The political debate over President Obama's unilateral immigration actions is obscuring the more basic question of whether the federal government is up to the task of handling a flood of applications from as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants seeking quasi-legal status, Politico reports. The agency that handles immigration paperwork may have to double its capacity for applications very quickly; critics say the potential for fraud increases with a high volume of immigrants in a short amount of time; and the wait time for all kinds of immigration approvals could dramatically increase.
Administration officials are acutely aware of the dangers posed by failing to carry through on the promises Obama outlined last week. Throughout the planning for the new immigration moves, White House aides and other officials have been intent on avoiding the kind of logistical and practical execution problems that made the roll-out of Healthcare.gov such a debacle. The immigration effort is a similar high-wire act that needs to be carried out without legislative or financial help from Congress. It involves two agencies with checkered reputations among immigrant rights advocates: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. USCIS will have up to six months to get ready to accept applications, but will be pressured to process those requests quickly and could be tempted to cut corners.