Monday, February 24, 2014

Swinging the Door Wide Open: Asylum Fraud


As previously reported on this site, despite clear evidence of widespread asylum fraud, the Obama Administration plans to make changes to the current asylum process which will make it make it even easier to qualify for asylum in the United States (see Easing of Asylum Rules Has Potentially Serious National Security Implications (2/10/14) and Immigration Isn't Only "Broken", It's Being "Abused And Misused" With Impunity!" (2/06/14).

If the Administration is not convinced of the folly of such action after receiving a report from their own Department of Homeland Security showing that a full 70% of asylum claims are fraudulent, they need only read the article in yesterday’s New York Times, which indicates that asylum fraud is ALREADY not only rampant, but is also a profitable “industry” for unscrupulous individuals who would exploit this country’s humanitarian, but weak asylum rules. (see Asylum Fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies, by Kirk Semple, Joseph Goldstein And Jeffrey E. Singer New York Times, February 23, 2014).

A link to this article can be found here:


Ben Ferro

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


During the past several months, Homeland Security officials and other Administration spokespersons have repeatedly claimed the border and interior U.S. to be very secure as evidenced by the record number of “deportations” carried out. To this day the Administration continues to claim that the annual number of “deportations” are higher than ever before and the media continues to parrot the same. Were it actually so, it would provide an accelerator to the Administration’s efforts for Immigration Reform.

However, it now seems clear that the current Administration has been cooking the  books by redefining what they now count as “Deportations” vs previous definitions, resulting in grossly inflated and invalidated year to year comparisons.

Interesting to note that, while the Obama Administration has continuously claimed that it's deporting a record number of illegal aliens, the President, in a 2011 meeting with Hispanic reporters, confessed that -

“The (removal) statistics are actually a little deceptive because what we’ve been doing is, with the stronger border enforcement, we’ve been apprehending folks at the borders and sending them back. That is counted as a deportation, even though they may have only been held for a day or 48 hours, sent back – that’s counted as a deportation.”

In fact, actual "Deportations" are embarrassing lower and the President and the media continue to repeat the Big Lie!

So, how is this being accomplished, one might ask. Basically, in the past, removal numbers included only ICE Enforcement and Removal Office (ERO), statistics of people in the US who were actually removed under orders of removal.(Actions that provide for a legal bar to readmission) It did not include Border Patrol and CBP statistics of persons who were refused admission or those caught and turned around by the Border Patrol. However, starting in 2011, these numbers were added to the ERO removal numbers which had been traditionally reported, thereby, inflating the annual removal/deportation numbers. This was apparently done to give the public the impression that interior enforcement had increased to ease the way in for Immigration Reform. In fact, when accurately comparing “apples to apples”, it looks like total deportations have been steadily decreasing since 2000, as illustrated in the following graphic  -

Read more about this deception here: 

Ben Ferro

Monday, February 10, 2014

Easing of Asylum Rules Has Potentially Serious National Security Implications

Despite evidence of enormous levels of fraud, the Obama Administration eases asylum/refugee application processes for questionable applicants out of Middle East hot spots.

On the heels of a public revelation that a federal government report exists showing that as many as 70% of all asylum claims are fraudulent, the Obama Administration has released details of their plans to ignore that report and go forward with rule changes which make it easier to qualify for asylum in the United States. Details of the proposed rule changes relating to asylum appear in the article, below. It is interesting to note that, although this government report on asylum fraud was completed almost 5 years ago, it was not made “available” until now.

In light of this information, the question needs to be asked: Is there no shame among those in the Administration who, in the face of the reported outrageously high level of fraud, would make it even easier to qualify for this important benefit?

As one who, for six years, oversaw the processing of tens of thousands of Soviet, Iraqi, and Iranian Refugees, it is my opinion that this decision is indeed a threat to our national security.

Ben Ferro


Obama Administration Will Ease Rules For Refugees, Asylum Seekers 

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is changing the rules for refugees and asylum seekers in the United States so that people will no longer be barred entry for providing incidental or unintentional support to terrorist organizations.

The new definition of what it means to provide “material support” to terrorists comes after years of complaints from human rights advocates that the old rules led to the exclusion of vulnerable refugees who pose no harm.

