US Gov't Stocks Up for Green Cards 10/22 06:28
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Homeland Security Department appears to be preparing
for an increase in the number of immigrants living illegally in the country to
apply for work permits after President Barack Obama announces his long-promised
plans for executive actions on immigration reform later this year.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed to The Associated Press
that it has published a draft contract proposal to buy the card stock needed to
make work permits and Permanent Resident Cards, more commonly known as green
cards. The proposal calls for providing material for at least 5 million cards a
year, with as many as 9 million "during the initial period ... to support
possible future immigration reform initiative requirements." The contract calls
for as many 34 million cards over five years.
USCIS, the Homeland Security agency that oversees immigration benefits,
produces about 3 million work permits and Green Cards annually, so the new
contract would at least provide the Obama administration with the flexibility
to issue far more work permits or green cards even if it chose not to exercise
USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley described the proposal posted earlier
this month a routine contract solicitation.
"Solicitations of this nature are frequent practice," Bentley said. He said
the number of immigration applications can rise "for any number of any reasons."
The contract proposal was first reported by the online news site
Obama said earlier this year that he would act on his own if Congress failed
to pass immigration legislation. He has twice delayed making any changes,
saying as recently as last month that he would hold off on executive actions
until after November's midterm elections.
The administration has repeatedly declined to say what options Obama was
considering, but it is widely believed that he will expand protections from
deportation already extended to more than 500,000 young immigrants who came to
the United States as children. Under that program, known as Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals, many young immigrants who are in school or who have
graduated and don't have a criminal record can win protection from deportation
for up to two years. They are also eligible for work permits.
The president does not have the legal authority to unilaterally offer
immigrants in the country illegally green cards or any other permanent
immigration status. But administration officials have said the president can
authorize protection from deportation for immigrants on a case-by-case basis,
such as with the DACA program, and issue work permits.
USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez told an audience at a Georgetown University
Law Center conference Tuesday that his agency was ready for whatever
immigration changes Obama may announce. He declined to provide details.