WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama’s plan to grant temporary work permits to illegal immigrants under the age of 31 comes with an expensive price tag. According to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press the plan will require hiring hundreds of new federal employees to process the more than 1 million anticipated requests and could cost $585 million.
Illegal immigrants can request permission to stay in the country under the plan by filing a document, “Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and simultaneously apply for a work permit starting Aug. 15. Processing costs incurred by the federal government will cost an estimated $465 per applicant.
The program, announced by President Barack Obama last month, stipulates that eligible immigrants must:
- Have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
- Be 30 or younger
- Have been living in the U.S. at least five years
- Be in school, a graduate, or served in the military
- Have no criminal record or otherwise pose a safety threat
Eligible illegals can apply to stay in the country and be granted a work permit for two years, but would not be granted citizenship.
Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said the plans obtained by the AP were “preliminary documents” and that the process is still being worked out. Boogaard said processing immigrant applications under the program “will not use taxpayer dollars” because of the fees that will be collected.
But just as with Obamacare, waivers are a part of the plan. Fee waivers would dramatically add to the government’s share of the cost. The plans said that, depending on how many applicants don’t pay, the government could lose between $19 million and $121 million.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) observed: “By lowering the fee or waiving it altogether for illegal immigrants, those who play by the rules will face delays and large backlogs as attention is diverted to illegal immigrants. American taxpayers should not be forced to bail out illegal immigrants and President Obama’s fiscally irresponsible policies.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimated it could receive more than 1 million applications during the first year of the program, or more than 3,000 per day. It would cost between $467 million and $585 million to process applications in the first two years of the program, with revenues from fees paid by immigrants estimated at $484 million, according to the plans. That means the cost to the government could range from a gain of $16 million to a loss of more than $101 million.
The government estimated that as many as 890,000 immigrants in the first year would be immediately eligible to avoid deportation. The remaining 151,000 immigrants would likely be rejected as ineligible. The plans estimated that the Homeland Security Department could need to hire more than 1,400 full-time employees, as well as contractors, to process the applications. Salaries were included in the agency’s estimates of total program costs.
Once immigrants submit their applications, it could take between two and 10 days for the Homeland Security Department to scan and file it. It could take up to four weeks longer to make an appointment for immigrants to submit their fingerprints and take photographs. A subsequent background check could take six more weeks, and then three more months for the government to make its final decision before a work permit would be issued.
The Department of Homeland says that illegal immigrants would generally not be detained by immigration authorities while their application is pending.