Keeping with an Obama-era tradition of offering illegal immigrants reprieve, the Trump administration is providing those in the Houston area with hurricane amnesty in the aftermath of Harvey. Judicial Watch reported extensively on the special Obama amnesties, which were granted for inclement weather, a virus, natural disasters and tainted water in a U.S. city. One of Obama’s final special amnesty programs was issued last year for victims of Hurricane Matthew, the powerful storm that slammed the southeastern United States, killing dozens and causing severe flooding.
Prior to that, Obama took advantage of Hurricane Sandy to waive immigration laws, including for violators of student visas like most of the 9/11 hijackers that carried out the worst terrorist attack on American soil. The official announcement, issued by USCIS, stated that the government “understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to maintain a lawful immigration status.” Among the benefits of that hurricane amnesty was “expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing economic hardship.” Hurricanes in other countries have also benefitted illegal aliens in the U.S. who happen to be nationals of the affected regions, even though they don’t live there.
Other natural disasters abroad also resulted in special reprieves for illegal aliens in the United States during the Obama years. A special earthquake amnesty was implemented for Ecuadorean nationals living in the U.S. illegally and the word spread like wildfire in Spanish media reports published throughout Latin America. Officially this is known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian measure designed to temporarily shield illegal immigrants from deportation during emergencies. In a Spanish announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it was helping Ecuadoreans in the U.S. by granting them work permits and waving visa fees of candidates show that their financial situation was hurt by the earthquake a continent away.
The Obama administration also granted Ebola amnesty for illegal aliens from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, earthquake amnesty for Haitians, hurricane amnesty for Hondurans and Nicaraguans and “ongoing armed conflict” amnesty for nationals of Yemen, an Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. In 2016, the administration also rewarded illegal aliens in the Southern and Midwestern United States “severe weather” amnesty due to the flooding that battered the region and forced rivers from Texas to Illinois to surge out of control. An absurd water amnesty was also rewarded last year to illegal aliens in Michigan. That reprieve was implemented after pro-immigrant Spanish media outlets demanded that The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refrain from enforcing immigration laws in areas of Flint affected by a crisis in which the areas water got contaminated with lead from decaying old pipes.
Apparently, the Trump administration has no intention of ending the madness. A few weeks ago U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency charged with overseeing lawful immigration to the United States, announced its Hurricane Harvey amnesty to help “people affected by unforeseen circumstances, including disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.” The language is taken right out of agency press releases issued for similar causes under Obama. Under the Hurricane Harvey plan, the agency will change a nonimmigrant status or extend a nonimmigrant stay for individuals currently in the U.S. “Failure to apply for the extension or change before expiration of your authorized period of admission may be excused if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control,” according to a USCIS announcement. Other perks include a “re-parole” of individuals previously granted parole, expedited processing of parole requests, expedited adjudication of employment authorization and a variety of other benefits not usually extended to those who have violated American laws. A note at the bottom of the USCIS announcement reads; “when making a request, please explain how the impact of Hurricane Harvey created a need for the requested relief.” It will be interesting to see how the agency confirms the storm’s impact before granting the reprieve.