In a court filing Justice Department attorneys informed Judge Andrew Hanen that 100,000 DACA program recipients received extended benefits, including work permits, prior to when the judge issued an injunction halting all program activity. Under prior direct questioning by the judge on the subject benefit issuance, Justice attorneys omitted having issued benefits before DACA’s February 18 start date.
The Administration claims that it is now complying with the judge’s order, although in recent weeks reports suggested officials were still engaging in planning despite the judge’s prohibition on implementation of all related activities.
On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to examine whether the Administration had violated Judge Hanen’s order. Testifying before the committee, the Administration claimed to have stopped hiring additional staff for the executive amnesties. Officials also said preparations to house application-processing staff in a leased building had been halted.
To house staff, USCIS had already leased a building in Crystal City, Virginia at a cost of $11 million. It now remains empty. The agency claims to have hired only two staff so far for amnesty-processing purposes, and say they declined to hire another 360 to comply with the judge’s order.
Senator’s questioned USCIS about the source of funding used to pay for the building lease and other planning to date, noting that the agency is funded through fees that have not yet been collected. USCIS said the agency keeps a backup fund of about $600 million to cover unexpected costs, such as early amnesty spending.
The executive amnesty could cost up to $500 million and necessitate hiring 3,100 new staff to process applications.
Updated: Wed, Mar 25th 2015 @ 6:00pm EDT