We hear a lot about the need for a legalization program. For instance, the White House posted an article on the economic benefits of extending permanent resident status to undocumented immigrants. But we don’t hear much about how a legalization program would be implemented.

Implementation should include measures to overcome the fear undocumented immigrants have of submitting an application to DHS that acknowledges unlawful status and provides the information needed to locate them — and it should include measures to make it more difficult to obtain legalization with fraudulent applications.

These measures are necessary to ensure that the program will legalize as many qualified immigrants as possible and reduce the number of fraudulent legalizations.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides an example of a temporary legalization program that has not succeeded in addressing either of those problems.

Sharing information

In a letter dated June 4, 2020, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and the Chair of the Immigration and Naturalization Subcommittee Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the ability of immigration enforcement agencies to obtain personal information about DACA participants.

They said that when the Obama administration established the DACA program in 2012, it assured DACA applicants that USCIS would only share their personal information with ICE and CBP under limited circumstances — and “hundreds of thousands of young Americans relying on this assurance came forward to apply for deferred action.”

Although there was a promise of confidentiality in 2012, it was an empty one. DHS retained the ability to use the information for enforcement purposes without prior notice.

The federal courts eventually got involved, and a circuit court found that DACA applicants “could not reasonably believe that the information they provided as part of their DACA application would never be used for immigration enforcement purposes.”

Sharing information with enforcement agencies


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com