Workers, the so-called SAW program. They said this program led to significant fraud, as about two-thirds of those amnesty applications were fraudulent.
One problem, they said, is that those applications were held confidentially, which is what DHS plans to do in this case.
"Due to the confidentiality provisions, fraud in SAW applications could not be used to deny or revoke applications, to place aliens in removal proceedings, or to show that aliens committed fraud in the past when seeking other immigration benefits," they wrote.
They also rejected the administration's decision not to use fraud prevention techniques that they said are "too expensive" or take too much time to implement.
"This attitude blatantly demonstrates that the Department has little regard for preventing fraud, especially since the law allows the Department to impose fees for the benefit of deferred action," they wrote. "The illegal immigrants themselves, rather than the American taxpayer or legal immigrants, should bear any expense associated with the program."
It said the most basic check would be to demand school transcripts as proof applicants are in school, but that the administration has said it would not require this step. "This is the single most effective anti-fraud step the Department could take, but it appears that little effort will be taken to detect fraud on the other end," the letter said.
Aside from asking why that step will not be taken, the letter asks Napolitano what steps will be taken to prevent fraud, whether applicants will be required to verify affidavits and what penalties people might face for submitting fraudulent applications.