DREAM Plan Poses "Significant Implementation Challenges"

"The large number of people who could qualify for relief under the policy presents significant implementation challenges that need be addressed:

  • Capacity: Case-by-case review and determinations are a labor-intensive process that will require considerable staff capacity, especially for USCIS, which is expected to be ready in 60 days to process applications. Of the immigration agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS will have the largest workload. Already, the agency processes more than 5 million applications for immigration benefits per year. The two-step process — a grant of deferred action status, followed by a work authorization application — will only add to staff workload. Also, groups and individuals representing applicants (legal defense, advocacy organizations, etc.) will have to significantly increase their capacity to prepare necessary documentation, and advise clients of the consequences of applying, including the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings. Indeed, alerts have already been issued warning people of the possibility of fraud by unscrupulous or fraudulent service providers.
  • Training and Supervision: Officers at ICE, CBP, and USCIS will have to be trained to adjudicate applications for deferred action and work authorization under the new criteria. Since there is no appeal process for deferred action and work authorization, there will be stronger need for appropriate supervision. There will be a particular need to ensure that disparate criteria for relief are not used in different jurisdictions around the country. Establishing clear agency guidance and a central oversight authority will be important to create uniformity in agencies’ decisionmaking.
  • Outreach: Given the population affected by the new action (unauthorized immigrants living in fear of deportation), both the government and civil society groups will have to undertake a broad public relations and outreach campaign to inform potential beneficiaries of the eligibility criteria, incentivize them to apply and address their concerns about coming forward and identifying themselves to the government, and at the same time inform them of the potential consequences, if their applications are denied.
  • Unresolved Issues: At this point, DHS has acknowledged that certain issues remain undecided, for instance, the question of how to define and verify continuous presence in the country, which is a qualifier for the relief offered. Documentation to demonstrate continuous presence will be a challenge for a younger population, many of whom lack bank accounts, rental or mortgage payments, or utility bills. Similarly, DHS has yet to define what a significant misdemeanor entails and has not resolved which of those denied deferred action will be placed in removal proceedings. Also, DHS has not determined whether those granted deferred action will be able to travel outside of the country and legally return." - MPI, June 20, 2012.