“Solicitations of this nature are frequent practice for all USCIS contracts and allow the Agency to be prepared for fluctuations in the number of immigration applications received, which can arise for any number of reasons,” Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for USCIS said in a statement.
At issue is a solicitation for materials to print as many as 34,000,000 ids over five years. The request for proposals says vendors must be capable of handling a “surge” of five million ids in one year “to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements.”
Republicans have denounced the draft proposal, saying it shows the Obama administration is already beginning to implement a broad executive amnesty that President Obama has said he is planning for after the midterm elections.
The USCIS statement includes two examples of previous USCIS contracts that included options to increase capacity, one for “security support services,” the other for “records operations support services.”
It's not unheard of for federal agencies to plan for contingencies, but the request specifically explains that the surge is related to potential changes in immigration policy.
“The Contractor shall demonstrate the capability to support potential 'surge' in PRC and EAD card demand for up to 9M cards during the initial period of performance to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements,” the document says.
A year ago, such a plan might have been attributed to a forthcoming immigration bill. Now, following the summer's border crisis, the chances of such a new law are extremely low, giving additional credence to the possibility the move is in preparation for an executive amnesty by Obama.
The RFP “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected in the 'Gang of Eight' bill,” Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies and former State Department official, said.
Earlier Monday, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner ripped Obama's planned executive amnesty.
“The Speaker has made perfectly clear to the president that it is unacceptable for him to unilaterally re-write immigration law on his own and the Speaker will never support this type of action,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading immigration hawk, called the document a “startling confirmation of the crisis facing our Republic.”