oversight

Immigration Benefits: Tenth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-10-17.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548



          October 17, 2003

          Congressional Committees

          Subject: Immigration Benefits: Tenth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee
          Immigration Fairness Act of 1998

          This report responds to certain requirements of the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness
          Act (HRIFA) of 19981 that authorized certain Haitian nationals and their dependents to apply
          to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. Section 902(k) of the act requires the
          Comptroller General to report every 6 months on the number of Haitian nationals who have
          applied and been approved to adjust their status to legal permanent residence. The reports
          are to contain a breakdown of the number of Haitians who applied and the number who were
          approved as asylum applicants, parolees, children without parents, orphaned children, or
          abandoned children; or as the eligible dependents of these applicants, including spouses,
          children, and unmarried sons or daughters. Reports are to be provided until all applications
          have been finally adjudicated. This is our tenth report.2

          Results in Brief

          Through September 30, 2003, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS),
          formerly part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), had received a total of
          37,851 HRIFA applications and had approved 11,067of these applications.3 The Executive
          Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) had 1,094 applications filed and had approved 273 of
          them. Details on the categories of the applicants and approvals are provided in this report.




          1
          P.L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-538.
          2
           The previous reports were (1) U.S. General Accounting Office, Immigration Benefits: Applications for Adjustment of Status
          Under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO/GGD-99-92R (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 21, 1999);
          (2) Immigration Benefits: Second Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998,
          GAO/GGD-00-25R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 19, 1999); (3) Immigration Benefits: Third Report Required by the Haitian Refugee
          Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO/GGD-00-122R (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 14, 2000); (4) Immigration Benefits: Fourth
          Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-01-118R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 20, 2000);
          (5) Immigration Benefits: Fifth Report Required by the Haitian Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-01-651R
          (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 20, 2001); (6) Immigration Benefits: Sixth Report Required by the Haitian Immigration Fairness Act
          of 1998, GAO-02-114R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 2001); (7) Immigration Benefits: Seventh Report Required by the Haitian
          Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-02-600R (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 18, 2002); (8) Immigration Benefits: Eighth Report
          Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-03-240R (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 22, 2002); and (9)
          Immigration Benefits: Ninth Report Required by the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998, GAO-03-681R
          (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 21, 2003).
          3
           On March 1, 2003, INS was transferred from the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security. Within
          Homeland Security, the adjudication of HRIFA benefits is the responsibility of BCIS.



                                                                                            GAO-04-189R Immigration Benefits
Background

Haitian applicants are to send their applications to BCIS’s Nebraska Service Center in
Lincoln, Nebraska. A contractor at the service center is responsible for processing the
applications up to the point of their adjudication by BCIS examiners. An application may be
adjudicated at the service center or in a BCIS district with jurisdiction over the area where
the alien applicant resides. Generally, applications that are complete and evidentially
sufficient can be adjudicated at the service center, according to BCIS officials. If an interview
is required or other issues need to be resolved, the application is to be forwarded to the
appropriate BCIS district where the applicant can be interviewed and the application
adjudicated. Data on Haitian applicants are to be entered in BCIS’s Computer Linked
Application Information System (CLAIMS).

Haitian nationals who are eligible for HRIFA should file their applications with EOIR rather
than BCIS if they have (1) a proceeding pending before the Immigration Court or the Board of
Immigration Appeals or (2) a pending motion to reopen or reconsider filed on or before May
12, 1999. Thus, Haitian nationals who are in deportation, exclusion, or removal proceedings,
and whose cases have not been administratively closed, are to file their HRIFA application
with EOIR, not BCIS.4 Data on Haitian applicants are to be entered in EOIR’s case-tracking
system, the Automated Nationwide System for Immigration Review (ANSIR).

