Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) teamed up last week to demand answers from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding the Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announced June 15. (Read letter here; see USCIS DACA Website) In the October 2nd letter, the Members state, “We remain concerned about the lack of detail provided to Congress….Because this is a discretionary decision not to pursue enforcement against a person for a specified period of time, we would ask the Department [DHS] to be transparent and forthcoming about the details, criteria and process of the deferred action directive.” (Id.)
In particular, the Grassley and Smith letter expresses serious concern about the integrity of the program. It sets forth ten questions asking what forms of documentation the applicants are required to show, and what level of background check DHS will conduct on them. (Id.) Some of the inquiries include:
- Describe what databases are queried as part of the applicants’ background check and what government agency maintains the database;
- At what stage of the background check is the Fraud Detection and National Security unit at USCIS consulted;
- Will the Department [of Homeland Security] require in-person interviews? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not; and
- Does USCIS have a sufficient number of employees to process the background checks for the large volume of applicants? Is USCIS currently hiring employees or have any vacancies for these positions? (Id.)
The letter is particularly powerful as Sen. Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Smith is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Using their authority, they demanded answers to these questions by Oct. 12, 2012.