- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Obama administration blamed a technology glitch for why it continued to approve new amnesty applications in February, even after a federal judge issued an injunction, telling the court late Friday that they are now begging about 2,000 illegal immigrants to tear up their three-year work authorizations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency that approved the deportation amnesty applications for Dreamers despite the judge’s order, insisted it’s corrected the immigrants’ records at headquarters, but said it’s also asking the immigrants themselves to send back their three-year documents and accept two-year papers instead.

The agency also told Judge Andrew S. Hanen that more botched cases could still be found as employees dig through tens of thousands of applications.

President Obama’s lawyers are desperately trying to head off punishment by Judge Hanen after several embarrassing missteps.

First, the lawyers misled the court as to more than 100,000 three-year amnesty applications that were approved between Nov. 20 and Feb. 16, when Judge Hanen issued his injunction. The lawyers said they didn’t intend to mislead, and they assumed the judge knew those applications were being approved.

Then the Homeland Security Department announced it had approved the 2,000 or so three-year applications even after the injunction — a clear violation of the judge’s order, and raising questions about the lawyers’ excuses for the first 100,000 botched applications.

“As the director of USCIS, I accept full responsibility,” agency chief Leon Rodriguez said in an affidavit filed with Judge Hanen. “In retrospect, I believe that USCIS should have exercised greater management oversight of the efforts to halt the production and issuance of three-year notices and [Employment Authorization Documents] once the court issued its injunction.”

Judge Hanen has halted Mr. Obama’s expanded deportation amnesty, announced in November, that would grant tentative legal status and work permits, or Employment Authorization Documents, to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. The amnesty expands an earlier 2012 program Mr. Obama announced that covers so-called Dreamers, or young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Under the original amnesty, known officially as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, Dreamers could get two-year status and work permits. As part of his expansion last year Mr. Obama raised that to three years, and USCIS immediately began approving those three-year applications for the Dreamers eligible for the 2012 policy.

That’s what’s landed the agency in trouble.

Administration officials said the more than 100,000 applications approved between November and Feb. 16 were a misunderstanding, while the 2,000 cases approved since the Feb. 16 injunction were a problem with the agency’s process.

Donald Neufeld, the agency employee who is overseeing the deportation amnesty, said when the inunction came down, they stopped all amnesty applications. A few days later they began processing two-year approvals again, but didn’t catch thousands of three-year cases that were in the pipeline.

“The February 20 instruction to resume production of EADs led to the issuance of three-year EADs for the previously held EAD-pending cases, although the intention had been for only the two-year EADs to proceed to production,” Mr. Neufeld said in an affidavit. “IT personnel had implemented a system-wide pause on the production of all DACA-related EAD requests in the queue. They had not removed production requests for three-year EADs from the queue.”

Judge Hanen was already weighing what punishment to issue to the administration for the initial 100,000 cases. The judge has yet to comment publicly on the 2,000 additional cases.

Technology has bedeviled the Obama administration on other big items on the president’s agenda. In 2013, the federal Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, went live despite not having been fully vetted, and the site repeatedly crashed, forcing the government to scramble and rewrite legal deadlines to try to get people to sign up.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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