Among those turned away in recent months were a Syrian refugee who paid an opposition group to gain safe passage out of Syria and a farmer who paid tolls to a resistance group to cross a bridge to take his food to market, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The new rules exempt people with no tangible connection to terrorism who nevertheless provided material support, as long as it was insignificant in amount or rendered incidentally in the course of everyday interactions or under significant pressure. The exemptions were published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

Laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks barred admission of those who provided support to terrorists, and critics said the laws were so broadly applied that they led to the unfair exclusion of tens of thousands of refugees.

“It resulted in deserving refugees and asylees being barred from the United States for actions so tangential and minimal that no rational person would consider them supporters of terrorist activities,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “These changes help return our nation to its historic role as a welcoming sanctuary to the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

The U.S. granted asylum to almost 12,000 people in 2012, out of 44,000 who sought it, according to Justice Department statistics.

As about 2.4 million refugees of the conflict in Syria have made their way to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, human rights groups are pushing the U.S. to resettle at least 15,000 people a year.

“Several of the scenarios covered by these exemptions should not have been treated as ‘terrorist activity’ in the first place,” said Anwen Hughes, an asylum expert at the advocacy group Human Rights First. “We welcome these announcements for the practical relief they will provide to many refugees, but regret that the administration has not taken this opportunity to adopt a more sensible interpretation of the underlying statute, which is being applied to bar thousands of refugees from protection in the United States.”

Reprinted from an article by Christi Parsons, The Los Angeles Times

Sunday, February 9, 2014

?? What's Wrong With This Picture ??

As was previously pointed out on this site (see our blog entries, Amnesty Will Overload the Current Immigration System, 2/04/14 and The Nation is ready, The Congress is ready, The President is ready, BUT is DHS Ready for Comprehensive Immigration Reform?, 3/14/13) , any Comprehensive Immigration Reform which includes a widespread amnesty provision, will undoubtedly have a major detrimental impact on the processing of legal immigration cases by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The following article, published today in the New York Times, demonstrates how DACA, a very small administrative amnesty program for the children of illegal aliens, has already more than doubled waiting times for Americans, who are following all the rules, and are legitimately trying to be reunited with their foreign husbands or wives and minor children.

As this article clearly illustrates, immigration benefits for Illegal Aliens to remain in the U.S. are given a higher priority than legal spouses of US Citizens; this includes the spouses of Americans who are actively serving in our Armed Forces.  While we whole-heartedly concur with the Times position on this issue, it is ironic to note that the Times headline refers to Dream Act persons in their headline as "Immigrants" rather than "Illegal immigrants".

Ben Ferro


New York Times 2/9/14

Program Benefiting Some Immigrants Extends Visa Wait for Others

Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.

The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data.

The trouble that American citizens have faced gaining permanent resident visas for their families raises questions about the agency’s priorities and its readiness to handle what could become a far bigger task. After Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said on Thursday that the House was not likely to act on an immigration overhaul this year, immigrant advocates are turning up their pressure on Mr. Obama to expand the deferral program to include many more of the 11.7 million immigrants in the country illegally.
Waiting for a Visa Mr. Bachert’s wife, Debra, and their two children in a Skype session. She stayed in her native Australia to wait for a green card.

Andrew Bachert is one citizen caught in the slowdown. After he moved back to this country in August for work, he thought he and his wife, who is Australian, would be settled by now in a new home in New York State, shoveling snow and adjusting to the winter chill. Instead his wife, Debra Bachert, is stranded, along with the couple’s two teenagers and two dogs, in a hastily rented house in Adelaide, where the temperature rose in January to 115 degrees.

At loose ends, Mr. Bachert, 48, spent Halloween and Thanksgiving without his wife and children, and he opened his Christmas presents for them himself — on a Skype call so at least they could see what he had gotten for them.

“I’m sitting over here on my own, and it’s unbearably hard,” Mr. Bachert said. At the current pace, Mrs. Bachert will probably not travel to the United States before August.

Until recently, an American could obtain a green card for a spouse, child or parent — probably the easiest document in the immigration system — in five months or less. But over the past year, waits for approvals of those resident visas stretched to 15 months, and more than 500,000 applications became stuck in the pipeline, playing havoc with international moves and children’s schools and keeping families apart.

U.S. citizens petitioning for green cards for immediate relatives are a high, if not the highest, priority in the way Congress set up the immigration system,” said Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the national bar association. “This is a problem that needs to be fixed quickly.”

Many Americans are awaiting visas for spouses they recently wed, including Mukul Varma, 31, a naturalized citizen who works as a software consultant near Chicago. On a trip to India to visit relatives, he fell in love with Neetika Gupta, 26, also a software engineer. They married in India in May.

