The PJ Tatler

Smith, Grassley to Napolitano: Why Didn't You Charge Extra Fees to DREAMers?

Two key congressional Republicans asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano how the new policy mimicking the DREAM Act will be enforced without costing American taxpayers extra money.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want clarification behind the fees assessment for the application process, which starts Aug. 15. The rules were unveiled Friday, and Smith criticized the guidance as letting illegal-immigrant students go to the front of the line ahead of immigrants applying and waiting in the standard legal route.

“Historically, the refusal of USCIS to charge enough in application/processing fees to cover the actual costs of processing those applications resulted in an enormous backlog of legal immigration benefits applications and in very long processing wait times for legal immigrants and aspiring U.S. citizens.  Per USICS request, Congress provided funds to USCIS specifically to hire personnel to reduce that backlog,” Smith and Grassley wrote Napolitano.

Individuals will be able to request deferred action consideration by submitting a request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the standard $380 fee to process an employment authorization application and the $85 fee that is charged to all immigrants to cover the cost of the biometric check. The new process charges no additional fees for the DREAMers who will rush to submit applications on opening day.

“The decision not to charge a fee for form I-821D processing threatens a return to enormous backlogs and another request to Congress for appropriated funds,” they wrote. “It is wrong to put the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of legal immigrants and U.S. citizens. And it is an additional insult to make U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for this massive amnesty program.”

“For the sake of preserving our immigration system and ensuring that policies are fiscally sound, we would like to understand the Department’s rationale for the fee assessment for illegal immigrants who will benefit from the directive. We deserve honesty and accountability, and seek to ensure that legal immigrants and taxpayers will not be hurt by this faulty plan.”