Officials in South Carolina as well as throughout the United States have found themselves battling the federal government over the issuance of more than 2,500 work permits that were declared invalid after a controversial immigration initiative was halted by the courts. Some may soon be affected by the ruling, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
According to Johnson, the federal government has now reclaimed all but 22 of more than 2,500 work permits issued in error to immigrants and has corrected database errors so that the rest are invalidated. The report was filed in a Texas federal court, where Johnson and his staff are attempting to prove that they do not deserve to be held in contempt for their actions. The presiding judge has threatened to find the officials in contempt if he believes they have misled him about their compliance with the conditions of the court order.
The program was initiated by the Obama administration to change U.S. immigration policies in order to shield at least 5 million undocumented workers from deportation and provide them with the permits necessary to obtain jobs. In order to be eligible, workers must have been in the United States for at least five years and be parents of a child born in the United States. They must also have a clean criminal record. At this time, 26 states have filed lawsuits against the program, claiming that the financial burden of the program will be extreme and unmanageable for the states. The administration has filed an appeal with a federal appellate court in New Orleans.
The fight for immigrant rights is complicated, and the path to citizenship is not always easy. Those who are seeking the right to live and work in the United States should speak with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to avoid legal problems.