WASHINGTON – Two unions representing nearly 20,000 federal immigration agents say the Gang of Eight’s proposed reforms in Congress are driven by special interests that “will make the current system worse, not better.”
In an unprecedented move, the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, representing 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudications officers and staff, joined the 7,600-member National ICE Council in opposing S.744.
“S.744 will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by lawmakers,” declared Kenneth Palinkas, president of the NCISC.
Palinkas said no federal agents – “who perform the indispensible work of reviewing millions of applications every single year for those seeking to receive visas, become citizens and permanent residents, or to otherwise adjust their immigration status” – were consulted by lawmakers.
Exposing a bureaucratic culture that has long undermined the rule of law and jeopardizes national security, Palinkas ticked off the unions’ concerns:
- “USCIS adjudications officers are pressured to rubber stamp applications instead of conducting diligent case review and investigation. The culture at USCIS encourages all applications to be approved, discouraging proper investigation into red flags and discouraging the denial of any applications. USCIS has been turned into an ‘approval machine.’
- “USCIS has created an almost insurmountable bureaucracy which often prevents USCIS adjudications officers from contacting and coordinating with ICE agents and officers in cases that should have their involvement. USCIS officers are pressured to approve visa applications for many individuals ICE agents have determined should be placed into deportation proceedings.
- “USCIS officers who identify illegal aliens that, in accordance with law should be placed into immigration removal proceedings before a federal judge, are prevented from exercising their authority and responsibility to issue Notices To Appear. In the rare case that an officer attempts to issue an NTA, it must first be approved by a secretive panel created under DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, which often denies the officer’s request. Illegal aliens are then permitted to remain in the United States as USCIS officers are not able to take action or contact ICE agents for assistance.
- “The attitude of USCIS management is not that the agency serves the American public or the laws of the United States, or public safety and national security, but instead that the agency serves illegal aliens and the attorneys which represent them. While we believe in treating all people with respect, we are concerned that this agency tasked with such a vital security mission is too greatly influenced by special-interest groups to the point that it no longer properly performs its mission.
- “Currently, USCIS reports a 99.5 percent approval rating for all illegal alien applications for legal status filed under the Obama administration’s new deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) policies. DHS and USCIS leadership have intentionally established an application process for DACA applicants that bypasses traditional in-person investigatory interviews with trained USCIS adjudications officers. These practices were put in place to stop proper screening and enforcement, and guarantee that applications will be rubber-stamped for approval, a practice that virtually guarantees widespread fraud and places public safety at risk.
- “While illegal aliens applying for legal status under DACA polices are required to pay fees, DHS and USCIS are now exercising their discretion to waive those fees. Undoubtedly these practices will be replicated for millions of illegal aliens if S. 7 44 becomes law.
- “U.S. taxpayers are currently tasked with absorbing the cost of over $200 million worth of fee waivers bestowed on applicants for naturalization during the last fiscal year. This is in addition to the strain put on our Social Security system that has been depleted by an onslaught of refugees receiving SSI benefits as soon as their feet touch U.S. soil.
- “Large swaths of the Immigration and Nationality Act are not effectively enforced for legal immigrants and visa holders, including laws regarding public charges as well as many other provisions, as USCIS lacks the resources to adequately screen and scrutinize legal immigrants and non-immigrants seeking status adjustment. There is also insufficient screening and monitoring of student visas.”
A new USCIS computer system to screen applications known as ‘Transformation’ has proven to be a disaster as the agency has spent upwards of $2 billion for a system that would eventually allow an alien — now referred to as a ‘customer’ under current USCIS policy — to upload their own information via the internet for adjudication purposes. To date, only one form can be accepted into the program that has been in the making for close to 10 years.
Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council detailed similar concerns, and said his union of agents was equally committed to strengthening the system by empowering agents to do their jobs.
In an article entitled, “Why Won’t Immigation Enforcement Officers be Heard in the Immigration Debate?” Daniel Horowitz wrote:
“Although the current amnesty bill was drafted behind closed doors, it’s not like it didn’t receive input from outside groups. In fact, every special-interest group under the sun – from big business and big labor to big ethnic, big law and big religion – had their say in the bill.
“The one group that was ignored (aside from We the People) was the immigration enforcement officers.”
Noting the irony, Horowitz said the two federal unions “are not seeking collective bargaining or to shake down the public for higher wages. All they want is to do their job in enforcing our laws and protecting our borders from security threats.
“Only in Washington can groups like La Raza be placed ahead of the interests of the officers charged with enforcing our immigration and border security laws.”