“To be honest with you,” Mr. Varma said, “because I was a U.S. citizen I thought it would not be an issue to get a visa for my wife. I didn’t put any thought into it.”

In mid-January Mr. Varma flew back to India to see his bride for the first time in nine months. He applied for her green card soon after the wedding, and since then it has not advanced. Their plans to start their life together in this country are in disarray.

“First it was surprise,” Mr. Varma said. “Then dismay. Then it just becomes very discouraging. You feel helpless. You feel as if you did things the right way and you are penalized for it.”

Christopher S. Bentley, a Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman, said the agency had seen “a temporary increase in processing times” for the citizens’ green card applications because of the deferrals program and “the standard ebb and flow” of visas.

Last year, officials said, the agency detected the problem and tried to speed up the green cards by spreading them out to three processing centers. In November, the agency reported it had reduced waits to 10 months, calling that a “significant step forward.” Officials said they hoped to reduce waits to five months, but not before this summer.

Because there are no annual limits on green cards for citizens’ immediate relatives, there are no systemic backlogs. But initial approvals are centralized at the immigration agency in the United States. After that step, generally the longest, the visas must also pass through the State Department and foreign consulates. The law prohibits foreigners who want to become residents from entering as tourists while their documents are in process.

After Mr. Obama announced the deferral program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in 2012, he gave Citizenship and Immigration Services only two months to get it running. Agency officials scrambled. As of last week, 521,815 youths had received deferrals, with the agency handling more than 2,000 applications a day.

The agency drew rare praise from immigrants and advocates for the efficiency of the program, which is highly popular among Latinos. It has been widely regarded as a successful dress rehearsal for a larger legalization.

But soon after the deferrals were underway, Americans with green card applications felt the impact.

“You end up seeing a steep decline in approvals for people like me who followed the law,” said Forrest Nabors, 47, a political science professor at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, who filed in July for a green card for his wife, Zdenka, who is Czech.

An immigration service center near Kansas City assigned to handle both the green card applications and many of the deferrals was rapidly overwhelmed, officials said. But although the agency is financed by fees and does not depend on congressional appropriations, no new employees were brought on at that center, because of “unanticipated hiring difficulties,” officials said, without elaborating.

For some families, prolonged separations have been especially hard on children. Jessica Veltstra, 32, applied in March for a green card for her husband of eight years, Andre, 41, who is Dutch. But he is still in the Netherlands, and she is rooming with relatives in New Jersey, unable to make plans.

Their older daughter, who is 4, refuses to speak to her father on the phone in Dutch, her first language, and bursts out crying when she sees a photo of him.

“My husband has done nothing wrong,” Ms. Veltstra said. “But they can do whatever they want because they have your spouse basically hostage.”

Mr. Bachert was so certain he would see his family soon when he left Australia last summer that his children, both American citizens, did not go to the airport to see him off. He had little doubt his wife would qualify: They have been married for 17 years, and she had a green card once before, when Mr. Bachert, who works with electric utilities, had an earlier job in the United States. But the document expired, and she could not renew it when they were living in Australia.

Some lawyers urged Mrs. Bachert to come as a tourist to join her husband. After deliberating for two sleepless weeks, she said, she decided she would rather bide her time apart than lie to American customs officials about her intentions to remain in the United States.

Mr. Bachert, who will eventually work in upstate New York but is camped out in a temporary apartment near his company’s headquarters in Hartford, said his lowest moment had been a frantic predawn phone call from his wife. Their son was in a hospital heading for emergency surgery after shattering his forearm and wrist in a bicycle fall. Two months later, Mr. Bachert shuddered to recall the episode, although his son’s bones have healed. “No parent,” he said, “should be separated from their family in periods such as that.”

Reprinted article written  by Julia Preston, The New York Times

Friday, February 7, 2014

Immigration Reform Unraveling

Boehner: Distrust Of Obama Drags Down Immigration Bill

WASHINGTON — The already uphill battle in this Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws became even more difficult Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner cast doubts that a bill can pass this year.

After months of saying Republicans should get to work on an immigration bill, and just a week after releasing a set of principles outlining what that bill should look like, Boehner said Thursday that President Obama was to blame for the inability of his chamber to move forward.

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday.

That led some supporters of an immigration overhaul to question whether Boehner is expressing the true sentiment of his chamber, or torpedoing immigration legislation while trying to pin the blame on Obama.

