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White House Boasts 430K Illegals Received 'Deferred Action' on Policy's Anniversary — But Critics Cite Security Gaps

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“You can't have a double standard. Illegal immigrants should have to meet the same standards as illegal immigrants.”

This August 15, 2012 file photo shows young people waiting in line to enter the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) office in California, on the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Democratic US President Barack Obama failed on his promise of immigration reform, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has employed harsh rhetoric against illegal immigrants. Now both need the acquittal of Hispanics who feel disillusioned by one and threatened by the other. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The White House boasted that 430,000 children of illegal immigrants have received temporary exemption from possible deportation, in marking the one-year anniversary this week of implementing the executive action taken last year.

But critics say the program has led to more lax security, particularly citing a “lean and lite” background check policy for applicants in the program.

This August 15, 2012 file photo shows young people waiting in line to enter the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles office in California, on the first day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Getty Images)

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive action first announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security, was not implemented until Aug. 15 last year. The politically-charged move came after Congress rejected a similar proposal called the DREAM Act to give permanent status to children of illegal immigrants who go to college or join the military.

“One year ago today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing a policy that makes our immigration system more representative of our values as a nation,” Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in a statement Thursday.

She later added that it is all the more reason to have a more sweeping comprehensive immigration reform package.

“Today marks an important milestone, but nobody should mistake an executive action like this one for a solution to our immigration challenges,” Munoz said. “The most important action will be when Congress sends a comprehensive immigration bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”

However, evidence of the “lean and lite” application processing from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services in processing applications will mean some immigrants will slip through who should not, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.

“A lot of people will receive amnesty who shouldn't. They are not interviewing people,” Vaughn told TheBlaze. “It's easy to be accepted when you apply and its even easy to stay when you are denied. There is no enforcement unless you committed a serious crime. If they are not interviewing people, the background check is more important.”

Vaughn estimated about 20 percent of the various forms of immigration applications with U.S. agencies are fraudulent, but fears the USCIS is rubber stamping the DACA applications. She cites recent documents that came to light resulting from a Freedom of Information Act request from conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Beginning Sept. 14, 2012, field offices were told to expect the National Benefits Center, which collects the deferred action data to conduct only “lean and lite” background checks on applicants. One memo said the center “will not perform the TECS checks or any evidence review on these cases before we ship to the field.” TECS is the Customs and Border Patrol's primary and secondary testing system.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/145514197/2013-HQFO-00304-Combined-Redacted-Part1#page=47

On Oct. 25, 2012 a memo again talked about the “lean and lite” background check, and the St. Paul field director, speaking of the “lean & lite” background checks, said, “I just can’t tell you when things will revert back to the way they used to be.”

http://www.scribd.com/doc/145514197/2013-HQFO-00304-Combined-Redacted-Part1

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch also show an email on Oct. 3, 2012 that suggests not turning illegal immigrant applicants away for lack of identification. “Biometric processing should not be refused solely because an applicant does not present an acceptable ID,” the email said.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/145512920/Ad-Hoc-Background-Check-Policy-Changes

Still, the White House has sold the initiative as a means of prosecutorial discretion.

“By removing the threat of deportation for young people brought to this country as children – known as 'DREAMers' – DHS has been able to focus its enforcement efforts on those who endanger our communities rather than students pursuing an education and seeking to better themselves and their communities,” Munoz said in a statement marking the anniversary of the policy.

Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, said the president is not authorized to unilaterally make this decision without Congress. However, she isn't opposed to providing some legal status to young people who are in the country illegally because their parents brought them if it is a secure policy separating a college bound high school student from a teen gang member.

“There is a consensus to give status to young people in that category,” Vaughan said. “But Congress should enact a stricter application process to keep terrorists and criminals out of the mix.”

Further, she said, legal immigrants who committed a misdemeanor must go through a lengthy process before attaining legal status, but the deferred action is only denied for serious crimes.

“You can't have a double standard. Illegal immigrants should have to meet the same standards as illegal immigrants,” Vaughan said.

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