The top Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Friday demanded that the Obama administration hand over key information about its deferred deportation program for illegal immigrants, including how many have been approved under the program, and why officials don't do more to verify the information received by these immigrants.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Senate Judiciary ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that asked him dozens of these questions ranging from basic data to deeper policy-related issues.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), along with his Senate counterpart Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), are seeking answers about the Obama administration's deferred action program for younger illegal immigrants. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been criticized by Republicans since it was announced in 2012 as something that will only encourage illegal immigration. In the letter, the two members of Congress argue that little is known about how the administration makes its decisions about who will be spared deportation, and said there are some troubling signs that officials are making it too easy for illegal immigrants to qualify as participants.
One of those signs is that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who have been spared deportation under DACA, only 147 applications have been rejected.
"Some of the questions below reflect our request for additional information surrounding the terminations, in hopes of learning who is obtaining DACA, who should not be obtaining DACA, and how policies can be improved to root our fraud and abuse," they wrote.
Another issue is the extent to which officials are trying to verify documentation they receive from applicants. Goodlatte has noted for several months that a DHS fact sheet on DACA says only that officials may check — but does not have to check — the validity of documents it receives.
The letter says that language is an invitation to fraud.
"With USCIS not regularly verifying the validity of the documentary evidence provided to it, applicants will undoubtedly take advantage of this fraud loophole," they wrote. "The American people deserve to understand why their own government would be encouraging fraud and potentially even helping some who want to do us harm game the system in order to do so."
Among other things, the members ask DHS for lots of raw data about the program, including how many were approved and rejected, and how many were denied because of criminal activity.
It also asked why DHS doesn't work to verify certain eligibility documents it receives from illegal immigrants, and how many immigrants with criminal records have received DACA protection.
Read their letter here: