Critical Read

Digging into the immigration order's ripple effects

Shutterstock image: passport and visa application.

What: A report from the Immigration Policy Center that explains some of the nuts and bolts on proposed changes to immigration application procedures under President Barack Obama's Nov. 20 executive action.

Why: The president's executive action will grant temporary legal status and work permits to almost 5 million illegal immigrants -- and will require significant changes to agency processes in order to make that happen.

The president authorized the Department of Homeland Security to significantly expand its use of deferred action to provide temporary protection from removal for millions of unauthorized immigrants. This will be accomplished through expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as the creation of a new deferred action program, the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.

According to the Immigration Policy Center paper, DAPA paperwork -- like DACA in 2012 -- will be financed by CIS levying a $465 user fee per application.

The study also noted that Obama directed the secretaries of Homeland Security and State, working in consultation with the White House, the attorney general, the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Labor and Education, and non-governmental stakeholders to send their ideas on how to reform visa application processes to him by March 20, 2015.

The recommendations, said the president's memo, should include ideas on modernizing the information technology infrastructure that supports the visa processing system, with the goals of reducing redundant systems, improving the experience of applicants, and enabling better public and congressional oversight of the system.

Obama also ended DHS's Secure Communities biometric information-sharing program and replaced it with the Priorities Enforcement Program (PEP), which aims to keep the information-sharing links between local law enforcement, DHS and the FBI, but limit the scope of shared data to criminal records rather than immigration records.

Verbatim: "DHS will retain its ability to gather fingerprint-based biometric data obtained by state and local law enforcement during bookings and submitted to the FBI. However, it will substantially alter what it does with this data. First, under PEP (unlike Secure Communities), DHS typically will seek custody only of a person who has been convicted of certain offenses referenced in its enforcement priorities memo or who otherwise poses a risk to national security. The types of convictions that will trigger DHS action include national security-related crimes, gang activity, felonies and aggravated felonies, three or more misdemeanors, and ‘significant misdemeanors’ (such as domestic violence, burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, and DUI)."

Click here for the full report.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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