"Republicans need to realize that this isn't about Obama. ... It's about them," said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America's Voice, a group that has pushed for an immigration plan to legalize the nation's undocumented immigrants for years.

Republicans have long been skeptical of an immigration overhaul because they fear a repeat of the last major overhaul, which was approved in 1986. That year, the nation's 3 million undocumented immigrants were allowed to apply for citizenship, but promises of a secured border were not met.

Now, Republicans point to recent executive actions by Obama as proof that he won't enforce any immigration enforcement bills they pass. He created a program two years ago that has allowed more than 520,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to have their deportation proceedings deferred. And last year, he formalized a process to allow undocumented immigrants related to military members to stay in the country.

Boehner said his rank-and-file lawmakers do not trust the president to enforce current laws, or implement a law as Congress intends, citing the administration's changes to implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the president's recent commitment to use executive authority to enact policy changes on a range of issues.

He said the president is "running around the country telling everyone that he's going to keep acting on his own. ... And he's feeding more distrust about whether he's committed to the rule of law."

Supporters of an immigration overhaul say just the opposite, pointing to record numbers of deportations under the Obama administration. They are so dismayed by his deportation record that many have stopped pushing House Republicans to pass an immigration bill and focused instead on getting the White House to slow down, or halt, deportations of undocumented immigrants.

"The argument that the president is not deporting enough people does not go over very well with the Latino community who has felt each and every one of the 2 million deportations (under his administration)," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., one of the leading supporters of an immigration overhaul.

Boehner's comments came two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., threw cold water on immigration prospects by saying there was an "irresolvable conflict" between the Senate's comprehensive legislative approach and the piecemeal approach sought by House Republicans.

"I don't see how you get to an outcome this year with the two bodies in such a different place," McConnell said.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed last year a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration and border security laws that included a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

The GOP-controlled House has not moved any major immigration legislation in this Congress, but last week released legislative principles that reiterated support for a step-by-step legislative approach. The principles stopped short of support for a pathway to citizenship for adults, focusing instead on an ability to attain legal status.

Democrats said they were discouraged but not defeated by Boehner's remarks. "He has not said, 'I'm not doing it.' He has not said, 'It's over.' He has said it will be very difficult. It is —- he's right, I agree with him," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., an architect of the Senate immigration bill. Schumer said Republican mistrust of Obama is not a new development and that he believes there remains a measure of good will to move legislation this year.

"I believe there's a good portion of the Republican leadership who wants to do a bill," he said.

Boehner maintained Thursday that he believes Congress will need to act, eventually. "This is an important issue in our country, it's been kicked around forever, and it needs to be dealt with," he said.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Boehner could move immigration legislation in the House if he partnered with House Democrats because "the votes exist in the House to pass immigration reform and his failure to allow a vote has thwarted the will of the majority."

White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that Republicans face considerable intra-party pressure to not act this year. "Look, I think that the challenges within the Republican Party on this issue are well known, and they certainly don't have anything to do with the president," he said. Carney added that the White House remains optimistic because leading Republicans have edged the party closer to finding consensus.

"I think that there is a genuine recognition among leaders in the Republican Party that this is the right thing to do for our economy. It's the right thing to do for our middle class. It's the right thing to do for our businesses," Carney said.

America's Voice said Republicans face considerable political risks if they choose not to act. "Do they want their vulnerable House members in Latino and immigrant-heavy districts to lose in 2014? Do they want to enter the 2016 election cycle, which is already starting, with the immigration issue unresolved and their party to blame?" Tramonte said.

However, Boehner's comments heartened opponents to the Senate bill. "If Boehner genuinely believes that this president cannot be trusted to enforce our immigration laws then that reason becomes the remedy and the job ahead is clear: Congress must immediately compel Obama to start enforcing existing laws and prevent him from further abusing his executive authority in the immigration realm," said Bob Dane, communications director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Reprinted article by Susan Davis and Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

Ben Ferro

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Immigration Isn't Only "Broken", It's Being "Abused And Misused" With Impunity!"

Audit finds asylum system rife with fraud; approval laws broken with surge of immigrants

At least 70 percent of asylum applications showed signs of fraud, according to a secret 2009 internal government audit that found many of those cases had been approved anyway.

The 2009 fraud assessment, obtained by the House Judiciary Committee and reviewed by The Washington Times, suggests a system open to abuse and exploitation at a time when the number of people applying for asylum in the U.S. has skyrocketed, particularly along the southwestern border.

