Two key Republican lawmakers critical of a White House policy to end the deportation of many illegal immigrants sent a letter to the administration today seeking information on implementation of the program, including background checks on applicants.
"Since the announcement of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive on June 15, 2012, we have made several requests to your department to be transparent and forthcoming about the program," Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"We remain concerned about the lack of detail provided to Congress, and today, we seek answers with regard to background checks on applicants and beneficiaries," the letter said.
The White House policy allows people illegally in the country who were brought to the United States as children younger than 16, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety and who meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from deportation proceedings. Beneficiaries would also be authorized to work.
"As of September 14, your department had received nearly 83,000 applications for deferred action," the letter said. "Some experts suggest that 1.76 million individuals will apply for the program, putting strain on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the adjudicators who process all other immigration benefits."
Republicans have been critical of the policy and have accused the president of instituting it in order to curry favor with Latino voters who are expected to play critical roles in some battleground states, including Nevada and Colorado, in the November elections.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told the Denver Post that he would leave the two-year visas in place. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed," Romney told the newspaper.
In their joint release touting the letter, Grassley and Smith refer to the policy as "backdoor amnesty."
Supporters of the proposal argue that the children of illegal immigrants should not be punished for the actions of their parents.
Touting workshops in Chicago set for Saturday to help people apply, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said last week: "I've met with countless young people who only want a chance to earn a chance to live and work without fear in the country they call home. President Obama's deferred action policy gives many of them that chance."
Durbin has been working for more than a decade to pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the children of some illegal immigrants.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.