On Tuesday, Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) circulated a letter to his Republican colleagues demanding President Obama end a 2012 presidential initiative that has kept some undocumented immigrants from deportation proceedings. Issa’s reasoning? That initiative is responsible for the current stream of unaccompanied child refugees through the southern border. This is despite the fact that residency restrictions would disqualify applicants who came in after June 15, 2007.
In particular, Issa’s letter to his colleagues pointed to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for instigating the humanitarian crisis in which more than 90,000 unaccompanied children are expected to come into the United States by the end of this year. Issa also blamed the President for doing “little to end the perception” that the children won’t receive preferential immigration status after they get into the United States. The letter in part stated that “the only way to effectively end the current crisis and prevent any future surge is to end the President’s failed policies … President Obama has done little to end the perception that unaccompanied alien children will not receive preferential immigration status.” Issa asked his colleagues to sign the letter by the end of business day Thursday. Issa sent a similar letter to the President to end DACA.
The DACA program granted temporary legal presence and work authorization to qualified undocumented immigrants — at least 553,000 thus far — brought to the country as children. With a cut-off date of June 15, 2007, the program is only applicable for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country at least seven years ago and have fulfilled numerous requirements.
Issa’s letter is a hard retreat from last year when he briefly entertained granting temporary legal status for undocumented immigrants. He failed to produce an immigration bill at the time.
Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, emphasized Tuesday night that Issa’s effort is part of an overall Republican strategy to score political points. Sharry said, “Have they no shame? It says something about the dominant Republican mindset that their preferred policy response to an 8-year old fleeing violence and arriving at our border today is to deport a 20-year old college student who’s been living here for a decade.” According to the latest Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings Institute poll, only 19 percent of Americans favor a policy that “would identify and deport all immigrants living in the United States illegally.”