The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services is considering ways to achieve aspects of the White House plan for immigration reform -- including giving some illegals permanent-resident status -- without the approval of Congress, ProPublica
reports. Congress appears unlikely to act on the politically sensitive issue this year, meaning the unresolved issue could spill into fall midterm election campaigns.
, a part of the Obama administration, outlines the ideas in a draft memo that includes the possibility of issuing green cards
to tens of thousands who entered the country illegally. "In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, CIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations," the memo advises.
It was prepared by senior aides for CIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas and made public by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who last month asked President Obama for assurances that rumors of a reprieve for illegal immigrants were unfounded. "This memo gives credence to our concerns that the administration will go to great lengths to circumvent Congress and unilaterally execute a back-door amnesty plan," Grassley told ProPublica, a non-profit investigative team.
Word of the draft memo comes as debate rages over a new Arizona law cracking down in illegal immigration, which took effect Thursday -- albeit stripped of its most controversial elements by a federal court ruling.
USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley said the agency would not comment on what he described as an internal memo that "should not equated with official action or policy" or mistaken "for final decisions." To be clear, he said Thursday night in an e-mail to ProPublica, the Obama administration "will not grant deferred action (delayed deportation) or humanitarian parole to the nation's entire illegal immigrant population." Bentley said the agency still thinks that "comprehensive bipartisan legislation, coupled with smart, effective enforcement, is the only solution to our nation's immigration challenges."