DHS: A Violator of the Misappropriation and Antideficiency Acts?

Views From The Bench

May 1, 2015

We read with great interest a letter written by a group of Representatives to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about potential violations of the Misappropriation Act and the Antideficiency Act by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The letter (attached here) relates to the President’s executive orders and the department’s implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs. The letter accurately describes the legal issues, concerns and questionable budget practices of the DHS.

We share the concerns of Judicial Watch and the authors of the letter that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has “created slush funds and skimmed off Congressionally authorized fees imposed on legal immigrants and their sponsors” in order to fund programs and benefits for illegal aliens that have not been specifically authorized by Congress. We have often wondered where USCIS obtained the funds to process thousands of applications for deferred action and employment authorization without going through the normal legislative budgeting process.

We do not profess to be experts on appropriations or the federal budget, but we do know, based upon our past work in federal agencies, that any money appropriated to an agency may only be used for its intended purpose and that no agency may spend or commit themselves to spend in advance or in excess of an amount available in an appropriation or fund.

It is deeply troubling to discover that an agency has accumulated billions of dollars to fund programs which have not been authorized by Congress and may have no legal basis under the Immigration and Nationality Act. We heartily endorse the decision by the congressional representatives to assert their authority to investigate the source and allocation of these funds. It is time for Congress to assert its constitutional authority over immigration.

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