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Smith Letter Denounces Deferred Action, Requests Anti-Fraud Measures; NAFSA Applauds Obama Administration Policy

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary, sent a letter on July 3, 2012, to John Morton, Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, denouncing the new Obama administration plan to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to grant deferred action and work authorization to certain children of undocumented persons. Rep. Smith called it an "overreach of executive branch authority," a "magnet for fraud," and a "blatantly political" action that is an "unprecedented breach of faith with the American people and ignores the rule of law."

Rep. Smith recommended various anti-fraud measures, including matching and verifying school transcripts for applicants, requiring applicants to seek relief in person, and requiring applicants to demonstrate physical presence through documentation.

Rep. Smith expressed concerns that deferred action is already being applied, and asked a number of questions, including how many individuals had been granted deferred action and whether any evidentiary standard was in place. Rep. Smith said that the "lack of forethought" about processing and implementation before the policy was announced was a "dereliction of the duty the President vowed to uphold." "Unfortunately, this administration continues to place partisan politics and illegal immigrants ahead of the American people and the rule of law," he said. Rep. Smith asked for ongoing briefings to be kept informed about the policy as it is developed and implemented.

Not everyone was displeased by the new Obama administration policy, however. NAFSA: Association of International Educators applauded the action and called it a "major step forward." NAFSA said it has long urged making deferred action official government policy for undocumented students in the United States. "It will offer urgently needed reprieve, on a rigorous case-by-case basis, for individuals who currently find themselves, through no fault of their own, in an untenable and frightening legal limbo," NAFSA said, noting that undocumented students, brought to the United States by their parents as children, "today live under the constant threat of deportation and are unable to contribute productively to the only country they call home."

NAFSA also called for Congress to pass the DREAM Act and confer the benefits in that act by law.

Rep. Smith's Letter to Director Morton

NAFSA's Statement

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