The measure was recently announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. It appears that in the last few years USCIS has been preoccupied with shielding illegal aliens who may not be candidates for the president’s broader executive amnesty initiatives from deportation. Judicial Watch has reported on this extensively over the years, publishing articles on the administration’s special hurricane, earthquake and Ebola amnesty programs.
Now we have “severe weather” amnesty for those who live in the Southern and Midwestern United States. Massive flooding has battered the region and rivers from Texas to Illinois have surged out of control. At least 31 flood-related deaths have been reported, mostly in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri and thousands have been evacuated. Undoubtedly it’s a dire situation that clearly deserves emergency help from the federal government. But extending special immigration rights seems like a bit much, though. The administration appears to be getting incredibly creative as it finds new reasons to shield immigrants from deportation.
Here’s how it works; the U.S. government offers immigration relief measures that may help people affected by unforeseen circumstances such as the recent severe weather and flooding in areas of the southern and Midwestern United States, according to the USCIS. At the request of immigrants living in the region, the agency will “re-parole” individuals, expedite employment authorization and change the nonimmigrant status of individuals “even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.” That essentially means illegal immigrants will get reprieve. A special note directs immigrants to mention that “severe weather created a need for the requested relief.”
This emergency amnesty will be granted under a program reserved for “special situations,” USCIS explains in a separate document. “Sometimes natural catastrophes and other extreme situations can occur that are beyond your control,” the agency states. “These events can affect your USCIS application, petition or immigration status. We cannot anticipate these events, but will do our best to help you get the benefits for which you qualify.” The agency offers similar benefits for immigrants who claim they can’t return to their home country due to “civil unrest” or “severe environmental disasters.” Under those provisions, large chunks of the world would qualify including the entire Middle East, practically all of Mexico and most of Central America.
Indeed, in the last few years we’ve seen droves of illegal immigrants benefit from these special initiatives, which are sometimes classified as Temporary Protective Status (TPS) though they end up becoming permanent. In 2014 the Obama administration extended TPS for tens of thousands of Hondurans and Nicaraguans because a hurricane (Mitch) hit the Central American countries nearly two decades ago. Tens of thousands of Haitians continue to benefit from protected status in the U.S. as well, thanks to a 2010 earthquake.