Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced the new prosecutorial discretion policy on June 15 in a memo entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.” The new policy aims to give relief to certain undocumented immigrants by giving them permission to live and work in the United States.
U.S. House Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked several questions in a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton on July 3 about how the Obama administration’s new prosecutorial discretion policy will be implemented. Smith blasted the new policy as “blatantly political” and an “unprecedented breach of faith” that “ignores the rule of law” and labeled it as “amnesty.”
Smith said that since there are no standards in place of how the agency will process prosecutorial discretion applications and what documentary evidence it will require of applicants in order for them to establish eligibility. The new prosecutorial discretion policy will encourage massive amounts of fraud, Smith said, stating that there will be a high demand for fraudulent documents that prove undocumented immigrants arrived in the United States and attended school before age 16.
“History has proven that amnesty is an open invitation to fraud” said Smith. He referenced the 1986 Special Agricultural Worker (SAW) program that was designed to help undocumented farmworkers and noted that Professor Phillip Martin of the University of California at Davis estimated that up to two-thirds of the applications for that program were fraudulent.
Smith suggested that certain requirements should be established for each application 1) each person must seek the relief in person 2) each person must submit a valid school transcript 3) each transcript must be verified as valid by the educational institution 4) each person must submit documentary evidence that demonstrates physical presence in the United States at the time the memo was issued, and 5) documentary evidence of physical presence in the United States for five years.