Ten years ago, the government decided to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.
As it turns out, the administration spent a billion dollars for one online immigration form over the past decade. Ninety-four others are in the hopper. The program was originally supposed to cost half-a-billion dollars and it was to be completed by 2013.
By 2012, officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which includes USCIS (Immigration services), were aware that the project was riddled with hundreds of critical software and other defects. But the agency nonetheless began to roll it out, in part because of pressure from Obama administration officials who considered it vital for their plans to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, according to the internal documents and interviews, the Washington Post reported.
DHS appears to be responsible.
The Government Accountability Office has blasted the immigration service for shoddy planning, saying the agency awarded the IBM contract “prior to having a full understanding of requirements and resources needed to execute the program.” As a result, basic planning documents were incomplete or unreliable, including cost estimates and schedules.
If it does, and if it involves possible citizenship or legal status for the 11.3 million immigrants who are in the country illegally, the policy would flood the government with millions of complicated new applications.
“Oh, God help us,’’ said Harry Hopkins, a former immigration services official who worked on the Transformation project. “If there is immigration reform, they are going to be overwhelmed.’’
Does anyone still believe the government can vet illegal immigrants and refugees?
Palma Yanni, a D.C. immigration lawyer and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, is concerned.
“If there are some bad apples in there who should not get a green card, who are terrorists who want to do us harm, how on earth are they going to find these people if they’re sending mountains of paper immigration files all over the United States?’’ Yanni asked.
The new projected costs will amount to 3.1 billion dollars and will take another four years. By then, it will likely be dated.