The deadline for principal applicants filing an application for adjustment of status under
HRIFA was March 31, 2000. Dependents of principal applicants have no application deadline.5

HRIFA Applications Received and Approved by BCIS

Through September 30, 2003, BCIS data showed that it had received 37,851 HRIFA
applications at its Nebraska Service Center, all of which had been entered into CLAIMS. The
categories and numbers of these applicants are shown in table 1. Through September 30,
2003, BCIS had approved 11,067applications for adjustment of status under HRIFA.

Table 1: HRIFA Applications and Categories of Applications Received and Approved by BCIS, through
September 30, 2003

                                                                                Number of                       Number of
 Principal or                                                               applications in                    applications
 dependent                 Category of applicant                                   CLAIMS                        approved
 Principal                 Asylum                                                    17,324                           5,992
 Principal                 Parolee                                                    8,899                           2,611
 Principal                 Child without parents                                      1,228                             121
 Principal                 Orphaned child                                               240                              25
 Principal                 Abandoned child                                              480                              24
 Dependent                 Spouse                                                     3,414                             745
 Dependent                 Child                                                      5,931                           1,474
 Dependent                 Unmarried son or daughter                                    335                              75
 Total                                                                               37,851                          11,067
Source: BCIS data.



4
EOIR was not transferred to Homeland Security and remains part of the Department of Justice.
5
 The Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (title XI of P.L. 106-553, as amended by title XV of P.L. 106-554) went into effect
on December 21, 2000. This act amended HRIFA to waive certain grounds of inadmissibility for aliens applying for relief under
HRIFA. Interim regulations implementing these changes to HRIFA went into effect on May 31, 2001.



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HRIFA Applications Filed with and Approved by EOIR

Through September 30, 2003, EOIR data from ANSIR showed that 1,094 HRIFA applications
had been filed with EOIR, of which 273 had been approved for adjustment of status. Table 2
provides information on the categories and numbers of HRIFA applicants and approvals.

Table 2: HRIFA Applications and Categories of Applications Filed with and Approved by EOIR, through
September 30, 2003

                                                                 Number of             Number of
 Principal or                                                applications in          applications
 dependent              Category of applicant                        ANSIR              approved
 Principal              Asylum                                           629                   145
 Principal              Parolee                                          281                    66
 Principal              Child without parents                             50                    22
 Principal              Orphaned child                                     7                     4
 Principal              Abandoned child                                    6                     3
 Dependent              Spouse                                            75                    21
 Dependent              Child                                             39                     9
 Dependent              Unmarried son or daughter                          7                     3
 Total                                                                 1,094                   273
Source: EOIR data.

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Our objectives for this report were to determine (1) the number and categories of applicants 

who filed applications with BCIS or EOIR and (2) the number and categories of applicants 

whose applications were approved by BCIS or EOIR. To attain these objectives, we relied on 

BCIS and EOIR to provide us with data on applicants and the number of approvals. We did 

not independently verify the data provided by BCIS or EOIR. We conducted our work 

between September and October 2003, in accordance with generally accepted government 

auditing standards. 


We provided the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security with a draft of this report for 

comment and received their informal comments on October 15, 2003. BCIS and EOIR had no 

comments on the report.


We are sending copies of this letter to the Attorney General and the Secretary of the 

Department of Homeland Security and will make copies available to others upon request. The 

letter is also available on GAO’s home page at http://www.gao.gov. If you have any questions 

about this report, please contact me at (202) 512-8777. The key contributor to this assignment 

was Anthony L. Hill. 





Laurie E. Ekstrand 

Director, Homeland Security 

 and Justice Issues 


(440254)




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List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable Ted Stevens 

Chairman 

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd 

Ranking Minority Member 

Committee on Appropriations 

United States Senate 


The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch 

Chairman 

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy 

Ranking Minority Member 

Committee on the Judiciary 

United States Senate 


The Honorable C.W. Bill Young 

Chairman 

The Honorable David R. Obey 

Ranking Minority Member 

Committee on Appropriations 

House of Representatives 


The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. 

Chairman 

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr. 

Ranking Minority Member 

Committee on the Judiciary 

House of Representatives 





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