Another report obtained by the committee suggests that the government isn’t detaining most of those who apply for asylum, including those awaiting a final judgment.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the documents taint the credibility of the asylum system, which is designed to provide an outlet for foreigners who face real risks of being harmed if they remain in their home countries.

“Asylum fraud undermines the integrity of our immigration system and hurts U.S. taxpayers. Once individuals are granted asylum, they receive immediate access to all major federal welfare programs. Our immigration system should be generous to those persecuted around the globe, but we must also ensure our compassion isn’t being abused by those seeking to game the system,” Mr. Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement to The Times.

“Because our immigration laws are so loosely enforced by the Obama administration, we should not be surprised to see so much fraud in the system,” he said. “President Obama’s continued refusal to enforce our laws on the books encourages more illegal immigration and invites fraud.”

The Homeland Security Department said its processes are dictated by law and that adjudicators at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that reviews the applications, have to follow set standards.

 “A USCIS officer must find that a ‘significant possibility’ exists that the individual may be found eligible for asylum or withholding of removal. During the credible fear review, USCIS initiates a background check using immigration, national security and criminal databases,” said Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for Homeland Security.

Final judgments are made by immigration judges, but those cases can take years to wind through the system — leaving the initial USCIS judgment in place.

The department says it continually updates its fraud prevention techniques.

The asylum system has long been a point of pride for the U.S., but also has sparked a feverish debate over just how generous the system should be and what sorts of checks the U.S. government should go through when trying to determine who qualifies.

Applicants are required to prove they face persecution back home — using what is known as a “credible fear” claim — and that they don’t pose a danger to the U.S. They are held during that initial assessment but often are released after that.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced changes that would make it easier for those who had tangential involvement with terrorism to win asylum or refugee status.
Under existing law, those who provided “material support” to terrorists are to be denied their claims, but State Department and Homeland Security officials announced a new policy that said the support has to have been significant, and must have occurred outside of normal commercial transactions or family interactions.

Democrats on Capitol Hill hailed the changes, saying they will help particularly with Syrian refugees who are caught in a web of competing groups, some of whom have been designated terrorist agents by the U.S.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said the old rules would block a Syrian who gave a sandwich to a Free Syrian Army soldier from getting refugee status, even though the U.S. is actively aiding the Free Syrian Army in its fight against the Syrian regime.

Refugees are those who make claims from their home countries, while asylum claims are made by those who arrive at or are already in the U.S.

The 2009 internal report, which looked at claims made in 2005, found extensive evidence of fraud.

Investigators said 12 percent of the cases they reviewed showed clear evidence of fraud. In some cases, adjudicators missed the evidence, and in other instances, the adjudicators weren’t using tools available to the fraud investigators so they couldn’t have known.

In 58 percent of cases, there were signals of fraud but not enough evidence to make a final determination. Some of those cases had been approved, and others were sent to a judge for final review.
The investigators said even the 70 percent combined fraud number may be low because some of the other 30 percent of cases had problems that weren’t detected.

The report was labeled “Draft” and apparently was never released.

In another document obtained by the Judiciary Committee, the Homeland Security Department said it doesn’t regularly detain those who make asylum claims. Mr. Goodlatte said that appears to contradict the law.

“All aliens who are determined to possess a credible fear of persecution and granted parole are released from ICE custody. If parole is subject to conditions, the conditions must be satisfied before parole will be granted,” the department said in an official response to questions from Congress in December.

Mr. Goodlatte said the department must follow the law, which he said requires many of those to be detained while they are awaiting a ruling.

“These laws are in place to allow immigration authorities to expeditiously determine whether the individual in question is truly facing persecution or trying to game the system, and to prevent bad actors from being released into our communities,” he said.

Last year, his committee obtained a document that indicated some drug cartel family members were using the asylum process on the southwestern border to gain a foothold in the U.S., then continued their trafficking activities.
But Mr. Boogaard, the Homeland Security spokesman, said it’s been long-standing policy for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the agency that handles detention — to make determinations on a case-by-case basis.

“If an individual claiming asylum at the border is deemed to be a threat to public safety or national security, ICE has the authority to keep the individual in detention until their case is heard by an immigration judge. Only a judge can determine asylum eligibility,” he said.

