Federal officials appear to be preparing for a series of immigration policy reforms promised by President Obama.
According to a draft contract posted online earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is searching for a vendor to provide enough cardstock to print millions of work permits and permanent resident cards, also known as green cards. The contract calls for a company with the capacity to print as many as 34 million green cards over five years, roughly double the current volume, according to the Associated Press.
Chris Bentley, a spokesperson for USCIS, confirmed the agency published the contract, but did not address specifics. "Solicitations of this nature are frequent practice for all USCIS contracts and allow the Agency to be prepared for fluctuations in the number of immigration applications received, which can arise for any number of reasons," he said in a statement Tuesday.
President Obama has vowed to take action to change immigration policy after the midterm elections, since Congress has thus far failed to pass a bill during his presidency. Earlier this year, the president asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its practices "to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely." The changes, according to Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson, will be "comprehensive in nature."
Details about the president's immigration plan remain unclear, but the head of USCIS, which will be responsible for instituting many of the reforms, said Tuesday that the agency will be prepared.
“We’re going to be ready,” Rodríguez told NBC News. “Our agency will be shouldering the primary responsibility for executing whatever it is.”
The president cannot unilaterally grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants — that's up to Congress — but he does have the power to refocus resources and tweak existing policy. Under a proposal backed by tech lobbyists, for instance, he could free up tens of thousands of employment-based green cards annually by allowing immigrant workers to bring their spouses and children to the U.S. without counting those dependents against the annual visa cap.
Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.