Keep in mind, this is true even if DHS had some suspicion that the men may have helped the bombers, but did not have enough information to charge them with a crime. If DHS denied their applications without them having been convicted of a felony (one misdemeanor crime would not be enough), DHS would be acting in violation of the law, and could have violated the aliens’ “rights.” This is because the bill treats access to the legalization process as a legal right, and does not give DHS discretionary authority to deny applications for reasons other than the narrow reasons the statute lays out.
Even if the legalization application were eventually denied, even by the federal courts, DHS would be prohibited from using any evidence the men put in their application against them. The bill makes the application forever secret and protected by privacy laws. If DHS placed the alien in deportation proceedings, the immigration judge would be prohibited from seeing the legalization application, even if it contained fraudulent or other information that would be important to ordering the alien deported.
Even if their legalization applications were denied and DHS put them into proceedings to be deported, they could apply for asylum (and if granted, they would be on a quick path to citizenship).
Current law only allows immigrants to apply for asylum within their first year in the United States, but the Senate bill would do away with that.
Again, Senate Republicans supported this?
If these young men were successful in getting their legalization application granted, then they would qualify as DREAMers (young illegal immigrants without criminal records) and they would be on a very quick path to citizenship.
DHS agents would not have been permitted by their political leadership from removing the young men, immigrants who overstayed student visas and had no criminal record, before they were connected to the bombings — even though they had expired student visas and had no legal status.
In fact, the men apparently would be eligible for the administration’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and thus would have been formally immune from deportation and eligible for work authorization. Even more, the administration recently announced that parents of those who meet the DACA program also should not be removed, which is clearly in violation of current immigration laws.
The Senate bill is much worse than current law, so tilted in favor of illegal immigrants and Washington special interests and away from national security and personal responsibility that there is no way the House will be able to reach a reasonable compromise in conference.
The House should continue to work on immigration reform that is reasonable and balanced, and show the American people that there is a better way.
If the House goes to conference with the Senate bill, the result will be the Senate bill. The Senate conferees would include Judiciary Committee member Senator Orrin Hatch, and maybe even Senate sponsor Lindsey Graham (who supported the Senate bill as is). House Speaker Boehner will not have the political will to stop an immigration bill that gets out of conference, even if most House Republicans oppose it. An immigration conference in this Congress is a recipe for disaster.