Why Andrea Quarantillo of USCIS should be fired (misleads about TPS, remittances; Haiti; 100,000 expected to apply)

Andrea Quarantillo is the District Director for New York of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and if that agency had serving U.S. interests as its first priority she'd be out of a job. From this:

[Quarantillo] expects that about 110,000 Haitians will have applied for TPS by the July deadline.

She says that after the earthquake, Haiti could not support any Haitians returning to the country. The reasoning behind the policy, she explains, was to take some of the pressure off Haiti.

"It also allows Haitian nationals in the US to work and live legally here and perhaps send remittances back home which helps the economy and helps the recovery," she adds.

First, does anyone in their right mind think Haitians living illegally in the U.S. were going to rush to return home after the earthquake? Does anyone in their right mind think that the Department of Homeland Security was going to deport people there right after the earthquake? Does anyone in their right mind think that the DHS was going to conduct large-scale enforcement actions against Haitian illegal aliens? Quarantillo is selling a fantasy world, and the BBC is buying into it instead of calling her on it.

Second, for the reasons outlined here and here, the policies she's promoting will have the opposite effect to that which she claims to want. Those policies will make things worse both here and in Haiti. Remittances won't help Haiti in the long-term, they'll just make them even more dependent on us and less likely to enact reforms.

The best solution to deal with this issue would be to do what the DHS already does: don't enforce the laws. Those Haitians already in DHS's custody could remain there for a while or in some cases could be released with electronic monitoring. A more ambitious plan would involve some form of rebuilding corps in which we'd pay qualified Haitian illegal aliens to return home and help their country. That obviously could be abused but if most of our leaders weren't completely corrupt safeguards could be put into place.

Then, there's this curious bit, bolding added:

Ms Quarantillo says TPS can open up enormous opportunities.

"In eight years you could certainly get yourself a college education, you could probably get a job that might have a skill for which your employer could ask that you be given a green card, and even in that amount of time you would be very close to being able to apply for citizenship," she says.

TPS is supposedly for just 18 months, so where she's getting the eight years isn't clear. Whatever it is, I don't think there's an innocent explanation.

Ms Quarantillo's response [to those who say TPS is permanent] is firm. "It is not an amnesty, absolutely not. Temporary Protected Status is a benefit", she says.

People with a criminal record cannot apply, she stresses.

Nothing in those two sentences makes sense. The stock response to someone saying something is an amnesty is to talk about how it has to be earned; she's saying instead it's a "benefit". Maybe she should check with Frank Sharry or Tamar Jacoby first. The second sentence is a non sequitur: the issue of whether something is an amnesty or not is entirely separate from the issue of whether criminals can apply for the program. Criminals were able to apply to past comprehensive immigration reform bills, but they were amnesties because that's how they would be perceived, not because of who could apply. Does she even understand what people mean by amnesty?

To answer the last question, here's the kicker:

I ask Andrea Quarantillo what happens to the Haitians like Ms Semplice if their temporary work permits are not extended at the end of 18 months.

"When TPS expires, US citizenship and immigration service does not take all those TPS files and turn them over to immigration customs and enforcement and ask them to remove people from the US," she tells me.

"We simply shelve those files. If one of the enforcement agencies needs them because they have an issue with that person, they will call for a file specifically, but we do not just line them up and process them for deportation."

She's at least honest about one thing: TPS is a sham.

Contacting the DHS and suggesting that Quarantillo be fired over her comments would be worthless, since she's doing what the Obama administration wants. However, if you have a minute, please contact your representatives with the link to the BBC article and suggest that they contact DHS with their concerns.