More than 5.5 million work permits were handed out by federal bureaucrats to illegal aliens and aliens with unknown legal status under the Obama administration's "shadow" government program from 2009 to 2014, according to a new Center for Immigration Studies report.

The shocking data, released under a Freedom of Information Request on Monday, reveals that the shadow immigration system handed out millions of work permits to aliens with varying legal status in the U.S. not only during a time of high unemployment among Americans, but also above and beyond the allowed number of new green card and temporary worker admissions in those years, WND reported.

"This is a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the limits set by Congress that inevitably impacts opportunities for U.S. workers, damages the integrity of the immigration system, and encourages illegal immigration," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at CIS.

"A huge number of work permits, 1.7 million, were issued to aliens whose status was unknown, not recorded by the adjudicator, or not disclosed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes the applications," the report said.

"This should be a concern; work permits are gateway documents to driver's licenses and other benefits, and if the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country, how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual's identity?"

"It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it," the report said.

The controversial report comes just as the Obama administration is preparing to implement an immigration plan that could provide legal protection to up to 5 million illegal immigrants and give them work permits, effectively granting them amnesty, according to TheBlaze.

"The remarkable number of work permits granted by the federal government to law-breaking aliens better explains how all net jobs growth since 2007 has gone to immigrants. ... And the data show that approximately 1,200 new work permits went to unlawful entrants who were denied asylum, were suspected of using fraudulent documentation, were stowaways, or were refused at a port of entry," The National Review reported.

In addition to the roughly 1.1 million legal immigrants and 700,000 guest workers that the U.S. admits legally each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued 5,461,568 new work permits to aliens, according to CIS.

Of that 5.5 million, 1.8 million new work permits were issued to aliens with temporary visas, but 1.2 million of that group had a visa status that does not authorize employment. Another 982,000 work permits were given to illegal immigrants or immigrants who weren't qualified for admission, most likely having crossed the border illegally.

Another group of 1.7 million is made up of aliens with unknown legal status.

"I was astonished at the huge number of work permits that are being issued by the Obama administration outside the legal immigration system through executive discretion, especially at a time of high unemployment and stagnant wages," Vaughan said. "Besides the effect on the American worker, it encourages and rewards more illegal immigration."

"These statistics indicate that the executive branch is operating a huge parallel immigrant work authorization system outside the bounds of the laws and limits written by Congress," CIS said. "It inevitably reduces job opportunities for Americans."

Meanwhile, the Senate will start to consider a House-passed spending bill that would defund Obama's new immigration plans this week.