 This story was originally reported by Stephen Dinan, in The Washington Times

Ben Ferro

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Amnesty Will Overload the Current Immigration System

USCIS Officers Warn Rep. Goodlatte of 'Overload' Should Congress Pass Amnesty

The president of the union that represents Immigration Service Officers has sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) warning of the problems a mass amnesty bill would create for the agency that process immigration applications. Ken Palinkas said that officers are currently forced to "rubber-stamp applications and have been denied the resources and mission support necessary to carfully screen and vet each application." Palinkas warns that immigration reform would "overload the system."

Palinkas represents officers for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They are tasked with approving applications for citizenship, which is part of the nation's national security efforts. He said the current process is a "threat to national security" and "costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year by failing to impose rigorous screening standards consistent with federal law."

Palinkas is urging Rep. Goodlatte to meet with USCIS officers and consider their concerns before the House moves forward on immigration legislation. Furthermore, he said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) statement from a 2013 speech would lead to an endless amnesty: "One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents," Cantor said. "It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home."

Palinkas said, "I am concerned by Congressman Cantor's position that citizenship for young illegal immigrants is based on 'the great founding principles of our country.' If this were true, that would mean that all future DREAMers have a right to amnesty, as every immigration law is bypassed and permanently void."

Here is the full text of Palinkas' letter to Rep. Goodlatte:

Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

USCIS Immigration Service Officers form the backbone of our nation's immigration system. These dedicated personnel are responsible for reviewing, assessing, screening, and approving countless millions of applications for legal status in the United States. They are also tasked with the enormous responsibility of determining whether applicants have what it takes to become an American citizen. They determine whether these applicants meet the criteria of what it means to call the United States "home," holding no other country above its most sacred ground. Over the years, these ISOs or adjudicators have been forced to rubber-stamp applications and have been denied the resources and mission support necessary to carefully screen and vet each application and the ultimate benefit and honor of naturalized citizenship.

This lapse is not only a threat to national security but costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year by failing to impose rigorous screening standards consistent with federal law. Recently, just this past year, the Union was successful in negotiating with the agency a new rating system called the Quality Driven Workplace Initiative. It is with great hope and aspiration that the Union believes this is a giant leap in the right direction as we seek quality above quantity in the work we perform. But only time will tell if we have been successful in this endeavor. It will all depend on whether or not the agency holds up its end of the bargain. Sadly, the rush forward with new legislative 'reforms' that would overload the system threatens to destroy these gains out of the gate.

It is with these problems in mind that I urge House Republicans, as strongly as possible, to include the concerns of USCIS personnel in their planned immigration principles. We need your support to strive towards our ultimate goal of adjudicating all immigration benefits with the utmost integrity, with the needed skills and training and with the safety and security of the United States above all else. Any immigration plan that fails to take our concerns into account will not succeed. I worry that you have made no attempt to work with or listen to USCIS officers in drafting these bills. Your plan, as explained in media stories and leaks, would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants through green cards while also expanding the number of work visas. This is a step in the wrong direction and flies in the face of what we are attempting to do. There is no quality here, only quantity. USCIS is not equipped to handle this workload, and due to political interference in its mission, is not empowered to deny admission to all those who should be denied due to ineligibility. We have become a visa clearinghouse for the world, rather than the first line of defense for a secure immigration system.

For instance, I was rather dismayed last week when I found out that Notices to Appear (whereby USCIS employees find grounds to compel immigration benefit seekers to appear before an Immigration Judge for a final ruling on their citizenship application) numbered around 100 nationwide! That's 100 out of millions. These numbers are ridiculously skewed in favor of lessening the amount of applicants who would otherwise be found to be deportable under current immigration law. It is yet another example of this administration's failure to enforce the law.

Lastly, I am concerned by Congressman Cantor's position that citizenship for young illegal immigrants is based on "the great founding principles of our country." If this were true, that would mean that all future DREAMers have a right to amnesty, as every immigration law is bypassed and permanently void. I hope, as the top member of the Judiciary panel, you would reject this language without hesitation.

It is especially my hope that Immigration Services Officers will be given a chance to work with House Republicans on their principles before any public release. We should not be denied the chance to share our expertise. We need to have our voices heard.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Kenneth Palinkas
President, National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council

It is of interest to note that many of the concerns raised by Mr. Palinkas regarding USCIS’ readiness to handle a widespread amnesty program for illegal aliens were first raised by INSideINS almost one year ago (see the March 4, 2013 article, The Nation is ready, The Congress is ready, The President is ready, BUT is DHS Ready for Comprehensive Immigration Reform?)

Ben Ferro