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21 Oct, 2014 04:21

Immigration surge? Obama administration to order millions of blank IDs, ‘green cards’

Immigration surge? Obama administration to order millions of blank IDs, ‘green cards’

In a move that may hint at future executive action on American immigration policy, a federal agency stated that it will look for a company to supply millions of blank work authorization and residency permits.

Specifically, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department posted a draft solicitation earlier this month announcing its intention to seek a vendor capable of delivering “an estimated 4 million cards annually with the potential to buy as many as 34 million cards total.”

The solicitation – which tips off potential bidders of upcoming announcements so they can prepare proposals – also states that the cards would need to be delivered over the course of five years.

“The objective of this procurement is to provide card consumables for the Document Management Division (DMD) that will be used to produce Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) and Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) cards,” the solicitation reads.

Inside a PDF of the draft solicitation, the USCIS stated that the winning contractor would need to be able to quickly process up to nine million PRC and EAD cards in order to “support potential ‘surge’” in demand and to “support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements.”

Both of these cards are already used under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan (DACA), which allows illegal immigrants to avoid deportation for two years if they meet certain conditions – a period of time that can be renewed on a case-by-case basis. Under this plan, immigrants can also earn EAD cards and work within the United States.

With comprehensive immigration reform stalled in Congress, though, President Obama is expected to announce significant changes to US policy sometime after the midterm elections in November. Barring action by Congress, an expansion of the DACA program is seen as most likely, perhaps with the Obama moving to cover parents of US citizens and/or those working in the American agricultural industry.

Permanent resident cards (AFP Photo)

Congress has been unable to successfully pass immigration reform, despite the fact that the Senate passed a bipartisan bill on the issue in 2013. The bill came under fierce criticism under the Republican-led House of Representatives, where conservatives blasted it as an “amnesty.” Among the most contentious issues was the so-called pathway to citizenship, which would have allowed immigrants to become citizens after completing various requirements, such as learning English and participating in a years-long application process.

The new solicitation for blank cards could figure into Obama’s expected executive order. An unnamed USCIS official told the Daily Mail that it was posted "in case the president makes the move we think he will.”

Speaking to the conservative outlet Breitbart.com – which first reported on the draft solicitation – Jessica Vaughan of the right-leaning Center for Immigration Studies said the document “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected” in 2013.

However, an a separate USCIS official told the Daily Mail the draft was published not as part of Obama’s upcoming policy changes, but in case Congress acts to pass immigration reform

Commenting on the polarizing nature of the debate, CNN’s John King dismissed the odds of Congress getting together to pass reform, saying conservatives are determined to oppose the broad strokes of the president’s plans.

"If the president uses his executive power as promised, Republicans will be pushing the grass-roots for confrontation, not compromise,” he said, as quoted by Newsmax.com. “An issue we thought after 2014 Republicans would try to deal with, will be with us until 2016 and beyond."